Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Presiding Bishop writes on process, canons

Updated Thursday evening

Episcopal News Service has published a letter written to the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, USA by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. In this letter she reviews and comments on process related to deposition, inhibition, renunciation and resignation of bishops.

The full text of the letter is at Presiding Bishop writes to House of Bishops on process, canons.

Update
The Living Church has published an article by George Conger headlined Memorandum Concludes Presiding Bishop is Subverting Constitution and Canons.

Thursday evening update
The Anglican Communion Institute has published the “Presentment Memorandum” mentioned in the above report, read the full text here.

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respect for the Archbishop of Canterbury

Updated again Friday evening

The Lead has published Williams won’t allow Robinson to function as priest in England in which it is said that:

…the Archbishop of Canterbury has refused to grant Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the right to preach or preside at the eucharist in England. Robinson received the news in an email yesterday morning.

Sources familiar with the email say Williams cites the Windsor Report and recent statements from the Primates Meeting in refusing to grant Robinson permission to exercise his priestly functions during his current trip to England, or during the trip he plans during the Lambeth Conference in July and August…

In the Church of England, the legal position on preaching is not the same as the position on “exercising priestly functions” and it appears that an overseas bishop would not necessarily need permission from anybody but the incumbent of the parish in order to simply preach there.

Nevertheless Bishop Robinson is respecting the wishes of the archbishop and is declining all invitations to preach in England.

Such respect is not to be found everywhere. The Lead continues:

Sources familiar with the email, which came to Robinson through a Lambeth official, say Williams believes that giving Robinson permission to preach and preside at the Eucharist would be construed as an acceptance of the ministry of a controversial figure within the Communion.

Williams has not denied permission to preach and preside to Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who gave his support to a failed legislative attempt to limit the rights of Nigerian gays and their supporters to speak, assemble and worship God collectively. Akinola has yet to respond to an Atlantic magazine article which suggests he may have had prior knowledge of plans for retributive violence against Muslims in his country that resulted in the massacre of more than 650 people in Yelwa, Nigeria.

Williams has not denied permission to preach and preside to Bishop Bernard Malango, the retired primate of Central Africa and one of the authors of the Windsor Report. Malango dismissed without reason the ecclesiastical court convened to try pro-Mugabe Bishop Nolbert Kunonga for incitement to murder and other charges.

Williams has not denied permission to preach and preside to Bishop Gregory Venables, primate of the Southern Cone, who has now claimed as his own, churches in three others provinces in the Anglican Communion (Brazil, Canada and the United States). Nor has he denied permission to preach and preside to Archbishops Henry Orombi of Uganda, Emanuel Kolini of Rwanda, or Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, all of whom have ignored the Windsor Report’s plea not to claim churches within other provinces of the Communion.

Ruth Gledhill has elaborated on the “banning” question in Bishop Gene ‘banned’.

The Living Church has an article about this also, No Pulpit Ban for Bishop Robinson by George Conger.

Episcopal Café has a quibble about this.

The Guardian had an item about it also, see here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 2:02pm BST | Comments (56)
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Gene Robinson in England

The Bishop of New Hampshire is currently in England for the UK launch of his book, In the Eye of the Storm.

There has been extensive press and broadcast coverage:

BBC Williams criticised by gay bishop

The Hardtalk interview can be viewed here but only for a week after transmission date.

He was also interviewed on the Sunday radio programme:

Gene Robinson
The issue of homosexuality continues to tear the Anglican Communion apart in the build-up to the 2008 Lambeth Conference. In June the conservatives who oppose the ordination of gay priests will meet in Jerusalem, in what some see as an alternative conference. Many of these will refuse to go on to Canterbury for the main meeting in July.

Meanwhile the gay Bishop, Gene Robinson, whose consecration brought this dispute to a head, shows no sign of backing out of the limelight. His latest book In the Eye of the Storm is published this week by the Canterbury Press. He explained why he wrote it.

Listen here (7 minutes).

Guardian Riazat Butt Williams disappoints God in not taking a stand, says gay bishop

The Times Gay rites; New Hampshire’s Bishop Gene Robinson is about to enter into a civil union

Daily Telegraph Gene Robinson: ‘It is a sin to treat me this way’

And the Church Times blog is following the story, here, and again in Can Lambeth bar Gene Robinson from preaching in England?

Bishop Robinson did speak in London, in a church, in 2005. It caused a fuss then, see here. And was reported fully in the Church Times as shown here.

About the book:

Read the preface by Desmond Tutu here.

Read three quotes printed on the back cover here.

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Better coverage of the Manchester report

In the Daily Telegraph George Pitcher has written an article headlined Rowan Williams will not be driven out of office which is in fact about the Manchester report. It also rather debunks most earlier reports. (And it is not written by the newly appointed religion specialist.)

…As ever, the truth is somewhat different. Deeply considered (and, I might say, deeply boring) documentation has been published at Church House, morsels are torn from its body and partially digested, and those with corners to fight duly back into them, barking.

The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, as chair of the numbingly named Legislative Drafting Group, has offered up a typically chewy tome.

In it, far from proposing a church like a Victorian playground, with gates marked in stone for Boys and Girls, he offers three approaches to the introduction of women bishops: a simple change in the law with no alternative arrangements for those who demur; legislation that would make some special arrangements for those “unable to receive the ministry of women bishops”; and, finally, legislation that would create structures for these conscientious objectors.

The group is at pains to say that it’s not offering a recommendation, but analysing the pros and cons of each approach.

To infer from this that the church is set to split itself along gender lines is, at best, ambitious. But what is important is the difference between what is said in this report, which is dull, and what is perceived to have been said…

The Times has some letters.

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Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Jefferts Schori writes to Venables

Updated Wednesday evening

ENS reports Fort Worth visit an ‘unwarranted invasion,’ Presiding Bishop tells Southern Cone primate:

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has advised Southern Cone Presiding Bishop Gregory J. Venables in an April 29 letter that his planned May 2-3 visit to address a special convocation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth “with the expressed purpose of describing removal to the Province of the Southern Cone is an unwarranted invasion of, and meddling in, the internal affairs of this Province.”

The ENS report contains the full text of her letter. It also goes on to report on the formation of Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians. You can read more about that body at this post by Katie Sherrod at Desert’s Child.

Wednesday evening update

The Bishop of Fort Worth has published a letter written in response to the Presiding Bishop’s letter. It is contained in this PDF file or there is an html copy here. He also wrote a blog comment about the letter which is reproduced here.

Following up on the report above concerning Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians, there is this report in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Episcopal group against Fort Worth diocese’s secession which includes this paragraph:

Fort Worth Diocese Bishop Jack Iker said in a statement Tuesday that the steering committee is “a self-selected vigilante group whose only stated purpose is ‘to remain in The Episcopal Church’ no matter what — and regardless of what TEC believes or practices. They espouse a blind institutional loyalty that borders on institutional idolatry.”

Then, there is this from the Living Church Presiding Bishop in Dallas: “Have You Been Watching San Joaquin?” which includes the following:

Clergy and laity from the Diocese of Fort Worth comprised a little less than half of those attending the reception. Their questions dominated, with some pleading with the Presiding Bishop for “help to get us out of the wilderness we now find ourselves in.” Fort Worth is one of several dioceses that are likely to consider leaving The Episcopal Church when their conventions are held this fall.

Bishop Jefferts Schori assured her questioners that a plan similar to the one employed in San Joaquin has already been prepared. When the Fort Worth delegation declared that they have been forgotten in this battle, the Presiding Bishop replied, “Have you been watching San Joaquin? They were not forgotten and now show dynamic signs of new life. You will not be forgotten, either.”

Throughout much of the question-and-answer session retired Bishop Sam B. Hulsey of Northwest Texas stood in the back of the parish hall. Last January Bishop Hulsey held an organizational meeting for clergy from the Diocese of Fort Worth, offering continuing care to those who wish to remain with The Episcopal Church, an action to which Bishop Jack Leo Iker of Fort Worth objected. Since then Bishop Hulsey has visited a handful of Fort Worth congregations.

See also Katie Sherrod’s blog comments here.

Meanwhile, Mark Harris reports in detail on The Plans of Fort Worth as revealed in the documents he has made available here, which comprise a draft of “The Fort Worth Plan” and of an associated “Canon 41”.

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Monday, 28 April 2008

Brazilian response to Covenant

Brazilian Bishops respond to the St Andrews’s Draft of the Covenant

During its last meeting in Curitiba, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil generated an official response to the Anglican Covenant - St. Andrew’s Draft. Such draft was sent to all Anglican Communion provinces, so they would examine it and send suggestions to it.

The document, entitled “Life in Communion and the Communion of Life” reiterates that there are aready instruments that define how Anglican provinces interact with eath other, and concludes that there is no need for a new covenant which would be more restrictive than what we already possess.

Read the text here.

It is also available as a PDF file here.

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Report on Women as Bishops

Updated again on 25 May

The Report of the Women Bishops Legislative Drafting Group is now available online.

Unfortunately, it is provided only as a series of separate, mostly .doc files. Perhaps the situation will improve later.
Update on this
An html copy of Chapters 1 to 6 can now be found here.
And Annex G the spreadsheet containing the January 2008 count of “Resolutions parishes” can be found here.

Additional html files now available:

Annex B, Measure 1 - Draft Bishops (Consecration of Women) Measure (No.1)

Annex D - Illustration of ‘Statutory Code of Practice’ option

Annex D, Measure 2 - Draft Bishops (Consecration of Women) Measure (No 2)

Annex E, Measure 3 - Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (No. 3)

There is a press release which summarises the report, which can be found at Women in the Episcopate – Manchester Report published.

First reaction to this from Forward in Faith UK is here. Second reaction is here.

First reaction from WATCH is here.

