Wednesday, 31 January 2007

primates meeting: agenda and attendees

Updated again Saturday morning

The Anglican Communion News Service has published Anglican Communion Leaders to meet in Tanzania. There will be several new faces: from Ireland, USA, Scotland, Brazil, Australia, Korea, Japan, Indian Ocean, Aotearoa, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Burundi.

More official material is here. An official list of the primates with biographies can be found here or another unofficial set of profiles can be found here.

A highly informative article by Graham Kings, originally published in the Church Times about Singapore: Intellectual Centre of a Movement can be found at Fulcrum’s site.

Another Living Church article Nigerian Primate: Consensus on Sexuality Necessary Before Lambeth Conference suggests that the outcome of this meeting may affect the willingness of some to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

George Conger has a report in the Church of England Newspaper reproduced at titusonenine: Primates will spend only four hours discussing Windsor. This includes the following detail:

The Primates will also travel to the Cathedral Church of Christ, also known as the Cathedral of the Universities Mission in Central Africa, in Zanzibar. In deference to the theological divisions within the Primates’ ranks, the Cathedral service will be a choir office. A daily Eucharist will be held at 12:15 during the week, but these have been designed as optional services, as the members of the Global South coalition stated in their September communiqué from Kigali they would not break bread with the American Presiding Bishop.

And this paragraph from George’s earlier report in the Living Church should not be overlooked:

Whether the primates will follow the agenda crafted in London by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is uncertain. The agenda for the 2005 primates meeting underwent significant changes as the meeting progressed, and similar changes are anticipated for this meeting. A pre-meeting strategy session for the African primates and other American and international church leaders will be held Feb. 10 in Nairobi, Kenya.l

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InclusiveChurch responds to adoption debate

Press release from InclusiveChurch
An interactive network for the voice of liberal Anglicans

InclusiveChurch responds to adoption debate

The debate on gay adoption highlights an increasingly serious problem within the Church of England.

We have been called to bear witness to the gospel of generous, redemptive love and justice, but time and again we are perceived to be more concerned with rejection than welcome, with bunker-digging rather than dialogue.

The collective sigh of relief that was breathed and the profound joy that was felt across the country when women were ordained to the priesthood, from those outside as well as those inside the Church, has now been overshadowed.

Instead, the Church is now associated more and more strongly in the public mind with another form of discrimination - homophobia. We are now in a situation where, however carefully public statements are worded, the Church’s of England’s grudging response to the Equality Act, and to last year’s civil partnerships legislation, only encourages the belief that ‘the Church has a problem with gays’.

Meanwhile, the country has moved on. Civil partnerships have been warmly welcomed by gay and lesbian people and their friends and families, with uptake take-up far in excess of Government predictions. And around the country gay couples are getting on with the tough and uniquely valuable vocation of bringing up adopted children.

The Church is certainly called to be counter-cultural. We are certainly called, for example, to challenge trade injustice, to question policy on the international arms trade, to resist consumerism - not least its trivialisation of God’s precious gift of sexuality - in short, to try to work for the good of all people under the eyes of God.

But sometimes our resistance to lessons learned in the secular world appears to be a denial of the possibility of progress.

We cannot control God’s outrageously inclusive Gospel. We should, rather, be asking what God is teaching us through our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters who have heard the Gospel message of salvation and redemption, and become part of the Christian community.

To this end, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement has organised a conference on “Faith, homophobia and human rights” on February 17th.

And the Church of England’s General Synod is preparing to discuss a motion on February 21st which includes the following:

‘That this Synod acknowledge the diversity of opinion about homosexuality within the Church of England and that these divergent opinions come from honest and legitimate attempts to read the scriptures with integrity, understand the nature of homosexual orientation, and respect the patterns of holy living to which lesbian and gay Christians aspire…’

We support these initiatives. As a church, we are in danger of becoming like sheep bleating in our little fold while real life goes by on the road outside. We acknowledge the diversity of opinion within the church. But it is our hope and prayer that the conference and the debate may be occasions to move away from rejection, so that we can jointly preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ’s love for God’s world to which we are all committed, trusting that the Spirit will through dialogue and mutual respect lead us into all truth. .

Revd Briony Martin, Vice Chair, InclusiveChurch

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adoptions rumble on

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor writes in today’s Telegraph that Regulation must not trump conscience.

This is presumably the first step in the campaign reported by Jonathan Petre Church to fight to defend role in public life.

As Ekklesia reports in Church accused of getting its facts wrong on faith-based welfare the National Secular Society is ready to respond.

The leader column in the Independent Leading article: New morality? If only… is unequivocal in its summary of the position:

… The affair has also shown how social attitudes have changed in most of Britain. A few decades ago, the prospect of officially sanctioned gay adoption would have caused outrage. But few people today take the view that gay couples should not be allowed to adopt. The debate has focused instead on whether Catholic[s] agencies have a right to exempt themselves from the law of the land.

But perhaps most significantly, the affair has shown the limits of organised religions to influence political power. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the head of Catholics in England and Wales, wrote to every Cabinet minister to demand an exception for Catholic agencies. He was supported by the Church of England and the Muslim Council of Britain. It was a formidable coalition. But it failed.

Now the Cardinal accuses ministers of trying to impose a “new morality” in Britain. If this new morality means it will henceforth be impossible for religious groups to discriminate against people simply because they happen to be homosexual, we fail to see the problem with that.

Two links to the past that may be helpful to put all this in context:

First, this solution to the RC adoption agency problem is not original: see this report dated August 2006 from the San Francisco Chronicle SAN FRANCISCO Catholic agency finds way out of adoption ban Alliance with other groups gets around same-sex parent issue.

Second, this July 2006 Ekklesia report: Redeeming Religion in the Public Square.

Addition: Jonathan Bartley had this Thought for the Day on the radio this morning.

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Tuesday, 30 January 2007

reactions to the adoption decision

The BBC interviewed Cardinal Murphy O’Connor on the radio this morning, see report (with link to audio): Cardinal warns of ‘new morality’.

Ekklesia has a news article on all this: Cardinal raises debate about church-government relations after adoption row and also this here.

Ekklesia has also published a comment article, Conscience and justice by Savi Hensman in which she analyses some of the implications of the Anglican archbishops’ recent letter.

The Telegraph has published an article claiming that Opt-out refusal ‘bans church from public life’.

Tom Wright’s rant to Ruth Gledhill (also summarised here) about the decision drew scorn from Jim Naughton who in a piece titled …or weird by Michael Jackson said:

…But being called arrogant by N. T. Wright, is like being called ugly by Jabba the Hutt.

This remark is a reference to an earlier critique of NTW which was titled N. T. Wright: Le Communion c’est moi.

And Savi Hensman has also sent an open letter to NTW which is reproduced below the fold.

Dear Bishop Tom,

I read with surprise your comments quoted in The Times today. I gather that you expressed indignation that the government has come up with ‘a new morality which it forces on the Catholic Church after 2,000 years’ and is seeking to ‘tell the Roman Catholic Church how to order one area of its episcopal teaching’. While you and I would disagree on the theology of sexuality, surely this is not the issue.

The guiding principle for ordering adoption should be the best interests of the child. Roman Catholic adoption agencies already consider as adoptive parents people whose views and lifestyles are not in accord with its teachings, and rightly so. If, for instance, an atheist is able and willing to offer a loving home which is likely to meet the often extensive needs of a particular child, her offer may be taken up without any change in fundamental Church doctrines. As you know, providing appropriate care for a child who may have had a very difficult start in life is not easy, and few people are ready and able to do this successfully. If lesbian and gay couples can be added to the pool of potential adoptive parents, provided they pass through a rigorous selection process, this increases children’s chances of finding parents who can bond with them and provide nurture and security.

This is an open letter; please feel free to share it with anyone you wish.

