Sunday, 31 October 2004

women bishops in England

On Tuesday the long-awaited Rochester report will be published.

During October, Forward in Faith published its own proposals concerning the establishment of a “third province”, in a book entitled Consecrated Women? And those supporting women bishops also published a book The Call for Women Bishops.

The Church Times of 15 October covered this in some detail:
Forward in Faith offers third-province Measure
FiF rejects team option
Press on with women vote
CT editorial Contemplating a new province
The CT also published an extract from the first book A case not made.

The following week, the CT published an extract from the second book Forget pork pies.
There were also letters to the editor and a report of the FiF National Assembly, Be ready for ‘holy disobedience’, FiF told.

Today’s newspapers have several articles about the issue:

Observer Gaby Hinsliff and Jamie Doward Hewitt gives backing for female bishops

Sunday Times Christopher Morgan Anglicans told to accept women bishops or leave

TRADITIONALIST Anglicans have been warned by a senior bishop that they should consider leaving the Church of England if it backs the ordination of women bishops.

David Stancliffe, Bishop of Salisbury and a supporter of change, said it would be impossible to make special arrangements to cater for members opposed to women leading dioceses. Traditionalists would have to decide whether to accept women bishops or leave the church if they could not.

…Stancliffe said: “If this (ordaining women bishops) is the mind of the church, people will be faced with a choice whether to stay or leave. The present arrangements (of no-go areas for women priests) will no longer be able to hold.”

He believes that all the legislation to allow women bishops will be in place by 2008, with the first ordinations happening soon afterwards.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 31 October 2004 at 1:22pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Friday, 29 October 2004

African bishops comment

ACNS carries a statement from the meeting of Anglican bishops in Africa.

The bishops welcome the Windsor Report, but they explicitly do not express any regret for the actions of some of then in ministering to congregations in other dioceses:

However, we reject the moral equivalence drawn between those who have initiated the crisis and those of us in the Global South who have responded to cries for help from beleaguered friends. To call on us to “express regret” and reassert our commitment to the Communion is offensive in light of our earlier statements. If the Episcopal Church USA had not willfully “torn the fabric of our communion at its deepest level” our actions would not have been necessary.

The statement concludes:

We are committed to the future life of the Anglican Communion, one that is rooted in truth and charity, and faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Friday, 29 October 2004 at 12:37pm BST | TrackBack
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Homo floresiensis

Writing about the news, this week, of the discovery of a previously unknown human species, dubbed Homo floresiensis, Desmond Morris includes this provocative comment:

[T]he existence of Mini-Man should destroy religion, but I can already hear the fanatics claiming that he has been put on earth by the Devil simply to test our faith.

This seems to me to be something of a non sequitur, but presumably Morris is referring to the more fundamentalist versions of religious faith, and whether his inclusion of all religion in the comment is deliberate or accidental, it is surely the case that the existence of other human species is something that most Christians have almost taken for granted over the last hundred or so years.

As Morris notes, the intriguing question is whether the newly-discover species would be able to communicate with us in a spoken language:

When it comes down to it, being able to talk is really what defines humanity

and Christians should have little problem with that either. Speech enables us to communicate; speech enables us to think and to apply our brains to complex problem-solving; speech enables us to tell the truth and to lie, to influence and mislead. In short, it is language which separates us from other creatures — in this world, creatures which can speak are creatures which have, in the parable of the book of Genesis, fallen.

Scientific discoveries such as this should indeed be another nail in the coffin of fundamentalist religion, but sadly I suspect that those who deny the possibility of evolution will deny the logic of this discovery too.

That we should accept and even welcome the obvious conclusions about our ancestry does not seem a big thing to me. The message of kingdom of God, proclaimed by Jesus of Nazareth, is neither strengthened nor weakened by such news — it is true regardless.

Update 1 November

Morris’s article referred to above has drawn a lot of comment on the BBC website. The BBC has also published this response by David Wilkinson, lecturer in theology and science at Durham University, and council member of the Evangelical Alliance

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Friday, 29 October 2004 at 12:01pm BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 27 October 2004

meeting of African bishops

This week sees a meeting of African Anglican bishops in Nigeria.

The BBC provides a preview of the meeting.

The Scotsman has a PA report under the headline African Anglicans May Breakaway in Gay Row

From Nigeria, Lagos’s Daily Champion also has a preview, Africa’s Anglican Bishops’ Meeting Starts ‘Morrow

Due principally to the threat from homosexual-ism among their Western brethren, Anglican bishops in Africa seeking to eke out a separate identity for themselves, converge on Lagos tomorrow for a continental conference on burning issues in the church.

Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, is quoted as saying:

“We send our men to theological school abroad but we have discovered that there are a lot of unwholesome things that happen,”

Akinola, who was flanked by the church’s primates in Uganda, South Africa, Kenya and some Southern African countries disclosed that the African bishops will fashion out ways by setting up a theological educational centre to help train her clerics.

“We will come up with the road map for the development of African Theological Centres of Excellence that are accessible and affordable with comprehensive and realistic curricula,” he remarked.

The Daily Champion report also says:

Only recently Rev. Akinola demanded an unreserved apology from the 50 bishops in the church who attended Robinson’s ordination.

However, Robinson’s ordination was a fall-out of the 2002 Lamberth conference in the USA which formally approved of gay ordination.

though perhaps this is the sort of inaccuracy which any journalist might fall into.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 27 October 2004 at 11:00am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Friday, 22 October 2004

the Church press gets in on the act - 2

Today’s paper edition of Church Times has about ten pages devoted to the Windsor Report. Just three of the many articles are on the free part of the paper’s website.

There’s an overview news article Windsor report proposes new Covenant for Anglicans, a report Furious Akinola slams report about one person who is not happy, and More or less our last chance, says Eames, an interview with the chair of the Commission.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 22 October 2004 at 12:01pm BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 21 October 2004

'Fireproofing the House'

N T Wright, Bishop of Durham, was a member of the Eames Commission which wrote the Windsor report. In an interview Anglican Report is ‘Fireproofing the House’ by Douglas LeBlanc in Christianity Today he talks about how the Commission went about its work, what happened behind the scenes, whether the report should have been tougher, and why it’s critical of some conservative bishops. Finally he discusses his ‘best case scenario’ for the Anglican Communion.

[We’re] working out what it means to be the Anglican Communion for the 21st century. We’re looking way ahead of current crises and we’re saying we’d like to set up and see a framework which will enable us to be faithful, wise Anglicans in communion with one another in 20 years’ time, in a way which will mean we don’t have to have this kind of crisis again. It’s hugely expensive getting all the people together and having all the extra meetings.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Thursday, 21 October 2004 at 5:44pm BST | TrackBack
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the Church press gets in on the act

Friday’s Church of England Newspaper, already available on its website, has plenty of coverage in its news section, with summaries of the report itself, and how it has been received by various groups.

There is comment from Andrew Carey, who gives his opinion on the likely sucess of the Eames Commission.

And don’t miss Ruth Gledhill’s comments starting with her experience of trying to ask ECUSA PB Frank Griswold a question.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Thursday, 21 October 2004 at 4:48pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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a history of debate

Thinking Anglicans writer Tom Ambrose gives his first thoughts on the Windsor Report:

Reading the foreword to the report, I feel that a greater sense of perspective is needed. The Church has always faced controversy, and to single out the issue of the ordination of women as the only point of disagreement prior to issues about homosexuality is singularly unfortunate. The great hymn ‘The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord’ was written at a time of particularly bitter disagreement in the 19th century, when a split in the church seemed almost inevitable. The arguments of those days were more closely related to doctrine than any of the current problems.

The report acknowledges that the teaching of the church is based on scripture, tradition and reason. We cannot take these in isolation, and assume that the passages in the Bible which refer to homosexual activity can simply be quoted as being incontrovertible and uncontroversial. To do that would be to lapse into fundamentalism.

There are still Christians today who might think that looking for Noah’s Ark is a legitimate way of ‘proving’ scripture. Some attempt to demonstrate, in the face of overwhelming evidence, that the world was made in six days. Some people deny that evolution could take place. Their motivation is largely to demonstrate the inerrancy of scripture, and hence its right to be regarded as the only test for Christian belief and teaching.

The issues about creation are not trivial. They underlie all that we understand about God’s work, and hence have a bearing on issues regarding our redemption. Reading the scriptures in isolation is not enough, for insights are available to us today which were not known in biblical times.

Views on homosexuality have changed massively in recent years. When I was an undergraduate, a fellow student was sent down after being convicted of having sex with another man. Today, discrimination against homosexual people is outlawed in most European countries (though the churches have asked to opt out!)

But we are not going to assume that there will be uniformity across the globe in the way that societies regard what they may see as sexual offences. Where people can be put to death for adultery, sexual activity between people of the same sex will always be frowned upon.

In Britain, we expect people of all faiths to observe the law which says marriages must be monogamous. In other countries, it may be permitted for men to take more than one wife. Similarly, in countries where homosexual activity is frowned upon, it would not be understood if Christians campaigned for greater tolerance. The reaction would be as uncomprehending as the reaction might be here if Muslims demanded the right to polygamy.

In such a world, there is no going back on the decision to consecrate Gene Robinson in the USA, and no going forward in Uganda or Pakistan to the acceptance of gay clergy. The responses from ECUSA and from other parts of the Anglican Communion have underlined this. It would be naïve to assume that a consensus can be achieved. In all of this, the one redeeming feature may be that it accepts that there are differences of opinion which are genuinely held by Christian people.

Posted by Tom Ambrose on Thursday, 21 October 2004 at 11:24am BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 20 October 2004

the next step: please read the report before acting

The Primates Standing Committee has issued a statement in which they explain what they hope will be the next step, following publication of the Windsor Report. The meat of the statement is the creation of a sub-committee of Primates to try and ensure that everyone reads the report:

We welcome this report as a comprehensive presentation of the tradition and practice of the Anglican Communion. There is much in this report which is challenging, but it points us in a sound direction for the resolution of current tensions. It is an invitation to the entire Communion to reflect on our life together. We are conscious of the concerns of those groups whose expectations have not been met, but we are very encouraged by the broad welcome and support that the report has received from many throughout the Communion.

and

We have established a Reception Reference Group … which will be charged with receiving and co-ordinating initial responses to the Windsor Report in preparation for the Primates’ Meeting [in February 2005] … We hope that all the Provinces of the Anglican Communion … will join in a conversation with this reception group. In particular, the Reception Reference Group will wish to engage as much as possible with the 78 million members of our forty-four churches, and will explore ways of doing this effectively.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 20 October 2004 at 4:31pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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a small cheer

Thinking Anglicans writer David Walker offers a first view on the Windsor Report.

Twenty four hours into reading and reflecting on the Windsor Report I guess I feel ready to give it a small but heartfelt cheer.

I say small, not because it doesn’t agree completely with my own position — I wouldn’t expect it to — but because its publication means once again that some of my fellow Christians will experience its words as licensing a rejection of their deepest selves and beliefs. No matter how lightly we tread, we are treading on people’s souls, and that should always be done with both reluctance and genuine sadness.

But I am cheered.

I’m cheered firstly because a group as diverse as the Commission has been able to sign up, unanimously, to a report that offers a middle way between papal centralism and unfettered localism. I pray that the members of the Commission will each now take responsibility for holding those whose views they represent to the process it sets out.

I’m cheered because homosexuality is recognised as only one presenting problem. The Report notes that the work of engaging with it as an issue is still at an early stage. Rather than seek to answer the questions posed by sexuality (which was never its brief) Windsor maps out structures that will be (must be) equally important in holding any other local church to account should it seek to develop in ways that are both novel and unacceptable to the wider Communion. It is particularly timely in setting a context in which the response to any moves towards Lay Presidency at the Eucharist must be formed. I pray however that the Report will in itself forestall any such moves.

I’m cheered because the Report works hard to be even handed in the criticism it offers to those who have offended the wider Communion — whether it be through participating in a consecration, authorising a public rite or usurping another province or bishop’s proper authority. There is one small lapse in the logic in this respect. All are called to express their regret; all are called to desist from repeating the offending action; but curiously only the first two appear to be invited to withdraw from unspecified church councils until they do so. In practice this may be a moot point if expressions of regret come quickly and from all sides. I pray that they will do so.

I’m cheered because there is the opportunity for Anglicans of all types to spend the next few years working on what unites us rather than divides us. Formulating a Covenant and bolstering our Instruments of Unity may not be as exciting for the media as a battle over sexuality, but it’s where I would much rather be.

Where division occurs, the Report is clear that we go forward by using our time-honoured structures. The provision for those who feel alienated from their parent diocese or province is to be worked at together across the divisions. Any extended oversight is to be a last resort, and is described as “conditional”, “temporary” and “delegated”” — much closer to the Resolution C route familiar and largely accepted (or at least tolerated) in England than a formal separation. In particular the proposals set out by ECUSA are commended as “entirely reasonable”. All of this would seem directly applicable to the present Church of England debate about the ordination of Women to the Episcopate. Indeed it would be contradictory were the C of E to endorse Windsor but follow a very different route over this specific issue.

Finally, I am glad to note that the Report retains its even-handedness over dissent. The proposals offered are just as applicable to a liberal minority in a conservative diocese or province as they are to a conservative minority in a more liberal setting. There can be no monopoly over conscientious dissent, and the Report leaves us with a framework that will continue to allow the prophetic tradition to operate within the church in whichever direction the Spirit may take it.

A cheer then, not of triumph for one cause or another in a deeply divided debate, but for a way forward that uses Anglican structures and polity to address an Anglican problem. And that offers us all a way of remaining authentically Anglican.

Posted by David Walker on Wednesday, 20 October 2004 at 12:29pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Thumbs down from Nigeria

ACNS has published a statement from the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola. You need to read this short statement in full, but here are some brief extracts:

After an initial reading it is clear to me that the report falls far short of the prescription needed for this current crisis. It fails to confront the reality that a small, economically privileged group of people has sought to subvert the Christian faith and impose their new and false doctrine on the wider community of faithful believers.

and

We have been asked to express regret for our actions and “affirm our desire to remain in the Communion”. How patronizing! We will not be intimidated. In the absence of any signs of repentance and reform from those who have torn the fabric of our Communion, and while there is continuing oppression of those who uphold the Faith, we cannot forsake our duty to provide care and protection for those who cry out for our help.

The Times reports this under the headline Archbishop tells US Anglicans to repent

Meanwhile, the print edition of today’s Daily Telegraph reports that Archbishop Akinola has flown back to Nigeria instead of staying in London to attend a meeting of the Primates Standing Committee in London. He is reported to have told Lambeth Palace that he was too busy preparing for a meeting of African Anglicans to stay in London. This story does not seem to appear in the online editions of today’s papers.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 20 October 2004 at 10:45am BST | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Dean Jensen says comments taken out of context

UPDATE (Thursday 21 October at 11:20pm BST)
The full text of Dean Jensen’s speech to “the forum” (actually Sydney Synod) on 19 October refered to below is available on the Sydney Anglicans website.

A week ago we linked to an article in The Guardian headlined “Evangelicals call Williams a prostitute” which reported on remarks made by Dean Phillip Jensen of Sydney at the annual conference of Reform. Reform was later reported to have apologised for the remarks.

The Sydney Morning Herald, in an article headlined “Sorry, says Jensen, but Anglicans are at war” reports today:

The brother of the Sydney archbishop Peter Jensen used the forum to deny he had damned the Archbishop of Canterbury as an intellectual and theological prostitute last week.

He also denied calling Kings College Chapel in Cambridge a “temple to paganism”.

While admitting loose expressions, confused meanings and the odd slips of the tongue, Mr Jensen apologised for the “great and unnecessary alarm” the headlines had caused.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation says “Dean Jensen says comments taken out of context”.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 20 October 2004 at 10:45am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Tuesday News - Overseas

As well as the UK articles on the Windsor report listed in the article below, there are hundreds more in newspapers around the world. I have linked a small selection of them below.

Do remember, when reading them, that newspapers are much more interested in gay bishops and same-sex blessings than they are in bishops who intervene in other bishops’ dioceses.

The Age (Melbourne, Australia)
Unity under pressure as Anglicans digest gay report
Anglicans chart a difficult course
Anglican report slams US over gay bishop
Anglican head welcomes Windsor report
Anglicans move to avoid split

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Sorry, says Jensen, but Anglicans are at war
Anglican report slams US over gay bishop
Anglican head welcomes Windsor report
Anglicans demand apology from US
Anglicans prefer split to false, forced unity

Kerala Next (India)
UK ; Gay supporters respond to ban on clergy
US ; Gay bishop unapologetic on same-sex blessings

The Guardian (Lagos, Nigeria)
Anglican Church demands apology over U.S. gay bishop

The Nation (Nairobi, Kenya)
Anglican Church Demands Apology Over Gay Bishop

The Standard (Nairobi, Kenya)
Anglicans deal major blow to gay priests

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada)
Anglican prelates unrepentant

Canada.Com (Toronto, Canada)
Anglican commission’s report criticizes Canadian church over same-sex blessings

CTV (Canada)
Canadian, U.S. Anglicans criticized in report

The Boston Globe (USA)
Anglican panel seeks a halt on gay bishops

The New York Times (USA)
Church Is Rebuked Over Gay Unions and a Gay Bishop

Christian Science Monitor (Boston MA, USA)
Anglican effort to avert schism

The Washington Post (USA)
Anglicans Chide U.S. Church on Gay Bishop

Kansas City Star (USA)
Panel seeks Anglican accord (an Associated Press report)

The Post and Courier (Charleston SC, USA)
Anglican panel warns church over gay bishop

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 19 October 2004 at 5:30pm BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Morning news

After the rush of yesterday, and now that people have had a chance to read the report we hope to see some slightly more considered comment.

But real understanding will take a little longer. As The Archbishop of Canterbury comments:

I hope that everyone with the well being of our Communion at heart will now take time to study the report — and to pray and reflect upon its proposals which, as the Commission has made clear, offer neither easy nor simple solutions to real and demanding challenges. If we are serious about meeting those challenges, as I know we are, then we have to do all we can to continue to travel this road together.

That is what we intend to do, and as usual we will continue to point to a range of other commentators, as well as adding our thoughts.

Other coverage this morning includes:

The Anglican Communion had a relatively minor crisis as new consciousness about homosexuality struggled to be born in the face of ancient prejudice. This commission has taken this minor crisis and turned it into a major revolution that will move Anglicanism toward the literal-mindedness that now threatens not just Christianity, but religious systems all over the world.

Dr Robin Eames, charged with averting schism in the Anglican Communion, has come up with a new liturgical gesture. The primates and churches who have split the communion are to apologise to one another - but with their fingers crossed.

The prospects that the report would find a compromise for the 78 million-strong worldwide communion looked bleak last night as factions began to digest its findings. One senior primate told the Guardian: “It’s very, very black, very grim. We are hell-bent on division. It’s all down to the grace of Almighty God now.”

Robin Eames may see his commission’s report into the Church’s stance on homosexuality as part of the Anglican Communion’s “pilgrimage towards healing and reconciliation”, but it is unlikely that the two opposing sides in this ill-tempered dispute will share that optimism. And it is unlikely that yesterday’s report will prevent hostilities flaring up again, since it fails to address the fundamental issues behind this crisis of Anglicanism.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 19 October 2004 at 10:10am BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Monday, 18 October 2004

the Network has 'strong concerns'

The Anglican Communion Network and American Anglican Council, groupings of conservative Episcopalians in the USA, have expressed their ‘strong concerns’ that the report calls ‘only for the Episcopal Church USA to “express regret”’ and that it fails ‘to recommend direct discipline of ECUSA’. They cannot support ‘unity at the expense of truth’.

Read their statement here.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Monday, 18 October 2004 at 11:29pm BST | TrackBack
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reaction from New Westminster

The Canadian diocese of New Westminster also featured in the Windsor Report, after its decision to authorize a rite for the blessing of a same-sex couple. Tonight, Michael Ingham, Bishop of New Westminster issued a statement regretting ‘the consequence of our actions’.

Read the statement by following the link below.

I welcome the report and greatly appreciate that the report focuses on reconciliation. Of course we have not had time to digest the entire document, but we will prayerfully study and reflect on it in the forthcoming days. I will be referring the report to our next Diocesan Synod in May, where we will together decide our course of future action.

We in this diocese will continue to respect the dignity of every human being, as our baptismal covenant says. We will continue to affirm the presence and the contributions of gay and lesbian persons in our church, within whom the spirit of God moves. This will not change.

We do regret the consequence of our actions with sadness. We realize that many have not understood what we have been attempting to do in this diocese, or have even received news of our actions with dismay. What we have been trying to do is make the church more welcoming and open to all Christians, whatever their sexual orientation.

We are certainly open to wider consultations, especially with those who have not understood our actions. We went through a lengthy discernment process and produced many resources, all of which are open to everyone on our website. I invite Anglicans everywhere to read what had been produced (www.vancouver.anglican.ca), and to contact the diocese or me if they still have questions.

We are glad that the report does leave open the door to further discussion about issues such the ordination of gay or lesbian persons, and the blessing of same sex unions, and we hope the further advancement of the role of women in the church.

We welcome the clear condemnation of the practice of some bishops involving themselves, uninvited, in the affairs of another diocese or province.

In short we appreciate that the tone of the report is reconciliation. We are fully committed to the Anglican Communion which embraces a worldwide diversity of cultures and traditions within common prayer.

Bishop Michael Ingham, Diocese of New Westminster

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Monday, 18 October 2004 at 11:12pm BST | TrackBack
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What the Windsor Report said -- an overview

Whilst we encourage everyone to read the Windsor Report in full, for the benefit of readers we provide this short overview of its main features, with thanks to TA reader, the Revd Roger Stokes.

For a fuller summary this page at Beliefnet is worth reading.

We also like Dave Walker’s lighter summary.

Follow the link on the next line to read Roger’s overview.

Was it coincidence that the Feast Day of St Luke, the patron saint of physicians, was chosen for the publication of the Windsor Report? It was, after all, intended as a start to the healing of the Anglican Communion following what happened in North America in 2003 and the reaction to those events. Leaks over recent weeks had suggested that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada would be severely disciplined, with the Episcopal Church possibly being kicked out of the Anglican Communion, for going against the clear meaning of Scripture.

What actually happened was a reprimand, not for going against biblical teaching, but for neglecting the mutual responsibility and respect that is the heart of the relationship between the Provinces of the Communion. Those most closely involved are urged to apologize for this lack of respect towards sister Churches and, pending that apology, to withdraw from representing their own Churches in the wider Christian scene until they are prepared to commit themselves to accept the responsibilities of membership of the Communion.

These actions have hurt many sincere and committed Anglicans within the Churches concerned and the Report calls for their pastoral needs to be recognized. However it expresses the belief that these needs can and should be met from within the Provinces concerned, using the sort of model that has been suggested by the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops. While it is possible that bishops from other Anglican Churches might be involved, this should be with the consent of the incumbent bishop as to do otherwise would violate the territorial integrity of the Province concerned. Those bishops who have been involved in such ‘incursions’ are also called on to abstain from further involvement and commit themselves to the principles of the Communion, including the geographical integrity of the various jurisdictions.

All in all, a balanced call to return to thoroughly Anglican principles of respect and responsibility as being essential if we are to continue to walk together as disciples of Christ and a call to talk and consult before taking actions which would further fragment the Body of Christ.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Monday, 18 October 2004 at 10:48pm BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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More comments on Windsor

Comment from interested parties has begun to arrive. I will continuing adding the latest reports at the end of this article, rather than add new articles. Some news stories are also listed below in the article ‘At the hour’.

ACNS carries an exchange of letters between the report’s chairman, Archbishop Robin Eames, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Dr Williams writes:

You are not offering the Communion any easy solutions now … You have called us to behave in a maturely Christian way so as to become the Church God wants us to be … You have given all of us work to do and you do not suggest any short cuts … That you have been able to offer the communion a unanimous report gives me great encouragement that the process you have been through as a group may help set a pattern for the Communion itself in the demanding journey that lies ahead.

The Revd David Phillips of the Church Society is reported as commenting

I am pretty disappointed with this, I was expecting something much more definite and clear. My impression overall was that it was very ambiguous. It is toothless. It says what matters most of all it to stick together, we just need to stick together – unity is seen as more important than truth.

There is not yet any comment on the Church Society website.

The same report in The Scotsman quotes Martin Reynolds of the Lesbian Gay and Christian Movement:

The tenor of the document is itself conciliatory — this is a document we can work with, this is a Church we want to continue to be a part of.

Again, there is no comment yet on the LGCM website.

InclusiveChurch comments

We are pleased that the Commission has not recommended the suspension or expulsion of the Episcopal Church USA from the Anglican Communion, or called for Bishop Gene Robinson to resign. We note that the report does not ask for repentance from the Episcopal Church, and we welcome the desire for reconciliation contained within it.

365gay.com suggests that the report ‘has failed to appease either liberals or traditionalists’.

The Archbishop of Cape Town, Winston Njongonkulu Ndungane, quoted in Johannesburg’s Mail and Guardian described the report as “a rich gift of a deep theological and spiritual reflection on the nature of the common life of God’s people” which offers “a ‘win-win’ opportunity” that must be “grasped with both hands.”

The BBC now has a further story: Anglicans buy time in same sex row which covers some of the reaction to the report publication.

More nuanced stories are now appearing, for example this AP story headlined Episcopal right disappointed by report which includes:

An Anglican panel studying the consecration of an openly gay bishop in the U.S. Episcopal Church failed to give American conservatives what they sought Monday: punishment for church leaders and quick recognition for the network of dissenting congregations.

and

“We have strong concerns about the fact that they call only for the Episcopal Church USA to ‘express regret’ and fail to recommend direct discipline,” said the Anglican Communion Network and the American Anglican Council.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Monday, 18 October 2004 at 3:03pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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ECUSA reaction

The Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church, Frank Griswold has issued some preliminary reflections on the Windsor Report. He begins:

I write to you from London where I am attending a meeting of the Primates’ Standing Committee. I have had a matter of hours to review the Report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion, thus I will now offer only some preliminary observations. It will take considerable time to reflect upon the Report, which consists of some 100 pages.

Read the rest of his comments in full by clicking the following link

Over the next months it will be discussed in a number of venues, including the Executive Council meeting in November and the Winter Meeting of the House of Bishops in January. After an opportunity for further study and reflection, I will have more to say about the Commission’s work.

The members of the Commission, chaired by Archbishop Robin Eames, clearly have worked with care and great diligence, and the fact that they have unanimously put forward the Report, which individually may give them pause, is no small accomplishment.

The Commission was obliged to consider a number of sometimes conflicting concerns, and therefore in these next days the Report will doubtless be read from many points of view and given any number of interpretations. It is extremely important that it be read carefully as a whole and viewed in its entirety rather than being read selectively to buttress any particular perspectives.

As Anglicans we interpret and live the gospel in multiple contexts, and the circumstances of our lives can lead us to widely divergent understandings and points of view. My first reading shows the Report as having in mind the containment of differences in the service of reconciliation. However, unless we go beyond containment and move to some deeper place of acknowledging and making room for the differences that will doubtless continue to be present in our Communion, we will do disservice to our mission. A life of communion is not for the benefit of the church but for the sake of the world. All of us, regardless of our several points of view, must accept the invitation to consider more deeply what it means to live a life of communion, grounded in the knowledge that “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.”

Given the emphasis of the Report on difficulties presented by our differing understandings of homosexuality, as Presiding Bishop I am obliged to affirm the presence and positive contribution of gay and lesbian persons to every aspect of the life of our church and in all orders of ministry. Other Provinces are also blessed by the lives and ministry of homosexual persons. I regret that there are places within our Communion where it is unsafe for them to speak out of the truth of who they are.

The Report will be received and interpreted within the Provinces of the Communion in different ways, depending on our understanding of the nature and appropriate expression of sexuality. It is important to note here that in the Episcopal Church we are seeking to live the gospel in a society where homosexuality is openly discussed and increasingly acknowledged in all areas of our public life.

For at least the last 30 years our church has been listening to the experience and reflecting upon the witness of homosexual persons in our congregations. There are those among us who perceive the fruit of the Spirit deeply present in the lives of gay and lesbian Christians, both within the church and in their relationships. However, other equally faithful persons among us regard same gender relationships as contrary to scripture. Consequently, we continue to struggle with questions regarding sexuality.

Here I note the Report recommends that practical ways be found for the listening process commended by the Lambeth Conference in 1998 to be taken forward with a view to greater understanding about homosexuality and same gender relationships. It also requests the Episcopal Church to contribute to the ongoing discussion. I welcome this invitation and know that we stand ready to make a contribution to the continuing conversation and discernment of the place and ministry of homosexual persons in the life of the church.

The Report calls our Communion to reconciliation, which does not mean the reduction of differences to a single point of view. In fact, it is my experience that the fundamental reality of the Episcopal Church is the diverse center, in which a common commitment to Jesus Christ and a sense of mission in his name to a broken and hurting world override varying opinions on any number of issues, including homosexuality. The diverse center is characterized by a spirit of mutual respect and affection rather than hostility and suspicion. I would therefore hope that some of the ways in which we have learned to recognize Christ in one another, in spite of strongly held divergent opinions, can be of use in other parts of our Communion.

As Presiding Bishop I know I speak for members of our church in saying how highly we value our Communion and the bonds of affection we share. Therefore, we regret how difficult and painful actions of our church have been in many provinces of our Communion, and the negative repercussions that have been felt by brother and sister Anglicans.

In a “Word to the Church” following the meeting of our House of Bishops in September we wrote as follows. “We believe our relationships with others make real and apparent God’s reconciling love for all of creation. Our mutual responsibility, interdependence and communion are gifts from God. Therefore, we deeply value and are much enriched by our membership in the Anglican Communion. We also value Anglican comprehensiveness and its capacity to make room for difference.”

One section of the Report recommends the development of a covenant to be entered into by the provinces of the Communion. This notion will need to be studied with particular care. As we and other provinces explore the idea of a covenant we must do so knowing that over the centuries Anglican comprehensiveness has given us the ability to include those who wish to see boundaries clearly and closely drawn and those who value boundaries that are broad and permeable. Throughout our history we have managed to live with the tension between a need for clear boundaries and for room in order that the Spirit might express itself in fresh ways in a variety of contexts.

The Report makes demands on all of us, regardless of where we may stand, and is grounded in a theology of reconciliation and an understanding of communion as the gift of the triune God. It is therefore an invitation for all of us to take seriously the place in which we presently find ourselves but to do so with a view to a future yet to be revealed.

Here I am put in mind of the words of Archbishop Eames in the Foreword to the Report. “This Report is not a judgment. It is part of a process. It is part of a pilgrimage towards healing and reconciliation.” It is my earnest prayer that we will undertake this pilgrimage in a spirit of generosity and patient faithfulness, not primarily for the sake of our church and the Anglican Communion but for the sake of the world our Lord came among us to save.

The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Monday, 18 October 2004 at 2:18pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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at the hour

12 noon, and the Windsor Report of the Lambeth Commission, chaired by Archbishop Robin Eames, is published. Unless their website is swamped you can read the report online at the Anglican Communion Office.

If their site is overwhelmed (and it appears to be at the moment) then we have a copy of the pdf version here

Updated

There’s already quite a lot of reportage of this story, most of which seems to lead on the request for an apology from ECUSA. Journalists have perhaps not yet had time to fully digest the Report, or to note the more subtle aspects. Stories include:

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Monday, 18 October 2004 at 12:00pm BST | TrackBack
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before the hour

In a short while the Windsor Report will be published and we will be able to form our own opinions.

In the meantime there is plenty of coverage and comment on what the report is expected to say. No one seems to have disputed the accuracy of the story published in The Times last week.

The BBC has Splits feared in Anglican Church. The Times has Church report to spark gay debate, the Guardian carries a PA story Church report ‘set to fuel gay row’, and the Independent Gay rights report threatens to shatter unity of Anglican Church.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Monday, 18 October 2004 at 9:57am BST | TrackBack
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Saturday, 16 October 2004

A binding covenant?

The Times claims a scoop today on what the Windsor Report will say. Acccording to Ruth Gledhill:

A commission set up to save the Church from schism will propose a binding covenant.

Anglican provinces are to be told they must sign an unbreakable unity agreement which would prevent dioceses and provinces from ordaining bishops such as Gene Robinson in the US again. A “star chamber” will adjudicate when provinces are accused of breaking the agreement.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Saturday, 16 October 2004 at 7:44am BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Friday, 15 October 2004

Reform apologises

We noted an article in Wednesday’s Guardian reporting comments about the Archbishop of Canterbury made by the Dean of Sydney at Reform’s national conference. Reform has now felt it necessary to apologise to the Archbishop for what was said.

Church Times Reform is sorry for Dean’s jibe

Here are some other reports and reactions to the Dean’s comments.

ABC Online (Australia) Anglican Church leaders bewildered by Dean’s outburst
and Australian Anglican Church distances itself from Philip Jensen’s comments
The Sydney Morning Herald Anglican turmoil over Dean Jensen’s attack
and Dean Jensen lays into Prince and church leader
The Star (South Africa) Dean causes Anglican spat

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 15 October 2004 at 10:25am BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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York Advert

Since early last year, the Archbishops’ and Prime Minister’s appointments secretaries have been placing notices in the church press inviting comments and suggestions about filling vacant diocesan bishoprics. The one for York has appeared this week, and is reproduced below.

The Telegraph and BBC picked this up yesterday, but their stories give the impression that the reporters had not actually seen a copy of the notice.

Telegraph Worshippers invited to nominate archbishop
BBC Archbishop job ad in newspapers

The Church Times carries the notice in its paper edition today, but apparently does not consider it to be a job advertisement and so has not added it to its online listing of job vacancies.

The Church of England Newspaper, the other paper to carry the notice, has not yet updated its website to include this week’s classified ads.

VACANCY IN THE SEE OF YORK

Following the announcement of the resignation of Dr David Hope, Archbishop of York, the See will fall vacant on the 1st March 2005. The main meeting of the Vacancy in See Committee will be held on 30th October 2004.The Crown Nominations Commission will meet on 28th February/1st March 2005 and 10th/11th May 2005.

Any person wishing to comment on the needs of the diocese, the northern province or the wider church, or who wishes to propose candidates, should write before the 12th November to

Caroline Boddington
Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments
Cowley House
9 Little College Street
LONDON
SW1P 3SH

or to

William Chapman
Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary
10 Downing St
LONDON
SW1A 2AA

Any letters received will be shared by the two Secretaries.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 15 October 2004 at 9:50am BST | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 13 October 2004

'Evangelicals call Williams a prostitute'

That’s the headline over a story by Stephen Bates in today’s Guardian, reporting on the Conference of Reform.

Conservative evangelicals flexed their muscles yesterday by denouncing the Church of England and its leader, the Most Rev Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, as sinful and corrupt, and threatening to refuse to recognise the authority of liberal bishops.

And:

Dr Williams was denounced as a theological prostitute by the Very Rev Phillip Jensen, the controversial Anglican dean of Sydney, addressing the 200 clergy and lay members attending the conference.

Dean Jensen was applauded as his sweeping denunciation of the Church of England took in the Prince of Wales — a “public adulterer”; King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, attacked as a “temple to paganism” for selling the records and compact discs of its famous choir in the ante-chapel; and women priests because, “as soon as you accept women’s ordination everything else in the denomination declines”.

More coverage of the Conference in the Telegraph.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 13 October 2004 at 10:55pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 12 October 2004

Ethical Investments

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Church of England may review its policy on ethical investments. Currently, the Church Commissioners are unable to invest in companies involved in pornography, arms, tobacco, gambling and alcohol.

The Church Commissioners, who manage assets worth £3.9 billion, are reviewing their ethical investment policy to ensure that they are maximising their returns. Clerical insiders admitted that any significant changes could prove controversial among the General Synod, who are sensitive about the size and use of the Church’s holdings.

A copy of this Telegraph article also appears here.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 12 October 2004 at 12:51pm BST | TrackBack
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Noddy Land

Anthony Howard writes in The Times today about the forthcoming Rochester report, due next month, on women bishops. And he doesn’t like what he thinks it will say.

The Bishop of Rochester’s 15-strong working party has come up with what is, in effect, a shopping list. And a pretty ludicrous one it is, too.

And:

Its suggested courses of action for the future range from a kind of ecclesiastical Noddy land in which women could become suffragan bishops but not diocesan ones, through an even greater fantasy world in which they could hope to be full-scale diocesan bishops but never Archbishop of Canterbury or Archbishop of York, to a somewhat dismal and defeated maintenance of the status quo under which our present crop of women priests may become deans or archdeacons but never break through the stained-glass ceiling to sit on the episcopal bench.

(For the benefit of readers outside Britain, ‘Noddy’ is a character in a simplistic children’s storybook.)

As for next week’s Windsor Report he comments:

punitive action hardly looks like an essentially Christian activity and it is impossible to see anything but damage coming out of this particular piece of reprisal. Conceived in panic, it seems doomed to end in recrimination. No situation is ever surer to delight the outsider than the sight of those who purport to uphold standards of forgiveness and charity failing to live up to them.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 12 October 2004 at 12:43pm BST | TrackBack
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Friday, 8 October 2004

Easy Rider

A few years ago I had a funeral which involved a burial in an unfamiliar churchyard. The morning October mist was still over the graves and I went quite a way ahead of the procession to find the grave, and to stand as a marker in the cloud to ensure it would be occupied by the one for whom it was intended. As I stood sentinel the quiet was pierced by a scream, and I caught the red eyes of a stoat, his teeth deep into the neck of a struggling rabbit. I took off after the stoat which persisted, eyeing me from behind successive gravestones before vanishing into the mist.

As one raised as an urban kid, my images of rabbits came from the stuffed variety, and the crimson glare of the stoat lent itself readily to looking demonic, which convinced me of what I thought was the right thing to do. I failed the rabbit in the end by not finishing it off humanely, which I would have done if my instincts had been properly country.

Six years later, I am accustomed to being told the name of the chicken I am eating, and am well adjusted to rural life being about the sharp end of life and death.

So when Old Labour is baying for blood in calling for the abolition of the hunt, its instincts are as skewed as any townie who serves food on the table, the provenance of which is lost in a trail that ends on the supermarket shelf.

The ban against hunting with hounds has to be the most misguided and wasteful cause our representatives can pursue. Old Labour is urban, its roots are industrial, just like my own. While the anti-hunting lobby claims to be caught up in the fate of a fox, what is driving it is a deep disdain for the culture of the people who ride with the hounds.

I think, if Old Labour is still wanting to build a new and fairer world, it can be more effectively occupied.

The hunt is only partly about the fox, it is mainly rural ritual. Like any ritual there is a beginning, middle and end, there are conventions to follow, costumes to wear and patterns of deference to observe as you enjoy, for a brief season, the freedom to ride across the land unfettered and free. In the past, the hunt leader was at the head, and those who followed were in their appointed order according to their position in the rural community. The hunt was a ritual rehearsing the social makeup up the community.

The very fact that it is possible to even consider the demise of the hunt is not because we want to be kind to foxes, but because the social hierarchy which it depicts is fading quickly from country life. More often these days, whether you ride at the head or the tail of the hunt, you are likely to be found in your grey pinstripe on the platform waiting for the 0610 to Liverpool Street.

This is the 100th year of the Harley Davidson, the steed of choice for the classic biker pack. Fifty years ago, bikers had the same fantasy of riding free, the road coming to meet you, and an open horizon. The biggest and meanest dudes rode at the front, while the weakest followed behind. These days, the only people who can afford Harleys are middle-aged accountants in mid-life crisis. I’m certain that, after the bike is in the garage, today’s bikers check to see their grey pinstripe is where they can find it when they all stagger for the 0610 on Monday morning.

Old Labour should leave the hunt alone, it is already a changing institution, and can safely be left in the hands of history. In the meantime, Old Labour would be more true to its vocation if it turned to championing the cause of the availability of public services for the rural elderly and poor.

Posted by Andrew Spurr on Friday, 8 October 2004 at 8:56am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 6 October 2004

the Windsor Report

ACNS reports that the Lambeth Commission report will be published on Monday, 18 October, 12.00 midday in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral. The report is named the Windsor Report after St George’s, Windsor, where it was drafted.

ACNS expects a large media frenzy to surround the report, which will also be available online at midday BST (i.e., GMT +1) on 18 October.

Update 18 October — for more reports and comments on the Windsor Report see the main page at Thinking Anglicans

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 6 October 2004 at 11:31am BST | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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new Deputy Secretary General

ACNS reports that the Anglican Consultative Council is to have a deputy Secretary General, a new position. Canon Gregory Cameron has been appointed to this position with immediate effect.

Canon Cameron is currently Director of Ecumenical Affairs and Studies at the Anglican Communion Office, and he has been secretary to the Lambeth (or Eames) Commission.

(As an aside, it’s interesting to note that in this announcement Canon John Peterson is described as ‘Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council’, and not as ‘Secretary General of the Anglican Communion’, a phrase which has been used frequently over the last few years.)

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 6 October 2004 at 10:37am BST | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 5 October 2004

Gladwin for York?

Bishop John Gladwin

The House of Bishops of the Church of England is having one of its regular private meetings today and tomorrow. Michael Brown in the Yorkshire Post reports that they will discuss who they would like to see chosen as the next Archbishop of York and that their first choice will be John Gladwin, Bishop of Chelmsford. The paper describes him as a “tolerant liberal”, a “tilter at Thatcherism” and a “friend of gays”. He is also a former Provost of Sheffield Cathedral, which explains the paper’s particular interest.

This weekend’s Sunday Times also tipped Gladwin, but did not go so far as to say that the bishops as a whole were supporting him.

The York diocesan vacancy-in-see committee will be holding its first meeting on Tuesday 12 October. Can anybody tell me when the Crown Nominations Commission will meet to consider the York appointment?

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 5 October 2004 at 10:50am BST | TrackBack
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