First press reports:

Press Association Church faces ‘serious decisions’ on women bishops

Associated Press Church of England panel calls for decision on structures for including women as bishops

Daily Mail Church of England delays consecration of first woman bishop by four years

The Times Report sets out roadmap for women bishops and later ‘Gender havens’ to avert split in Church

Daily Telegraph Church plans ‘men only’ breakaway dioceses

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Sunday, 27 April 2008

More reports from Canada

Following the visit of Bishop Gregory Venables to Canada, there are news reports:

The Vancouver Sun had Argentine Anglican deplores infighting and also Influential evangelical theologian latest to split with Anglican Church.

The Canadian Press had Dissident Anglicans look to South America, Africa for guidance.

Reports of the conference on the Anglican Network in Canada site are here and also here.

The sermon preached is available here.

Chris Sugden also spoke to the gathering.

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Saturday, 26 April 2008

opinions at Rogationtide

The Church Times has a leader about human rights: So, how safe are human rights? This refers to the recent address by Pope Benedict to the UN General Assembly, which is here.

And at Ekklesia Savi Hensman writes about Developing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Giles Fraser in the Church Times focuses more narrowly in Take these Nigerian taunts more seriously.

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about suicide bombers in A human bomb does not distinguish.

David Lunan Moderator-designate of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland writes in The Times about The words and the beliefs that determine our lives.

Jonathan Romain writes about faith schools in Face to Faith in the Guardian.

And Andrew Brown wrote last week in the Church Times about what happened at the Daily Telegraph, in Victim of the Telegraph cull.

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Friday, 25 April 2008

lawsuits and letters in San Joaquin

Updated Sunday morning

The Diocese of San Joaquin has issued this press release (PDF):

Michael O. Glass, Esq., Chancellor to the Diocese of San Joaquin has provided notice that on April 24, 2008, the Diocese of San Joaquin and the Episcopal Church filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief in Fresno County Superior Court to reclaim possession of the real and personal property belonging to the Diocese. Glass said, “The primary defendant is John-David Schofield, the former bishop of the Diocese who was recently deposed from the episcopate by the Episcopal Church on March 12, 2008 as a result of his attempts to remove the diocese from the Episcopal Church. Such actions are contrary to the Canons and Constitution of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese.”

Mr. Glass added that prior to the filing of the Complaint, the current Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, the Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb, attempted to secure Mr. Schofield’s timely turnover of Diocesan assets and property. “Mr. Schofield did not agree to this request,” said Glass.

Bishop Lamb has emphasized that the Diocesan leadership and the Episcopal Church have a canonical, fiduciary and moral duty to protect the assets and property of the Church for the Church’s mission. Lamb said, “While it is regrettable that legal action is necessary, the Diocese and the Episcopal Church have no other viable option but to seek the intervention of the Court to recover the property and assets of the Diocese.”

“Regardless of the necessity of proceeding with the litigation,” Bishop Lamb continued, “the diocesan leadership and I remain committed to reconciliation with clergy and parishes that are still trying to understand their relationship with the Episcopal Church.”

The Bishop has recently sent letters to all clergy in the diocese inviting them to meet and enter into dialogue with him directly on these issues. The Diocese is also preparing for a three day faith-based reconciliation seminar in June and further programming regarding rebuilding and reconciliation in its October diocesan convention.

For further information please contact Michael O. Glass, Esq., Chancellor to the Diocese of San Joaquin at mglass@diosanjoaquin.org, or the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb, Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin at jerrylamb@diosanjoaquin.com or 209.952.0006. For information about the Diocese of San Joaquin, see its website www.diosanjoaquin.org.

The Complaint document can be found here (PDF).

Also, Bishop Jerry Lamb has sent a letter of complaint to the Primate of the Southern Cone, Bishop Greg Venables. The PDF of the letter is here. The body of the letter reads as follows:

Peace be to you in the Risen Christ.

I have been informed of your intention to visit the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin on April 29, 2008. I understand you will be preaching and celebrating the Eucharist at St James Cathedral in Fresno, California.

As you know the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church deposed John-David
Schofield on March 12, 2008. I was nominated, selected and installed as the Provisional Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin on March 29, 2008.

I strongly protest your visit to this Diocese without my invitation or permission. Your
visit would violate the traditions of the ancient church as understood in the Anglican
Communion. It also violates the Windsor Report and statements from subsequent meetings of the Primates since the Windsor Report.

I strongly urge that you cancel your meeting in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin
scheduled for April 29, 2008. I also strongly urge you to refrain from interjecting yourself into the internal affairs of the Episcopal Church, the only Anglican Church in the United States.

The Anglican Communion Network issued a press release (not found on this website) titled Realignment Complete, San Joaquin Refocuses on Mission and Ministry.

Episcopal News Service has a report: San Joaquin diocese, Episcopal Church file suit to regain property.

Sunday morning update

Bishop Schofield has issued this statement:

To the clergy and parishioners of San Joaquin -

We recognize that the news of a lawsuit from the Presiding Bishop and the representatives of Remain Episcopal in Stockton, may be unsettling. However, please be assured that we have been expecting this litigation and the contents contain no surprises. Please know that our legal team has been at work for some time. They are optimistic and remain unperturbed by The Episcopal Church’s most recent action. What our legal counsel has accomplished on our behalf is already proving most helpful in defense of property and assets despite the fact that this preparatory work had to be done without the benefit of seeing what the Episcopal Church intended to do.

Furthermore, I want to remind you that in spite of the claims by The Episcopal Church, nothing in their current Constitution and Canons prohibits a diocese from leaving one province and moving to another. Also, just as we stood together for the sake of our witness to the Gospel at our Convention in December, so now will we continue to stand together for that same witness. I will continue to respond to those who disagree with us in a Christian and charitable manner and I trust that you will, as well.

Thank you for the trust that you have placed in me as your bishop and senior pastor, and know that I will continue to honor that trust with God’s help.

Faithfully, yours in Christ,

+John-David

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protecting the poorest

The Archbishop of Canterbury appeared on the BBC Radio 4 programme Today before giving a speech in the House of Lords.

The Lambeth Palace website has:

Interview with Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme on credit, debt & inequality including a full transcript and an audio recording of the interview with John Humphrys.

Archbishop - Protect the Poorest From the Effects of Economic Downturn a press release about the House of Lords speech.

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Amici Curiae brief filed in Virginia

The Diocese of Virginia announces that National Hierarchical Churches Support the Diocese of Virginia in Opposing Virginia Law Section 57-9 . The press release starts out:

A number of national hierarchical churches have filed an Amici Curiae arguing that §57-9 division statute of the Virginia Code “cannot withstand constitutional challenge.” The constitutionality of this statute is being examined in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia’s case to preserve Episcopal Church property. The brief, filed on April 24 in support of the Diocese’s position, calls §57-9 “hopelessly infused with religious concepts” and demonstrates how this section of Virginia Code ignores the theologically-based structures of hierarchical churches throughout the Commonwealth in violation of the U.S. and Virginia constitutions.

When the Court ruled on April 4 that the 57-9 statute allowed for the CANA congregations to file their claims to take Episcopal Church property, the Court explicitly acknowledged that constitutional issues remain and scheduled a hearing on those issues on May 28, 2008.

At issue is the government’s ability to intrude into the freedom of the Episcopal Church and every other church in Virginia to organize and govern themselves according to their faith and doctrine. The implications of the Court’s ruling reach beyond the Episcopal Church, as evidenced by the number of denominations signing on to the Amici filing.

The Diocese of Virginia welcomes the filing of the Amici Brief from:

1. United Methodist Church
2. African Methodist Episcopal Church
3. African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
4. Worldwide Church of God
5. The Rt. Rev. Charlene Kammerer, Bishop of the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
6. W. Clark Williams, Chancellor of the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

Read the full text of the brief as a PDF file here.

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Melbourne to have female bishop

The press release from the Diocese of Melbourne is titled First woman bishop appointed in Victoria.

The Herald Sun reports it as Canon Barbara Darling to become Victoria’s first female bishop.

The ABC has Congratulations Darling! Female vicar becomes bishop.

Update
A somewhat misleading headline on this story in the Herald Sun Another historic woman bishop for Church of England.

Note to Herald Sun from here:

When did the Church of England become the Anglican Church of Australia?

The Anglican Church of Australia has been known by this name since 24 August 1981.

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Thursday, 24 April 2008

a Kenyan voice

Anglican Mainstream has KENYA: Bishop Says GAFCON not LAMBETH is Anglican Province’s Choice.

When the Rt. Rev. Dr. Eliud Wabukala, from Bungoma in Western Kenya, was asked why he was going to GAFCON, but not to the Lambeth Conference in July, he told a congregation of Kenyans in his diocese that you don’t go to a place where men marry men.

“For us it is not just a theological issue, it is a practical issue. We don’t go to a meeting where men marry each other. That is not the way of God. It is not the way of the Lord or Scripture. This is the Sensus Fidelium. It is what the people of God believe, accept, and reject.”

The bishop said it was a “hard agonizing decision to make choosing not to go to Lambeth. The question then was what do we do? It became clear to us that we had to go to GAFCON.

“GAFCON was never conceived as an alternative to Lambeth. We cannot go there (Lambeth) so what is the alternative then? We need to recover accountability in the church. We need to re-establish confidence in the church. While we believe dialogue has ended over sexuality issues not all the orthodox believe that dialogue with Lambeth has ended. Many believe it has ended and we are among them. Some orthodox want to continue to talk and dialogue. We are in a period of discernment for the orthodox, but we cannot do that by going to Lambeth, it would compromise us…

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another follow-up to the attack story

Nigeria: Archbishop Denies Attack On Homosexuals

[ Linked via AllAfrica. The original of this story was at this URL but has now gone.]