With best wishes,

Savi Hensman
LGCM (Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement)

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ABC answers a question about SORs

I do not know what exact question was asked, but the following was, according to a Lambeth Palace press release, the reply made by Rowan Williams:

In response to a question on the UK Government announcement on the implementation of Sexual Orientation Regulations:

“I’ll wait to see I think what the period of negotiation that lies ahead will bring, to see whether the concerns of the Catholic Church has raised are going to be addressed. But what we’d most want to do is to disentangle two things. There’s a particular issue on which the Catholic church has taken a stand, as other Christians have; and there’s a general issue about the rights of the state and the rights of conscience especially in voluntary bodies. Now that second question is one that, I think, is by no means restricted to this issue. And I think it’s not going to go away, so I would like to see some more serious debate now about that particular question – what are the limits, if there are limits, to the State’s power to control and determine the actions of voluntary bodies within it, in pursuit of what are quite proper goals of non-discrimination. So I hope there’ll be a debate about that.”

More on this later, maybe.

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Monday, 29 January 2007

adoption agency row: Blair decides

Updated Tuesday morning

The Prime Minister has announced his decision.
BBC No exemption from gay rights law.
There appear to be potential difficulties about this in Scotland, BBC No exemption for church adoption.
Other reports in the Telegraph, Times and Guardian, and from Reuters.

Ruth Gledhill has a lot more on this, including exclusive, extensive comments from the Bishop of Durham: Durham damns Blair as ‘deeply unwise’.

Ekklesia has Blair confirms that Catholic adoption agencies will not be able to discriminate.

Later reports:
Guardian Catholic agencies given deadline to comply on same-sex adoptions
Independent Blair announces deal on adoption
Telegraph Church loses opt-out fight over gay adoptions
The Times Gay adoption laws will have no exemptions, Blair tells Catholics and Bishop scorns ‘arrogance’
Scotsman Church accuses Blair of ‘thought crime’ in row over gay adoption

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primates meeting: more reports

Updated Monday evening

Jonathan Wynne-Jones wrote in the Sunday Telegraph about that Kearon email, Williams ‘fostering schism, aide fears’ without mentioning the original report in the Church Times at all.

Jim Naughton pointed out that the headline refers to remarks made by Bishop Paul Marshall, not by Kenneth Kearon.

William Crawley took the Telegraph report at face value, and headlined Kenneth Kearon: Rowan Williams is fomenting schism, thus also attributing to Kearon a remark he has not made, at least not in public.

The Living Church has just reported: Third Episcopal Bishop Invited to Primates’ Meeting.

And, the Diocese of Pittsburgh has just published both a press release and the Full Text of the Request to the Global South Primates as well as A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Robert Duncan. There is a related report from the Living Church here.

Another report from the Living Church: George Conger describes how Episcopal Church Figures Prominently on Primates’ Agenda. Also, the Anglican Journal has a similar review of the meeting in Primates’ meeting likely to be difficult.

Updated Wednesday morning
Last Sunday’s radio programme Sunday had an interview with Jonathan Wynne-Jones about all this, listen here (5 minutes).

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Saturday, 27 January 2007

more reactions to the adoption row

Simon Barrow has written on Commentisfree: Learning to love again. Church agencies are turning against their own message. ‘Defeat’ at the hands of equality legislation may be the best spiritual outcome for them.

An earlier statement on Religious Adoption Agencies by LGCM is here.

From the Independent Why I wish a non-religious agency had arranged my adoption.
Also Dominic Lawson wrote Don’t be fooled: the Catholic Church is not bluffing over gay adoption and there was also this leading article.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that Compromise on gay adoption is still possible, say bishops and Andrew Pierce wrote Speaking as an adopted gay Catholic . .

The Tablet carries a feature article A love found wanting by Martin Reynolds, and carries an editorial, Need for compromise:

…The Government’s task, of which it is making heavy weather, is to balance the good of outlawing discrimination against homosexuals against the bad of seeing these excellent Catholic agencies close down. And they really would close: the bishops are bound by teachings and policies that are not theirs to change (and certainly will not be changed by this legislation). But most of what both sides want can be achieved by compromise. Gay couples will find plenty of agencies to welcome them, and the Catholic societies can continue with their good work in accordance with their consciences. So the battle boils down to the argument that to allow one exception, even on grounds of religious conviction, would undermine the new law as a whole. That is stretching the argument too far.

It is unwise for issues involving a genuine conflict of rights to be pushed to the point where there is total victory for one side and defeat for the other. But it would be well for the Catholic Church to recognise why its own position has become difficult to explain and defend. Its submission to Government makes reference to Catholic sexual ethics. Not long ago the Vatican published an ill-judged document that described the legal recognition of homosexual relationships as “the legislation of evil”. The Catholic Catechism says that Scripture describes homosexual acts as “grave depravity”. This is far removed from the temper of the times, and probably no longer even reflects what a majority of practising Catholics believe about homosexuals. Many of them have gay friends and gay relatives; Catholic mothers have gay sons. Some of the most devout are gay themselves…

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opinion columns

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Candlemas.

In the Guardian Face to Faith is by Aidan Rankin who writes that the ‘many-sidedness’ of Jainism could inoculate us against fundamentalist rigidity.

The Times has Rodrick Strange writing about how Ordinary loves reveal extraordinary truth of compassion. Also, Greg Watts writes about religious broadcasting.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times In support of the scapegoat.

The Guardian also has a fascinating book review by Diarmaid MacCulloch of Martin Goodman’s compelling account of two crucial centuries in Jewish history, Rome and Jerusalem. See Original Spin.

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Friday, 26 January 2007

primates meeting in Tanzania

Updated Saturday morning
Several recent items relating to this meeting next month.

First, the Living Church reports that two American bishops who have been invited by Archbishop Rowan Williams to come to Tanzania, as mentioned here, are: Robert Duncan and Bruce MacPherson. See:
Bishop Duncan, Another Bishop Will Attend Primates’ Meeting
Details on Tanzania Meeting Few For Western Louisiana Bishop

Second, the Church Times today published a news report, Secretary-general hints at ‘difficulties’ with Dr Williams, about which the Living Church has published this: Louie Crew: Publication of Private Email a Betrayal.

American views of Rowan Williams, as previously summarised by Bishop Paul Marshall, will not be improved by the report in the Anglican Journal saying Archbishop of Canterbury to meet with Canadian bishops. For a further expression of American opinion on the archbishop, read Jim Naughton …and starring Rowan Williams as Dale Carnegie (for an explanation of this title: see here).

Episcopal News Service has a report that Design group to give draft covenant to Primates.

The Anglican Communion’s Covenant Design Group’s report to the February meeting of the Communion’s Primates will include a draft covenant, according to one of the two Episcopal Church members of the group.

Both the Rev. Dr. Katherine Grieb, associate professor of New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary, and the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, rector of Church of the Ascension in Pueblo, Colorado, adhered to the group’s agreement to keep the details of its report confidential. Grieb said the report contains a draft of a proposed covenant.

However, both spoke to the Episcopal News Service about the covenant-design process and discussed their thoughts about the idea of a covenant for the Communion, which originated in the Windsor Report (paragraphs 113-120). The Archbishop of Canterbury appointed the group at the request of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates’ Meeting and of the Anglican Consultative Council…

Do read this report in full.

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Virginia news catchup

Updated Saturday morning
Previous report here.

Earlier this week, Bishop James Lee took action against all the clergy of his diocese who participated in recent secessionist actions.
Diocesan press release: Bishop Inhibits Clergy; Diocese Responds to Filings by Separated Churches
ENS Bishop inhibits clergy; diocese responds to filings by separated churches
Living Church Bishop Lee Inhibits 21 Priests.
Richmond Times-Dispatch Episcopal Church bars 21 clergy from duties
Washington Times Breakaway Episcopal priests face defrocking

Today, Bishop Martyn Minns has responded to this action.
Bishop Minns responds to Bishop Lee’s premature and punitive actions against 27 clergy. (PDF)
For an html copy of the letter see here.

Today also, the diocese elected a new bishop coadjutor (suffragan with right of succession). For details of Shannon S. Johnston and his election see here, here, and here.

And the Falls Church News-Press reports that F.C. Episcopal Non-Defectors Gather Off-Site; Bishop May Defrock Yates. This report notes that The Falls Church formerly claimed 2800 members, but less than half this number had voted to secede.

Living Church Three Start-over Congregations Send Delegates to Virginia Annual Council by Doug LeBlanc

…Many of the 1,000 delegates and visitors present gave a standing ovation when the Rt. Rev. Peter Lee announced that both the standing committee and the executive board of the diocese voted unanimously to take legal action over property ownership in the departing parishes.

They applauded vigorously when the Rt. Rev. John Paterson, Bishop of Auckland, New Zealand, said, “If the Episcopal Church needs a strong and united Diocese of Virginia, it is no less true that the Anglican Communion needs a strong and united Episcopal Church, and The Episcopal Church needs the Anglican Communion.”

They gave a standing ovation when the Rt. Rev. David C. Jones, bishop suffragan, read a statement of unqualified support for Bishop Lee by nearly all the active and retired bishops in Province III of The Episcopal Church (with the notable exception of Pittsburgh’s bishops).

Bishop Jones said the departing congregations had shifted their emphasis “from belonging to Christ through baptism” to “adhering to one point of view.” When he added, “That is not an Anglican development,” delegates rose again, applauding and cheering….

Richmond Times-Dispatch Miss. priest next Va. bishop
Washington Times Bishop voted in as Lee’s successor

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views on the adoption agency row

Andrew Brown writes about the Anglican archbishops’ statement: Is Rowan too subtle or too supple? It is in the nature of churches to regard themselves as higher moral authorities, but there’s no reason for the rest of us to go along with it.

Stephen Bates also writes about this: Gallantry after the battle. The Anglican archbishops’ intervention in the gay adoption row was an astonishing blunder.

Listen to an interview with Stephen Bates on the Guardian website here.

And, Elizabeth Ribbans on the Guardian Editors’ blog asks Was archbishop’s intervention a mistake?

Simon Barrow writes about it at Ekklesia: Adapting ourselves to adoptive grace. It would appear that the most senior figures in the English Catholic and Anglican churches have no real idea just how bad they look to a massive number of people right now.

Ekklesia also reports on what LGCM said, Catholic Church adoption policy seriously confused, says Christian group.

Changing Attitude said this in a press release.

In The Times Mary Ann Sieghart comments on The fallout from the gay adoption row. Jane Shilling also has some comments here. The leaders of Affirming Catholicism have a letter to the editor here.

The full transcript of the BBC TV interview with Robert Pigott which was referenced earlier, hcan be found here.

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Thursday, 25 January 2007

adoption agency row: latest development

Updated Thursday daytime

Following the initial report by Gary Gibbon on Channel 4 News that:

After meeting Labour backbenchers, the programme understands that Mr Blair won’t now be pushing for Catholic adoption agencies to be allowed an exemption from the law which will require them to place children with gay couples.

Downing St said Mr Blair would be seeking a “pragmatic solution” to the matter.

He would look to find agreement on how long they would have to wind up their operations after new gay rights regulations came into force.

The proposals, which result from last year’s Equality Act, are reported have caused a split in the Cabinet.

Mr Blair and Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly - a prominent Catholic - favouring an exemption, and colleagues including the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, insisting that the rules should apply equally to everyone.

The regulations, being drafted by Ms Kelly’s Communities and Local Government department, must be approved by a vote of both Houses of Parliament before coming into effect.

other news sources have now confirmed this story:
Daily Mail Blair caves in over adoption laws

The Times Catholics get time to adjust to gay rights. Also this leader: Adopt a Compromise and this cartoon.

Guardian Cabinet rejects exemption on gay adoptions and this leader: Principle under pressure. And this comment by Madeleine Bunting Retreat on adoption and the Equality Act will crumble.
Stephen Bates has also written on this topic, both in the paper, The loving gay family and the archbishop next door and on Comment is free in Adopting the wrong attitude. Also, Two churches, one view and a question of conscience.

Telegraph Blair retreats over opt-out for gay adoption
Faith or career – the choice facing Kelly by Graeme Wilson and Jonathan Petre

BBC ‘No opt-out’ for Church adoption (has link to video report from last night’s TV news). There is also an audio clip from the Today programme here.

Independent Blair backs down over gay adoption law.

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Wednesday, 24 January 2007

more on the adoption agency row

See previous entry for the letter from Rowan Williams and John Sentamu and earlier press reports, including The Times today.

Dr Sentamu was interviewed on the BBC Today radio programme: listen here, about 6 minutes long.

Should Catholic adoption agencies be able to refuse to place children with gay couples? We speak to the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu

Further press coverage:
Telegraph Churches unite against gay laws by Jonathan Petre and George Jones
Telegraph leader Sexual disorientation.
Guardian Archbishops back Catholic stance on adoption rights for gay couples by Will Woodward and Stephen Bates (another version of this story here).
Independent Cherie Blair ‘split Cabinet in Catholic adoption row
Independent Leading article: When the interests of child and church collide
and a report from last Sunday, Faith & Reason: Ruth Kelly, her hard-line church and a devout PM wrestling with his conscience.
Magnus Linklater in The Times Kelly must face her tragic end - to resign on principle.
Ekklesia Call for Kelly’s head as Blair ponders and C of E backs Catholics and Sentamu seeks to defend church against charges of discrimination.

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Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Anglican archbishops write to Prime Minister

The Church of England has published the text of a letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Tony Blair.

Dear Prime Minister,

The Church of England, along with others in the voluntary sector, including other churches and faith communities, have been in discussion with the government for some time over what has become known as the Sexual Orientation Regulations. Those discussions have been conducted in good faith, in mutual respect and with an appropriate level of confidence on all sides.

Last week that changed. Speculation about splits within government, fuelled by public comment from government ministers, appears to have created an atmosphere that threatens to polarise opinions. This does no justice to any of those whose interests are at stake, not least vulnerable children whose life chances could be adversely, and possibly irrevocably, affected by the overriding of reasoned discussion and proper negotiation in an atmosphere of mistrust and political expediency.

The one thing on which all seem able to agree is that these are serious matters requiring the most careful consideration. There is a great deal to gain. It is becoming increasingly evident, however, that much could also be lost, as the letter from Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor makes clear.

Many in the voluntary sector are dedicated to public service because of the dictates of their conscience. In legislating to protect and promote the rights of particular groups the government is faced with the delicate but important challenge of not thereby creating the conditions within which others feel their rights to have been ignored or sacrificed, or in which the dictates of personal conscience are put at risk.

The rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation, however well meaning.

On numerous occasions in the past proper consideration has been given to the requirements of consciences alongside other considerations contributing to the common good, such as social need or human rights - the right, for example, of some doctors not to perform abortions, even though employed by the National Health Service.

It would be deeply regrettable if in seeking, quite properly, better to defend the rights of a particular group not to be discriminated against, a climate were to be created in which, for example, some feel free to argue that members of the government are not fit to hold public office on the grounds of their faith affiliation. This is hardly evidence of a balanced and reasonable public debate.

As you approach the final phase of what has, until very recently, been a careful and respectful consideration of the best way in which to introduce and administer new protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in England and Wales, we hope you, and cabinet colleagues, will do justice to the interests of the much wider grouping of interests within the nation that will be affected. It is vitally important that the interests of vulnerable children are not relegated to suit any political interest. And that conditions are not inadvertently created which make the claims of conscience an obstacle to, rather than the inspiration for, the invaluable public service rendered by parts of the voluntary sector.

Yours faithfully,

Most Rev and Rt Hon Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Canterbury

Most Rev and Rt Hon John Sentamu
Archbishop of York

Reference is made above to a letter from Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor. That letter can be read here.

Press coverage
Earlier reports from the Telegraph Jonathan Petre Gay laws would force closures says Cardinal and A bare fist fight.

Later reports from The Times Ruth Gledhill and Greg Hurst Anglicans back right to deny gay adoption and Tony Blair: torn between two loves.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 11:06pm GMT | Comments (49) | TrackBack
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Drenched in Grace: Anglicans, Inclusion and the Gospel

Drenched in Grace: Anglicans, Inclusion and the Gospel is the title of the InclusiveChurch residential conference to be held from 21st to 23rd November 2007 at the Christian Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire.

DRENCHED IN GRACE: Anglicans, Inclusion and the Gospel

More than at any time in the recent past, those who seek to offer an open, inclusive and welcoming Gospel within the Anglican Communion are facing great challenges. Now more than ever we need to be equipped with the theological and ecclesiastical resources which mean that we can with confidence affirm that the Gospel of justice, inclusion and peace we try to communicate is scriptural, rational and central to Anglican tradition.

Confirmed speakers so far are:

Dr. Jenny Te Paa
Principal of Te Rau Kahikatea, College of St John the Evangelist, Auckland, New Zealand and member of the Windsor Commission

Rev. Dr. Louis Weil
James F. Hodges Professor of Liturgics, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley California

Rev. Canon Lucy Winkett
Precentor, St Paul ’s Cathedral, London

Rev. Dr. Sharon Moughtin-Mumby
formerly lecturer in OT Studies, Ripon College, Cuddesdon and now Curate, St Peter’s Church, Walworth (Diocese of Southwark)

Mark Russell
Chief Executive Officer, Church Army

For further details see here and for a booking form go here.

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Monday, 22 January 2007

church attempts to use new media

Jonathan Wynne-Jones has had two stories in the Sunday Telegraph lately on this:

14 Jan For YouTube, read PewTube

21 Jan Hug somebody for Lent

The latter was triggered by a Church of England official press release titled: Lent - now str8 2 ur fone about the Love Life Live Lent campaign. The associated website is not what you might expect, but rather is

Both these projects are subjected to some serious criticism, first by Dave Green at wannabepriest under the title Oi, Williams…. NOOOO! and then by Dave Walker at The Cartoon Blog. I agree with their comments. What do TA readers think?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 22 January 2007 at 10:26pm GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 21 January 2007


A new joint project of Fulcrum and Inclusive Church has just started. Titled Goddard2Goddard it has as a strapline Waiting for Goddards: Corresponding Theologies.

Who are we?

Andrew Goddard is Tutor in Christian Ethics at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and Giles Goddard is Rector of St Peter’s Church, Walworth, South London. Giles is also Chair of Inclusive Church while Andrew is on the Leadership Team of Fulcrum and a scholar of the Anglican Communion Institute.

What are we doing?

We agreed just before Christmas to correspond with each other over the next few months on matters relating to the challenges facing the Anglican Communion and the Church of England and to publish our exchanges online. The correspondence will appear on both the Fulcrum and Inclusive Church sites although both of us are writing in a personal capacity. We do this knowing we initially come with different perspectives on many of the major presenting issues (the nature of Anglicanism, life in communion, the Windsor Report, Lambeth I.10 on sexual ethics etc) and eager to explore these together.

Why are we doing this?
The project is explained further both here and here.

The initial pair of letters can be read on either site:

Giles to Andrew 19 December

Andrew to Giles 13 January

Further letters will be posted both here and here.

The Fulcrum forum has a thread for discussion which you can read here.

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weekend columnists

Jonathan Sacks writes in The Times: A gentle reminder that soft answers can turn away wrath.

Chris Hardwick writes about Conscience in Face to Faith in the Guardian.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about how The Bible is not a legal document.

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Thursday, 18 January 2007

Virginia: new developments (updated)

Updated again Saturday morning
The Diocese of Virginia has just issued this: Diocesan Leadership Declares Church Property ‘Abandoned’
A Letter to The Diocese of Virginia from the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop

Please read both documents in full.

Friday morning
Episcopal News Service Virginia leadership declares church property ‘abandoned’
Living Church Diocese Declares Departing Virginia Church Properties Abandoned
Richmond Times-Dispatch Diocese moves to recover breakaway churches’ land
Associated Press via Washington Post Episcopalians Readying Legal Challenge
Washington Times Church dispute headed to court

Friday evening
Episcopal News Service Presiding Bishop affirms Church’s ‘fiduciary and moral duty’ to preserve property

From the CANA website:

On January 12, Bishop Martyn Minns of CANA received the following letter from the leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia (the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee). Bishop Minns’s response is also pasted below. CANA regrets that given the Episcopal Church’s more recent public polemical statements, that we are forced to make these two private letters part of the public record. In the past, the headquarters of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has endorsed the principles of civility and grace (e.g., “The Grace and Power of Civility” by David Abshire). But their recent unilateral actions of (1) denying their own Protocol’s access to amicable separation, of (2) breaking off the negotiation process, of (3) driving a wedge into CANA congregations, of (4) denying senior priests access to COBRA health care extensions — all of these seem to prove that the Episcopal Church is more interested in posturing than people. CANA continues to pray for a peaceful resolution and that the Episcopal Church leaders will not initiate litigation.

» January 10, 2007 - Letter from the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee to the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns (PDF)

» January 16, 2007 - Letter from the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns to the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee (PDF)

and also Anglican District of Virginia leaders urge Episcopal Bishop and Diocese to return to negotiating table.

FAIRFAX and FALLS CHURCH, Va, Jan. 19 - Two leaders of the Anglican District of Virginia today urged the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, to cease both his divisive rhetoric and his march toward the courthouse and instead return to the negotiating table.

“It is still not too late for Bishop Lee and the leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia to stand down from making any more threats against faithful Christians who followed the Diocese of Virginia’s protocol for departing congregations, and instead to return to the negotiating table,” said Tom Wilson, Senior Warden of The Falls Church and Chairman of the Anglican District. “I still have hope, even now, that we can sit down and reason together.”

The Anglican District of Virginia is a growing association of Anglican Churches in Virginia, consisting of 16 worshipping congregations and two emerging church plants. On a typical Sunday, almost 6000 people attend these churches, making Anglican District larger than almost half of the Episcopal dioceses in the United States…

This article from the Washington Post yesterday contains detail about the Heathsville, Virginia church mentioned in the correspondence above: Praying for Answers.

Saturday morning
Living Church Departing Virginia Churches Urge Diocese to Resume Negotiations
Washington Post Congregations Give Warning On Property
Washington Times Breakaway churches urge bishop back to talks

The Rev. Dr. John Yates Writes to The Falls Church via Stand Firm

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update on the Panel and Fort Worth

Since my previous report on this, there have been some further developments:

Pat Ashworth reported it last week in the Church Times under Panel gives comfort to Fort Worth.

Jim Naughton had asked Did the Panel of Reference do its homework? and Katie Sherrod had written It’s All About Gender.

Today, ENS reports that Bonnie Anderson the House of Deputies president writes Panel of Reference to clarify misconceptions. The report includes the full text of the letter, which had also appeared in leaked form yesterday.

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Tuesday, 16 January 2007

more Nigerian reports

First, my earlier article on official church news items was incomplete. Several further press releases have followed:

2007 Episcopal Retreat Press briefing Q & A : Abp. Akinola answers questions on Elections, Niger-Delta, Lambeth, and other issues. This includes the following:

Primates February Tanzania meeting and the homosexuality issue
We are not going to Tanzania to discuss gay marriages. We are going to Tanzania because we are Primates of the Church and we have many things to talk about and to pray about. We come together primarily for fellowship as Primates, we come together to study the word of God and to think together on various matters that concerns our provinces. So the gay marriage thing is not the main agenda. It may rear its ugly head again but it is not the main agenda.

Church of Nigeria Bishops and Lambeth 2008
We are part and parcel of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Lambeth Conference is called once in every ten years for all Anglicans Bishops therefore it is our conference. What we are saying in Church of Nigeria and in many other provinces in Africa is that for us to gather all over the world as many as 800 Bishops, and to build that consensus and to agree on certain things, and for some to say “well it doesn’t matter; we can continue things in our own way”. Then think of the financial implication, think of the risks involved. For 120 Bishops from Nigeria to travel to England, consider the financial implication. It will not cost any diocese in the country lest than N1million – for the delegates and other expenses-. We are talking about N120million and we are going to spend three weeks there. And then on return, there is nothing to show for it, that is what we are arguing against. So, we are part and parcel of Lambeth Conference, but we are challenging the authorities that before we come, we have to be sure that we are not coming for a Jamboree. We are coming for serious business and we have plenty of time before Lambeth to decide whether we are coming for a mere jamboree or a serious conference.

Press Release : 20 new bishops elected : Names of newly elected bishops and their dioceses
Church on the MOVE…: Rare glimpse into activities surrounding election of bishops.

Second, there has been this report in the Wall Street Journal In Nigeria, a Bill To Punish Gays Divides a Family which has also been reproduced at The Nigerian Village Square. This legislation is not mentioned in the press briefing.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 16 January 2007 at 1:12pm GMT | Comments (45) | TrackBack
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Monday, 15 January 2007

Paul Marshall writes

Updated again Wednesday evening

Update Tuesday The Episcopal Majority has now also published this article, with some explanation:

This letter was written by the Right Reverend Paul Marshall (Bishop of Bethlehem) to other bishops in the Episcopal Church in anticipation of the next House of Bishops meeting. Initially written for limited circulation among Bishop Marshall’s colleagues in the House of Bishops, it has been distributed in wider circles. We reprint it here in full with Bishop Marshall’s permission.

Both Jim Naughton and Ruth Gledhill have now published an article written by the Bishop of Bethlehem (Pennsylvania, USA) Paul Marshall.

You can read it in full here.

Ruth Gledhill has links to a number of other articles and has commented that:

I think he is being just a bit too hard on the Archbishop. Dr Williams has written about why he decided to invite Schori to the Primates’ meeting in Tanzania, and has also had meetings with US liberals that a fringe Bishop such as Marshall could not possibly know about. The orthodox are worried. Poor Dr Williams is being attacked from all sides. In the letter below, Bishop Marshall writes of the pending crucifixion and resurrection of The Episcopal Church as it is presumably ‘forced’ to split. But if you ask me, it is the Archbishop who’s being crucified here, not TEC or anyone else.

Jim Naughton wrote that:

…the bishop articulates what many of us have been feeling about the Archbishop of Canterbury and his behavior toward our Church for some time.

Certainly this contribution strengthens the feeling of American discomfort that I received from reading the articles linked previously.

Mark Harris has commented at The Questions get Sharper

Update Wednesday
The article is now available on the Bethlehem diocesan website as a PDF file or as a Word file, go here. There is a background note there also:

In anticipation of the House of Bishops meeting in Texas, Bishop Paul Marshall wrote a discussion starter and sent it by email on January 12, 2007, to his colleagues in the House of Bishops. Upon receiving requests from colleagues to share more widely the note initially intended for limited circulation, he expanded and revised it. Primarily about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s relationship to our House of Bishops, the note assumes a great deal of context. It may be downloaded below, as a Word or PDF file. As always, we continue to pray for the ministry of Rowan, Archbishop of Canterbury, who, as Bishop Paul notes, “needs no witness from me to his reputation as a pious and good man, great in so many ways, and someone whom I overall admire as writer, teacher and moral voice in the UK.

There is also an Episcopal News Service report headed Bishop challenges Archbishop of Canterbury to meet with House of Bishops.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 6:38pm GMT | Comments (122) | TrackBack
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Christians and gay rights

Atheists: the bigots’ friends is the headline over a comment article in today’s Guardian by Giles Fraser. The strapline reads: Most Christians back gay rights - and to claim otherwise only boosts the fundamentalists.

The article starts:

Media atheists are fast becoming the new best friends of fundamentalist Christians. For every time they write about religion they are doing very effective PR for a fundamentalist worldview. Many of the propositions that fundamentalists are keen to sell the public are oft-repeated corner-stones of the media atheist’s philosophy of religion.

Both partners in this unholy alliance agree that fundamentalist religion is the real thing and that more reflective and socially progressive versions of faith are pale imitations, counterfeits even. This endorsement is of enormous help to fundamentalists. What they are really threatened by is not aggressive atheism - indeed that helps secure a sense of persecution that is essential to group solidarity - but the sort of robustly self-critical faith that knows the Bible and the church’s traditions, and can challenge bad religion on its own terms. Fundamentalists hate what they see as the enemy within. And by refusing to acknowledge any variegation in Christian thought, media atheists play right into their hands…

Read it all.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 3:09pm GMT | Comments (41) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 14 January 2007

some American views of the Communion

The recent flurry of announcements from Lambeth and elsewhere concerning the Covenant Design Group, the Panel of Reference re Fort Worth, and the question of who will or won’t sit down with whom in Dar es Salaam, have led to a flurry of opinions by several American Episcopalians, collectively questioning the desirability of continuing membership of the Anglican Communion. I have listed a selection of these below.

Lionel Deimel
9 Jan Do We Need the Anglican Communion?
11 Jan Advice to the PB for the Primates’ Meeting
11 Jan Just to Be Clear …

Jim Naughton
9 Jan Revisiting “The Question”
10 Jan Revisiting “The Question”: Stewardship

Mark Harris
9 Jan Drip, Drip, Drip: Are we dealing with water torture or fresh springs?
11 Jan The Vocation of the Episcopal Church. (scroll down).

Marshall Scott
11 Jan Patience Through the Pain of Waiting

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 14 January 2007 at 5:15pm GMT | Comments (45) | TrackBack
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General Synod - outline agenda for February

The outline agenda for the February 2007 group of sessions of the General Synod is now online and is copied below.

February 2007

Times of sessions (unless otherwise stated): 9.15 am - 1 pm, 2.30 pm - 7 pm

Monday, 26 February
Meetings of Convocations
Prayers, introductions, welcomes, progress of Measures etc
Presidential Address on the Anglican Communion
Business Committee report

Tuesday, 27 February
Clergy Pensions
Legislative Business: Draft Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure, Amending Canon No 27 and Vacancy in See Committees (Amendment) Regulation - Final Drafting and Final Approval
Legislative Business: Clergy Terms of Service legislation - First Consideration
Legislative Business: Church of England Marriage Measure - Revision Stage
Fresh Expressions

Wednesday 28 February
Holy Communion
PMM: Revd Mary Gilbert: Lesbian and Gay Christians
Legislative Business: National Institutions of the Church of England (Transfer of Functions) Order (re CBF’s functions); Resolution confirming the appointment of a successor body corporate as trustee of the Church of England Investment Funds
Business Committee report on Electronic Voting
PMM: The Revd Paul Perkin: Civil Partnerships
The Dearing Report: Five years on

Thursday, 1 March
Criminal Justice and Prison Policy Issues
Legislative Business (contingency provision & Parsonage Measure (Amendment) Rules (if a debate is requested))
Legislative Business (contingency provision & Amending Canon No 28 re Canon B 44 – First Consideration)
Lichfield Diocesan Synod Motion: Standards of Human Behaviour in relation to the Media

Contingency business
Private Member’s Motion: Mr Gavin Oldham: Ethical Investment Advisory Group: Restricted Investments

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 14 January 2007 at 1:35pm GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 13 January 2007

recent interviews with the PB

First, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette interviewed Katharine Jefferts Schori during her recent visit there to preside at the consecration of the new Bishop of Arkansas. You can read the full interview here, at Bible Belt Blogger, Frank Lockwood, religion editor of the Democrat-Gazette, or there is another copy of it here.

Second, the Winter/Spring edition of the Voice of Integrity (published by the US Episcopalian LGBT organisation) also carried an interview. You can read this here in the 2 Mb PDF original (the interview starts on page 9), or there is an html transcription here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 13 January 2007 at 1:43pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Church Times and the SORs

The Church Times not only reported on this week’s events, in Christians protest, but gay regulations continue in force by Pat Ashworth, but also had a leader which makes its editorial position very clear indeed: Misguided and misinformed:

…But there is no threat. The broad support for the Equality Act from the Church of England and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, to name just two, has been drowned out by a small group of conservative Christians who seem to believe that, regardless of what the Government says, or the wording of the Act, only they stand in the way of a homosexual free-for–all. “This is a Christian country. If we don’t speak out now, in a few years’ time, it will be too late,” said one protester on Tuesday. No, it won’t. The legislation has been drafted to prevent discrimination against people on account of their sexual orientation; there is nothing about condoning sexual behaviour, a distinction made by the House of Bishops in 1991. The Government must simply take the protesters at their first word — every speech is prefaced by an assurance that the speaker is not against gay people as such — and ignore any misinformed opinions that follow. The mainstream Churches, having quibbled over some of the wording in the legislation, now need to make it clear that they do not share the views of the protesters, and that the majority of Christians will have no truck with discrimination on grounds of this kind.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 13 January 2007 at 12:09pm GMT | Comments (69) | TrackBack
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Nigerian announcements

93 Nigerian bishops just met for their annual retreat. Following this two statements were issued:

2007 Episcopal Retreat Pastoral letter: Bishops respond to prevailing Nigerian issues.

Episcopal Retreat Communiqué: Communiqué released from the annual bishop’s retreat addresses leadership concerns.

The latter includes this passage:

Lambeth 2008

We stand by our earlier endorsement of the recommendations of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) document: “The Road to Lambeth” and maintain the posture that we cannot claim to share fellowship with member-Provinces that denigrate the authority of Scripture on the life of the Church. Our participation in this worldwide fellowship is contingent on genuine repentance by those who have chosen to walk away, for two cannot walk together except they are in agreement. Christian unity must be anchored on Biblical truth.

The Bishops are delighted that the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) - an outreach initiative of the Church of Nigeria is taking giant strides. Worthy of special mention also is the success story of the Church of Nigeria Missionary Society outreaches to other parts of world. We therefore reaffirm our commitment to the Great Commission, which is the primary reason for the election of 19 new Bishops for newly created missionary dioceses in different parts of the country.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 13 January 2007 at 11:39am GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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opinions this weekend

In The Times Brian Davies writes about how Aquinas proves atheists are closer to God than they think.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Sister Wendy in Like Rembrandt refusing to paint.

Ian Bradley writes in the Guardian that The linking of Britishness with religious identity could help integration.

Earlier this week, Giles Fraser reviewed the film Apocalypto for the Guardian: A Christian snuff movie that links blood with salvation. He also wrote in the Church Times about The Heath-Robinson route to decline.

Paul Vallely wrote for the Church Times about the recent church scandal in Poland: Know them by their disgrace.

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Thursday, 11 January 2007

a disturbing report

Changing Attitude has published this press release: Davis Mac-Iyalla Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria receives death threat.

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Wednesday, 10 January 2007

new Irish primate elected

The Church of Ireland today announced the election of a new primate to succeed Robin Eames.
Church of Ireland press releases:
Bishop of Connor Elected Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland

ACNS press release:
Bishop of Connor Elected Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 10 January 2007 at 6:23pm GMT | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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SOR debate wrap-up

Updated Wednesday evening

The Hansard record of debate starts here.

You can read what Lord Eames said here.
You can read what the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham said here.

The following bishops voted in favour of the motion: Chester, Rochester, Southwell and Nottingham, Winchester. Also the cleric Lord Pilkington.
The following bishops or former bishops voted against the motion: Harries of Pentregarth, Worcester.
The Division list is here

Update Wednesday evening
Newspaper leader columns:
Minority Report in The Times
In praise of… the sexual orientation regulations in the Guardian

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 10 January 2007 at 10:11am GMT | Comments (52) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 9 January 2007

news coverage of SORs debate

Updated Tuesday afternoon

The BBC and the Telegraph have extensive coverage this morning.

Telegraph Jonathan Petre Religions united in opposition to gay rights law
and James Mackay Should religious beliefs bow to gay rights?

BBC Faith rally over gay rights bill. Also the Today radio programme interviewed Lord Morrow, and Lord Mackay with Angela Eagle.

Press Association Protest over gay discrimination law

More significant politically perhaps than any of the above, the Trades Union Congress has published a press release and a detailed briefing paper.

Update In the Guardian, opinion columnist Polly Toynbee has Homophobia, not injustice, is what really fires the faiths.

The Evangelical Alliance has issued this curiously softly worded press release.

Update Tuesday afternoon

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has issued this statement:

On 4 January, the Daily Mail carried a story under the headline of “Muslims and Jews to join gay-laws protest”. The article referred to a statement by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the inference, given the headline, was that the Board of Deputies had been working in concert with groups opposed to the proposed regulations.

The headline – together with the article – unfortunately misrepresented what was a very clear and balanced statement. The Board of Deputies would like to confirm that we have not campaigned with any other groups in relation to this matter and the statement that was given to the Daily Mail (reproduced below) was made solely in response to their request for a comment.

The Sexual Orientation Regulations will provide a further platform to combat discrimination in this country. It must be possible for people to live their lives in the manner in which they choose as long as it does not impinge upon the rights of others. We hope that to this effect the regulations will be framed in such a way that allows for both the effective combating of discrimination in the provision of goods and services whilst respecting freedom of conscience and conviction. These regulations are currently being debated and will be afforded due scrutiny before passing into law.

The Board of Deputies opposes discrimination on any grounds and recognises that the rights of those within our community and in wider society should not be infringed on the grounds of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion conviction or for any other similar reason.

Another report now on the Telegraph website: Gay rights law protesters branded ‘hypocrites’.
And on The Times website: Gay rights laws draw religious protest.
At the Guardian the Press Association report is Church groups to march against sexuality law.
The latest Reuters report is Faith groups protest against gay rights bill.
The BBC has added Discrimination law controversy and Head-to-head: Gay rights law.
Ruth Gledhill has posted on her blog, Christians ‘torch’ SORs.
Ekklesia has published Faith groups are misrepresenting sexual equality rules, say critics. Also Evangelical leader attacks ‘aggressive’ opposition to SORs, and Northern Irish church heads unite in call to end bigotry.

The BBC story linked at the start of the day has been rewritten and headlined Gay rights laws challenge fails:

New rules outlawing businesses from discriminating against homosexuals have been upheld in the House of Lords.

A challenge led by Lord Morrow of the Democratic Unionist Party failed by a majority of three to one.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 9 January 2007 at 3:50pm GMT | Comments (64) | TrackBack
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covenant design group named

Updated Wednesday
Archbishop announces Covenant Design Group members. LamPal copy here.

Tuesday 9th January 2006

The Archbishop of Canterbury today announced the members of the Covenant Design Group that he has appointed in response to a request of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates’ Meeting and of the Anglican Consultative Council.

The group will meet under the chairmanship of the Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez, and includes experts in canon law, the nature and mission of of the church and ecumenical relations from around the Communion. In addition to a small core group, the Archbishop is also appointing a wider circle of corresponding members, who will be assisting the Group’s work.

The Group will hold its first meeting in Nassau, the Bahamas, in mid-January 2007, and present an interim report to the Primates Meeting and Joint Standing Committee when they meet in February in Tanzania.

The members are listed below:

The Most Revd Drexel Gomez, West Indies
The Revd Victor Atta-Baffoe, West Africa
The Most Revd Dr John Chew, South East Asia
Ms Sriyanganie Fernando, Ceylon
The Revd Dr Kathy Grieb, USA
The Rt Revd Santosh Marray, Indian Ocean
The Most Revd John Neill, Ireland
The Revd Canon Andrew Norman, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative
Chancellor Rubie Nottage, West Indies, Consultant
The Revd Dr Ephraim Radner, USA
Ms Nomfundo Walaza, Southern Africa
The Revd Canon Gregory Cameron, Anglican Communion Office, Secretary

Revised Item
Stand Firm has published a list of Corresponding Group members, see here. However, the validity of this is disputed by the Living Church in this report by George Conger Covenant Design Group Details Announced.

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Faithworks on the SORs

Statement from Rev Malcolm Duncan, leader of the Faithworks Movement
8th January 2007

The Sexual Orientation Regulations: an alternative Christian perspective

For all those Christians and churches who are planning to demonstrate their opposition to the proposed Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs), to be discussed in the House of Lords tomorrow, we want to voice concerns about this kind of virulent and aggressive approach:

1. There is misunderstanding of the SORs and their application
We are concerned that there is widespread misunderstanding of the SORs. They apply to the delivery of goods, facilities and services, but some Christians have misinterpreted the word ‘services’ to include religious ceremonies and rites such as baptism and blessing of same-sex unions, when this is clearly not the case. Churches will not be forced to ‘marry’ gay people. Likewise, youth groups and schools will not be prosecuted for not promoting a homosexual lifestyle.

We welcome the SORS as an attempt to ensure that goods and services are delivered inclusively and in non-discriminatory ways. It is right that any organisation receiving public funding should deliver services to genuine public benefit.

The delivery of goods and services can relate to situations such as hiring out of rooms, something many churches have voiced their concerns over. A commitment to diversity through doing this does not mean losing your faith identity: it actually presents an opportunity to develop a dialogue and put the Gospel into action through demonstrating love and service.

Government ministers have publicly answered questions of concern over the scope of the proposed legislation, and this information is freely available on Hansard, the record of proceedings in Parliament. The Government also made it clear in the consultation period that it would listen to the voices of religious groups. The Northern Ireland regulations already contain exceptions for religious organisations.

It is also important to remember that the measures contained in the SORs will not replace existing legislation on discrimination. Thus the protection from discrimination on the grounds of religion and belief that Christians currently enjoy will continue.

2. Double standards
Many Christians are very clear in their stance on the SORs as they relate to homosexuals. However, they have not articulated themselves so clearly when it comes to heterosexual relationships outside of marriage, which is something on which the Bible also contains clear teaching. Many opponents of the SORs have stated concerns that a Christian hotel owner would be forced to let out rooms to gay couples, but would they be as vociferous about letting out a room to an unmarried heterosexual couple? Why this inconsistency? It brings the Church into grave danger of sounding homophobic.

3. The SORs work both ways
The SORs do not refer exclusively to discrimination against homosexuals but to discrimination against people on the grounds of any sexuality. Just as a heterosexual could not discriminate against a gay person, neither could a gay person discriminate against a heterosexual person on grounds of their sexuality.

4. This legislation is an opportunity to demonstrate grace, inclusiveness and love
Christians are called to follow Jesus’ example, and he says remarkably little about sexuality in scripture. Rather, he treats all people he comes across with love and acceptance, and does not refuse his service to anyone, even if he does not agree with their lifestyle. Would it really be ‘Christian’ to refuse bereavement counselling to a gay man, or to exclude a gay person and their child from a parent-and-toddler group? We believe that Christian community organisations, and those of other faiths, can maintain their distinctive faith identities while still serving the needs of their whole communities. We do not interpret the new Sexual Orientation Regulations as a threat to that.

The Faithworks Movement is committed to inclusion and transformation. Thousands of members up and down the UK are working to build a better world by delivering services to their communities on this inclusive and non-discriminatory basis. The reality is that on a daily basis millions of Christians across the UK engage holistically, compassionately and inclusively with people in their communities.

The proposed SORs are an opportunity for Christians to demonstrate the love and grace of Christ. However, vociferous opposition, a lack of constructive dialogue, and threats of civil disobedience mean that the Church is in danger of sounding homophobic and is doing little to give itself a credible voice.

Rev Malcolm Duncan
Leader of the Faithworks Movement
115 Southwark Bridge Road, London, SE1 0AX

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SOR debate tonight in House of Lords

Tonight there will be an hour long debate in the House of Lords to consider Democratic Unionist Party peer Lord Morrow’s motion to annul The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006, which came into force on 1 January, and which will also be the subject of a High Court case in March.

Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006
Lord Morrow to move that a Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Regulations, laid before the House on 24 November, be annulled. 3rd Report from the Merits Committee (Dinner break business, 1 hour)

Written Answers in the House of Lords on this topic on 13 December were as follows:

Equality: Sexual Orientation

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty’s Government:
Whether the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 would require all schools actively to promote homosexual civil partnerships to children from primary school age to the same degree that they teach the importance of marriage. [HL447]
Lord Rooker: No. The regulations are not concerned with what is taught in schools. That is rightly a matter for the Department of Education, Northern Ireland.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty’s Government:
Whether the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 would require a printing shop run by a Christian to print fliers promoting gay sex.[HL448]
Lord Rooker: No. It would be entirely within the spirit of the regulations for a printing shop run by a Christian to refuse to print fliers promoting gay sex, so long as that printer also refused to print fliers promoting heterosexual sex outside the realm of marriage.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty’s Government:
Whether the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 would require a family-run bed and breakfast to let out a double room to a transsexual couple, even if the family consider it to be in the best interests of their children to refuse to allow such a situation in their own home.[HL449]
Lord Rooker: No.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty’s Government:
Whether the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 would make it illegal for a heterosexual police officer, fire fighter or member of the Armed Forces to refuse to join a Gay Pride event promoting the homosexual way of life.[HL450]
Lord Rooker: No.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty’s Government:
Whether they have received representations from Coherent and Cohesive Voice, a network of Christian leaders about the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 (SI 2006/439); and, if so, when; how many representations have been received; and in what form.[HL451]
Lord Rooker: We have received no representations from this group.

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Monday, 8 January 2007

Fort Worth: Panel of Reference reports

Updated Tuesday

The Panel of Reference, established by Archbishop Rowan Williams in response to the request of the Primates and Moderators of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion in their Communiqué issued from Dromantine, Northern Ireland, in February 2005, has issued a report on the submission made to it some time ago by the Diocese of Fort Worth.

The Fort Worth (FWS) submission is by the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Diocese who are in theological dispute with ECUSA concerning the ordination of women to the presbyterate and the episcopate… and are concerned that the action of the General Convention of ECUSA in passing Canons which makes women’s ordination mandatory makes it impossible for the Diocese at some future date to receive confirmation of the election as their bishop of a man who disapproves of the ordination of women to the presbyterate and/or episcopate.

The report can be read in full here. (PDF format)
The Diocese of Fort Worth has published an html copy here.

The response of the Diocese of Fort Worth to this report can be read here. No doubt it will appear Has now been posted on the diocesan website later as well.

Note that this matter is separate from the more recent application of Fort Worth (and other dioceses) for “alternative primatial oversight”.

Episcopal News Service reported it this way: Panel of Reference tells Episcopal Church it should clarify stance on women’s ordination.
The Living Church has Panel of Reference Responds Favorably to Fort Worth Appeal and Bishop Iker: Ruling Gives Traditionalists ‘Moral High Ground’.
The Telegraph has Anglicans ‘can reject women priests’.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has Panel backs diocese’s gender policy.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 8 January 2007 at 5:48pm GMT | Comments (28) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA

Sunday, 7 January 2007

yet another Akinola profile

The newspaper coverage of him continues. Now the Christian Science Monitor has An African archbishop finds common ground in Virginia.

Don’t overlook David Roseberry’s account of his meeting with Archbishop Akinola either, part of the set of articles previously linked here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 7 January 2007 at 11:01pm GMT | Comments (28) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Saturday, 6 January 2007

more on primates meeting

The Church Times has a report by Pat Ashworth covering the recently leaked letter from Rowan Williams to the primates, in which it was disclosed that Dr Williams invites Dr Jefferts Schori to Primates’ Meeting.

Today, in the Telegraph Jonathan Petre reports that Archbishop fears Church schism in gay row. This is based on an interview in an ITV documentary to be aired tomorrow in Britain (11 am, ITV1). According to the Telegraph:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has admitted that he fears losing control of the worldwide Anglican Church, which is on the brink of schism over homosexuality.

In a surprisingly frank assessment of the crisis, Dr Rowan Williams said that he feared anything that set Christians more deeply at odds with each other.

“And because I am an ordinary, sinful human being, I fear the situation slipping out of my control, such as it is,” he said…

“I fear schism, not because I think it’s the worst thing in the world but because, at this particular juncture, it’s going to be bad for us. It’s going to drive people into recrimination and bitterness.”

In a documentary on Canterbury Cathedral to be broadcast on ITV tomorrow, the archbishop added: “We can’t take it for granted that the Anglican Communion will go on as it always has been.

“Of course that’s unsettling, of course that’s painful for everybody, but there’s no way of moving on without asking the hard questions.”

No doubt more will be reported when the documentary has been broadcast.

Having watched the TV documentary and corresponded with the ITV press office, I can now confirm that this interview with Rowan Williams was recorded around Easter 2006.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 6 January 2007 at 10:07am GMT | Comments (59) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Epiphany columns

Judith Maltby in the Guardian writes about Epiphany quoting 17th-century Cornish poet Sidney Godolphin.

Geoffrey Rowell in The Times also writes about Epiphany, quoting (among others) Lancelot Andrewes.

And Christopher Howse in the Telegraph finds that the Wilton Diptych is linked to Epiphany.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 6 January 2007 at 9:37am GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 4 January 2007

Virginia: some further reports

Newspapers in the Northern Virginia/Washington DC area have just published several items:
The Washington Post has this article: Episcopal Churches’ Breakaway in Va. Evolved Over 30 Years by Alan Cooperman and Jacqueline L. Salmon.

The Falls Church News-Press has two pieces: Homophobia’s Suspect Motives by Nicholas F. Benton and Anything But Straight: Holy Dispatch from Canada by Wayne Besen.

Why the Episcopal Schism Affects All Religions by Jo Bailey Wells first appeared on the website of Duke University.

Update Friday morning
I should also have included two comments by Matt Thompson which he made before Christmas on Political Spaghetti:
I’m flabbergasted
No, but seriously …

Update Sunday afternoon

Episcopal News Service has posted this report: VIRGINIA: Episcopal parish reorganizes, elects new vestry.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 4 January 2007 at 9:59pm GMT | Comments (38) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA

Covenant for a Confused Church

I mentioned previously that the Church of England Newspaper would be carrying a defence of the so-called Covenant for the Church of England (CCE). It appears in this week’s edition and can be read at Anglican Mainstream.

The title given to the article there is A Covenant for a Confused Church. The author is Chris Sugden.

The list of signatories and the Questions about it can be found here. The full text of the document is here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 4 January 2007 at 5:52pm GMT | Comments (47) | TrackBack
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another Camp Allen meeting

Updated Saturday

The Bishop of Texas, Don Wimberly, has convened another meeting of bishops at his diocesan conference centre, Camp Allen.

There are reports from the Living Church ‘Windsor-Compliant’ Bishops Reconvene at Camp Allen
and from Episcopal News Service Second meeting of self-styled ‘Windsor Bishops’ begins.

There is also a statement on his website from the Bishop of Fort Worth, Jack Iker:
Second meeting of Windsor bishops at Camp Allen which starts out with the words “A second meeting of the so-called “Windsor Bishops” …

I have not yet been able to locate the Texas diocesan magazine article cited by ENS or the letter to which it refers.

Concerning the earlier Camp Allen meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury recently wrote:

The Episcopal Church is not in any way a monochrome body and we need to be aware of the full range of conviction within it. I am sure that other Primates, like myself, will welcome the clear declarations by several bishops and diocesan conventions (including those dioceses represented at the Camp Allen meeting earlier this year) of their unequivocal support for the process and recommendations of the Windsor Report. There is much to build upon here. There are many in TEC who are deeply concerned as to how they should secure their relationships with the rest of the Communion; I hope we can listen patiently to these anxieties.

According to Bishop Iker:

Windsor Bishops hold that Lambeth 1:10 is the teaching of the Anglican Communion on matters of human sexuality, and we are committed to the Windsor Report as the way forward for the Communion as regards its recommendations against the blessing of same sex unions and the ordination of persons engaged in sexual relations outside the bonds of Holy Matrimony. We are agreed that the response of the 2006 General Convention to the Windsor Report is inadequate, and we are intent on remaining in an unimpaired relationship to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Anglican Communion.

The original statement from Camp Allen bishops said:

We accept and affirm the Windsor Report and view adherence to it as furthering the vocation to heal the breaches within our own Communion and in our ecumenical relationships. Furthermore, we endorse the recommendation of the Windsor Report, as supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury, for the development of an Anglican Covenant.

The Windsor Report properly belongs within the larger framework of Anglican teaching, as expressed, not least, in successive Lambeth Conferences, including the resolutions of Lambeth 1998 (among which is Resolution 1.10). We understand this to be the mind of the Communion for teaching and discipline.

At the time of that meeting, there were apparently conflicting statements about how it had been organised in the first place.

Update According to Stand Firm there are four new attendees at this meeting who were not present at the first, namely:

The Rt. Rev. Charles Jenkins Diocese of Louisiana
The Rt. Rev. Duncan Gray Diocese of Mississippi
The Rt. Rev. Russ Jacobus Diocese of Fond du Lac
The Rt. Rev. Henry Parsley Diocese of Alabama

and five previous attendees are not present at the second meeting:

The Rt. Rev. Mark L. MacDonald Diocese of Alaska
The Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, Jr. Diocese of Northwest Texas
The Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf Diocese of Rhode Island
The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield Diocese of San Joaquin
The Rt. Rev. John B. Lipscomb Diocese of Southwest Florida

(Also Bishop John Howard of Florida who attended only part of the first meeting.)

Update In the absence of the Texas documentation mentioned at the start of this article, this letter from a Texas priest offers some information.

Update Saturday
The Living Church reports that Meeting of ‘Windsor Compliant’ Bishops Adjourns Without Statement.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 4 January 2007 at 8:52am GMT | Comments (24) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 2 January 2007

David Roseberry writes

David Roseberry from Christ Church Plano in Dallas, Texas, which disassociated from the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) and the Diocese of Dallas in September, has written at great length about “The Journey of Christ Church, Plano”. Christ Church has this statement on its website:

As of September 15, 2006, Christ Church is a parish under the temporary pastoral oversight of The Rt. Rev. William (Bill) Godfrey, Bishop of Peru, and is also a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

More detail is in Q&A About Our Future.
The material is published at the Stand Firm website and is in five parts:
Breaking Up is Hard to Do
Are You My Mother?
Considering CANA
Considering AMiA
The Letter, Lambeth, and a Little Bit More

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 2 January 2007 at 1:10pm GMT | Comments (41) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA

Monday, 1 January 2007

two Tablet lectures

Sacrifice, Law and the Catholic Faith: is secularity really the enemy? is the title of the 2006 Tablet Lecture by James Alison. You can read this lecture in full (except for the footnotes) here.

Another lecture sponsored by The Tablet nearly two years ago, on a related theme, was Rendering Unto Caesar - Catholicism, Politics, Law and Democracy by Aidan O’Neill QC. You can read that lecture in full here (and continued here), and also the other material preceding and following it, here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 1 January 2007 at 6:35pm GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion