Monday, 30 June 2008

GAFCON: Monday

Some articles written before the release of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s response to the GAFCON statement

Andrew Brown in the Guardian Meet the Focas

Joanna Corrigan and Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, sidelined by new global Anglican movement

The Age [Melbourne] Jensen says Anglican church hasn’t split

Linda Morris in The Sydney Morning Herald Breakaway move puts Jensen in a bind

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Archbishop responds to GAFCON statement

Update: This response is now online at the Archbishop’s website and the Anglican Communion Official Website.

The following press release from Lambeth Palace was issued at 1641 BST today.

Press release from Lambeth Palace

For immediate use

Monday 30th June 2008

Archbishop responds to GAFCON statement

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has responded to the final declaration of the Global Anglican Future Conference with the following statement:

The Final Statement from the GAFCON meeting in Jordan and Jerusalem contains much that is positive and encouraging about the priorities of those who met for prayer and pilgrimage in the last week. The ‘tenets of orthodoxy’ spelled out in the document will be acceptable to and shared by the vast majority of Anglicans in every province, even if there may be differences of emphasis and perspective on some issues. I agree that the Communion needs to be united in its commitments on these matters, and I have no doubt that the Lambeth Conference will wish to affirm all these positive aspects of GAFCON’s deliberations. Despite the claims of some, the conviction of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and God and the absolute imperative of evangelism are not in dispute in the common life of the Communion

However, GAFCON’s proposals for the way ahead are problematic in all sorts of ways, and I urge those who have outlined these to think very carefully about the risks entailed.

A ‘Primates’ Council’ which consists only of a self-selected group from among the Primates of the Communion will not pass the test of legitimacy for all in the Communion. And any claim to be free to operate across provincial boundaries is fraught with difficulties, both theological and practical – theological because of our historic commitments to mutual recognition of ministries in the Communion, practical because of the obvious strain of responsibly exercising episcopal or primatial authority across enormous geographical and cultural divides.

Two questions arise at once about what has been proposed. By what authority are Primates deemed acceptable or unacceptable members of any new primatial council? And how is effective discipline to be maintained in a situation of overlapping and competing jurisdictions?

No-one should for a moment impute selfish or malicious motives to those who have offered pastoral oversight to congregations in other provinces; these actions, however we judge them, arise from pastoral and spiritual concern. But one question has repeatedly been raised which is now becoming very serious: how is a bishop or primate in another continent able to discriminate effectively between a genuine crisis of pastoral relationship and theological integrity, and a situation where there are underlying non-theological motivations at work? We have seen instances of intervention in dioceses whose leadership is unquestionably orthodox simply because of local difficulties of a personal and administrative nature. We have also seen instances of clergy disciplined for scandalous behaviour in one jurisdiction accepted in another, apparently without due process. Some other Christian churches have unhappy experience of this problem and it needs to be addressed honestly.

It is not enough to dismiss the existing structures of the Communion. If they are not working effectively, the challenge is to renew them rather than to improvise solutions that may seem to be effective for some in the short term but will continue to create more problems than they solve. This challenge is one of the most significant focuses for the forthcoming Lambeth Conference. One of its major stated aims is to restore and deepen confidence in our Anglican identity. And this task will require all who care as deeply as the authors of the statement say they do about the future of Anglicanism to play their part.

The language of ‘colonialism’ has been freely used of existing patterns. No-one is likely to look back with complacency to the colonial legacy. But emerging from the legacy of colonialism must mean a new co-operation of equals, not a simple reversal of power. If those who speak for GAFCON are willing to share in a genuine renewal of all our patterns of reflection and decision-making in the Communion, they are welcome, especially in the shaping of an effective Covenant for our future together.

I believe that it is wrong to assume we are now so far apart that all those outside the GAFCON network are simply proclaiming another gospel. This is not the case; it is not the experience of millions of faithful and biblically focused Anglicans in every province. What is true is that, on all sides of our controversies, slogans, misrepresentations and caricatures abound. And they need to be challenged in the name of the respect and patience we owe to each other in Jesus Christ.

I have in the past quoted to some in the Communion who would call themselves radical the words of the Apostle in I Cor.11.33: ‘wait for one another’. I would say the same to those in whose name this statement has been issued. An impatience at all costs to clear the Lord’s field of the weeds that may appear among the shoots of true life (Matt.13.29) will put at risk our clarity and effectiveness in communicating just those evangelical and catholic truths which the GAFCON statement presents.

© Rowan Williams

Marie Papworth
Archbishop of Canterbury’s Press Secretary
Lambeth Palace
London
SE1 7JU

020 7898 1280

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Sunday, 29 June 2008

GAFCON: Sunday evening

Updated to add second Riazat Butt article

Some more news items from around the world

Riazat Butt in The Guardian Conservative Anglicans form global network

Riazat Butt and Toni O’Loughlin in The Guardian Conservative Anglicans form breakaway church in revolution led from the south
[an updated and expanded version of the above]

Linda Morris in the Sydney Morning Herald Anglicans’ new group denounces liberalism

Dina Kraft and Laurie Goodstein in The New York Times Anglicans Face Wider Split Over Policy Toward Gays

and an opinion article from Australia

Michael Kirby in The Age [Melbourne] Religious condemnation of homosexuals denies human rights

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GAFCON: Sunday lunchtime

Updated to include four Church Times blog entries

The final statement (as approved rather than leaked) is now available on the GAFCON website.
Statement on the Global Anglican Future.
For the convenience of our readers we have copied the statement below the fold.

Here are some initial press reports.

Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Anglican Church offshoot founded by traditionalists in Jerusalem

Ruth Gledhill in the Sunday Times Anglicans form ‘new church’ in gay clergy row

Nick Mackenzie in Religious Intelligence Gafcon plans a future distant from the Archbishop of Canterbury

BBC Anglican conservatives form group

George Conger in Religious Intelligence Conservatives to split — but only from Episcopal Church

Timothy C Morgan at Christianity Today Anglicans Birth Global Confessing Movement

Rachel Zoll at Associated Press Anglican conservatives launch liberal challenge

Four items from Jerusalem by Paul Handley of the Church Times
A first look at the GAFCON statement
Is it a split?
Delegates endorse GAFCON final statement
Jerusalem declaration thoughts

STATEMENT ON THE GLOBAL ANGLICAN FUTURE

Praise the LORD!
It is good to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. (Psalm 147:1-2)

Brothers and Sisters in Christ: We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, send you greetings from Jerusalem!

Introduction

The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which was held in Jerusalem from 22-29 June 2008, is a spiritual movement to preserve and promote the truth and power of the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ as we nglicans have received it. The movement is global: it has mobilised Anglicans from around the world. We are Anglican: 1148 lay and clergy participants, including 291 bishops representing millions of faithful Anglican Christians. We cherish our Anglican heritage and the Anglican Communion and have no intention of departing from it. And we believe that, in God’s providence, Anglicanism has a bright future in obedience to our Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations and to build up the church on the foundation of biblical truth (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 2:20).

GAFCON is not just a moment in time, but a movement in the Spirit, and we hereby:

launch the GAFCON movement as a fellowship of confessing Anglicans
publish the Jerusalem Declaration as the basis of the fellowship
encourage GAFCON Primates to form a Council.

The Global Anglican Context

The future of the Anglican Communion is but a piece of the wider scenario of opportunities and challenges for the gospel in 21st century global culture. We rejoice in the way God has opened doors for gospel mission among many peoples, but we grieve for the spiritual decline in the most economically developed nations, where the forces of militant secularism and pluralism are eating away the fabric of society and churches are compromised and enfeebled in their witness. The vacuum left by them is readily filled by other faiths and deceptive cults. To meet these challenges will require Christians to work together to understand and oppose these forces and to liberate those under their sway. It will entail the planting of new churches among unreached peoples and also committed action to restore authentic Christianity to compromised churches.

The Anglican Communion, present in six continents, is well positioned to address this challenge, but currently it is divided and distracted. The Global Anglican Future Conference emerged in response to a crisis within the Anglican Communion, a crisis involving three undeniable facts concerning world Anglicanism.

The first fact is the acceptance and promotion within the provinces of the Anglican Communion of a different ‘gospel’ (cf. Galatians 1:6-8) which is contrary to the apostolic gospel. This false gospel undermines the authority of God’s Word written and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the author of salvation from sin, death and judgement. Many of its proponents claim that all religions offer equal access to God and that Jesus is only a way, not the way, the truth and the life. It promotes a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behaviour as a universal human right. It claims God’s blessing for same-sex unions over against the biblical teaching on holy matrimony. In 2003 this false gospel led to the consecration of a bishop living in a homosexual relationship.

The second fact is the declaration by provincial bodies in the Global South that they are out of communion with bishops and churches that promote this false gospel. These declarations have resulted in a realignment whereby faithful Anglican Christians have left existing territorial parishes, dioceses and provinces in certain Western churches and become members of other dioceses and provinces, all within the Anglican Communion. These actions have also led to the appointment of new Anglican bishops set over geographic areas already occupied by other Anglican bishops. A major realignment has occurred and will continue to unfold.

The third fact is the manifest failure of the Communion Instruments to exercise discipline in the face of overt heterodoxy. The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, in proclaiming this false gospel, have consistently defied the 1998 Lambeth statement of biblical moral principle (Resolution 1.10). Despite numerous meetings and reports to and from the ‘Instruments of Unity,’ no effective action has been taken, and the bishops of these unrepentant churches are welcomed to Lambeth 2008. To make matters worse, there has been a failure to honour promises of discipline, the authority of the Primates’ Meeting has been undermined and the Lambeth Conference has been structured so as to avoid any hard decisions. We can only come to the devastating conclusion that ‘we are a global Communion with a colonial structure’.

Sadly, this crisis has torn the fabric of the Communion in such a way that it cannot simply be patched back together. At the same time, it has brought together many Anglicans across the globe into personal and pastoral relationships in a fellowship which is faithful to biblical teaching, more representative of the demographic distribution of global Anglicanism today and stronger as an instrument of effective mission, ministry and social involvement.

A Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans

We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, are a fellowship of confessing Anglicans for the benefit of the Church and the furtherance of its mission. We are a fellowship of people united in the communion (koinonia) of the one Spirit and committed to work and pray together in the common mission of Christ. It is a confessing fellowship in that its members confess the faith of Christ crucified, stand firm for the gospel in the global and Anglican context, and affirm a contemporary rule, the Jerusalem Declaration, to guide the movement for the future. We are a fellowship of Anglicans, including provinces, dioceses, churches, missionary jurisdictions, para-church organisations and individual Anglican Christians whose goal is to reform, heal and revitalise the Anglican Communion and expand its mission to the world.

Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion. We, together with many other faithful Anglicans throughout the world, believe the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism, which defines our core identity as Anglicans, is expressed in these words: The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. We intend to remain faithful to this standard, and we call on others in the Communion to reaffirm and return to it. While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Building on the above doctrinal foundation of Anglican identity, we hereby publish the Jerusalem Declaration as the basis of our fellowship.

The Jerusalem Declaration

In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit:

We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, have met in the land of Jesus’ birth. We express our loyalty as disciples to the King of kings, the Lord Jesus. We joyfully embrace his command to proclaim the reality of his kingdom which he first announced in this land. The gospel of the kingdom is the good news of salvation, liberation and transformation for all. In light of the above, we agree to chart a way forward together that promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world, solemnly declaring the following tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican identity.

1. We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God first loved us, we love him and as believers bring forth fruits of love, ongoing repentance, lively hope and thanksgiving to God in all things.

2. We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God written and to contain all things necessary for salvation. The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading.

3. We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

4. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.

5. We gladly proclaim and submit to the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humanity’s only Saviour from sin, judgement and hell, who lived the life we could not live and died the death that we deserve. By his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he secured the redemption of all who come to him in repentance and faith.

6. We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.

7. We recognise that God has called and gifted bishops, priests and deacons in historic succession to equip all the people of God for their ministry in the world. We uphold the classic Anglican Ordinal as an authoritative standard of clerical orders.

8. We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.

9. We gladly accept the Great Commission of the risen Lord to make disciples of all nations, to seek those who do not know Christ and to baptise, teach and bring new believers to maturity.

10. We are mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation, to uphold and advocate justice in society, and to seek relief and empowerment of the poor and needy.

11. We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships. We recognise the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice, and we encourage them to join us in this declaration.

12. We celebrate the God-given diversity among us which enriches our global fellowship, and we acknowledge freedom in secondary matters. We pledge to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.

13. We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.

14. We rejoice at the prospect of Jesus’ coming again in glory, and while we await this final event of history, we praise him for the way he builds up his church through his Spirit by miraculously changing lives.

The Road Ahead

We believe the Holy Spirit has led us during this week in Jerusalem to begin a new work. There are many important decisions for the development of this fellowship which will take more time, prayer and deliberation. Among other matters, we shall seek to expand participation in this fellowship beyond those who have come to Jerusalem, including cooperation with the Global South and the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa. We can, however, discern certain milestones on the road ahead.

Primates’ Council

We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, do hereby acknowledge the participating Primates of GAFCON who have called us together, and encourage them to form the initial Council of the GAFCON movement. We look forward to the enlargement of the Council and entreat the Primates to organise and expand the fellowship of confessing Anglicans.

We urge the Primates’ Council to authenticate and recognise confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations and to encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith.

We recognise the desirability of territorial jurisdiction for provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion, except in those areas where churches and leaders are denying the orthodox faith or are preventing its spread, and in a few areas for which overlapping jurisdictions are beneficial for historical or cultural reasons.

We thank God for the courageous actions of those Primates and provinces who have offered orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership, especially in North and South America. The actions of these Primates have been a positive response to pastoral necessities and mission opportunities. We believe that such actions will continue to be necessary and we support them in offering help around the world.

We believe this is a critical moment when the Primates’ Council will need to put in place structures to lead and support the church. In particular, we believe the time is now ripe for the formation of a province in North America for the federation currently known as Common Cause Partnership to be recognised by the Primates’ Council.

Conclusion: Message from Jerusalem

We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, were summoned by the Primates’ leadership team to Jerusalem in June 2008 to deliberate on the crisis that has divided the Anglican Communion for the past decade and to seek direction for the future. We have visited holy sites, prayed together, listened to God’s Word preached and expounded, learned from various speakers and teachers, and shared our thoughts and hopes with each other.

The meeting in Jerusalem this week was called in a sense of urgency that a false gospel has so paralysed the Anglican Communion that this crisis must be addressed. The chief threat of this dispute involves the compromising of the integrity of the church’s worldwide mission. The primary reason we have come to Jerusalem and issued this declaration is to free our churches to give clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ.

It is our hope that this Statement on the Global Anglican Future will be received with comfort and joy by many Anglicans around the world who have been distressed about the direction of the Communion. We believe the Anglican Communion should and will be reformed around the biblical gospel and mandate to go into all the world and present Christ to the nations.

Jerusalem
Feast of St Peter and St Paul
29 June 2008

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Saturday, 28 June 2008

GAFCON: Saturday evening

Two more reports on the Church Times blog from Paul Handley in Jerusalem.
GAFCON: Galilee
The miracle of GAFCON

Robert Pigott of the BBC reports from Jerusalem that Anglican rift is about more than sex.

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GAFCON: final statement

These sites are carrying the text of the final statement from GAFCON.
Fulcrum
Episcopal Café
StandFirm

The StandFirm version refers to a correction that the other two sites do not have at present.

Update
It is also here.
TitusOneNine
This appears to have the correct version of the correction.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 28 June 2008 at 11:09pm BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Viriginia parish property

A trial court in Virginia has given a ruling in favour of parishes in Virginia that argued they could leave the US Episcopal Church and retain their property. Note that there are still two more levels of court in Virginia (an intermediate appeal and then the state’s highest court) that could hear this matter and decide differently, and it’s possible this might go all the way to the US Supreme Court.

Episcopal Life Online
Virginia court rules application of ‘Division Statute’ is constitutional

Associated Press
Va. judge: church secession law is constitutional

The Washington Times
Virginia judge affirms parish property rights

Reuters
U.S. Episcopal Church dissidents win court ruling

Chicago Tribune
Va. judge sides with breakaway Episcopal churches

This last article starts:

A Civil War-era law that lets Virginia churches keep their property when leaving a denomination where a “division” has occurred is constitutional, a county judge ruled Friday (June 27), siding with 11 former Episcopal parishes.

Fairfax County Judge Randy I. Bellows’ ruling on the 1867 law stops short of awarding the property to the parishes, but it hands them a major legal win. “It’s a resounding victory and very broad,” said Steffen Johnson, lead counsel for several of the congregations. “There are just a few loose ends to tie up.”

Dave Walker in the Church Times blog has Judge sides with breakaway Episcopal churches in Virginia. This includes links to two earlier Church Times articles which give the background to this case.

Here is the response of the Diocese of Virginia to the court’s ruling.
Court Issues Opinion on Division Statute Constitutionality and Other Statutory Issues
This includes links to the texts of the rulings.

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Petertide comments

Giles Fraser in the Church Times Family love is a model of injustice

Robert O’Neill asks in The Guardian Do we need a global Anglican communion?. His answer is a resounding and heartfelt “yes”.

Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah in a Face to faith article in The Guardian Judaism has had to evolve to survive, and Anglicanism must too. She asks “Is Anglicanism a form of progressive Christianity - and if so, what are its progressive credentials?”

Roderick Strange in the credo column at the Times Genuine conversion unveils our hidden depths

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph that the bees are back at Lambeth Palace. The riddle of the golden syrup tin

Stephen Bates in The Guardian Barack Obama and the Jesus Machine - “Televangelist James Dobson has come out against Obama. But the Democrat might just carry religious voters with him anyway.”

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Friday, 27 June 2008

GAFCON: Friday evening

updated late Friday

More from Jerusalem

Riazat Butt in The Guardian At Gafcon, who calls the shots? subtitled “White conservative Anglican clergy are beginning to pull the strings, squeezing their African brothers out of the picture”

Damian Thompson in the Telegraph There is no Anglican schism
and Dr Nazir-Ali is being exploited at Gafcon

George Conger in Religious Intelligence Anglican traditionalists set to form a ‘church within a church’

Paul Handley in the Church Times blog GAFCON: Keeping the final communiqué under wraps

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+Chane on gay marriage

John Bryson Chane (Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington DC) writes in The Guardian The framing of mutual joy where he argues that “Our church’s evolving attitude has led us to the point where we must consider gay marriage”.

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GAFCON: Friday morning

Today’s Church Times has these four reports from Paul Handley.
GAFCON Churches ‘will stay in the fold’
Akinola: Lambeth betrayed us
Dr Nazir-Ali: ‘Inculturation has limits’
It’s conscience, say Lambeth absentees

There is also his latest blog entry posted last night.
Will a new structure emerge from GAFCON?

There is also this leader.
The GAFCON Reformation

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Scottish General Synod

We linked to official reports of this month’s meeting of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church here, here and here.

The Church Times now has this report Bishops in Scotland defeat membership proposal by Margaret Duggan. Although the title refers to one particular item before the synod, the article is a full report of all three day’s business.

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Thursday, 26 June 2008

GAFCON: Thursday evening

updated late Thursday evening

Reports of GAFCON itself

George Pitcher in the Telegraph Anti-gay bishops are after power, not truth

Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Gafcon: Orthodox Anglicans feel betrayed by church structure

George Conger in Religious Intelligence Israel Minister welcomes Gafcon ‘pilgrims’ to Jerusalem

Judith Sudilovsky at Episcopal Life Online Nazir-Ali to boycott Lambeth Conference as ‘matter of conscience’

Ruth Gledhill in The Times Formation of a ‘church within a church’ for conservative Anglicans

And a comment from someone who has been reporting from GAFCON but today attended a different event in Jerusalem.

Iain Baxter in the Guardian comment is free section Marching with pride in Jerusalem

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GAFCON: Thursday lunchtime

More from Jerusalem

Riazat Butt in The Guardian writes about yesterday’s comments by Canon Vinay Samuel and other matters in Anglican conservative accuses ‘relic’ Williams of colonial mindset

Robert Pigott at the BBC Bishops turning back on Lambeth

Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Liberals are tearing apart church, says Anglican bishop [The bishop is Wallace Benn, the Bishop of Lewes.]

George Conger in Religious Intelligence writes that American conservatives ‘are not bank-rolling Gafcon’.

And an article on the background to some of the current disputes.

The BBC has Anglican rift: Conservative v Liberal in which “a conservative and a liberal - Paul Eddy, of the Conservative Anglican network in the UK and Bishop Marc Andrus of the Episcopal diocese of California - spell out their views on six key points of disagreement.”

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Wednesday, 25 June 2008

GAFCON: Wednesday evening

More again from Jerusalem

Paul Handley in his Church Times blog writes about going to Herod’s Temple with the GAFCON pilgrims GAFCON: At Herod’s temple.

Ruth Gledhill reports in her blog at The Times What’s going on at Gafcon that Howard Ahmanson has been seen at GAFCON with a delegate’s badge around his neck.

Riazat Butt writes in her blog at The Guardian on Gafcon’s plans for the future of the Anglican Communion.

Martin Beckford in the Telegraph reports what Canon Vinay Samuel said Gafcon: Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams branded ‘a historical relic’.

Damian Thompson in his Holy Smoke blog in the Telegraph writes about Dr Nazir-Ali in The alternative Archbishop of Canterbury.

David van Biema writes in Time Threat of Anglican Schism Fizzles.

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GAFCON: Wednesday lunchtime

More from Jerusalem

Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Conservative Anglicans aim to avoid split
and Gafcon: Hardline Anglicans to form new church over homosexual clergy

Paul Handley in the Church Times blog GAFCON: ‘It’s the beginning of a movement’
and GAFCON security

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GAFCON: more on +Rochester

Riazat Butt writes in The Guardian about last night’s speech by the Bishop of Rochester: Christians must recover nerve, says Nazir-Ali.

A 38-minute recording of the bishop’s speech is now available in the AnglicanTV GAFCON archives or directly here.

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Bishop of Guildford on Women Bishops

Ruth Gledhill in her Times blog reports that the Bishop of Guildford has said Give trads their own diocese. This refers to an open letter from the bishop which is online here and is copied here below the fold.

13 June, 2008

AN OPEN LETTER ON WOMEN IN THE EPISCOPATE FROM THE BISHOP OF GUILDFORD

As we all know, the General Synod will debate the Manchester Report on Women in the Episcopate in York in just a few days’ time. The Report outlines a number of legislative possibilities to fulfil the previous Synod’s decision that the time was now right to move forward.

Please pray especially for Bishop Ian and me, and your elected clerical and lay representatives on General Synod in relation to this matter. The Diocese of Guildford has expressed itself through our own Synod in the past as firmly in favour of moving forward towards the Ordination of Women to the Episcopate. There are also, of course, minority convictions. We pray for those on either side of the debate.

At the recent meeting of the House of Bishops, the majority of that House both affirmed

That special arrangements be available within the existing structures of the Church of England for those who, as a matter of theological conviction, will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops and priest.

and

That these should be contained in a national Code of Practice to which all concerned would be required to have regard.

This was affirmed by a substantial majority of the Bishops though a significant minority dissented.

With this Resolution from the House of Bishops, the Archbishops have also sent to General Synod a Note reflecting on the House of Bishops’ Debate and the significance of the Resolution.

The Archbishops specifically draw attention to a matter also carefully considered by the House of Bishops and identified within the Manchester Report. The Report identified these two key questions:

  • Does the Church of England wish to continue to accommodate the present diversity of theological views within its life on the issue of women’s ordination?
  • Following on from this, does the Church of England wish to continue to make available special arrangement for those who, on grounds of theological conviction, have difficulties over the ordination of women?

The majority of the House of Bishops are clear that we wish to answer both questions in the affirmative, and at the same time affirm the importance and urgency of admitting women to the Episcopate for the sake of the mission of the Church. The Bishops further recognise that Synod would wish to consider all the options of the Manchester Group, and this is endorsed by the Archbishops’ Note. There was also real recognition that any limitation of the exercise of the episcopacy of duly ordained women priests would be discriminatory and ecclesiologically anomalous. There, however, the episcopal consensus ended. The Archbishops are clear that the Motion from the House of Bishops, now before the Synod

is offered as a starting point for discussion. It does not represent a consensus within the House on what the conclusion should be but rather the view of the majority of the best place for Synod to begin examining the options. The House hopes and expects that amendments will be tabled which will promote other options identified with the Group’s Report in order to test the strength of opinion with the Synod. Some members of the House are likely to table or speak in support of amendments of this nature.

My dilemma, as your diocesan bishop – as one who has worked with this question ecumenically and within the Anglican Communion and the Church of England since 1975 – is that if the answer to the two questions posed by the Manchester Group (should we have diversity of theological view on women’s ordination and should there consequently be special arrangements for those who dissent) is ‘yes’. I do not believe that just a Code of Practice would enable this to happen. In which case, the question arises as to why we should be offering a discriminatory Code of Practice when it is known, in advance, with some certainty, that this will not provide a distinct enough space for those who cannot accept this development within the Church of England. I do not think that the circle can be squared – or certainly not in this way, and I have worked as Vice Chairman of the Rochester Commission for a number of years and then with the Guildford Group and then with the Bishop of Gloucester on precisely trying to see whether there is an acceptable way forward.

My own conviction (at least prior to the General Synod Debate) is that if we do not wish to say ‘goodbye, it really is time for you to go’ to those who are against, some sort of structural provision will need to be provided in a way which least damages the nature of the Church and least impinges on the general recognition of women’s ministry, including Episcopal ministry. In the end I think the choice is simply between a completely clean Measure with no exceptions, or a Measure which keeps discrimination out of the main part of the Church but allows a distinct part of the Church of England space to continue.

We have here a classical case of the conflict of ‘goods’: both sides are arguing for different kinds of inclusion with diversity.

In the time before the General Synod, which meets in York from 4 – 8 July, I call – as the Archbishops do in their note to the Synod – for a time of patience and prayer within passionate conviction. The time for lobbying on either side is now over. Pray for the General Synod, your representatives on the Synod, your bishops, and pray for each other, especially for those who differ from you in whatever convictions you hold on this fundamental matter.

+Christopher Guildford

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 25 June 2008 at 10:13am BST | Comments (35) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 24 June 2008

GAFCON: Tuesday evening news and comment

Riazat Butt in The Guardian has Cracks begin to show at summit discussing gay clergy rift and an audio report Church summit: ‘For them it’s all about homosexuality’.
Matthew Davies at Episcopal Life Online writes Conservative Anglicans meeting in Jerusalem struggle to find a united voice.
Ruth Gledhill writes in The Times Anglican Church schism recedes over gay issue with African leaders and on her blog Gafcon: ‘There will be no split’.

The bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, spoke to GAFCON this evening; please see our article below for details of this.

Paul Handley writes in the Church Times blog What will come out of GAFCON?.
Stephen Bates writes in the Guardian’s Comment is Free page Vicious hot air currents.
The first leader in today’s Guardian is Clerical errors.

On his blog Mark Russell (Chief Executive of Church Army and a member of the Archbishops’ Council) writes about the need for leaders to talk to those with whom they disagree in Countdown to Lambeth.

Anglican TV is in Jerusalem and has both live and archived video. The live video is also carried on GAFCON’s own website here.

There is a gallery of photos at Gafcon’s Public Gallery.

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GAFCON: Bishop of Rochester's speech

The bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, spoke to GAFCON this evening on “The Nature and Future of the Anglican Communion”.

Martin Beckford in the Telegraph reports on his speech Western world is losing Christian values, says leading bishop.
Ruth Gledhill in her Times blog writes Nazir-Ali: there must be development in terms of doctrine.

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Monday, 23 June 2008

Bishop of Edinburgh on "Approaching Lambeth"

The Diocese of Edinburgh has launched a new website today. It contains a lecture given by the Bishop of Edinburgh on 17 June concerning current conflicts in the Anglican Communion.

The prefeace to the address reads:

This address was given to members of the Diocese of Edinburgh on 17 June 2008. Drawing upon earlier addresses and Bible studies given in the diocese, it argues that the church should allow the category of ‘the tragic’ to shape its perspective on the world, and should place more emphasis on what is highlighted as ‘ethical transcendence’ in its understanding of God. Doing this creates the possibility of articulating a circumscribed and limited pluralism, totally different from simple relativism. The paper concludes by suggesting that much in current approaches to Anglican difficulties rests upon a too limited approach to the doctrine of the Trinity. The heart of the paper is a plea that Anglicanism recaptures elements in the traditions which lie at the heart of its life, brings them to the fore and addresses our current disputes in their light.

The address appears in the ‘News’ section of the website. Or you can download it directly as a pdf or Word file.

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Pittsburgh: a new corporation formed

Episcopal News Service has Bishop gets state approval for new corporation.

Bishop Robert Duncan has established this new corporation. He initiated this action some eighteen months ago.

The Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church, Harold Lewis has written all about this in his newsletter. Read the full details here (PDF).

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GAFCON: Monday evening

Dave Walker continues to round up the links about GAFCON at the Church Times blog.

Andrew Brown wrote about it, at Comment is free in The Anglican culture wars.

Jonathan Wynne-Jones wrote at the Telegraph that The conservative Church’s desperation to stop the liberal tide could be damaging.

Martin Beckford wrote there also, from Jerusalem, Gafcon: Hardline Anglicans to split church over homosexual clergy.

Iain Baxter’s latest report is below the fold.

Ruth Gledhill has written about him here, in a post with an improbable title.

Who is the “original Greek”? Alexander the Great, Stavros of Easyjet, perhaps the Duke of Edinburgh? by Iain Baxter.

The GAFCON conference is meeting to reaffirm “traditional Anglican teaching”. “We want unity… but not at the cost of re-writing the Bible to accommodate the latest cultural trend,” reads a passage from the conference introductory booklet – The Way, the Truth and the Life.

The booklet continues:

2.1 While some say that the meaning of Scripture is so complex, and so contested, that it cannot be fixed, we argue that the heart of Scripture is plain, even though some parts are not simple. It is plain enough to call forth our faith and obedience, which together lead us to further understanding of the Bible’s meaning. It is plain enough to be the basis on which we make a stand.

2.2 Another element in this struggle is the distinction that is sometimes made between the main teachings of the Bible and the lesser ones, those that are referred to as adiaphora, meaning ‘things that are indifferent’. According to this view, some doctrinal and moral issues may be put aside because they do not really matter, while others must be affirmed by all. This distinction is seen as essential for the unity of the church, and yet the Bible itself never applies it in this way. And in Anglican tradition adiaphora are primarily matters to do with ceremonies and robes, and not issues concerning doctrine or morality.

This is how any interpretation of the bible that allows for same-sex marriage, divorce, etc, can be rejected because “the heart of Scripture is plain”. Many of the conference participants believe that the bible clearly forbids women teaching, speaking, or being in authority in the Church. Not one woman is addressing the conference as a whole, and only two women are involved in leading a workshop – that on Family and Marriage. The Bishops’ wives have separate meetings. Separate, but certainly not equal.

Earlier today I spoke to one of the GAFCON participants – a young American woman who is about to be ordained. “Clearly, you do not believe that women should remain silent,” I said. “Oh no,” she replied, “You see it’s not nearly so clear if you read it in the original Greek.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 23 June 2008 at 10:53pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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GAFCON: press conference transcript

Iain Baxter has provided a full transcript of the responses of Archbishops Peter Akinola of Nigeria and Henry Orombi of Uganda, and also of Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia to questions concerning homophobia asked at the GAFCON press conference yesterday. This is reproduced below the fold.

Responses of Archbishops Peter Akinola of Nigeria and Henry Orombi of Uganda to questions asked at GAFCON press conference 22.06.08

Iain Baxter, Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement:

One of the things in “The Way, the Truth and the Life,” one of the key points that you’ve written is to “prepare for an Anglican future in which the Gospel is uncompromised and Christ-centred” But the gospel is already compromised by bishops who support the jailing of lesbian and gay people throughout Africa, which then leads to rape, which leads to torture of people and yet they are not prepared to speak out against this and change the laws in their countries.

Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria: I am not aware of any.

Iain Baxter: You’re not aware of any who are in jail for being lesbian or gay?

PA: I am not aware of any.

IB: But these are the laws in your countries.

PA: But where, give me an example?

IB: I can give you an example: one woman who has claimed asylum in the United Kingdom, she has applied for asylum, her name is Prossy, she is a Ugandan lesbian, she has been… first of all she was jailed, she was raped in the police station, before that she was marched for two miles naked through the streets of Uganda, the British government has accepted this, the fact that she was tortured, and have agreed this in her asylum application, but however they are saying she could be sent back safely to a different village in Uganda and she is appealing.

That’s one example. The laws in your countries say that homosexual acts, actions are punishable by various rules. I don’t need to argue. Do you support these laws, or do you think they should be repealed?

PA: OK. Every community, every society, has its own standards of life. In ancient African societies we had what are called “taboos”, things you should not do, and if you break the taboos there are consequences.

Alright, so in your Western society many of these have arisen but in some of our African societies many things have not arisen and this happens to be one of them. In fact the word in our language does not exist in our language. So if the practice is now found to be in our society it is of service to be against it. Alright, and to that extent what my understanding is, is that those that are responsible for law and order will want to prevent wholesale importation of foreign practices and traditions, that are not consistent with native standards, native way of life.

So if you say it is good for you, it is not good for us …. If they say it is not right for our societies then it’s not right, and that’s it..

Archbishop Henry Orombi, Uganda:

Can I just come back to say that, that’s an example given for my country. There’s very little influence to stop the legislation of a law, an institute, in practice by the church. The church’s practice is to preach, to proclaim, so that people who find themselves in a position where they go away from the word of God, the same word of God can bring them back to life. And that is in Uganda as already Archbishop Akinola is saying.

I would be in trouble if I were to say to my people in Uganda that tomorrow I can officiate at a same-sex marriage in my church. First of all the church will be closed.. Two, I might even be fired from my job because the question they are going to ask me is “Have you not read the word of God? And teach us now.”

Simply saying that the Christian faith that we practice, which was brought from the West, by the way, taught us what biblically sexuality is. We’ve embraced that faith, we are practicing that faith, and moving away from that faith would be a contradiction to what we have inherited. First of all our communities will not accept them because they will want to let them know that if that is your orientation you can come back to life. It’s a possibility there. We believe there is a possibility culturally. Secondly, we believe there is a possibility according to Christian faith. And we believe that, that God can bring you back when you have gone out of what is supposed to be intended by God. Now there is a complement in believing there is transformation, there is restoration, that makes us stand on the word of God which can bring change to people, as it has done to us over a period of time.

When we first received missionaries, way back, if we go back to 1886 we had a young man and a king and he wanted to have a sexual, homosexual, relationship with him. Now this young man had already taken a new standard of Christian faith and said “No we can’t do that because the word of God says this.” They paid for their lives. This man on the 3rd of June was commemorated and about a million people went to remember them. So the thing which is plain in our African society, other than government rule, it is culturally our community of faith, and where they stand is rock solid now, the amazing thing is that it is the western church that brought this Christianity to us. We believed it, we are practicing it, and now the western church is advocating for something which is contrary to what their ancestors brought us.

Supplementary Question from Riazat Butt of the Guardian:

I’d like to come back on the question asked by Iain Baxter earlier..

I didn’t actually hear you condemn at all the rapes of gays and lesbians in your countries. He wasn’t asking you if you could change government legislation he was asking you whether the Gospel had been compromised by the way they had been treated. Is there something in Christianity about forgiveness?

HO: If you were for the Shogah in Kampala a few weeks ago the gay demonstrated in the country and they were not arrested. The gay led a press conference and they were not arrested.

RB: We’re not talking about freedom of expression, he was specifically referring to the use of torture and rape.

HO: I would not believe a thing like that is done in the public knowledge of the people of Uganda because the gay people who are Ugandans are citizens of the country and we would cherish the fact that we would want to send it our people. For some of those things probably you get information in England and we may not even get information, I don’t know how they get their information.

Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen:

Can I add to that, because I think it needs to be said, on behalf of these brothers, if not by themselves, any violence against any person, is in Christian terms wrong, and that the suggestion that these things occur, which of course occur in the west, it’s not just an African problem, if they occur in the west, if they occur in Australia, I would be the first to condemn it.

I certainly have public condemned and will continue to publicly condemn any violence against any people and in particular gay and lesbian people. I am certain that this is, I understand, what Archbishop Orombi says and that is exactly the position and I am very glad that this opportunity has arisen for the question to be raised again because I thought it was not answered in the answers which were being given to the others side of the question. But I think I am right in speaking for all of us here and, indeed, if that were not the case I would certainly stand alone here and say it but I am sure I speak for all in saying that any such violence, any such behaviour within the prison system, for Christians of another variety, or whatever, is condemned by us.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 23 June 2008 at 3:31pm BST | Comments (33) | TrackBack
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GAFCON: unheavenly silence

Comment is free has published An unheavenly silence on homophobia by Riazat Butt.

…Last night, the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, said the Gafcon movement would liberate people from religious bondage and would offer a spiritual haven for those who could not live under a “revisionist leadership”. It sounds appealing to the millions of Anglicans disillusioned with western churches. But a press conference revealed acute differences of opinion between the bishops, especially, and most worryingly, on the subject of raping and torturing homosexuals.

A question from Iain Baxter, a media representative from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, aroused expressions of disbelief and outright denial from the primates. The name of his organisation raised a discomfiting titter. Homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya and is punishable by a fine, imprisonment or death.

Archbishops from these countries were on the panel. They said they could not influence government policy on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) legislation, nor could they condone homosexual behaviour because their churches would be shut down. They added one could not break the taboos of African society without suffering the consequences.

Presumably, these cultural constraints justify the punishment meted out to Prossy Kakooza, Baxter’s example of someone tortured because of her sexual orientation. She was arrested, marched naked for two miles to a police station, raped and beaten.

Akinola did not condemn these acts. Neither did the other African archbishops. Orombi said he had never heard of people being tortured because of their homosexuality, that when he learned about incidents – from the western media – he was at a loss to understand why he had not heard of them. He refused to accept that persecuting and torturing gay people was done openly in Uganda…

Read the whole article.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 23 June 2008 at 1:44pm BST | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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GAFCON: 'The Banned'

Ruth Gledhill reports from Jerusalem that:

The eight men and women pictured here are on the official list of those to be denied entry to Gafcon shouldthey try to show up. They are Colorado Bishop Robert O’Neill, Nigerian gay activist Davis MacIyalla being embraced by the Church of England’s Rev Colin Coward, Louie Crew, Susan Russell, Scott Gunn and Deborah and Robert Edmunds…

Read the full entry and see the picture.

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Liverpool tribunal: church press reports

Religious Intelligence has Bishop of Liverpool in call to resign after tribunal ruling by Toby Cohen

Church Times has Press officer who accused bishop of lying wins case by Pat Ashworth

Earlier reports here and also here.

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still more on GAFCON

Earlier reports here.

Guardian Riazat Butt Williams accused of leading church into crisis and Profile: Michael Nazir-Ali

The Guardian has also published the full text of Archbishop Akinola’s speech.

The Times Ruth Gledhill Rebel bishop accuses Dr Rowan Williams over ‘apostasy’ and on her blog, Archbishop Akinola on error and apostasy

BBC Bishops criticise Anglican leader

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Sunday, 22 June 2008

GAFCON starts

There are numerous reports from GAFCON. The official GAFCON site has: Archbishop Akinola’s Opening Address in full.

The subsequent news conference is reported in “We Have No Other Place to Go” - Akinola confims there is no break away. An audio clip is available. And Stand Firm has a fuller record of questions and answers.

And there is also GAFCON Leadership Meets Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem. Another version of this encounter can be found in the ENS report, Jerusalem bishop calls GAFCON participants to reconciliation, not division.

First media reports:

Reuters Ari Rabinovitch Conservative Anglicans to discuss Communion split

Jerusalem Post Matthew Wagner Anglicans gather in Jerusalem to protest secularization

BBC Robert Pigott Rival meeting deepens Anglican rift

Telegraph Martin Beckford Primate of Nigeria vows to rescue Anglican church from crisis over sexuality

In a rallying cry to the hundreds of traditionalists who have gathered in Jerusalem for a critical summit, the Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, said many in the Communion were “apostates” who were going against their religion by tolerating homosexuality.

He poured scorn on the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for his “misleading” comments on Islamic law and claimed he was not interested in what he and other African leaders had to say.

But Archbishop Akinola pledged that he would help Anglican worshippers break free from the spiritual “slavery” they had been placed in by the liberal West, and said the Gafcon conference would answer important questions about what should happen next in the church.

The Times Ruth Gledhill Rebel Anglican bishops plan refuge for orthodox views

Anglican bishops meeting in Jerusalem are planning to form a “church within a church” to counter Western liberalism and to reform the Church from within.

Senior sources told The Times that the most likely outcome of the divisions over homosexuality and biblical authority was an international “Anglican Fellowship” that would provide a home for orthodox Anglicans…

…The new fellowship could have a leadership of six or seven senior conservative bishops and archbishops, such as the Bishop of Pittsburgh, the Right Rev Bob Duncan — who chairs the US Common Cause partnership that acts as an umbrella for American conservatives — Archbishop Henry Orombi, Primate of Uganda, and the Church of England’s Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali.

The aim is not to split the worldwide Anglican Communion, which has 80 million members in 38 provinces, but to reform it from within. Formal ties would be maintained with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, but fellowship members will consider themselves out of communion with the US and Canada…

The Church Times blog has a good roundup of links here.

And Iain Baxter has emailed us a summary of the first day, which is below the fold.

It is well, it is well with my soul.

The opening meeting of the GAFCON conference, here in Jerusalem, ended with this classic hymn. But all is not well with the soul of Anglicanism, at least according to Arch Bishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria. In the US, The Episcopal Church is championing spiritual bondage and it’s all part of the continuing struggle against colonialism.

We are here because we know that in God’s providence GAFCON will liberate and set participants [particularly Africans] free from spiritual bondage which TEC and its Allies champion. Having survived the inhuman physical slavery of the 19th century, the political slavery called colonialism of the 20th century, the developing world economic enslavement, we cannot, we dare not allow ourselves and the millions we represent be kept in religious and spiritual dungeon.

He declares: “a sizeable part of the Communion is in error and not a few are apostate;”

However, not even all the African and Global South leaders agree with him. But this is because they are been bought off:

We know that the expert ‘divide and rule’ agents of TEC and Lambeth have been at work using money and other attractions to buy ‘silence and compromise’ from some gullible African and Global South Church leaders; hence we have begun to see signs of disunity in our ranks.

Lambeth is clearly the enemy along with The Episcopal Church in the US and the Canadian Diocese of New Westminister.

Lambeth Palace, in July 2007, issued invitations to TEC bishops, including those who consecrated Gene Robinson, to attend the Lambeth 2008 conference. At this point, it dawned upon us, regrettably, that the Archbishop of Canterbury was not interested in what matters to us, in what we think or in what we say.

He asks: What sort of recognisable structure and funding must GAFCON as a ‘movement’ in the Communion have to be able achieve the tasks set for it?

Does this mean that money must be used to keep errant “sound” Bishops and Churches on side?

The GAFCON conference has cost £2.5 million. Six individuals in Nigeria donated $1.2 million of this and one individual alone gave $900,000. There is clearly big money behind this grouping but where is it going? This week may begin to give some answers.

Iain Baxter
Media Participant for the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement
GAFCON, Jerusalem 2008.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 22 June 2008 at 10:41pm BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 21 June 2008

more on the London church service

Riazat Butt wrote a profile of Martin Dudley for the Guardian.

Barbara Bradley Hagerty did a piece for National Public Radio Angst Bubbles in the Anglican Communion.

Barbara McMahon reported for the Guardian that Gay priests back in New Zealand after wedding row.

GayNZ.com reported that Priest’s Anglican gay marriage “not the first”.

The Times carried an article by Richard Haggis The Church of England starts at home. He argues that “The faithful in London should not allow foreign Anglican bishops to dictate how they should treat gay clergy and their civil partnerships”.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 21 June 2008 at 7:31pm BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Midsummer opinions

Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times that Christians read the handwritten word differently.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about The bare and desolate SPCK bookshops.

Chris Hardwick writes in the Guardian that It’s healthy for Christians to disagree, but we really must learn to ‘quarrel peacefully’.

Also in the Guardian this week:

Rowan Williams wrote about Henry Chadwick.

Riazat Butt wrote about The ‘pope’ of hope.

Giles Fraser wrote about Me and the secular police.

And over in the Church Times he wrote about Saying ‘no’ to distant government.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 21 June 2008 at 8:15am BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Friday, 20 June 2008

Women Bishops latest

Pat Ashworth writes in today’s Church Times Synod urged in two different directions on women bishops. Two quotes from this article:

The chairman of the Catholic Group on the General Synod, the Revd Canon Simon Killwick, has described as “insulting” and “offensive” the motion on women bishops which the House of Bishops will put forward at the July sessions.

Christina Rees, who chairs Women and the Church (WATCH), described “dire predictions” of an exodus of 500 clergy if the Measure were passed unamended as “unfounded and untrue” on Tuesday.

Also in the Church Times (as already noted here) Glyn Paflin writes Women bishops issue may dominate Synod.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 20 June 2008 at 11:27pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Church Services after Civil Partnerships

InclusiveChurch press release

Church Services after Civil Partnerships

20th June 2008

InclusiveChurch today publishes a paper by Revd Brian Lewis, a member of General Synod and of IC’s Executive Committee on the law in relation to services after Civil Partnerships. The paper demonstrates that under the laws of the Church of England – especially Canon B5 - clergy have far greater liberty in this area than is commonly thought. They are permitted to carry out services of prayer and dedication following a civil partnership so long as they are not deemed to be “Services of Blessing”. The paper is available here, or here as a PDF file.

Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of Inclusive Church, said “We very much welcome this long overdue clarification of the law. It makes the distinction between marriages and civil partnerships and sets out what is permissible within the terms of Canon B5. We hope it will be helpful for clergy wishing to provide public services which respond prayerfully and pastorally to the needs of their congregations.”

The Revd Brian Lewis makes the comparison with the Service of Prayer and Dedication following a Civil Wedding (popularly described as a “A Church Blessing”). In these services the individuals are blessed without the service becoming “a Service of Blessing”.

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GAFCON: Friday update

Updated again Saturday evening

The latest official bulletin is this: Still laughing, despite GAFCON trials.

More news reports this morning:

New York Times Laurie Goodstein Conservative Anglicans Plan Rival Conference as Split Over Homosexuality Grows.

This report says that Archbishop Drexel Gomez also had a visa problem:

…The news conference was called in haste, after the conservatives abandoned a preliminary strategy session in Jordan because two of their most influential members, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, and Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies, were denied visas…

The Telegraph has Orthodox sect justified by gay clergy row, say Conservative Anglicans By Tim Butcher and Martin Beckford.

The Times has a much shorter article: Anglican conference moves to Israel after Archbishop of Nigeria ban by Ruth Gledhill.

The ENS report is headlined Conservative Anglicans, former Episcopalians arrive in Jerusalem for GAFCON.

Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press filed this: Anglican Bible conservatives hold strategy summit.

The Telegraph has another swing at GAFCON, in Hard-line bishops make a mess of it in the Holy Land by George Pitcher

And the Guardian had this in the People column.

David Van Biema in Time has Are the Anglicans About to Split? He ends up with this:

What’s more, the GAFcon conference itself has been a bit of a Keystone Kops affair. Several key conservative bishops who were slated to appear chose not to travel to the Mideast, leaving open the possibility that they will attend Lambeth instead. The group even had trouble finding a location for its conference. At first it was scheduled for Jerusalem, but then the Anglican bishop there said he had enough problems without a divisive conference on his turf. The site was switched to Jordan, but on Wednesday the Jordanian border authorities delayed Akinola and another bishop from entering the country. The reasons were not stated, but opponents suggest that the Jordanians finally caught up with some of the remarks Akinola made in Nigeria a few years ago that may have contributed to violence between Christians and Muslims.

James Naughton, a Canon with the Episcopal diocese of Washington and one of his church’s more outspoken liberals, says, “I don’t think these guys have the juice to pull off a genuine schism. I don’t think Archbishop Akinola speaks for Africa. The coalition he once touted as the ‘global south’ has shrunk to three hard-line provinces [Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda] and [some] Western culture warriors.”

Observers will be counting very carefully the number of bishops who actually shown up in Jerusalem for the conservative conference on Monday. But even if the group does not manage to force Williams’ hand in Lambeth, its statement marks a seemingly irrevocable step toward either a split or a redefined Communion that could have a huge impact on the already turbulent state of Anglican religion in the U.S.

And yet again (is this a record) the Telegraph has an article, this one is headlined Archbishop of Canterbury’s control over Anglicans ‘is ending’ by Martin Beckford.

Saturday

The Living Church has Anglican Leaders Gather for Mideast Conference, in which it says:

…A conference spokesman said that contrary to some reports, Jordanian authorities did not bar two archbishops from entering the kingdom from Israel to participate in a pre-meeting planning session. The Rev. Arne Fjeldstad told the Jordan Times that Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria was not denied entry into Jordan on June 18, but that Archbishop Akinola gave up and returned to Jerusalem after remaining in bureaucratic limbo for several hours at the border.

“They claimed that, as a diplomatic passport holder, he had to give advance warning that he was coming,” Fr. Fjeldstad said, as quoted by Reuters.

Because of the densely-packed agenda, leaders decided not to delay the start of the meeting until all participants were cleared to enter Jordan, but decided to move the planning meeting to Jerusalem after they learned that additional rooms had become available there.

Peter Frank, director of communications for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, said that Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh is one of several members of the GAFCON leadership team who chose to remain in Jordan. Bishop Duncan and a handful of other participants to the Jordan portion of the meeting have decided to remain in Jordan until the scheduled end of that meeting on June 22.

“This was really not a big deal,” Mr. Frank said. “For most it meant that they went on a five-hour bus ride on one day rather than on another.”

Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone also did not attend the planning session in Jordan because he was remaining with his wife after her recent surgery. He is hoping to join the conference later in Jerusalem, Mr. Frank said.

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Thursday, 19 June 2008

London church service: Church Times comments

The Church Times has this news report of the matter, Archbishops reprimand priest who blessed gays by Pat Ashworth.

And it has this leader: Let no man put asunder which starts like this:

THE ARCHBISHOPS are clearly worried about how Anglicans in different provinces might interpret the recent service at St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, at which the partnership of two gay priests was celebrated. This can be the only reason they produced their brief but erroneous statement on Tuesday that clerics in the Church of England are “not at liberty simply to ignore” the Church’s teaching on sexuality, which they define, interestingly, as: the 1987 Synod motion, the 1991 Bishops’ statement Issues in Human Sexuality, the 1998 Lambeth Conference motion 1.10, and the House of Bishops’ 2005 statement on civil partnerships…

and ends like this:

…The service is [in] Smithfield is a little thing, not deserving of pronouncements by archbishops. Its only political purpose is to show the impossibility of carving up the Anglican Church into conservative and liberal provinces or dioceses. Or even parishes: some of those interviewed at St Bartholomew’s at the weekend approved of the Rector’s actions, others did not. The challenge for the Lambeth Conference, and for GAFCON before it, is to demonstrate how Christians can disagree profoundly and yet recognise the working of the Holy Spirit in those with whom they disagree.

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further comment on the London church service

The New Statesman had A discreet wedding… by Brian Cathcart

The Economist has Two weddings and a divorce

America has A Turbulent Priest and the Anglican Headache by Austen Ivereigh

The Evening Standard had The Anglican ‘gay wedding’ and a distinctly turbulent priest by David Cohen

The Daily Mail had Gay priests, marrying, a smirking Prince and this insidious cult of self by Stephen Glover

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 19 June 2008 at 11:14pm BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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more GAFCON reports

Reuters reports that Rebel Anglican summit hit by leader’s visa problem.

Fjeldstad said Akinola was not denied entry into Jordan but gave up after several hours’ delay at the border.

“He was kept in bureaucratic limbo,” he said. “They claimed that, as a diplomatic passport holder, he had to give advance warning that he was coming. He decided to go back to Jerusalem.”

Planned for four days, the Amman meeting “wound up early” when GAFCON leaders learned “that previously granted permission for the Jordan consultation was deemed insufficient”, Fjeldstad said in a statement late on Wednesday announcing the move.

Laurie Goodstein has Rival Conferences for Anglican Church in the New York Times. In her view, the cause of the split is not Robinson but Minns:

The conservatives decided to hold their own meeting after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, announced last year that he would not send an invitation for the Lambeth Conference to a leading conservative leader, Bishop Martyn Minns, a rector in a Virginia church who was ordained a bishop in the Church of Nigeria. The role of Bishop Minns is to minister to conservatives alienated from the Episcopal Church, but his ordination was seen by the Archbishop of Canterbury as a violation of established boundaries.

In a recent interview, Bishop Minns said of his exclusion by the Archbishop: “I didn’t’ feel it was a well-informed political move. Instead of removing the distraction, as he claimed to do, he’s actually created a massive distraction.”

The Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, declared that if Bishop Minns could not attend the Lambeth Conference, then none of his bishops would attend.

The Telegraph has a leader: The Anglican Church is divided, but not fatally.

On paper, therefore, the moment of schism in worldwide Anglicanism has arrived. Many of Gafcon’s members will boycott Lambeth, and the Archbishop of Canterbury will therefore preside over a ruptured communion. But, before Dr Rowan Williams runs up the white flag, he should take a closer look at the reality of Gafcon, as opposed to its self-important pronouncements. The truth is that the conference has so far been a shambles. Its leader, the belligerent Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, has been denied entry to Jordan. Other conservative church leaders are missing because they have chosen not to attend. Significant absentees at Gafcon include the Rt Rev John Chew, Primate of South-East Asia, and Dr Mouneer Anis, Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East and treasurer of the “Global South” group of conservative provinces. And even those leaders who are attending the conference make up a volatile compound. Gafcon, in other words, is far from the united force it claims to be, and it does not fully represent Anglicanism in the developing world.

And it also has this article by Tim Butcher in Jordan and Martin Beckford Anglican church schism declared over homosexuality.

The GAFCON document to which reference is made, entitled The Way, The Truth and The Life, is available as a PDF from this location.

Episcopal Café has some comments, on the book contents, and other aspects in GAFCON gaffes continue.

Paul Handley has a detailed discussion of this book in the Church Times at GAFCON and the parting of the ways.

And the full text of the opening plenary address that was to have been given in Jordan by Bishop Robert Duncan is available in a PDF over here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 19 June 2008 at 10:12pm BST | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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General Synod press briefing

Updated early Friday morning to add Church Times article

The press briefing for next month’s meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England took place earlier this week.

Here is the official press release.
July Synod Briefing: Key debates on women bishops, clergy terms of service legislation, climate change, church tourism, ecumenical relations, reader ministry and parochial fees

Here are press reports, although some stray into matters not on the agenda.
Glyn Paflin in the Church Times Women bishops issue may dominate Synod
Riazat Butt in the Guardian Church leaders fear summer of strife over women and gay clergy
Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Church of England faces compensation bill over women bishops
Ruth Gledhill in The Times 500 clergy set to desert Church over ‘betrayal’ on women bishops

Here is our summary of the agenda and our list of online synod papers. The official list is here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 19 June 2008 at 5:42pm BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 18 June 2008

GAFCON: Akinola denied entry to Jordan

Ruth Gledhill reports in Akinola ‘barred’ from Jordan that Archbishop Akinola was err, barred from entering Jordan.

Sources at the conference tell me that the Nigerian delegation landed in Tel Aviv and went to the northern crossing point. Archbishop Akinola was travelling on his diplomatic passport. After being questioned for four hours, he was turned back, although the rest of the Nigerian delegation was allowed in. He got his passport back, and apparently was told that they needed a particular clearance on a diplomatic passport which he did not possess.

See also ‘Alternative Lambeth’ conference forced to move to Jerusalem.

The other main Global South leader, Archbishop Gregory Venables, is also not in Jordan because his wife is in hospital after complications following a hip operation. He is hoping to join Gafcon in Jerusalem.

US evangelical blogger David Virtue, who is in Jordan, said the Gafcon leaders were thrown into “dismay” because of Dr Akinola’s role as a key player in the conservative bid to reform the Anglican church from within.

The official GAFCON explanation of this event is here.

The pre-GAFCON preparatory consultation in Jordan wound up early, and the participants moved to Jerusalem on Thursday, 19th June. Hotel and meeting rooms previously unavailable in Jerusalem became available at the same time GAFCON leaders learned that previously granted permission for the Jordan consultation was deemed insufficient.

The time in Jordan was very valuable for prayer, fellowship, and networking. The group made pilgrimages to Mt. Nebo and the Baptism Site of Jesus. GAFCON Chairman Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, and Archbishop Greg Venables of Southern Cone, were for different reasons unable to be in Jordan. Both are, however, expected to play significant roles at GAFCON in Jerusalem.

Dave Walker reminds us of why they went to Jordan in the first place: GAFCON moves to Jordan after row.

Jim Naughton reminds us of one reason why this might have happened.

Those attending GAFCON will have this additional opportunity while in Jerusalem :-)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 18 June 2008 at 10:51pm BST | Comments (40) | TrackBack
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reports of the Chartres letter

Guardian Riazat Butt Priest rebuked for ‘marrying’ gay vicars in church

Telegraph Martin Beckford Bishop of London issues stern rebuke to vicar who conducted gay ‘wedding’ and

Gay ‘wedding’ row reveals Church’s true source of conflict by George Pitcher

Times Ruth Gledhill on her blog has Gay blessing: ‘Four bishops in the sanctuary’

and later, Bishop of London Richard Chartres attacks gay priests’ ‘wedding’

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 18 June 2008 at 7:02pm BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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The Bishop of London writes

Sent: 18 June 2008 12:02
Subject: Communication from the Bishop of London re St Bartholomew the Great

To:
Clergy in the Diocese of London
Diocesan Readers
Churchwardens
PCC Secretaries
PCC Treasurers
Deanery Lay Chairs
Members of the Diocesan Synod
Members of the Bishop’s Council

Please find attached two letters which the Bishop of London has asked me to circulate.

With best wishes
Robert Hargrave
Diocesan Communications
———-
PDF original
18th June 2008

Dear Friends,

Many of you will have seen the publicity over the weekend around the service which was held at St Bartholomew the Great on May 31st. I attach a letter I have written to the Rector which sets out the situation as I understand it.

So much good work is being done both nationally and internationally by the Church as it seeks in the spirit of Jesus Christ to address some of the global issues of peace, justice and poverty that confront the peoples of the world. It would be a tragedy if this episode were to distract us from the big agenda.

With thanks for our partnership in the Gospel.

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres DD FSA
———
PDF original
18th June 2008

The Reverend Dr Martin Dudley,
St Bartholomew the Great Parish Office,
6 Kinghorn Street,
London,
EC1A 7HW.

Dear Martin,

You have sought to justify your actions to the BBC and in various newspapers but have failed more than two weeks after the service to communicate with me.

I read in the press that you had been planning this event since November. I find it astonishing that you did not take the opportunity to consult your Bishop.

You describe the result as “familiar words reordered and reconfigured carrying new meanings.” I note that the order of service, which I have now received, includes the phrase “With this ring I thee bind, with my body I thee worship”.

At first sight this seems to break the House of Bishops Guidelines which as I explained in my letter of December 6th 2005 apply the traditional teaching of the Church of England to the new circumstances created by the enactment of Civil Partnerships.

The point at issue is not Civil Partnerships themselves or the relation of biblical teaching to homosexual practice. There is of course a range of opinion on these matters in the Church and, as you know, homophobia is not tolerated in the Diocese of London. The real issue is whether you wilfully defied the discipline of the Church and broke your oath of canonical obedience to your Bishop.

The Archbishops have already issued a statement in which they say that “those clergy who disagree with the Church’s teaching are at liberty to seek to persuade others within the Church of the reasons why they believe, in the light of Scripture, tradition and reason that it should be changed. But they are not at liberty simply to disregard it.”

St Bartholomew’s is not a personal fiefdom. You serve there as an ordained minister of the Church of England, under the authority of the Canons and as someone who enjoys my licence. I have already asked the Archdeacon of London to commence the investigation and I shall be referring the matter to the Chancellor of the Diocese. Before I do this, I am giving you an opportunity to make representations to me direct.

Yours faithfully.

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres DD FSA

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Giles Fraser: Thought For The Day

Broadcast on Radio 4 this morning

A few weeks ago, two Anglican clergymen celebrated their civil partnership at a service in a famous London church. Newspapers last weekend called it a gay wedding. A number of friends of mine were at the service and told of a happy and wonderful occasion. But there are those who have been deeply upset; people who would quote scripture to argue that it threatens the very fabric of marriage itself.

So what, then, is the Church of England’s theology of marriage?

Back in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as the Book of Common Prayer was being put together, marriage was said to be for three purposes:
First, It was ordained for the procreation of children …
Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication ..
Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.
How do these three concerns relate to the prospect of gay marriage?

The third priority insists that marriage is designed to bring human beings into loving and supportive relationships. Surely no one can deny that homosexual men and women are in as much need of loving and supportive relationships as anybody else. And equally deserving of them too. This one seems pretty clear.

The second priority relates to the encouragement of monogamy. The Archbishop of Canterbury himself has rightly recognised that celibacy is a vocation to which many gay people are simply not called. Which is why, it strikes me, the church ought to be offering gay people a basis for monogamous relationships that are permanent, faithful and stable.

So that leaves the whole question of procreation. And clearly a gay couple cannot make babies biologically. But then neither can those who marry much later in life. Many couples, for a whole range of reasons, find they cannot conceive children – or, simply, don’t choose to. Is marriage to be denied them? Of course not.

For these reasons - and also after contraception became fully accepted in the Church of England – the modern marriage service shifted the emphasis away from procreation. The weight in today’s wedding liturgy is on the creation of loving and stable relationships. For me, this is something in which gay Christians have a perfect right to participate.

I know many people of good will are bound to disagree with me on this. But gay marriage isn’t about culture wars or church politics; it’s fundamentally about one person loving another. The fact that two gay men have proclaimed this love in the presence of God, before friends and family and in the context of prayerful reflection is something I believe the church should welcome. It’s not as if there’s so much real love in the world that we can afford to be dismissive of what little we do find. Which is why my view is we ought to celebrate real love however and wherever we find it.

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Tuesday, 17 June 2008

reporting of statement from the archbishops

BBC Archbishops regret gay ‘wedding’ and also Robert Pigott What will Church do about ‘gay wedding’?

Guardian Riazat Butt Archbishops criticise gay clerics’ ceremony

Daily Mail Steve Doughty Archbishop of Canterbury warns clergy not to ‘disregard’ law of the Church after wedding service for gay clerics

Telegraph Martin Beckford Archbishop of Canterbury greatly concerned by gay ‘wedding’

Independent James Macintyre Anglican leaders attack ‘gay marriage’ priests

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 11:40pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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more on that church service

Updated Wednesday morning

It’s hard to keep up with the flow of material on this topic.

Guardian Riazat Butt Priests in civil partnership blessing were reckless, says bishop

New Zealand Herald Gay New Zealand vicar lying low after exchanging vows

New Statesman Martin Dudley Why I blessed gay clergymen’s relationship

The Times Ruth Gledhill To any outside observer this gay marriage was a traditional church wedding

Daily Mail I’d do it all again, says vicar after row over Britain’s first gay ‘wedding’ in an Anglican church

For further links to commentary etc. please refer to Dave Walker’s article at the Church Times Blog The Anglican same-sex blessing service.

Waikato Times Bruce Holloway Gay cleric one of the city’s `best’

Letters to the editor of The Times Church bickering over gays is unchristian

Sir, Christians who are not Anglicans are dismayed by the endless bickering in the Church of England (“Church in meltdown over gays and women”, June 16, and letters, June 17) because of what it is doing to the reputation of the Chistian faith. The issues which divide the established Church have nothing to do with the gospel we are all here to declare. Little wonder the pagan world looks on with cynical disbelief…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 10:41pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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archbishops issue statement about London church service

from Lambeth Palace and Bishopthorpe

Tuesday 17th June 2008

For immediate use

Joint statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York regarding St Bartholomew-the-Great

“We have heard the reports of the recent service in St Bartholomew the Great with very great concern. We cannot comment on the specific circumstances because they are the subject of an investigation launched by the Bishop of London.

On the general issue, however, the various reference points for the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality (1987 Synod motion, 1991 Bishops’ Statement- Issues in Human Sexuality- , Lambeth motion 1:10, House of Bishops’ 2005 statement on civil partnerships) are well known and remain current.

Those clergy who disagree with the Church’s teaching are at liberty to seek to persuade others within the Church of the reasons why they believe, in the light of Scripture, tradition and reason that it should be changed. But they are not at liberty simply to disregard it.”

ENDS

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more press coverage of the Liverpool case

Updated again Wednesday evening

The Liverpool Daily Post has Bishop was branded ‘a liar who dislikes Liverpool’
and also Tribunal judgment accepted – but claims against Bishop ‘completely rejected’.

Another version of the first of these articles is here.

Mr Johnston also worked as a priest in the Manchester diocese, so the story has been picked up by the Bolton News in Sacked Horwich vicar’s job appeal victory.

And Bishop Jones formerly worked in Yorkshire, so the story has been covered in the Yorkshire Post where the headline is Former Hull bishop branded ‘liar and hypocrite’.

The Times David Johnston, sacked vicar who called Bishop a liar, wins £14,500

The diocesan statement quoted in the paper is:

“It appears that our processes were in some way deficient, and we are looking into this as a matter of urgency.
“That said, we now want to put this matter behind us and concentrate on the important work of the Diocesan Board of Finance and support our clergy and congregations in their work pursuing the mission of God in the Diocese of Liverpool.
“Allegations made against the Bishop of Liverpool at the employment tribunal have been made by a former employee of the Diocesan Board of Finance. They did not form the basis on which the judgment was awarded.
“The Diocese rejects these allegations completely.
“As far as the Diocese is concerned, any close examination of the Bishop’s work over the last 10 years shows an outstanding level of commitment. Bishop James was, is and will continue to be a key voice in and excellent ambassador for the City and Diocese of Liverpool.”

The Liverpool Echo has two more articles:

Sacked cleric: Why I say Bishop of Liverpool must quit

and

True servant of Liverpool

Wednesday’s Guardian had this in the People column:

For a man of God, the Rt Rev James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, seems to be spending a lot of time conceding that institutions he heads have treated employees badly. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to lose one employment tribunal may be accounted a misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness. Earlier this year Wycliffe Hall, the Oxford theological college whose governing council he chairs which under the new principal he appointed, conservative evangelical Richard Turnbull, has lost 11 of its 13 academic staff in a year admitted it acted unlawfully in sacking theologian Elaine Storkey, a fellow Radio 4 Thought for the Day presenter, for no good cause.

Now, it has taken another tribunal just 15 minutes to decide the way he cast off his Liverpool diocesan press officer, David Johnston, after false rumours about the break-up of his marriage also amounted to unfair dismissal. The bishop, who regards himself as something of a media operator, was said by Johnston to be a liar who did not like Liverpool - a clear calumny according to a diocesan statement. Johnston says there was “no grace or mercy; no humanity” in the bishop’s dealings with him. Jones joins Hereford’s Bishop Anthony Priddis in defeat: Priddis also lost a tribunal this year after refusing to employ a youth worker on the grounds he might one day enter a gay relationship. They’re costing the church a lot of money.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 at 9:06am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Monday, 16 June 2008

Liverpool Diocese loses employment tribunal case

The Liverpool Echo reports Bishop’s former ‘spin doctor’ David Johnston wins unfair dismissal case.

The BBC has Diocese worker unfairly dismissed.

The Telegraph has Vicar wins £14,000 over relationship with colleague.

And there is an earlier Echo report, Diocese under fire at tribunal.

In an unusual approach to employment tribunal reporting, the Claimant has published a great deal of documentation at a purpose-built website, Thomas David Johnston vs Liverpool Diocesan Board of Finance, see here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 16 June 2008 at 10:19pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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further reports on the London church service

Earlier reports here and here.

Riazat Butt at the Guardian has Gay priest resigns after furore over church blessing.

The headline refers to the New Zealand priest, David Lord, about whom there is also this report from New Zealand on Stuff, NZ priest in gay marriage row gives up licence.

Concerning the legal situation in England, Riazat reports this:

Dudley is the freeholder of St Bartholomew’s, making it virtually impossible for him to be ousted. But he could face procedures which would involve someone proving there had been an irrevocable pastoral breakdown or that Dudley had acted in a manner unbecoming of a clergyman of the Church of England.

Nigel Seed, a church lawyer, said there was no prohibition on having a service after a civil partnership, provided it was not contrary to church doctrine.

“If you do not purport it to be a service of blessing there is nothing to stop couples from having prayers, hymns or a service of prayer and dedication,” he said.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 16 June 2008 at 7:19am BST | Comments (38) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 15 June 2008

GAFCON and Uganda

A recent press release from Uganda has now been followed by another, What is GAFCON?

An excerpt:

Are the Bishops from the Church of Uganda going to Lambeth?

No. The Church of Uganda Bishops decided together not to go to Lambeth this year. Their decision has been supported by the governing body of the Church of Uganda, the Provincial Assembly Standing Committee. The reason the Church of Uganda is not going to Lambeth is because the purpose of Lambeth is for fellowship among Bishops, and our fellowship has been broken with the American church. We broke fellowship with them for three reasons:

1. In direct violation of the Bible and historic Christian teaching, they consecrated as a Bishop a gay man living in a same-sex relationship

2. After five years of pleading with them, listening to them, and giving them many opportunities, they have not repented of that decision.

3. The Archbishop of Canterbury did not follow the advice given to him by his own appointed Commission to not invite to Lambeth those responsible for the confusion and disobedience in the Anglican Communion. The Bible says, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” We have not been in fellowship with the Americans who have violated the Bible since 2003, so we are not going to pretend by going to Lambeth that we are in fellowship. We are not. What they have done is a very serious thing, and what the Archbishop of Canterbury has done in inviting them is grievous and we want them to know that.

Is the Church of Uganda seceding from the Anglican Communion?

No. We are simply not going to the Lambeth Conference. We are still part of the Anglican Communion, and the vast majority of the Anglican Communion opposes what the American Church has done and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s tacit support for it…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 15 June 2008 at 11:10pm BST | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Scottish plans for Lambeth

The Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow has announced local plans to mark the Lambeth Conference.

Read An Announcement.

The plans include having the Primate of Canada as guest preacher on the morning of Sunday 13 July. And another is:

… Finally, it seems to me to be desirable to have someone at the end of the conference to come and preach to us. But who would the best person to have be? After all, all the bishops of Communion will be busy with Rowan Williams in Canterbury at the Conference. Well, all bar one. I’m delighted to announce that the Rt Rev Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire has agreed to come and celebrate the Eucharist and to preach the gospel on 3 August 2008 at 1030 here in St Mary’s.

The Bishop of New Hampshire will also preach at St. Mary’s, Putney in London on Sunday July 13 at 6 p.m.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 15 June 2008 at 5:20pm BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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more on that church service

Updated again 11 pm Sunday

Further reports:

BBC Anger at Anglican gay ‘wedding’ and a full report on the radio programme Sunday. Interviewees include Martin Dudley, Colin Slee, and David Banting. Permanent URL now available: go here. (12.5 minutes)

Associated Press Anglican Church: Gay ‘wedding’ broke rules

Press Association Gay ‘marriage’ for Anglican priests

Reverend Martin Dudley, who led the ceremony, said he disagrees with the official guidance.

He added: “I was asked by a friend and colleague to bless their civil partnership. I said ‘of course I will’.

“Peter is a dear friend and I have gay friends and one respects them for who they are. It seemed perfectly reasonable.

“I certainly didn’t do it to defy my bishop or to make a statement, I did it as a matter of pastoral care for someone for whom I have a very high regard.”

Mr Dudley said the traditional marriage liturgy was significantly altered for the occasion, which he described as ‘glorious’.

There were around 300 guests, including a number of clergy and Cowell’s mother who read the lesson.

Dudley added: “I know about the bishops guidelines and I disagree with them. It just seems to me to be utter hypocrisy to deny the fact that there are significant numbers of gay men and women within the church and significant numbers of gay clergy.

“It seems to me that Jesus would have been sitting in the congregation.”
He said differing opinions in the church are fine as long as people disagree “in love and understanding”.

“You can’t allow the cultural and theological prejudices of the Bishop of Uganda for example, to govern how we are going to go forward in a very diverse community where the law and society accepts homosexual relationships in civil partnerships.”

From the comments on the Telegraph site:

19. Posted by The Revd Dr Martin Dudley on June 15, 2008 08:54 AM
As the Rector of St Bartholomew the Great, who officiated at this service, I would like to add a little clarity to the story.

First, it was not a wedding or a marriage but the blessing of a civil partnership. Mr Wynne-Jones was well aware of this from his conversation with me today. If others construe it as a wedding, than they do so deliberately in order to ferment division.

Second, it was not and was intended to be a provocative act. It was not undertaken in defiance of the Bishop of London and there was no plea from him that I should not officiate at the service.

Third, we should remember that this service celebrated the love that the two persons involved have for each other. I officiated at it because Fr Peter Cowell has been my friend and colleague for many years. 300 people joined in the service; nearly 200 received communion, and there were dozens of other clergy present. It was not a rally or a demonstration. If other people want to turn into a loveless battlefield for the future of the Church of England, then it is they who will carry responsibility for the consequences.

Fulcrum reports a communication from Lloyd Ashton, Media Officer to the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia which reads:

…News reports in the United Kingdom have described a London Anglican church blessing for two male Anglican clergy, one of whom is a New Zealander.

The New Zealand priest involved has felt it appropriate to lay down his clergy license, in the light of Anglican Communion processes and discussions in the area of same gender Blessings and ordination.

Both the bishops to whom the priests were licensed, one in New Zealand and the other in the United Kingdom, were not aware of the ceremony.

The Bishop of Waikato and the Waikato priest concerned have released this joint statement. They will make no further comment on this matter.

The Associated Press reports that:

London’s bishop said Sunday he would order an investigation into whether two gay priests exchanged rings and vows in a church ceremony, violating Anglican guidelines.

The priests walked down the aisle in a May 31 service at one of London’s oldest churches marked by a fanfare of trumpets and capped by a shower of confetti, Britain’s Sunday Telegraph reported.

The bishop, the Right Rev. Richard Chartres, said such services are not authorized in the Church of England. He said he would ask the archdeacon of London to investigate.

And also that:

Church of England spokesman Lou Henderson said the archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Communion’s spiritual leader, was unlikely to make any public comment about the controversy.

Channel 4 News had a report this evening, which you can watch by going here.

From New Zealand, the local angle in Anglicans incensed by gay ‘wedding’:

… The fallout for Dr Lord, who was ordained at Waikato Cathedral Church of St Peter in December last year, had been swift. In a joint statement with the Bishop of Waikato yesterday, he said he “felt it appropriate to lay down his clergy licence”. This means he is unable to work as an Anglican priest…

There are further stories on the newspaper websites:

The Times Anglican church in meltdown over gays and women
Daily Mail Rector faces the sack after holding Britain’s first gay ‘wedding’ in an Anglican church
Telegraph Controversial vicar investigated after Anglican church’s first gay ‘wedding’

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Saturday, 14 June 2008

London church service makes news

Updated Saturday evening

The Episcopal Café reports on a Same sex wedding held in London church.

The complete order of service is available as a PDF file from there.

Update
From tomorrow’s Sunday Telegraph Jonathan Wynne-Jones reports:

Male priests marry in Anglican church’s first gay ‘wedding’
First gay ‘wedding’: Only the bride was missing
First gay ‘wedding’: All eyes on Archbishop of Canterbury

Some quotes from the Telegraph:

The Most Rev Henry Orombi, the Archbishop of Uganda, said that the ceremony was “blasphemous.” He called on Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to take decisive action if the Anglican Church were not to “disintegrate”. Archbishop Orombi added: “What really shocks me is that this is happening in the Church of England that first brought the Gospel to us.

“The leadership tried to deny that this would happen, but now the truth is out. Our respect for the Church of England will erode unless we see a return to traditional teaching.”

The Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester – a powerful conservative figure – said that the service represented a wedding “in all but name”. He said: “Strictly speaking it is not a marriage, but the language is clearly modelled on the marriage service and the occasion is modelled on the marriage service. This clearly flouts Church guidelines and will exacerbate divisions within the Anglican Communion.”

The bishop said that it was up to the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, to act, adding that it would become a high-profile test case of Church authority.

“Can we stand for the clear teaching of the Church of England or are we powerless in the face of these actions, which I regret enormously have taken place,” he said.

From the Mail on Sunday by Jonathan Petre:

Row as rector holds Britain’s first gay ‘wedding’ in an Anglican church and another copy with a slightly different headline here.

Some quotes from the Mail:

Tory MP Sir Patrick Cormack, a prominent Anglican, said: ‘This is extraordinary. I am surprised the rector of such an important church should act in apparent defiance of his bishop.’

Alison Ruoff, a member of the Church of England’s General Synod, said: ‘It is incredibly sad that people are prepared to sin against God and the Church.’

… Mr Dudley said he was unrepentant. He said he had written to Bishop Chartres 18 months ago for guidance on blessings for same-sex couples in civil partnerships, but was told the Church’s House of Bishops had not approved them.

‘Bishop Chartres asked me not to offer them and I do not offer them,’ he said.

‘But if close friends ask me to bless them, I do not say no.

‘It would be an act of hypocrisy to do anything else.

I was ordained alongside gay candidates of the priesthood and many of my clergy friends are gay, though I am not.’

He said he regarded the service as a blessing rather than a marriage and added that he was not worried about discipline because he had acted with integrity.

A Church spokesman said: ‘The Church of England is absolutely firm on the point that a marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

‘The Church has no liturgy for blessing same-sex unions.’

Agence France-Presse reports that:

A Church of England spokesman told AFP they had “no reason” to believe that the ceremony did not take place but added: “What we seem to have here is a fairly serious breach of the rules by an individual or groups of individuals.”

… The Church of England spokesman said he hoped the news would not affect relations between member churches, stressing: “The Church of England has not changed its rules (on the subject) at any stage.”

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, in whose diocese the ceremony took place, was unavailable for comment, his spokesman told AFP.

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This Saturday's opinion columns

To win influence, the Church must first win arguments, writes Stephen Plant in The Times.

Wake up to how people really see the C of E, said Mark Hope-Urwin in last week’s Church Times.

Finding a crucifix on a rubbish heap was a timely reminder of God’s enduring love, says Andrew Clitherow in the Guardian.

Earlier in the week, Giles Fraser wrote in the Guardian: Religion thrives in Africa and the Middle East. So is the argument that clever people don’t believe in God racist? See Intelligent, divine.

His Church Times column this week is titled When mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

Riazat Butt wrote at Comment is free about a conference in Saudi Arabia, see Between a rock and jihad place?

Christopher Howse wrote about Wittgenstein in Jeeves and the idea of human sacrifice.

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Scottish General Synod Day 3

The 2008 meeting of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church had its third, and final, day of business today.

Reports on today’s business on the Church’s website.

Written report

General Synod 2008 - Saturday 14 June

Verbal report

Update from General Synod 2008 12pm 14 June 2008

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Friday, 13 June 2008

pastoral letter from the Bishop of California

The Bishop of California, Bishop Marc Andrus has issued a pastoral letter to his diocese. Read it in full at Pastoral Letter Regarding Same-sex Marriage.

Naturally, he is responding to the recent California legal judgement, and to subsequent reactions to that. But the most distinctive feature of his recommendations is this:

I urge you to encourage all couples, regardless of orientation, to follow the pattern of first being married in a secular service and then being blessed in The Episcopal Church. I will publicly urge all couples to follow this pattern.

This pattern is of course normal (and unavoidable) in many parts of Western Europe (though not the UK) and some other countries. Nevertheless Bishop Andrus has been criticised for proposing it in California.

Some news reports of this:

ENS California bishop urges all couples to seek civil union first, then church blessing

Living Church Bishop Andrus Plans Ad Campaign to Attract Same-Sex Couples

San Jose Mercury Episcopal bishop praises ‘fundamental right of all people to marry’

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Scottish General Synod Day 2

The 2008 meeting of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church had its second day of business today.

Reports on today’s business on the Church’s website.

Written report
General Synod 2008 - Friday 13 June

Verbal reports (about five minutes each) on the morning and afternoon sessions
Synod 2008 Audio Update - 12pm 13 June 2008
Synod 2008 Audio Update - 5pm 13 June 2008
[updated Saturday morning to reflect correction of report title on SEC website]

Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, and a member of synod, is blogging from the floor of synod.

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more reactions to the Von Hügel Institute report

Simon Barrow wrote about it on Comment is free at Compass points.

Alan Wilson responded to this journalism with Middle Class whining from Dystopolis.

Today, the Church Times has this news report by Ed Beavan C of E volunteers ‘add civic value’ to the nation, and this leader: A patchwork cannot give blanket cover.

The Tablet has an article by a report author, Francis Davis titled ‘Damned if you do …’.

Unfortunately, two further articles, one in the Church Times by Bishop Stephen Lowe and one in the Tablet by Frank Field are both behind paywalls for another week.

Stephen Morgan has a review of the report here at Thinking Faith.

And, at Wardman Wire Simon Barrow writes again, in Churches and public service - Thinking Aloud. Matt Wardman writes:

Over the next several weeks, we will be publishing a number of articles from a range of viewpoints - aiming to get beyond the initial reactions which many commentators have felt obliged to publish without reading the document itself. Most of these initial reactions seem to be attempts to create narratives supporting existing positions. That is a criticism that I would extend to all over-rapid reactions - including those I agree with who have indulged themselves.

There is much there relevant to the policy research and formation process with respect to the Third Sector, as well as the position of Christian churches in the UK, and their relation to government. I’m hoping to obtain a very wide range of perspectives in this second “online symposium” (our first one back in February was about MP Pay and Expenses).

We start off with an overview from Simon Barrow…

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reading and reshaping the Communion

The Church of England Newspaper has this week published an article by Graham Kings. This is at Religious Intelligence under the title Reading and Reshaping the Anglican Communion.

This is a shorter version of a paper on the Fulcrum website, the long version can be found here.

The article has two parts: a “Reading” which involves a diagram.
The Religious Intelligence copy has an illegible version of this. Go here for a large version.

The other part is a “Reshaping” proposal, which may provoke some interesting discussion.

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Thursday, 12 June 2008

Pittsburgh brings convention date forward

Following on from this development, it is now announced that the “expressed threat of deposition of the Diocesan Bishop at a September meeting of the House of Bishops” is the justification for changing the date of the diocesan convention.

9th June, A.D. 2008
St. Columba’s Day

TO ALL CLERGY AND LAY DEPUTIES TO THE 143RD ANNUAL CONVENTION:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

After extensive consultation, and with the consent of the Standing Committee, I am moving the time and place of the 143rd Annual Convention of the Diocese to Saturday, October 4th, 2008, at St. Martin’s Church, Monroeville.

Registration of clerical and lay deputies will be from 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. The Convention Eucharist will begin at 8:30 a.m. The business session of Convention will begin immediately following the Eucharist. Lunch will be served at midday. It is anticipated that all matters required to come before the Annual Convention will be complete during the afternoon, with adjournment at the completion of said business.

The date and place of the Annual Convention having been previously set, I am announcing this change under the provisions of Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution of the Diocese. The expressed threat of deposition of the Diocesan Bishop at a September meeting of the House of Bishops is the “sufficient cause.”

The election and certification of all lay deputies is required by June 30th.

Pre-Convention materials will be distributed as required by the Rules of Order. Pre-Convention Hearings will be scheduled in three regions of the Diocese, with dates already set as:

Sunday, September 21, 3 p.m. at Christ Church, Greensburg
Wednesday September 24, 7 p.m. at St. Martin’s, Monroeville
Monday, September 29, 7 p.m., St. Stephen’s, Sewickley

The original convention dates for 7-8 November are being held for a “Consultation on Moving Forward in Mission.” This will be an important first opportunity for shaping our corporate life as we move beyond October’s realignment vote.

Please keep every aspect of this momentous Convention in your prayers.

Faithfully in Christ,

+Bob Pittsburgh

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Scottish General Synod Day 1

The 2008 meeting of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church opened today. The afternoon session included a debate on the Anglican Covenant. The main motion (number 3) before synod was

That this Synod affirm an ‘in principle’ commitment to the Covenant process at this time (without committing itself to the details of any text).

This was amended to

That this Synod affirm an ‘in principle’ commitment to continue to participate actively in discussions regarding the future shape of the Anglican Communion at this time (without necessarily committing itself to the concept of a convenant).

The amended motion was carried (65 votes for; 56 against).

There are a number of reports on the day’s business on the Church’s website.

Written reports
General Synod 2008 - Thursday 12 June - contains the text of the Primus’s charge to the synod
General Synod 2008 - Thursday 12 June - day’s proceedings

Verbal reports (about five minutes each) on the morning and afternoon sessions
Synod Update 2008 Noon 12 June 2008
Synod Update 2008 5pm 12 June 2008

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News on Crown Appointments

A note to General Synod members, GS Misc 889, announces the latest appointments that the Government has made in relation to this area of activity. Here’s what it says:

Crown Appointments

1. In February the General Synod decided that the Government should be invited to agree that there should be a continuing and not merely formal, role for a senior civil servant, at the heart of Government in the selection processes for senior Crown appointments in the Church of England. The Synod also decided that it wanted the Government to continue to provide the necessary staff-work to support the Crown’s (including the Lord Chancellor’s) parochial patronage responsibilities.

2. Following discussions with the Archbishops the Prime Minister has invited Mr Paul Britton to be his Appointments Secretary for senior ecclesiastical appointments and his adviser within the senior Civil Service on Church/State relations. Mr Britton, who is an Anglican and lives in the diocese of Rochester, will remain Director General, Domestic Policy Group, Cabinet Office and Head of the Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat. He will work with the Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary on the consultations for diocesan bishop appointments and will attend meetings of the Crown Nominations Commission. In relation to Crown appointments to cathedrals he will be assisted by Ms Emma Boggis, another senior civil servant in the Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat, who is also an Anglican and will take part in the selection processes for the Crown deaneries. Work on parochial appointments will remain with Mr Nick Wheeler.

3. The Archbishops have welcomed these new arrangements.

William Fittall
Secretary General

Church House
Westminster SW1P 3AZ

June 2008

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another Martyn Minns interview

This one is in Time and is shared with another bishop. Read Gay Bishop vs. Straight Bishop by David Van Biema.

The other interview can be found here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 12 June 2008 at 10:32am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 11 June 2008

GAFCON and Sydney

The Sydney Morning Herald carries a report by David Marr titled The archbishop says No. It starts out:

The Anglican Church faces a modern Great Schism, with gay-tolerant Christians on one side and radical “Bible-believers” on the other. And at the forefront of the hardliners is Australia’s outspoken evangelist Peter Jensen.

Pilgrims to the mount of olives late this month may be startled to see a couple of hundred Anglican divines kitted out in purple toiling up the slope. Most of the faces will be black. Back home these men are princes of the church; their followers run into tens of millions. But somewhere among the bishops, dressed incongruously in civvies, will be the humble, smiling face of Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney.

What’s afoot in Jerusalem is the destruction of the Anglican Communion, the worldwide church loosely aligned to the Archbishop of Canterbury. It spread with the empire and has so far survived, despite all its contradictions, for about 450 years, guided by the tart good sense of its founding monarch, Elizabeth I: “There is only one Jesus Christ and all the rest is a dispute over trifles…”

And it ends with this:

…The Sydney bishops had still not made up their minds to boycott Lambeth after four weeks of “agonising and struggle” - the words of Jensen’s media officer Russell Powell - when Akinola announced their decision for them in far-off Lagos, telling a press conference he was not going to Lambeth - and nor were the bishops of Uganda, Rwanda and Sydney.

Jensen scrambled. He rang the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office to say the Sydney bishops were not coming. At some point the letter was signed and sent. Then Jensen made the decision public. But senior sources in the church say two bishops remain deeply troubled: “They were told to like it or lump it.” My calls to those men were flick-passed to Jensen’s office. Powell informed me that everyone, including Jensen, was upset not to be going. “But the bishops are gladly united in the decision that has been taken.”

Jensen drove all these big decisions. Only when they were signed and sealed did he take them to the Standing Committee of his synod - the parliament of his diocese - where they were rubber-stamped by the clergy and laity. Was that the right way round? “Some would think it a failure of leadership to do it any other way,” answers Powell. The Standing Committee gave its support and “thanks to God for the unreserved commitment to biblical teaching of the Archbishop and his Bishops.”

Jensen speaks of the old Anglican Communion in the past tense. As far as he’s concerned, it’s finished. Lambeth can go on quarrelling about homosexuality, but the Archbishop of Sydney expects the subject will hardly be mentioned at GAFCON. That’s in the past. It is, after all, a bond between them. “To my mind we are just living in a new age. We’re in a different sort of organisation. Now it’s exploring the possibilities of this different organisation that is now before us.” All the way from Westminster Abbey comes the sound of Queen Elizabeth I spinning in her tomb.

The article is very long but well worth reading in full.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 11 June 2008 at 3:17pm BST | Comments (31) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Scottish Episcopal Church General Synod

The Scottish Episcopal Church is holding the annual meeting of its General Synod from Thursday to Saturday this week (12 to 14 June) in Edinburgh.

There are several items on the Church’s website about the meeting.

Agenda and Papers
General Information
Preview

For an overview of the synod’s activities see here.

On Thursday afternoon the synod will debate these three motions on the proposed Anglican Covenant.

Motion 3: That this Synod affirm an ‘in principle’ commitment to the Covenant process at this time (without committing itself to the details of any text).

Motion 4: That this Synod ask the Faith and Order Board to respond to the ‘three questions’ in the letter from the Joint Standing Committee, incorporating this Synod’s response to Question 1.

Motion 5: That this Synod:
a) note the St Andrew’s draft Covenant, and ask dioceses to discuss it and submit comments to the Faith and Order Board by 31 December 2008;
b) ask the Faith and Order Board to prepare a response to the Anglican Communion on the draft Covenant, taking due cognisance of the views of this Synod and of dioceses.

The three questions referred to in motion 4 are:

1. Is the Province able to give an “in principle” commitment to the Covenant process at this time (without committing itself to the details of any text)?
2. Is it possible to give some indication of any synodical process which would have to be undertaken in order to adopt the Covenant in the fullness of time?
3. In considering the St Andrew’s Draft for an Anglican Covenant, are there any elements which would need extensive change in order to make the process of synodical adoption viable?

For links to the St Andrew’s draft and related documents see here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 10 June 2008 at 10:20am BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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some reactions to the report

The Prime Minister’s Spokesman said:

Asked if the Prime Minister accepted that the Church of England had been marginalised in the last few years, and that it had not been listened to perhaps as much as voices from other faiths, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister would not accept that at all. The Prime Minister was obviously keen on engaging with all of the major religious groups in this country to ensure that their views were properly aired. We had worked very closely with the Church of England and other religious groups on a number of important policy issues such as the campaign on global debt reduction, which was very much lead by the Church, and which the Government responded to in a very significant way.

Francis Davis one of the report’s authors wrote this: ‘Moral, But No Compass’ – a challenge to every politician.

A Telegraph leader says: The Church of England sees sense.
And George Pitcher writes Labour has bungled religion.

The Times has David Aaronovitch saying The Church of England should drop its martyred tone.
And the letters page has several who disagree with the report: A grown-up Church should not need the State.

At Ekklesia Simon Barrow has written about A wonky church and welfare debate.
And there is a further news report at Church and welfare debate continues as new report is published.

And here’s a speech on the same topic, given last week by the Archbishop of York to the Institute of Jewish Policy Research: Archbishop’s Speech on The Role Of Religion In Politics.

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Monday, 9 June 2008

BBC interviews Martyn Minns

Stephen Sackur of the BBC interviewed Bishop Martyn Minns for Hardtalk.

Watch the full interview here.

Read a summary of the interview at Episcopal Café.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 9 June 2008 at 11:49pm BST | Comments (78) | TrackBack
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Bishop Colton on the Covenant

Updated Tuesday evening

The Church of Ireland has issued two press releases arising from what the Bishop of Cork, the Rt Revd Paul Colton, said at his diocesan synod on Saturday.

Bishop Colton: Anglican Covenant Raises Issues Of Canon Law

Speaking to members of the Church of Ireland in Cork, Cloyne and Ross at their annual Diocesan Synod on Saturday 7th June, the Bishop of Cork, the Rt Revd Paul Colton, said that the proposed Anglican Covenant which will be debated at next month’s Lambeth Conference raises some major issues for the Church of Ireland.
The Bishop said ‘… the proposed Anglican Covenant, if progressed through the central Anglican structures, the so-called Instruments of Unity, and if it is to be binding on the Church of Ireland, will have to come to the General Synod for ratification and incorporation into the law of the Church of Ireland.’
However, he said: ‘We already have our Preamble and Declaration. It too is a solemn document and covenantal in character: a covenant with and between ourselves formulated at a cathartic time of crisis. Drawn up in 1870 in anticipation of the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, it is for us one of our title deeds…

Bishop Colton Encourages A New Approach To Canterbury Appointment

…The Bishop warned that the proposed Anglican Covenant gives the Archbishop of Canterbury significant new powers outside of the Church of England and within other Churches. Bishop Colton said that in spite of the Covenant’s protestations to the contrary, “… agreeing to it would result in compromising the autonomy of the Church of Ireland and other parts of the Anglican Communion.”

Bishop Colton said that while what was being proposed may be necessary to preserve the unity of Anglicanism, the proposal to enhance the powers of the Archbishop of Canterbury represented a partial move “…towards universal primacy at the expense of local conciliarity.”

He argued, therefore, that if this is to happen there would have to be a new approach to the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

He said: “If the Covenant proposals and the framework for resolution of conflict are to be adopted internationally, a new approach to the appointment of future Archbishops of Canterbury will be needed as well as international involvement in those appointments. At a minimum this international involvement should involve a new process of formal and transparent consultation throughout Anglicanism.

“I realise that this will compromise the autonomy of the Church of England and raise issues of leadership, authority as well as constitutional concerns for establishment in the English context, which would in turn have to be addressed; but, equally, not to address this matter will raise ecclesial constitutional concerns throughout much of the rest of Anglicanism.”

Update

The full text of his remarks is available as a PDF file here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 9 June 2008 at 10:50pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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General Synod Papers

Updated Monday 16 June and Monday 23 June
Papers for next month’s meeting of General Synod are starting to appear online. Links will be added to the list below as they become available.

Agenda
Friday 4 July
Saturday 5 July
Sunday 6 July
Monday 7 July
Tuesday 8 July
Special Agenda I - Legislative Business

Notice Paper 1
Notice Paper 2
Notice Paper 4

Synod Papers

The scheduled day for debate is appended. Starred items will only be debated if a member requests a debate.

GS 1637B Draft Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure [Saturday]
GS 1637Z report by the Steering Committee
GS 1682A Draft Church of England Pensions (Amendment) Measure [Saturday]
GS 1683A Draft Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure [Saturday]
GS 1683Y report by the Revision Committee
GS 1685 Women Bishops: Report Of The Women Bishops Legislative Drafting Group [Saturday and Monday]
GS 1685A Report From The House Of Bishops [Monday]
GS 1685B Note from the Secretary General and revised Annex G
GS 1686 Appointment Of Chair Of The Church Of England Pensions Board [Sunday]
GS 1688 Report by the Business Committee [Friday]
GS 1689 Reader Ministry: Report From The Ministry Division Of The Archbishops’ Council [Saturday]
GS 1690 Annual Report Of The Audit Committee [Sunday]
GS 1691 Anglican/Methodist Covenant [Monday]
GS 1692 Draft Vacancies in Suffragan Sees and Other Ecclesiastical Offices Measure [Saturday]
GS 1692X Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1693 Draft Crown Benefices (Parish Representatives) Measure [Saturday]
GS 1693X Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1694 Vacancy in See Committees (Amendment) Regulation 2008 [Saturday]
GS 1694X Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1695 Payments to the Churches Conservation Trust Order 2008 [Sunday]
GS 1695X Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1696 Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2008 [Monday *]
GS 1697 Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2008 [Monday *]
GS 1696-7X Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1698 Parochial Fees Order 2008 [Monday *]
GS 1698X Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1699 Forty-Third Report Of The Standing Orders Committee [Monday]
GS 1700 Archbishops’ Council’s Draft Budget For 2009 [Tuesday]
GS 1701 Annual Report Of The Archbishops’ Council [Sunday *]
GS 1703 Supplementary Report From The Deployment, Remuneration And Conditions Of Service Committee to GS Misc 877 Parochial Fees: Four Funerals and a Wedding
GS 1704 Appointment Of Archbishops’ Council’s Auditors [Sunday]
GS 1705 Climate Change And Human Security: Challenging An Environment Of Injustice: A Report By The Mission And Public Affairs Council [Sunday]
GS 1706 The Church Of The Triune God: The Cyprus Agreed Statement Of The International Commission For Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue Briefing Paper From Faith And Order Advisory Group [Friday]

GS Misc 887 A and B and Annex B Private Member’s Motion: Church Tourism [Sunday]
GS Misc 890 A and B Diocesan Synod Motion: Faith, Work And Economic Life [Monday]
GS Misc 891 A and B Diocesan Synod Motion: Anglican Governance [Tuesday]
GS Misc 898 Diocesan Synod Motion: Voice of the Church in Public Life [contingency business]

Other Papers circulated to synod members

GS Misc 888 Apportionment Limited Review and Annexes 5a, 5b, 6 & 7
GS Misc 889 Crown Appointments
GS Misc 892 Mission Development Funding
GS Misc 893 Annual Report of the Clergy Discipline Commission
GS Misc 894 Into the New Quinquennium: 2nd Progress Report
GS Misc 895 A note from the Secretary General on Moral, But No Compass
GS Misc 896 Activities of the Archbishops’ Council
GS Misc 897 Presence and Engagement: An Update

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July General Synod Agenda

The agenda for the July group of sessions of the General Synod is now available; an outline version follows.

July Group of Sessions 2008

Outline Agenda

Usual sitting hours: 9.30 am to 1 pm; 2.30 pm to 6.15 pm; 8.30 pm to 10 pm

Friday 4 July

[2.30-3.30 pm Provision for meetings of the Convocations and House of Laity if required]

4.00 pm Welcomes, introductions, message on behalf of ecumenical guests
Business Committee report
Address by Metropolitan John Zizioulas
Anglican/Orthodox relations, The Church of the Triune God

8.20 pm Introduction to group work by the Bishop of Manchester
Questions

Saturday 5 July

[9.30 am Group work]

11.00 am Women Bishops: take-note debate

2.30 pm Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York
Legislative Business:
- Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure: Final Drafting and Final Approval
- Church of England (Pensions) Amendment) Measure: Revision Stage, Final Drafting and Final Approval
Crown Appointments Legislation:
- Vacancies in Suffragan Sees and Other Ecclesiastical Offices Measure: First Consideration
- Crown Benefices (Parish Representatives) Measure: First Consideration
- Vacancy in See Committees (Amendment) Regulation
- Miscellaneous Provisions Measure:Revision Stage

8.30 pm Reader Ministry

Sunday 6 July

2.30 pm Church Tourism: Private Members’ Motion: Roy Thompson
Legislative Business: Payments to the Churches Conservation Trust
Climate Change and Human Security
Appointment of the Chairman of the Pensions Board
Audit Committee report
Appointment of auditors
Archbishops’ Council Annual Report: deemed approval

8.30 pm Fees: Four Funerals and a Wedding

Monday 7 July

9.30 am Prayers
Anglican/Methodist Covenant
Legislative Business
- Unfinished business from Saturday
- Fees Orders [deemed]
Standing Orders Committee Report

2.30 pm Women Bishops: debate on motion from House of Bishops

8.30 pm Faith, Work and Economic Life:St Albans Diocesan Synod Motion

Tuesday 8 July

9.30 am Prayers
Anglican Governance: Guildford Diocesan Synod Motion
Budget
Church Commissioners Annual Report: presentation and Questions & Answers session
Farewells
Prorogation

Contingency business: Chester Diocesan Synod Motion: Voice of the Church in Public Life

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The Von Hügel Institute report

Here is the official Church of England press release on Moral, But No Compass: Von Hügel Institute: Government ‘moral without a compass’ says report into Church and Welfare.

The government is ‘planning blind and failing parts of civil society’ when it comes to faith communities in general and aspects of charity law and social policy in particular, concludes a report by the Von Hügel Institute, an academic research centre and think tank based at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge University. “The government has good intentions, but is moral without a compass,” the authors say.

The report, Moral, But No Compass – Government, Church, and the Future of Welfare, was commissioned by the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, Bishop for Urban Life and Faith, who officially received the report today on behalf of the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England. It was researched and written by Francis Davis, co-Director of the Centre for the Study of Faith in Society at the Von Hügel Institute, Elizabeth Paulhus, a researcher at the Institute, and Andrew Bradstock, co-Director of the Centre for the Study of Faith in Society at the Institute.

The Institute’s research involved interviewees from politics, churches, other faiths, the civil service and the voluntary sector. It ‘uncovered huge gaps in government evidence about faith communities in general and the churches in particular,’ according to the report.

“We encountered on the part of Government,” the report says, “a significant lack of understanding of, or interest in, the Church of England’s current or potential contribution in the public sphere. Indeed we were told that Government had consciously decided to focus its evidence gathering almost exclusively on minority religions. We were unsurprised to hear that some of these consequently felt ‘victimised’…”

And the CofE comments:

…Welcoming this report, Bishop Stephen Lowe said: “We had little information about our own capacity or indeed level of existing activity. We had only a sketchy idea of political aspirations for our involvement. We needed an informed and reflective assessment of the position for the Church to consider the nature and extent of its future participation…I am delighted with the outcome.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, called it a ‘fascinating and important report’.

“On the one hand it highlights and details some truly remarkable examples of public good delivered by the Church and faith based organisations - sometimes funded by the state, though mostly not - and a general picture of committed social engagement which if grasped imaginatively by the state could, indeed would, yield some extraordinarily positive results,” the Archbishops said.

“On the other it reveals a depressing level of misunderstanding of the scale and quality of contribution faith-based organisations make to the civil and civic life of our nation - our common good. This is particularly true in relation to the contribution of the Church of England, and its membership, on which the report focuses.

“In short, this report urges the Church, government and others, notably the Charity Commissioners, to sit up, take note and to better understand each others roles and intentions in order to make the most of one of this nation’s most diverse, creative and enduring assets – the Church..

“We all need to consider very seriously the report’s recommendations and take appropriate action - for the good of the nation.”

The press release includes the full list of recommendations made by the report. Some of those are addressed not to the government but to the church. These are reproduced below the fold.

5.1.5 TO THE ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY AND YORK

(i) That public service reform and the Church’s role in domestic welfare provision be the subject of a workshop at the forthcoming Lambeth Conference.

(ii) That the Archbishops call a St George’s House consultation (or its equivalent) to follow up on some of our interim findings.

(iii) That the Archbishops commission a feasibility study to establish a new Lambeth- and York-led ‘Anglican Philanthropy’ fund to encourage a fresh wave of donors to back Christian social innovation, advocacy and welfare provision with both funding and the investment of time, skills and knowledge in a strategic and coordinated fashion.

(iv) That the Archbishop of Canterbury, in conversation with Lambeth Partners, should explore the establishment of annual ‘Archbishop’s Awards for Faith-Based Civic Action,’ ideally in partnership with a national umbrella body such as ACEVO and with the media. These awards would celebrate and recognise the role and contribution of faith-based social innovation, service and action across the country. They would affirm not only inter-faith conversation, but also the full realm of faith-based civic contributions.

5.1.6 TO THE LORDS SPIRITUAL

(i) That our interim findings form the basis for a debate in the House of Lords to examine the weaknesses we have uncovered in the Government’s approach to the Churches, as well as the wider need for a refreshed set of contracting principles, which are rooted in an attempt to measure more qualitative factors and enable a wider range of sustainable voluntary sector engagement.

5.1.7 TO THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS & THE GENERAL SYNOD

(i) That the Church should establish a new social enterprise/voluntary sector support and coordinating body to develop public advocacy and service provision engagement across the country, modelled on existing best practice in its work in education and on international counterparts such as Anglicare in Australia. This body would encourage the support and continued development of the existing Anglican contributions to health and social care, community development, post-compulsory education, criminal justice, asylum and refugee advice and services, welfare-to-work, job creation, the rural economy and the arts and cultural economy. It would also encourage increased utilisation and coordination of activities in the civic hubs of cathedrals and dioceses. It may have some ecumenical potential as well, since some of the Catholic children’s societies are seeking, or are being required, to reinvent themselves outside the governance networks of the Roman Catholic Church.

(ii) That the Church develop a fresh conversation and process of theological enquiry as to the appropriate nature, form and content of Christian principles for contracting. This could include bishops addressing these ‘principles’ while visiting chief executives in their diocesan areas or while engaging in their myriad civic activities. It could also include a sustained campaign alongside smaller voluntary organisations to enhance decentralisation of contracts and increase wider civic engagement.

5.1.8 TO THEOLOGICAL COLLEGES / MINISTERIAL TRAINING PROGRAMMES

(i) That coursework introducing the modern structure of the state (including commissioning, the role of the voluntary sector, and the nature and form of public management and its successors) become a mandatory part of ministerial training.

(ii) That pioneering projects at local, diocesan, and Anglican Communion levels are regularly ‘case studied’ in ministerial training as a source of inspiration and creative thinking and as a reminder of the Church’s innovative nature.

(iii) That training in grant and bid writing, as well as performance leadership, be available to Ordinands.

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Sunday, 8 June 2008

Moral, But No Compass - continued

See below for earlier reports.

Here is the publisher’s website description:
Moral, But No Compass
Government, Church and the Future of Welfare

In the heyday of Thatcherism the Church of England and the Conservative government of the day locked horns over the principles, policies, and strategic direction of the welfare state. The ensuing public debate, fraught with emotion, led to fundamental shifts in the political climate, not least with regard to the poorest members of UK society.

This new major study for the Church of England, drawing on hundreds of interviews and survey questionnaires, describes the modern setting in which the Labour Party’s welfare and related voluntary sector policies often are experienced as “discriminatory”, inadequately rooted in evidence and at risk of failing the faith communities. The government is “moral, with no compass” and needs to recover a principled approach to public service reform grounded in gift, covenant, advocacy and justice. Such an approach also demands a richer appreciation of the “civic value” added to the life, identity and health of the nation by Christian institutions in partnership with the whole realm of civil society. The Church too must adapt to the changing times, overcoming its (mistaken) perception that it is well understood by society. If the crisis of evidence and conversation can be repaired, the Church is in a position, should it so wish, to engage in even more extensive social entrepreneurship, community activism and public advocacy.

The report covers:
• Historical background of welfare;
• Critical assessment of the Labour and Conservative Party’s policy positions;
• The failures of third sector evidence and policy design in Government and at the Charity Commission;
• Analysis of the assets and membership of social voices, both secular and faith-based;
• New data on the capability and potential of Anglican dioceses as social incubators;
• Fresh insights into the role of cathedrals as civic actors and economic hubs;
• New information on the civic contribution of bishops.
• The Church’s view of principles needed by Government for ethical commissioning, as well as its reservations about the present funding regime.

ISBN: 978-1-898366-91-1

And here is further comment by Simon Barrow in Church Caught In A Spin Over Welfare.

…The initial reporting about Moral, But No Compass has been rather selective, “well spun” and based on what was either a leaked document or a deliberately placed one. In any event, the full report was originally embargoed until a press conference in London tomorrow at 11am and will still be unveiled in full then, though the tone of reception and response has already been established. The archbishops of Canterbury and York will apparently issue a statement.

There is much more to be said about this (I’m respecting the embargo, even if the rush to summary judgment has already begun), but my opening comment on behalf of Ekklesia was as follows: “We believe a more careful, calm and critical evaluation is needed of the role of faith groups in public service provision. It is particularly important that the needs of the vulnerable and the reasonable expectation of all people (whether religious or non-religious) for equal treatment from public services should not be subsumed too readily in a ‘contracting-out’ culture that can put the interests of providers – government, voluntary and private agencies – ahead of those they are supposed to be helping. Research and thought is badly needed, but a confused ‘debate’ fuelled by sensational headlines and half-truths will not help anybody.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 8 June 2008 at 5:39pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 7 June 2008

Moral, But No Compass

Updated Sunday

This is apparently (some variations exist in the reporting) the title of a report commissioned by the Church of England (180 pages) to be published on Monday. The Times already has seen it, and has published several articles about it:

Church attacks Labour for betraying Christians

The policies of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have helped to generate a spiritual, civic and economic crisis in Britain, according to an important Church of England report.

Labour is failing society and lacks the vision to restore a sense of British identity, the report says in the Church’s strongest attack on the Government for decades. It accuses the Government of “deep religious illiteracy” and of having “no convincing moral direction”.

The report, commissioned for the Church of England and to be published on Monday, accuses the Government of discriminating against the Christian Churches in favour of other faiths, including Islam. It calls for the appointment of a “Minister for Religion”, who would act as the Prime Minister’s personal “faith envoy” and who would recognise the contribution of faith communities to Britain across every government department…

Other Times articles:
Ignored and spurned, the Church has lost its faith - in government
Hunger to put faith into action is frustrated by secularist agenda Analysis by Ruth Gledhill
Times Leader: Church and State
Ruth Gledhill’s blog has substantial quotes from the report, at Church critiques Government’s ‘moral compass’

The Telegraph has also seen it, and published this:
Christianity ‘discriminated against by Gordon Brown’s Government’ by Jonathan Wynne-Jones

The Associated Press report includes:

The Church declined to release the report before a scheduled publication Monday and would not comment on specific recommendations.

Peter Crumpler, spokesman for the Church of England, said the institute was asked to prepare a report “that could assist our reflections and contribute to our conversations with government.”

“The hard-hitting report raises issues of considerable importance, the authors say, and makes recommendations that challenge the Government to recognize the Church’s involvement and potential in public service reform,” he said.

Lowe said the report has not yet been discussed, or endorsed, by senior members of the clergy.

“The report is not an attack on the government, but a call for greater understanding by all politicians of the role of the Church of England in the community life of this country,” Lowe said in a statement.

Update Sunday morning

The BBC Sunday radio programme has a 12 minute segment on this report. Listen here.
Or there is a podcast available here.

Government moral report
A report commissioned by the Church of England says that the UK’s Labour Government is moral, but it doesn’t have a moral compass. The report, released on Monday 9 June, also says that the Government discriminates against the Christian Churches in favour of other faiths, and is guilty of deep religious illiteracy.

Roger spoke to one of the report’s authors, Francis Davis from the Von Hugel Institute at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge. He was also joined by the Bishop who commissioned the report, Stephen Lowe, and by the Communities and Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears.

BBC Ministers ignore us, says Church

Simon Barrow reports on Ekklesia that Row breaks out over report to Church on its welfare role:

A report looking at the role of the Church of England and other faith communities in welfare has been spun into an attack on government before it has even been published and properly digested, say the researchers involved in producing it.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ programme this morning, co-author Francis Davis from the Von Hugel Institute in Cambridge, which was commissioned by the Church of England’s urban affairs bishop, the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, but produced its work independently, urged people to “carefully read and study the report” when it is published tomorrow rather than “quoting selectively from it.”

Another of the report’s academic authors, Dr Andrew Bradstock, is also deeply unhappy about the way that a lengthy and detailed document, embargoed until 9 June, has been spun by journalists into an attack on government.

“The purpose of this document is to resource an ongoing conversation, not to leap to conclusions or start apportioning general blame”, Dr Bradstock told Ekklesia this morning.

He points out that while the research indicates that some government departments have a sketchy view and little hard data on the church’s grassroots voluntary work, it is not suggesting a lack of moral purpose in any quarter - though it is raising tough questions and the need for action to address the shortcoming of the current situation…

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opinions this weekend

Zaki Cooper writes in the Guardian about the relationship between faith and food.

In The Times Jonathan Sacks says that Religion can help in the desert of the lonely crowd.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about being Blisterless on the road to Santiago.

Giles Fraser in the Church Times has When mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

Andrea Useem has written an article asking Is Obama’s Real “Faith Asset” His Ability to Speak the Language of American Civil Religion?

Simon Barrow writes on Ekklesia about Moving religion from harm to healing.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 7 June 2008 at 1:58pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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women bishops: the July synod document

The document GS 1685A has been released, though not yet on the CofE website. This is the covering Note from the Presidents explaining what the House of Bishops has decided to do.

The full text of the document can be read here.

The text of the motion to be put is below, but do read this in the context of the whole document:

A member of the House of Bishops to move:

‘That this Synod:

(a) reaffirm its wish for women to be admitted to the episcopate;

(b) affirm its view that special arrangements be available, within the existing structures of the Church of England, for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests;

(c) affirm that these should be contained in a national code of practice to which all concerned would be required to have regard; and

(d) instruct the legislative drafting group, in consultation with the House of Bishops, to complete its work accordingly, including preparing the first draft of a code of practice, so that the Business Committee can include first consideration of the draft legislation in the agenda for the February 2009 group of sessions.’

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Friday, 6 June 2008

more on clergy competence

The Church Times and the Church of England Newspaper both have stories about the Ministry Division report that was leaked to the Sunday Telegraph, as reported earlier here.

Bill Bowder wrote Bishops question the clergy’s ability to cope in the Church Times.

Toby Cohen wrote Church report questions the ability of the clergy. The text of that story is not yet on the web, but is reproduced, with permission of the CEN, below the fold here. Update Religious Intelligence now has the original here.

The Ministry Division issued this press statement:

“This paper, written for consideration by the House of Bishops, represents part of the ongoing work of the Ministry Division in supporting and developing clergy at all stages of their ministry. The initial research exercise sought views on how our current programme of training should be developed to fully meet the challenges facing the Church in the future. One insight not reported [in the Sunday Telegraph] was that more than eight in ten bishops expressed confidence that our newly ordained clergy have the gifts and abilities to meet such challenges and opportunities.”

The Church Times also had a leader: Criticising the clergy? It’s not all bad:

IT IS possible to say anything about the clergy and for it to be broadly correct. Say that they are not adequately trained to lead mixed teams of professionals and volunteers, and most clerics will probably agree. Say that they lack theological or pastoral or managerial experience, and there will be few gainsayers. Say that aspects of worship, welcome, pastoral provision, discipleship, etc. in their churches are not the best they could be, and suspicion would attach to a priest who demurred. It is not suprising, therefore, that a survey of bishops, circulated last December and leaked this week, should articulate the same concerns about the capacity of priests and the adequacy of their training. Bishops naturally spend their energies on pastoral emergencies, hard-to-fill parishes, and hard-to-place clerics. It is all too easy for them to lose sight of the scores of competent priests working quietly in their dioceses, causing their bishops no anxiety…

Church report questions the ability of the clergy
By Toby Cohen
Church of England Newspaper

THE CHURCH has been thrown into turmoil following the leak of a restricted Ministry Division report finding that clergy are not up to the job.

While the Archbishop’s spokesman insisted that they were not aware of many complaints, shortly after The Sunday Telegraph revealed the findings of the report, Quality and Quantity Issues in Ministry, ecclesiastical blogs filled with bitter remarks illustrating the betrayal and hypocrisy observed by clergy.

In a response to concerns expressed by bishops over the standard of clergy, the report surveyed the opinions of 37 diocesan bishops, about 90 per cent of the House of Bishops. A third of those replied that half of the stipendiary priests in their diocese were unable to meet the challenges of ministry.

Only one bishop replied that he was very confident that the newly ordained have the gifts and abilities to meet those challenges. In response to the furoré, the Ministry Division issued a press statement which said: “One insight not reported was that more than eight in ten bishops expressed confidence that our newly ordained clergy have the gifts and abilities to meet such challenges and opportunities.”

The statement also highlighted that it was initial research, however while the report itself recognised that fact, it emphasised there was sufficient evidence to make one statement in bold: “There is a problem.”

One unnamed bishop is recorded by the report as saying: “Most candidates have a ‘my own show’ view of ministry, and have little or no skills in working co-operatively, or knowing how to share, as distinct or delegated, ministry. “Egotism rules. Contemporary worship is feeble, ‘sweet’, and leads no one to the Majesty of God.”

The Rev David Keen, a vicar in Yeovil, said: “Even by the serpentine standards of CofE statistics, this is bizarre. If 90 per cent of bishops don’t think a third of the clergy are up to it, then either a) they are ordaining people they know aren’t good enough or b) 10 per cent of bishops are ordaining a small army of sub-standard clergy. “If vicars are losing enthusiasm and are feeling over whelmed, then the hierarchy should be looking at the quality of its own leadership and clergy support before it looks at recruitment policies.”

The report said: “Finally these concer ns merge into the sharp question: Is it possible that we may be just about keeping up the numbers of stipendiary clergy by unconsciously lowering the threshold?”

The Church has recognised the challenge of having to train and pay for an increased number of clergy. The report expresses the need to “re-assess the selection criteria” of clergy, and to consider whether poor pay is acting as a disincentive.

The director of the Ministry Division, the Ven Christopher Lowson, recently announced that the Church was already going to have to find extra funding to maintain the training currently offered, following Government cuts to be implemented in a year’s time.

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New Westminster opposes schism

The Diocese of New Westminster has this report: Bishop tells Diocesan Synod that schism must not become normal:

Bishop Michael Ingham told Diocesan Synod that as bishop he has a responsibility to ensure that schism does not become normal or accepted in the Anglican Church of Canada.

In a report on May 30 to about 300 synod members, about a third clergy and the rest lay, the bishop insisted that the decision of four congregations to join the South American Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, was not simply “divorce” but “schism…the setting up of a unlawful authority” to challenge the rightful authority, which is Diocesan Synod.

“I am fully aware that nobody wishes to see the church diverted from its mission by theprospect of civil litigation over property,” he said.

“But schism cannot stand, for if it were allowed to stand it would undermine the mission of the church across this country.”

Chancellor George Cadman, the synod’s chief legal officer, reported that the clergy remaining in four parishes—St. John’s Shaughnessy, St. Matthew Abbotsford, and Good Shepherd and St. Matthias/St. Luke of Vancouver—have relinquished and abandoned ordained ministry within the Anglican Church of Canada, and by remaining in parish buildings they are now trespassing…

The full text of the bishop’s remarks is here as a PDF.

The view of these events from Sydney, NSW was this: Canada bishop threatens Short.

And there is an interview with Dr JI Packer here (PDF) or more conveniently as html here.

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Uganda and GAFCON

An official statement from Archbishop Henry Orombi says:

107 Ugandan Anglicans going to Jerusalem

Thirty-four Bishops from the Church of Uganda and their wives will travel to Jerusalem later this month for the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). Also in the delegation, there will be thirty clergy and lay leaders from around the country with experience in different areas of ministry.

1,000 people from around the worldwide Anglican Communion, including more than 280 bishops, will participate in this Pilgrimage, and the Church of Uganda will be more than ten percent…

A news report in New Vision says Orombi wants pro-gay bishops to apologise. (Another copy here.) The full text of the news article is below the fold.

PRO-GAY bishops must apologise and renounce their support for sexual perversion in order to reunite the Church. The Archbishop of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, made the appeal on Wednesday, while addressing journalists at the provincial headquarters in Namirembe, Kampala.

He was announcing the departure of a team of Church of Uganda bishops to the Anglican Communion scheduled for June 22-29 in Jerusalem.

According to Orombi, conservative Christians worldwide, who believe in the Bible, will meet in Jerusalem to “prepare for an Anglican future in which the gospel is uncompromised and a Christ-centred mission is a top priority.”

There was need to understand the identity of Christians and create opportunity for fellowship and networking, Orombi added.

“The rift in the Church can only be bridged if the liberal bishops, espousing sexual perversion, repent and return to Christ’s teachings.”

Over 1,000 bishops are boycotting the Lambeth conference, the highest doctrine and policy setting assembly of the Anglican Church, in protest over the invitation of pro-gay bishops. The meeting is slated for August in Westminster, the UK.

“We do not want to pretend over very serious issues. Our not going to Lambeth is a statement. If we went there, we would be doing much more damage to the Church,” Orombi observed.

The archbishop added that the two sides had been in dialogue, but as long as the issues that split them were not resolved, the meeting would be a waste of time. “For us to come back together, it will take repentance and for them to abide by the Lambeth Resolution 10 of 1998 on sexuality,” Orombi said.

“The resolution states that the Anglican Communion upholds the Biblical view on sexuality, but when these people went back to the US, they decided to disown it and do their own things.”

Jesus, he pointed out, was very clear on divorce. “He says divorce is because of the hardness of your hearts. The Bible completely forbids same- sex unions.” The sharp rift started when an American bishop, Gene Robinson, divorced his wife and took on a male partner. The Episcopal Church consecrated him in 2003.

The Church in Uganda was not shutting out gays, but believes that they can change, the archbishop explained. “We believe in the transforming power of Jesus and that homosexuals can change.”

Besides, there were other issues dividing the Church, Orombi stated, citing the assertion that Jesus was not the only way to God and His birth was not of a virgin nature.

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Thursday, 5 June 2008

Pittsburgh proposes to join Southern Cone

Updated Friday

The Pittsburgh diocesan website has published the resolutions to be proposed to the diocesan convention: See this page here.

The resolutions are in a PDF file here.

They are reproduced in full below the fold.

Friday update

Episcopal Café draws attention to information originally at Preludium concerning the financial provisions being made by the senior staff of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Joan Gunderson writes:

“The situation in Pittsburgh is such that even if Bishop Duncan were to be deposed at a House of Bishops meeting in September, the Standing Committee would go forward with the vote at convention to eliminate the accession clause from the diocesan canons. In fact, the diocesan leadership decided at its spring leadership retreat to move the convention forward to the first weekend in October (usually first weekend in November) so that there would be less time between such a deposition and the convention.

Please note that Bishop Duncan has assured himself of a comfortable transition. He has built a retirement house on land owned by the diocese and he and his wife have been deeded (as of November 2007) a life interest estate (to the longest lived survivor) in that house. The diocese also loaned Bishop Duncan the money to build that house (terms not in the public record.) In addition we understand that he AND Bishop Scriven have signed consultant contracts with the diocese for two years at full pay which will go into effect SHOULD BISHOP DUNCAN BE DEPOSED.

The Standing Committee has an overwhelming majority that supports ‘realignment,’ but there is one member who signed a public letter saying he was not realigning. This person is working hard to encourage parishes to stay in TEC. Trying to bring members of the standing committee up on charges before ‘realignment’ would be useless because the group (‘The Array’) that would conduct any Title IV proceedings is itself packed with supporters of realignment. Furthermore, there is no provision for trying the 4 lay members of Standing Committee.

However, rest assured that there are people planning for the future of the EPISCOPAL diocese of Pittsburgh. The group doing the planning represents the full cross section of those who will still be Episcopalians AFTER convention. This includes clergy and parishes who until this year have voted for all the measures put forward by those now pushing ‘realignment.’ We are a larger group than you might think.”

Later on David Wilson, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, President of that Standing Committee and a supporter of Bishop Duncan’s writes with this small correction to Joan’s words:

Just to set the record straight, the consultancy contracts are for one year not two and also include Canon Mary Hays as well as the two bishops.

Resolutions to be Forwarded to the 143rd Diocesan Convention
Deemed in proper form by Diocesan Council

RESOLUTION ONE
New Canon I (All subsequent Canons to be Renumbered Accordingly)
Provincial Membership within the Anglican Communion
The Diocese of Pittsburgh shall be a member of that Province of the Anglican
Communion known as the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

RESOLUTION TWO
WHEREAS, Diocesan Provincial Realignment is a matter to be considered by the 143rd
Annual Convention in the form of a second reading of a series of Constitutional changes;
and
WHEREAS, a new Canon I establishing Provincial alignment with the Anglican
Province of the Southern Cone is also proposed; and
WHEREAS, the decision of Convention takes effect immediately, and supersedes all
local existing provisions to the contrary; and
WHEREAS, many congregations will have to consider how to alter their By-Laws and/or
Articles of Incorporation should the constitutional changes and new Canon I be adopted;
and
WHEREAS, some congregations will require a season of discernment about whether to
accept re-alignment or to petition to break their union with Convention; and
WHEREAS, charity and generosity continue to be embraced as virtues in diocesan life
where matters of fidelity and direction profoundly divide us;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by this 143rd Annual Convention of the Episcopal
Diocese of Pittsburgh, that all parishes of the diocese shall have twenty-four months to
bring their By-Laws and/or Articles of Incorporation into conformity with the Provincial
alignment adopted by this Convention; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Diocesan Council shall have the authority to lengthen
the discernment period on a parish by parish basis, as shall seem wisest to Council and to
the representatives of particular parishes; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, that negotiation between any parish seeking to break its union
with Convention over the matter of Provincial alignment shall be undertaken with
Christian grace and charity, and conducted in good faith, consistent with the
Constitutions and Canons of the Diocese, consistent with all legal obligations, and
consistent with the settlement of debts and other diocesan interests related to the parish
property or assets.

RESOLUTION THREE
WHEREAS, the Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (the “Diocese”) has
this day voted to realign with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of America
(“Province of the Southern Cone”); and
WHEREAS, as a consequence of such realignment the Constitution and Canons of the
Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America otherwise known as The
Episcopal Church are no longer applicable to the Diocese, any Parish of the Diocese, or
any Clergy of the Diocese; and
WHEREAS, neither the Constitution and Canons of the Province of the Southern Cone
nor the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese address certain matters of administration,
discipline and order that would benefit from a written and publicly available set of
policies;
BE IT RESOLVED, that the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church be
adopted as advisory policies, until a more comprehensive set of Constitution and Canons
can be developed and approved by the Diocese, to provide guidance in those areas of
administration, discipline and order that are not otherwise covered by the Constitution
and Canons of the Diocese.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, for the avoidance of doubt that it be understood that the
adoption of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church as advisory policies by
the Diocese should in no way be interpreted to suggest that The Episcopal Church has
any authority over the Diocese, any Parish of the Diocese, or any Clergy of the Diocese.

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New Marriage Regulations

Press release: Wider wedding welcome for couples as the Church of England names the day

The day is 1 October 2008.

Marriage Law Review & the Marriage Measure

Guidance from the House of Bishops (PDF - 37 pages)

Copy of the legislation via here (available as html or PDF).

Specimen “welcome form” (.doc - 5 pages) available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 12:41pm BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Schofield assets frozen by Merrill Lynch

Updated again Friday morning

Episcopal News Service reported first that Episcopal Church, San Joaquin diocese amend property dispute, and then later that Merrill Lynch freezes disputed San Joaquin diocesan accounts pending court ruling.

The Diocese of San Joaquin has a press release about it, Diocese of San Joaquin files amended lawsuit.

California newspapers are reporting it:

Stockton Record Rift deepens for dioceses in S.J. County

Modesto Bee Episcopal church: San Joaquin diocese bishop tried to transfer titles

Central Valley Business Times Episcopal Church diocese sues former bishop

Thursday evening update
A statement has been issued by the Southern Cone diocese, The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin has fully complied with California State Law. Another copy is here. It starts out:

The following facts are given to correct and clarify recently published misunderstandings and misstatements regarding legal claims against the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin

All actions taken by the Diocese of San Joaquin were authorized by its governing bodies, namely, its Standing Committee and its Diocesan Council, along with Bishop Schofield. These actions were done in complete compliance with California law and were done to secure the property until a California court can rule on the issue of ownership. One of these actions was to retitle accounts held at Merrill Lynch; assets were not moved from Merrill Lynch. The property in question is owned by the Diocese and its parishes and not the Episcopal Church. The Diocese expects a favorable ruling by the California court on the issues of property ownership.

The Diocese of San Joaquin is a California unincorporated association that is governed by the California Corporations Code and its own internal Constitution and Canons (akin to bylaws). The Diocese is a corporate person; a legal entity recognized by the civil courts. In California, an unincorporated association is governed by majority vote of its members. There is nothing in the governing documents of the Episcopal Church which forbade or limited the right of the Diocese of San Joaquin from withdrawing and taking its property with it…

The Bakersfield Californian reports Frozen assets won’t shut down Anglicans or Episcopalians.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 12:22am BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA

A Common Word

The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday convened an ecumenical gathering to discuss ways in which Christian-Muslim engagement might be strengthened and deepened.

It brought together more than 40 participants from a broad range of geographical, cultural and denominational settings.

In his welcome to the participants the Archbishop expressed his gratitude that so many had taken the “opportunity for church leaders and scholars representing something of the geographical and confessional diversity of Christianity to discuss together the current experience of dialogue with Muslims - situating the significance of the open letter A Common Word within it, and determining what degree of consensus might be possible as we look forward.”

During the discussions church representatives from around the globe, including Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, Malaysia – alongside those from Western countries where Christianity is the majority religion - shared their experience of engagement.
Dr Williams said, “It has been tremendously important to me personally … that we have heard such a range of perspectives. As well as deepening our shared understanding of the challenge before us it has, I think, renewed for us all the significance of the church’s work in this area of cooperation with other faiths for the sake of peace in our common home.”

Read the whole press release from Lambeth Palace Archbishop - Christian-Muslim engagement ‘for the sake of peace in our common home’.

See the website for A Common Word here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 4 June 2008 at 5:26pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Pittsburgh: latest developments

Since the last report here, the Standing Committee of the diocese issued this statement:

Standing Committee Statement on Threatened Deposition

Editor’s Note: The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has released the following statement regarding the threatened deposition of Bishop Robert Duncan at the September 2008 meeting of The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops. Their statement has been faxed and mailed to the office of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is saddened to learn the Presiding Bishop and her chancellor will continue to press for the deposition of our Diocesan Bishop, Robert W. Duncan, Jr. for the Abandonment of Communion at the September 2008 House of Bishops Meeting. Although we recognize the authority of the Episcopal Church to discipline and remove its ministers for violations of its canons, we believe Canon IV.9, Sec.1 has been misapplied and Canon IV.9, Sec.2 has been misinterpreted in this instance.

Should our Diocesan Bishop be validly deposed pursuant to the requirements set forth in the canons, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is prepared to exercise its role as the Ecclesiastical Authority of this diocese.

Unanimously affirmed by the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, May 27, 2008.

And this weekend, a meeting was held at St Andrew’s Church Highland Park, which has been reported on in some detail by Lionel Deimel. Read the report at Resigned to Realignment.

On Sunday, June 1, 2008, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh, held a forum and panel discussion on Bishop Robert Duncan’s plan for “realignment.” Duncan, who has been determined to have already abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church and is awaiting a vote by the church’s House of Bishops on his deposition, is attempting to change the constitution of the diocese and to transfer the entire diocese from The Episcopal Church to another Anglican Communion province, most likely South America’s province of the Southern Cone. The only bishop ever to have tried this ploy, John-David Schofield, late of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, was deposed shortly after doing so. It is unclear whether Episcopal bishops will, this time around, shut the barn door before the horse gets out…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 4 June 2008 at 5:04pm BST | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA

The embarrassment of history?

In an earlier article, I linked to an article in the Church Times by Jonathan Clark explaining why The C of E is losing its own history.

More recently, Brian Crowe wrote in the Church of Ireland Gazette in response to that, the article was titled The embarrassment of history? Restoring proper confidence in our Anglican past.

That article can be read in full here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 4 June 2008 at 4:53pm BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

General Synod not to discuss motion on Islam

For background to this matter, see the Church Times blog entry General Synod to debate evangelising other faiths.

Now, the Telegraph has a report by Martin Beckford headlined Church of England accused of censoring debate on Islam. Regardless of the headline, it appears definite that the item will not be debated in July.

A spokesman for the Church of England insisted the debate on the missionary role of clergy had only been dropped because the other Private Member’s Motion had more signatures.

He said: “Owing to time constraints, the Business Committee has been able to schedule only one such motion for July, on the subject of Church Tourism, which heads the list in terms of the number of signatures from members.”

This is indeed the case, see the list here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 4 June 2008 at 3:55pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

report on bullying published

We reported earlier on the plan to publish guidelines on bullying in church contexts.

Last week, the Church Times had a news article by Ed Beavan Report urges Church to face up to its bullies.

The report is now available online and can be downloaded as a .doc file here. h/t Dave Walker who also had trouble finding it on the web.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 3 June 2008 at 10:39pm BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Lambeth invitation for Jerry Lamb

Updated Tuesday

The Provisional Bishop of San Joaquin has received an invitation to the Lambeth Conference.

According to Dan Martins writing about this today:

…In the meantime, “mum” seems to be the word from Fresno on Bishop Schofield’s travel plans post-GAFCON…

Tuesday update

The Living Church reports that Bishops Schofield, Lamb Both Attending Lambeth.

Meanwhile, Episcopal News Service reports in Episcopal Church, San Joaquin diocese amend property dispute that:

The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin on June 2 amended their complaint in a lawsuit seeking recovery of diocesan real estate and financial assets, adding Merrill Lynch and the “Anglican Diocese Holding Corporation” as defendants.

“The main reason for the amendment is that we have obtained information that John-David Schofield has actually been transferring both real property and investment accounts (the latter held by Merrill Lynch) to non-Episcopal entities, including specifically a new corporation known as the Anglican Diocese Holding Company,” said Heather Anderson, an attorney with the Goodwin Procter law firm based in Washington, D.C.

The San Joaquin diocese, along with TEC, sued Schofield and several Episcopal legal entities that he asserts the right to control on April 24 “to establish who is the true incumbent of Corporation Sole, which owns most of the real estate of the diocese and accounts such as the investment fund and trust fund” containing more than $4 million in cash, diocesan chancellor Michael Glass told a gathering in San Joaquin on May 31.

“We are just trying to set aside those transactions,” Glass told the “Day of Discernment” conference of about 80 people at Holy Family Church in Fresno on May 31. “We are not going after money or punitive damages, which we are entitled to. We simply want to undo the transactions and have the court declare that John-David Schofield has no more right or authority to purport to act on behalf of the diocese or Corp Sole and to stop doing so.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 2 June 2008 at 12:00am BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA

bishops question competence of clergy

Updated again Tuesday evening

Jonathan Wynne-Jones has a report in the Sunday Telegraph headlined ‘Poor quality’ of vicars alarms Church leaders.

This is based on a Ministry Division report entitled Quality and Quantity Issues in Ministry.

…It found that there are “serious concerns” at the top of the Church hierarchy over the quality of its clergy.

The internal report suggests that the standards of new clergy has dropped, because of the demands on the Church to fill vacant posts, while many vicars who have been in the job several years have lost their energy and enthusiasm.

To tackle the problems, the Church is to vet new applicants for ordination more vigorously and is considering changing the selection criteria and a pay review…

…The report, which was produced by the Ministry Division, the Church body responsible for staff issues, reveals deep anxiety amongst bishops over the competence of its paid ministers.

A survey of diocesan bishops found that one-third believe that more than half of current clergy - as many as 6,000 - are unable to cope with the demands of the job.

In addition, 90 per cent of the bishops believe that a third of the new intake of clergy do not have the necessary gifts and abilities…

Sunday evening update

Dave Walker has a roundup of responses on other blogs.

Tuesday evening update

Bishop Alan Wilson has written an informative article at Vicarage Allsorts: Clergy Supply. This shows that we have slightly more clergy than we did in 1950. One of the main reasons is that we now have far more “active retired” clergy than before, 4468 vs. 1262. (Click on the graphic in his article to get the numbers larger.)

And he has written a further article, Vicarage Allsorts: Clergy Quality.

Since Chaucer’s time there’s been public anxiety about this subject. 200 years ago Sidney Smith lamented the decline in the quality of clergy since the enforcement of residence was preventing gentlemen from desiring ordination. In the roaring 20’s, Hensley Henson bemoaned the decline in the quality of ordinands since the first world war. The document quoted in last week’s Sunday Telegraph, however, is barking up a very different tree. A more accurate headline than “poor quality of vicars alarms church leaders” would probably be “desperation to inject alarm into drab HR questionnaire twits journalist.”

As Dave Walker notes, Bishop Pete Broadbent also supplied further information here, i.e. in the comments below.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 1 June 2008 at 8:27am BST | Comments (53) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England