Leadership (Abuja)
23 April 2008
Posted to the web 23 April 2008
Abuja

Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi, of the Jos province, (Anglican Communion), has denied allegations that the leader of a group representing “Anglican” homosexuals in the country was attacked.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Abuja, Kwashi rebuffed a statement credited to the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) on the alleged attack.

Kwashi was reacting to an allegation by Mr Davis Mac-Iyalla, leader of Changing Attitude Nigeria, that homosexuals were being physically assaulted in the country.

Iyalla had requested the intervention of the ABC as the ‘spiritual leader’ of the global Anglican Communion.

According to Kwashi, the ABC criticised the alleged assaults on gay Anglicans in Nigeria , describing it as ” latest round of unchristian bullying .”

However, the Jos archbishop said: “I have personally tried to discover the place or nature of the attacks and threats without success.

“It is wrong for Canterbury and a group of English Bishops to accuse the Church of Nigeria of being the perpetrator of a physical attack on the streets.

“If a Nigerian Bishop or church leader was mugged in England would the Archbishop of Canterbury or even the Church of England in general be blamed for this?”

He maintained that “the Church of Nigeria would not be bullied and was committed to the human rights of all people”.

“We will not condone violence against people even though they behave in a way that is not acceptable to us.

“And none of us wishes to be responsible (either directly or indirectly) for murder or violence perpetrated by another person, ” he added.

The arguments in the Anglican Church over homosexuality came to the fore in 2003 with the ordination of a gay Bishop, Rt. Rev Gene Robins of USA.

Since then the Church has been sharply divided between conservative Anglicans who were adamant that ordaining gay clergy or blessing in the church is a sin.

However, the liberals insist on tolerance and inclusion of homosexual people. Kwashi, is the Coordinating Bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria.

He said that Nigeria would do all in its power to maintain the unity of the Body of Christ. “But we shall not compromise or “dilute” the gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.
(NAN)

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American news catchup

TA has not reported any stories from the USA for two whole weeks. Time to catch up on some items from there.

Gregory Venables will be visiting Fresno, on 29 April, see details here.

And then he will be visiting Fort Worth, see details here.

Meanwhile the Living Church reports San Joaquin Incorporation Likely Faces Court Test. It also reports that there will be No Pre-Lambeth Meeting for House of Bishops.

The Bishops in the State of Ohio have taken a public stand on state legislation that seeks to secure equal access to housing and employment opportunities for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons. See Bishops Support Legislation Protecting Civil Rights of Gay and Lesbian Persons.

New lawsuits have arisen in Ohio and in Central New York.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 24 April 2008 at 1:47pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Zimbabwe: Canterbury and York issue joint statement

Updated Thursday evening

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have today issued a joint statement in support of the strong voice of fellow bishops in Zimbabwe.

Read the Lambeth Palace press release and full text of the statement here.

The statement itself reads as follows:

Those of us who witness the events in Zimbabwe from a distance are bound to approach this crisis with a degree of foreboding and sorrow. Independent Zimbabwe promised much and was a beacon of hope and representative democracy in post-colonial Africa. But as members of the Body of Christ we also know what the Lord requires of us in terms of doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with our God in all times and in all places. So it is with this in mind that we as Primates and Bishops of the Church of England speak now in solidarity with our brother bishops in Zimbabwe and fellow bishops and other church leaders of the region. The ecumenical calls for action from within Zimbabwe in recent days must be heard and it is these voices we seek to support.

They rightly praise the bravery and endurance of the people of Zimbabwe throughout its protracted suffering and its quest for representative democracy and peaceful national political life; they call for true election results to be published and they speak of a dreadful fear of political violence possibly escalating to the horrific levels seen elsewhere on the African continent. They call for immediate, concerted and effective action by the government of South Africa, SADC and other regional organs and the UN to mediate and intervene as needed. Continuing political violence and drift could unleash spiralling communal violence, as has been seen elsewhere in the Continent where early warning systems or the international community failed to act in time.
Faithful men, women and young people who seek better governance in either political or church affairs continue to be beaten, intimidated or oppressed as was the recent Mothers’ Union gathering in Mbare. Anglicans can not worship in their Cathedral in Harare and Mothers’ Union groups can not now gather without fear of violence or intimidation against them as in Mbare.

We join in particular the call from the heads of Christian denominations in Zimbabwe and our brother Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, for the government of South Africa, the SADC region and the United Nations to act effectively. There must be an immediate arms embargo and any ships carrying arms must be recalled.

A year ago we committed ourselves, with the Anglican Archbishop of the province, to work with the bishops of Zimbabwe to support those who spoke on behalf of the poor and marginalised in that country and to denounce those that would not leave ministers of the gospel free to serve them. As we have just heard one bishop say, “It is Zimbabweans who are suffering at the hands of Zimbabweans. The political parties must protect the people who are voting.”

The current climate of political intimidation, violence, vote rigging and delay has left the presidential election process without credibility. Now the people of Zimbabwe are left even more vulnerable to conflict heaped upon poverty and the threat of national disintegration. It is therefore crucial that the international community act in support of regional efforts to bring a mediated settlement to this political crisis so that the social and economic and spiritual crisis of the country can be addressed. We commend the efforts of governments and agencies actively seeking to end the crisis and pray that those whose efforts have seemed lacklustre to renew their commitment as fellow Christians, Africans and members of the human family and international community.

Churches across England have been praying for Zimbabwe before, during and after the polls. Agencies and dioceses from the UK have worked ably to support partners and parishes. We join with those now calling for an international day of prayer for Zimbabwe this Sunday (April 27) as part of a search for increased solidarity and justice for the people of Zimbabwe at home and in the UK. Ecumenically, and as part of a broad based coalition, we must work to build a civil society movement that both creates political will and gives voice to those who demand an end to the mayhem that grows out of injustice, poverty, exclusion and violence.

Thursday evening update

Video: Archbishop - Pray for Zimbabwe

Thursday 24 April 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, after giving joint interviews with the Archbishop of York, reflects on the issues surrounding Zimbabwe and calls for a day of prayer on Sunday, 27 April 2008.

Watch the video and read the full transcript here.

Also Desmond Tutu has issued a statement about Zimbabwe, read it in full here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 24 April 2008 at 1:31pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Divisive or Reconciling?

A conference was convened in New York City by the General Theological Seminary at the Desmond Tutu Center, April 10-12, 2008 and sponsored by the seminaries of the Episcopal Church and the seminaries of the Anglican Church of Canada. The title was An Anglican Covenant: Divisive or Reconciling?

News reports on this:

Church Times Covenant will protect male power, says critic
Episcopal News Service Anglican covenant conference draws international group, elicits varied viewpoints

Photographs are here.

Audio and Full Texts of Conference Papers
PDF files and MP3 files of the sessions can be found in this archive.

Go there for the links, but here is a list of the speakers to whet your appetite:

First Keynote Address:

  • The Case for an Anglican Covenant the Most Rev. Drexel Gomez, Archbishop of the West Indies.

First Panel:

  • The Kenotic Role of Leadership in a Covenanted Relationship, the Very Rev. Joseph Britton, Berkeley Divinity School at Yale.
  • The Covenant as a Sign of Problems with Authority, The Rev. Dr. Ellen Wondra Seabury-Western Theological Seminary.
  • A Fine Thing, but is it Anglican?, The Rev. Canon Dr. David Neelands , Trinity College, University of Toronto.
  • Whose Covenant? The Anglican Covenant, the People of God and History from Below, Dr. Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

Second Keynote Address:

  • cov-e-nant n 1. a solemn agreement . . . A ‘global south’ perspective on Anglicans, solemnity and agreement, Canon Dr. Jenny Plane Te Paa, St. John’s Theological College, Auckland.

Second Panel:

  • St. Andrew’s Covenant: A Conversation in Process, The Rev. Dr. A. Katharine Grieb, Virginia Theological Seminary.
  • The Proposed Anglican Covenant: Instrument of Oppression and Exclusion or Instrument of Inclusion and Justice?, The Rev. Dr. Leander Harding, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry.
  • The Covenant, the Quadrilateral, and Balance, The Rev. Dr. Robert Hughes, School of Theology, University of the South.
  • The Consitutionality of an Anglican Covenant, The Rt. Rev. Joe Morris Doss, President, At the Threshold.

Third Panel:

  • The Lambeth Conference 2008 and the Anglican Covenant: Juridical or Missiological Imperatives?, The Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas, Episcopal Divinity School.
  • Communion, Federation, or Sect?, The Very Rev. Dr. John Kevern, Bexley Hall.
  • Vernacular Particularity vs. Global Universalism: A Pivotal Issue for the Anglican Covenant, The Rev. Dr. Richard Leggett, Vancouver School of Theology.
  • The Covenant and Ecumenical Opportunity, The Rev. Canon Dr. J. Robert Wright, read by the Rev. Dr. Ellen Sloan, Chaplain, General Theological Seminary.

Fourth Panel:

  • Forbearance and Reconciliation: An Anglican Covenant in a Season of Judgment, The Rev. Dr. Christopher Seitz, Wycliffe College.
  • Covenant: Ecclesiological Implications of a Latent Metaphor, The Rev. Canon Dr. Paul Jennings, Montreal Diocesan Theological College.
  • The Fullness of the Stature of Christ: The Anglican Covenant in Ecumenical Ecclesiological Perspective, Dr. Nathan Jennings, Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest.
  • Mission and Reconciliation in the Anglican Covenant, The Rev. Dr. Titus L. Presler, General Theological Seminary.

Third Keynote Address:

  • Boundaries Old and Boundaries New: Views from the Edge of the Anglican Communion, the Rev. Canon Gregory Cameron, Deputy Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.
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Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Rowan Williams on video about Lambeth

The Anglican Communion News Service press release is headed Archbishop of Canterbury: Better Bishops for the sake of a better Church:

The Archbishop of Canterbury today set out his hopes for this year’s Lambeth Conference in a video message addressed to Bishops and Dioceses across the worldwide communion…

The Lambeth Palace website has Video: Lambeth Conference ‘08

The Archbishop reflects on the forthcoming Conference in July ‘08 in an exclusive video message. The decennial event ‘has been a place where Bishops come to pray together, to read the Bible together and quite simply to help one another to be Bishops’.

Both pages lead to the video and to a transcript of the video.

If you have a problem linking to the video from those pages, try here.

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Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Hiltz corresponds with Venables

Updated Tuesday evening

The Anglican Church of Canada has published the text of a letter from Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of Canada to the Primate of the Southern Cone, Gregory Venables asking him to cancel a planned, unauthorized visit to Canada: Primate asks Venables to cancel visit. He includes this snippet:

I would also add that in a letter earlier this year to one of our Diocesan Bishops Archbishop Rowan Williams stated, “I am quite content to repeat that I do not endorse any cross-provincial transfers of allegiance, and that this office and that of the Anglican Communion recognize one ecclesial body in Canada as a constitutive member of the Communion, the Anglican Church of Canada.”

The Anglican Journal reports that South American prelate rejects Canadian church’s request to cancel visit.

Canadian news reports on this in the Globe and Mail Anglican primate blasts South American rival and in the National Post Anglican leader pulls rival’s welcome mat.

Episcopal Café has the key quotes here.

The Diocese of New Westminster has published this press release: Archbishop of Canterbury recognizes only Anglican Church of Canada.

Earlier, the Anglican Journal had published this: Bishops decline request from network for national talks.

Tuesday evening update

Vancouver Sun Anglican cleric against gay unions ignores plea to stay out of Canada

And, in related news:

Anglican Network in Canada Anglican Clergy deny charges and Statement by nine Anglican Network in Canada clergy to Bishop Michael Ingham

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Prayer for Zimbabwe

Updated Wednesday evening

The Anglican Communion News Service has published this: World Day of Prayer for Zimbabwe on Sunday 27th April 2008

A desperate cry from the hearts of Zimbabwe screams across the world.

It calls upon all Christians of every denomination in every nation to focus their prayers, in churches, halls, homes or elsewhere, on Sunday 27th April, 2008 on the critical situation in Zimbabwe, a nation in dire distress and teetering on the brink of human disaster.

Let the cry for help touch your heart and mind. Let it move you to do what you can immediately to ensure this Day of Prayer takes place in your country and neighbourhood.

Please pass on this message right now to all the churches and Christian organisations known to you and to the media as well as to everyone anxious to rescue Zimbabwe from violence, the concealing and juggling of election results, deceit, oppression and corruption, and to bring about righteousness, joy, peace, compassion, honesty, justice, democracy and freedom from fear and want.

May a continual strong stream of prayer and supplication flow up to the Lord on behalf of all the people on this Day of Prayer, exhorting His divine intervention throughout the nation.

“It is by making the truth publicly known that we recommend ourselves to the honest judgment of mankind in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:2)

Some advice to Zimbabweans

“Who so putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” (Proverbs 29:25) “Stand fast, and do not let yourselves be caught again in the yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) “Make no mistake, you cannot cheat God.” (Galatians 6:7) “Do not be overcome by evil but overcame evil with good” (Romans 12:21)

Bob Stumbles, Chancellor - The Anglican Diocese of Harare

See also Zimbabwe, abuse and silence at Only Connect.

And a statement by the Archbishop of Cape Town is here.

Wednesday evening update

Dave Walker has a roundup of links to related stories at the Church Times blog Zimbabwean Christians call for a World Day of Prayer on Sunday.

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Sunday, 20 April 2008

more about that attack

This item relates to the earlier report here.

Changing Attitude has published Report on contents of syringe used in attack on Davis Mac-Iyalla. Note: the text of this article has been amended.

The report itself can be seen at Original report on contents of syringe used in attack on Davis Mac-Iyalla.

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Saturday, 19 April 2008

Bishop of Durham and GAFCON

In his Fulcrum lecture last Saturday, Bishop Tom Wright said this (emphasis added):

…Fourth, we have seen, predictably but sadly, the rise of the super-apostles, who have wanted everything to be cut and dried in ways for which our existing polity simply did not, and does not, allow. Please note, I do not for one moment underestimate the awful situation that many of our American and Canadian friends have found themselves in, vilified, attacked and undermined by ecclesiastical authority figures who seem to have lost all grip on the gospel of Jesus Christ and to be eager only for lawsuits and property squabbles. I pray daily for many friends over there who are in intolerable situations and I don’t underestimate the pressures and strains. But I do have to say, as well, that these situations have been exploited by those who have long wanted to shift the balance of power in the Anglican Communion and who have used this awful situation as an opportunity to do so. And now, just as the super-apostles were conveying the message to Paul that if he wanted to return to Corinth he’d need letters of recommendation, we are told that, if we want to go on being thought of as evangelicals, we should withdraw from Lambeth and join the super-gathering which, though not officially, is clearly designed as an alternative, and which of course hands an apparent moral victory to those who can cheerfully wave goodbye to the ‘secessionists’. I have written about this elsewhere, and it is of course a very sad situation which none of us (I trust) would wish but which seems to be worsening by the day…

This has been commented on at Fulcrum by Graham Kings who suggests that this is a response to what the Dean of Sydney said:

Phillip Jensen, in his address in Sydney on 14 March 2008, ‘The Limits of Fellowship’, said:

To those bishops who go to Lambeth knowing the unrepentant homosexual activity is wrong - your profession of evangelical credentials will always be tarnished.

And he also explains the reference to elsewhere in the last sentence quoted above:

…that last sentence, which refers to an earlier article. This, it seems to me, is the one written for the Church Times, 28 January 2008, and co-published with permission on Fulcrum, ‘Evangelicals are not about to jump ship’

In that earlier article, Bishop Tom had said (again emphasis added):

The rationale of GAFCON (the Global Anglican Future Conference) is: “The Communion is finished; nothing new can happen; it’s time to split.” No mention is made of the Windsor report, the proposed Anglican Covenant, or, indeed, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent letter, insisting as it does on scriptural authority, which GAFCON seems to regard as its monopoly.

That last point is crucial. To say “scripture is our authority” does not commit anyone to joining the small group represented by Chris Sugden, Martyn Minns, and Peter Jensen. It is clear that they are the prime movers and drafters, making a mockery of Canon Sugden’s claim (Comment, 11 January) that GAFCON is about rescuing the Churches from Western culture. But they have marshalled impressive support, particularly from great leaders like Henry Orombi of Uganda.

And later:

Our Communion has for the past five years been living through 2 Corinthians: the challenge to re-establish an authority based on the gospel alone and embodied in human weakness. Inevitably, “super-apostles” then emerge, declaring that such theology is for wimps.

To them I would say: Are they Evangelicals? So am I. Are they orthodox? So am I. Do they believe in the authority of scripture? So do I (including the bits they regularly downplay). Are they keen on mission? So am I, and on the full mission of God’s kingdom which an older Evangelicalism often ignores.

Those who want to be biblical should ponder what the Bible itself says about such things. There are many in the GAFCON movement whom I admire and long to see at Lambeth, but the movement itself is deeply flawed. It does not hold the moral, biblical, or Evangelical high ground.

To say no to GAFCON is not to say yes to the revisionist agendas prevailing in much of the Episcopal Church in the US. It is to say yes to a Lambeth Conference based on and taking forward the Archbishop’s agenda of Windsor and the Covenant, in pursuit of what Dr Williams refers to in his recent letter as “an authoritative common voice”.

Anglican Mainstream has responded to the recent lecture by publishing an article by Charles Raven Gospel Grip and Fulcrum Fantasy - a response to Tom Wright’s Fulcrum Conference Lecture ‘Conflict and Covenant in the Bible’. (Mr Raven is now Senior Minister of Christ Church Wyre Forest.)

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opinions at Passover

Abraham Pinter writes that Passover is a good time to think about freedom of religious education in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column.

In The Times Roderick Strange writes that The resurrection of Jesus was real and physical.

In the Daily Telegraph Christopher Howse reports on Doing God in the land of Mammon.

The Church Times has an article by Jonathan Clark explaining why The C of E is losing its own history.

And last week in the Church Times Elaine Storkey wrote about Taking on the moral high ground.

Simon Barrow writes for Ekklesia about an issue in British parliamentary democracy, see Power to which people, exactly?

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Friday, 18 April 2008

Society Still Needs Religion

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave a lecture in which he acknowledges the rise in interest in spirituality, particularly in the Western World, but underlines the crucial role traditional religious allegiance continues to play in a genuinely plural society.

Read the press release Archbishop’s Lecture - Society Still Needs Religion and read the full transcript of the lecture, The Spiritual and the Religious: Is the Territory Changing?

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Archbishop Kwashi responds to Changing Attitude

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has published Response to alleged attacks on Changing Attitude leaders in Nigeria: Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi.

This is in response to the material reported earlier here and here.

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Darfur

The Church Times has a cover story on Darfur.

The complexities of Darfur are no excuse for the West’s refusal to act, says Giles Fraser in an article, The people cry out for action now which also has some illustrations that should not be missed.

More on these pictures can be found here on the Waging Peace website.

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more on parish bullying

Two items on this today in the Church Times, both by Pat Ashworth:

A detailed report of the Trumpington case is headlined Ambrose caused parish breakdown, says tribunal.

And there is a preview of the guidelines on bullying that are to be published soon by the Archbishops’ Council, Parish guidelines aim to end bullying.

Elsewhere Alan Wilson has written a highly informative article on his blog at Bully pulpit — On baiting of the Clergy. (The comments there are also interesting.)

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Wednesday, 16 April 2008

faith and reason discussed

Lord Harries of Pentregarth, aka Richard Harries, former Bishop of Oxford had a discussion with Simon Jenkins in the Guardian last weekend, see Atheist versus Bishop.

As religious objections to the embryology bill mark the latest skirmish between faith and reason, Simon Jenkins and Richard Harries confront their differences head-on.

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Paul Vallely lecture

The full text of the recent lecture given by Paul Vallely to the London Newman Association can be found here.

The title of this lecture was On being an English Catholic: from minority to mainstream – and back again? English Catholicism 1951 – 2008.

Paul explained this title in his Church Times column of 4 April, I am English Catholic, not Roman. The previous week’s article, to which he refers, is This does not violate a deep taboo. That article is germane to the debates here concerning the embryology bill.

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Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Bishop of Durham on the BNP

Several press reports from North-East England about this:

Northern Echo Bishop’s warning over threat of BNP

Newcastle Journal Bishop joins fight against nationalists

Sunderland Echo Bishop warns people ‘giving up hope’ by voting BNP

Northumberland Gazette BNP voters disaffected with main parties - Bishop

Here is the full text of the email that Tom Wright sent to his clergy:

13 April 2008
Subject: Local elections and BNP from Bishop Tom

Dear Friends

With local elections coming up, we face again the unwelcome news of the BNP making potential inroads in our region. Splendid work has been done to counter this by several clergy working with local community leaders, for instance in distributing the pamphlet, ‘Hope Not Hate’. I want to urge all of you to get involved in this effort in whatever local sphere you can.

However, we should also be aware that the reason the BNP can even gain a foothold in people’s affections is because many people in our region feel so disaffected after the last thirty years of national politics that they are in danger of giving up hope in our regular main parties. This isn’t anybody’s fault in particular. But when a party like the BNP seems to be gaining ground we should all ask the question, Why is there a vacuum there that the other parties aren’t filling? What frustrations are there that the BNP are exploiting, and what are the wise ways of reacting to, or even meeting, those needs?

It is one thing to point out, as many have already done, the neo-Nazi tendencies of the BNP, and to warn with a shudder against our society even taking a small step in any such direction. It is another to say, How can we drain the swamp so that this kind of ideology won’t breed again?

None of us (in other words) can be complacent. Opposing the BNP isn’t simply a matter of saying ‘the status quo is working fine, so please reject these idiots’. It should be a matter of saying, What does a healthy society look like and how can we make it clear to our whole population that we are working in the best ways towards that goal? Part of the calling of the churches, following Jesus in his work of bringing God’s kingdom, must be to help communities ask that question and to work with them towards finding robust and positive answers.

Warm greetings and good wishes,
Bishop Tom

The Bishop of Durham, Auckland Castle.

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Parish bullies

The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme carried an item with this title.

Parish bullies
Earlier this week the Rev Tom Ambrose, Vicar of St Mary and St Michael Church at Trumpington, was ordered to leave his post by the Bishop of Ely. The Bishop wrote “I am astonished and dismayed that there are two recorded occasions on which it is said that Dr Ambrose spat at parishioners, allegations which were not challenged in cross examination”.

But, according to the General Secretary of the trade union Unite, Rachel Maskell, it is often clergy who are being victimised by their parishioners, and she claims that the church, its structures and its Bishops don’t help their priests. Rachel Maskell joined Sunday along with one of those Bishops, John Packer, Bishop of Leeds and Ripon, who chairs the committee of the Archbishops’ Council which deals with clergy conditions of service.

Listen (7m 29s)

See also these media reports:

BBC Clergy ‘bullied by parishioners’

Religious Intelligence Trade Union claims parishioners are bullying clergy

Independent Union accuses bishops of failing to help bullied vicars and a leading article: Unholy rows

Cambridge Evening News Vicar backs attack on ‘disloyal’ bishops

Here are some links to earlier articles on this topic:

December 2006 Ruth Gledhill Evil-minded parishioners making life hell for clergy

February 2007 Rachel Harden What price priesthood?

May 2007 Ruth Gledhill The parishioners who won’t spend a penny

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Sunday, 13 April 2008

Fulcrum conference talks

Updated Tuesday afternoon

The talks given on Saturday by the Bishop of Durham and by Andrew Goddard are published in full:

Conflict and Covenant in the Bible by Tom Wright

Conflict and Covenant in the Communion by Andrew Goddard

Episcopal Café and Pluralist have drawn attention to one point made by Bishop Tom. See What is Bishop Wright talking about? and Repressive Letters Go Out.

Update Monday morning

The Advent Letter can be found in full here. The relevant passage appears to be:

I have underlined in my letter of invitation that acceptance of the invitation must be taken as implying willingness to work with those aspects of the Conference’s agenda that relate to implementing the recommendations of Windsor, including the development of a Covenant. The Conference needs of course to be a place where diversity of opinion can be expressed, and there is no intention to foreclose the discussion – for example – of what sort of Covenant document is needed. But I believe we need to be able to take for granted a certain level of willingness to follow through the question of how we avoid the present degree of damaging and draining tension arising again. I intend to be in direct contact with those who have expressed unease about this, so as to try and clarify how deep their difficulties go with accepting or adopting the Conference’s agenda.

And what Bishop Wright said was:

…After a summer and autumn of various tangled and unsatisfactory events, the Archbishop then wrote an Advent pastoral letter in which he reiterated the terms of his initial invitation and declared that he would be writing to those bishops who might be thought particularly unsympathetic to Windsor and the Covenant to ask them whether they were really prepared to build on this dual foundation. Those letters, I understand, are in the post as we speak…

Emphasis added in both quotes.

Tuesday afternoon update

Ruth Gledhill has been talking to Lambeth Palace and to Tom Wright and she reports all that here.

Update Wed And now also here.

Some other bloggers who have written about this are listed in the comments below.

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Parish of Trumpington

The Cambridge Evening News reported this week:

Vicar of Trumpington ordered to leave parish and

I’ll see you in court, axed vicar tells bishop and

Opponents of ‘spitting vicar’ glad he’s going.

The Diocese of Ely published the following items:

Press Release 9 April The Parish of Trumpington

Report of the Tribunal (PDF) December 2007

Reasons for the Decision of the Bishop (PDF) April 2008

In June 2007 the Bishop of Ely had made this statement to the Diocesan Synod.

And this press release was issued in January 2008: Trumpington Tribunal.

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Saturday, 12 April 2008

Perth to have female bishop

Updated Sunday morning

The Diocese of Perth, in Western Australia, will have the first woman bishop in Australia.
See the announcement from the diocese (PDF) KAY GOLDSWORTHY APPOINTED AUSTRALIA’S FIRST WOMAN BISHOP and also Archbishop Roger Herft’s Statement… on the appointment of Australia’s first woman bishop.

There is a nice background piece about Kay Goldsworthy in the local newspaper, Bishop Kay Goldsworthy - up close and personal.

And the Sydney Morning Herald has Mum of twins becomes first female bishop.

The Age in Melbourne has From epiphany to bishop.

And the ABC interviews Bishop Rob Forsyth from Sydney who explains why he does not agree with the idea.

Sunday update

There is some more background in the ENS report by Matthew Davies.

The Perth newspaper West Australian has a further report of some opposition, here.

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from the newspaper columns

Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times that We need faith, and reality points us to a belief in God.

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about The burial of the heart.

Sunny Hundal writes about meaningless rituals in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about Why faith always asks questions.

The TLS carried this review of Rowan Williams’s Wrestling with Angels recently: Inside the mind of the Archbishop of Canterbury by David Bentley Hart. (h/t KH)

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Friday, 11 April 2008

update on open letter to GAFCON

Changing Attitude reports on blogosphere attacks made against it following its recent press release and letter. That was reported, along with numerous earlier follow-ups here.

See Changing Attitude urges GAFCON leaders to repudiate violence.

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Thursday, 10 April 2008

Affirming Catholicism on the Welsh vote on women bishops

Affirming Catholicism has issued this press release:

10/04/08 – for immediate release

Vote on women bishops in Church in Wales exposes a key issue for the Church of England too.

Affirming Catholicism shares the disappointment of most members of the Church in Wales that the move to ordain women as bishops did not receive a large enough majority to be passed. We regret that the God-given gifts that women have to offer as bishops for the Church in Wales continue to be refused.

Hendrik Haye, convenor of Affirming Catholicism South Wales, said: ‘Although we are saddened by the result, we are glad that there was no compromise on the principle that women bishops must be accepted on exactly the same terms as men’.

Rev’d Jonathan Clark, a member of the General Synod of the Church of England and of Affirming Catholicism’s Board, said: ‘We believe that the church can and should include, as it does now, people who disagree about this issue. But the debate in the Church in Wales has highlighted the problem also facing the Church of England: some members don’t believe their own church has the right to make decisions about who will be ordained. The issue was fudged when women were ordained as priests: now it has come out into the open.’

The Church of England’s General Synod is expected to debate the ordination of women as bishops at its meeting in July.

• Affirming Catholicism is ‘a movement of inspiration and hope in the Anglican Communion, seeking to bring together and strengthen lay and ordained people who recognize the positive, inclusive and joyful currents in the Catholic tradition of Christianity.’

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two more follow-ups on the embryology row

Simon Barrow wrote this article for the Wardman Wire: Flexing the Faith Muscle: Thinking Aloud. In it he looks at the style and tenor of church engagement with public life and the realm of politics - arguing that flexing the faith muscle in an overbearing way ends up being profoundly counter-productive.

Mary Warnock who among other things is a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s advisory group on medical ethics, wrote an article for the New Statesman which has been titled The politics of religion. In this she argues that religious belief is no basis for law-making.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 10 April 2008 at 12:21pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Tom Wright interviewed in New Statesman

The New Statesman carries a major article by Sholto Byrnes which has been given this title: ”Jesus will appear again as judge of the world and the dead will be raised”. The magazine introduces the article this way:

Tom Wright’s literal belief in the Resurrection makes him a hero to conservative Christians worldwide. Here he declares war on militant atheists and liberals, and explains why heaven is not the end of the world.

Accompanying this is a background article on Christianity in Britain by Stephen Bates and published under the title Fundamental change:

Both politically and theologically, conservative Christianity is now a militant and rapidly growing force, in Britain and globally.

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Virginia court ruling: constructive comment

Covenant has published The Hard Case Making Bad Law by Dale Rye. He starts out:

I have been asked to comment on the letter opinion of April 3 in the Virginia parishes case. My initial reaction: this 88-page document is probably about as well educated a discussion as we are likely to see from any of the judges dealing with the Episcopal/Anglican meltdown. My simultaneous reaction: that means we are all—liberals and conservatives alike—in a heap of trouble. My explanation may take awhile, but be patient… I will get there.

I must preface this by warning that I am not a member of the Virginia bar, and that Judge Randy Bellows’ letter opinion is expressly and exclusively based on a Virginia statute—Va. Code Sec. 57-9(A)—that has no analogue in Texas or most other states. That is, in fact, one of the most important things to remember when reading the opinion. The court honestly believes that it has put to one side all of the issues raised by the religion clauses in the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions; those are to be decided at a subsequent hearing on May 28. Other constitutional issues (including the Contracts Clause) will not be heard until the final hearing in October. Thus, the April 3 opinion has no direct application outside Virginia. Only a lawyer from that state can estimate how likely the decision is to hold up on subsequent appeals.

What I will comment on are the ways in which this decision illustrates why secular litigation was a spectacularly bad idea for all the parties to this dispute. Under the “hard cases make bad law” principle, this case (and those like it in other states) have the potential to seriously damage the constitutional rights of Christians-and all other religious practitioners-throughout this country. The problem with inviting an outsider in to clean your house is that he may throw out your treasures while trying to dispose of the trash. Ultimately, you may find yourself in possession of a place that is no longer recognizably your home…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 10 April 2008 at 12:01pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Brazil protests Southern Cone action

Episcopal News Service reports BRAZIL: Bishops protest Southern Cone archbishop’s unauthorized visit, violation of Windsor Report.

The bishops of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil issued an open statement April 9 expressing their “strong repudiation” of a recent unauthorized visit by Southern Cone Archbishop Gregory Venables to Recife “where he took part in and celebrated at official occasions outside his Province without the knowledge and consent of the Archbishop of the Province of Brazil and this House of Bishops…”

The full text of the open statement is included there, and is reproduced here below the fold.

This is not the first complaint that Brazilian bishops have made, see for example this letter (PDF) dated October 2005 addressed directly to the Primate of the Southern Cone, and this letter (PDF) dated November 2005 addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Footnote: photos of his visit can be found here.

Letter dated 3 April 2008

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil gathered in Curitiba unanimously express their strong repudiation of the recent visit by the Archbishop of the Southern Cone to the city of Recife, where he took part in and celebrated at official occasions outside his Province without the knowledge and consent of the Archbishop of the Province of Brazil and this House of Bishops.

This disrespectful and arrogant attitude against the Province of Brazil, is another element of discord caused by the Archbishop of the Province of the Southern Cone since the ecclesiastical court hearing and deposition of Robinson Cavalcanti. As it is known by all the Anglican Communion, Mr. Cavalcanti was deposed through a lawful and canonical process due to his breaking of ordination vows.

The action of the Primate of the Southern Cone represents an attack on the pillars of the Anglican tradition, which include respect to Provincial autonomy and collegiality among the Primates of the Communion. Equally, this attitude, unheard of in the Communion, clearly contradicts the Windsor Report and the resolution by the last Primates meeting in Tanzania in February 2007.

The Primate of the Southern Cone has repeatedly violated those boundaries through official acts as he invites, receives and cares pastorally for the dissident clergy, bishops, communities and dioceses from other Provinces. This is also exemplified by what has been happening recently with our sister provinces of the United States and Canada.

What at the beginning of those regrettable events of the schism in Recife was seen as a pastoral care provision for the deposed bishop and those who followed him, has become a formal primatial reception of those deposed. It has also been transformed into unacceptable acts of primatial nature within the jurisdiction of our province.

We appeal to His Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Primates of the Anglican Communion to consider this vehement protest by the Province of Brazil in order to avoid a serious rupture with our Anglican tradition.

The consequences of such unilateral and disrespectful gesture of Archbishop Gregory Venables to a sister Province represents a serious breach of the bonds of affection and loyalty, respect and interdependence in the Anglican Communion. Let us remember that arrogance has never been, and will never be, a wise companion for relationships!

Yours ever in Christ,

++ Maurício Andrade

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 10 April 2008 at 8:10am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Open Letter to GAFCON leaders

Updated again Friday morning

The following letter has been sent to the Leadership Team of GAFCON. A press release from Changing Attitude LGBT Anglican leaders threatened with murder and violently attacked in Nigeria and England explains the background to the letter.

Open Letter to the Leadership Team of GAFCON

Dear friends in Christ,

You may know that there were several instances of actual physical violence and threats of violence and death enacted against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) leaders of Changing Attitude in Nigeria over the Easter Weekend 2008. The leader of a Changing Attitude group was violently beaten. Subsequently, death threats have been issued against the Directors of Changing Attitude in Nigeria and England.

The discourse taking place in the Anglican Communion about the presence of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our churches must be conducted in the context of Christian love and mutual respect. If it is not, then people will continue to perpetrate abuse and violence against LGBT people.

Some Anglican Christians act in this way because they believe that the language of criticism articulated against LGBT people in general and the Episcopal Church in particular gives them permission to perpetrate violence and abuse against Christians who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. We know that is not your intention, but it is the reality as many experience it.

Changing Attitude understands that the Anglican Communion is engaged in an extended period of debate about the place of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our churches. We are committed to engage in this debate and in the Listening Process which is integral to it and authorised by the Councils of the church.

Conservative Anglicans will want to argue against the position which Changing Attitude represents. They will continue to question the pattern of life and identity adopted by some lesbian and gay Christians. We recognise the integrity of those who hold this position at the same time as we disagree with it. We are not resistant to engaging in the debate with those who hold radically different views.

We recognise that it is extremely difficult to conduct this debate in language that does not polarise opinions or inflame tensions. Tension will grow more intense in this period immediately prior to the Lambeth Conference and the GAFCON event.

The language we use has direct consequences on the lives of LGBT Christians. Language affects us emotionally, spiritually and physically. We ask that all of us within the Anglican Communion be mindful of the words we use and the opinions we express when talking about LGBT people. We ask that all of us actively discourage any form of threatening behaviour so that we may all engage in respectful listening and conform the pattern of our lives to the pattern of love embodied by our Lord Jesus Christ.

None of us wishes to encourage or condone violence and none of us wishes to be responsible, indirectly, for murder or violence perpetrated on another person, whatever their sexual identity.

Yours in Christ,
(Signed)

Revd Canon Professor Marilyn McCord Adams
Rt Revd Michael Bourke
Rt Revd Ian Brackley, Bishop of Dorking
Rt Revd Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ramsbury
Very Revd Vivienne Faull
Rt Revd Lord Harries of Pentregarth
Rt Revd Richard Holloway
Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, Bishop of Hulme
Revd Sr Una Kroll
Rt Revd Richard Lewis
Rt Revd Jack Nicholls, Bishop of Sheffield
Rt Revd John Oliver
Rt Revd John Packer, Bishop of Ripon & Leeds
Christina Rees
Rt Revd Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire
Rt Revd John Saxbee, Bishop of Lincoln
Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby
Rt Revd Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth
Revd Dr Anne Townsend
The Revd Canon Angela Weaver

Letter sent to:
Rt Rev Nicodemus Okille, Archbishop Henry Orombi, Rt Rev Wallace Benn, Rt Rev Martyn Minns, Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Archbishop Greg Venables, Archbishop Peter Akinola, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, Archbishop Peter Jensen, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, Archbishop Justice Akrofi, Archbishop Donald Mtetemela, Rt Revd Michael Nazir Ali

Update Wednesday evening

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued this statement:

Archbishop condemns recent violence against lesbian and gay people

Wednesday 09 April 2008

In response to reports of violence and threats towards Christians involved in the debate on human sexuality, the Archbishop has given the following statement:

“The threats recently made against the leaders of Changing Attitudes are disgraceful. The Anglican Communion has repeatedly, through the Lambeth Conference and the statements from its Primates’ Meetings, unequivocally condemned violence and the threat of violence against gay and lesbian people. I hope that this latest round of unchristian bullying will likewise be universally condemned.”

Update Thursday

Additional information from Changing Attitude at Nigerians threaten English and Nigerian Directors of Changing Attitude.

And the BBC has published Archbishop criticises gay threats.

Friday morning
The Church Times has Gay Nigerians suffer violent abuse by Pat Ashworth.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 8 April 2008 at 11:37pm BST | Comments (100) | TrackBack
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More on the Holy Week lectures

A previous article linked to a page which linked to the transcripts of three lectures given by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Westminster Abbey.

The Lambeth Palace website has now also published transcripts of the Question and Answer sessions which followed each lecture.

Faith and Science Questions & Answers Session

Faith & Politics Questions & Answers Session

Faith and History Questions & Answers Session

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 8 April 2008 at 11:15pm BST | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 5 April 2008

an invitation from Canterbury Press

Canterbury Press cordially invite friends and supporters of Thinking Anglicans to ‘An Evening with Bishop Gene Robinson’

To celebrate publication of: ‘IN THE EYE OF THE STORM’ By Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire

on Tuesday 29th April 2008 at 7 p.m. prompt
at: St Mary’s Church, Putney High Street, London SW15 1SN
(next to the river at the southern end of Putney Bridge)

RSVP by Wednesday 16th April 2008 to
Michael Addison, Canterbury Press: Michael@scm-canterburypress.co.uk
Telephone 0207 776 7551.

Please note: If you wish to attend this reception it is essential that you reply so that your name may be placed on the guest list. Admission will be restricted to named individuals on the list.

Copies of the book will be on sale on the night and there will be an opportunity for signing.

If you are unable to attend, the book is available from all good bookshops or direct from the publisher on 01603 612914 or visit www.canterburypress.co.uk priced £12.99.

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another embyrology article

The Tablet has published an excellent article by Mary Seller who happens to be both a geneticist and an Anglican priest.

Legislators are trying to keep up with scientists who have found a way to make animal-human hybrid embryos for use in medical research. But is such use of animal and human material ethical? Here a leading geneticist and priest explains why she thinks scientists should indeed play God

Read Slipping on the slope of progress.

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opinions this weekend

Are religions becoming more extreme? Riazat Butt comments in the Guardian. A transcript of the lecture by Tony Blair to which she refers can be found here (pdf).

Earlier in the week, Riazat wrote about the issue of whether the British educational system is failing Muslim pupils, see Wanted: faith in the future.

Face to Faith this week is by John Newbury and is about religious broadcasting.

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about Thomas Tallis and The Spectator.

Jonathan Sacks writes in The Times that Genesis tells us we have a duty to protect the planet.

In the Church Times Giles Fraser writes about Earth Hour in Let there be dark.

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Virginia court ruling: Saturday reports

Earlier reports in previous article.

New York Times Neela Banerjee Virginia Judge Allows Case on Episcopal Property to Proceed

Washington Post Michelle Boorstein and Jacqueline L. Salmon Court Ruling Boosts Breakaway Churches

Time David Van Biema The Episcopal Property War

Washington Times Julia Duin Va. judge sides with breakaway Episcopal parishes

Institute on Religion and Democracy Court Rules in Favor of Departing Virginia Churches

Church of Nigeria CANA magnanimous in victory

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Friday, 4 April 2008

Virginia court ruling issued

Updated again Friday night and republished

The long-awaited Virginia court ruling has arrived. It is favourable to the breakaway congregations.

The PDF file containing the full text of it is here (4.5MB).

Episcopal Café has this summary of the situation, Judge rules: Advantage CANA.

Julia Duin has Breakaway Episcopal parishes awarded property, assets in the Washington Times.

No doubt other reports will follow. The full report is 88 pages. To give the flavour, two excerpts are reproduced below the fold.

Lunchtime additions

Diocese of Virginia press release

Anglican District of Virginia press release and CANA press release.

Evening additions

Associated Press Matthew Barakat Fairfax judge rules in favor of breakaway congregations

Reuters Michael Conlon US judge rules for Episcopal Church secessionists

Washington Post Michelle Boorstein Judge’s Initial Decision Favors Breakaway Churches

Ruth Gledhill has this blog article, Judge rules for Virginia ‘orthodox’.

Friday night additions

Episcopal News Service Office of the Presiding Bishop, Diocese of Virginia respond to preliminary court ruling
and also Mary Frances Schjonberg Virginia judge issues preliminary ruling on application of state statute

Fairfax Times Gregg MacDonald Fairfax judge rules against Episcopal Church

Letter from the Bishop of Virginia

Letter from the Reverend John Yates

Summary

The only way in which this Court could find a “division” not to exist among the pertinent entities in this case is to define the term so narrowly and restrictively as to effectively define the term out of existence. The ECUSA and the Diocese urge upon this Court just such a definition and further assert that any definition other than the one for which they argue would render the statute unconstitutional. The Court rejects this invitation. Whether or not it is true that only the ECUSA’s and the Diocese’s proposed definition can save 57-9(A) from constitutional infirmity, there is no constitutional principle of which this Court is aware that would permit, let alone require, the Court to adopt a definition for a statutory term that is plainly unwarranted. Rather, the definition of “division” adopted by this Court is a definition which the Court finds to be consistent with the language of the statute, its purpose and history, and the very limited caselaw that exists. Given this definition, the Court finds that the evidence of a “division” within the Diocese, the ECUSA, and the Anglican Communion is not only compelling, but overwhelming. As to the other issues in principal controversy, the Court finds the Anglican Communion to be a “church or religious society.” The Court finds each of the CANA Congregations to have been attached to the Anglican Communion. Finally, the Court finds that the term “branch” must be defined far more broadly than the interpretation placed upon that term by ECUSA and the Diocese and that, as properly defined, CANA, ADV, the American Arm of the Church of Uganda, the Church of Nigeria, the ECUSA, and the Diocese, are all branches of the Anglican Communion and, further, CANA and ADV are branches of ECUSA and the Diocese.

——-

VI.) Conclusion:

ECUSA/Diocese argue that the historical evidence demonstrates that it is only the “major” or “great” divisions within 19th-century churches that prompted the passage of 57-9, such as those within the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches. ECUSA/Diocese argue that the current “dispute” before this Court is not such a “great” division, and, therefore, this is yet another reason why 57-9(A) should not apply. The Court agrees that it was major divisions such as those within the Methodist and Presbyterian churches that prompted the passage of 57-9. However, it blinks at reality to characterize the ongoing division within the Diocese, ECUSA, and the Anglican Communion as anything but a division of the first magnitude, especially given the involvement of numerous churches in states across the country, the participation of hundreds of church leaders, both lay and pastoral, who have found themselves “taking sides” against their brethren, the determination by thousands of church members in Virginia and elsewhere to “walk apart” in the language of the Church, the creation of new and substantial religious entities, such as CANA, with their own structures and disciplines, the rapidity with which the ECUSA’s problems became that of the Anglican Communion, and the consequent impact-in some cases the extraordinary impact-on its provinces around the world, and, perhaps most importantly, the creation of a level of distress among many church members so profound and wrenching as to lead them to cast votes in an attempt to disaffiliate from a church which has been their home and heritage throughout their lives, and often back for generations. Whatever may be the precise threshold for a dispute to constitute a division under 57-9(A), what occurred here qualifies.

For the foregoing reasons, this Court finds that the CANA Congregations have properly invoked 57-9(A). Further proceedings will take place in accordance with the Order issued today.

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follow-up on right to kill old people

TA reported earlier on this dispute between a journalist and a bishop, here.

Tom Wright has now responded to David Aaronovitch here in The Times under the headline Euthanasia - a murky moral world.

As noted in an earlier comment, the full text of the original Wright quote which was under attack was this:

The irony is that this secular utopianism is based on a belief in an unstoppable human ability to make a better world, while at the same time it believes that we (it’s interesting to ask who ‘we’ might be at this point) have the right to kill unborn children and surplus old people, and to play games with the humanity of those in between.

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Welsh vote: detailed report

Margaret Duggan’s full report of the debate is now available at the Church Times site, see Welsh turn down women bishops.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 4 April 2008 at 3:01pm BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Mark Oakley writes on our Anglican divisions

Mark Oakley wrote a comment article for the Church Times last week, arguing that those who divide the Communion lack an Anglican spirit.

Read it all now: An issue! An issue! We all fall down.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 4 April 2008 at 10:43am BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 3 April 2008

Women, Communion and the Church

From Inclusive Church
Women, Communion and the Church

3rd April 2008

Inclusive Church (IC) is disappointed by the Church in Wales’ decision not to allow women to be bishops. But we are pleased that the Church in Wales resisted pressure for any arrangements which would have discriminated against women and which would have destroyed the unity and integrity of its episcopate.

Christina Rees, Chair of WATCH (Women and the Church) and member of IC’s Executive Committee said, “I applaud the leadership shown by Archbishop Barry Morgan and the Welsh bishops’ resolute decision not to compromise the principle of having women as bishops on the same basis as men are bishops.”

The vote on women bishops failed narrowly to get the required two-thirds majority in the house of clergy.

For IC, Revd. Dr Giles Fraser said: “People mustn’t get disheartened. This will go through. The Gospel points towards full inclusion and if that’s what the Gospel says, that’s what God wants. Therefore all will be well.”

Inclusive Church has prepared a statement celebrating the historic generosity of the Anglican Communion and calling for renewed unity among churches. Churches in agreement with the statement are asked to send an email to endorse@giftofcommunion.org listing the church’s name, parish, diocese and province.

It reads

“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.”

As the Lambeth Conference approaches - 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.

This invitation is intended for churches, and not individuals and should have the agreement of Church Vestries or PCC’s. Questions or comments can be addressed to info@giftofcommunion.org.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 11:37pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Archbishop's lectures

The full text of three lectures given in Westminster Abbey by the Archbishop of Canterbury during Holy Week are now available online. Go to Archbishop gives Lent lectures at Westminster Abbey to find the links to the transcripts.

The lectures focused on the relationship between faith and science, faith and politics and faith and history and the implications each of these subjects has on the individual and society. Dr Williams introduced the lecture series saying, ‘I have given this series the title ‘A Question of Faith’. The faith about which I shall mostly be speaking is my own, which is Christianity. But I hope that there will be in the discussion some matters which are no less relevant to other faiths and their relationship to the twenty-first century, its culture and its problems’. Following each lecture there was an opportunity for the audience to submit their questions to the Archbishop and a selection covering the variety of themes were answered.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 11:32pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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GAFCON has funds now

Updated Thursday evening

Only a month ago, GAFCON issued an appeal for funds. The costs involved are estimated in this official GAFCON page.

Now, it seems, the response has been such that at least in Nigeria all the costs will be met from outside the dioceses. According to this Pastoral Letter (original as PDF here) signed by The Most Rev Peter J. Akinola, Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria (emphasis added):

GAFCON
The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) was introduced in our earlier pastoral letter written from the Bishops retreat in January. The planning of this conference, coming up in Jerusalem in the month of June, has reached an advanced stage. The choice of Jerusalem as the venue is to take us back in a pilgrimage to the biblical and historical roots of our faith to draw inspiration in the face of major attempts to undermine the sufficiency of Scripture by some of our brother and sisters in the West. Knowing that this is not merely a cultural or theological struggle alone, but more importantly a spiritual battle, we urge earnest and concerted prayers that the Spirit of the Lord will show us the way ahead for our beloved Anglican Communion.

When the proposal was first discussed in January, we were staggered by the enormity of the cost, but we trusted that if God[’s] hand was in it, He would provide. Indeed the Lord has gone beyond our expectations by raising up from among us those who have felt sufficiently committed to the need to preserve the sanctity of our historic faith that they have committed huge resources to cover all the cost of the conference. May our gracious God reward these people abundantly and may they never be confounded as they continue to trust in Him and give themselves to His glad service.

The Bishops also resolved that Dioceses that had paid the required amount but have an outstanding balance in their Endowment Fund commitment should have their accounts credited with the money meant for the travel costs. This should enable us to make further progress in our desire to resource our Seminaries and other major projects in our vision. This will be a tremendous blessing to the seminaries where our clergy are trained. We have made resources available to meet their most critical needs so that our candidates for ordination and the future shepherds of our church will be well prepared for their ministry without being subjected to the usual handicaps in their training. We hope our postulants and the staff of the seminaries will reward this gesture.

This Pastoral Letter has also been published as a web page by both ACNS and ENS.

In a Communique of the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria issued at the same time (PDF original here), there is further material about GAFCON:

GLOBAL ANGLICAN FUTURE CONFERENCE
10. The Primate addressed the proposal for the Church of Nigeria to take part in the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and Pilgrimage in Jerusalem from June 22nd through June 29, 2008. The goals of this conference are to:

a. Provide an opportunity for fellowship to continue to experience and proclaim the transforming love of Christ.

b. Develop a renewed understanding of our identity as Anglican Christians within our current context

c. Prepare for an Anglican future in which the Gospel is uncompromised and Christ-centered mission a top priority.

11. This decision to participate in GAFCON received unanimous support from the Standing Committee and also from the Mother’s Union Executive. It is a decision that has a long history and we were reminded that it has arisen out of a decade-long struggle within the Anglican Communion. Ten years ago at the 1998 Lambeth Conference a decision was made concerning the teaching of the Church as it applies to issues of human sexuality. The essential elements of the teaching have been enshrined within Resolution 1.10. An overwhelming majority of the bishops adopted this resolution. It led, however, to a very negative and defiant response from the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the USA – now known as The Episcopal Church (TEC). This led to their decision to approve the consecration of Gene Robinson, a homosexual priest living in a same-sex partnership, as bishop of New Hampshire. This, in turn, led to the unprecedented meeting of all the Primates of the Anglican Communion in October 2003 at which they called for what became known as “The Windsor Report”. Sadly the ominous words of their final communiqué, that ECUSA’s intransigence would “tear the fabric of the communion at its deepest level,” have proved to be true.

12. We were reminded again of the enormous efforts undertaken by the Primate and many of his colleagues to find a way to bring the necessary healing and reconciliation to our beloved Communion. These efforts have included innumerable meetings that have been held around the world and countless communiqués that have been issued at an enormous cost in both time and money. Time and time again TEC was given the opportunity to repent and embrace the scriptural teaching of the Communion but to no avail. One report, “The Road to Lambeth” commissioned by CAPA and endorsed by the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria concluded that: “We Anglicans stand at a crossroads. One road, the road of compromise of biblical truth, leads to destruction and disunity. The other road has its own obstacles because it requires changes in the way the Communion has been governed and it challenges our churches to live up to and into their full maturity in Christ. But surely the second road is God’s way forward. It is our sincere hope that this road may pass through Lambeth, our historical mother. But above all it must be the road of the Cross that leads to life through our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

13. It is this second road that is leading us to Jerusalem and the call by Primates and senior leaders of the Communion, representing more than thirty million active Anglicans, for the bishops and their wives together with clergy and lay leaders to meet for prayer, study and pilgrimage in the Holy Land. It is the shared conviction of the GAFCON leadership team that this will provide a unique opportunity for those who hold to the historic teachings of the Church to meet and discern God’s call for our common future as Anglican Christians. The Primate reported that in the last few days God has shown his favor on these plans by sovereignly providing the funds necessary for all of the Bishops, their wives, the clergy and lay delegates of the Church of Nigeria to attend.

Thursday evening update

Some further articles related to the above:

Martyn Minns has written a Report on CofN Standing Committee Meeting 2008. It includes this paragraph:

He talked about the Global Anglican Future Conference (affectionately known as GAFCON) that he is leading in Jerusalem later this year. He carefully explained the long history behind the decision to gather with other provinces of the Anglican Communion that refuse to spend any more time agonizing about sex but instead want to get on with the work of the Gospel and celebrate transformed lives. He announced that everyone going from Nigeria has already been paid for – and here’s another funny thing – paid for by generous Godly people in Nigeria! They have raised all the money from inside their own country!

Ruth Gledhill has republished on her blog the article she wrote for the Church of England Newspaper which is about GAFCON. See Anglicanism’s hectic summer.

And for those who want to understand Nigerian culture better, this article in the Guardian yesterday, though it does not mention religion at all, may nevertheless be illuminating, see Nigeria’s immorality is about hypocrisy, not miniskirts by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 3:22pm BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Wales to vote on women as bishops

Update Wednesday evening
The vote was lost. Official report of the results here.

Ruth Gledhill has comment from Archbishop Barry Morgan here. And also here.

——-
The Church in Wales is voting today on whether or not to allow women priests to be ordained as bishops.

See the official press release here, and the agenda of the Governing Body here.

The presidential address of the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, is here.

The article he wrote for the Guardian today is titled At odds with the gospel:

In an age when women have broken through the glass ceiling in most professions in Britain, it is strange that they still face discrimination in a church that believes there is “no male or female” in Christ. Women can become judges, surgeons, chief executives and heads of state, but in the Church in Wales - which waited until 1997 to ordain women as priests - they are as yet unable to become bishops.

I do not see how, having agreed to ordaining women to both the diaconate and priesthood, the church can logically exclude women from the episcopate. That is why I and my fellow bishops will be asking members of the church’s legislative body today to vote in favour of a bill to allow women clerics to become bishops. It’s a move that Anglican churches have made in other countries - Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada and the US, though not yet England. I believe Wales is now willing to embrace this important change too…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 1:24pm BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Ruoff: No more mosques

Updated Wednesday afternoon

Several newspapers report the remarks of a General Synod member for London diocese, Alison Ruoff.
The Church Times has a recent picture of her, available here.

The Times Ruth GledhillNo more mosques’ says Synod member and Church of England Synod member’s call to ban the building of any new mosques

Daily Telegraph Jonathan Petre No more mosques, says senior Synod member

Daily Mail Steve Doughty Church leader calls for building of mosques to be banned because of risk ‘Britain will become an ‘Islamic state’

Daily Express Tom Whitehead ‘STOP BUILDING MOSQUES IN UK’

Sun Christian’s call to ban mosques

Only the Telegraph has comments from official church spokespersons:

The former magistrate, who was one of the strongest critics of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech on Islamic law earlier this year, added that sharia would be introduced into Britain “if we don’t watch out”.

Apart from being a Synod member, Mrs Ruoff, a conservative evangelical, also sits on the Bishop’s Council, which advises the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres.

Although her views are representative of a small minority on the Synod, and Church spokesmen moved quickly to isolate her yesterday, they may exacerbate tensions over the place of Muslims in society.

A spokesman for the Diocese of London said: “Mrs Ruoff’s comments are her own and do not reflect the views of the Diocese of London, which enjoys excellent inter-faith relations across the capital.”

A Church of England spokesman added: “These are her personal comments, speaking as an individual.” But senior Muslims had already reacted angrily to her comments, saying they were more typical of a member of the British National Party than the Anglican Church.

Mrs Ruoff, speaking in an interview with Premier Radio, the Christian radio station, said: “No more mosques in the UK. We are constantly building new mosques, which are paid for by the money that comes from oil states.

“We have only in this country, as far as we know, 3.5 to four million Muslims. There are enough mosques for Muslims in this country, they don’t need any more.

“We don’t need to have sharia law which would come with more mosques imposed upon our nation, if we don’t watch out, that would happen. If we want to become an Islamic state, this is the way to go.

“You build a mosque and then what happens?

“You have Muslim people moving into that area, all the shops will then become Islamic, all the housing will then become Islamic and as the Bishop of Rochester has so wisely pointed out, that will be a no go area for anyone else.

“They will bring in Islamic law. We cannot allow that to happen.”

Wednesday afternoon update

Inayat Bunglawala No more mosques?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 11:22am BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Pittsburgh feathers ruffled

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has this announcement:

Bishop Duncan’s Attorney Protests Lack of Response from The Episcopal Church Document Actions

In a letter sent March 28, John H. Lewis, Jr., attorney for Bishop Robert Duncan, protests the behavior of The Episcopal Church’s national office. He notes that not only has there been no response to Bishop Duncan’s March 14 statement that he considers himself “fully subject to the doctrine, discipline and worship of this church,” but that The Episcopal Church’s national office has neglected to distribute Bishop Duncan’s letter and other information to House of Bishops.

Lewis goes on to note what appears to be “the deliberate failure of The Presiding Bishop to follow the Canons” in the purported depositions of Bishops William J. Cox and John-David Schofield.

The full text of Lewis’ letter is available here (pdf).

Update: Bishop Robert Duncan, Bishop Henry Scriven and Melanie Contz began again receiving emails from the House of Bishops at approximately 1 pm on Monday, March 31. Bishop Duncan’s March 14 response to the Presiding Bishop has also been added to the College for Bishops website.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 1 April 2008 at 12:30pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA