Members of the Anglican Communion Institute have published several essays recently.
Ephraim Radner, who also made a presentation to the House of Bishops on the Proposed Anglican Covenant published
What Way Ahead? and
What Way Ahead – Part Two.
Comments on the above:
Jim Naughton The latest from Ephraim Radner and ACI leader’s parish joins Church of Nigeria
John Chilton Quote of the day :: Ephraim Radner and Quote of the day :: Christopher Seitz
Nick Knisely More on Seitz’s argument regarding historical precedence
Press release from Affirming Catholicism 30 March 2007
Women bishops: the limits of dissent
Affirming Catholicism has made a formal submission to a Church of England group charged with drawing up the legislation that will enable women to become bishops. In its submission, Affirming Catholicism argues that women bishops should have the same authority and status as their male counter-parts and that pastoral provision can be made for many but not all of the opponents of the move. The legislative drafting group was created by the Church’s governing body, the General Synod, after a debate in July 2006 when the great majority of its members backed a motion in favour of women bishops, although the question of how to deal with opponents was left unresolved.
The Rev’d Jonathan Clark, who chaired the Affirming Catholicism working party, said:
The General Synod has asked the legislative drafting group to produce proposals which will require all members of the Church to accept the fact of women bishops but which affirms that it is possible to dissent from that decision while still remaining loyal Anglicans. We argue that the clear implication of this tough brief is that pastoral arrangements can be put in place for those who regret or disagree with the decision to admit women to the episcopate but not for those who want to insulate themselves from the rest of the Church by living as though women had never been ordained.
The debate about women’s ordination as bishops has been high on the agenda of the General Synod over the last three years, with no set of proposals gaining the full support of its members. Canon Nerissa Jones, MBE, Chair of Trustees of Affirming Catholicism, said:
The Church has been grappling with the ordination of women for a generation now and many many people are keen to see it at last resolved. Although only a minority of parishes and priests oppose the ordination of women as bishops, we are arguing for generous and secure pastoral provision to be made for them, provided that it does not put women who are bishops on a lesser footing than their male colleagues or create a church within a church. We believe our proposals strike the right balance between clarity and charity.
The legislative drafting group is due to meet in the middle of April to consider the submissions it has received from individuals and groups and is expected to make a progress report to Synod when it meets in July, although it is as yet unclear when the final vote on legislation will take place.
To read the full text of the submission, click here (.doc format)
Judith Maltby writes in the Guardian about Good Friday.
Jonathan Sacks writes in The Times about Passover.
Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about Circumcision.
Paul McPartlan writes in the Tablet about Palm Sunday.
Simon Parke writes in the Church Times about Labelling.
Verbatim transcripts of the proceedings of the reent meeting of General Synod are starting to appear online here. So far transcripts of the first two days are available.
That is available as a Word document at Long note on the Situation, March 2007.doc. Again it is strongly recommended reading.
Another version of the full article now appears on Anglicans Online at A Bishop’s Estimate of the Situation.
Much of that report is concerned with the Anglican historical background to current events, but his account of the recent American House of Bishops meeting is not too long to reproduce here:
Our House’s meeting
Finally we come to the present moment, from the “big picture” to the details. The February 2007 Primates’ Communiqué made several specific demands of The Episcopal Church’s bishops, to be met by September 30. The Communiqué asked for clarification of the bishops’ intentions to abide by the decisions of the 2006 and 2003 General Conventions not to accept the consecrations of other partnered gay bishops or create rites of same-sex blessings. Furthermore, it proposed appointing a pastoral council composed of two foreign bishops and two bishops appointed by the Presiding Bishop, chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury, which would oversee the ministry of a “primatial vicar,” a bishop to represent the Presiding Bishop to seven of the church’s one hundred ten dioceses and parishes in other dioceses that do not accept her ministry.
Ephraim Radner, a conservative Episcopal theologian appointed to the newly-formed Covenant Design Group, told the Episcopal bishops that everything boils down to trust. He presented the Covenant process as a way to create trust again. He is of course quite right. However, there have been many developments, some even during the meeting, which contributed to eroding trust.
First, The Episcopal Church has been held to the standards of Lambeth I.10 and the Windsor Report, which some of those demanding a reckoning from us have themselves ignored:
- Some provinces have given full support and encouragement in their respective nations to draconian legislation criminalizing people for being gay which has been unanimously condemned by the world’s human-rights organizations, in blatant disregard of the Lambeth resolution we are accused of violating. Had the Primates’ Communiqué addressed this firmly, it would have had much greater credibility.
- Some primates and other foreign bishops since 2000 have been coming into our dioceses (and Italy as well) despite requests from the respective diocesans that they should not. They have wreaked havoc by setting up illicit non-geographical jurisdictions and making grandiose promises to clergy and people, thus violating not only the Windsor Report conditions (para. 155), but also the unanimous practice of Anglicans, and indeed the Church Catholic since the First Council of Nicea.
(We would all do well to remember the Lord’s instruction: before removing the speck of sawdust from your brother or sister’s eye, pay attention to the great wooden log in your own (Mt. 7:3-5; Lk 6: 41-42).)
The Communiqué seemed to “move the markers” again, by sweeping aside the scheme set up by the bishops for dissenting congregations (“delegated episcopal pastoral oversight,” which the Windsor Report had commended) in favor of this council. There was no appreciation that the Constitution of The Episcopal Church requires unconditionally that any clergy exercising within the church must swear to “conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship” of the Church (Article VIII). Can one reasonably demand something of a bishop which he or she has no power to grant, and then complain about the bishop’s unwillingness to work with them?
The first day the bishops convened to consider the Communiqué (March 16) was also announced as the last day for nominations to fill the pastoral council, as if the Episcopal bishops had already acquiesced to it. Perhaps it was thought that Bishop Katharine had agreed to the scheme, which in any event she has no authority to do. In fact, she reported (and others can confirm) that she only agreed to take it to her House of Bishops.
Furthermore, despite a report from their own Standing Committee that The Episcopal Church through its General Convention had accepted the restrictions on it required by the Windsor Report, the Primates seemed to demand more assurances. And the Communiqué threatened implicitly that if the bishops did not accede to all its demands, the setting up of alternative jurisdictions within the American province would continue unabated.
Further erosion of trust occurred when it was learned that the Archbishop of Uganda was in Los Angeles during our meeting to administer confirmation in three of the diocese’s congregations. The Bishop of Los Angeles asserted that he had written “twenty to thirty” letters to him, none of which had received the favor of a reply.
A report from bishops working on the matter of property disputes produced several documents from the Anglican Communion Network, an organization specifically set up to promote the replacement of The Episcopal Church, which works closely with those Primates who have taken it upon themselves to “fix” us. These outlined plans for the subversion of the Church from within. The last document reportedly had the phrase, “Wage guerilla warfare in The Episcopal Church,” allegedly in the hand of the Network’s Moderator, Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh.
In light of these provocations, I think our Statement was quite moderate, though some of the language sounds a bit jingoist (“liberation from colonialism” is not how most Church of England colonists saw the American Revolution). In all our resolutions, we affirmed our deep desire to remain within the Anglican Communion, while declining to participate in a scheme we had no authority to accept, a plan which would have de facto grounded the schism some long to see.
Fr Jake has an article The Subversion of the Church From Within which contains links to numerous documents which relate to some of the points made in the article above.
Earlier, I identified a list of possible “Windsor” bishops which numbered fourteen, in addition to the ten bishops of NACDAP dioceses.
Recently Stand Firm has been trying to find out how these bishops voted at the recent American HoB meeting, on the specific issue of the “mind of the house” resolution addressed to the Executive Council that urges it to “decline to participate in” the pastoral structures articulated by the Tanzania Communique. They took the view, which seems reasonable to me, that a true “Windsor” bishop could not have voted for this resolution.
They included one bishop that I omitted, namely Mark MacDonald of Alaska. I excluded him since he has recently accepted a bishopric in Canada; in the event he did not attend the meeting due to illness.
John Bauerschmidt of Tennessee has succeeded Bertram Herlong, retired. He appears to be a further potential for the “Windsor” list.
But so far—barring the one that we have no knowledge of [Bishop Ohl]—of the 25 Windsor bishops, we know of:
— 2 that voted for the HOB resolution opposing the pastoral structures of the Tanzania Communique
— 6 who did not attend the meeting
— 3 who attended the meeting but were unable to vote
— 14 who voted AGAINST the HOB resolution that rejected the pastoral structures of the primates
Considering first the NACDAP bishops:
Turning to the fifteen other bishops(including both MacDonald and Bauerschmidt):
So the total number of non-network “Windsor” bishops may be no more than twelve.
The Bishop of Northern Michigan, Jim Kelsey, has published a lengthy and detailed report of the recent American House of Bishops meeting. The whole document can be read at Jim Kelsey’s report on the Spring Bishops’ Meeting March, 2007 on Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan News. As several others have already said, it is a Must Read.
Some parts of the report deal with earlier meetings, and these may be of even wider interest:
…During the meetings of the Bishops Working for a Just Society, there was also discussion about a major world-wide gathering of Anglicans just completed in Boksburg, South Africa, convened to focus on the Millennium Development Goals, and especially the one dealing with the AIDS pandemic (MDG Goal #6). The gathering was called TEAM (Towards Effective Anglican Mission). It was moving to hear from those who were there, as they recounted the remarkable presentations by people from all over the world who told of the depth of human suffering and the response to which our Church is called. It was encouraging to hear about how these Anglicans from around the globe approached the US Episcopalians who were there, and made clear that despite the unpleasantness coming out of the Primates’ meeting, they were eager to continue our partnerships in mission of all sorts and configurations, and that they had no intention of withdrawing from communion with us, regardless of what official actions are being taken by the Primates.
But it was discouraging to hear about a meeting held between Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the US Episcopal bishops who were present. It was clear that at the meeting, Rowan Williams was uncomfortable and defensive, and that he has a distorted picture of The Episcopal Church (believing that the dissidents in our midst make up 40% of the Episcopal Church - - a bizarre and wildly inaccurate figure). When asked how the rest of the world perceives our efforts to promote and advance the Millennium Development Goals, Williams responded that he thought it was received as “papering over differences, and buying votes”. (Quite a different read from the face to face encounters our people experienced throughout the TEAM conference!). When asked what would happen after the September 30th deadline set by the Primates’ Communiqué, and who would decide about the adequacy of the response of the Episcopal Church to its demands, Rowan Williams responded that it would not be he who would decide since, as he said, “I’m not a Pope; that’s not how our system works… I’ll take it to the Primates, and they will decide”. (As if that’s how our system works!!!) This was sobering to hear, to say the least! At least we know where we stand, and what lies ahead…
And another section:
By the way, those who had been at the Primates’ meeting in Tanzania reported some very disturbing dynamics. The Primate of Mexico, Carlos Touche Porter, said that every time there was a break, new amendments were proposed for the Communiqué, always more critical of The Episcopal Church. His comment was, “as the meeting went on, I began to feel less like a Primate and more like a Cardinal”. Between his observations and those of our press corps, it was clear, in fact, that every time there was a break, Peter Akinola disappeared into a room where Martin Minns and other conservative US folks were holed up, and when he emerged, he had the next revisions for the Communiqué - which in fact were adopted. In the earlier drafts, there was a phrase “We respect The Episcopal Church”, and on the strength alone of Peter Akinola’s objection, that phrase was removed. All of this provides important information: that it is clear who is in control of the Primates’ Meeting, and this reinforces why it is so important that the Primates not be given increased power as a centralized authority in the Anglican Communion.
…The vestry of Grace and St. Stephen’s, Colorado Springs, announced March 26 its intention for the parish to leave the Diocese of Colorado and affiliate with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). The parish’s rector, the Rev. Don Armstrong, has also transferred to CANA.
See the Living Church report titled Colorado Springs Parish Plans to Join CANA.
The parish’s own news page is here.
Today, the Rocky Mountain Gazette has published UPDATE Diocese accuses Grace’s Armstrong of theft, fraud and the Letter from Bishop O’Neill can be read as a PDF here. An earlier Gazette article is Question of authority.
Rocky Mountain News said Episcopal diocese threatens to sue breakaway parish leaders.
The New York Times earlier had Episcopalians in Colorado Plan to Leave Denomination
Episcopal News Service yesterday had COLORADO: Diocese moves to protect remaining Episcopalians, parish property.
In addition to the press release from Lambeth Palace issued earlier today, Ruth Gledhill reported yesterday on her blog that Rowan Williams has recently written this in response to this LGCM Open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury following the Tanzanian Primates meeting Feb 2007:
‘I don’t think there was a chance of getting an agreed statement out of the Primates on this subject at the moment. I don’t take any pride in that, but it’s a fact.’
She mentioned this in the context of the Listening Process dossier:
Peter Akinola… has given an interview to Philip Groves, who head[s] the listening process for the Anglican Communion, in which he makes it clear that he is fully behind the draconian anti-gay measures currently going through Nigeria’s legislature.
The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) statement in that dossier, which can be found here, says:
The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has therefore strongly opposed the developments in the Episcopal Church (USA), the Church of Canada and the Church of England. The Primate has called for the Church of England to be disciplined within the Anglican Communion for its response to the Civil Partnership Act.
In Nigeria the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2006 is passing through the legislature. The House of Bishops has supported it because we understand that it is designed to strengthen traditional marriage and family life and to prevent wholesale importation of currently damaging Western values. It bans same sex unions, all homosexual acts and the formation of any gay groups. The Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria has twice commended the act in their Message to the Nation.
And another quote:
The Primate of all Nigeria has said “Our argument is that, if homosexuals see themselves as deviants who have gone astray, the Christian spirit would plead for patience and prayers to make room for their repentance. When scripture says something is wrong and some people say that it is right, such people make God a liar. We argue that it is a blatant lie against Almighty God that homosexuality is their God-given urge and inclination. For us, it is better seen as an acquired aberration.”
Many people, when commenting on the dossier, have made specific reference to the Nigerian entry.
Changing Attitude issued a lengthy statement which includes:
“The Archbishop’s concern for situations where the Church is seen to be underwriting social or legal attitudes which threaten proper liberties may be taken as code for the situation in Nigeria. The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has used high ranking Anglican officials to persuade the Government to introduce a new bill banning same-sex marriage and extending sanctions against any lesbian or gay social or political activity. The Church continues to support the proposed legislation despite international reaction against the Nigerian Government.
“Changing Attitude Nigeria and England have alerted the Communion to the active support being given by Archbishop Akinola and senior Church officials to the bill. The bill extends sanctions against lesbian and gay people to the extent that all social activity will become illegal. As we have repeatedly pointed out, this would make any bishop who met with and listened to a lesbian or gay Anglican subject to arrest and imprisonment. The Church of Nigeria is working actively to ensure that the listening process can never happen in Nigeria. We hope the Archbishop of Canterbury’s concerns for the legal attitudes which threaten proper civil liberties will be communicated directly to Archbishop Akinola.
The Living Church has Provinces’ ‘Listening Process’ Reports Published:
In contrast to the submission by The Episcopal Church, the report submitted by The Church of Nigeria views homosexuality as an “abominable deed.” The report notes that the House of Bishops in The Church of Nigeria has supported a proposed state law which if approved by the Nigerian legislature would, among other provisions, ban same-sex unions, the formation of homosexual advocacy groups and “prevent wholesale importation of currently damaging Western values.”
Ekklesia wrote Archbishop of Canterbury says churches must be ‘safe’ for gays:
In what will be seen as a reference to the situation in Nigeria where Anglican Archbishop Akinola is backing legal measures which would oppress gay and lesbian people, Rowan Williams said; “I share the concerns expressed about situations where the Church is seen to be underwriting social or legal attitudes which threaten these proper liberties. It is impossible to read this report without being aware that in many places - including Western countries with supposedly ‘liberal’ attitudes - hate crimes against homosexual people have increased in recent years and have taken horrifying and disturbing forms.
and also there is Gay Christians appeal to international community over repressive laws.
Among the blogs:
William Crawley has Primate of homophobia?
Tobias Haller wrote They Will Never Learn
Fr Jones wrote Anglican Centrist 18 - The Listening Process
Jim Naughton has ABC kinda sorta speaks out in a muted and extremely qualified sort of way
Scott Gunn has Rowan says church must be a “safe place”
Not too much has Nigerian church condemned by its own words
Fr Jake has The Listening Process: Reports from the Provinces
Jared Cramer has Lambeth Ringing Hollow
Archbishop - Church must be ‘safe place’ for gay and lesbian people
Wednesday 28th March 2007
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has said that the churches of the Anglican Communion must be safe places for gay and lesbian people. His comments come in a welcome to an interim report on the Anglican Communion’s Listening Process, a commitment to listen to the experience of homosexual people. Dr Williams warns that the challenge to create the safe space for their voices to be heard and for their dignity to be respected is based on a fundamental commitment of the Communion.
“ The commitments of the Communion are not only to certain theological positions on the question of sexual ethics but also to a manifest and credible respect for the proper liberties of homosexual people, a commitment again set out in successive Lambeth Conference Resolutions over many decades. I share the concerns expressed about situations where the Church is seen to be underwriting social or legal attitudes which threaten these proper liberties. It is impossible to read this report without being aware that in many places – including Western countries with supposedly ‘liberal’ attitudes – hate crimes against homosexual people have increased in recent years and have taken horrifying and disturbing forms.
“ No-one reading this report can be complacent about such a situation, and the Church is challenged to show that it is truly a safe place for people to be honest and where they may be confident that they will have their human dignity respected, whatever serious disagreements about ethics may remain. It is good to know that the pastoral care of homosexual people is affirmed clearly by so many provinces.”
In his statement, Dr Williams paid tribute to the work of Canon Phil Groves and the team at the Anglican Communion Office involved in coordinating the Listening Process. The interim report, comprising summaries of the Communion’s 38 Provinces’ progress on the issue, has been posted on the Anglican Communion website and can be found at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/articles/42/50/acns4270.cfm
The full statement follows.
“ I am profoundly grateful to Canon Phil Groves and all at the Anglican Communion Office who have worked so hard to produce this preliminary account of what the Communion has done to honour its commitment at Lambeth 1998 to listen to the experience of gay and lesbian people. It is a commitment that has been repeated many times but it has not proved easy to set up an appropriate process that will involve the whole Anglican family.
“ The sensitivities of this exercise are obvious. Social, cultural and legal contexts are very varied indeed. And in the present climate of the Anglican Communion, there is inevitably a suspicion either that this is just window-dressing, or that it is a covert programme for changing doctrine and discipline. Real – and mutual – listening is hard to achieve. There are contexts where it is difficult to find a safe place for gay and lesbian people to speak about their lives openly. There are contexts where people assume the debate is over. The report shows that listening is possible, but also that there is a great deal still to be done. The work continues, but we have a solid start here.
“ The commitments of the Communion are not only to certain theological positions on the question of sexual ethics but also to a manifest and credible respect for the proper liberties of homosexual people, a commitment again set out in successive Lambeth Conference Resolutions over many decades. I share the concerns expressed about situations where the Church is seen to be underwriting social or legal attitudes which threaten these proper liberties. It is impossible to read this report without being aware that in many places – including Western countries with supposedly ‘liberal’ attitudes – hate crimes against homosexual people have increased in recent years and have taken horrifying and disturbing forms.
“ No-one reading this report can be complacent about such a situation, and the Church is challenged to show that it is truly a safe place for people to be honest and where they may be confident that they will have their human dignity respected, whatever serious disagreements about ethics may remain. It is good to know that the pastoral care of homosexual people is affirmed clearly by so many provinces.
“ I welcome this document as a valuable first stage in our collective response to the challenge that the last Lambeth Conference put before us, and I hope that it will be part of the ‘deep and dispassionate’ study of issues in sexual ethics for which an earlier Lambeth Conference called.”
The Anglican Journal has a copy of the lecture delivered recently to the Ecclesiastical Law Society by Bishop Musonda Trevor Selwyn Mwamba of Botswana.
I recommend that you read it in full: The Anglican Communion: crisis and opportunity.
The Anglican Communion Office has published a lot of material relating to the Listening Process. The section on Reports from the Provinces starts here:
The Facilitator of the Listening Process has collated relevant research studies, statements, resolutions and other material on human sexuality from the various Provinces. Summaries of the responses are here available for study, discussion and reflection across the Communion. This was called for by ACC 13 and commended by the Primates in their communiqué of their meeting in February 2005…
Go here to find the index of the individual summaries. It includes responses from the Global South.
Here is the press release from ACO about this: Listening Process Summaries now on-line. It includes:
…In addition to the summaries, and the materials being formulated on our website, A Study Guide for use at the Lambeth Conference 2008 on: The Process of Listening to Gay and Lesbian people and Mutual Listening on Human Sexuality is underway. The facilitator requests contributions for the study guide, the full details are on the website.
The Primates also asked for ‘the preparation of material to assist the bishops at 2008 Lambeth Conference.’ The Facilitator for the Listening Process is asking for contributions to be used in the writing of a Study Guide…
Go here to read about A Study Guide For use at the Lambeth Conference 2008 on: The Process of Listening to Gay and Lesbian people and Mutual Listening on Human Sexuality.
Episcopal News Service has a 15 minute video interview with the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. Go here to watch it.
Press Release from InclusiveChurch
26th March 2007
We acknowledge the frustration which has led the Bishops of the Episcopal Church (TEC) to reject the requests of the Dar Es Salaam Communique for the creation of a parallel church structure.
We welcome their strong affirmations of the equality before God and human rights of all people.
We wish members of TEC to know that we fully support them in their response to the Primates.
To lose the long-cherished principles of provincial autonomy, respect for diversity and active participation of laypeople and clergy would be to lose many of the defining principles of our Anglican inheritance. We have no tradition of centralising authority in the hands of a few senior bishops.
The majority of members of the Church of England find the continued failure of Anglicans to recognise the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people absolutely unacceptable.
It is increasingly clear to us that the process which the Communion has followed over lesbian and gay Christians has been very seriously flawed. Comparisons have been drawn with the ordination of women. In relation to that question a moratorium was imposed in 1948. But the next twenty years led to a conditional acceptance, following a great deal of work by the Communion and a serious and sustained engagement with the question.
But the initial Lambeth resolution in 1978 calling for sustained engagement over issues of human sexuality was honoured only in the breach. Twenty years later at Lambeth 98, the conclusions of the working party charged with coming up with a response to these questions were hijacked by a few conservative bishops with the active support of the then Archbishop of Canterbury. A resolution was produced which rowed back from the 1978 call. In other words, the “conservative” position became a “regressive” position.
In this context, the frustration felt by the Episcopal Church and expressed by its Bishops last week is entirely understandable. To add weight to that frustration, the “listening process” which was called for by Lambeth 98 and again in the Windsor Report has not been carried out with any degree of seriousness by those people who have most to lose by genuine engagement - that is, those parts of TEC loosely grouped under the American Anglican Council, the Province of Nigeria and conservative groups in England. And the cross-border incursions condemned by the Windsor process have, far from coming to a halt, merely increased.
In the meantime, the Church of England has moved on. The debates at General Synod on Wednesday 28th February showed that there is a desire by Synod to take a more mature and supportive approach to Christians who genuinely see the inclusion of lesbian and gay people as a Gospel imperative.
We are now in the ridiculous position where we have gay clergy living in relationship at all levels of the hierarchy - and where the blessing of same-sex relationships is taking place in a significant number of parishes. Parishes trying to live out the radical and inclusive welcome of Jesus Christ are thriving. But because of the untenable policy of the House of Bishops none of this can be acknowledged.
In the meantime, the Archbishop of Nigeria is proceeding at full speed with his support for the homophobic legislation proposed in that country which breaches the UN Declaration on Human Rights, unchecked by his brother Primates.
In this context, we do not see that Lambeth 1.10 can be considered any longer to hold legitimacy or credence. Nor do we see that the Windsor process (which was planned as a process of reconciliation but has been used as a process of exclusion) can continue any further. The road map, effectively, was torn up at Dar Es Salaam. We are now in a new world, in which it is hard to see how a meaningful Covenant can be agreed.
This week it is worth remembering that the entire House of Bishops was originally opposed to the abolition of the slave trade. It took William Wilberforce and his colleagues over twenty years to convince the Church of the rightness of their cause.
InclusiveChurch remains committed to its fundamental aim: to celebrate the diverse gifts of all members of the body of Christ; and in the ordering of our common life to open the ministries of deacon, priest and bishop to those so called to serve by God, regardless of their sex, race or sexual orientation. We will continue to work to fulfil that aim across the Anglican Communion. We look forward to ever increasing friendship with inclusive Christians around the world.
Giles Goddard, Chair, IC
Anglican Mainstream has published the following comment in response to the LGCM advertisement in this week’s Church Times:
From Canon Ben Enwuchola, Chaplain to the Nigerian Community and Canon Dr Chris Sugden. Member of General Synod and Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream
The Lesbian Gay Christian Movement has a full page advertisement in the Church Times this week linking the church’s dilemma over engagement in the slave trade with its current dilemma on issues of human sexuality. It states: “Should it (the Anglican communion) support the end to the slave trade? Some said ‘no’ and turned to the Bible for justification. But just as the Church was able to search its soul and overcome this to support the abolition of slavery, it ought to be able to support justice and inclusion for lesbian and gay people.” The advert also makes a number of allegations about the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Rev Peter Akinola.
The following should be noted.
1. The very people who were set free from slavery, which was a powerful global expression of western culture at the time, do not wish to come in bondage to that culture again in the form of its sexual licence.
2. Those who cited the Bible to justify their views on supporting slavery based their views actually on economic theory, not on the Bible.
3. When he met a representative of Changing Attitude Nigeria in Tanzania in February, Archbishop Akinola treated him with courtesy. Those of us who know Archbishop Akinola and have discussed these matters with him know that none of the imputations of this advert have any basis in his thinking or action. He is committed to the human rights of all the oppressed, including those who feel they are oppressed because of their sexuality. He is seeking in his context which is characterised by militancy on this issue to operationalise that decision. He needs our prayers and support.
What the advertisement says about Archbishop Akinola is this:
Shamefully the Anglican Primate of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, has promoted this legislation, condemned by UN officials as “an absolutely unjustified intrusion of individuals’ right to privacy” which goes against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In Archbishop Akinola’s view, “homosexuality is flagrant disobedience to God”, and an “acquired aberration” which “does violence to nature”.
These quotations all come directly from an article Why I object to homosexuality written by Archbishop Akinola for the Church Times and published originally on 4 July 2003, during the campaign against the appointment of Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading:
…Our argument is that, if homosexuals see themselves as deviants who have gone astray, the Christian spirit would plead for patience and prayers to make room for their repentance. When scripture says something is wrong and some people say that it is right, such people make God a liar. We argue that it is a blatant lie against Almighty God that homosexuality is their God-given urge and inclination. For us, it is better seen as an acquired aberration.
THE ISSUE is such an important one, such a defining one, with the potential of splitting the Communion, because it has become a chronic aberration, which is being defended and promoted in the Church of God. On the authority of the word of God, we see homosexuality as a rebellion against God, like that typified by Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. A rebellion cannot be relative.
Moreover, homosexuality is flagrant disobedience to God, which enables people to pervert God’s ordained sexual expression with the opposite sex. In this way, homosexuals have missed the mark; they have shown themselves to be trespassers of God’s divine laws.
Protagonists of homosexuality try to elevate this aberration, unknown even in animal relationships, beyond divine scrutiny, while church leaders, who are called to proclaim the undiluted word of God like the prophets of old, are unashamedly looking the other way.
The practice of homosexuality, in our understanding of scripture, is the enthronement of self-will and human weakness, and a rejection of God’s order and will. This cannot be treated with levity; otherwise the Church, and the God she preaches, will be badly deformed and diminished.
Homosexuality does violence to nature. As someone puts it: “It contradicts the very light and law of nature….”
Indeed in the same article Archbishop Akinola wrote:
Homosexuality or lesbianism or bestiality is to us a form of slavery…
Telling Beads is keeping track of statements made by individual bishops, commenting on their recent meeting in Navasota, Texas, at Bishops Speak About Their Meeting.
Episcopal Majority is also collecting them, but in multiple posts. Go here and scroll through the recent posts.
Changing Attitude has issued this press release: Changing Attitude England welcomes the response of the House of Bishops of the American Episcopal Church.
Updated Friday 30 March
The game is almost up for the bishops in the Lords. The only option for them is to put forward a counter-proposal of their own, with a radically reduced number of bishops to be part of a potential appointed element of a reformed chamber. They have not done so in the Lords’ debates on the subject this week. But five, six — even two — bishops, appointed on the basis of ability and capacity, and released from some diocesan responsibilities, could ensure that the national Church could maintain its excellent work in a reformed second chamber.
This article follows on from the Theos report Coming off the bench: The past, present and future of religious representation in the House of Lords which was published in February and can be downloaded from here. At the time, Bill Bowder reported on it: Report finds bishops too political.
This week’s Church Times has letters in response to the article, including from Frank Field and Colin Buchanan.
Update These letters are now available, see If the bishops want a future in the Lords, they need to work on it.
Frank Field writes:
…The impression given by the bishops is like that of their predecessors sitting around, sharpening their quills, and waiting for Prime Minister Peel to come and begin ecclesiastical-committee meetings. This time round they are simply awaiting reform.
The House of Bishops needs to become proactive and introduce its own Bill reforming the place of the Lords Spiritual in the Upper House. But to do this the bishops need to have thought through what is their place in a “modernised” Second Chamber.
Despite the increase in attendance of bishops now, compared with the Thatcher era, most bishops who have places in the Lords do little to justify their existence…
And Colin Buchanan says:
…I wonder whether a few one-line shafts of the obvious would help?
First, if there were 16 bishops taking their seats on the present pecking-order basis, all but the top five would get about nine months’ membership of the House before retirement.
Second, if there were the Bickley solution of “six, five — even two — bishops appointed on the basis of ability . . . and released from some diocesan responsibilities”, then (a) who would appoint them? (b) what would count as “ability”? and © what diocese would want them in absentia?
Third, surely the issue of “100 per cent elected” should be addressed in its own right, not simply on the grounds that it unseats bishops?
Fourth, when will anyone start to couple a changed future for bishops in the Lords with an end of Downing Street’s final say in their appointment as bishops, indefensibly staked, as it is, upon the current expectation of their proceeding to the Lords?
The Times Many roads lead to the One in southern India by Guy Liardet
Guardian Stephen Tomkins writes about the abolition of slavery campaign.
Telegraph Christopher Howse The lost language of worship
Church Times Giles Fraser Capitalism can have a warm heart
Tablet Dangers, toils and snares by Michael Fitzgerald
Church of England Newspaper via Fulcrum The Church of England: More than Evangelical but not Less by Graham Kings
…Equalities Minister Meg Munn admitted the nine Catholic adoption societies in England would be released from the demands of the Sexual Orientation Regulations if they forego cash from state-run social services and instead rely entirely on collections from supporters.
The announcement caused speculation that the Catholic Church could launch an appeal to England’s one million Catholic churchgoers to make up the £10million agencies get from local councils.
Miss Munn revealed the breakaway option in a Parliamentary written answer.
She explained how regulation 14 of the gay rights laws allows religious organisations exemption from the discrimination rules, as long as they are not run on commercial lines.
They can discriminate if it is necessary to comply with doctrine or the beliefs of members…
The Parliamentary written answer to which reference is made above can be found here.
The Evangelical Alliance issued this press release: Christians should continue to deliver public services until the law stops them.
Craig Nelson has an excellent detailed and critical analysis of the bishops’ contributions to the House of Lords debate at More on the House of Lords debate - the bishops’ speeches. It’s worth reading in full, but predictably he selects this quote from the Bishop of Winchester as winning the prize:
“I greatly regret the fact that the Government chose not to do so, but, rather, chose to legislate to coerce the churches and others to accept as the norm for this society—the regulations ask us to accept this and to collude in the Government’s promotion—alternative patterns of living and of family life that many people conscientiously believe are less than the best, less than the most healthy, and less than God’s will for humankind.”
Keith Porteous of the National Secular Society has much harsher things to say about the bishops:
“As it turned out, only three of the bishops turned up. They probably realised that a show of brute power would seriously jeopardise the survival of the Bishops Bench in House of Lords reform. But they clearly tried to field their top brass. This included the Archbishop of York, who even apologised for the absence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and two senior bishops. All voted against the Regulations…
…“Their remarks were torn to shreds by several speakers in a way that would have been unthinkable just a year ago. The most effective attacks came from three non-aligned Christians, two peers who happen to be gay and a baroness who was chief executive of Childline. To murmurs of approval they lectured the prelates on love and discrimination. It was unforgettable.
“Lord (Chris) Smith spoke of the humiliation of a gay couple being turned away from a bed and breakfast, and the reality of gay and lesbian people being removed from GP lists because of their sexuality. In one of the most powerful speeches of the evening, Lord Waheed Alli spoke of his father, a Muslim. The Koran openly says that Jews should be killed, he told peers. As a Muslim, if he truly believed that, then there should not be a law against it, according to the arguments of the bishops. ‘The sight of children holding up homophobic placards outside the Lords seems a good argument for these regulations,’ he told peers. Baroness Howarth of Breckland concluded ‘Gay people deserve that as much as any of us, just as Wilberforce said that every black person deserved equal treatment.’
Updated Friday evening
Today, the Daily Telegraph catches up with the news, as Jonathan Petre reports Liberal bishops reject parallel Church, but compensates for the delay by printing this leader column: Communion no more. Part of it reads:
…The text of the American bishops’ statement is damaging. This is a national Church speaking with an (almost) united voice. The casus belli has shifted from the ordination of Gene Robinson, a bishop who is in a relationship with another man, to allegations of bullying by a group of primates led by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Dr Williams now finds himself out of favour with liberals and moderate conservatives in his own Communion. And, harsh though it may sound, he has only himself to blame.
In the past couple of years, he has allowed conservative Anglicanism to be hijacked by extremists. Archbishop Peter Akinola, Anglican Primate of Nigeria, is the leader of the Global South provinces opposed to the ordination of actively homosexual clergy.
That is fair enough, but he has also defended new Nigerian legislation that makes “cancerous” (his word) same-sex activity punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment. The deeply divisive figure of Archbishop Akinola was central to Dr Williams’s Tanzanian compromise; is it any wonder that it has been rejected?…
It takes a while for the RSS feed to arrive, but the Damian Thompson blog entry related to this is now on Holy Smoke: It’s all over for the Archbishop. He starts out this way:
Rowan Williams is finished as Archbishop of Canterbury. His authority has been utterly destroyed by the decision of the American bishops to reject his scheme to hold together the Anglican Communion.
If there is a Lambeth Conference next year – and it is hard to see how there can be, if its American bankrollers are kicked out – then I shall be very surprised if he presides over it.
Any Archbishop of Canterbury would have faced almost insurmountable obstacles to preserving the unity of the Anglican Communion, many of whose members do not recognise each other as Christians, let alone as Anglicans. But Dr Williams has not come even close to surmounting them.
Just as John Major never recovered from Black Wednesday, Rowan Williams has never recovered from Black Sunday: 6 July, 2003, when he forced his friend Canon Jeffrey John to withdraw his acceptance of the post of Bishop of Reading…
Updated Monday morning
One of the things the American bishops did was to invite Rowan Williams and the Primates Standing Committee to come to the USA, and talk directly to them.
Somebody has decided to help this idea along: see on Ebay Travel for the Archbishop of Canterbury to the USA:
See American bishops in their native habitat!
The bishops of the American Episcopal Church have asked Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to make an unprecedented and long-delayed visit to them in North America to discuss the Current Unpleasantness pre-occupying the Anglican Communion. The Americans assure ++Cantuar that their Christian hospitality will match that of the various fissiparous bishops he has broken bread with on multiple continents. So that the plate and pledge of parishes is not unnecessarily depleted, elements within TEC inclined toward reconciliation or at least a good face-to-face row are offering a business class ticket to any USA destination of the archbishop’s choosing, along with lodging in a Courtyard by Marriott ™ or better accommodation within strolling distance of the agreed-upon meeting place. A team of Th.D translators will be on hand to couch ++Cantuar’s musings in terms accessible to the colonials. Tea and biscuits to be provided by the ECW.
All are invited to bid on this communion-saving encounter.
Update see eBay Shall Not Splinter the Communion!
Changing Attitude has this: Changing Attitude Nigeria urges international action against Same Sex Marriage Act. It concludes thus:
…Archbishop Peter Akinola is said to be doing last minute lobbying of Anglicans in the House of Representatives and the Government to ensure the bill is voted on soon and passed into law.
Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria (CAN), said:
“Changing Attitude Nigeria stands as a reminder to the world-wide Anglican Communion that the Church of Nigeria is promoting and supporting a bill which will erode the most basic human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.”
“Archbishop Peter Akinola has committed himself to the Windsor Report which commits him to the process of listening to LGBT people. If he is honest and serious about listening to LGBT members in his Province he must speak out now in condemnation of this bill and ensure that it is defeated.”
“I am very worried because very few Nigerian LGBT activists are free to speak out in a country which already has repressive anti-gay legislation on the statute book. The bill is moving very fast and although some people think the bill will fall, the Church sponsors are not giving up and neither are we.“
“Conservative Christians want to use Nigeria as an example to other African countries to demonstrate that anti-gay legislation can be passed which criminalizes all affection and activity between LGBT people.”
To put this in context, another article from the Daily Trust (Abuja) is instructive, Nigeria: The Audacity of Deviants.
Jim Naughton reports in A hopeful delay in Nigeria? that
…the Nigerian legislature did not consider the hateful anti-gay legislation being supported by Archbishop Peter Akinola and the Church of Nigeria before adjourning yesterday. The legislature as currently composed does not reconvene until May, after the general election, and then only for one week…
Last week, I wrote an article for the Comment pages of the Church Times, which is now available on the public part of the website: How far churches may discriminate. Most of this article is an attempt to explain how generous the religious exemption is to churches. I also wrote:
…the initial Church of England response was only lukewarm: “The Government has gone some way to recognising the particular needs of churches and other religious organisations to act in accordance with their own convictions.” In contrast, the Christian charity Faithworks welcomed them: “The proposed SORs are an opportunity for Christians to demonstrate the love and grace of Christ.”
Sandhya Drew, a barrister who specialises in discrimination cases, commented: “People of faith who respect the principles of universal human dignity have nothing to fear from these regulations.”
This week, Bill Bowder reports fully on the latest events in Christians fight on gay Regulations.
Episcopal News Service has a detailed report of the news conference held at the end of the American House of Bishops meeting: Bishops comment on invitation to Archbishop of Canterbury, other actions.
The Living Church has a report headed Resolutions Arose From Bishops’ Concern Over Pastoral Council Nominations.
The Comment is free website is carrying an article by the Guardian’s Religious Affairs Correspondent, Stephen Bates. The title is Bishops to primate: drop dead.
The original on which this headline is based can be found here.
The American Anglican Council has this AAC Statement on the Episcopal House of Bishops’ March 2007 Meeting.
Integrity has INTEGRITY APPLAUDS BISHOPS’ STRONG STAND AGAINST PRIMATES.
The Bishop of Central Florida has written a very surprising letter which can be found here.
The Bishop of Western Louisiana also wrote about it. See here.
The Bishop of New Hampshire wrote this Pastoral Letter.
Susan Russell had this Report on Post Camp Allen News Conference which includes some interesting tidbits.
Bishop Christopher Epting has written What The Bishops Didn’t Do.
There were three bishops present and voting last night, and one retired English bishop.
Lord Harries voted against the amendment.
The Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Winchester, and the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham each spoke for, and voted for the amendment.
Lord Eames also voted for the amendment.
You can read their speeches here (in chronological order, scroll down as necessary):
Ekklesia has commented on this aspect of the debate: Bishops reject calls to vote on Sexual Orientation Regulations and also Bishop’s vote over Sexual Orientation Regulations.
The Press Association issued Kelly welcomes gay equality law
The Public Whip analyses the Lords voting in detail here.
For earlier reports, including UK papers this morning go here.
New York Times Episcopal Church Rejects Demand for a 2nd Leadership
Washington Post Episcopal Bishops in U.S. Defy Anglican Communion
Los Angeles Times Episcopal-Anglican rift deepens
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Episcopal bishops reject Anglican demands
Houston Chronicle Episcopal bishops spurn demands from Anglicans
The American bishops issued A Message to God’s People…from the Bishops of the Episcopal Church.
And here is the Presiding Bishop’s homily at House of Bishops’ closing Eucharist.
Updated Thursday morning
The amendment seeking to prevent the Regulations coming into effect was defeated by 168 to 122.
Text of amendment here.
The original government motion to approve them was then passed on a voice vote: I heard no dissent while watching the last part of the debate over the internet. I saw only three bishops present: York, Winchester and Southwell & Nottingham. (The 42 objectors must be disappointed.)
Craig Nelson was also watching and made some notes here.
Meanwhile, Zefrog has Anti-Sexual Orientation Regulations Vigil Outside Parliament - Report. It seems the demonstration was quite small.
Ekklesia has a report too: Christians demonstrate against anti-discrimination measures. (Note: this appears to relate to an earlier demonstration, see Zefrog comment below.)
The BBC has Lords support gay equality laws.
The Archbishop of York has published his speech. Anglican Mainstream has it here.
BBC Gay laws ‘a major step forward’ (Note: story originally contained untrue statement about the General Synod, now corrected.)
The Times carries a comment article by Roy Hattersley criticising Lord Carey’s reported earlier remarks about disestablishment but also mentioning the SORs (which Carey had not done): Be off with you, Lord C.
Ekklesia has Victory goes to equality in House of Lords vote.
Rowan Williams has issued this statement:
This initial response of the House of Bishops is discouraging and indicates the need for further discussion and clarification. Some important questions have still to be addressed and no one is underestimating the challenges ahead.
Laurie Goodstein in the New York Times reported Episcopals Rebuff Demands on Stance on Gays
Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press filed Episcopal Bishops Reject Ultimatum and later filed Episcopal bishops reject ultimatum from Anglican leaders.
Rebecca Trounson in the Los Angeles Times Episcopalians brace for possible church split
Bishop Chane of Washington reported in a Pastoral Letter on his diocesan website, including this:
The first resolution, “Mind of the House of Bishops Resolution Addressed to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church” passed in the House by a simple voice vote after several hours of debate. The second resolution, “To the Archbishop of Canterbury and the members of the Primates’ Steering Committee” passed unanimously. The third resolution, which puts forth “A Statement from the House of Bishops-March 20, 2007” passed by a standing vote after some modifications in language.
Update at midnight
Stephen Bates in the Guardian has US rejects Anglican ultimatum:
The worldwide Anglican church was facing its long-awaited split last night after the bishops of the US Episcopal church firmly rejected an ultimatum, proposed at a meeting of Anglican leaders in Tanzania last month, to allow American conservatives to have their own leadership because of opposition to their church’s liberal stance on homosexuality.
The decision appears to kill the hopes of Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, and nominal head of the 78 million-strong worldwide communion, that he can prevent the church from dividing following the liberal US church’s decision to elect an openly gay bishop in 2003. The American bishops called unanimously for a meeting with Dr Williams, who has steered clear of visiting the US over the last four years, at the earliest possible opportunity, at their expense…
Ruth Gledhill in The Times has Anglicans closer to schism as US bishops reject gay ultimatum:
The Anglican Church took another step towards its apparently inevitable schism when US Episcopal bishops rejected the ultimatum from primates of the Anglican Communion to fall into line over homosexuals.
The bishops of the Episcopal Church accused Anglican primates of trying to drag their Church back into “a time of colonialism”. They said late on Tuesday night that they would resist the primates’ demand that they set up a new pastoral scheme with a “primatial vicar” to make a traditionalist enclave for antigay conservatives who reject the oversight of liberal bishops. They said that the scheme “violated” their canons, or Church law.
Christian gays in Britain yesterday welcomed the US decision and accused the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who chaired last month’s primates’ meeting in Tanzania, of trying to “sell them down the river” and of pandering to “forces of the extreme Right”.
Ephraim Radner who just attended the HoB meeting at Camp Allen to deliver this paper, is a member of the Covenant Design Group, and of the Anglican Communion Institute, and whose day job is being Rector of the Church of the Ascension, in Pueblo, Colarado, is now also a Director of the Institute for Religion and Democracy. You can see this by looking here.
By the way, am I the last one to learn that the Rev. Ephraim Radner, who is helping to write the proposed Anglican Covenant, is a member of the IRD’s board? Does it bother anybody else that this sensitive work is being done by a man so closely allied with an organization that aims to “restructure the permanent governing structure” of “theologically flawed” Protestant denominations? (see FtM, Part one, footnote 3.)
The board is chaired by Roberta Ahmanson, whose billionaire husband Howard has said that while he no longer thinks it is “essential” to stone gay people, adds “It would still be a little hard to say that if one stumbled on a country that was doing that, that it is inherently immoral, to stone people for these things.” (See FtM, Part one, footnote 13.)
The Rev. Philip W. Turner is a member of the IRD’s Board of Advisors. He, like Radner is one of the six members of the Anglican Communion Institute. It is worth keeping these ties in mind when reading the ACI’s frequent interventions in the current debate over homosexuality and church order.
Yes, I am a new board member of IRD. I have great respect for the the organization, in that it was one of the first to attempt to provide views regarding church-supported political activities around the world that challenged the standard liberal claims of our mainline denominations. These views simply were not being heard within our church structures — a form of conscious and unconscious censorship that I know first hand, and that has deeply limited and wounded these churches (including the Episcopal Church’s) intellectual and moral integrity. IRD’s work in bringing attention to matters of religious freedom around the world, woefully and ignominiously ignored by American Christian denominations, has been a critically needed witness. I do not in fact agree with all of IRD’s past positions or even current ones, but I respect and co[n]tinue to respect its work and its leaders. But I have made it clear that I am my own person. I am, for instance, a Democrat who often, although not always, votes with my party, but also struggles with it for a host of reasons. I try to be responsible and critical in my political thinking and acting. Diane Knippers was a great leader and Christian, whose witness inspired me in many ways, and I am more than willing to help carry on a work she began. Obviously, one is judged by one’s associations. I am, for instance, in the same church as Jim Naughton. What are we to make of this? It is odd, and in fact sad, to the utmost that the Church of Jesus Christ has crumbled to such an extent that Mr. Naughton (along with many others on the left and the right) is more interested in political segregation as a way of exercising his ecclesial vocation than in understanding.
For context see here.
A Statement from the House of Bishops – March 20, 2007
We, the Bishops of The Episcopal Church, meeting at Camp Allen, Navasota, Texas, for our regular Spring Meeting, March 16-21, 2007, have received the Communiqué of February 19, 2007 from the Primates of the Anglican Communion meeting at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. We have met together for prayer, reflection, conversation, and listening during these days and have had the Communiqué much on our minds and hearts, just as we know many in our Church and in other parts of the world have had us on their minds and hearts as we have taken counsel together. We are grateful for the prayers that have surrounded us.
We affirm once again the deep longing of our hearts for The Episcopal Church to continue as a part of the Anglican Communion. We have gone so far as to articulate our self-understanding and unceasing desire for relationships with other Anglicans by memorializing the principle in the Preamble of our Constitution. What is important to us is that The Episcopal Church is a constituent member of a family of Churches, all of whom share a common mother in the Church of England. That membership gives us the great privilege and unique opportunity of sharing in the family’s work of alleviating human suffering in all parts of the world. For those of us who are members of The Episcopal Church, we are aware as never before that our Anglican Communion partners are vital to our very integrity as Christians and our wholeness. The witness of their faith, their generosity, their bravery, and their devotion teach us essential elements of gospel-based living that contribute to our conversion.
We would therefore meet any decision to exclude us from gatherings of all Anglican Churches with great sorrow, but our commitment to our membership in the Anglican Communion as a way to participate in the alleviation of suffering and restoration of God’s creation would remain constant. We have no intention of choosing to withdraw from our commitments, our relationships, or our own recognition of our full communion with the See of Canterbury or any of the other constituent members of the Anglican Communion. Indeed, we will seek to live fully into, and deepen, our relationships with our brothers and sisters in the Communion through companion relationships, the networks of Anglican women, the Anglican Indigenous Network, the Francophone Network, our support for the Anglican Diocese of Cuba, our existing covenant commitments with other provinces and dioceses, including Liberia, Mexico, Central America, Brazil, and the Philippines, our work as The Episcopal Church in many countries around the world, especially in the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and Taiwan, and countless informal relationships for mission around the world.
Since our General Convention of 2003, we have responded in good faith to the requests we have received from our Anglican partners. We accepted the invitation of the Lambeth Commission to send individuals characteristic of the theological breadth of our Church to meet with it. We happily did so. Our Executive Council voluntarily acceded to the request of the Primates for our delegates not to attend the 2005 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham. We took our place as listeners rather than participants as an expression of our love and respect for the sensibilities of our brothers and sisters in the Communion even when we believed we had been misunderstood. We accepted the invitation of the Primates to explain ourselves in a presentation to the same meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. We did so with joy.
At the meeting of our House of Bishops at Camp Allen, Texas in March, 2004 we adopted a proposal called Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight as a means for meeting the pastoral needs of those within our Church who disagreed with actions of the General Convention. Our plan received a favorable response in the Windsor Report. It was not accepted by the Primates. At our meeting in March 2005, we adopted a Covenant Statement as an interim response to the Windsor Report in an attempt to assure the rest of the Communion that we were taking them seriously and, at some significant cost, refused to consecrate any additional bishops whatsoever as a way that we could be true to our own convictions without running the risk of consecrating some that would offend our brothers and sisters. Our response was not accepted by the Primates. Our General Convention in 2006 struggled mightily and at great cost to many, not the least of whom are our gay and lesbian members, to respond favorably to the requests made of us in the Windsor Report and the Primates’ Dromantine Communiqué of 2005. We received a favorable response from the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates, which found that our effort had substantially met the concerns of the Windsor Report with the need to clarify our position on the blessing of same sex relationships. Still, our efforts were not accepted by the Primates in the Dar es Salaam Communiqué.
Other Anglican bishops, indeed including some Primates, have violated our provincial boundaries and caused great suffering and contributed immeasurably to our difficulties in solving our problems and in attempting to communicate for ourselves with our Anglican brothers and sisters. We have been repeatedly assured that boundary violations are inappropriate under the most ancient authorities and should cease. The Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998 did so. The Windsor Report did so. The Dromantine Communiqué did so. None of these assurances has been heeded. The Dar es Salaam Communiqué affirms the principle that boundary violations are impermissible, but then sets conditions for ending those violations, conditions that are simply impossible for us to meet without calling a special meeting of our General Convention.
It is incumbent upon us as disciples to do our best to follow Jesus in the increasing experience of the leading of the Holy Spirit. We fully understand that others in the Communion believe the same, but we do not believe that Jesus leads us to break our relationships. We proclaim the Gospel of what God has done and is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion, and peace. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecuted because of their differences, often in the name of God. The Dar es Salaam Communiqué is distressingly silent on this subject. And, contrary to the way the Anglican Communion Network and the American Anglican Council have represented us, we proclaim a Gospel that welcomes diversity of thought and encourages free and open theological debate as a way of seeking God’s truth. If that means that others reject us and communion with us, as some have already done, we must with great regret and sorrow accept their decision.
With great hope that we will continue to be welcome in the councils of the family of Churches we know as the Anglican Communion, we believe that to participate in the Primates’ Pastoral scheme would be injurious to The Episcopal Church for many reasons.
First, it violates our church law in that it would call for a delegation of primatial authority not permissible under our Canons and a compromise of our autonomy as a Church not permissible under our Constitution.
Second, it fundamentally changes the character of the Windsor process and the covenant design process in which we thought all the Anglican Churches were participating together.
Third, it violates our founding principles as The Episcopal Church following our own liberation from colonialism and the beginning of a life independent of the Church of England.
Fourth, it is a very serious departure from our English Reformation heritage. It abandons the generous orthodoxy of our Prayer Book tradition. It sacrifices the emancipation of the laity for the exclusive leadership of high-ranking Bishops. And, for the first time since our separation from the papacy in the 16th century, it replaces the local governance of the Church by its own people with the decisions of a distant and unaccountable group of prelates.
Most important of all it is spiritually unsound. The pastoral scheme encourages one of the worst tendencies of our Western culture, which is to break relationships when we find them difficult instead of doing the hard work necessary to repair them and be instruments of reconciliation. The real cultural phenomenon that threatens the spiritual life of our people, including marriage and family life, is the ease with which we choose to break our relationships and the vows that established them rather than seek the transformative power of the Gospel in them. We cannot accept what would be injurious to this Church and could well lead to its permanent division.
At the same time, we understand that the present situation requires intentional care for those within our Church who find themselves in conscientious disagreement with the actions of our General Convention. We pledge ourselves to continue to work with them toward a workable arrangement. In truth, the number of those who seek to divide our Church is small, and our Church is marked by encouraging signs of life and hope. The fact that we have among ourselves, and indeed encourage, a diversity of opinion on issues of sexuality should in no way be misunderstood to mean that we are divided, except among a very few, in our love for The Episcopal Church, the integrity of its identity, and the continuance of its life and ministry.
In anticipation of the traditional renewal of ordination vows in Holy Week we solemnly declare that “we do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and we do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church.” (Book of Common Prayer, page 513)
With this affirmation both of our identity as a Church and our affection and commitment to the Anglican Communion, we find new hope that we can turn our attention to the essence of Christ’s own mission in the world, to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19). It is to that mission that we now determinedly turn.
The House of Lords debate and vote this evening will be accompanied by a demonstration outside.
First the official Order Paper:
Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007
Baroness Andrews to move that the draft Regulations laid before the House on 13 March be approved. 12th Report from the Statutory Instruments Committee and 14th Report from the Merits Committee (Dinner break business)
Baroness O’Cathain to move, as an amendment to the above motion, to leave out all the words after “that” and insert “this House, having regard to the widespread concerns that the draft Regulations compromise religious liberty and will result in litigation over the content of classroom teaching, and having regard to the legality of the equivalent regulations for Northern Ireland, declines to approve the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007.”
Now the demonstration:
Anglican Mainstream Christians Called to Join Prayer Vigil Against Gay Rights Law
From the Telegraph blogs, Jonathan Isaby asks Were senior Tory rebels nobbled?
Malcolm Duncan of Faithworks writes on his blog, The SORs: make up your own mind!
What the PM’s Official Spokesperson said about the alleged lack of debate from Downing Street Says
Craig Nelson has The Christian Right plans another torch-lit “rally”
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor was on the BBC radio programme Today (listen here), see BBC report Gay adoption vote due for Lords and Zefrog has Murphy-O’Connor on Today. Also, see Could someone in the press actually read the Equality Act (2006)? on rhetorically speaking..
Kerron Cross has Sexual Orientation Regulations - Mass Lobby or Mass Hysteria?
The Evangelical Alliance has a press release: Christians should join in prayer as the House of Lords makes a decision on the Sexual Orientation Regulations
Updated Wednesday afternoon
Episcopal News Service has: Bishops request meeting with Archbishop of Canterbury, Primates’ Standing Committee
Living Church has Bishops Reject Primates’ Ultimatum and earlier had House of Bishops Begins Discussion of Primates’ Communiqué.
See also Bishops’ ‘Mind of the House’ resolutions.
Full text of the Mind of the House of Bishops Resolution Addressed to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church
Resolved, the House of Bishops affirms its desire that The Episcopal Church remain a part of the councils of the Anglican Communion; and
Resolved, the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is determined solely by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church; and
Resolved, the House of Bishops believes the proposed Pastoral Scheme of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué of February 19, 2007 would be injurious to The Episcopal Church and urges that the Executive Council decline to participate in it; and
Resolved, the House of Bishops pledges itself to continue to work to find ways of meeting the pastoral concerns of the Primates that are compatible with our own polity and canons.
Full text of the resolution addressed To the Archbishop of Canterbury and the members of the Primates’ Standing Committee:
We, the Bishops of The Episcopal Church, meeting in Camp Allen, Navasota, Texas, March 16-21, 2007, have considered the requests directed to us by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in the Communiqué dated February 19, 2007.
Although we are unable to accept the proposed Pastoral Scheme, we declare our passionate desire to remain in full constituent membership in both the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church.
We believe that there is an urgent need for us to meet face to face with the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Primates’ Standing Committee, and we hereby request and urge that such a meeting be negotiated by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury at the earliest possible opportunity.
We invite the Archbishop and members of the Primates’ Standing Committee to join us at our expense for three days of prayer and conversation regarding these important matters.
Here are some more Episcopal News Service reports of what went on in the American House of Bishops prior to the release of the statements linked above:
A presentation to the House of Bishops on the Proposed Anglican Covenant by Ephraim Radner
Interpreting the Proposed Anglican Covenant through the Communique by A. Katherine Grieb
God’s Mission and the Millennium Development Goals by Ian T. Douglas
Episcopal Majority is rounding these up here at Responses to the Bishops.
Ruth Gledhill is now on the case at TEC rejects forces of ‘colonialism’
Dave Walker has The Episcopal Bishops say ‘No!’
Los Angeles Times Episcopal rejection of demands looks likely
An earlier report, not directly related to the HoB meeting, was this in the New York Times
Money Looms in Episcopalian Rift With Anglicans by Laurie Goodstein and Neela Banerjee
Updated Tuesday afternoon
Sexual Orientation Discrimination
That the draft Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, which were laid before this House on 12th March, be approved.—[Kevin Brennan.]
The House divided: Ayes 310, Noes 100.
Update Analysis of the voting by The Public Whip
Letters to The Times include one from the Prolocutors of the Convocations of Canterbury and York.
See Bishops’ opposition to laws on gay rights
Update Tuesday afternoon
Ekklesia Christian groups told not to ‘play on people’s fears’ over Sexual Orientation Regulations and also Anglicans pin hopes on unelected bishops to block anti-discrimination measures
Faithworks press release Faithworks urges Christians to read the Sexual Orientation Regulations and draw their own conclusions and also A brief guide to the Sexual Orientation Regulations (PDF)
There are in fact 42 signatures, see below
According to Ruth Gledhill in The Times today
Bishops of the Church of England are being urged by their flock to turn out en masse on Wednesday for the Lords debate on equal rights for gay couples wishing to adopt.
In an open letter sent to all the diocesan bishops of the Church, more than one fifth of the lay members of the General Synod urge the 26 bishops in the Lords to help to overturn the Sexual Orientation Regulations at its final vote.
As we discover later on, this means
In their letter, more than 40 members of the General Synod…
Read the whole news article at Vote to stop gay-rights law, bishops told.
The earlier article about Lord Carey and his views on House of Lords Reform, mentioned in the newspaper report can be found at Ruth Gledhill’s blog, under ‘Disestablish Church’ says Carey.
Meanwhile, the House of Commons vote on the SORs is listed in today’s order of business as the last item prior to the adjournment debate:
† 10 SEXUAL ORIENTATION DISCRIMINATION [No debate]
Secretary Ruth Kelly
That the draft Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, which were laid before this House on 12th March, be approved.
To be decided without debate (Standing Order No. 118(6)).
There is also an earlier motion that Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply to several divisions today, including this one.
Anglican Mainstream has now published a press release from LCF which includes the names of the signatories to this letter:
The letter was signed by the following lay members of General Synod (in alphabetical order): Anthony Archer (St Albans), Edward Armitstead (Bath and Wells), Lorna Ashworth (Chichester), Barry Barnes (Southwark), Anneliese Barrell (Exeter), Tom Benyon (Oxford), David Blackmore (Chester), Paul Boyd-Lee (Salisbury), Peter Bruinvels (Guildford), Michael Burbeck (Salisbury), Gerald Burrows (Blackburn), Graham Campbell (Chester), Jim Cheeseman (Rochester), Nigel Chetwood (Gloucester), Prudence Dailey (Oxford), Ian Dobbie (Rochester), Paul Eddy (Winchester), Sarah Finch (London), Philip Giddings (Oxford), John Hanks (Oxford), Glynn Harrison (Bristol), Mary Judkins (Wakefield), Frank Knaggs (Newcastle), Philip Lovegrove (St Albans), Keith Malcouronne (Guildford), Peter May (Winchester), David Mills (Carlisle), Steve Mitchell (Derby), Joanna Monckton (Lichfield), Gill Morrison (Peterborough), Terry Musson (Truro), Mary Nagel (Chichester), Gerry O’Brien (Rochester), Elizabeth Paver (Sheffield), Alison Ruoff (London), Clive Scowen (London), Ian Smith (York), Penny Stranack (Truro), Michael Streeter (Chichester), Carol Ticehurst (Lincoln), Sister Anne Williams (Durham), Alison Wynne (Blackburn).
Others writing about this are:
Ruth yet again, in SORs back in the news
rhetorically speaking Last throes of bigotry: some minorities are more equal than others.
I am told that what Ruth has posted is the full text of the letter.
6.30 pm update
AM has Commons vote tonight on SORS
Dan Damon interviewed the Archbishop of Canterbury about his recent visits to Africa.
The Sunday programme on Radio 4 carried an excerpt, listen here. Duration about 5 minutes.
The World Service programme Reporting Religion has much more. The programme page is here, duration about 26 minutes. This page will contain the right link for only one week.
Update: a transcript is now available from Lambeth Palace.
The BBC radio programme Sunday had a segment about this. Listen here (about 8 minutes).
The item lasts 7 minutes. It includes an interview with the Bishop of Winchester.
Most of the discussion centred around the content of the school curriculum. Speakers appeared to be confused between two separate documents:
The latter document did make a recommendation concerning the curriculum, but the government appears not yet to have accepted this recommendation, certainly not in terms of the wording of the regulations.
Opponents of the SORs appear to be using the latter document as an excuse to object to the former.
Updated Monday afternoon
Monday Update Stand Firm has published this interview with Mark Lawrence.
A further report from Episcopal News Service rounds up various responses: Reactions to Lawrence announcement note ‘sorrow’.
The Living Church has Presiding Bishop Invalidates South Carolina Election and a longer report, Bruised Feelings Will Not Lead to Disobedience from South Carolina.
Secular newspaper reports:
Washington Post Alan Cooperman Episcopal Church Rejects S.C. Bishop
Charleston Post Courier Ex-candidate for bishop asks members to choose and earlier Top Episcopal bishop tosses S.C. election
Associated Press Rachel Zoll Episcopalian leader rejects conservative diocese’s choice of bishop
Bakersfield Californian Local pastor’s bishop bid rejected
From the blogs:
daily episcopalian Mark Lawrence plays the victim
titusonenine Dow Sanderson: The Arrogant and Ignorant Rejection of Mark Lawrence
American Anglican Council AAC Statement on the Denial of Consent for South Carolina Bishop-elect Mark Lawrence
Confessions of a Carioca South Carolina Postscript
Lionel Deimel Deimel on Lawrence’s Failed Bid: “Most Episcopalians Relieved” and Reflections on the Mark Lawrence Affair
In a Godward Direction See how these Christians…
Telling Secrets Losing It
Episcopal Majority South Carolina
Admiral of Morality A Godly admonition
Jonathan Romain considers issue of national loyalty in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column.
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Templeton Prize winner Charles Taylor in Behind a prize of £800,000.
John Wilkins writes in The Times on why Theologically, Rome and the barrio are still worlds apart.
Giles Fraser writes about The time of selfishness in this week’s Church Times.
Republished Friday lunchtime; updated again Saturday evening
The House of Lords Select Committee on Merits of Statutory Instruments has reported on the SORs.
Read it in full here.
Update The House of Commons Twelfth Delegated Legislation Committee met yesterday and its debate is recorded in full here. This is a must read!
Update again You can listen to it from here (90 minutes long).
Anglican Mainstream has published the following:
Church of England Newspaper 15 March
Stand up for freedom: How new legisation raises serious concerns for the Churches and Parliamentary process.
The SORs legislation limits the freedom of religious belief and expression, in particular the freedom of religious people not to be forced to be an accessory to behaviour that they regard as destructive of human flourishing and contrary to the will of God for human beings.
AM has also linked to this report by another MP, John Redwood: How little democracy we have in the Commons-the Sexual orientation regulations.
Craig Nelson has commented on this in Anglican Mainstream goes into hyperdrive.
Update Peter Ould has What we should - and shouldn’t - be arguing about on SORS.
Updates Friday evening
Other AM links to LCF anti-SORs material
Summary of latest news on SORS and call for action and prayer
Frequently asked Questions about SORS
Updates Saturday evening
Zefrog has three posts on recent parliamentary events: Sexual Orientation Regulations Approved by MPs, The Tory Position on the Sexual Orientation Regulations, and Sexual Orientation Regulations - What Next?
Updated Friday morning
The Diocese of South Carolina has published a statement:
Consents for New South Carolina Bishop’s Election Ruled Insufficient; Diocesan Leadership Confident About the Future
I received a phone call late this afternoon from the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori giving notification that she was declaring null and void the election of The Very Rev. Mark Lawrence to be bishop of The Diocese of South Carolina. Although more than a majority of dioceses had voted to consent to Fr. Mark’s election, there were canonical deficiencies in the written responses sent to us. Several dioceses, both on and off American soil, thought that electronic permission was sufficient as had been their past accepted practice. The canons which apply are III.11.4(b), pp. 101-102 in the newly published 2006 Constitutions and Canons that require the prescribed testimonial to the consent be signed by a majority of each standing committee.
I have also notified Fr. Mark of her decision. We offer our deepest condolences to Fr. Mark and his wife Allison who have navigated this time of process with class, dignity and courage. I know that it is toughest on Allison who has had to watch her beloved spouse suffer so many indignities. We hope that they will agree to continue to be a part of the Diocese of South Carolina’s pursuit of securing our next Diocesan. Fr. Lawrence has modeled exemplary patience and calmness by enduring a level of scrutiny and persecution that is without precedent in The Episcopal Church (TEC).
Our Chancelor, Nick Ziegler has been suffering with bad health for several months. Currently our acting Chancellor, Wade Logan, is out of the country. He is scheduled to return within ten days. Upon his return we will convene both the Chancellor and acting Chancellor to discuss our options within the canons of TEC. The Standing Committee will then plot a course of action for the near future. In the meantime the Standing Committee will continue our partnership with our acting Bishop, the Right Rev. Edward Lloyd Salmon in tending to the needs of our diocese as we have for over the past 8 months. Bishop Salmon will represent us this week at the House of Bishop’s meeting to be held in Camp Allen, Texas.
I hope that this tragic outcome will be a wake up call to both clergy and lay through out TEC as to the conditions in our church. I have been blessed and encouraged by the many clergy and lay people throughout the world that have worked tirelessly on Fr. Mark’s behalf making phone calls and communicating through the electronic media in an effort to secure a majority of consents.
As I write this release I am reminded of Christ’s words in Luke 9:62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Our hand is to the plow, and in faithfulness to our Christ, we will not look back.
—The Rev. J. Haden McCormick
President of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina
The Episcopal News Service has issued South Carolina election voided due to canonical deficiencies in responses - Lawrence invited to participate in second search process. This explains what happened in more detail. In particular it says:
Canonically adequate ballots were received by South Carolina from 50 diocesan standing committees. Several other standing committees were reported to have consented, but no signatures were attached to their ballots, or the ballot itself was missing from South Carolina’s records, Jefferts Schori reported. Any committee that did not respond is considered to have voted no.
Elsewhere, Kendall Harmon has stated on his blog titusonenine that in total 57 consents were notified to the Standing Committee, the last two of which were Colombia and Venezuela.
This project was pre-announced some time ago.
Lambeth Palace has now announced the use of YouTube by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Read the press release Archbishops online reflection - ‘Slavery still with us’.
Dave Walker has links to numerous related sites at Making our mark.
What do other people think about it now?
Updated again Thursday afternoon
As expected, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, Vincent Nichols is leading the attack, see 11.03.07 ARCHBISHOP NICHOLS ASKS CATHOLICS TO WRITE TO THEIR MP ABOUT THE SEXUAL ORIENTATION REGULATIONS.
This was reported in The Times by Ruth Gledhill as Prelate fights gay adoption law.
Meanwhile Ekklesia reports that Faithworks stands by sexual orientation regulations
Rupert Ward has some useful comments on his blog in Christian Spin.
Today, Wednesday, Anglican Mainstream expressed these opinions.
Craig Nelson has factual information about some claims made concerning changes, and other comments in Government updates the regs - Christian groups gird their loins.
His earlier post More on the Sexual Orientation Regulations also has helpful information on the differences between the GB and NI versions of this, and other aspects.
Clive Scowen also has submitted his opinions to the House of Lords.
Christian Concern for our Nation a website of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship has published Government to rush SORs through House of Commons.
The written statement made by Ruth Kelly to the House of Commons on 7 March is available here.
Wednesday in the House of Commons, Peter Bone, an MP, raised this Point of Order.
A chap in Thanet named Simon Moores has this report of events in the House of Commons on Thursday.
Updated twice Thursday
The legal process of discovery in the continuing dispute between Calvary Church Pittsburgh and the Diocese of Pittsburgh has lead to the publication of this document. Warning: 1.4 Mbyte PDF
The background to this event and the pertinent content of that document is summarised in this post by Mark Harris: The Network, the WB’s and the Pledge to the “Leader.”
Update And also in this further post: More on the Pledge to the Leader.
Also read the comments on that post and on this one at daily episcopalian.
That content is:
“Private and Confidential Westfields Response to the Global South Steering Committee
November 16,2006 Chantilly, Virginia
The undersigned, having convened with the Global South Steering Committee in Chantilly, Virginia, on November 15-17, 2006, declare:
ARTICLE I: We are firmly committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the authority of holy Scripture and historic Anglican faith and practice.
ARTICLE II: We have chosen the Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan as our leader and hereby submit to his leadership without reservation in building unity among us and as our representative for the present in the councils of the Anglican Communion.
ARTICLE III: We pledge to lay aside all obstacles, which may prevent us from achieving our common purpose.
ARTICLE IV: We solemnly pledge not to withdraw from these commitments.”
Now the question is simply this: did the other “Network” bishops present sign this document?
The record revealed to the court shows only that Robert W Duncan and two of his diocesan officials signed.
Second, the Council of General Synod of the Canadian church has taken action on the St Michael Report:
Council considered resolutions and canonical amendments regarding the St. Michael Report. The resolutions were revised by Ron Stevenson, Stephen Andrews, Sue Moxley and Bob Falby. A significant revision is that the motions at General Synod would required approval by 60 per cent of each order or 60 per cent of dioceses if a vote by diocese is requested.
The Chancellor moved that three of the resolutions proposed be sent to General Synod:
* 2. That resolutions 3 and 4 below be deemed to have been carried only if they receive the affirmative votes of 60 per cent of the members of each Order present and voting and if a vote by diocese is requested, only if they receive the affirmation of 60 per cent of the dioceses whose votes are counted.
* 3. That this General Synod resolves that the blessing of same-sex unions is consistent with the core doctrine of the Anglican Church of Canada.
* 5. That this General Synod requests the Council of General Synod to consider revision of Canon 21 (On Marriage) including theological rationale to allow marriage of all legally qualified persons and to report at the next General Synod (2010).
The motion carried.
John Steele moved that the proposed wording regarding a canonical change also be sent to General Synod. The motion was defeated.
The Anglican Journal reported it this way: Blessings vote to be decided by resolution.
Reuters had Canadian Anglican leaders promote same-sex blessings.
The European Parliament, meeting this week in Strasbourg, is scheduled on Thursday afternoon to debate the situation in Nigeria, with specific reference to the proposed ‘Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act’.
This forms part of a session concerned with: cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Guatemala, Cambodia and Nigeria.
Numerous motions have been filed: you can find links to them from this page (scroll down).
There is a news report here.
Jim N has pulled out the links to each of the motions here.
For what was agreed, see this EU press release: Human rights: killings in Guatemala and Cambodia, abuses in Nigeria.
press release – 12th March 2007
Archbishop of Mexico becomes Patron of InclusiveChurch
InclusiveChurch is pleased to announce that the Archbishop of Mexico, the Most Revd. Carlos Touche-Porter, has agreed to be Patron of InclusiveChurch.
The Archbishop said “As an Anglican committed to promote inclusiveness and diversity in our Church, I rejoice, celebrate and support the ministry of Inclusive Church. May the Anglican Communion continue to be a house of prayer for all people, where everyone is welcome, valued and respected”. He is Presiding Bishop of La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico and a Primate of the Anglican Communion.
Archbishop Carlos preached at a service hosted by Affirming Catholicism in Westminster Abbey on Monday 26th February. His sermon can be found here.
The Revd. Dr Giles Fraser said “Archbishop Carlos represents traditional Anglicanism of a sort that is familiar to ordinary members of the Church of England. His approach stands in marked contrast to the dangerous distortion that is occurring in other parts of our communion. We are delighted to have him as our Patron.”
A seminar on “Anglican Inclusion – A Global Tradition” is being organised by IC to take place in the summer. Further details will follow.
The Church of Sweden last December approved a Service of blessing for registered partnership.
You can read the English translation of this text, by going to Kelvin Holdsworth’s blog. (It’s a small PDF file.)
Here’s the news report from last December: Church of Sweden gives gay couples church blessing.
The Telegraph reported their publication, Labour faces fresh battle over gay rights
The Daily Mail had Law to put gay rights ahead of religion
According to both these reports, the Church of England spokesperson said:
“As Ruth Kelly’s statement acknowledges, these regulations raise ‘complex issues about how to reconcile competing rights and freedoms’. The Government has gone some way to recognising the particular needs of churches and other religious organisations to act in accordance with their own convictions.
“We shall, however, want to study the regulations closely before commenting in more detail. It is a matter of regret that the decision to create new law in this way without going through the normal procedure for Parliamentary Bills means that the regulations will not have the full scrutiny that sensitive matters of this kind require.”
Faithworks welcomed them in this press release: Faithworks welcomes the publication of draft Sexual Orientation Regulations. An extract:
Faithworks welcomes the publication of the draft Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) as an attempt to ensure that goods and services are delivered inclusively and in non-discriminatory ways.
We stand by the statements we have previously made on the SORs (www.faithworks.info) and are confident that they do not pose a threat to Christians.
It is right that any organisation receiving public funds should deliver services to genuine public benefit. A commitment to diversity does not mean losing one’s distinctive faith identity: it actually presents an opportunity to develop a dialogue and demonstrate Christian love and service.
There is still a great deal of misinterpretation of the SORs, which is leading to fear and opposition. However, the draft legislation includes clear exemptions for faith-based organisations relating to doctrine, and government ministers have also publicly answered questions of concern over the scope of the proposed SORs.
We acknowledge the different contributions and views of the whole Christian church to the issue of human sexuality. The Faithworks membership is drawn from across the spectrum of the church. Our approach to the SORs and to Equality & Diversity legislation allows for Christian views of sexuality whilst encouraging unconditional love and service. This is the Jesus model: defending a person’s human rights does not involve endorsing their lifestyle choices.
Lawyers Christian Fellowship (LCF), the Evangelical Alliance, Care and the Christian Institute did not do so, New gay rules attacked from Religious Intelligence/CEN
The Evangelical Alliance issued Response to the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007
The Christian Institute said New ‘gay rights’ regulations put religious freedom in jeopardy and also a briefing note in a very smart PDF format.
CARE’s response is in a Word document here.
The Lawyers Christian Fellowship has a press release titled GOVERNMENT PUBLISH LANDMARK INTOLERANT LEGISLATION SETTING GROUND FOR CLASH OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
Giles Fraser writing for Ekklesia commented on these attitudes: Giving fundamentalism a secular boost
The National Secular Society has Government Stands Up For Equality, Forcing Religious to Back Down
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams and Archbishop Bernard Malango, Archbishop of Central Africa, held a meeting on 7 March with Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, Anglican Bishop of Harare. The meeting took place in South Africa.
As Pat Ashworth reports in the Church Times this week (not yet on the web):
Bishop Kunonga has been widely criticised as a Mugabe apologist. A case against him involving a set of serious charges is still pending. His superior, Archbishop Malango, has in turn been criticised for the lack of progress in the case, and for not reprimanding Bishop Kunonga. In the mean time, Anglican leadership in Zimbabwe during the country’s economic and political upheaval has been widely seen as compromised.
“We are grateful for the chance to meet face to face and discuss the role of the church in Zimbabwe and the wider region in working towards the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals.
“We shared our deep concerns with the Bishop of Harare about the situation in Zimbabwe, affirming those places where Anglican ministries are bearing fruit and the church is growing, but also expressing the widespread concerns in the global church and in the international community about the deteriorating economic life of Zimbabwe and issues of human rights and peaceful non-partisan protest.
“We encouraged the development of an independent voice for the church in response to these challenges. All ministers of the gospel must be free to serve and to speak for the needs of those most deprived and disadvantaged.
“We want to find new channels of communication and to facilitate regional conversations about issues of development and justice, including the impact of sanctions, so that Anglicans may work together more effectively with and for the poor whom they serve in Christ’s name.”
Here is some press coverage of the event:
And a comprehensive backfile on Nolbert Kunonga can be found at Magic Statistics, see Rowan Williams “shares concerns” with renegade Zimbabwean bishop.
Also, see African church leaders urged to take action by Trevor Grundy.
The next few days see the conclusion of the current South Carolina election process, as the deadline for Standing Committee consents is passed. The diocesan website is being updated frequently with the latest count: 52 as I write this but for approval 56 are required. If these are not received, a new election has to be held. Scroll down for the full text of the letter from Mark Lawrence dated 7 March, or read it more conveniently here.
Charleston Post and Courier Adam Parker Episcopal bishop-elect confirms loyalty
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steve Levin Episcopal nominee at center of storm
The State (Columbia SC) Carolyn Click Bishop-elect debate mirrors larger struggle
ENS had SOUTH CAROLINA: Bishop-elect again clarifies his stance on Episcopal Church membership last Thursday.
The Living Church had South Carolina Nears Necessary Consents for Consecration of its Next Bishop on 3 March.
A mid-February ENS report was SOUTH CAROLINA: Standing Committee asks other dioceses to reconsider withholding consent to Lawrence.
The official Summary of February 2007 Group of Sessions can now be found, in two versions, both RTF format, at this confusingly titled page (not at the one titled Reports of Proceedings).
Christopher Ohlson writes the Face to Faith column in the Guardian on the subject of sidelining old hymns.
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph’s Sacred Mysteries column about horse-biers in Welsh churches.
Roderick Strange writes in The Times that It’s time to repent our failure to love and seek forgiveness.
Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times: What am I blind to now?
Another pastoral letter to the members of Anglican Communion Network from Moderator Bishop Robert Duncan has been issued for reading in NACDAP parishes this Sunday, and for publication to the world on Monday.
However, you can read it now, at Telling Secrets the aptly-named blog of Elizabeth Kaeton. See Moderator Bob’s Pastoral Letter.
Another copy of it is here, which may be easier to read.
The last paragraph quotes some statistics:
The Anglican Communion Network is comprised of over 900 parishes and over 2200 clergy.
However, as the letter itself explains by no means all of these are members of the Episcopal Church USA.
This week’s Church Times completes its coverage of last week’s General Synod:
Both sides move on from Synod’s debates on gays by Pat Ashworth
Synod detailed coverage:
Updated Wednesday 14 March
See here for links to the text of The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007.
The government has also published:
For the original consultation document see here.
Updated Saturday morning
Some months ago, Time called Archbishop Akinola one of the 100 most influential people in the world. See this piece by Rick Warren.
More recently, there was an opinion article At the Center of a Schism.
In another opinion piece yesterday David Van Biema Crunch Time on Gays for Anglican Archbishop now says this:
Awkward as it may be for an outsider to intrude in the doings of a country or a church that is not his own, I nonetheless believe that the Most Rev. Archbishop Peter Akinola has some explaining to do. The Anglican Primate of Nigeria, one of the most powerful churchmen in Africa, needs to clarify his stance on a Nigerian anti-homosexuality bill he initially supported, which assigns a five-year prison term not only for practicing gays, but also for those who support them. Akinola either needs to publicly renounce, in strong terms, his early support of the bill’s punitive clauses and to amplify the rather tepid concern he later expressed about them, or else he needs to explain why he’s not doing so to the dozen or so churches in Virginia whose congregants were largely ignorant of the legislation when they voted to join Akinola’s archdiocese in December.
As Jim Naughton points out, Time’s reasoning on this topic does sound odd.
The Bishop of Western Louisiana, Bruce MacPherson was one of those asked by Rowan Williams to make a presentation to the primates at Dar es Salaam on 15 February.
The text of what he said has been published in full here.
His diocese published a press release last October headed The Diocese of Western Louisiana becomes a “Windsor-compliant” diocese.
In his presentation Bishop MacPherson says:
…to speak on behalf of about twenty-four other diocesan bishops who share a common support and commitment to the process in which the Windsor Reports invites the Church to share in a journey leading to the development of a “common Anglican Covenant.” [WR117.p48]…
Later he says:
… we do not represent a small minority, but rather, we represent about twenty-five percent of the dioceses of The Episcopal Church, and a growing number of people beyond these borders..
In Denying Rights in Nigeria the New York Times today expresses its editorial opinion, starting this way :
A poisonous piece of legislation is quickly making its way through the Nigerian National Assembly. Billed as an anti-gay-marriage act, it is a far-reaching assault on basic rights of association, assembly and expression. Chillingly, the legislation — proposed last year by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo — has the full and enthusiastic support of the leader of Nigeria’s powerful Anglican church. Unless the international community speaks out quickly and forcefully against the bill, it is almost certain to become law…
Matt Thompson reports Passage still imminent.
The UK government today published the draft text of The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007.
The government press release is here: New protections for lesbian, gay and bi-sexual people come into force in April. Part of the press release says:
The regulations and consultation response published today reconfirms the Government’s position set out on 29 January on faith based adoption and fostering agencies. As the Prime Minister said, the Government believes there is no place in society for discrimination but that in the interests of vulnerable children, the regulations will provide for a transition period for faith based adoption and fostering agencies until the end of 2008.
The Regulations will be applicable to a wide range of activities. For instance it would be unlawful to:
- Refuse a same sex couple a double room in a hotel because this might cause offence to other customers;
- Refuse to provide a gift registration service for couples planning a civil partnership where such a service was offered to couples planning a wedding;
- Refuse admission to a bar because someone was not gay;
- Refuse a child’s admission to a school on the grounds of either their or their parents’ sexual orientation;
- Refuse membership of a sports club to an individual on the grounds of their sexual orientation.
The Regulations will now go before both Houses for debate and, subject to Parliamentary approval, come into force on 30 April 2007 the same time as Part 2 of the Equality Act.
Part 2 provides parallel protection against discrimination in the provision of goods and services on the grounds of people’s religion or belief.
The wording of Regulation 14 which provides the principal exemptions relating to religious organisations is reproduced in full below the fold. I will provide a further analysis of the religious exemption aspects of this draft soon. The text of the regulation is © Crown Copyright 2007.
Organisations relating to religion or belief
14. —(1) Subject to paragraphs (2) and (8) this regulation applies to an organisation the purpose of which is—
(a) to practice a religion or belief,
(b) to advance a religion or belief,
(c) to teach the practice or principles of a religion or belief,
(d) to enable persons of a religion or belief to receive any benefit, or to engage in any activity, within the framework of that religion or belief.
(2) This regulation does not apply —
(a) to an organisation whose sole or main purpose is commercial,
(b) in relation to regulation 7 (Educational establishments, local educational authorities, and education authorities).
(3) Nothing in these Regulations shall make it unlawful for an organisation to which this regulation applies, or for anyone acting on behalf of or under the auspices of an organisation to which this regulation applies—
(a) to restrict membership of the organisation,
(b) to restrict participation in activities undertaken by the organisation or on its behalf or under its auspices,
(c) to restrict the provision of goods, facilities and services in the course of activities undertaken by the organisation or on its behalf or under its auspices, or
(d) to restrict the use or disposal of premises owned or controlled by the organisation,
in respect of a person on the ground of his sexual orientation.
(4) Nothing in these Regulations shall make it unlawful for a minister—
(a) to restrict participation in activities carried on in the performance of his functions in connection with or in respect of an organisation to which this regulation relates, or
(b) to restrict the provision of goods, facilities or services in the course of activities carried on in the performance of his functions in connection with or in respect of an organisation to which this regulation relates,
in respect of a person on the ground of his sexual orientation.
(5) Paragraphs (3) and (4) permit a restriction only if imposed —
(a) if it is necessary to comply with the doctrine of the organisation; or
(b) so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers.
(6) In paragraph (4) the reference to a minister is a reference to a minister of religion, or other person, who —
(a) performs functions in connection with a religion or belief to which an organisation, to which this regulation applies, relates; and
(b) holds an office or appointment in, or is accredited, approved or recognised for purposes of, an organisation to which this regulation applies.
(7) For the purposes of paragraphs (3)(d), “disposal” shall not include disposal of an interest in premises by way of sale where the interest being disposed of is the entirety of the organisation’s interest in the premises, or the entirety of the interest in respect of which the organisation has power of disposal.
(8) This regulation does not apply where an organisation of the kind referred to in paragraph (1) or any person acting on its behalf or under its auspices—
(a) makes provision of a kind referred to in regulation 4, or
(b) makes provision of a kind referred to in regulation 8,
on behalf of a public authority under the terms of a contract for provision of that kind between that authority and an organisation referred to in paragraph (1) or, if different, the person making that provision.
Some items about the recent primates meeting.
Changing Attitude Scotland has issued this statement.
The Living Church had a lengthy report some time ago (but General Synod distracted me) from George Conger which is titled News Analysis: Behind the Scenes in Dar es Salaam. This contains a lot of background information about what went on. Well worth a read.
…Something like that is present in Dr Williams’s article in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday. “One of the hardest things in all this has been to keep insisting on the absolute moral imperative of combating bigotry and violence against gay people, and the need to secure appropriate civic and legal protection for couples who have chosen to share their lives.”
Who is he trying to fool with this? Is he really describing the policy of the Nigerian Church? Or the Rwandan? There is a great deal that is subtle and illuminating in his article, but none of that portion describes the way that things are actually done, or discussed among the Primates, if we are to judge from the reports of others present at these meetings.
In a similar way, his article says that: “The suggestion of a structure in America to care for the minority tries to remove any need for external intervention.” This could only appear true if you knew nothing of the politics surrounding it.
But there is this uneasy nagging fear that, like a journalist, Dr Williams believes this stuff while he is writing it. I can’t honestly see what other motive he might have for saying it. Obviously, he knows as well as anyone else that Dr Jefferts Schori cannot satisfy her enemies within and outside the United States, and that every test she passes will be replaced by one that is harder.
The New York Times published this op-ed article, A Divorce the Church Should Smile Upon by Jack Miles.
World Magazine published Showdown in Africa by Edward Plowman:
The primates discussed a number of topics but spent almost the entire final day on matters related to TEC. The global south kept hammering away for stronger, more specific language in the communiqué, and defending their interventions on TEC soil in America on behalf of parishes seeking refuge from TEC.
The primates finally adjourned as midnight approached. Akinola was the last to sign the document.
“It was the most intense meeting I have ever attended,” Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of Uganda said afterward. “Even until the last night of our meeting, we were in a deadlock. But, the Lord has prevailed. Biblical authority is being restored, and from that, we are hopeful that biblical mission will be the result.”
“We came very close to separation over this,” said the global south’s Archbishop Gregory Venables, primate of the Southern Cone in South America.
Separation indeed. In Akinola’s briefcase was a signed statement by global south primates, ready to be released as a minority report with the communiqué if it had not been strengthened, according to several sources. It also would have signaled a breakup of the communion, they added.
There are several press releases from the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) telling us about the twenty new bishops all consecrated in one service last Sunday, and the further election of another six.
See: Challenges of missionary dioceses:, and Buildup to unprecedented consecration service: and Six more bishops elected: and last but by no means least, House of Bishop’s statement on CANA, Primates’ meeting:.
This last includes the following:
We also heard a report from the Bishop of CANA, the Rt. Rev’d Martyn Minns, on the growth of the ministry in the USA and pledged our enthusiastic support for this vital mission initiative of our Church. We welcomed the news that the Rt. Rev’d David Bena, recently retired Suffragen Bishop of Albany, has now transferred to the Church of Nigeria to assist with the work of CANA.
In light of the report from the recent meeting of Primates in Dar es Salaam we agreed to defer the request for additional Episcopal elections for CANA until our meeting in September 2007.
The House of Bishops expressed profound gratitude to Archbishop Peter J. Akinola and his colleagues in the Global South for the strong stand taken at the meeting, together with the gracious leadership of Archbishop Rowan Williams, and continue to pray that the Anglican Communion can move forward in truth and unity.
There is more detail about this from the Diocese of Albany (h/t BB).
Sarah Dylan Breuer has commented on this timescale for returning to the issue of more bishops for CANA.
The website Religious Intelligence has republished from the Church of England Newspaper a column with this title written by Stephen Bates.
So there we were, sitting round the hotel swimming pool in Tanzania, doorstepping the Primates’ Meeting, as one does, and waiting for the regular appearance of Archbishop Akinola, inconspicuously dressed in full Nigerian costume on one of his discreet forays to consult with Bishop Martyn Minns in an upper chamber, when the conversation turned to the question of primatial vicars…
You gotta read it all.
The full text of a Pastoral Letter sent to the Primates of the Anglican Communion can be found in a press release from Lambeth Palace titled Archbishop - Communion challenges require ‘generosity and patience’.
Updated again Monday afternoon
Voice of America has this: US, Nigerian Anglicans Seek New Solutions for Same Sex Unions and Gay Ordination.
It includes an interview with Kendall Harmon (audio just under 5 minutes).
…As for this week’s indications that Nigerian legislators plan to criminalize same sex relationships and all promotion of a homosexual lifestyle, Canon Harmon says he hopes the Nigerian diocese and its leaders will strike a balance that respects the region’s cultural history and the personal rights and freedoms of Nigerian citizens.
“Nigeria is closely divided between Islam and Christianity. So you have Sharia law in the minds of a lot of legislatures. From an American perspective, it looks very, very punitive relative to American legislation. So I think the hard part is the degree to which the Church can push back in a compassionate way and still try to uphold the teaching of the Church in a society where Islam and Christianity are competing strongly,” he said…
Matt Thompson has responded with Canon Harmon drops the “Shar’iya” bomb and Kendall Harmon has written Matt Thompson Criticizes Kendall Harmon about an Interview.
Matt Thompson has published a further item Apologies. See also in the Comments below.
Matt Thompson has posted From the comments: Ephraim Radner and highlighted what Ephraim Radner wrote only last night.
The Archbishop of Wales delivered a lecture in Cork. There was a news report about this.
Read the original press release, and the full text of the lecture as a PDF file at “Scripture and Sexuality – our commitment to listening and learning”.
It issued this Letter to the Church.
Further ENS reports of its actions are Executive Council approves 2007 budget, adopts resolutions on mission, ministry and Executive Council letter affirms Episcopal Church’s welcome to all people.
Living Church reports are Council Considers Proposals to Address Anticipated $3.8 Million Deficit , Development and Marketing Plan Presented to Council, and Task Forces to Study Anglican Communion Concerns .
Addition Also Executive Council Seeks to Reassure Homosexual Episcopalians
Jonathan Petre has blogged some reflections at Dust settling on the Synod.
Bishop Nazir-Ali of Rochester wrote this article for the Sunday Telegraph: I believe in Trident, and using it if necessary.
The danger is that this can be taken to mean that lesbian and gay Christians are welcome as full members of the church, whatever their behaviour and practice.
AM also reported on the scripture reading used at synod on Thursday morning, saying rather oddly: “the following scripture, chosen some time beforehand, was read at the opening Morning Worship” when in fact it came from the authorized Weekday Lectionary of the Church of England, so “chosen” by the General Synod itself.
Two items from Sunday’s radio programme Sunday now available:
“Morally unacceptable” said the Archbishop of Canterbury at Synod this week, talking of the Trident nuclear weapons system the Government wants to buy. “Morally acceptable” said one of his Bishops, Michael Nazir Ali of Rochester, in the Sunday Telegraph. And he said a preemptive strike against Iran could also be justified.
Bishop Michael was unavailable for comment. The Bishop of Reading, Stephen Cottrell, who on Friday is going to celebrate Holy Communion outside Faslane Naval base to protest Trident, spoke to Sunday.
Related link: The ethics of Just Wars
Listen (5m 8s)
Synod and sex in entertainment
The Synod of the Church of England voted unanimously to express concerns over TV standards and warned that shows like Big Brother and Little Britain can “exploit the humiliation of human beings for public entertainment”.
The Synod also heard claims that the British Board of Film Classification was “making pornography easier to access by giving hardcore material 18 certificates”.
The former President of the Board, Andreas Whittam Smith, who passed two of the most sexually explicit and violent films, is a Synod member.
Listen (4m 2s)
Artistic genius has nothing to do with faith - it’s down to God’s profligacy says Stephen Hough in The Times.
The Times also prints an extract from A Heart in My Head: A Biography of Richard Harries by John S. Peart-Binns under the title Inside track on the road to Anglican schism.
Alex Wright writes about images of God in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column.
In the Telegraph Christopher Howse writes about the history of the church in Leicester Square, in Delivered from the Prince of Wales.
This week’s Church Times column by Giles Fraser is What’s right with risk.
In the Tablet, Terry Prendergast writes about marriage, in The best chance to grow.
First, Andrew McClintock lost his Employment Tribunal case.
Second, the Joint Committee on Human Rights of the UK Parliament published a report: Legislative Scrutiny: Sexual Orientation Regulations which is available on the web starting here. A PDF version of the document is here.
From the committee’s press release:
Regulations under Part 3 of the Equality Act prohibiting discrimination and harassment on grounds of sexual orientation are expected to be made soon for Great Britain. In light of the consultation held last year by the Government on these regulations, and the equivalent Northern Ireland Regulations which have already come into effect, the Committee in this “post-legislative scrutiny” Report sets out the human rights issues likely to arise in relation to the Great Britain regulations.
The report’s own Summary is here.
The Evangelical Alliance is also upset about Mr McClintock.
Changing Attitude has published this press release: Changing Attitude England challenges Primate of All Nigeria to protect Davis Mac-Iyalla. It says in part:
…Changing Attitude England and Nigeria challenge the Primate of All Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, and the CANA bishop in the USA, the Rt Revd Martyn Minns, to issue a statement denouncing those church members who are threatening violence. We ask both the Archbishop and Bishop to unreservedly demand protection for Mr Mac-Iyalla and confirm the sanctity of all human life, whatever a person’s sexual orientation, in conformity with the Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution 1.10 and paragraph 146 of the Windsor report which states that ‘any demonising of homosexual persons, or their ill treatment, is totally against Christian charity and basic principles of pastoral care.’
The Revd Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England, said:
“Ii is intolerable that no Nigerian Bishop or Archbishop has issued a statement condemning the threats of violence and intimidation against Mr Mac-Iyalla. By their silence, they are tacitly showing approval for those members of the Church of Nigeria who believe they have the blessing of their church to abuse another Anglican and threaten to commit murder by drenching him in acid.”
“Both Archbishop Akinola and Bishop Martyn Minns are now implicated in the deep and destructive prejudice shown towards lesbian and gay people in Nigeria, characterised by the threats against Davis Mac-Iyalla and the Church of Nigeria‘s support for the proposed anti-gay legislation.“
“In Dar Es Salaam, in front of Canon David Anderson and Canon Chris Sugden, I asked Bishop Minns to contact Canon Akintunde Popoola and tell him to cease issuing lies and false statements about Davis. These statements have encouraged Nigerian church members to visit Mr Mac-Iyalla and threaten him with death. I have not yet received confirmation from Bishop Minns that he has done this, nor that such assurances have been given.”
“Time is now urgent. Mr Mac-Iyalla has been forced into hiding yet again. The Primatial and Episcopal leaders of the Church of Nigeria are acting with blind disregard for the safety of one of their own church members. They are deliberately supporting a bill which contravenes basic human rights and justice and renders the listening process impossible in Nigeria.”
Anglo-catholics affirm dignity of difference
Members of Affirming Catholicism made a series of influential contributions to the Church of England General Synod this week, helping the body move in a more progressive direction without alienating conservative sensitivities.
In an agenda which included key debates on the replacement of Trident (the UK nuclear deterrent), lesbian and gay Christians and criminal justice, speakers prompted Synod to consider the plight of those who were marginalised in the Church or society.
Mr John Ward, a lay member of Synod, spoke movingly on the place of lesbian and gay people in the Church during a debate sparked by a motion from fellow Affirming Catholic, the Rev’d Mary Gilbert. His speech, which focussed on his own experience as a gay Christian in the Church, received sustained applause from Synod members who eventually passed an amended motion affirming the integrity of divergent views on the issue in the Church, and committing the Church to keep dialogue going.
Speaking of the debate, Mr Ward said:
Being an Anglican means learning to live respectfully with difference. I feel encouraged by the affirmation many have given to me as a gay man this week, and I am hopeful that continued gracious dialogue will allow Church members ultimately to reconcile their differences.
In a debate on the criminal justice system Synod members backed a report urging the Government to invest more resources in preventing crime and rehabilitating offenders, many of whom suffer from social disadvantage or mental health problems. Mary Johnston, a lay member of Synod and a Trustee of Affirming Catholicism, spoke of her own recent experience as a victim of crime and called on the Church to consider especially the terrible impact of violent crime for the families and friends of both victims and offenders.
Summing up the week, the Rev’d Jonathan Clark, acting Chair of Affirming Catholics in Synod, said:
A Catholic vision of the gospel emphasises the dignity of humanity. I’m delighted that Affirming Catholics have played an important part in helping Synod reconcile its own differences as well as focus on the need to welcome and support those whom society has traditionally excluded.
Press Release 2 March 2007
A good day for the Church of England. A bad time for the Church of Nigeria
Members of the General Synod are to be congratulated on the tone and quality of the debates on Wednesday 28th February. In the first substantial debates on issues around human sexuality since the infamous “Higton debate” in 1987, contributions from all positions were characterised by honesty, charity and generosity.
InclusiveChurch hopes that the debates reflect a new understanding and respect for differing theological positions about lesbian and gay people within and outside the Church. We hope too that this new understanding will bring about a greater sense of cohesion between different parts of the Church so that we can now better preach and show the gospel of Christ’s love to those we serve.
John Ward, a member of General Synod and chair of the General Synod Human Sexuality Group, said ‘There are no winners or losers. I am delighted that we can now be in dialogue without fear and that lesbian and gay Christians are affirmed as full members of the Church. I believe that through prayer and communication something changed yesterday in Synod’
As a Church we are once again called to “to engage in an open, full and Godly dialogue about human sexuality…and acknowledge the importance of lesbian and gay members of the Church of England participating in the listening process as full members of the Church.” We hope that process of dialogue will include prayer, together, by people with differing understandings of the issues. Those of us who support a more inclusive position do this with deep respect and love for the word of God in the Bible. That love must be at the heart of the listening process so that all sides can engage with trust and confidence.
The motion on Civil Partnerships was amended to “note the intention of the House [of Bishops] to keep their Pastoral Statement under review”. Clearly the present arrangements are not working. We hope that a review of the Pastoral Statement will begin soon.
We view with concern the demands placed on the Episcopal Church by the Primates, especially as we are very aware that there are lesbian or gay clergy at all levels of the hierarchy of the Church of England, some of whom have entered into Civil Partnerships.
In the context of Synod’s debates we deeply regret the continuing support of the Church of Nigeria for legislation to criminalise lesbian and gay people. This appears to be a breach of Lambeth 1.10 which restates the need to resist homophobia in all its forms. We encourage all who have contact with the Church of Nigeria to make their concerns clear. The Anglican Communion does deep damage to its mission if it is seen to be supporting legislation which is in clear breach of the United Nations Convention on Human Rights. A letter on this from 250 American faith leaders can be found at http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/02/27/nigeri15425.htm
Giles Goddard, Chair, IC
Today’s Church Times has full coverage of the synod (up to the end of Wednesday) available on the website.
Synod divided over homosexuality by Paul Handley
Presidential Address in context:
Anglican game is worth the candle, says Williams
Leader Comment Building trust in a broken Church
Synod detailed coverage:
Thursday Morning: official report here.
Thursday Afternoon: official report here.
Church Times for Thursday.
Press reports on Friday morning:
And a very detailed report in the Evening Standard Film sex and violence ‘fatally eroding’ society
And a further Guardian organ grinder blog comment that I missed earlier: Who dares to attack TV’s lack of morality?
No, not those faith leaders.
Matt Thompson reports here on this letter, Faith Leaders Condemn Repressive Nigerian Legislation and this HRW press release, Christian Leaders in US Condemn Nigeria’s Anti-Gay Bill.
Andrew Sullivan writes The Anglicans Out-Sharia Muslims.
An open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury from LGCM about this is here.