Monday, 31 March 2008

still more on the embryology bill

I linked previously to David Aaronovitch’s criticism of the Bishop of Durham, who responded in an oddly snarky letter to the editor last Thursday.

Sir, I will happily respond to David Aaronovitch’s challenge (Comment, March 25) when he will answer me these questions.

First, does he think that there is any difference between humans and other animals, and does this difference matter? Secondly, what makes him think he can reduce the function of religion (which Jews, Christians and Muslims have traditionally seen as being about public truth) to the provision of “comfort and companionship”? Thirdly, where in St Paul’s letters to the Corinthians — or anywhere else for that matter — does the Apostle attack the “sinful mixing” which Mr Aaronovitch seems to think is the sole subject matter of Leviticus?

The Right Rev Tom Wright
Bishop of Durham

Today, David Aaronovitch replies to the bishop in Who wants to kill the elderly?

Last week, irked by what I saw as the use of wild exaggeration by church leaders in the embryology Bill debate, I challenged one of them - the Bishop of Durham - to justify one of his more outrageous claims. Tom Wright had accused the “militantly atheist and secularist lobby” behind the Bill (a Bill, as it happens, supported and sponsored by many practising Christians) of believing “that we have the right to kill unborn children and surplus old people.”

I didn’t choose to quarrel with Dr Wright’s characterisation of abortion. What I did ask for, however, was any evidence whatsoever that any significant secular or atheist body of opinion advocates “the right to kill surplus old people”.

Bishop Wright’s reply to my challenge, carried on Thursday’s letters page in The Times, was to refuse to reply to it until I had answered a further series of questions that he set for me. This is, of course, odd. A cynic might think that the Bishop was playing for time while a diocesan search squad parsed the texts of old Polly Toynbee columns looking for gerontocide.

So let me answer the Bishop’s questions…

Another primer on the science can be found at this NHS page, Embryology Bill controversy.

Meanwhile, the Press Association reports that Cardinal agrees stem cell meeting, and the full text of Cardinal O’Brien’s remarks can be found here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 31 March 2008 at 9:52am BST | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 30 March 2008

charities and politics

The Independent on Sunday has a news report and a leader article about this.

First the news report:
Exclusive: right-wing Christian group pays for Commons researchers

An evangelical Christian charity leading opposition to new laws on embryo research is funding interns in MPs’ offices, an investigation by The Independent on Sunday has discovered.

Christian Action, Research and Education (Care) faces inquiries into its lobbying activities by the Charity Commission and the House of Commons standards watchdog after accessing Parliament at the highest levels.

Twelve research assistants sponsored by Care are Commons pass-holders, allowing them unrestricted access to Westminster in the run-up to highly sensitive and potentially close votes on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill next month. At least two MPs face questions after they omitted to declare they have Care-sponsored staff.

Charities are allowed to carry out political campaigning, but Charity Commission rules state they “must not give support or funding to a political party, or to a candidate or politician”.

Then, the leader column: Leading article: An unsuitable case for charity

The Charity Commission guidance on political activity could hardly be clearer: “A charity must not give support or funding to a political party, nor to a candidate or politician.” Our report today that Care, the Christian charity, has been paying the salaries of research assistants for at least eight MPs appears on the face of it to suggest that the law has been broken…

The whole matter is discussed at greater length on the Church Times blog under Charity Commission investigates evangelical Parliamentary interns.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 30 March 2008 at 10:48pm GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 29 March 2008

San Joaquin Special Convention reports

Updated again Sunday noon

Fr Jake has links to several first-hand reports from Friday evening in Healing Begins in Stockton.

Some further information about that Standing Committee which Fr Martins and others wrote about, is contained in this comment on Stand Firm. It appears that three of the remaining six (out of eight original) members are planning to leave TEC after all. (I am open to correction on this.)

The Anglican Communion Office has recorded here that the see is vacant. And now added the new diocesan website.

Episcopal News Service has San Joaquin Episcopalians anchor reorganization in themes of resurrection, hope and the full text of Presiding Bishop’s address to San Joaquin diocesan convention and San Joaquin Episcopalians celebrate new beginning.

Early press reports:

Reuters Episcopal bishop elected in disputed California diocese and this also appears in the Washington Post.

Central Valley Business Times Episcopal Church reorganizes in Central Valley

This includes an audio file of the press conference.

Lodi News-Sentinel Episcopal diocese reorganizes in Lodi, might allow gay priests

Fr Jake has more first-hand comments at San Joaquin: “We’re Back!” and also here and here.

The Living Church has a report from Friday night, Presiding Bishop Seeking Quicker Way to Intervene Before Other Dioceses Leave.

Fresno Bee Episcopal diocese selects new temporary bishop

Stockton Record Episcopal Diocese has new leader

KFSN Fresno A Call For Healing (includes video)

Modesto Bee Bishop delivers healing message

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 March 2008 at 5:08pm GMT | Comments (34) | TrackBack
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opinions after Easter

James Mawdsley writes in The Times about The proper place of the Church in debates of state.

Michael Horan writes about the Resurrection in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column.

Christopher Howse writes about Pictures from a lost village in the Daily Telegraph.

Simon Barrow writes at Ekklesia about The God elusion.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that After the fire comes the resurrection.

And in last week’s Church Times Paul Oestreicher wrote This is not a religion of the book.

Also Una Kroll wrote Abandon establishment, and gain autonomy.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 March 2008 at 9:15am GMT | Comments (47) | TrackBack
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Friday, 28 March 2008

San Joaquin: Special Convention tomorrow

Updated again Saturday midday

Earlier articles here were due process for bishops and further reports on Bishop Schofield and San Joaquin.

Since then, the following have appeared:

Living Church San Joaquin Special Convention May Violate Canon Law

Episcopal News Service San Joaquin diocese prepares for its future

titusonenine Diocese of South Carolina Protests Presiding Bishop’s Failure to Follow the Canons

Dan Martins formerly a senior priest in that diocese has written this blog article: Perfect Storm Brewing. The specifics of the San Joaquin situation are dealt with in the last part of the article. titusonenine has extracted a key segment here.

Saturday updates

The Living Church has some further details about the action of the South Carolina diocese in South Carolina Asks Presiding Bishop to Postpone San Joaquin Special Convention.

Some local press reports:

Lodi News-Sentinel Episcopals to reorganize, appoint new bishop

Sonora Union-Democrat Controversial bishop to visit Lode

Central Valley Business Times Episcopal Church to install new Central Valley bishop

Stockton Record Episcopal leader to head diocese reorganization

Episcopal News Service has a report of Friday night’s event in Stockton, San Joaquin Episcopalians place their future in context of healing. This includes a response to a question about the deposition process:

…Answering a question about reports of problems with the March 12 consent by the House of Bishops to her request for authority to depose or remove Schofield from his diocesan position, Jefferts Schori said that the vote was conducted in the same way that other such deposition requests have been done.

While the applicable canon (Canon IV.9.2) may have “varieties of interpretation,” the Presiding Bishop said that her chancellor and the House’s parliamentarian ruled that the canon called for approval by the majority of those bishops present at the meeting. She added that the canon does not allow for a poll by mail of all bishops eligible to vote, as some have suggested ought to have been done.

“We believe that we did the right thing,” she said, adding that the consent came from “a clear majority of those present…”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 28 March 2008 at 6:21pm GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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whither the Network? - part 2

Earlier, I posted a note titled whither the Network?

Now, The Rev. Canon Daryl Fenton, Chief Operating Officer of the Anglican Communion Network has written this article entitled Who is “in” the Network?. Here’s his explanation of numbers, emphasis added:

… By our latest figures, the Anglican Communion Network has 828 affiliated parishes.

To arrive at that number, we are counting the parishes of the nine affiliated Network dioceses of Albany, Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, San Joaquin, Springfield, and South Carolina. (Rio Grande took a number of steps towards affiliation, but had not finalized its status when its bishop resigned to join the Roman Catholic Church.) We do not count the parishes in each of those dioceses who have asked to be removed from the Network’s database. For instance, that means that we don’t include the five parishes in the diocese of San Joaquin that have clearly thrown their lot in with The Episcopal Church.

To speak very frankly, we don’t expect all of these dioceses to maintain their Network affiliation indefinitely. However, we are not in the business of kicking people out. Affiliated parishes and dioceses can change their status as they wish, and we honor their decisions.

We are also counting the 105 parishes under the pastoral care of the Anglican provinces of Kenya, Uganda and the Southern Cone. These parishes, and the bishops that oversee them, look to the Network to provide their connection to Common Cause, as well as to other orthodox Anglicans, whatever their jurisdiction. With them, the Network’s system of convocations continues to operate. There are currently 136 parishes primarily connected to Network convocations. The vast majority of these remain within The Episcopal Church.

A smaller group of Network parishes have also decided to come under the jurisdictional authority of our Common Cause Partners. These include the Convocation of Anglicans in North America or the Reformed Episcopal Church. We are happy for these parishes to maintain their relationship with us…

I interpret this to mean that the 828 total includes all the CANA and REC parishes.

See the CANA figures here (62 at 20 March.)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 28 March 2008 at 3:46pm GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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more on the embryology bill

Updated again Saturday morning

The Church Times has a report by Bill Bowder Bishops attack embryos Bill and also a Leader: Church fails its Biology exam. (Another comment article by Paul Vallely is subscriber-only until next week.)

The news report refers to earlier evidence given to Parliament by the CofE Mission and Public Affairs Council, last June, on a separate but related topic. See this press release Church says IVF children need fathers and the PDF with the full text here.

And Dave Walker on the Church Times blog draws attention to a report by Jonathan Petre on 18 March of some remarks made by Rowan Williams, Society can’t handle science, and a rather more useful contribution made this week by Alan Wilson Embryo Wars — five critical questions.

Update Friday evening

The Tablet carries this article by Colin Blakemore For pity’s sake.

Update Saturday morning

The Times carries this article: Sir Leszek Borysiewicz says Church is wrong on hybrid embryo Bill:

The most senior Roman Catholic scientist in Britain has attacked his Church’s opposition to proposed laws that will allow the creation of human-animal embryos for research.

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz made a passionate defence of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill and the science that it will make possible…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 28 March 2008 at 9:09am GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 27 March 2008

Gift of Communion

Inclusive Church has announced:

Celebrating the Gift of Communion

In advance of the Lambeth Conference we invite parishes to give thanks for the gift of the Anglican Communion, and to affirm their commitment to its historic generosity. At a time of debate and discernment in our life together we believe the best way forward will not include segregating or excluding those with whom we disagree.

If your church is in agreement with the following statement, please send an email to listing your name, parish, diocese and province. Please make sure you have the agreement of your parish council or vestry before signing, and note that this invitation is intended for churches, and not individuals. If you have any questions or comments please address them to Please circulate this message to friends and networks.

“As Christians, we believe that all people have been made in the image of God. We believe that God loves each and every person with an infinite, never-ending, unconditional love.

As members of the body of Christ, we acknowledge each person’s unique and valuable contribution as we seek together to build up that body in love.

As members of the Anglican Communion, we celebrate the gift of our diversity and are committed to being a broad Church that accepts and welcomes difference. We acknowledge our need of God’s forgiveness for the sins and failings which harm our shared witness in the world. We believe our unity is rooted in our baptism in Christ, and we will seek to maintain that unity through the grace of the Holy Spirit who lives and works in each one of us.”

For more about this, read Scott Gunn at Seven whole days Put your congregation on record, support the gift of Communion.

For the most recent Inclusive Church newsletter, see here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 27 March 2008 at 7:05am GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Canadian chronology

The Anglican Journal has published this Chronology of the same-sex debate in the Anglican Church of Canada from 1975 to 2008, which also includes a number of interesting photos.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 26 March 2008 at 11:01pm GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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proposals for constitutional reform

The earlier Green Paper was reported here.

The subsequent consultation paper from the archbishops is here, and the General Synod document considered in February is here as an RTF file.

What this week’s White Paper (full document as PDF here) said on Church of England Appointments:

254. The Government proposed in The Governance of Britain that the Prime Minister’s role in ecclesiastical appointments in the Church of England should be significantly reduced.At present,he receives two names from the Crown Nominations Commission for appointment as new Diocesan Bishops. In future, he will ask for only one name which he will then forward to Her Majesty The Queen. The Government undertook to discuss with the Church any necessary consequential changes to procedures.This discussion also considered the role of the Prime Minister and of his Appointments Secretary in the appointments process for cathedral deans, where the Appointments Secretary was responsible for conducting the appointments process and making the final recommendations, and some other senior appointments in the Church.

255. Following an internal consultation exercise, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York put proposals to the meeting of the General Synod in February 2008. Synod approved the proposed modifications to the appointments process.They called for a continuing role for a senior civil servant at the heart of Government to help in ensuring that the wider needs of the church and of the community continued to be given adequate weight in the appointments process. However, they agreed that in future the decisive voice in all appointments would be that of the Church itself. In relation to diocesan bishops, the Crown Nominations Commission would continue itself to select two names – a preferred name and a reserve – but would forward to the Prime Minister only the preferred name. In relation to appointments to Cathedral Deaneries, there would in future be a selection panel chaired by a layperson selected by the archbishop of the province after consultation with the diocesan bishop and the proposed Crown appointments adviser. It was proposed that the Government would continue to provide administrative support for the process of appointments to Crown parochial livings (in the same way as, for example, where a bishop has the right of presentation the church authorities would provide support to the parish in the process). The Government is discussing with the Church future long-term arrangements within government in the light of the Synod’s decisions.

256. The changes to the appointments processes for Diocesan Bishops and Cathedral Deans are internal Church procedures and require no legislation. The Church will itself legislate by Measure for a number of consequential changes. These are to remove the requirement for two names to be forwarded for appointment to Suffragan Bishoprics (a requirement of a 1534 Act); to bring crown parochial appointments into line with all others by allowing the parish representatives a right of veto; and to remove the right of the Crown to appoint to certain positions which have become vacant through the preferment of the incumbent to a diocesan bishopric, or where there is a vacancy in the episcopal see which would normally have the right of appointment.

In connection with the above, the Lord Chancellor said this in the House of Commons:

Appointments to the Church of England: the Government remain committed to the establishment of the Church of England, and greatly value the role played by the church in our national life. Appointments to senior church positions will continue to be made by Her Majesty the Queen, who should continue to be advised on the exercise of her powers of appointment by one of her Ministers, who will usually be the Prime Minister. We are very grateful to the General Synod for its proposals on how new appointments procedures should work and the Government are discussing with the church future long-term arrangements.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 26 March 2008 at 9:15pm GMT | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Anglican views on the embryology bill

Updated Tuesday afternoon

Several Church of England bishops have stepped into the controversy generated by the UK government’s proposed Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (see this PDF for how the bill actually alters existing legislation).

The Bishop of St Albans is quoted in today’s Daily Mail see Embryos: Church of England demands free vote on controversial research plans and in this Press Association report.

The Bishop of Lichfield has issued this press statement, Bishop adds voice to free vote calls on human-animal embryos and got a mention in the Birmingham Mail Scientists to meet church leaders over embryo research and in The Times David Cameron: Catholics should not misrepresent embryo Bill.

The Bishop of Durham preached this Easter Day sermon, which was reported in the Newcastle Chronicle as Embryo research an issue for all Christians and attacked furiously in The Times by David Aaronovitch under the headline Wicked untruths from the Church.

Some useful background articles:

The Times
Q&A: Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill
Embryology Bill: Bishop’s ‘Frankenstein’ attack smacks of ignorance, say scientists
Letters, including one from Colin Blakemore former head of the Medical Research Council.

Leader: Conscientious objections
Simon Barrow Cardinal vices and virtues

Tuesday afternoon update
The Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed his opinion on this matter, see Archbishop on Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Full text below the fold.

Archbishop on Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill
Tuesday 25 March 2008
Interview with the Press Association

Dr Williams attacked proposals in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which could open the door to research into hybrid embryos and which would remove the reference to the need for a father when under going fertility treatment.

He said: “The hybrid question - there has been a lot of rather extreme and alarmist talk about this and I fully accept that it is not about the breeding of monsters, but at the same time, I think there remains this very instrumentalist view of the human embryo: we use it for something and then destroy it, and I find that ethically very hard to accept.

“The hybrid embryos is just an aspect of overall attitudes to embryo research.

“In this country, more than in many others we seem to be taking for granted that it is all right to regard the human embryo as something to be used instrumentally - that is my big moral concern.”
He said he “regretted” the proposals on removing the need for a father, saying it was a “downgrading of the ordinary processes of reproduction and upbringing” in favour of a “highly technological view” of what human reproduction was about.

Dr Williams also called for the Government to allow a free vote on the “big issues” of conscience, posed by the proposals on hybrid embryos in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill and the removal of the clause on the need for a father.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 25 March 2008 at 9:31am GMT | Comments (39) | TrackBack
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list of CANA congregations

Regular readers of TA will recall that in the past it has been hard to get confirmation of the number of congregations belonging to CANA.

This situation has now been remedied. CANA has published this list of congregations as an Excel file.

The copy of the file from which this html copy was taken contains 62 entries and is dated Thursday 20 March.

There is also a new (12 February 2008) version of the Frequently Asked Questions file, now as a PDF.

In other CANA news, tippet seals are now available.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 25 March 2008 at 8:25am GMT | Comments (24) | TrackBack
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Monday, 24 March 2008

whither the Network?

From the ACN website:

Network Bishops to Meet April 24

Bishops of those Episcopal Church dioceses that have formally affiliated with the Anglican Communion Network will meet in Chicago on April 24. The purpose of the meeting is to allow Network bishops to speak frankly with each other about the future.

As the crisis in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion has deepened, Network bishops and dioceses have been moving in several directions. Some Network dioceses have reaffiliated or are considering reaffiliating with other provinces of the Anglican Communion. Individual Network bishops have left The Episcopal Church to join other communions. Other bishops are attempting to be a voice for orthodoxy within The Episcopal Church.

“I have called this meeting because we need to talk frankly and openly about the future and how we as Network bishops can help the Network best fulfill its mission to build a biblical, missionary and united Anglican witness in the years ahead,” said Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator of the Network. “It is clear that the Network has a continuing mission to unite orthodox Anglicans, especially as increasing numbers of Network parishes and now dioceses are exiting The Episcopal Church. We will be talking about how we can work together to accomplish this goal even as we bless the several paths we have chosen as bishops and dioceses,” he added.

Dioceses that have made formal decisions to affiliate with the Network are Fort Worth, Quincy, Pittsburgh, Albany, South Carolina, San Joaquin, Central Florida, Dallas and Springfield. (The Diocese of the Rio Grande took a number of steps toward affiliation. However, their status was never completely clear.) With these dioceses, the Network also has 231 individual parish affiliates in five geographical convocations and one non-geographical convocation. Of this group, 105 parishes are under the care of The Anglican Provinces of Kenya, Uganda, or the Southern Cone. The entire diocese of San Joaquin is also under the oversight of The Province of the Southern Cone.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 24 March 2008 at 11:19pm GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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two meetings in London

Global South Anglican has published Statement from the Global South Primates Steering Committee, London, Mar 13-15, 2008.

Five Primates - Abp Peter Akinola, Abp Greg Venables, Abp Kolini, Abp Mouneer Anis and Abp John Chew - met together for some heart to heart conversations from 13th to 15th March in London. They released this statement…

The first three listed of these primates also attended the GAFCON meeting reported here:

We met in England as the leadership team of the Global Anglican Future Conference and Jerusalem Pilgrimage from March 10-12, 2008…

See picture here of the latter group, and the caption lists them:

Left to Right, Rt Rev Nicodemus Okille, Uganda, representing Archbishop Henry Orombi, Rt Rev Don Harvey, Anglican Network in Canada, Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India), Rt Rev Chuck Murphy (Anglican Mission in America) Consultant, Rt Rev Wallace Benn, Lewes, England, Rt Rev Martyn Minns, CANA, USA, Mr Hugh Pratt, England, Treasurer,Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Bendel, Nigeria, Rt Rev David Anderson, CANA, Consultant, Rev David Pileggi, Christ Church Jerusalem, Consultant, Canon Dr Chris Sugden, England

Front Row - Rt Rev Bob Duncan, Moderator, Common Cause, USA, Archbishop Greg Venables, Southern Cone, Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate of all Nigeria, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, Rwanda, Archbishop Peter Jensen, Sydney, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, Kenya

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 24 March 2008 at 11:48am GMT | Comments (41) | TrackBack
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Easter in New Hampshire

Riazat Butt of the Guardian spent the weekend in the Diocese of New Hampshire, and her report is titled Gay bishop’s mission to unite.

… The Guardian spent the Easter weekend with Robinson as he battled the winds and blizzards on a 400-mile road trip around his US diocese. But the conditions were nothing compared with those he has encountered trying to make it to the Lambeth conference, the 10-yearly gathering of the world’s Anglican bishops, which takes place in Canterbury, Kent, from July 16 to August 3.

Two weeks ago Robinson was told he would not be allowed to take part in the event - the only bishop out of 880 to be excluded. He will still go to Canterbury, but with no official status and the same access as a member of the public. Yet he will, inevitably, be one of its star attractions. Robinson will not go into detail, but says he has his own events planned, including one with award-winning actor and gay rights campaigner Sir Ian McKellen, who will perform a reading…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 24 March 2008 at 7:31am GMT | Comments (22) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 23 March 2008

Easter Day at Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter Day Sermon is here.

And he also wrote this article published in today’s Observer newspaper, We live in a culture of blame - but there is another way.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 23 March 2008 at 6:10pm GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Holy Week images

The Church Times portfolio of Holy Week images includes this photo by Julia Low of a medieval wall painting in St Albans Abbey.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 23 March 2008 at 1:16pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 22 March 2008

further reports on Bishop Schofield and San Joaquin

Pat Ashworth wrote in the Church Times US bishops agree to depose Schofield.

George Conger at Religious Intelligence/CEN continued to take a different view over what happened at the recent meeting of the American House of Bishops: Doubts over deposition trial.

Mark Harris takes serious issue with the quality of George Conger’s report, see Beyond Schofield and Cox.

Rob Eaton reports from the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin (he is a member of it), in Answers from the Standing Committee: What are you “doing”?

(TA readers will recall that this committee wrote this reply on 1 February to this letter sent to them by the Presiding Bishop on 25 January.)

Meanwhile, the new diocesan website shows increased activity relating to the forthcoming diocesan convention, see here, here, and here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 22 March 2008 at 1:13pm GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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opinions on Easter Eve

David Stancliffe writes in The Times about How an election in Sudan signals a new resurrection.

Earlier in the week, Andrew White wrote there about Iraq five years on.

Last Sunday, John Cornwell asked in the Sunday Times Are Muslim enclaves no-go areas, forcing other people out (hat tip Andrew Brown).

Christopher Howse explains in the Daily Telegraph Why the Big Bang is not Creation.

At Ekklesia Simon Barrow follows up on the article by Peter Selby linked here yesterday with Why the church needs a new foreign policy.

And he also wrote Resurrection is no Easter conjuring trick.

In the Guardian Danny Rich writes about how Purim is a timely reminder of past persecution of the Jews and the fragility of Israel in Face to faith.

Giles Fraser also writes there today, about A funny kind of Christian.

And in the Church Times he wrote about Trusting in God beyond my death.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 22 March 2008 at 8:17am GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Friday, 21 March 2008

opinions on Good Friday

The Church Times leader is titled Only perfect love can cast out fear.

Last week, in the Church Times Peter Selby wrote about Why war is never a final solution.

The Guardian carried a leader today titled In praise of… the Council of Nicaea.

Justin Lewis-Anthony wrote about Gambling and Good Friday.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 21 March 2008 at 4:46pm GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Schism is not the greatest evil

Paul Gibson has written an essay Why I am not afraid of schism which appears on the Anglican Church of Canada website.

The bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada were recently reported to be “alarmed” by the prospect of schism in the Anglican Communion (Anglican Journal, December 2007). The current controversy in the Communion over issues related to homosexuality appears to have created a mood or atmosphere of anxiety and fear, as though schism were the greatest evil that could befall the church and which should be avoided at all cost.

In the remarks which follow I will propose that schism is far from being a catastrophic situation, let alone the most desperate condition that may overtake a church, and that, in the words of President F.D. Roosevelt, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

First, let us go to the biblical background…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 19 March 2008 at 2:13pm GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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North Africa comes to Lambeth

Global South Anglican has published Bishop Mouneer Anis Reflections on the Joint Standing Committee (JSC).

Among the comments there, this from Tunde Popoola:

Sadly, this Godly Archbishop sound prepared to face more disappointments at Lambeth. I admire his determination in speaking up. What I do not like is the way his participation is used to legitimize questionable decisions only for him to shout foul afterwards. I pray he soon realizes that continued participation with those he believes are wrong, who listen to him but are not ready to repent is a tactic encouragement for what he believes is wrong to continue.

Posted by Tunde on 03/18 at 05:56 AM

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 19 March 2008 at 1:59pm GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 18 March 2008

SE Asia comes to Lambeth

Global South Anglican has published a Statement by the Synod of The Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia (2008).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 18 March 2008 at 6:37pm GMT | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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due process for bishops

There has been considerable discussion on blogs, for example here, about the voting process in the American House of Bishops. Some articles arising from that:

Living Church HOB Secretary: ‘No One Challenged’ PB’s Ruling by George Conger and Steve Waring, and also this commentary Flaws in Misconduct Canons by Steve Waring.

The Anglican Communion Institute has published On the Matter of Deposing Bishops at a Time of Communion Self-Assessment by Ephraim Radner, Christopher Seitz, Philip Turner.

Tony Clavier wrote To encourage others: The canon-legal conundrum on Covenant.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 18 March 2008 at 8:13am GMT | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Monday, 17 March 2008

Christchurch NZ election confirmed

The choice of Victoria Matthews as Bishop of Christchurch in New Zealand has been confirmed:

Official diocesan announcement: Eighth Bishop of Christchurch announced

Episcopal News Service NEW ZEALAND: Canada’s Victoria Matthews named bishop of Christchurch

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 17 March 2008 at 11:53pm GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Pittsburgh responds to charges

Updated Tuesday morning

(Apologies for the lack of TA for about ten hours today.)

The Bishop of Pittsburgh, Robert Duncan has responded to the charges made against him earlier, as reported here.

His letter to the Presiding Bishop is in PDF format here.

His lawyer’s letter to the lawyer for the national church is in PDF format here.

The Pittsburgh diocesan news release is here.

Episcopal News Service has a detailed report: Duncan replies to charges of abandonment of communion with Episcopal Church. There is this explanation about what may happen next:

Diocese of North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry, one of the bishops who briefed the media on the March 12 sessions of the House of Bishops meeting, told ENS that very few of the bishops had read the lengthy certification of the charges against Duncan. Hence, he said, Jefferts Schori suggested that the material be sent to all bishops to read.

Curry said the Presiding Bishop then agreed that her office would poll the bishops about the advisability of convening a special meeting of the House in May 2008 or whether to consider the matter at the House’s already-scheduled September meeting. Curry predicted that the answer to the question may be based in large part on the logistics of coordinating all the bishops’ calendars to find a meeting time in May.

Lionel Deimel has written two analyses, see Duncan’s Defense and Legal Matters.

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Saturday, 15 March 2008

yet more American reports

ENS reports San Joaquin Episcopalians greet bishop recommended for provisional role.

The new website for the San Joaquin diocese contains information about the Special Meeting of the Convention of the diocese.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a report by Steve Levin Clock is ticking for fate of Bishop Duncan:

The leader of the Episcopal Church will poll bishops nationally next month in an effort to move the possible deposition of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert W. Duncan Jr. ahead to May.

While Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s reasons have not been made public, the impact of accelerating the deposition could be far reaching not only for Bishop Duncan but the entire worldwide Anglican Communion…

…According to an e-mail sent this week from David Booth Beers, the chancellor to the presiding bishop, to about two dozen Pittsburgh Episcopalians representing a spectrum of the diocese, he wrote that the Rev. Jefferts Schori would “poll the House of Bishops in April to see when the House would next like to meet to discuss, among other things, the certification respecting Bishop Duncan. It is not accurate to say that she is seeking approval to proceed; rather, she seeks the mind of the House as to when to proceed.”

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opinions before Holy Week

Mordechai Beck writes in Face to Faith for the Guardian about how the real reason for the veiling of religious women may be lost in the sands of time.

Dave Walker on the Church Times blog has all the gen on the BBC Passion.

Giles Fraser in the Church Times wants us to Learn from Anglicans’ secular cousins.

In The Times Jonathan Romain writes about a New prayer book for Britain’s Reform Jews.

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about The city lost in the sands.

Savi Hensman writes for Ekklesia about Being on the side of the crucified.

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Friday, 14 March 2008

roundup of American reports

Updated again Saturday morning

The Church Times has a report by Pat Ashworth Lambeth ban on Robinson upheld. The CT went to press before the Wednesday announcements re San Joaquin etc.

The Living Church has a report No Decision on Bishop Schofield’s Lambeth Invitation.

The Church of England Newspaper has a report by George Conger Lambeth invitations reviewed.

For secular press reports on San Joaquin there is a round-up at epiScope Schofield minus plus. And this item at Episcopal Café.

The soon-to-be new Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has a new website.

There are further comments and reactions in this ENS report House of Bishops’ actions draw reactions from interest groups, ELO readers.

Two further items:

Forward in Faith North America reports that Bishop Edward MacBurney, bishop retired of the Diocese of Quincy, has been formally charged with canonical violations by the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. See Former Quincy Bishop Charged.

And Stand Firm reports that Presiding Bishop Plans to Try Bishop Duncan before the Lambeth Conference. (What this means is to some extent explained in the comments to the article.)

Friday evening update

Several bishops have posted comments on their recent meeting, see here.

There is a report in the Living Church by George Conger and Steve Waring which asserts that Deposition Votes Failed to Achieve Canonically Required Majority.

Added Saturday morning

Official response to the above: House of Bishops’ votes valid, chancellor confirms. See text below the fold.

House of Bishops’ votes valid, chancellor confirms
March 15, 2008

[Episcopal News Service] The Presiding Bishop’s chancellor has confirmed the validity of votes taken in the House of Bishops on March 12, correcting an erroneous report published online March 14 by The Living Church News Service.

Chancellor David Booth Beers said votes consenting to the deposition of bishops John-David Schofield and William Cox conformed to the canons.

“In consultation with the House of Bishops’ parliamentarian prior to the vote,” Beers said, “we both agreed that the canon meant a majority of all those present and entitled to vote, because it is clear from the canon that the vote had to be taken at a meeting, unlike the situation where you poll the whole House of Bishops by mail. Therefore, it is our position that the vote was in order.”

A quorum had been determined at the meeting by the House of Bishops’ secretary, Kenneth Price, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Southern Ohio.

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Thursday, 13 March 2008

San Joaquin further developments

Episcopal News Service reports:

House of Bishops deposes Schofield; San Joaquin special convention set for March 29. It includes:

…The Presiding Bishop, during a telephone press conference after the conclusion of the March 7-12 Camp Allen meeting in Navasota, Texas, said she will personally convene the special convention in San Joaquin. She declined to identify a nominee for provisional bishop.

“As of today he is no longer a bishop in the Episcopal Church,” she said of Schofield. “Matters down the road will include clarifying the status of Corp Sole, which is how property is held in that diocese…”


San Joaquin diocese asked to consider Jerry Lamb as provisional bishop:

Bishop Jerry A. Lamb — retired bishop of Northern California and most recently interim bishop of Nevada — has been recommended by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to serve as provisional bishop of the Central California Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

Lamb can begin work in this capacity after ratification by the diocese’s convention, set to meet March 29 in Lodi, California…

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Wednesday, 12 March 2008

American statement on Lambeth Conference

The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church issued this House of Bishops statement on the Lambeth Conference.

It includes this:

Even though we did not all support the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire, we acknowledge that he is a canonically elected and consecrated bishop in this church. We regret that he alone among bishops ministering within the territorial boundaries of their dioceses and provinces, did not receive an invitation to attend the Lambeth Conference.

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two bishops deposed

Updated twice

ENS reports House of Bishops consents to deposition of John-David Schofield, William Cox:

The House of Bishops voted March 12 to consent to the deposition from the ordained ministry of the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, and the Rt. Rev. William Jackson Cox, bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Maryland, resigned.

Members of the House of Bishops are preparing a statement regarding these actions and for release after a March 12 afternoon session…

Here’s the text in the case of Bp Schofield:


RESOLVED, that pursuant to Canon IV.9.2 of the Episcopal Church, the House of Bishops hereby consents to the Deposition from the ordained ministry of the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin.

EXPLANATION: On January 9, 2008, the Title IV Review Committee certified to the Presiding Bishop, pursuant to Canon IV.9.1, that the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, has repudiated the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church and has abandoned the Communion of the Church by, inter alia, departing from the Episcopal Church and purporting to take his Diocese with him into affiliation with the Province of the Southern Cone. In the intervening two months since the Presiding Bishop gave notice to Bishop Schofield of the foregoing certification, Bishop Schofield has failed to submit to the Presiding Bishop sufficient retraction or denial of the actions found by the Title IV Review Committee. Accordingly, the Presiding Bishop has presented the matter to the House of Bishops and requested consent to Bishop Schofield’s Deposition.

Update One

Bishop Schofield responds to the HOB decision

NACDAP: Episcopal House of Bishops Votes to Depose Network Bishops

Update Two

House of Bishops statement on Schofield, Cox

Archbishop Venables Memo to Bishop Schofield

For press coverage, see Episcopal Café Secular media file reports on the actions of the House of Bishops.

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Tuesday, 11 March 2008

What is the Global South?

Michael Poon has published an essay on Global South Anglican which is titled The Global South Anglican: its origins and development.

Several bloggers, including Ruth Gledhill here, have drawn attention to his comments on GAFCON:

There is however a persistent undercurrent within “Global South Anglican” that defines itself doctrinally against the wider Anglican Communion, and posits itself against “liberal leadership” in the Church of England and the Episcopal Church. The primates of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are at the centre stage of the transatlantic conflicts in the Communion. Strictly speaking, they are true to the “global South” spirit (and methodologies). The GAFCON movement that suddenly erupted in late December 2007 brought this undercurrent to the surface. Doctrinal matters are not central to GAFCON. It is telling that Archbishop Peter Jensen did not clarify what “Biblical Anglican Christianity” entails. (He was silent on whether such biblical Anglican beliefs, for example, include particular views on ordination of women and lay presidency at the Holy Communion.) The central issue is in fact the restructuring of the Communion. It would be reconfigured by the geopolitics of globalisation and of the “global South”. Transnational alliances – with the aim in expanding interests through border crossing – replace geographical dioceses and historic ties as the building blocks of the Communion, and with the same stroke dethrone Canterbury as the focus of unity. This of course is in line with Hassett’s earlier analysis.

GAFCON holds before the Communion a new and unfamiliar utopia that is post-modern to its core. Webmasters and web bloggers render synodical processes irrelevant. They preside over web blogs in the virtual worlds of their own fabrication. Its power in shaping public opinion on ecclesiastical authorities simply cannot be ignored. A communion that is no longer dependent on patient face-to-face encounters and governed by geographical proximity: it is a Gnostic gospel that renders the Cross in vain.

Dr Poon refers repeatedly to the work of Miranda Hassett. See here for details of her book, Anglican Communion in Crisis: How Episcopal Dissidents and Their African Allies Are Reshaping Anglicanism, which as I have said elsewhere is essential reading.

Reviews of this book can be found in the Christian Century by Sam Wells, see Anglican maneuvers, and in the Church Times by Mary Tanner, see How a new global network spread. Also see Alan Wilson’s comments here.

The original PhD thesis Episcopal Dissidents, African Allies: The Anglican Communion and the Globalization of Dissent is here as a 1.1 Mb PDF file.

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sharia firestorm follow-ups

The Law Gazette ran an article entitled Sharia unveiled by Polly Botsford, and also there was a news item, Sharia councils regulation call and a letter to the editor earlier.

In the week following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s provocative recent speech on sharia law, Mahmud Al-Rashid, spokesman for the Association of Muslim Lawyers (AML), called for the regulation of the growing number of sharia councils, as reported in the Gazette (see Gazette [2008], 14 February, 4). They were both bringing to the fore the interplay between religious freedoms and a secular state.

The issue of religious communities having their own set of rules, even their own courts governing areas such as marriage and divorce within the secular state, is a complex one, not least because each community has many voices and, naturally, they are not all seeking the same thing. But what Dr Williams and others have done is to start a public debate, the conclusion of which may yet be a long way off…

More recently, Trevor Grundy reported that Archbishop of Canterbury gets praise from Nigerian Islamic leader:

Mauled by the media for suggesting aspects of Sharia Law should be incorporated into the British legal system, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has become something of a hero — even a Christian legend — in Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria.

Speaking at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London on March 6, the leader of the multi-million strong Qadiriyyah wing of the Islamic faith, Nigerian Sheikh Qaribullahi Nasiru Kabara, told academics and diplomats that he felt “very good” when he heard what Williams had to say at a February lecture.

“I felt very good,” the sheikh said. “The people of northern Nigeria are very happy. It shows the recent upward rating of the British and the way they see Islam…That call from the Archbishop of Canterbury caused a serious round of celebrations because people feel, ‘These people are now listening to us. Let us look at them and talk to them properly…’”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 11:37am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Lambeth and New Hampshire

Episcopal News Service carries a report titled Lambeth invitation ‘not possible’ for Robinson. It links to two word processing files, but see below.

The House of Bishops was informed March 10 that full invitation is “not possible” from the Archbishop of Canterbury to include Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as a participant in this summer’s Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops.

Robinson, addressing the House, urged the other bishops of the Episcopal Church to participate fully in the conference, and thanked all who are willing to “stay at the table.”

Robinson told the House that he respectfully declined an invitation to be present in the conference’s “Marketplace” exhibit section.

Robinson confirmed for ENS that he plans to be in Canterbury during the July 16-August 3 once-a-decade gathering, but not as an official conference participant or observer…

Episcopal Café carries more information here in Full invitation for Robinson “not possible” including the full text of:

Report from Bishops Ed Little, Bruce Caldwell and Tom Ely to the House of Bishops regarding conversations about Bishop Gene Robinson’s participation at the Lambeth Conference.

And also, here in Bishop Gene Robinson responds, the full text of his remarks to the House of Bishops.

See also Daily Account from the House of Bishops for Monday, March 10.

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Sunday, 9 March 2008

Rebuilding Communion

St Deiniols Library is publishing a book with this title.

The aim of this book is threefold: firstly, to provide a brief Who’s Who and What’s What on the recent history of sexual orientation and Anglicanism; secondly, to give voice to gay and lesbian people from around the Anglican world; thirdly, to reflect on the present crisis and offer new possibilities for learning from areas such as human rights legislation, the African concept of ubuntu and conflict resolution in Bosnia.

Read a fuller description of the book here, and there is a list of contributors.

The Introduction to the book is also online here. It begins:

Dear Bishop,

Thank you for your comments and concerns about the Rebuilding Communion conference and book. Let me reassure you about what we hope to achieve.

No one can deny that homosexuality is a key issue in contemporary Anglicanism; it is one of the causes of the present fracture in the worldwide Communion. St Deiniol’s has a tradition of providing a space for the discussion of issues confronting church and society. On one level, that is all we are doing. I hope we can approach the issue in new ways. For instance, the final section of the book looks at the issue from the perspective of human rights legislation, the African concept of ubuntu, conflict resolution in Bosnia and pastoral need in Canada.

All the contributors to the book are committed Anglicans, not all of us are gay. We all want to see Anglicanism renewed and revived - we are passionate about this. Most of us are Anglicans because we are attracted to its inclusive nature and its careful sifting of scripture, tradition and reason. For many of us, the ‘untidiness’ of the Anglican Communion is part of its attraction. We know that the health of our planet depends on the maintenance of our biodiversity. The same may well be true of Anglicanism. Our tradition is one of expressing faith through the cultures of our people. Consequently, our theology and ethics have often been shaped by pastoral care and concern. In a worldwide Communion, this is bound to lead to diversity and to suppress this diversity is to inflict a high cost on the freedom of the human spirit…

Recently, the library also held a conference related to the book Rebuilding Communion - Who Pays the Price? and you can still read the announcement about it here.

Some reports of the conference, including pictures and even some video, can be found at this blog, starting here.

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Saturday, 8 March 2008

GAFCON appeals for funds

Subject: Opportunity to support a Bishop to Jerusalem
Date: Fri, 7 Mar 2008
From: Chris Sugden
To: Chris Sugden

Dear Colleague

We are writing to request your help in securing financial support to enable the participation of Bishops and their wives from Africa, Asia and Latin America in the Global Anglican Future Conference and Pilgrimage (GAFCON) in Jerusalem June 22-29.2008. Details are on

GAFCON is organised to enable the Anglican Orthodox to think, discuss and pray about the future of the Anglican Communion.

Many Anglican Orthodox leaders have come to the conclusion that the 2008 Lambeth conference as it is structured and led is fundamentally compromised and will not provide the environment and process to struggle with the challenges threatening the future of the communion.

The GAFCON gathering does not mean schism. It seeks to set out a clear biblically faithful and orthodox vision for the future of the Anglican Communion, share with the rest of the communion in all available forums and work towards shaping the communion towards that end.

The Conference and Pilgrimage will identify the biblical and theological truths that unite and empower us, work on ways of equipping the whole church for ministry and mission, identify approaches and resources for the economic empowerment of the Church in the Global South, share experiences and resources of churches in their work addressing poverty, HIV/Aids, human rights, engagement in advocacy and policy and ministry in contexts of religious hostility and plurality.

Your support will enable Bishops and with their wives to join with others not only in addressing the issues facing the future of orthodox witness in the Communion but particularly to chart a new path for developing enterprise solutions to poverty with its important implications for their future well being

The cost of hotel, board, local travel, visits to holy sites and conference registration is set at £1300 for a couple. Each participant is encouraged to provide their own travel costs but in some cases help will be needed also for travel costs that will average £1100 per couple.

As many as 300 Bishops with their wives are expected to attend. A small number will need full subsidy of costs. Most will need up to 50% subsidy, so we are seeking a significant total in all. Do not hesitate to be in touch if we can provide any further clarifications - 01865-883388.

Cheques may be made to: Anglican Mainstream ( a charity), 21 High Street, Eynsham, 0X29 4HE. Please designate your gift to GAFCON.

Sincerely in Christ

Canon Vinay Samuel
Canon Chris Sugden
for the Leadership Team

Archbishops Peter Akinola (Nigeria), Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda), Donald Mtetemela (Tanzania), Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya), Henry Orombi (Uganda), Greg Venables (Southern Cone),
Archbishop Peter Jensen (Sydney) , Archbishop Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria) , Bishop Bob Duncan (Anglican Communion Network and Common Cause USA.), Bishop Martyn Minns (Convocation of Anglicans in North America), Bishop Don Harvey (Canada) , Bishop Bill Atwood (Kenya) Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India), Bishop Michael Nazir Ali (Rochester, England) and Bishop Wallace Benn (Lewes, England), Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 8 March 2008 at 5:05pm GMT | Comments (39) | TrackBack
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opinions before Passiontide

Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times about Egeria the fourth century nun and the litany.

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about What the maker of mosaics saw.

Pete Tobias writes in the Guardian about Moses and the burning bush, see Face to Faith.

Giles Fraser asks in the Church Times Is it time to snub the Pope now?

Simon Barrow wrote on Ekklesia about Fairness, trade and free market ideology.

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Thursday, 6 March 2008

Bishop Schofield writes

Updated Friday morning

Episcopal Café has published a letter from Bishop John-David Schofield in which he resigns from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church.

See John-David Schofield writes Katharine Jefferts Schori.

The letter is a PDF file (200Kb) available here.

Friday morning update

titusonenine has an html version of the letter here.

Episcopal News Service reports that this letter had still not arrived last night at 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017. See last sentence of Bishops prepare for Camp Allen gathering; Schofield posts letter of resignation from House of Bishops. I’m sure this can’t be because of the multiple spelling errors in the name of the addressee.

The letter has now been posted on the website of the former (erstwhile?) Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and can be seen here.

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Wednesday, 5 March 2008

GAFCON will send ‘wrong signals’

The Melbourne Anglican has a major article this month about Bishop Suheil Dawani’s recent visit to Australia, titled Bishops’ meeting will send ‘wrong signals’.

Another senior bishop has signalled his intent to be involved in the controversial Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) gathering to be held in the Diocese of Jerusalem before the Lambeth Conference this year. This surprising participant is the Bishop of Jerusalem himself, who pleaded with GAFCON organisers last month to hold the event elsewhere.

“It’s happening, they are coming,” said Bishop Suheil Dawani during a visit to Australia in February. “I will be there. I cannot ignore such a gathering. But I’ll give them our message of unity, of how the church must also be united, and of the importance of our ministry in Jerusalem and all over the world.”

Bishop Dawani told TMA that he is nervous about the impact of such a controversial conference in an area which is already beset by violent disputes and hardship. The Diocese of Jerusalem, made up of twenty-nine parishes, covers five countries – Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine, all of which are familiar with division and hostility. Thirty-four institutions of the Anglican Church provide vital health care, education, aged care and disability care to the region, as well as care and hope to people who are traumatised by the uncertainty and violence around them, par-ticularly in Palestine…

…The GAFCON gathering, he believes, may undermine the Anglican Church’s credibility in setting this example, and he said he was disappointed that the GAFCON organisers did not seem to listen to his concerns, although GAFCON organisers have since split the conference between Jordan and Jerusalem, with the Jerusalem component called a “pilgrimage”.

“In Jerusalem, we face so many problems, we are challenged on a daily basis to be with each other, and that’s why we are so involved in ecumenical and interfaith activities. These things [at GAFCON] will be misunderstood by people, and will give the wrong signals to people in Palestine and Jordan. It is very controversial, it is the wrong time and the wrong place.”

“I hope that at Lambeth we can witness a new era of coming together and put our differences aside,” he said. “If we have differences, we have to discuss it internally in good spirit, because our people are looking to us. If our people see division, and we are not coming with a good spirit, it will affect their spirit, and their lives. We don’t want to be an obstacle for our people. I hope that Lambeth will get a new spirit for Anglicans all over the world.

See also Arrogant Archbishop’s protest conference ignores own advice from the Canberra Times.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 5 March 2008 at 9:47pm GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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PB visit to South Carolina

There have been varying accounts of this event.

Episcopal News Service On the road in South Carolina with the Presiding Bishop by Neva Rae Fox

Statement from Bishop Mark Lawrence in response to the recent ENS article on the Presiding Bishop’s visit to South Carolina (original here, URL temporary):

I have read the recent article from the ENS regarding the Presiding Bishop, The Most Reverend Katherine Jefferts Schori’s visit to the Diocese of South Carolina. It was a gracious and accurate description of much of our time together. Indeed, there was a warm hospitality which we were most intentional in cultivating through our prayers and our hearts. What the article failed to convey, however, is the depth of the theological chasm that lies between many of us in South Carolina (and others within the church for that matter) and the trajectory of so much of the leadership of The Episcopal Church. To explore these cavernous depths is indeed the great work that lies before anyone in leadership today. Along with showing hospitality and witnessing to God’s work among us, the earnest exploring of this chasm was and remains one of our chief objectives.

—The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence

Audio recordings of events during the visit can be found here.

Video recordings of Bishop Mark Lawrence’s opening remarks are here and here.

The reports of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina can be read here:

1. Bishop Lawrence Approves Release of Edited Tapes of Clergy Meeting with Presiding Bishop Katharine (3/5)

2. Day Two of Bishop Katharine’s Visit: Disaffected Clergy Challenge Presiding Bishop (2/25)

3. Day One of Bishop Katharine’s Visit: Efforts by St. Philip’s to Humiliate Presiding Bishop Backfire (2/24)

Comments on the visit by others:

The Reverend Al Zadig

The Reverend Mike Lumpkin

The Reverend Steve Wood and also here.

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Tuesday, 4 March 2008

UK blasphemy law reform

Updated again Friday morning

The two archbishops have issued this statement on the current government consultation, which includes the full text of their response to the government: Archbishops’ response to Government consultation on blasphemy.

News reports on this response:

The Times 29 Feb Archbishops have ‘serious reservations’ about blasphemy repeal by Ruth Gledhill

Guardian 4 March Archbishops question timing of plans to abolish blasphemy laws by Alan Travis

Update Also, there is an audio file of a discussion between Alan Travis and Giles Fraser available here.

In connection with this, there are also these reports:

The Times ‘Most Britons belong to no religion’ by Ruth Gledhill

Religious Intelligence UK warned over religious rights by George Conger

The UN report mentioned can be found as a PDF here.

Friday morning update

The Church Times has a full report on the debate in the House of Lords on Wednesday, see Archbishops warn of symbolic charge of blasphemy law by Pat Ashworth and Simon Caldwell.

The official record of the debate is here, or you can read it in a PDF file here.

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Monday, 3 March 2008

Canada: an update

The Anglican Journal reports:

Three more churches vote to leave Canadian church and later…

Judge rules against diocese of Niagara in dispute with local churches:

An Ontario Superior Court judge ruled on Feb. 29 that the diocese of Niagara may not send its clergy into two area churches in the next two weeks to hold Sunday services for members of the congregations that remain loyal after most of their fellow parishioners voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada.

“I am disappointed with the decision today, but we have to respect and abide by it. I feel for those faithful members of the parishes. We will try to make some arrangement for them if we possibly can,” said Bishop Michael Bird, who is based at the diocesan office here. It was the first court decision since 11 Anglican Canadian parishes decided, at their regular vestries (annual meetings) in February, to separate. They now identify themselves as part of the Anglican Network in Canada…

The Diocese of Niagara had a detailed report on its website:

Message to the Clergy and People of the Diocese: from the Synod Negotiating Team February 29, 2008.

The Canadian primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz has issued a Statement, which you can also see on video here, which starts out:

Dear Friends, as you know, in recent weeks there have been a few parishes across our beloved church that have had meetings and serious discussions that have resulted in decisions to withdraw from the Anglican Church of Canada. With you, I am saddened by these developments because they represent a fracture in the body of Christ and a break in our fellowship, one with another.

As we hear the reporting around these developments, there is repeated reference to the blessing of same-sex unions as the tipping issue in what is described as a crisis in faith, within the Anglican Church of Canada. My conviction is that we can only challenge that kind of rhetoric by the fact that across this land, you and thousands of other Anglicans gather week by week to hear once again, the story of the loving purposes of God through history and in the fullness of time through Christ and in those same gatherings, to confess the divinity and the lordship of Jesus Christ as we recite the Creed and celebrate the Eucharist week by week…

A few of the press reports:

Toronto Star At core of Anglican conflict, a 1,900-year-old tradition by Stuart Laidlaw

Toronto Globe & Mail Breakaway Anglicans make gain by Caroline Alphonso

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 3 March 2008 at 2:34pm GMT | Comments (24) | TrackBack
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Anglican Covenant: two views on the new draft

The Archbishop of Dublin John Neill has written an article in the Church of Ireland Gazette entitled Drafting an Anglican Covenant which is now available in full. Part of what he says:

…In working with the Covenant Design Group, I learnt a great deal, but I would mention one or two insights that I gained, or gained afresh.

The first was that, in spite of the hyping of differences within our Communion, there is a deep determination to stay together, and that we really experienced a deep unity around prayer, the Bible and sharing in the Eucharist.

The second was that the role of Synods comprising bishops, clergy and laity varies greatly around the Communion. In some parts of the world, what the Primate says on almost any question is regarded as the voice of the Church, even though there has been no work done on the question at synodical level, whereas, in America and Europe, the voice of the Church requires a great deal of consultation before it is articulated.

This explained for me part of the reason for the entirely different perceptions of the power of the Primates’ Meeting, and, indeed, of the Lambeth Conference itself. Those Churches which have a high regard for the role of Synods (such as our own) are very reticent to cede power to a Primates’ Meeting.

The third thing that I discovered when we examined all the responses to the Covenant was that, sadly, there were few responses from those Churches which have been most outspoken about threats to the Communion. Many of them have other very important agendas of their own, but the sad thing is that if a Covenant is there to restore the fractures in the Anglican Communion, everybody needs to own the process, and especially those who feel alienated…

Last week’s Church Times contained a further article by the Bishop of Dudley David Walker. (See also his earlier article here.) The new article is titled Why the new Covenant creates hope. Here is his concluding section:

…A number of commentators focus on the workability of the procedure, and try to determine its acceptability according to how it would apply to the presenting issues of sexuality and territorial incursions. Both poles of the debate take a pessimistic stance: liberals feel it would exclude them; conservatives call it toothless.

Some commentators try to explore how the Covenant procedures would work to prevent new disputes reaching the impasse of the sexuality debate. The Design Group needs to decide whether its proposals are essentially about avoiding future conflicts, or if it intends them to be able to resolve matters that are already rancorous…

In keeping with the spirit of the St Andrew’s Draft, it is worth ending on an upbeat note. I believe that the Covenant is less a reaction to a particular divisive issue than a natural consequence of the Anglican Communion having grown beyond being the Church of England writ large.

The challenge is for us to see this as a sign of maturity rather than a symptom of failure, and to use the text in the first part of the draft as a positive tool for our mission. Slowly, the Design Group is edging towards a confident statement of what Anglicanism strives to be, for God and the world.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 3 March 2008 at 11:59am GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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more US news updates

Updated Monday evening

Following on from last week,

The Bishop of Fort Worth spoke to the Living Church about the American House of Bishops:

…Bishop Jack Leo Iker of Fort Worth said he was “disheartened” that to date he has been “unable to secure a future, safe place for this diocese within The Episcopal Church,” and “saddened by the fact that the HOB has been unwilling to make adequate provision for us in response to our appeal for alternative primatial oversight.”

Bishop Iker described the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church as a “toxic environment,” and said he will not be attending the meeting at Camp Allen March 7-16.

“In recent years I have increasingly dreaded the thought of attending another meeting of the House of Bishops of TEC,” he said. “For me, the small-group table discussions are places of hostile confrontation, not support and affirmation.”

Addendum The comments at this blog entry here include remarks by Bishop Iker.

The Bishop of Central Florida and the Bishop of Western Louisiana also spoke to the Living Church about the “Anglican Bishops in Communion” proposal:

The House of Bishops will receive an informal presentation on the “Anglican Bishops in Communion” proposal that was shared with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori during a 50-minute meeting on Feb. 21 at the Episcopal Church Center. The House of Bishops meets March 7-13 at Camp Allen in the Diocese of Texas.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori expressed no objections to the plan during the meeting, according to bishops John W. Howe of Central Florida and D. Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana, who met with Bishop Jefferts Schori. The Bishops in Communion plan is a modified version of the “Episcopal Visitor” concept announced by Bishop Jefferts Schori during the fall House of Bishops’ meeting in New Orleans. It includes a commitment to abide by existing canon law of The Episcopal Church…

Still no mention of this matter by Episcopal News Service.

And another story, about the Bishop of Pennsylvania who has been inhibited: Church sets trial date for suspended bishop.

Monday evening update

There is now an Episcopal News Service report on Bishop Bennison’s forthcoming trial.

The Diocese of Fort Worth tonight released “a procedure to be followed if a parish wishes to initiate a separation from the diocese”, see Bishop and Standing Committee release Guidelines for diocesan Canon 32:

The Guidelines set out a procedure to be followed if a parish wishes to initiate a separation from the diocese. They were prepared after consideration was given to specific concerns raised at deanery covocations and at the Convention. As much as possible, these concerns have been taken into consideration as the Guidelines were drafted.

The leadership of this diocese has watched with sadness as issues and attitudes have caused deepening differences at all levels in the Anglican Communion. Adding to this rupture of the bonds of affection are the growing numbers of lawsuits being filed by those who once were unified in faithful witness and ministry. “Disagreement and division may be inevitable,” commented Dean Ryan Reed, President of the Standing Committee, “but Christian charity must not be sacrified in the process.” The purpose of the Canon and the Guidelines is to provide for a charitable parting, if parting is necessary…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 3 March 2008 at 8:57am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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God's Country: Nigeria

Updated Wednesday morning

Several commentators, including Andrew Brown in the Church Times have drawn attention to this article in the Atlantic Monthly by Eliza Griswold titled God’s Country. The magazine describes it this way:

Using militias and marketing strategies, Christianity and Islam are competing for believers by promising Nigerians prosperity in this world as well as salvation in the next. A report from the front lines.

The website of Atlantic Monthly also has a related slideshow, an interview with the author, and an audio file.

Episcopal Café has an article, Archbishop Akinola owes the world some answers which discusses this, and has useful links to the reports on the Yelwa massacre from Human Rights Watch.

Fr Jake has more, and also here.

Wednesday update
AkinTunde Popoola has responded to the article (see comments below):

Eliza Griswold’s recent attempt to demonise the Archbishop of the Church of Nigeria by publishing an article raising issues of religious violence is most unhelpful. As CAN president, one of the challenges the Archbishop faced was that of persuading youthful Christians to stop revenge attacks.

While the very sad ethnic/religious Yelwa incident took place in 2004, his statement about no religion having a monopoly of violence was made in 2006 when Nigerian Christians were being slaughtered because of some cartoons published in Denmark.

About Ms Griswold’s article, Archbishop Akinola has commented: “It is a pity that I have again been quoted out of context by the Atlantic Monthly two years after the event and the interview. The incident of the Danish Cartoons started off a crisis in Northern Nigeria. As president of the Christian Association of Nigeria I had to prevail on Christians not to retaliate. If we had not done that there would have been chaos. It was in the context of prevailing on Christian youth not to retaliate that I said what I said”

His statement was made not to encourage violent retaliation from Christian youth, but to recognise the reality of the possibility of such retaliation in the context of extreme provocation.

What is not reported so well, or known so widely is the many efforts that were initiated for peace-making. In February 2007 for example, Abp. Akinola (along with many Anglican bishops) was in the palace of the Sultan of Sokoto, Nigeria’ s overall Islamic leader on a friendly visit. ( ) Abp. Akinola has not and does not encourage violence but continues to maintain peaceful cordial relationships with every peace loving Nigerian irrespective of tribe, creed or gender.

The Western press should learn from the Danish cartoons that articles they publish, whatever the motive might be, can be responsible for the death of many innocent lives hundred of miles away.

Reactions to this response can be seen at Fr Jake here and at Episcopal Café here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 3 March 2008 at 8:07am GMT | Comments (27) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 1 March 2008

opinion columns

Three articles by Giles Fraser this weekend.
In the Guardian he writes in Intimations of mortality that we have lost the art of plain speaking when it comes to death - and that is not healthy for children.
Also in the Guardian he previews the BBC’s Passion (to be broadcast in Holy Week) in Thou shalt not offend anyone: BBC’s Jesus is nice but dull.
And in the Church Times he asks Is Fairtrade the same as fair?.

In the Guardian’s Face to faith column David Bryant writes that the perspective shift urged by the philosopher Martin Buber has the power to heal our world.

In The Times Jonathan Sacks writes Lose faith in God we will lose faith in humanity.

Also in The Times Libby Purves asks whether Oxford scholars should be forced to say grace in Oxford scholars’ grace protest: principled or petulant?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 1 March 2008 at 4:05pm GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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