Friday, 31 December 2004

Windsor Report: Canada

The January issue of the Anglican Journal reports on what is happening in Canada as a result of the Windsor Report

Council members spar over Windsor Report
Group will frame church response to report
Commission will decide on doctrine question

And two further stories recount diocesan level events:
Toronto defers vote on blessings
Blessings vote causes rift with Catholics

While this story recaps the global situation:
Primates’ response to report will be key

So far, 16 provinces have issued statements on the Windsor Report, either through their primates, house of bishops, or synods: England, Ireland, Canada, United States, Nigeria, Central Africa, South Africa, Burundi, Tanzania, Southern Cone, West Indies, Australia, New Zealand, Uganda, Wales, and Scotland.
Six – Congo, Indian Ocean, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, and West Africa – joined Nigeria, Central Africa and Uganda in releasing a statement criticizing the report, at the recent African Anglican Bishops Conference.
Sixteen have reserved comment: Bangladesh, Brazil, Central America, Hong Kong, Japan, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Korea, Melanesia, Mexico, Myanmar, North India, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Southeast Asia, and South India.
Statements that have been issued highlight flashpoints that foreshadow a potentially rocky primates’ meeting. With the exception of South Africa, Burundi and Tanzania, nine other African primates, plus the primate of the Southern Cone (of South America), are upset that the report did not recommend discipline of the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA) and the diocese of New Westminster and does not call for repentance from them. They are also riled at the suggestion that they “express regret” for having offered episcopal oversight to those opposed to homosexual bishops and same-sex blessings.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 31 December 2004 at 8:33pm GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Tuesday, 28 December 2004

Windsor Report: more American views

Mark Dyer and his critics are not the only Americans who have been speaking about the Windsor Report.

Here are two further transcripts of recent talks by ECUSA seminary faculty members who, while broadly supportive of the report, have also made significant criticisms of it. Both articles are worth a careful reading in full.

Ellen Wondra delivered her inaugural lecture as Professor of Theology and Ethics at Seabury-Western on 18 October, ten days after the report was published.
‘The highest degree of communion possible’

Wondra believes that when WR uses the word consultation it means “reaching an agreement” and she believes this is how it is used in the Church of England.

For over a century and a half, the churches of the Anglican Communion have claimed that it is necessary to “consult” on matters that affect the whole communion. But we have yet to reach agreement on what “consultation” means. There are, indeed, two definitions of consultation. One is the notion of talking seriously with other folks as part of making decisions; that tends to be what the Episcopal Church and some other provinces mean by “consulting.” But in the CoE, “consultation” means reaching an agreement. So, on the CoE reading, the Episcopal Church did not consult prior to the consecration of Bp. Robinson; whereas on our reading, we did, though certainly not as widely as we ought to have done. So one big question is how we agree and determine that adequate consultation has taken place. The Windsor Report goes with the CoE view: consultation has happened when people agree. This has enormous implications, as we will see.

She also believes the WR account of the history of women’s ordination is flawed:

Frankly: This reading is a caricature, and it omits many salient points. There is nothing of the intensity and vitriol of a very public controversy both within the various provinces and at the level of the Communion itself. There is nothing of the dire threats of schism and the breaking apart of the Communion, or of the schisms that did take place, or of the extra-canonical actions of various bishops. The “measure of impairment” to which the Report refers to is the prohibitions put on women deacons, priests and bishops, many of which still exist today — notably in the Church of England, where there continues to be a ban on women bishops from functioning as bishops in that province. Nor is it mentioned that the controversy over the ordination of women prompted the Lambeth Conference to direct the Archbishop of Canterbury to set up a special commission to study how the communion might maintain “the highest possible degree of communion” among “the Provinces which differ.”

Nevertheless on the WR as a whole, she says:

The Windsor Report recognizes that dispersal of authority to local provinces, dioceses, lay people, and so on has for many years and most of the time served the Anglican Communion pretty well. It has allowed us to engage in “local adaptation” of all kinds of things, from the BCP to questions pertaining to gender, sexuality, moral life, the interpretation of Scripture, the designation of guiding traditions, and the like. It has made it possible for us to be a global communion in which there is great diversity but still considerable unity, based on a common faith and what has been called “bonds of affection.” Certainly there are times when these “bonds of affection” have been strained. Indeed, the very first Lambeth Conference was convened in response to such strain. And both the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council had to deal with such issues at their very first meetings.

But, in the judgment of many, perhaps most, Anglicans and our major ecumenical partners, this dispersed authority is not now serving us well and is indeed contributing to difficulties that may, perhaps not long from now, spell the end of the Anglican Communion. I think this judgment is correct, on the basis of the plain evidence. The familiar marks of communion – dioceses and provinces being in communion with other, bishops respecting each other’s territorial jurisdiction, respectful discourse, patience in disagreement, and so on—have been violated numbers of times. While these violations have occurred in the context of controversies about sexuality and gender, they are more profoundly connected to matters of authority. Indeed, the gravest sign of crisis in the Anglican Communion may very well be the crossing of diocesan and provincial boundaries by bishops — something prohibited in the earliest canons of the worldwide church, those of the 4th century Council of Nicaea.

Robert Hughes, Professor of Systematic Theology at Sewanee spoke at a meeting held in Nashville on 10 November. Professor Robert Hughes on the Windsor Report

(Big Thanks to Kendall Harmon for making this available - see also here for an announcement of the 10 November event.)

Hughes main criticism is that WR does not give equal weight to all four elements of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral:

A. The major theological problem I see with the document is in the section called “Fundamental Principles, Section B. After the section on scripture and its interpretation the document goes immediately to the episcopate. And it never does return to the missing two corners of the Chicago/Lambeth Quadrilateral, Creeds and Sacraments, with devastating consequences, in my view, for the ensuing doctrine of episcopate, autonomy, adiaphora, and reception, and hence of the proposed covenant. Let me spell this out more fully:

B. The second corner of the Quadrilateral, incorrectly quoted in the report in Appendix 3, p. 73, reads as follows: The Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith. That’s actually the Chicago Quad. The Lambeth version added “The Apostle’s Creed as the Baptismal Symbol.” But the important point is what is common to both. The Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith. Let that word “sufficient” sink in for a moment. As Robert Jenson points out, four things emerged in the life of the Church at roughly the same time, which the Church of the time decided were essential to its common life, its koinonia, its being as communion. They are precisely congruent with the Quadrilateral: The canon of scripture, the theological discussions that would eventually result in the Nicene Creed, the two great sacraments (at a minimum), and the historic Episcopate. As Jenson suggests, if the Church which made those decisions erred, there is now no true Church to critique those decisions.

Hughes concludes with this:

A. In closing, I would like to offer an alternative view of where we are.

B. In his very fine book, The spirit of life : the Holy Spirit in the life of the christian , Portugese/Indian Jesuit Luis Bermejo offers a different model for reception than the one we have presented to us in the Windsor Report. He sees it in four stages, each beginning with a “C”. Communication, Conflict, Consensus, Communion. First, there has to be enough communication for folks to know a disagreement is arising. In the days of the early Church this was problematic, but when it did happen, slow enough that people had time to think, though we must recall there were riots and rock-fights in the streets of Constantinople over the Trinitarian formula. Communication has now become so rapid, however, that reflection is now mostly crowded out by reactivity and an ideological rhetoric which perpetuates conflict rather than resolves it. This is a deep infection in the Republic as well as the Church. Frankly, we all need to take a deep breath and declare a cease-fire.

C. Then comes an inevitable stage of conflict as the Church uses all its resources to work through the issue at hand. Impaired communion sometimes occurs, but that is always regrettable, and ultimately means that one voice is not at the table, and may not return for centuries. Recent progress with both the Antiochene and Alexandrian Churches, as well as between them, to say nothing of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic agreement on Justification, remind us these arguments take much, much longer, even when in the end it looks as if we will be able to work them out, if communion is too impaired and voices are excluded. That is my real concern about the idea that certain bishops should voluntarily stay away from the councils of the Church or be disinvited. That will only prolong the conflict by attempting to bring premature closure to a serious theological debate. I agree with Rowan Williams that such efforts at premature closure are a serious form of unfaithfulness.

D. We long for the ensuing stages of consensus and communion. But when we try to force it, they only recede from us. The issue for us, as I see it, is to learn how to remain faithful and in the maximum amount of charity with one another while we live through a protracted stage of conflict. It took a couple of hundred years for the Church to get the Creedal stuff worked out. I do not expect the current kerfuffle to be much shorter. Our job is to make as bright a future for our spiritual descendants as possible by being faithful in a stage of conflict. Obviously, I think we should not erect new authoritarian structures to terminate the conflict, but I think some kind of Covenant to keep it in bounds is a good idea. I also think we should begin by admitting on all sides that we are arguing about a matter that is not essential, but very, very important. Walter Bouman gave a great address at the dinner of the Fellows’ Forum in February. His point was simple: you Anglicans have everything you need to get through this. It’s called the Chicago/Lambeth Quadrilateral. Everything I have said is only a loud Amen to that point.

Both of these articles (and Mark Dyer as well) have been criticized at length, from a conservative viewpoint, in a more recent (14 December) paper (which I also recommend reading in full) by Dr Ephraim Radner the rector of Ascension Episcopal Church in Pueblo, Colorado:
The Windsor Report and the American Evasion of Communion

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 28 December 2004 at 11:43pm GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Thought for the Day

The BBC Radio 4 morning programme Today is this week having various “guest editors”. Today it was Bono. One of the special features he requested was for the Thought for the Day slot to be given to Njongonkulu Ndungane Archbishop of Cape Town.
You can hear what he said with Real Audio here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 28 December 2004 at 3:18pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Sunday, 26 December 2004

Windsor Report: can Americans listen to each other?

Earlier this month, AKM Adam wrote a highly pessimistic blog article entitled How Would We Know in which he said:

I’ve been surveying the usual suspects, web sites that comment on the present unhappy controversies in the Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion. Although I respect and sympathize with Archbishop Rowan Williams, I have the sinking feeling that his hopeful outlook may not be as well-founded as he seems to think.

This was a reference to RW’s Advent Pastoral Letter. AKMA continued:

I wish I thought we Anglicans could keep together. I will be overjoyed to find that I’m wrong, and I will grieve deeply if “churches will go their different ways, even to the point of competing with one another.” What causes me unease lies in the tone of the observations I find on the various contending sites, and especially on the unwavering confidence the various speakers reflect. I’m especially uneasy when I ask myself, “How would we (or ‘they,’ however ‘we’ and ‘they’ get constructed) know if we (or ‘they’) were wrong?”

For it seems, on the face of things, that of two people saying mutually-contradictory things, one or the other will probably have erred. And if I’m right, if there’s no evident way one or the other party discerning that they might be wrong, how would either recognize their error and seek correction? The disapprobation of the preponderance of Anglican provinces won’t demonstrate that the (majority of the) U.S. church is wrong about sexuality, any more than it demonstrated that the (majority of the) U.S. church was wrong about ordaining women. Since the Windsor Report seems to treat the process leading to the ordination of women (which has become at least a tolerable difference) as exemplary, the U.S. church has some reason to think that its course leading to the consecration of Gene Robinson may mark a parallel path.

But if the (majority of the) U.S. church has gone fatally astray, how are they to know it? One can’t simply repeat that the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals is non-biblical; plenty of what has become common practice was once deemed unbiblical. One can’t invoke the Vincentian canon quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est (“that which is believed everywhere, at all times, by all”), not unless one wants to roll back the ordination of women and the possibility of remarriage after divorce (to name but two prominent non-universal points). And even the Windsor Report allows the possibility that the Spirit might effect radical change in the church’s course. That concession obviously doesn’t require that anyone think sexuality constitute such an instance of Spirit-led radical change; at the same time, it evidently holds open the possibility, the mere possibility that the (majority of the) U.S. church’s understanding of sexuality does represent such a surprising change. That being the case, what would count as a reason for the (majority of the) U.S. church to reverse course?

Very recently, the Anglican Communion Institute has recently published a new lecture by Philip Turner, former Dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. This was delivered to a meeting in the Diocese of West Texas.

(published 23 December)

(Dr Turner is also the author of Shall We Walk Together or Walk Apart? (published 10 November), a talk which has considerable overlap of content with the later version.)

Although Dr Turner holds views which are unequivocally on the conservative side, he is a strong supporter of the Windsor Report:

As my colleague, Oliver O’Donovan, said recently, when placed along side most Anglican Documents, the Windsor Report is decidedly “up market.” In contradistinction to a number of contrary judgments, I agree; and the burden of my remarks will be designed to show that, despite certain omissions and errors (some serious) the report provides a credible way forward both for ECUSA and the Anglican Communion as a whole.

And he has some strong criticisms to make of extremists on the right as well as of those on the left, which bear repeating here in full:

It has become painfully clear to me in the past months that there are those on both the left and the right who, though they would probably deny it, have made a choice to walk apart. The prophets on the left claim the backing of divine providence that has placed them ahead of the pack. They are content to go it alone and simply wait for others to catch up. The prophets on the right claim to be the champions of orthodoxy—charged with maintaining a faithful church in the midst of “apostasy.” They are content to go it alone and await the vindication of God. WR maps a more arduous and painful way forward - one that seeks to create a space in time within which very serious divisions within this portion of the body of Christ can be confronted and overcome.

My starting point is that of WR. I want to map a way forward that keeps Anglicans together as a communion. I want to show what it might mean for ECUSA to make a choice for communion rather than denominationalism and federation. I am consequently saddened by the reaction of those on the left - one that expresses regret but makes it clear that they will motor on despite the wreckage they may cause. I am saddened also by reaction of those on the right who seem to exert more energy thinking about a way forward after ECUSA rejects WR than it does seeking to bring ECUSA to a considered and charitable response to what I believe to be an extraordinarily fine ecclesiological statement.

And again, when discussing the WR’s account of the Anglican “communion ecclesiology” that has shaped recent Anglican ecumenical dialogue, he says:

From my perspective, one can only hail this starting point if for no other reason than the authors of WR feel bound to the ecumenical commitments of the Anglican Communion; and in so doing do not (as is now so common) act as autonomous agents utterly unencumbered by either history of social ties. Nevertheless, it must be noted that many on both the left and the right do not begin their ecclesiological discussions here. Many on the left begin with the church as a prophetic vanguard commissioned to fight within various political systems for the rights of those who are disadvantaged by those systems. Many on the right view the church primarily as the guardian of certain saving truths contained in Holy Scripture and in various creedal or confessional statements. These perspectives, different though they are, lead those who hold them to similar visions of themselves; namely, as advocates and/or guardians who must, before all else, hold to principle.

Where, I wonder, are the leaders, on both the “left” and the “right” in ECUSA, who are able and willing to listen seriously to each other and find a way forward?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 26 December 2004 at 4:03pm GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Sunday news reports

Stories related to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s sermon are here.

The Telegraph reports that churchgoers live longer. The secret of long life… go to church.

The Sunday Times says that David Stancliffe says that Prince Charles should consider a Register Office wedding (middle part of the page).

There was further positive news for him this weekend as a senior figure in the Church of England raised the possibility of a resolution to his marital status by proposing a register office wedding.

David Stancliffe, Bishop of Salisbury, said: “If the Prince of Wales and Mrs Parker Bowles expressed a wish to marry, the proper pastoral approach should be to advise them to seek a civil ceremony which may be followed by prayers of dedication in church.”

This suggestion, which he said was supported by the majority of the episcopate, marks a significant development from the position taken a year ago by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Williams indicated that the couple might not meet the criteria for a remarriage in church.

According to Stancliffe, the church’s expert on liturgy, the dedication ceremony would be appropriate for a future supreme governor of the Church of England. “That can be a solemn and splendid affirmation of their new marriage.”

An act of parliament would be required because at present there is no provision for the royal family to marry in a register office.

And the BBC today reports on one of its own programmes:
Gay cleric attacks bullying. You can read the entire sermon here and judge for yourself whether this is a balanced report of the sermon as a whole.

Update Monday
Other news reports of this event:
The Times Challenge thugs, says gay dean
Guardian Gay cleric accuses church of giving in to bullies

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 26 December 2004 at 4:03pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Sunday radio reports

The BBC radio programme Sunday comes this week from York Minster and is entirely about York. All the items are worthwhile but the following is the most interesting.

David Hope is interviewed at length: this is in two parts. Part 1 is here (3 minutes). Part 2 is “hidden” inside this part which starts with a discussion of the history of Christianity in York. The interview begins about 6 minutes 50 seconds into the feed, and lasts for 10 minutes, and this contains his comments on several current issues.
Strongly recommended (Real Audio required).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 26 December 2004 at 3:41pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Sunday Worship from St Albans

The BBC programme Sunday Worship came this morning from the Cathedral and Abbey Church of Saint Alban.

You can hear the entire programme with Real Audio here
or read a transcript here

Update: Maggi Dawn has posted about this sermon: you can read what she says, and also the comments of her readers, here.

Further Update So has Kendall Harmon: see here.

News reports of this event are here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 26 December 2004 at 9:18am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Saturday, 25 December 2004

Rowan Williams: Christmas sermon

Rowan Williams preached this morning in Canterbury Cathedral.

Press Association Archbishop Attacks Rich Nations’ ‘Indifference’
BBC Archbishop asks rich to help poor
Reuters Archbishop challenges West on poverty
ABC News Online Anglican head claims nations ignoring global poverty

Update: Sunday papers
Sunday Times Church leaders use sermons to attack government over war
Observer Fight poverty not wars, says Williams
Independent Churches condemn terror spend

The full sermon will no doubt appear on his own website in due course. Update now available here
Meanwhile it is available on ACNS, and also here on TA, below the fold.

The reference in the sermon to ‘fire in the equations’ is to this book: The Fire in the Equations: Science, religion and the search for God by Kitty Ferguson

Archbishop of Canterbury
Christmas Sermon
Canterbury Cathedral
25 December 2004

It used to be said that if you were travelling by ocean liner, the worst thing you could do was to visit the engine room; and I’m afraid it’s a point people make to discourage you from visiting the Vatican or Church House, or even Lambeth Palace… Getting too close to the centre of things (or what people think is the centre of things) can be alarming or disillusioning or both: you really don’t want to know that, people will say; you don’t need to know how things work (or fail to work). Get on with it.

And that’s where Christmas is actually a bit strange and potentially worrying. When we’re invited into the stable to see the child, it’s really being invited into the engine room. This is how God works; this is how God is. The entire system of the universe, ‘the fire in the equations’ as someone wonderfully described it, is contained in this small bundle of shivering flesh. God has given himself away so completely that we meet him here in poverty and weakness, with no trumpeting splendour, no clouds of glory. This is how he is: he acts by giving away all we might expect to find in him of strength and success as we understand them. The universe lives by a love that refuses to bully us or force us, the love of the cradle and the cross.

It ought to shock us to be told year after year that the universe lives by the kind of love that we see in the helpless child and in the dying man on the cross. We have been shown the engine room of the universe; and it ought to worry us - us, who are so obsessed about being safe and being successful, who worry endlessly about being in control, who cannot believe that power could show itself in any other way than the ways we are used to. But this festival tells us exactly what Good Friday and Easter tell us: that God fulfils what he wants to do by emptying himself of his own life, giving away all that he is in love. The gospel reading sets this out in terms that cannot be argued with or surpassed. God is always, from all eternity, pouring out his very being in the person of the Word, the everlasting Son; and the Word, who has received everything from the gift of the Father, and who makes the world alive by giving reality to all creation, makes a gift of himself by becoming human and suffering humiliation and death for our sake.

‘From his fullness we have all received’; Jesus, the word made human flesh and blood, has given us the freedom, the authority, to become God’s children by our trust in him, and so to have a fuller and fuller share in God’s own joy.

We live from him and in him. The whole universe exists because God has not held back his love but allowed it to flow without impediment out of his own perfection to make a world that is different from him and then to fill it with love through the gift of his Son. And our life as Christians, our obligations, our morality, do not rest on commands alone, but on the fact that God has given us something of his own life. We are caught up in his giving, in his creative self-sacrifice; true Christian morality is when we can’t help ourselves, can’t stop ourselves pouring out the kind of love that makes others live. Morality, said one prominent modern Greek Orthodox theologian, is not about right and wrong, it’s about reality and unreality, living in Christ or living for yourself. Being good is living in the truth, living a real life, a life that is in touch with ‘the fire in the equations’ and that lets the intense creativity of God through into his world. The goodness of the Christian is never a matter of achieving a standard, scoring high marks in a test. It is letting the wonder of God’s love knock sideways your ordinary habits, so that God comes through - the God who achieves his purpose by reckless gift, by the cradle and the cross.

When St Paul in his second letter to the church in Corinth insists on the need for generosity towards the poor in the church at Jerusalem, he appeals, not to an abstract moral principle, but to the fact of God becoming human.

‘You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ’, he writes, ‘that though he was rich yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich’ (II Cor. 8.9). He doesn’t argue that we must simply reverse the relations, so that those who were poor become rich and those who were rich become poor, but rather for a situation in which everyone has something to contribute to everyone else, everyone has enough liberty to become a giver of life to others. When material poverty is extreme, it is difficult to have that dignity - though, miraculously, so many poor people have it; the greatest gift we can give to another is to let them give as freely as they can, so that they can supply what we are hungry for. Love is given so that love may be born and given in return. That is the engine of the universe; that is what we see in the helpless child of Bethlehem, God so stripped of what we associate with divinity that we can see the divine nature only as God’s act of giving away all that he is.

And if we want to live in the truth, to live in reality, to live by the Spirit who is breathed out from the Father and the Word, this has to be our life. It is not an academic question. In the year ahead, this country takes its place in the chair of the G8 group of nations; and we have already heard from the Chancellor of his aspirations for the UK’s role in this context. So far, the attainment of the ‘Millennium Development Goals’ has not progressed very far or very fast. The likelihood of a reduction by half of people living in abject poverty by the year 2015 is not noticeably greater than it was four years ago. There are plenty of ideas around for instruments that would accelerate the pace - the International Finance Facility, a further push on debt reduction, a regime of incentives to encourage pharmaceutical companies to reduce drug prices and improve distribution systems for needy countries, the development of systematic micro-credit schemes, a new look at agricultural subsidies. The new Africa Commission is at least a beginning to the search for co-ordinated policies. But despite the vision of some in the political world and beyond, the will to take this forward seems to be in short supply. Some developed nations appear deeply indifferent to the goals agreed. It is all too easy to be more interested in other matters - not least the profound anxieties about security that are at the moment so pervasive, massaged by various forces in our public life in the West.

No-one could or would deny that we face exceptional levels of insecurity and serious problems in relation to an unpredictable and widely diffused network of agencies whose goals are slaughter and disruption. It is not a mistake to be concerned about terror; we have seen enough this last year, in Iraq and Ossetia, of the nauseating and conscienceless brutality that is around. But some of you may remember words used at the end of that worrying and wide-ranging television series in the autumn, ‘The Power of Nightmare’: ‘When a society believes in nothing, the only agenda is fear’. We struggle for a secure world; so we should. But what if our only passion is to be protected, and we lose sight of what we positively and concretely want for ourselves and one another, what we want for the human family? We are not going to be living in the truth if we have no passion for the liberty of God’s children, no share in the generosity of God.

So as we go into this next year in which our country can do so much to advance the vision of the Millennium Goals, the year too in which we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Live Aid, why not make this our central priority as churches and as individual Christians? It is a time to ask ourselves whether we are really living in the truth, motivated by the engine of the universe that is revealed to us in the child of Bethlehem. It may mean risk, it will mean facing the prospect that the prosperity of the developed world can’t go on expanding indefinitely; it may mean that we have to look at our security far more in terms of how we make each other safe by guaranteeing justice and liberty for each other. But we shall have recovered a passion, a generous anger about the world’s needs that is our surest long term answer to issues of security because it looks to a situation in which all are free to give and receive.

A few years ago, the churches made a tangible difference in their advocacy for debt relief through the Jubilee 2000 campaign. Can the churches of this country do as much again in the coming year in pressing government and financial institutions towards justice - and in motivating their own members get involved in voluntary action, advocacy and giving? If the answer is yes, we shall have taken a step towards living in the truth. The law of all being, the fire in the equations which has kindled all life and which burns without restriction in every moment of the life of Jesus from birth to resurrection, will have kindled in us. ‘I have come to cast fire upon the earth’, said Jesus. We may well and rightly feel a touch of fear as we look into this ‘engine room’ - the life so fragile and so indestructible, so joyful and so costly. But this is the life of all things, full of grace and truth, the life of the everlasting Word of God; to those who receive him he will give the right, the liberty, to live with his life, and to kindle on earth the flame of his love.


© Rowan Williams 2004

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 25 December 2004 at 11:59am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Sermons

Friday, 24 December 2004

AN Wilson on Rowan Williams

The Spectator magazine has this feature article about Rowan Williams, written by AN Wilson:

Holy sage
(and continued on page 2). The entire article should be read, but here is one quotation:

In spite of what some Christians today believe, the future of Christianity does not depend upon what a few bigots on the one hand, and a few homosexual enthusiasts and their friends on the other, believe about same-sex unions. It really does not.

The loudest critics come from some little enclave within the Church — whether ‘high’ or ‘low’ — where they are so busy with their church hobby and so smugly certain of their own rectitude that they have managed to overlook a rather obvious fact. Their churches, such as Holy Trinity Brompton or St Helen’s Bishopsgate might be full to the rafters on Sunday mornings, but the numbers who enjoy their particular form of holy club are a tiny minority of the population of this planet. Rowan Williams is sufficiently intelligent and normal to be aware that in the West, being religious these days is, outside America, very distinctly odd, and trying to defend Christianity against the whole ethos of materialism and scientific rationalism which most intelligent people take for granted is a more than intellectual task. We might very well be living in Christianity’s last days. Many of us who go to church do so a little wistfully, knowing that, unlike Rowan Williams, we do not believe in the ways which our ancestors did. ‘Our prayers so languid and our faith so dim’ is one of the few lines of a hymn which we could sing with gusto. ‘Fightings within and fears without’ might be another.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 24 December 2004 at 11:53am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Christmas Eve newspaper columns

Tom Wright has written in a local newspaper the Northern Echo about Cracking the Christmas code

Giles Fraser has written in the Guardian that Empires prefer a baby and the cross to the adult Jesus
and Stephen Bates ( with a little help from Jim Rosenthal) has profiled Saint Nicholas

Bishop, legend, saint, fairy story, retail therapist, and film star … How did a pile of bones in an Italian basilica become the soft drink-swigging patron saint of brides, and our last remaining link with the original meaning of Christmas?

John Bell writes in the Independent
At Christmas we can dream and imagine how the future should be

But this year, I sense a new affection displacing seasonal cynicism. I don’t believe that the fascination with Christmas is simply a reminiscence project, a season dip into sentimentality or (depending on the carol concert) banality. Rather, I suspect that in the retelling and rehearing of the Christmas narratives, there is some latent yet profound hope stirred within us. Increasingly the skies above us are associated with dread as much as beauty. This is the result of being exposed to almost weekly conjectures about the state of the ozone layer or the discharging of carbon dioxide. Might it not be that deep in our hearts we want to believe that the air above us is a place for angel-song and celestial harmony, and that somehow ecology has to do with cosmic praise as well as freedom from pollution?

The Telegraph leader column is titled The disarming paradox of the child Emmanuel

In The Times Geza Vermes asks When you strip away all the pious fiction, what is left of the real Jesus? He says in part:

The ingredients of Jesus’s religion were enthusiasm, urgency, compassion and love. He cherished children, the sick and the despised. In his eyes, the return of a stray lamb to the sheepfold, the repentance of a tax collector or a harlot, caused more joy in heaven than the prosaic virtue of 99 just men.

Because of His healings, many saw in Jesus the Messiah, triumphant over Rome and establisher of everlasting peace. Yet he had no political ambition. Rumours that He might be the Christ were nevertheless spreading and contributed to His downfall. His tragic end was precipitated by an unpremeditated act in the Temple. The noisy business transacted by the merchants of sacrificial animals and the moneychangers so outraged the rural holy man that He overturned their tables and violently expelled them. He thus created a fracas in the sanctuary of the overcrowded city before Passover and alerted the priests.

So the Temple authorities, the official guardians of peace, saw in Jesus a potential threat to order. They had to intervene promptly. Nevertheless even in those circumstances, the Jewish leadership preferred to pass the ultimate responsibility to the cruel Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who condemned Jesus to death. He was crucified before Passover probably in AD30 because in the eyes of officialdom, Roman and Jewish, He had done the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Just as the New Testament had prefaced the biography of Jesus by the joyful prologue of the Nativity, it also appended an epilogue to the tragedy of the Cross, the glorious hymn of the Resurrection. Indeed, Jesus had made such a profound impact on His apostles that they attributed to the power of His name the continued success of their charismatic activity. So Jesus rose from the dead in the hearts of His disciples and He lives on as long as the Christian Church endures.

Also in The Times Simon Jenkins writes about stained glass in Marvel at Heaven’s doorway and there is a leader entitled Have faith which ends:

Today, perhaps, faith comes less easily to most than it once did. There is more competition for attention and, in the West, we seem to have more power to choose and a greater range of choices. What does it say about human nature that so many choices impoverish the spirit?

The case for appreciating what a religious dimension can bring has, of course, been made more difficult in a world scarred by fundamentalist violence and blinkered zealotry. But it was just such a world into which Jesus was born. And His message has endured, while the fanatics of His time have become history’s footnotes. It is paradoxical indeed that a message of love, which survived centuries of hate, is now in danger of being lost through mere indifference and self-absorption. Our culture would lose so much if what we owe to faith became forgotten. That is why we are glad to say to all our readers, whatever their beliefs, that we firmly hope the spirit of Christmas is with them.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 24 December 2004 at 11:10am GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Thursday, 23 December 2004

Rosemont reported in England

The Church of England Newspaper reported the Rosemont story this way: American traditionalist takes rival consecration

The report includes the following comments from others:

“Fr Moyer’s deposition by the Bishop of Pennsylvania accused him of ‘abandoning the communion of this church’,” Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth, a leading Forward in Faith bishop, told The Church of England Newspaper. “He had not done that; but now, if he is consecrated, he will have removed himself from the Anglican Communion,” said Bishop Iker, who also asked Dr Moyer to resign as president of FiF (North America).

Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh counselled Dr Moyer not to accept the post and later released a statement distancing the Anglican Communion Network from the announcement. “I regret that his decision raises difficulties in his relationship to the broader Anglican Communion,” he stated on Dec 20, noting that Dr Moyer had resigned as FiF’s representative to the Network.

Lambeth Palace spokesman, the Rev Jonathan Jennings, released a statement confirming that Dr Moyer had discussed the matter with Dr. Williams but that “the Archbishop was not asked for his blessing on the proposal; he expressed himself in terms of pastoral support to Fr Moyer during what will be a transitional phase from one form of ministry to another.”

“Dr Williams was clear with him, however, that this development would pose serious canonical obstacles to the prospect of Fr Moyer exercising a priestly ministry within the Anglican Communion and advised Fr Moyer to discuss the matter fully with his Ordinary as part of the process of discernment,” wrote Mr Jennings.

The Church Times in its News columns this week (not on the web yet) carries only a short notice of the bare facts, but does remind its readers of what happened in 2002: Carey and Williams back leader unfrocked by US bishop is how the Church Times reported it then.

Meanwhile, although Dr Moyer is no longer the Dean of the FiFNA Convocation within the NACDAP, he remains the President of FiFNA, and as such issued this Message from the FiF North America President.

update a further comment on 20 December from Fr Cantrell.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 23 December 2004 at 11:44pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA

Tuesday, 21 December 2004

General Synod - February 2005

The next meeting of General Synod will be from 5pm on Monday 14 to 7pm on Thursday 17 February. The Convocations and the House of Laity will meet on the Monday afternoon.

Synod members have been sent an outline agenda today; I’ve put it online here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 21 December 2004 at 9:16pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: General Synod

Monday, 20 December 2004

more Rosemont reaction

The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes has issued a press release. It is not yet on their own website, so the full text is below.

It announces the resignation of David Moyer as dean of the FiF Convocation within the Network.

Update 11.45 pm GMT
This release is now available on the Network website:
The Anglican Communion Network Announces Resignation of Moyer as Dean

The Anglican Communion Network Announces Resignation of Moyer as Dean

The Anglican Communion Network (ACN) today announced the resignation of the Rev. Dr. David Moyer as dean of the Forward in Faith Convocation. Father Moyer has served in that capacity since January 2004. Forward in Faith is expected to present their nomination to Bishop Duncan for his successor in the near future.

It was recently announced that Father Moyer will be consecrated a bishop in the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC). The TAC is not a constituent member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, although it has ties through some local bishops.

“While I understand the hostility that Father Moyer and all Anglo-Catholics have faced from much of the Episcopal Church, I regret that his decision raises difficulties in his relationship to the broader Anglican Communion,” said ACN Moderator Bishop Robert Duncan. “Forward in Faith and the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church are a highly-valued and important part of the Anglican Communion Network, and Father Moyer’s departure from his leadership position is a loss. We wish Father Moyer the best in his new ministry.”

In June 2004, six groups within the Anglican tradition formed an alliance under Bishop Duncan’s chairmanship as moderator of the Anglican Communion Network. The Traditional Anglican Communion was not a part of that alliance. In a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leaders the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), the Anglican Mission in America (AMIA), Forward in Faith North American (FiFNA), the Anglican Province in America (APA) and the American Anglican Council (AAC) pledged “to make common cause for the gospel of Jesus Christ and common cause for a united, missionary and orthodox Anglicanism in North America.” Common Cause signatories represent some 200,000 Christians in the Anglican tradition.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 20 December 2004 at 8:46pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA

Rosemont reactions

Forward in Faith has now posted two items relating to this:

A statement from FiFNA: Fr David Moyer is Elected as a bishop in the Anglican Church in America (the official copy of what was first published at titusonenine). This includes the following:

The date of Fr. Moyer’s consecration, February 16th, was chosen to coincide with a previously-scheduled international meeting which will bring the bishops who will consecrate him into the Philadelphia area. Some concern has been expressed that it will come just before the meeting in Ireland at which the Primates of the Anglican Communion will respond to the Windsor Report. Fr. Moyer has assured FIF/NA that this timing is simply a matter of coincidence: it is not meant to sent any message to the Primates, and FIF/NA hopes that Fr. Moyer’s election and consecration will have no impact on their deliberations.

While his consecration in the ACA will not affect his constitutional standing within FIF/NA, the Council and Fr. Moyer are considering whether or not he will continue as its President.

A statement from Fr Geoffrey Kirk of FiF UK: FiF UK reacts to Fr Moyer’s Election . This reads:

Forward in Faith UK has learned with interest of the proposed consecration of Fr David Moyer, currently President of Forward in Faith North America, as a bishop in the Traditional Anglican Communion. We trust that Fr Moyer will be able to use his new role in the Anglican Church of America to assist those in the Episcopal Church who have been disenfranchised by the ordination of women as priests and bishops. We regret however that those responsible did not see fit to consult the bishops of Forward in Faith around the world before reaching their decision.

Meanwhile the Philadelphia Enquirer had this report for its readers this morning: Embattled Episcopal rector joins Anglican denomination. This headline reflects the confusion!

Update And the Associated Press via the Centre Daily Times reported it as Defrocked Episcopal minister moves to Anglican church post
which is equally likely to upset all concerned.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 20 December 2004 at 2:06pm GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA

Report of Proceedings - July 2004

The verbatim Report of Proceedings for the July 2004 meeting of General Synod is now available. You can download it, either in full (a 1.2 MB pdf file) or in daily sections, from here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 20 December 2004 at 1:45pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: General Synod

Sunday, 19 December 2004

Christmas religious attendance

Several newspapers are reporting this story:
Cathedral city prays while the rest of Britain plays
Residents of Hereford are Britain’s most devoted churchgoers
Manchester comes top of the godless league
Christmas cancelled due to lack of interest
Cities ‘shun church at Christmas’
but only the BBC links to the data on which the reports are based.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 19 December 2004 at 4:42pm GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Rosemont in Wonderland

Los Angeles is not the only diocese of ECUSA that has experienced the intervention of African bishops. In 2002, there was an intervention in the Diocese of Pennsylvania at The Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont (whose parish website appears to be inactive). A full archive of documents relating to that intervention can be found at Forward in Faith. The upshot of it all was that David Moyer was:

  • deposed from the ministry of the Episcopal Church by Bishop Charles Bennison of Pennsylvania (his name does not appear in the ECUSA directory of clergy)
  • accepted as a priest in the Diocese of the Upper Shire in Malawi, in the Province of Central Africa by Archbishop Bernard Malango (who is also bishop of that diocese, and
  • supported at the time by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey and the then Archbishop of Wales, Rowan Williams, see correspondence here and also here, not to mention here.

Nevertheless, Dr Moyer, who is president of Forward in Faith North America has remained in office as Rector of the ECUSA parish for two years without further legal action by the diocese being taken against him or the vestry of that parish.

This seems unlikely to continue. This weekend, it was announced that:

The Rev. David Moyer, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, Pa., has been elected a bishop in the Anglican Church in America (ACA), a breakaway Episcopal group including 8,000 U.S. members and 500,000 members worldwide.
Mr. Moyer will be consecrated Feb. 16 at Good Shepherd by three bishops of the ACA. He said he will continue pastoring the church as well as overseeing ACA military chaplaincies.
The priest is currently serving under the auspices of the Anglican Province of Central Africa. Archbishop Louis Falk, head of the ACA, said Mr. Moyer has the permission of Central African Archbishop Bernard Malango to remain at Good Shepherd. The actual election, he said, occurred in late November, but the result was only announced yesterday.

The official news release about this is here:
The Rev. Dr. David L. Moyer Elected Bishop by the Anglican Church in America and a detailed news report is here:
MOYER TO BE CONSECRATED BISHOP Timing Gets Mixed Reactions Among Conservative Leaders

titusonenine has published A Statement from the Executive Committee of Forward in Faith, North America regarding the election of Fr. David Moyer as a bishop in the Anglican Church in America although at this writing nothing has appeared on the FiF website itself [FiF site now updated] although other comments from FiF members appear here and here and here.

This development is bound to be of concern to other American conservatives outside FiFNA, because FiFNA is a major constituent member of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes.

The Anglican Church in America is itself a constituent part of The Traditional Anglican Communion. This body is active in various parts of the world but in particular with FiF in Australia, where as mentioned in the Christian Challenge story linked above, reports suggest that another consecration by the TAC archbishop John Hepworth, of an Australian FiF leader, David Chislett, is likely soon.

Despite these close links with FiF, ACA was not a party to the agreement announced last July between NACDAP and other groups.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 19 December 2004 at 12:22am GMT | Comments (15) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA

Saturday, 18 December 2004

is the UK religious?

There are some hard facts about this from the 2001 Census, published by the Office of National Statistics here:
Census 2001 - Ethnicity and religion in England and Wales

This was reported on last October by the Guardian under the headline Census shows Muslims’ plight.
Last week, the same data was reported on in the Telegraph including a nice graphical display.

But then The Times tried to follow up. Andrew Brown has the rest of the story here.
The Times also had a clever (?) graphic.

This week two surveys were published which also shed light on how well informed about religion some of us are. One was conducted by YouGov for Sky Box Office in advance of their TV premiere of The Passion of Christ:
Birthplace of Jesus A Mystery to Many Press Association
O Little Town of … where? Guardian
Jesus born in Bethlehem is news for many Telegraph

The second survey was conducted by GfK for the Wall Street Journal Europe and was reported by Ekklesia under the headline People believe more in God than religion suggests survey . For a more detailed report read this GfK page.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 18 December 2004 at 3:08pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News

episcopal newspaper columns

Update Sunday
Richard Harries writes in the Observer that We should not fear religion

Religion is now a major player on the world stage in a way that was scarcely conceivable 30 years ago. In both the Islamic world and the Bush White House religion is impinging on public policy. In the 1960s sociologists believed that the world was in the grip of an irreversible process of secularisation - though they could not account for the United States, at once the most modern and one of the most religious countries in the world.

Now sociologists are drawn to the opposite conclusion: the more modern the world gets the more religious it becomes. It has been well said that whereas the major conflicts of the twentieth century were ideological, those of the twenty-first century will be to do with identity in which religion is a key element. Globalisation draws people out of their village communities, where they had an assured place and identity, into sprawling urban areas making goods for the Western market. There, gravitating to the mosque or church, they find their identity in relation to their religion…

Today Saturday, David Hope writes in the Guardian about Christmas celebrated in styles

One of the first things I did, having been enthroned in early December as Archbishop of York in York Minster, was to attend the nativity play in the primary school of my home village, Bishopthorpe. The contrast could not have been greater…

…In contrast to the grandeur of the Minster I have usually sought to visit a parish church in the diocese for midnight mass - sometimes a church without a vicar or indeed a church that would not in the normal course of events expect the Archbishop.

Next year it will be a parish church - St Margaret’s Ilkley and that will be very different again. But then, while it has been an enormous privilege to have been able to experience the sheer beauty and wonder of Christmas celebrated in the way I have described, the place and manner of the celebration of Christ’s birth is in the end of little relevance.

For the one single fact which underlies and which is fundamental to any Christian celebration, however grand or humble the setting, is the stupendous fact of God coming to us and among us in Jesus Christ.

For in the stable we witness what the poet Christopher Smart described as the “magnitude of meekness”, the hospitality of the God who welcomes any and all who seek - the God who is constantly inviting us to work with him in His loving purposes for the establishing of His kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven - a kingdom of righteousness, justice and peace for the peoples of the entire world.

In The Times Geoffrey Rowell writes about The meaning at the very heart of Christmas. An extract:

For Christians every Sunday is a feast of the Resurrection, and every Christian festival is always an Easter festival — and that includes Christmas. The Annunciation of Gabriel to Mary, the village girl of Nazareth, that she is to become the bearer of the Son of God, is a moment of new creation. So too is the birth at Bethlehem, and that is all fulfilled in the new life which bursts from the grave at Easter, a life in which through his life-giving Spirit we share. So the Christmas collect speaks both of the birth at Bethlehem, and of our new birth — of our being made God’s children by adoption and grace by the same life-giving Spirit which overshadowed the Blessed Virgin at the Incarnation. Christ went, as Bishop Lancelot Andrewes liked to say, “to the very ground-sill of our nature”. The God who comes among us is a God who empties Himself, pours himself out in love, comes down to the lowest part of our need, framed, formed, and fashioned as an unborn child, and then weak, helpless and dependent in the muck and mire of the manger, whose pricking straw is seen by St Bernard as foreshadowing the piercing nails of the Cross.

Christmas celebrates and challenges. At its heart is the overwhelming mystery of a God who stoops to us in the most amazing humility, revealing and disclosing Himself in the most human language, that of a human life. St John speaks of “the Word made flesh”, the Logos, or Divine Reason by which all things were ordered being made in our likeness. In that we behold the glory of God, and see and know what God is like, what is the source and origin of all that is, and the end and goal of our human life. That love “so amazing, so divine” is the truth we celebrate at Christmas.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 18 December 2004 at 2:44pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Thursday, 16 December 2004

More from Jayne Ozanne

Update Friday
The Church Times has this article
Archbishops’ Council distanced from ‘self-destruct’ prophecy
and also a link to Jayne Ozanne’s own website:
where the full text of the article is also available, together with a brief biography.

The Church Times article says in part:

A CHURCH OF ENGLAND spokesman has distanced the Archbishops’ Council from the views of a retiring member who has predicted that the Church of England will “continue to implode and self-destruct”…

…The paper was circulated at an Archbishops’ Council meeting this month, but not discussed.

The C of E spokesman said that one of the Council’s strengths was “the wide range of perspectives offered by its members. Jayne Ozanne is setting out her personal view, as she is clearly free to express it. The Church of England encourages a lively exchange of views at every level.”

Speaking on Tuesday, Ms Ozanne said that it was not a case of her against the Council. She said she had received positive responses. “I really care about what is happening. There are some deep-rooted issues that we do not like to talk about while we focus on the presenting issues.”

Ms Ozanne said that her document was “not exactly” good news for the Church of England, but was good news for the Church in England. Although she would be happy to discuss it with the Archbishops, there had not been an opportunity to do this so far, she said.

The CEN this week has published Is this the end of the Church of England as we know it? which sets out Jayne Ozanne’s views in full. This puts her previously quoted remarks into context.

The CEN also has a news report which refers to the earlier stories about her document:
Church leaders ponder the future

Earlier TA articles here and here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 16 December 2004 at 5:59pm GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Wednesday, 15 December 2004

Cathedrals Count

English Heritage today published a new report, Heritage Counts 2004. (The report has its own comprehensive and accessible website, but be warned that the main English Heritage website is unfriendly to many browsers.)

This report, which covers the entire range of historic monuments, includes new research on English cathedrals. The English Heritage announcement says:

New data on cathedrals are a social and economic asset

Heritage Counts 2004 contains the first comprehensive data showing the social and economic benefits that cathedrals have been able to deliver to surrounding communities. The research, based on a questionnaire sent to all 42 English Anglican cathedrals, demonstrates that cathedrals are directly responsible for generating local spending of £91 million a year. When indirect economic effects are considered, such as the amount spent by cathedrals to procure local services, the total annual economic impact rises to £150 million. This supports 5,500 permanent full time jobs.

The Heritage Counts website contains the entire text of the report (as a series of PDF files), and also the research reports to which reference is made. These include The Economic and Social Impacts of Cathedrals (report by Ecotec for English Heritage and the Association of English Cathedrals) which can be downloaded as a Microsoft Word file here (the document is 70 pages of A4, about 20,000 words).

The Church of England has today published a press release entitled Cathedrals Count. Here is the beginning of it.

- Thought-provoking new research reveals the economic and social value of England’s Anglican cathedrals -

New research has revealed that nearly nine million people visited England’s Anglican cathedrals in 2003 – two million more than visited Blackpool Pleasure Beach, five million more than went on the London Eye and almost twice as many as visited the British Museum in the same year. This is just one of many compelling findings in a report on the value of England’s cathedrals which is launched today (15 December 2004) as part of Heritage Counts, an annual audit of the historic environment carried out by English Heritage on behalf of the sector.

The research, which was commissioned jointly by English Heritage and the Association of English Cathedrals, provides the first comprehensive evidence of the substantial economic and social contribution made by cathedrals in their local communities. Cathedrals are first and foremost places of worship, and well recognised as places of great spirituality and beauty, but until now little consideration has been given to the boost that their presence gives to the local economy and the range of opportunities they offer for education, events and volunteering.

Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “Our cathedrals are at the very heart of England’s heritage and, as this new study shows, their contribution reaches far beyond bricks and mortar. In an increasingly complex world, these great edifices are vital forces for social cohesion and focal points for both celebration and mourning, not just in their cities, but in the large areas they serve.”

The Very Revd Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark and a member of the Association of English Cathedrals Executive, said: “We welcome this report which is published during our busiest time of the year! It underlines the key role played by England’s 42 Anglican cathedrals in the nation’s life. It shows the enormous economic benefit that English cathedrals provide for society – in addition to their vital spiritual and community role.

“In fact, more detailed research by the Church of England - which includes, for example, Westminster Abbey - indicates that across all the cathedrals in England the number of visits in 2003 was as high as 12.5 million.”

More of the release

Some additional data not included in the press release itself is below the fold.


The Economic and Social Impacts of Cathedrals in England was joint-funded by English Heritage and the Association of English Cathedrals.

The study was carried out by ECOTEC Research and Consulting Limited between February and June 2004. It is based primarily on a postal survey which was distributed to all 42 Anglican cathedrals (not including Westminster Abbey). The survey was designed to collect both quantitative and qualitative information. An overall response rate of 90% was achieved.

The survey was followed by in-depth case studies based on a representative selection of eight cathedrals (Canterbury, Chelmsford, Chichester, Guildford, Lichfield, Lincoln, Liverpool and York).

Three of England’s top five historic ‘visitor attractions’ - York Minister, Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey - are places of worship.

Further data on visitors to cathedrals from 2004 should be available early in 2005 from returns made to the Archbishops’ Council.

A VisitBritain report Visitor Attraction Trends England 2003 shows that in 2003 6.2 million people visited Blackpool Pleasure Beach, 3.7 million people visited the London Eye and 4.5 million visited the British Museum.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 15 December 2004 at 1:19pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Tuesday, 14 December 2004

Recent Official Publications

Bishops’ office and working costs for the year ended 31 December 2003
This was published on 10 December 2004. It is online as a 172 kB pdf file here.

In Review
This replacement for the glossy Year in Review was published as a four-page pull-out in the Church of England Newspaper and the Church Times at the beginning of December. It will be published twice a year. The December issue includes

Mission takes shape
Building potential
What’s my line?
Top class
Together for justice
‘Realising the vision’
Church of many colours
Mental health check
February Synod
Retirement homes modernised
Missionary ordinands wanted
Website gets makeover
Youth council
Useful links

and is online here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 14 December 2004 at 12:25pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Sunday, 12 December 2004

More from Tom Wright

An extremely long interview with Tom Wright conducted in June 2004 for the Living Church is now appearing on the interviewer’s blog:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

I will add links here to the newly promised 7 when published.

Hat tip to KH for finding this.

Tom Wright Bishop of Durham issued a press release on 10 December, which currently appears only at this URL. Complete text below the fold.

Press release from the Bishop of Durham
by Thomas Dunelm (Dec 10, 2004)

As a member of the Lambeth Commission which produced the Windsor Report, I have been dismayed to see the misrepresentation, in some newspapers, of the views of the Chairman, Archbishop Robin Eames.

Archbishop Eames has now issued a statement in which he has put the matter straight. Having worked with him closely for the last year, I can say with full assurance that this new statement, rather than the misleading reports, represents his true mind.

The Lambeth Commission was not a think-tank representing a pressure group. It represented the wide range both of geography and opinion in the Anglican Communion, and its recommendations were unanimous. The Report urgently requires, not more leisured debate, but action.

I strongly support the Archbishop in saying that the Primates, at their meeting in February, must not only take forward further discussion of the Report’s longer-term proposals, but must actually implement the recommendations which address the immediate problems we have been facing.

Auckland Castle
Bishop Auckland
Co. Durham, DL14 7NR

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 12 December 2004 at 2:42pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

David Hope television interview

David Hope the Archbishop of York, was interviewed this morning on the BBC television programme Breakfast with Frost.

The transcript of the interview is here.

A newspaper report in today’s Sunday Times published in advance of the public transmission is here:
Britain can’t be called Christian, says archbishop

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 12 December 2004 at 1:44pm GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Jayne Ozanne radio interview

Jayne Ozanne, the author of the document reported on yesterday was interviewed this morning on the BBC Radio programme Sunday together with Bishop John Gladwin.

Listen here with Real Player. The interview lasts about 6 minutes.

BBC blurb:

Now if you are a Christian prepare to have your timbers shivered. This is your future, according to a senior Anglican.
“I see a time of great persecution coming, which will drive Christianity all but underground in the West. I believe this will primarily take the form of social and economic persecution, where Christians will be ridiculed for their faith and pressurised into making it a purely private matter. Meanwhile the established Church will continue to implode and self destruct”.
It’s a bleak picture- but there is a ray of light. The writer sees a new church arising - which will “fast become an underground resistance movement”.
The author of this vision is Jayne Ozanne who has just finished a 6 year stint on the Anglican Church’s Archbishops’ Council. Also speaking is the Bishop of Chelmsford, John Gladwin who is still a member of the Archbishops’ Council.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 12 December 2004 at 1:30pm GMT | Comments (0)
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Saturday, 11 December 2004

apocalypse when?

The Times has chosen to devote considerable space today to a confidential document leaked to them, addressed to the Archbishops’ Council, and written by Jayne Ozanne, who is completing a six-year stint as an appointed member of the Council.
Church faces implosion and life underground, says senior adviser

There is also a background note on the author:
Brilliant career of evangelist marketing expert
Ms Ozanne attends this parish in the Diocese of London.

and more significantly a leader article:
Lost souls - An apocalyptic warning from within the Church of England

Extracts from both the news article and the leader column below the fold.

From the news report:

In her paper she says: “It has been nearly six years since I was invited by Archbishops George and David to serve on the first Archbishops’ Council. Much has happened since then, both to move the Church forward and also, I fear, to hold it back.” Arguing that it is her duty to “speak about some of the white elephants in the room that few of us like to admit are there,” she acknowledges that this causes discomfort.

Ms Ozanne continues: “I remain convinced that the only way for the Church to survive the storms that are currently besetting it is to embrace the hard truth with honesty and humility.” Questioning whether Church leaders really believe any more in a God who can move mountains or in a God who can raise the dead, she warns that the Church seems to have forgotten how to meet the cost of being Christian.

“Sacrificial giving is not a concept that we in the West have either embraced or understood. We are too comfortable and, as a result, too compromised. I see a time of great persecution coming, which will drive Christianity all but underground in the West. I believe that this will primarily take the form of a social and economic persecution, where Christians will be ridiculed for their faith and pressurised into making it a purely private matter.”

While the established Church will self-destruct, “fragmenting into various divisions over a range of internal issues”, she predicts that a new “Church in England” will take root, consisting of non- denominational cell groups throughout the country.

Neither archbishop was willing to comment but one senior council member, who was not prepared to be named, said: “She goes to a particular (evangelical) church in London and her perception is governed by that tradition. She really ought to get out more and see the Church at large.”

Ms Ozanne was backed by Philip Giddings, a political scientist and lecturer at Reading University, who was instrumental in setting up Anglican Mainstream, an evangelical lobby group that campaigned successfully against the appointment of Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading. Dr John describes himself as a celibate homosexual.

Dr Giddings, one of the Church’s most senior laymen, said: “This was a personal reflection from Jayne and it needs to be taken seriously. I think it a real possibility that Christians face the kind of persecution she predicts and the established Church faces some real challenges, which we need to address. Those of us in leadership positions need to take very seriously what she has warned about.”

Dr Giddings said that Ms Ozanne’s paper should be seen in the context of the divisions between the orthodox and liberal wings of the Church worldwide. “What she says reflects the reality that there is an ongoing division within the Anglican Communion and the Church of England in particular on matters of authority and the relevance and authority of Holy Scripture.” …

From the leader article:

In truth, Ms Ozanne has probably not helped her own cause by casting her argument in such dramatic terms. While there are many in the Church of England who are deeply disturbed at its direction, few of them would be comfortable with the notion that Christianity in Europe is fast reverting to a status that it held almost two millennia ago — oppressed by the authorities, obliged to operate in secrecy. There is the risk that a few brutal phrases will diminish the credibility of her broader analysis. That would be unfortunate. For on closer inspection, her case is stronger and more subtle than it might initially seem. When she refers to the “persecution” of Christians in Europe, she means a process by which believers would be “ridiculed for their faith and pressured into making it a purely private matter”. This is not a ludicrous supposition. Some would say, after the Buttiglione saga, that this state of affairs already exists.

Similarly, when she predicts that the Anglican Church will “continue to implode and self-destruct”, she cites a series of reasons for this with which a number of lay members of the Church might empathise. She is critical of a leadership which appears to “shy away from admitting there is any absolute truth” and one which, in an attempt to maintain a happy camp, ends up seeking “to promote a gospel that is socially acceptable to all”. She herself believes in the “transformative power” of the Holy Spirit, but laments that this is “something we are not keen to talk openly about in the Church of England”. She yearns for a quite different approach, one with “a faith that was more contagious in its intensity”.

Ms Ozanne is from the conservative evangelical branch of the Church and perhaps has a set of scars from the battles over the appointment, which was eventually abandoned, of a homosexual man as Bishop of Reading and the successful ordination of a gay bishop in New Hampshire. She should not, nevertheless, be dismissed as simply a factional figure determined to impose her idea of Anglicanism on the rest of the flock. It is perfectly possible to hold different theological views and suspect she is right when insisting that on present trends “many will continue to leave — disaffected and dismayed”….

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 11 December 2004 at 11:09am GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Friday, 10 December 2004

peace and goodwill

It was not accidental that a historic peace agreement for Northern Ireland was made a few years ago on Good Friday. To people of goodwill on both sides of the sectarian divide, the ultimately loyalty to Christ, and the significance of the holy day, made a powerful contribution to finalising a deal.

It is therefore tragic that, in this Advent season of looking forward in hope to the coming of the reign of God, a similar spirit could not prevail.

Recriminations turn on the symbolism of photographs of guns. This is claimed to be a “humiliation” of those who give them up.

But surely, it could have been portrayed as a huge victory for both sides. The gun only has the power to destroy. It only has the power of Herod in beheading John the Baptist, or the power of Pilate in putting Jesus to death on the cross.

But what the gun can never yield is the real power to do good for the people, build a kingdom, and build hope. What was on offer in this Advent season was the opportunity to go forward in faith to a new kind of kingdom, with a new law and a new authority, in which people on both sides of a bitter divide could have worked together for the good of all.

It has been made abundantly clear to people on all sides that there is no sharing of that kind of power to do good, unless the power to destroy through the bomb and the bullet are completely renounced. There is no humiliation in publicly giving up the power to terrorise in favour of the power to do good. It is simply a sign of coming to maturity.

A single spoilt child can wreak enormous destruction on beautiful treasures. By contrast a craftsman can spend a lifetime to create works of value and beauty.

What was needed as a symbol of the new spirit of the age was not just photographs of weapons. Rather, it was to see Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley symbolically attempting to beat the guns into ploughshares, or tie broken guns in the shape of a cross. Perhaps it needed that symbol to be set up permanently somewhere as a sign of a new age, and a new kingdom, and a new kind of rule.

The Good Friday Agreement was delivered because people on all sides appreciated the symbolic power of the day. If only the significance of the Advent season could make people appreciate the need to bring in a new kind of kingdom.

Posted by Tom Ambrose on Friday, 10 December 2004 at 10:47am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: just thinking

Thursday, 9 December 2004

Answerable to Parliament

Sir Stuart Bell is the Second Church Estates Commissioner. The work of the Church Commissioners as a whole is described here. As part of the Commissioners’ accountability to Parliament, MPs may ask the Commissioners questions in the House of Commons. This task is performed by the Second Church Estates Commissioner, who is an elected Member of the House of Commons.

There is a new website, still in beta,, which makes reading Hansard much easier. Recent entries for the Second Church Estates Commissioner in the House of Commons look like this:

6 December 2004

Written answers: Church Commissioners

Debates: Church Appointments

Debates: Terms of Employment

Debates: Women Bishops

Debates: Redundant Churches

This system would be even more useful if it were to be applied to the speeches of bishops in the House of Lords.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 9 December 2004 at 10:17pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Robin Eames interview

On Friday 10 December, Robin Eames issued this statement:

“I have been dismayed that certain remarks of mine in a telephone interview with the Church of England Newspaper have been taken completely out of context to mean I believe the Windsor Report will not have much effect. Nothing could be further from my hopes and convictions for the Windsor Report which contains the unanimous recommendations of the Lambeth Commission after a year’s prayerful work. Those unanimous recommendations are already receiving widespread and thoughtful study and response. They will now go to the Primates Meeting in February with my full endorsement as Chairman of the Commission. Some of the recommendations relate to long-term adjustments to the way we do things as Anglicans and will need a process of continued study and discussion. Other unanimous recommendations relate to immediate problems and need to be implemented by the Primates. I would again emphasise that the Lambeth Commission Report contains the unanimous recommendations of a widely representative body of Anglicans from around the world. The Report has my full support and endorsement as Chairman of the Lambeth Commission and represents my own personal views on the problems facing the Anglican Communion at this time.”

The Church of England Newspaper has a major story this week: an interview with Robin Eames.

The interview is on the CEN website in two parts:
Robin Eames: The Eternal Optimist, part 1
Robin Eames: The Eternal Optimist, part 2

There is also a news report based on the same material:
American Church ‘never likely to face discipline’

One of Anglicanism’s most senior leaders has signalled that the American Church is never likely to face discipline for its decision to consecrate the Anglican Communion’s first practising gay bishop.

The Irish Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames, warned that the Communion’s conservative provinces should not expect calls to be answered for the American Church and diocese of New Westminster, which authorised same-sex blessing rites, to be punished.

In an interview with The Church of England Newspaper, Archbishop Eames, the Chair of the Lambeth Commission, urged the warring factions to avoid recriminations and look to the future.

Dr Eames, the Archbishop of Armagh, said: “I would welcome decisions [at February’s Primates’ meeting] more if they’re directed to how we deal with the nature of Communion rather than reiterating ‘they did something wrong’ or ‘they didn’t express regret’.

“I think we need to move on in terms of what have we learned from this – I’m a great believer in trying to learn the lessons of these things. I think we must move on.”

Primates from the Global South had demanded the expulsion of the American Church and New Westminster diocese if they refused to repent for their actions, but the Windsor Report took no action against them.

“Expulsion was one of the things that confronted us,” Archbishop Eames said. “We didn’t fudge the issues, but I have to be a realist and recognise that maybe there won’t be expressions of regret.”

The African Church is preparing to become self-sufficient in a bid to separate itself from Western liberalising influences and has planned to build more of its own theological colleges. Its Primates have vowed to continue crossing provincial boundaries to provide pastoral oversight to orthodox parishes ostracised by their liberal Church.

Archbishop Eames said that the meeting of Primates in February would mark the start of attempts to implement the Windsor Report, but conceded that the homosexuality crisis had changed the Anglican Church.

“We’re going to have to take some decisions on some of the proposals on the Windsor Report. The Council of Advice, [for example], needs to be looked at. We’ll need to see if people have moved on in their thinking from the positions that they took up before the Windsor Report was published.

“I’d have hoped that what the report has drawn attention to will provide a clearer roadmap as to how to deal with other differences that arise in the future. Those differences are going to come as the world develops and the Church develops and the Communion develops. There are going to be issues that will divide.

An extract from the interview itself is below the fold.

Extract from the interview

To many, the crisis over homosexuality in the Anglican Church is an insoluble problem, but his experiences in the Irish conflict have instilled in him an unflinching faith that the seemingly impossible is always possible. If Ian Paisley can be willing to share power with Sinn Fein, can liberals in the Church be persuaded to preserve communion with their conservative counterparts?

“I don’t think the Anglican Communion will ever be quite the same again, but I can’t foresee what it’s going to be.

“I think there will be a sense in which people will still want to be Anglicans, the question of how they relate to one another remains to be seen. If people feel that they can’t become part of this process of reconciliation then we have to see what situation that creates for the rest. But I don’t know if there’ll ever be a time drawn for this.”

Just as the Church turned to Archbishop Eames to chair the Commission on the Ordination of Women, it turned to him again to preside over the search to find a solution to the crisis over homosexuality. The gifts of leadership and chairmanship, which his peers had noticed at an early age, were needed to achieve unity amongst a group made up of members with widely differing views on the issue.

Primates from the Global South had called for the American Church to be expelled, and critics attacked the Windsor Report for failing to take a hard line.

But Eames is keen that the door is left open. He doesn’t expect that expressions of regret will necessarily be forthcoming from the American Church by the time that the Primates meet next February, but he does not feel that the door should be closed on them.

“Persuasion is more important than legislation – that has been my background. Persuasion and influence far outreach legislation.”

Despite the decision of the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA, Frank Griswold, to flagrantly defy the unanimous statement he signed with the Primates by presiding over the consecration of the Anglican Church’s first gay bishop, Archbishop Eames prefers to keep faith in him.

“My friends in the American Church would say to me, ‘We did what we thought was right at that time for us’, but they did it without total consciousness of the effect it was going to have on others.”

He chooses to see the best in people. “I believe in the inherent goodness of people and that no matter who they are or what they’ve done or what they’re guilty of, if you dig deep enough there’s an inherent humanity that’s worth appealing to.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 9 December 2004 at 12:53pm GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Wednesday, 8 December 2004

ACI responses to Mark Dyer

Earlier I posted an article with links to two very lengthy presentations (one transcribed, one in audio only) by Mark Dyer, who was the only ECUSA member of the Lambeth Commission, about the Windsor Report. I noted there that conservatives had reacted strongly against his interpretations, with both ACI and IRD publishing responses.

Today ACI has published a further lengthy article by Andrew Goddard: A Critique of Mark Dyer’s Explanation of the Windsor Report, as recorded at Virginia Seminary (note that the October date on this page is self-evidently incorrect)

The ACI has also very usefully published A Complete Compendium of Tom Wright on Windsor which includes all his recently published articles on the topic, plus some additional comments not previously seen. This is item 5 in the compendium, about two-thirds down the page. The page also includes a sermon preached on 31 October, and a copy of Oliver O’Donovan’s article ‘The Only Poker Game in Town’ which can be found on the Fulcrum website but only as a pdf file.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 8 December 2004 at 9:20am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Sunday, 5 December 2004

trouble in Harare

The Church Times reports this week on this.

CAMPAIGNERS against the pro-Mugabe Bishop of Harare, the Rt Revd Nolbert Kunonga, are increasing pressure to have him brought to trial in a church court.

Charges were filed against the Bishop, including one for incitement to murder, in October 2003 (see below). The Archbishop charged with forming the court, the Most Revd Bernard Malango, has so far been unable to do so, despite constant pressure from those who say that the Bishop is bringing the Church into disrepute.

It emerged on Tuesday that lawyers for the campaigners have now applied to a secular court to compel Archbishop Malango to bring proceedings against Bishop Kunonga…

Courts used to end delays over bishop

A further article featuring a interview with Pauline Makoni will not appear on the Church Times website until later. I will add the link here in due course.

Meanwhile similar details are contained in the BBC radio report on the Sunday programme. Listen with Real Audio here.

It’s not only President Robert Mugabe and the Government of Zimbabwe which is mired in controversy, the Anglican bishop of Harare is being taken to court by some members of his diocese. They say it is a last resort as the Anglican communion has let them down by refusing to act against the Bishop. They accuse Bishop Kunonga of falsifying minutes, withholding church finance records and even of incitement to murder. It has been alleged that the pro-Mugabe Bishop diverted 1.3 million dollars into an account of which he was the sole signatory and that in October 2003 he seized a white owned farm close to the city, evicting black workers in order to move his son into the 2,000 acre property. Pauline Makoni is a lay councillor at the Harare Cathedral and one of those involved in the campaign. Roger [Bolton] asked her how much support she’d received from the people in the diocese of Harare for her actions. So why can’t the Anglican Communion do more to help Pauine Makoni and the Harare diocese? We asked the Anglican Consultative Council for an interview but no-one was available to comment. However Roger is joined by the Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler whose own diocese has links with churches in Zimbabwe.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 5 December 2004 at 11:36pm GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Improvisation: the Drama of Christian Ethics

In The Times yesterday Stephen Plant wrote about a book by Samuel Wells, previously published in the USA,
Improvisation: the Drama of Christian ethics whose British edition is imminent.

Stephen Plant’s article can be read in full here: How to face moral problems in a fluid world.
An extract is below the fold.

Nick Ralph writes:

I thought this was a tremendously helpful insight into our ethical decision-making as Christians. We need to be reminded that what we are often trying to negotiate is not easy. Whether conservative or liberal, there are often no Biblical verses which will immediately supply an answer to complex issues in a modern world. All we can do then, as this article suggests, is to rehearse, and dance perhaps like Sydney Carter’s Lord of the dance, trying to learn the way the steps work so that we can improvise new steps in the ethical theatre in which we now play. I cannot help but find it appealing and wonder if it might perhaps help us, at least to understand each other better, in the plays we are currently trying to interpret.

Excerpt from Stephen Plant’s Credo article:

In a book published this week a Cambridge vicar offers a fresh way to characterise what Christians are doing when they try to make sense of their moral life. Samuel Wells’s Improvisation: the Drama of Christian ethics (SPCK), draws parallels between what is happening when actors improvise a drama, and what is happening when Christians act out their faith. Dramatic improvisation is not, Sam Wells says, nearly as simple as it looks. Even if improvising actors are literally making it up as they go along, it has taken hard work in traditions of acting and hours of rehearsal to reach a point where they can act in ways appropriate to the dramatic circumstances. Practice forms actors in the habits that make improvisation possible and helps to build the mutual trust without which improvisation cannot work.

When Christians pray, worship, read the Bible or share the sacraments they are, suggests Sam Wells, forming character habits that help them to discern the will of God when fresh circumstances, such as difficult moral issues, present themselves. This isn’t the same as always being original. If improvisation always required originality it would feel as dreadful as the pressure always to be funny at parties. Christians, too, are not trying to be original but to act in the space between God ’s act of creation and God’s promise of redemption with habits of character formed by their years of life together.

A skill that Christians learn, like improvising actors, is when to block a suggestion made by another actor and when to accept it by incorporating it into the evolving story. A nervous improviser is likely to block suggested lines that seem to lead her away from the previously agreed plot outline. A more accomplished improviser can accept a new lead and transform its risk into an opportunity to enrich the drama without losing the story’s thread. Christians, Sam Wells suggests, are tempted to conceive their lives in terms of givens from which they dare not deviate, instead of gifts that they can accept and transform into opportunities within the drama of God’s story of love for the world.

Imagining the Christian life as an improvisation acted by characters shaped by Bible reading, worship and sacrament is exhilarating, but is it true? Sam Wells is sensitive to the accusation that “improvisation” is too trivial and ephemeral an activity adequately to describe the serious business of Christian life, and encourages Christians to resist being more solemn than God. But I share with Milan Kundera’s narrator a need for some heaviness to save me from “the unbearable lightness of being”. Kundera’s narrator wonders if heaviness is truly deplorable and lightness splendid? He is horrified that “we live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold” because “what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself?” Wells is right that Christians have to work hard at their spontaneity. Kundera is right that unremitting lightness is unbearable. It is only some combination of these two insights that will keep us from the bleak, pointless mumblings of characters who act in Becket or Pinter plays, and draw us instead into the drama of God.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 5 December 2004 at 4:57pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Book review

David Hope warns of "implosion" risk

The Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope, has warned that the Anglican church is on the brink of “implosion” over the divisive issues of the ordination of homosexual clergy and women bishops.

In an interview with The Telegraph on the eve of his retirement as the second most important clergyman in the Church of England, Dr Hope, 64, said that the Church’s “fundamental Christian message” was in danger of being lost in the midst of disagreement over differences that were “neither here nor there”.

Here is the key passage from the interview:

“What I do worry about is whether or not by so concentrating all our hopes and energies on these two particular issues, we are imploding on ourselves,” he said. “If you take people back to the Christological controversies of the first five centuries of the church, there were huge fallings out. Have we not learned the lessons from that? At the end of the day, what is the business of the church? It’s about bringing people to Jesus Christ and about living the life of Jesus Christ. Whatever the divisions, those are the key issues.

“The infighting puts off both young and old people. If it [the Church of England] doesn’t see this in a much larger context of the whole Christian doctrine of creation, redemption and sanctification, it will allow itself to implode on these two issues. We need to turn ourselves outwards.

“If you go to a hospice where they’re working with the dying, they’re not asking you whether you’re in favour of women bishops or whether you’re gay or any of this, that or the other. The important thing is that the work of the persons there actually engages.”

The full article:
Church is imploding, says Archbishop of York

Press Association report based on this:
Church ‘About to Implode’ over Gays and Women, Archbishop Warns

A good review of David Hope’s views on various topics can be found in this blog entry by Fr Jake.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 5 December 2004 at 1:41pm GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Thursday, 2 December 2004

Los Angeles: Orombi's reply to Bruno

Uganda is a long way from Los Angeles, but yet was close enough to Pittsburgh for Archbishop Henry Orombi to have been a guest at their diocesan convention on 5/6 November, see picture here.

The full text of Archbishop Orombi’s reply to Bishop Bruno’s letter, dated 3 November, inviting him to come to a meeting in Los Angeles, has now been published. You can read that reply here. The original report about Bishop Bruno’s invitation is here.

The letter from Orombi concludes:

Our churches in Los Angeles came to us like children who were running away from home, and we have offered them a safe place to be. So for us, the first question that must be asked is Why are they running away? We didn’t look for them or hunt for them. We are responding to a need. And, we will continue to respond to a need until the local problem is resolved; we will not relinquish them into a spiritually dangerous situation. Therefore, we see no need for a meeting until you and the Diocese of Los Angeles have repented of your participation in and promotion of unbiblical behavior and teaching.

What the Windsor Report said was (my emphasis added):

150. In these circumstances we call upon the church or province in question to recognise first that dissenting groups in their midst are, like themselves, seeking to be faithful members of the Anglican family; and second, we call upon all the bishops concerned, both the ‘home’ bishops and the ‘intervening’ bishops as Christian leaders and pastors to work tirelessly to rebuild the trust which has been lost.

and also:

155. We call upon those bishops who believe it is their conscientious duty to intervene in provinces, dioceses and parishes other than their own:

* to express regret for the consequences of their actions
* to affirm their desire to remain in the Communion, and
* to effect a moratorium on any further interventions.

We also call upon these archbishops and bishops to seek an accommodation with the bishops of the dioceses whose parishes they have taken into their own care.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 2 December 2004 at 9:34pm GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA

Pittsburgh lawsuit: the diocese responds

A page of “Frequently Asked Questions” has been posted on the website of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Frequently Asked Questions regarding the lawsuit against 18 clergy and lay leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh

The FAQ confirms that Bishop Duncan and his Standing Committee are serious about the threat of expulsion of two parishes from his diocese:

7. Are the Bishop and Standing Committee serious about invoking Canon XV, Section 6 dissolution?

Yes. The notice was recommended reluctantly and the strong preference of the Bishop and the Standing Committee is that it will not be necessary to pursue dissolution. Diocesan leaders intend to do their part to achieve reconciliation. Nevertheless, the Standing Committee would not have recommended this course if the diocesan leadership was not prepared to follow through if necessary.

The whole idea that a diocese can simply expel a parish with whom it is in dispute is extremely difficult to understand.

The FAQ is also interesting for the interpretation it puts on the Dennis Canon, described as “controversial”:

3. What is the Dennis Canon?

The essence of the “Dennis Canon” (Title 1, Canon 7, Section 4 of ECUSA’s canons) is this statement: “All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission or Congregation is held in trust for this Church and the Diocese thereof in which such Parish, Mission or Congregation is located.”

Those that brought this lawsuit claim that by virtue of this canon, controversial since its adoption in 1979, ECUSA has a trust interest (constructive or express) in all parish real estate and assets irrespective of how the title is held or the source of the funds used to acquire the property.

This is the same Canon which is discussed in some detail in this email exchange (pdf file) between Robert Devlin, and Michael Woodruff in the documents filed earlier.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 2 December 2004 at 11:50am GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA