Michael Brown wrote at Religious Intelligence about the FiF meeting following the February synod sessions, Anglo-Catholics warned of split threat in UK.
There is considerable audio material of that meeting available here.
Anglican Mainstream carries an article by Roland Mourant What Future Strategy should Forward in Faith UK adopt?
The Church of Ireland Gazette had this editorial comment: A Consultative Fellowship. It begins:
In their Alexandria communiqué, the primates indicated that successive Lambeth Conferences had urged them “to assume an enhanced responsibility for the life of the Communion”, referring to Lambeth Conference resolutions from the 1978, 1988 and 1998 meetings.
However, the relevant resolutions of Lambeth 1978 (Nos. 11 and 12) do not use the term “enhanced responsibility” at all; they advise member Churches of the Communion to consult with a Lambeth Conference or the primates on issues of concern to the whole Communion and request the primates to study Anglican authority and the best way to co-ordinate inter-Anglican meetings…
The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church wrote about the meeting at Episcopal Life Online: Varied Understandings. One excerpt:
…The striking thing was that the meeting room where the primates’ deliberations took place, the hotel’s largest and principal conference room, was bedecked with several large paintings of half-naked women. It was a space that, in normal circumstances, apparently was used only by men. I found it striking that public expectations of women are modest dress and covering, yet there is evidently a rather different attitude toward men’s entertainment…
Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about Sodom and Gomorrah. See Meeting the stench of the slums.
Jonathan Sacks writes in The Times that ‘Faith is the defeat of probability by possibility’
Alan Wilson also wrote on his own blog: Mushing our Brains on Facebook?
Robert Pigott at the BBC launched a Faith Diary with a survey of public opinion. The full results are available here as a PDF. Ekklesia reported on this as Mixed picture emerges on British attitudes to religion in public life.
Updated again Sunday evening
Bishop Duncan comments on the decision of the new Episcopal Church diocese to reject mediation.
I should have added some background when posting the above note. First, the previous TA report on the Pittsburgh saga is Pittsburgh: national church seeks intervention.
Lionel Deimel has attempted an analysis of the Duncan letter, see Duncan Letter Decoded.
Today is the day on which the Church of England commemorates George Herbert.
Justin Lewis-Anthony has published a series of articles on his blog under the title Killing George Herbert, arguing that:
For three hundred and fifty years the Church of England has been haunted by a pattern of parochial ministry, based upon a fantasy and untenable for more than a hundred of those years. The pattern, derived from a romantic and wrong-headed false memory of the life and ministry of George Herbert, finally died on the South Bank of the Thames in the mid 1960s… and nobody noticed…
Read KGH : Death to Herbertism for the rest of the introductory article, below which is a list of links to all the articles.
For today’s blog entry see KGH: Memento Mori II.
These articles are but a prelude to Justin’s book, which is coming soon, see If You Meet George Herbert on the Road, Kill Him: Radically Re-thinking Priestly Ministry.
Meanwhile, his other book, Circles of Thorns: Hieronymus Bosch and Being Human, is available and has been designated as Mowbray’s Lent Book 2009. Peter McGeary reviewed it recently for the Church Times.
Study guides are available starting here.
We published links to some of the Church Times detailed reports on this month’s General Synod last week. The remainder are now generally available.
This week saw the tenth anniversary of the landmark report into the death of Stephen Lawrence. Stephen, a young black man, died at the hands of racist thugs on a London street and the Metropolitan Police at the time failed to investigate the crime properly. To mark the occasion some 300 or so of us, including Stephen’s mother, Doreen Lawrence (a tireless campaigner), three cabinet ministers (Home Secretary, Justice Secretary, Communities Secretary) and senior police officers and officials spent the day conferring on the interaction of police and race in Britain. If you want news reports or copies of the politicians’ speeches you can Google them, but it seems to me there were two unresolved tensions underpinning the event worthy of TA reflection.
The first is that secular society finds it hard to manage the tension between acknowledging achievement and recognising that where we have got to is still far from good enough. Ministers and Chief Constables rightly drew to our attention that the majority of the report’s recommendations have been accepted and implemented; for example there are many more black and minority ethnic police in Britain than when Stephen was killed and open racism is much harder to find among serving officers. By contrast comments from the floor suggested that the scarcity of BME faces among the senior ranks of the 43 constabularies and the huge disproportionality in “stop and search” practices means that little has changed in the underlying culture of British policing. One sounded complacent, the other incapable of recognising as progress anything less than total success. I was left feeling that what was missing was the ability to bring together repentance and thanksgiving, without denying the force of either, that is a hallmark of Christian liturgy. My impression was confirmed by the final speaker of the day, an evangelical pastor, who did hold the two together. Do the churches have something to offer here? If so, how can we make it accessible?
The second tension was between those promoting the “single equality” route to engaging with diversity and the advocates for separate treatment of distinctive strands. Here I am firmly in the former camp. I understand the concerns that those working primarily on race and racism express, that as soon as race is linked to something else the attention moves over to the something else and race gets marginalised. Against this however are a number of telling arguments. Individuals do not engage with the world separately as black, or muslim or female or gay or disabled or young, depending on the particular moment and cause. We always engage with our whole identity, and with all the aspects of that identity that make us diverse beings. The cutting edge of equality and diversity work lies in the interplay between the strands. Being black and female, I am sure, is not simply an amalgam of being black and being a woman; engagements that separate gender from ethnicity treat black women poorly. The same applies, I suspect, to being gay and muslim or young and disabled. For me as a Christian from the Anglican tradition it’s particularly important that the church operates a single equalities methodology lest we end up using different standards, even opposed standards, by which to engage with different aspects of diversity.
Stephen Lawrence had the ambition and the capacity to be an architect; nobody knows what buildings he would have erected had he enjoyed a full span of life. Instead his monument is the sea change in equality and diversity work that his murder and the subsequent enquiry provoked. It’s an edifice that is still very much “under construction”.
They have jointly authored an article in today’s Times newspaper, Mugabe has ruined Africa’s beacon of hope. See also Archbishops of Canterbury and York condemn regime in Zimbabwe and Ash Wednesday: Say a Prayer for Zim.
The Archbishop of York has also invited people to come to join him today in a city centre Church in York praying for the people of Zimbabwe.
And see BBC ‘Pray and fast’ plea for Zimbabwe which includes a video interview with both archbishops.
Today many of us will have some ashes smudged on our heads, reminding us that we are going to die, and asking each one of us to turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ. How should you react? How should you react if someone were to say to you that you’re going to be turned to ashes, that you’re all going to die? And why does thinking about your eventual death help you to turn away from sin? I mean, if you are going to die, perhaps you should get some serious sinning under your belt, or maybe even some serious sinning below your belt!
So why the stress on death? Why does the Church want to remind you that you’re going to die? Isn’t the Church supposed to be spreading good news, emphasising new life in Christ, emphasising eternal life? Why death?
The simple answer is that Jesus emphasised it again and again. You’ll remember the saying, ‘If anyone saves his life, he will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will save it’. Or again, ‘If people try to make their life secure, they will lose it; but those who lose their life will keep it.’ Or, ‘Those who love their life will lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.’ Our baptismal liturgy echoes much the same theme: in baptism we literally drown and are reborn — we die to sin and come to real life. And Jesus’ own life is very much the story of someone who had to let go of his own life for others. And for that reason, we are told, God raised him to new life. Had he clung to life, we wouldn’t be here today.
Given the radical centrality of this death-life connection, it’s a bit odd that Christians have kind of sidelined death — or at least they have sidelined it theologically — for several thousand years. Death, they said, was a result of sin, original sin. Prior to Adam’s and Eve’s sin, there apparently was no death. Prior to Adam’s and Eve’s sin, we’re told, no one died, no one had deadly diseases, no one hurt themselves when they fell off cliffs or high trees; no one was devoured by lions; deadly cancer didn’t exist; birth defects didn’t exist. Death only came into the world when sin entered the world — a teaching based not so much on Genesis, which is ambiguous on this point, but on Romans 5, which could (and probably should) be seen as St Paul’s using physical death as a symbol for spiritual, even eternal, death.
I must say that I took such an approach myself for quite a few years. I thought to myself that, if death were an evil (and it does seem pretty nasty), then God couldn’t be the cause of it. After all, God wouldn’t, God couldn’t, create anything that wasn’t good; therefore death couldn’t possibly be part of God’s original plan; it couldn’t be part of God’s original creation. Someone else must be to blame.
But that’s too easy. Human beings have always been finite, which is to say we are and never have been in-finite: we’re not and we’ve never been God. No doubt death has a lot to do with sin, with the evil we do to ourselves and to one another; and it is probably the perfect symbol for understanding what sin does to us; but death is an inherent part of our being finite creatures. Death is and always has been natural — as natural as living. If you’re biological, you will die. Physical death is not a punishment in and of itself. And our finitude, our being finite beings — this is a universal and good aspect of all of creation: it’s not an evil to be explained away. We don’t need to make excuses for God: God created a finite universe.
The thing is, because we wrote off death as something evil, we rarely bothered to ask whether there is anything good in death. We rarely asked why God made a universe where all living things inevitably die, where even non-living things — all of them — inevitably lose the battle against entropy and die out too. But what if death cannot be written off? If God created death, as it were, shouldn’t we be asking why? Could it be that, in being created in the image and likeness of God, our living and our dying are both — somehow — in the image and likeness of God? Could it be that there is something about our having to face death that reveals something about God?
If, like me, you’ve had family members who have died recently, then these questions are not just theoretical questions, but exquisitely painful questions, especially as you watch death slowly overtake the body of a loved one, as you wrestle with the God who created the universe, knowing full-well that people would invariably die — and die often in the most horrendous and painful circumstances, leaving the survivors to experience the soul-numbing pain of separation.
And yet Jesus realised that clinging on to life is futile: ‘If anyone tries to make his life secure, he will lose it; but those who lose their life will keep it.’
This is a huge paradox, but Jesus is surely right. If you consider your own death, as you are asked to do today, you can either descend into moroseness (or a whole range of neuroses) or you can discover an unusual kind of freedom. If we’re all going to die anyway, then perhaps nothing has any real meaning at all. That’s certainly one way of looking at things. But if we are going to die anyway, then we ultimately have nothing to lose: we can live life to the full, we can take real risks, we can live radically, love radically, risk courageously: you can even dare to love your enemy. And if that’s true for each of us, just imagine what a community of people who thought that way could accomplish.
All of this cuts to the very heart of Jesus’s teaching: God is so trustworthy that you can choose to do the right thing, you can dare to love sacrificially; because, in the end, you’re going to have to trust God anyway: death ensures that. And Jesus’s own death and resurrection — these are God’s way of assuring us that such trust is not in vain.
There is this strange sense that we do have to let go of life, let go of our fear of losing life, in order to live life. And that’s not just a nice, theoretical, paradoxical sort of maxim. No, we actually have to do it. We have to let go of life physically. I’m well in my fifties now, and I can already feel it happening bit by bit. We’re talking about real death here. We have to live life facing death. In the face of death, we discover that we can’t cause ourselves to continue to exist. We face the fact that we can’t save ourselves. We realise that we are creatures — finite creatures — not gods: we can’t even claim our own lives as our own. If we are to live again, as Christians hope and believe, then such a life is not something we can give to ourselves.
And what does this reveal about God? Well, it reveals that all love, even or especially divine love, involves a dying to self; it involves a giving of self. Love demands that we not cling to life and hoard it as some possession. In the Trinity, the Father gives of his very own life to the Son. The Father does not cling to life; instead he shares it completely. And the Son does not cling to his equality with God, but empties himself, as we can read in Philippians 2.5, and offers his life, his Spirit, back to the Father. And this shared Spirit is offered to us, not as something we can own, but only as something we can share. And that emptying, that embracing of death, even death on a cross, that sharing of life itself — that is the Christian image of the costliness of love: not just for Jesus, but for the Father as well … the Father who shares infinitely in the pain of his Son’s having to let go of life, and yet the Father who also knows that Jesus’s faith was well-placed, that God indeed is in fact ultimately trustworthy, that death is not the final word. Love is the final word.
As I alluded to earlier, I realise that some of us have faced and are facing the deaths of loved ones. No doubt you are already anticipating the pain of loss: Do you dare love him or her so much as she dies? Do you dare believe that love makes sense in the face of death? If not, then nothing would make any sense at all. Nothing would matter in the end. But we know that things matter, because we do love, and we choose love. That’s the choice. That’s what Jesus was asking us to do: choose life, choose love, choose God. And the power of that radical choice comes to the fore when we confront death, as we do symbolically in the ceremony of the sprinkling of ashes.
The Church of England has launched several initiatives as Lent approaches.
And don’t forget the communion-wide campaign for Zimbabwe, see Anglican Communion joins Prayers for Zimbabwe on Ash Wednesday. Posters and fliers can be downloaded from USPG announces Archbishops’ Appeal for Zimbabwe. To donate online, go here.
Updated again Wednesday afternoon
A recent news item concerned the UK government’s banning members of the so-called Westboro Baptist Church from entering the country. Less widely reported was the joint statement issued by six Christian organisations, the day after government action, including the Evangelical Alliance, which said:
“We are dismayed that members of Westboro Baptist Church (based in Kansas, USA and not associated with the Baptist Union of Great Britain) might picket the performance of The Laramie Project in Basingstoke on Friday.
“We do not share their hatred of lesbian and gay people. We believe that God loves all, irrespective of sexual orientation, and we unreservedly stand against their message of hate toward those communities.
“Neither the style nor substance of their preaching expresses the historic, orthodox Christian faith. And we ask that the members of Westboro Baptist Church refrain from stirring up any more homophobic hatred in the UK or elsewhere.”
This prompted Jonathan Bartley of Ekklesia to issue the following response:
“It is welcome that a number of churches and evangelical groups have made a public statement and joined the many others who are opposing Westboro’ Baptist church-style hate speech. But it is relatively easy to issue statements against extremists, distance oneself, and condemn them. It is more challenging, and uncomfortable, to acknowledge what one might have in common with those we find abhorrent. But that is what the message at the heart of the Christian faith requires.
“This is the real challenge that Westboro Baptist church presents. And among those who have condemned Westboro are some who preach rejection of faithful gay relationships, who deny their baptism and Christian ministry, and who refuse their wisdom. Some have attempted to negotiate opt-outs from equalities legislation so they can themselves discriminate against lesbian and gay people in employment and in the provision of goods and services. The Evangelical Alliance in particular removed the Courage Trust from its membership when the Trust made a Christian commitment to affirming lesbian and gay people.
“The six churches and groups have said with one voice: ‘We believe that God loves all, irrespective of sexual orientation’ We invite them to reflect these words in their actions.”
Ekklesia also issued a background report, Churches condemn Westboro hate speech, but challenge remains.
The other five organisations were: The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Evangelical Alliance UK, Faithworks, the Methodist Church of Great Britain, the United Reformed Church and the Bible Society-funded thinktank Theos.
A further statement has now been issued by another group of Christian organisations:
…Accepting Evangelicals, Courage, the Network of Baptists Affirming Lesbian and Gay Christians, the Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian & Gay Christians, and the Christian think-tank Ekklesia have issued a joint statement saying that opposition to the Westboro Baptist Church USA’s hate-stance towards gay people does not go far enough.
“The real challenge to evangelicals is to face the need for change themselves,” they say. “This means: engaging more fully and openly with lesbian and gay Christians and accepting them as equal under God; examining the way prejudice against gay people has distorted biblical understanding; prayerfully re-thinking church policies of exclusion and acknowledging the harm they cause; and recognising the growing number of evangelicals who have had a heart-change and now affirm faithful gay relationships.”
Ekklesia has the full statement at Evangelicals call for change of attitude on gays.
Simon Barrow has written about this at Comment is free Evangelicals who love their gay neighbours.
The Church Times publishes detailed reports on Synod debates. They are normally only available to subscribers for the first week. So far the ones below are generally available; there will be more next Friday.
Updated Monday afternoon
Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times that The synod is the place to challenge the unjust and evil.
Sunny Hundal writes in the Guardian that It is worth having a healthy debate on the interaction between faith and violence.
Jonathan Bartley writes at Ekklesia about Hearing what children are saying.
At Comment is free Theo Hobson and Julian Baggini discuss Is Christianity a good influence on British culture?
Giles Fraser’s article in last week’s Church Times is now available, see Why is the Left so anti-Jewish.
For votes on women bishops, see previous item. Other votes in February are available as PDF files as follows:
The detailed results of the voting on the women bishops legislation at General Synod last week are now available.
‘That the Measure entitled “Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure” be considered for revision in committee.’
‘That the Canon entitled “Amending Canon No 30” be considered for revision in committee.’
From these simple alphabetical lists I have worked out the voting figures in each house below. It will be seen that each house voted by more than a two-thirds majority in favour each motion. Of course, voting to send the legislation for revision is not the same as voting in favour of its content.
I have also compiled tables of how each member of Synod voted (or abstained or was absent). These tables are available as a web page.
Updated Friday morning
Provisional attendance figures for 2007 were released today.
The press release starts:
Figures from the Church of England released today show further evidence that, while some trends in churchgoing continue to change, the overall number of people regularly attending church has altered little since the turn of the millennium. The 2007 figures confirm that attending a Church of England church (including cathedrals) is part of a typical week for some 1.2 million people.
The full figures are available as a pdf file.
Some early press reports
Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Christmas church attendance falls by 11% in a year
Jenna Lyle in Christian Today New Church figures show attendance ‘stable’
Bill Bowder in the Church Times More go to church when Christmas falls at weekend
The BBC Parliament Channel will show recordings of last week’s General Synod sessions on Friday 20 February. A schedule is available here.
BBC Parliament is shown on UK digital terrestrial television (Freeview) channel 81, on digital cable and on satellite at channel 504, as well as on the broadband media player. More information here.
The Anglican Church in North America has previously claimed:
“The movement unites 700 orthodox Anglican congregations, representing roughly 100,000 people…”
Today, a file entitled How many Anglicans are there in the Anglican Church in North America? has been published at this Fort Worth website.
How many Anglicans are there in the Anglican Church in North America?
On every Sunday morning, some 81,311 people worship at the 693 congregations of the Anglican Church in North America. These people and parishes are already outside of The Episcopal Church and The Anglican Church in Canada. The large majority are temporarily under the oversight of six separate Anglican provinces.
The Anglican Church in North America will unify the parishes and membership of a number of jurisdictions:
• The Anglican Mission in the Americas (Rwanda) reports an average Sunday attendance of 21,600 in 180 congregations (40 of which are churches in formation called “networks”).
• The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (Nigeria) has 69 congregations with a average Sunday attendance of 9,828.
• The Reformed Episcopal Church has 150 parishes and an average Sunday attendance of 13,000.
• There are 51 parishes under the temporary oversight of Uganda with an average Sunday attendance of 7,000.
• There are 55 parishes in The United States under the temporary oversight of the provinces of Kenya and the Southern Cone with an average Sunday attendance of 10,000.
• Four entire dioceses separating from The Episcopal Church, with a combined 163 parishes and an average Sunday attendance of 16,483 (The Episcopal Church congregations and members having been excluded from this count) are temporarily dioceses of the province of the Southern Cone.
• The Anglican Network in Canada (Southern Cone) is composed of 24 congregations with an average Sunday attendance of 3,400.
• One congregation is under the temporary oversight of West Africa.
Based on a firm Sunday attendance average of 81,311 people, it is reasonable to very conservatively project that more than 100,000 Anglicans in North America are active members of a congregation of the proposed province (In many cases, total membership often runs at two to three times average Sunday attendance. For instance, The Episcopal Church reports an average Sunday attendance of 768,476 in 2007 and an active baptized membership of 2,116,749.)
While each individual group is small, as a united body, the Anglican Church in North America stretches from one end of North America to the other and has as many or more (in some cases, significantly more) members than 12 of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces (Bangladesh, Brazil, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, Indian Ocean, Japan, Jerusalem & Middle East, Korea, Mexico, Myanmar, Scotland, Southern Cone, Wales)
See the PDF file for further comparison of ACNA with numerous provincial statistics.
The Church Times has two articles available without subscription. (There will be many more in the next two weeks as detailed reports become available to non-subscribers.)
Also, the Church Times blogger Dave Walker has some “behind the scenes” pictures.
Justin Brett now blogging as The Dodgy Liberal has written here about the debate on the Uniqueness of Christ last Wednesday.
Martin Beckford wrote at the Telegraph Synod: The temple of money and the altar of multi-faith dialogue.
George Pitcher at the Telegraph wrote Whittam Smith predicts Armageddon.
Justin Brett wrote a further article, see Synodical Ruminations Part 1 (Covenant) and see also the MCU document produced for this debate, at Briefing Paper for General Synod Members February 2009 (PDF).
And also another one on Synodical Ruminations Part 2 (BNP Etc.)
In my Saturday roundup of opinion pieces I included the article that Archbishop Sentamu wrote in the Daily Mail. One of the cases that he referred to there was the case of Jenny Cain and her daughter. The Telegraph reported this under the headline Primary school receptionist ‘facing sack’ after daughter talks about Jesus to classmate.
This case has given rise to criticism of the school, for example, according to the Telegraph:
John Sentamu said it was an “affront to the sensibility” of Christians everywhere that Jennie Cain is being investigated for alleged professional misconduct after she sent a private email to 10 friends asking for prayer.
George Pitcher followed up with an opinion piece headed Christians need protection in law.
Other reports of the incident give a rather different picture. See for example:
Exeter Express & Echo Girl, 5, told off at school for talking of God followed the next day by Parents back head’s stance in storm over ‘go to hell’ comment
Simon Barrow has written this comment article at Ekklesia Scaring the hell out of kids?
… Perhaps those Christians who object to the school wanting to maintain a non-threatening environment should ask themselves how they would feel if a son of theirs ended up crying after being told by an atheist pupil that religious people are nuts and should be locked up? Or if their daughter was upset by a Muslim telling her she would suffer eternally for not believing in Allah and his Messenger?
In both these cases, there would be an outcry if the school did nothing, or if it said that that their kids would have to put up with being frightened, because trying to stop this would amount to “not showing respect for beliefs”…
Updated again Tuesday evening
Although there is no report of this as yet
on Episcopal Life Online, nor at the The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) - which despite former claims to the contrary now appears to have slightly changed its name - there is now confirmation from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of a report from Lionel Deimel that Episcopal Church Asks to Join Calvary Lawsuit.
The actual court filing can be seen here as a PDF.
An objection that the defendants have raised more than once in the lawsuit filed by Calvary Church against now-deposed bishop Robert Duncan and other (now former) leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is that Calvary had no right to sue without The Episcopal Church’s being a party to the suit. Well, Archbishop-in-Waiting Duncan seems about to get his wish. Papers were filed today in the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Bishop John C. Buchanan, Retired Bishop of West Missouri and parliamentarian of the House of Bishops. In a “petition to intervene,” Buchanan, representing The Episcopal Church, asks the court to become a plaintiff in the case…
The diocese wrote:
Today, Friday, February 13, 2009, attorneys representing The Episcopal Church filed a Petition to Intervene in the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s Request to Special Master now pending in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.
The following statement was issued by the Standing Committee, the current leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh:
“We approve of and welcome The Episcopal Church joining our legal effort to regain control of diocesan assets that are still held by former diocesan leaders. Our request before the court is based on an agreement those former leaders made in court, namely, that diocesan property would unconditionally remain with a diocese that is defined as being part of The Episcopal Church of the United States. We believe the participation of The Episcopal Church in the case will help clarify beyond question who is and who is not rightfully the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh identified in that court agreement.”
Lionel Deimel has published a second article, Further Analysis. In this he notes that the PDF document linked above contains two items. The second document, titled complaint-in-intervention, is analysed in detail by him. He summarises the concluding paragraph as follows:
In particular, The Episcopal Church asks that the court:
a. Declare that the people recognized by The Episcopal Church are the proper authorities to control the assets of the diocese.
b. Declare that property held by and for the Diocese of Pittsburgh may only be used for the mission of The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Pittsburgh, subject to the rules of each.
c. Order the defendants to relinquish all diocesan assets to the proper authorities of the diocese.
d. Require defendants to submit an accounting of all assets held on October 4, 2008,
e. Provide such further relief as may be proper.
Tuesday evening update
ENS now has a report, PITTSBURGH: Episcopal Church petitions to join property case, wants Duncan to vacate offices.
Giles Fraser wrote about the Credit Crunch, see The crunch needs global resolution. And don’t miss the lucid explanation of the Credit Crunch by Andreas Whittam Smith in a synod paper, The Inernational Financial Crisis and the Recession.
Earlier this week, Jonathan West asked Should I worry about the church?
The Archbishop of York wrote in the Daily Mail The intolerance towards Christians in the public sector is an affront. Another copy is on the archbishop’s own website.
Jenny Taylor wrote in The Times Let us use chastity to channel the soul’s energy.
Elizabeth Gray-King wrote in the Guardian about Valentine’s Day.
The overnight snow has cleared, and I am sitting in the study, looking out on the rather scruffy greenery of the garden. As with many clergy houses, the surrounding garden is unusually large for the locality. It’s much admired by visitors, especially congregation members, not because it is in any sense a model of horticultural achievement but just because it is a green space. And a green space is defined as good, to be enjoyed, a source of spiritual solace.
Talking recently with someone who has moved from working in the inner city to a parish in the depths of rural Essex, we fell to wondering about the default position which gives a spiritual value to the ‘natural’ world, but not to that which is evidently made by human hands, or indeed, by machines designed by human brains. Go into a religious bookshop, and look at the shelves of popular devotional material: most will have covers which show flowers, sky, mountains, woods, sea, even deserts. Any human beings shown will be almost certainly be in rural settings, whether the domesticity of the English countryside or something wilder and apparently more challenging. A very few might be consciously grittier in their approach: urban spirituality, talking of God in the city, is rough, tough stuff, edgy, about stories of poverty and survival.
Intentionally or not, the visual code being used implies that the natural world is of God, and good, offering us an unmediated access to the divine, and that what is the product of human activity is and does none of these things. This of course ignores the fact that so much of the landscape in which we operate is shaped by human intervention: very little certainly of the English countryside is ‘natural’, a wilderness unspoiled by people’s demands upon it. More importantly for my purposes, working in an urban environment, is the implicit message that houses, roads, factories, shops, bridges, railways are always to be seen as second-rate in the spirituality stakes. And, by extension, the people of the city need to get into the green world of big skies and empty spaces, because there they can pray, reflect, contemplate, in ways which are otherwise closed to them.
Perhaps this is part of a peculiarly English cultural obsession with the countryside: just as, if you make sufficient money (or so it was in the past, when people did make money), you move to the country, whether to a stately home or a comfortable bungalow, so if you are spiritually successful, you seek out the fields, the forests, the mountains. But the Christian story famously begins in a garden and ends in a city, and yet we constantly hark back to Eden rather than look forward to Jerusalem. Why are we so unwilling to explore a sense of God amongst the cars, the bricks, the concrete, the bus stops, and the busyness? Why do we not honour as God-given the human creativity which gives us the North London Outfall Sewer, the exuberant decoration of late 19th century terraced housing, the entertainment of one of our local covered markets? And why, when we do try to do it, is the attempt so often disastrous? I recall with pain, many years ago, singing ‘God of concrete, God of steel…’
I can’t answer the questions, but I’m off to look for signs of the Kingdom on the London Underground.
The official report of Friday morning’s business is at General Synod - Summary of Business Conducted on Friday 13th February 2009 AM.
Martin Beckford Telegraph Church of England General Synod calls asylum seeker amnesty
Ruth Gledhill General Synod Feb 09 Day Five
Nottingham Evening Post City priest’s call for asylum seeker rights
Alastair Cutting Asylum and Sanctuary
We will update this as more reports are published.
The final morning (Friday) of Synod was devoted to two diocesan synod motions.
The first, from Southwell & Nottingham, was about Justice and Asylum Seekers. The Revd Ruth Worsley moved the motion:
That this Synod, continuing to affirm scriptural teaching about care for the vulnerable, welcome for strangers and foreigners, and the Church’s calling to reach out to the marginalized and persecuted, call upon Her Majesty’s Government:(a) to ensure that the treatment of asylum seekers is just and compassionate, and to that end to consider:(i) conferring a right to work on all asylum seekers, and(b) to find a practical and humane remedy to the intolerable situation of destitute ‘refused’ asylum seekers who are unable to return to their country of origin because of personal safety, health or family reasons.
(ii) declaring an amnesty for so called ‘legacy cases’ that predate the Government’s New Asylum Model;
This was amended, by changing some of the wording, and adding (iii) and (c) so that the substantive motion became
That this Synod, continuing to affirm scriptural teaching about care for vulnerable people, welcome for strangers and foreigners, and the Church’s calling to reach out to the marginalized and persecuted, call upon Her Majesty’s Government:(a) to ensure that the treatment of asylum seekers is just and compassionate, and to that end to:(i) confer a right to work on all asylum seekers,(b) to find a practical and humane remedy to the intolerable situation of destitute ‘refused’ asylum seekers who are unable to return to their country of origin because of personal safety, health or family reasons;
(ii) declare an amnesty for so called ‘legacy cases’ that predate the Government’s New Asylum Model, and
(iii) bring to an end the practice of detaining children and families in Immigration Removal Centres;
(c) to investigate and report publicly on the quality of the legal services provided to asylum seekers.
The amended motion was then carried by 242 votes to one against (with one recorded abstention).
The second motion, from Worcester, was about Climate Change and the Church’s Property Transactions and was proposed by the Bishop of Dudley:
That this Synod call on the Archbishops’ Council to conduct an urgent review of the Endowments and Glebe Measure and other relevant Church legislation, with a view to bringing forward at the earliest possible opportunity any amendments needed to enable diocesan bodies and PCCs lawfully to dispose of land on terms which give proper weight to environmental considerations as well as financial ones, and so enable the Church to give a stronger moral lead in achieving Her Majesty’s Government’s objectives in cutting carbon emissions.
After debate this motion was defeated. 83 members voted for the motion and 98 against. There were 18 recorded abstentions.
The final business at Synod this (Thursday) afternoon was a diocesan synod motion on the future of Church of England retreat houses.
The Ven Richard Atkinson (Leicester) moved on behalf of the Leicester Diocesan Synod:
That this Synod
(a) celebrate the contribution of the Diocesan Retreat Houses to the Retreat Movement, and to the mission of the Church and the spiritual well-being of the nation;
(b )in the light of the closure of several Diocesan Retreat Houses, invite the Archbishops’ Council to review and to make recommendations for the future sustainability and development of the remaining Diocesan Retreat Houses; and
(c) encourage the Archbishops’ Council and the other National Church Institutions, Dioceses, regional training partnerships and parishes to make full use of the Diocesan Retreat Houses for retreat, prayer, study, conferences and creative thinking for the future.
Mr Brian Newey (Oxford) moved as an amendment:
Leave out paragraph (b).
This amendment was carried on a show of hands so that the substantive motion became
That this Synod
(a) celebrate the contribution of the Diocesan Retreat Houses to the Retreat Movement, and to the mission of the Church and the spiritual well-being of the nation; and
(b) encourage the Archbishops’ Council and the other National Church Institutions, Dioceses, regional training partnerships and parishes to make full use of the Diocesan Retreat Houses for retreat, prayer, study, conferences and creative thinking for the future.
At the end of the debate the amended motion was carried nem con on a show of hands.
The Ven Richard Atkinson proposing the motion
Updated Friday morning
The official summary of the morning’s business is at General Synod - Summary of Business Conducted on Thursday 12th February 2009 AM
And for the afternoon, there is General Synod - Summary of Business Conducted on Thursday 12th February 2009 PM
Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Workers who lose jobs will escape ‘Crackberry culture’
Ruth Gledhill in the Times Bishop of London says that redundancy is good for the soul
Avril Ormsby at Reuters ‘We are all to blame for financial crisis’ - archbishop
BBC Church leaders focus on recession
ENS In England, Anglican covenant debate reveals mixed expectations by Matthew Davies
Ruth Gledhill General Synod Feb 09 Day Four
Justin Brett In Praise of the Tom Wright Sound-Bite
Alastair Cutting A jar, an empty cupboard, and kissing the hand of the Queen
The second item of business this afternoon (Thursday) was a debate on the report Inter Faith: Presence and Engagement (GS 1720)
The motion, proposed by the Bishop of Bradford, was “That the Synod do take note of this report”. The motion was passed on a show of hands.
The Bishop of Bradford introducing the debate
The Archbishop of York moved:
That the Synod do take note of this Report
The Archbishop’s speech is here.
The motion was carried.
The Archbishop of York speaking in the debate
The March issue of Atlantic Monthly carries an interview with Rowan Williams written by Paul Elie.
The place of gay people in the church is one of the bitterest disputes in Christianity since the Reformation. The Anglican Church is trying to have it both ways—affirming traditional notions of marriage and family while seeking to adapt its teachings to the experiences of gays and lesbians. Presiding over the debate, gently—too gently?—prodding the communion toward acceptance of gay clergy, is Rowan Williams, the brilliant and beleaguered archbishop of Canterbury. He’s been pilloried from all sides for his handling of these issues, but his distinctive theology and leadership style may offer the only way to open the Anglican Church to gay people without breaking it apart.
Read the whole thing, starting here.
Also, read an interview with the writer, at A Flock Divided.
Paul Elie talks about Archbishop Rowan Williams’s balancing act, and the schisms threatening the Anglican Church.
Updated Thursday lunchtime
An extremely useful paper written by Andreas Whittam Smith provided for the debate held on Tuesday is now available on the CofE website.
See GS Misc 916 THE INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL CRISIS AND THE RECESSION.
Update We have now added this paper as a webpage.
The final item of business on Wednesday evening was a Diocesan Synod motion from Newcastle on Human Trafficking.
The Revd Canon Michael Webb (Newcastle) moved:
That this Synod, in celebrating the centenary of the death of Josephine Butler, who is remembered in the Calendar on May 30th:
(a) recognize and deplore the continuing evil of human trafficking, especially of children and young people;
(b) urge the Church of England to support the work of those who seek to end the traffic and rescue those trapped in it; and
(c) support the vigorous implementation of the UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking and, in particular, call on HM Government to ensure that effective measures are in place to prevent sex workers being trafficked into Britain during the 2012 Olympics.
The following amendment was moved by Canon Ann Turner (Europe) and carried on a show of hands.
At the end insert as a new paragraph:
(..) request the Archbishops’ Council to explore the possibility of affiliating to the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre in order to combat this traffic as an urgent priority.”.
This made the Substantive motion into:
That this Synod, in celebrating the centenary of the death of Josephine Butler, who is remembered in the Calendar on May 30th:
(a) recognize and deplore the continuing evil of human trafficking, especially of children and young people;
(b) urge the Church of England to support the work of those who seek to end the traffic and rescue those trapped in it;
(c) support the vigorous implementation of the UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking and, in particular, call on HM Government to ensure that effective measures are in place to prevent sex workers being trafficked into Britain during the 2012 Olympics; and
(d) request the Archbishops’ Council to explore the possibility of affiliating to the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre in order to combat this traffic as an urgent priority.
The motion was carried on a show of hands.
There was a second proposed amendment, moved by the Revd Mark Sowerby (Ripon & Leeds).
After paragraph (a) insert as a new paragraph:
“(b) recognize and deplore the male abuse of women, which is the root cause of this evil trade;”.
It was defeated by 95 votes to 114 with 12 recorded abstentions.
The second item of Wednesday afternoon was a private member’s motion on the uniqueness of Christ in multi-faith Britain.
Mr Paul Eddy (Winchester) moved:
That this Synod request the House of Bishops to report to the Synod on their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in Britain’s multi-faith society, and offer examples and commendations of good practice in sharing the gospel of salvation through Christ alone with people of other faiths and of none.
The Revd Christopher Strain (Salisbury) moved as an amendment:
After “That this Synod” insert:
“warmly welcome Dr Martin Davie’s background paper ‘The witness of Scripture, the Fathers and the historic formularies to the uniqueness of Christ’ attached to GS Misc 905B and”.
This amendment was carried on a show of hands.
This made the substantive motion:
That this Synod warmly welcome Dr Martin Davie’s background paper ‘The witness of Scripture, the Fathers and the historic formularies to the uniqueness of Christ’ attached to GS Misc 905B and request the House of Bishops to report to the Synod on their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in Britain’s multi-faith society, and offer examples and commendations of good practice in sharing the gospel of salvation through Christ alone with people of other faiths and of none.
The motion was carried by 283 votes to 8 with 10 recorded abstentions.
background note from the Secretary General (GS Misc 905B) to which is attached a paper from Dr Martin Davie
A Church of England Approach to the Unique Significance of Jesus Christ A paper prepared by Dr Martin Davie for the Theological Group of the House of Bishops
During the debate the following two amendments were defeated.
The Revd Canon Simon Bessant (Sheffield) moved as an amendment:
Leave out all the words after “That this Synod” and insert:
“remembering its resolution of 6 July 2002, affirm:
(a) the process started by Presence & Engagement (GS 1577); and
(b) that all Christians should seek to witness faithfully to Christ and His Gospel to all, whilst also building strong friendships and partnerships with other faith communities in seeking peace, justice and the common good throughout society;
and ask that Ministry Division and the Mission & Public Affairs Division report on progress on this matter.”.
The 2002 resolution is copied below the fold. This amendment was lost on a show of hands.
The Revd Canon Andrew Dow (Gloucester) moved as an amendment:
Leave out all the words after “That this Synod” and insert:
“, recognising the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only Saviour as a foundational tenet of the Apostolic Christian Faith, request the House of Bishops to commission a report for Synod giving details of current Church of England based evangelistic ministry among those of other faiths, providing guidelines for this particular outreach, and highlighting examples of good practice.”.
This amendment was lost on a show of hands.
Synod resolution of 6 July 2002
That this Synod, whilst valuing and affirming the importance of cultural and religious diversity, is convinced that the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ is for all and must be shared with all including people from other faiths or of no faith and that to do anything else would be to institutionalize discrimination; and that to this end, this Synod should:
(a) recommend parishes to approach the Partners for World Mission agencies to help make links with the World Church, especially with those people and places which might stimulate witness within a multifaith environment;
(b) encourage the Board of Mission and the Ministry Division through the theological colleges and courses to educate the Church concerning these issues; and
(c) urge all Christians to encourage sensitive and positive sharing of faith with people of all faiths and none whilst being willing to learn from and be enriched by people of other faiths.
The first item of business this afternoon (Wednesday) was a private member’s motion about Church Water Bills.
Martin Dales (York) moved:
That this Synod, concerned about the effect on many parishes of sudden, massive rises in water charges for churches, request HM Government to remind OFWAT of its obligations to ensure that the water companies adhere to the clear guidance given by the Secretary of State for the Environment in 2000, which states that “there are many non-household users who are not businesses … including places of worship … and it would be inappropriate to charge all non-household customers as if they were businesses”.
The motion was carried by votes 282 to nil with three recorded abstentions.
The amendment below was proposed by Timothy Cox (Blackburn) but was defeated on a show of hands.
Leave out all the words after “concerned about the” and insert:
“devastating impact of massive rises in the sewerage charges for places of worship, charities, not-for-profit clubs and voluntary organisations, request HM Government to issue new guidance to OFWAT and the water companies to:
(a) treat not-for-profit organisations, charities, places of worship, community halls etc differently from businesses and provide concessionary rates for surface and foul water drainage for these bodies; and
(b) spread the cost of highways drainage solely upon for-profit organisations.”.
Updated Thursday at 13.00 GMT to include the Archbishop of Canterbury’s contribution to the debate
After a service of Holy Communion the Synod spent the rest of Wednesday morning debating the proposed legislation to permit the ordination of women as bishops.
The draft legislation was prepared on the basis of the motion passed at Synod in July 2008. (See the end of our July item here for the text of the motion.)
There were two motions before Synod, both proposed by the Bishop of Manchester (the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch):
That the Measure entitled “Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure” be considered for revision in committee.
This motion was carried by 281 votes to 114 with 13 recorded abstentions. A request for a vote by houses was unsuccessful as fewer than 25 members wanted this.
That the Amending Canon entitled “Amending Canon No 30” be considered for revision in committee.
This motion was also carried - by 309 votes to 79 with 14 recorded abstentions
Both votes were taken electronically and voting lists will be available later (and we will publish them).
These are the papers for the debates.
Women in the Episcopate (GS 1707)
Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (GS 1708)
Draft Amending Canon No. 30 (GS 1709)
Illustrative Code of Practice (GS 1710)
Explanatory Memorandum (GS 1708-10X)
The Bishop of Manchester addressing the Synod
Revised Thursday 00.30 GMT and 12.55 GMT
The official summary of the morning’s business is at General Synod - Summary of Business Conducted on Wednesday 11th February 2009 PM.
The official summary of the afternoon’s business is at General Synod - Summary of Business Conducted on Wednesday 11th February 2009 AM.
Ruth Gledhill and Alastair Cutting (or Justin Brett) and Peter Ould have been blogging during the morning debate.
General Synod Feb 09: Day Three
Women Bishops: Blogging It Live
Live Blogging Synod
Guardian Riazat Butt Church of England will not see first female bishops until 2014
Religious Intelligence Toby Cohen General Synod vote sees women bishops take a step closer
Matthew Davies ENS Church of England inches closer to approving women bishops
Reuters Avril Ormsby Synod avoids cataclysm over women bishops
Martin Beckford Church ‘raintax’ is crippling parishes, admits head of Ofwat
Not actually a report from synod, but relevant is this Guardian report, Minister orders water companies to review huge ‘rainwater tax’ bills by Jenny Percival.
Waste water cartoon by Dave Walker
Ruth Gledhill The Times Churches face closure over water bills
Uniqueness of Christ
Peter Ould blogged here.
Ruth Gledhill The Times Anglicans called on to convert non-Christian believers
Martin Beckford Telegraph Christianity in decline because of political correctness
Church Times blog Dave Walker Video and news links from General Synod Day 4
Martin Beckford A new anti-atheist bus slogan coined at General Synod
Judith Maltby has written for Comment is free Women bishops now.
The Church of England cannot justify continued discrimination against its female members…
…A number of cross-party parliamentarians in both houses are making it clear that they will not vote into the law any measure from General Synod which discriminates against women. Imagine: lawmakers who do not want discrimination against women enshrined in the law of the land. Who do these people think that they are? Where is their sense of right and wrong?
A recent Church of England report suggested that the Labour government was had lost its moral compass. Might one suggest that the moral compass of these parliamentarians is working rather better than the Church of England’s? Could it be time to take the plank out of our own eye?
Religious Intelligence has Church of England’s treatment of women “shameful”, General Synod is told by Judy West.
..The Rev Dr Threlfall-Holmes, General Synod member for Durham and Newcastle Universities, said: “It is shameful that the Church of England still treats women as a problem to be solved.
“The draft legislation coming before Synod on Wednesday was always going to be a compromise between gender equality and the desire in the church to ‘protect’ those who disagree with the ordination of women. So in that sense what we have before us is about what was to be expected.
“But we will need to be very careful not to be misled into setting up a separate ‘church within a church’ in a misguided attempt to secure unity.”
The Northumberland Gazette has Church ‘tone’ on women bishops criticised.
…Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes criticised the “tone” of legislation on women bishops to be debated on Wednesday by the General Synod, the Church’s national assembly.
She said: “I think it is a shame that we continue to give more emphasis to the people who are a very vocal minority that disagree than to the huge majority who just want to get on with it.
“It is sending a very negative impression…
The American Anglican Council has published An Open Letter from Archbishop Akinola to Archbishop Williams.
…In preparation for the meeting I asked The American Anglican Council to prepare the attached report on the continuing situation of The Episcopal Church to enable people in the wider Communion to have a fuller perspective of the circumstances in North America. I shared it with my colleagues in the Global South but did not release it more widely in the hope that we would receive assurances from the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada that they were willing to exercise genuine restraint towards those Anglicans in North America unwilling to embrace their several innovations.
Sadly that did not prove to be the case. Instead we were treated to presentations that sought to trivialize the situation and the consequences for those whose only offence is their determination to hold on doggedly and truthfully to the faith once delivered to the saints. In addition I have learned that even as we met together in Alexandria actions were taken that were in direct contradiction to the season of deeper communion and gracious restraint to which we all expressed agreement. For example, in the days leading up to our meeting, the Diocese of Virginia declared the “inherent integrity and blessedness” of same sex unions and initiated a process to provide for their “blessing”. While we were meeting, The Diocese of Toronto also announced that it will start same sex blessings within a year and The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia filed further costly legal action appealing the court’s decision in twenty cases favouring nine Virginia congregations. These and many further actions are documented within the report…
Associated with this letter are two documents prepared by the AAC, one about The Episcopal Church and another about the Anglican Church of Canada, both in PDF format. The former was prepared by the AAC, and the latter by ANiC.
The last item of business this afternoon was a debate on a diocesan synod motion about the voice of the church in public life.
The Revd Canon David Felix (Chester) moved on behalf of the Chester Diocesan Synod:
That this Synod, mindful of the questions raised in public debate about the role of the Church in civic society, invite the Divisions of the Archbishops’ Council to report to the General Synod, before the end of the quinquennium, on their work:
(a) to foster clearer understanding of the Christian faith among the institutions and organisations of society; and
(b) to reinforce the claims of the Church to take its place in public life in Britain.
The Revd Canon Pete Spiers (Liverpool) moved as an amendment:
Leave out everything after “civic society” and insert:
“and believing that the most effective way to communicate the role of Christian faith in public life is through the witness and service of Christian men and women in their daily lives:
(a) affirm the work of the House of Bishops and the divisions of the Archbishops’ Council in fostering the understanding of the Christian faith among institutions and organisations in society;
(b) request the Business Committee to consider how the issues raised in Moral, But No Compass might best be debated; and
(c) urge the members of this Synod actively to promote public engagement in their dioceses and parishes to reinforce the values of the Christian faith.”.
This amendment was carried on a show of hands.
The substantive motion therefore became:
That this Synod, mindful of the questions raised in public debate about the role of the Church in civic society and believing that the most effective way to communicate the role of Christian faith in public life is through the witness and service of Christian men and women in their daily lives:
(a) affirm the work of the House of Bishops and the divisions of the Archbishops’ Council in fostering the understanding of the Christian faith among institutions and organisations in society;
(b) request the Business Committee to consider how the issues raised in Moral, But No Compass might best be debated; and
(c) urge the members of this Synod actively to promote public engagement in their dioceses and parishes to reinforce the values of the Christian faith.
The motion was carried overwhelmingly on a show of hands.
Canon Felix (left) and Canon Spiers (right) speaking during the debate
We will update this page as new reports appear.
The official summary of the morning’s business is at General Synod - Summary of Business Conducted on Tuesday 10th February 2009 AM.
The official summary of the afternoon’s business is at General Synod - Summary of Business Conducted on Tuesday 10th February 2009 PM.
Ruth Gledhill in the Times Credit crunch is ‘doomsday’ scenario says CoE finance chief
Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Church of England investment chief warns of financial crisis ‘doomsday machine’
Justin Brett Anatomy of a Debate: Part 1
Dave Walker General Synod Day 2
ENS Matthew Davies Archbishop of Canterbury spotlights challenges, priorities of ‘imperfect’ communion (includes link to video of the Presidential Address)
Daily Mail Steve Doughty Church of England votes to ban vicars from belonging to BNP
George Pitcher Church’s BNP ban is silly and pointless
Savi Hensman Choosing Christianity over racism
Updated Thursday to add the voting figures on one amendment.
This afternoon General Synod debated a private member’s motion about membership of organisations which contradict the duty to promote race equality. It was proposed by Ms Vasantha Gnanadoss of the diocese of Southwark. This is her motion:
That this Synod, noting that in 2004 the Association of Chief Police Officers adopted a policy whereby
“no member of the Police Service, whether police officer or police staff, may be a member of an organization whose constitution, aims, objectives or pronouncements contradict the general duty to promote race equality” and “this specifically includes the British National Party”,
request the House of Bishops to formulate and implement a comparable policy for the Church of England, to apply to clergy, ordinands, and such employed lay persons as have duties that require them to represent or speak on behalf of the Church.
The motion was carried by 322 votes to 13 with 20 recorded abstentions.
Ms Gnanadoss addressing the Synod
During the debate three amendments were moved but all were defeated.
Mr Justin Brett (Oxford) moved:
Leave out all the words after “That this Synod” and insert “affirm that membership of any organisation whose constitution, aims, objectives or pronouncements contradict the promotion of race equality is incompatible with the Apostolic Christian faith.”.
The Ven Norman Russell (Archdeacon of Berkshire) moved:
For the words “noting that in 2004” to “British National Party” substitute “recognising that every human being is made in the image of God”.
Leave out “comparable”; and
At the end insert “, which makes clear that racism has no place in the life of the Church.”.
Mr Tim Hind (Bath & Wells) moved:
Leave out “clergy, ordinands, and such employed lay persons as have duties that” and insert “persons whose duties”.
The voting on Tim Hind’s amendment was 166 in favour, 177 against and 11 recorded abstentions. The other two amendments were each defeated on a show of hands.
The Archbishop of Canterbury gave his Presidential Address to General Synod this afternoon. Read it online here.
The Archbishop addressing the Synod
Updated again Tuesday evening
Archbishop Peter Akinola has published A Wake Up Call to the People of God. It includes this:
…All through our gathering at the recently concluded Primates’ meeting I kept wondering whether we were the ones to whom John was writing. We have a glorious reputation – a worldwide communion of millions with a glorious history and beautiful heritage, fluid structures, grand cathedrals, “infallible” canons, historical ecclesiology and ‘flexible’ hermeneutics – but we are in danger of forgetting what we have received and heard and replacing it with the seemingly attractive gods and goddesses of our age. We are in danger of becoming the ‘living dead’ by giving the outward appearance of life but in reality we are no more than empty and ineffective vessels. In parts of our Communion some have merged the historical gospel message of Jesus the Christ with seductive ancient heresies and revisionist agendas, which have resulted in an adulterated and dangerous distortion of the gospel. The call to obedience and repentance is one that we must declare but we refuse and instead we replace it with a polite invitation to empty tolerance and endless conversation. Sometimes we think that we can replace the need for repentance with activities, programmes, endless meetings, conventions and communiqués —- we are wrong!
Bonnie Anderson President of the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies, has released a statement on the communiqué from the recently-completed Primates Meeting and on the report of the Windsor Continuation Group, available here.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada has published a letter to Canadians, see A Reflection by our Primate.
…My observation is that in those dioceses where resolutions have been passed requesting the authorizing of rites for blessing same-sex unions the Bishops have shown gracious restraint. They have called for continuing discernment in some cases through the drafting and testing of such rites in a limited manner and have advised the House accordingly. I am of the opinion that while our church struggles to honour the call for gracious restraint in blessing same-sex unions, those who are the proponents of cross-border interventions have and continue to show no restraint. I have endeavored to address this situation since the Lambeth Conference and I regret to say that to date a conversation with the pertinent parties has not been possible. I am disappointed and dismayed. My feelings are grounded in my care and concern for the Bishops and dioceses most adversely affected by these cross-border interventions…
However, I am encouraged by the call in the Windsor Continuation Report for the Archbishop of Canterbury to initiate professional mediated conversations in conflicted situations. In supporting this call, the Primates were unanimous. I personally assured the Archbishop of Canterbury of my commitment on behalf of our Church to this initiative and expressed my hope that all other parties would also come to the table in a spirit of “honest exchange and mutual challenge” for the sake of the unity of the Church.
Steve Waring at the Living Church has published Analysis: Primates Offer Support, Warnings to Both Sides.
Bishop Jack Iker Fort Worth Reflections on the Alexandria Communiqué (PDF)
Updated again Tuesday evening
The official summary is at General Synod - Summary of Business Conducted on Monday 9th February 2009 PM.
This includes links to audio recordings of all the sessions. (When I tried, only one of them was working properly. Dave Walker had a similar problem with the live feed.)
There is also a link to the text of the speech by Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor. The press release from his office about this speech is here.
The Questions session is pretty difficult to understand on the audio, as the Questions, which are submitted in advance, and are available to everybody on the floor as a printed document, are not read out. It’s unclear why this document is not routinely made available beforehand on the web. The prepared Answers, which are read out, are not available in written form to those on the floor, but are available to the Press Gallery!
As the summary linked above says
46 written questions were submitted by members of the Synod. The text of these questions, alongside the written responses, will be available here within the next week.
For more colourful reporting of the afternoon, try some of these:
Ruth Gledhill General Synod Feb 2009: Day One and Times Online Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor: All churches “impoverished” by Anglican divisions
Martin Beckford Telegraph General Synod Day 1: Key Church of England meeting starts with debate on Catholic church and Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor calls on Anglicans to work with Roman Catholics against secular society.
Also George Pitcher Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor: United we stand and Damian Thompson Cardinal’s General Synod speech uses the loaded phrase ‘Ecclesial Community’ - meaning ‘not a Church’
Justin Brett So what do you actually do at Synod, then?
Andrew Brown Is the Church of England together enough to split?
Comment is free Giles Fraser A week of terrible headlines
Unfortunately, during this synod, the Christian spirit is likely to be overshadowed by infighting and obscurantism…
Guardian Riazat Butt Calls for ecclesial unity amid homosexuality row (scroll down for this)
General Synod opened at 3 pm today. The following reports appeared over the weekend and earlier today.
Jonathan Wynne-Jones in the Telegraph Historic plans to introduce women bishops rejected by key traditionalist leaders
BBC Synod to discuss women bishops
Trevor Timpson at the BBC Waiting for the women bishops
Also at Ekklesia Church of England Synod to tackle key economic and social issues
The Times also has Four decades of rule: How the General Synod works
Updated Tuesday morning
Thinking Anglicans is not the only place on the internet for learning what happens this week at General Synod.
The official GS website pages start here.
The unofficial General Synod Blog can be found here.
Premier Christian Radio will have a live audio feed of sessions.
The Church Times Blog is here.
We will add to this list any other sources that we learn about during the week.
The Church of England website wants feedback from users.
See the press release What are you surfing for?
The Church of England is increasingly using a range of new media in order to enhance its web presence. So, the webmasters of the national Church of England web-site, recognising the need to engage directly with visitors to the site, have launched an on-line survey to gather visitors’ views.
It is available now at http://www.survey.bris.ac.uk/cofe/cofeweb and will be there until the end of March…
The site was designed by ILRT Bristol and launched in 2004.
TA readers are strongly encouraged to respond to the survey.
George Pitcher wrote in his blog for the Telegraph on Why Pope Benedict is like Rowan Williams.
And he also wrote at Comment is free that Atheists should get a life and leave our slot alone. Related to this, Jonathan Bartley at Ekklesia wrote The politics of Thought for the Day.
John Packer wrote in the Guardian about the upcoming General Synod debates on various public policy issues in Face to Faith. (We shall cover these in more detail during the week.)
Roderick Strange writes in The Times: Credo: Riveted by Mark’s Gospel, in one sitting.
Jonathan Bartley wrote in last week’s Church Times about An honest, vulnerable President.
Some years ago, some villagers in my parish, faced with the closure of their small church, rallied and organised themselves to see what could be done to make it viable. A retired civil servant listed the various tasks which he had arranged to be done, and he had achieved a great deal. He said that the practical tasks were within his ability but he couldn’t help with discussions about the nature of the universe or of God. I was taken aback by his view that our primary task was to conduct philosophical discussions, like early twentieth century French philosophers, and that anyone would want to join a church where this was being done!
The nature of God as a philosophical problem has never really engaged me, it belongs to the world of crosswords or sudoku. I appreciate the skill these things take, but I really don’t see the point. I can say that God has these qualities, say green eyes, and someone can say God has brown eyes. At the end of the day, so what? Who cares?
Now if I say that my green-eyed God revealed to my green-eyed people that the land you are standing on was given to us from the dawn of time, suddenly it matters. If I go on to say that you can remain on this land we’ve been given, but you won’t have the same employment opportunities, or your children won’t have the same life-chances as green-eyed people, it matters even more. You don’t have to go far with this idea before you begin to see resonances in nineteenth-century plantations in the deep south of the United States, twentieth-century unrest in Northern Ireland, and the ongoing wound which is Israel/Palestine. The list goes on and throughout history that engaging God in the cause of our tribal identity not only diminishes God, but gives us leave to commit all sorts of acts in the name of our tribal God.
If we believe we act in the name of the purposes of our God, then anything which opposes us is heresy. It might not make a difference if we have no power to act on what we believe other people to be. When Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, he described Jews as a disease, as germs. The idea remained for a few years, until he had the power to do what you do with disease or germs, which is eradicate them. If we feel our God is not acting quickly enough to eliminate those who believe heresy, or other religion, then if we have the power, we might help things along a bit and begin to try to eradicate these people. If the weapons we have are powerful enough, we may even eradicate ourselves in the process, but if we believe we are going to heaven, then we might go ahead anyway.
Jesus taught his disciples to pray ‘Our Father’, which implicitly identifies a shared God, a God of all. To see God in the face of your enemy is a much more difficult task than it is to simply write her/him off. To share God with your enemy means that you may have to acknowledge your kinship with someone whom you might find it easier to condemn. It may be that some of the evil characteristics your enemy has may also be in your own soul, but it is easier to put them out on someone else. To begin on the journey of understanding the God of everyone, we have to begin by seeing why we are compelled to make our enemy less human than us. This may be through fear of what lies within each of us. In other words, the path to reconciliation may begin with self-knowledge, of owning up to the darker characteristics of ourselves and our tribe.
Two months ago I was in a group of professionals involved in my community. I asked the question why our work hurt so much? It was the policeman who answered by saying that, to do his job properly, when he puts a prisoner in a cell, he has to understand that if his own life had been just slightly different, he could be that prisoner. He said he has to see himself in the face of the other. I had a similar experience a week or so later when I caught one of our heroin addicts trying to force a money box in church. I didn’t have to think for long to see how my life could have ended up like his.
So it matters very much what we believe God to be like. At worst, it can send us on holy war, whatever our religion; at best it can lead us into a path of self-discovery, with the possibility of learning that we all might be more alike than we are different, and all children of the same Spirit of Life.
Updated Sunday morning
The Convention of the Diocese of Fort Worth is due to hold a special meeting tomorrow.
The Presiding Bishop will attend tomorrow, and will preside and preach at the eucharist preceding the meeting, and again on Sunday morning. The meeting will elect a provisional bishop to replace Bishop Jack Iker.
The recommended candidate is Rt. Rev. Edwin F. “Ted” Gulick Jr., Bishop of Kentucky.
Earlier this week Bishop Jack Iker announced that he was relinquishing all claims on four of the parishes of the diocese. See this press release, Diocese Releases Four Parishes, and the associated supporting documents. See also this press release from The Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians about it. There are several more parishes not affiliated with Bishop Iker.
The Dallas Morning News carried this front page report today: Episcopal divide in Fort Worth still wide open by Sam Hodges.
Sunday morning update
A pastoral letter from Bishop Gulick can be found here (PDF).
Local newspaper reports:
Fort Worth Star-Telegram Fort Worth-area Episcopalians elect provisional bishop and Reorganized Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth elects a new bishop.
Dallas Morning News Fort Worth congregations loyal to Episcopal Church reorganize.
Meanwhile, Bishop Iker announced 23 Clergy Released from Canonical Residency.
Katie Sherrod writes about it here.
It’s not only Americans who don’t believe in evolution. Pat Ashworth writes in the Church Times about recent research on this. Rescue Darwin rows from extremes, says theology think tank.
ONLY 37 per cent of people in the UK believe that Darwin’s theory of evolution is “beyond reasonable doubt”, research by Theos, a public- theology think tank, suggests.
Of those questioned, 32 per cent think that Young Earth Creationism (YEC — “the belief that God created the world some time in the past 10,000 years”) is either “definitely or probably true”, and 51 per cent say the same of Intelligent Design (which Theos defines as “The idea that evolution alone is not enough to explain the complex structures of some living things, so the intervention of a designer is needed at key stages”). The report describes the term Intelligent Design (ID) as “slippery”.
The fact that these figures do not add up shows how confused and often contradictory the population is in its opinions, say the authors of the report Rescuing Darwin, Nick Spencer, director of studies at Theos, and Denis Alexander, director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion. They describe it as “a sorry state of affairs”, in an age when the theory is now incontestable in scientific circles and when advances in genetics have strengthened it.
Theos has published a press release, Half of Britons sceptical about evolution, and the report Rescuing Darwin is available as a PDF, and the research tables are available as another PDF here. From the press release:
Only half of the UK population consistently choose evolution over creationism or Intelligent Design, according to a major report published today by Theos.
The report, entitled Rescuing Darwin, published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth (February 12), draws on extensive new research conducted by the polling agency, ComRes (see tables below).
It reveals that only 25% of British adults think that evolution is “definitely true”, with another quarter thinking it is “probably true”.
The remaining 50% are either strongly opposed or simply confused about the issue. Around 10% of people consistently choose (Young Earth) Creationism (the belief that God created the world some time in the last 10,000 years) over evolution, and about 12% consistently prefer Intelligent Design or “ID” (the idea that evolution alone is not enough to explain the complex structures of some living things). The remainder of the population, over 25%, are unsure and often mix evolution, ID and creationism together…
Whatever the exact numbers are, it seems pretty clear that most of the people in the UK who are “sceptical about evolution” are not active religious believers.
Updated again Sunday afternoon
Pat Ashworth Church Times Primates agree: hold the moratoriums while we talk further (this is not in the paper edition)
Living Church George Conger Conservative Bishops Laud Outcome of Meeting, Archbishop’s Leadership
Martin Beckford Telegraph Anglican church leaders to bring in ‘relationship counsellors’ over sexuality dispute
Colin Coward Changing Attitude Primates meeting - Schism or division? - and refugees
Guardian (Nigeria) Anglican primates call for Mugabe’s resignation
Update 13.30 GMT Friday
George Conger Religious Intelligence Anglican Primates agree mediation programme
Update 18.00 GMT Friday
Update 23.00 GMT Friday
Update 0900 GMT Sunday
ENS has a comprehensive roundup of American responses to the primates meeting, in Primates’ communiqué, Windsor report draw praise, criticism. This includes:
The leader of the effort to form a new Anglican entity in North America said February 6, through a spokesman, that he is “certainly open to mediated conversations” called for by the primates of the Anglican Communion, but added that his organization “will need to see what exactly is being proposed and what ground rules can be agreed on before committing further.”
The Rev. Peter Frank said he was authorized to speak on behalf of Robert Duncan, the deposed bishop of Pittsburgh who led the majority of that diocese’s members and leadership out of the Episcopal Church. Duncan is one of a number of individuals and groups who have responded to the primates’ communiqué and an accompanying report from the Windsor Continuation Group issued February 5.
As the ENS report notes later on,
Duncan made no mention of the primates’ call for mediated talks in his official statement responding to the February 5 communiqué issued after the leaders or primates of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces ended their five day meeting in Alexandria, Egypt. Instead, in that statement, he portrayed the members of the proposed new “Anglican Church in North America” as people “who are attempting to remain faithful amidst vast pressures to acquiesce to beliefs and practices far outside of the Christian and Anglican mainstream.”
The roundup does not include:
Anglican Journal Marites N. Sison Hiltz welcomes proposed ‘mediated conversation’.
And there is another post from Colin Coward at Changing Attitude Moratoria - who agrees with all three?
Update 1700 GMT Sunday
In a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Ann Rogers Factions encouraged by Anglican leaders’ statement:
The Rev. James Simons, chairman of the standing committee that governs the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, also was pleased with the statement. But he focused on a footnote that says talks with Bishop Duncan’s proposed province would require a commitment “that they would not seek to recruit and expand their membership by means of proselytization.”
“They specifically ask this new group to stop doing what it is doing so that they can enter into negotiations,” the Rev. Simons said.
“I would take that to mean that the [other] diocese would stop actively recruiting parishes and individuals to join the realignment.”
Deacon Peter Frank, spokesman for the Anglican diocese, said the diocese was not yet sure how to interpret the injunction against “proselytization.”
“We are going to have to see what the intent of the primates is and what they believe they were saying in that. Our main concern is for the tens of thousands of people that are already outside of the Episcopal Church. We are bringing those people together,” he said.
Update Friday evening This cartoon by David Walker may assist those who are unfamiliar with the inner workings of Church House Westminster.
An interesting piece of business will start a process of consultation at General Synod on Tuesday of next week. This is a review of the constitutions of “bodies answerable to the Synod through the Archbishops’ Council”. These are
Board of Education
Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns
Council for Christian Unity
Committee for Ministry of and among Deaf and Disabled People
Deployment, Remuneration and Conditions of Service Committee
Mission and Public Affairs Council
The proposals for consultation are in a paper (GS 1714 Review of Constitutions) available here as a PDF, and also here as a web page. In summary it is proposed to abolish the boards and replace them by a “lead person” and a “report and review” group elected by Synod and meeting once a year in July.
Glyn Paflin wrote about the proposals in the Church Times in a subscriber-only article last week. This is now generally available online: Newly ‘streamlined’ Council would shed old-style boards
The full procedure to be followed is described in the two paragraphs from the report of the business committee copied below the fold.
35. Under Standing Order 199, the constitution of bodies answerable to the Synod through
the Archbishops’ Council must be determined by the Council after consultation with the
General Synod, and at least once in every quinquennium the Council must review the
constitution of all these bodies and report to the Synod thereon. The Archbishops’
Council is now undertaking its quinquennial review, with a view to changes coming into
effect following the inauguration of the new Synod in November 2010.
36. The report of the review (GS 1714), which has been undertaken by a working
group appointed by the Council and chaired by Dr Christina Baxter, puts forward some
substantial proposals. The Council has agreed that these should form the basis for a
process of consultation, consisting of: a presentation to the February Synod (with an
opportunity for questions) and an opportunity for comments to be submitted by 30 April,
following which the group will conclude its work and submit its final recommendations
to the Archbishops’ Council. The Council will then report to the Synod and there will be
a Take Note debate in the July Synod, before the Council takes a final decision in the
autumn. Any consequential Standing Orders changes would come to the Synod for
approval in February 2010, so that new arrangements could come into operation at the
beginning of the next Synod, elected in autumn 2010.
Dioceses Commission begins review of structures
29 January 2009
Further provisions of the Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure 2007 come into force on 1 February. The Measure makes it a duty of the Dioceses Commission to review the provincial and diocesan structure of the Church of England, including the size, boundaries and number of provinces and dioceses, and arrangements for episcopal ministry. It will also have the power to draw up reorganization schemes.
The Commission, chaired by Dr Priscilla Chadwick, consulted diocesan bishops as to what its priorities should be and drew up an initial work programme in the light of comments and suggestions.
The Commission will begin by examining the apparent anomaly whereby seven parishes wholly or partly within the area of the City of Peterborough unitary authority, with more than one third of the City’s population, are in the Diocese of Ely rather than that of Peterborough.
In the autumn of 2009, the Commission will commence a review of the boundaries of the five Yorkshire dioceses (Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, Sheffield, Wakefield and York). The aim will be to establish whether the shape and boundaries of the existing dioceses tend to facilitate the Church’s mission to the people and communities of Yorkshire or whether different boundaries would enable the Church to relate to them more effectively. The Commission has no agenda to reduce or increase the number of dioceses, but rather to ensure the best configuration to the communities that the dioceses serve, which could involve merging existing dioceses and/or creating new ones.
“The Commission is embarking on its review work with an open mind and a willingness to think radically, as well as an awareness of the need to be realistic,” said Dr Chadwick. “We have every confidence that the bishops and dioceses concerned will engage with the process in the same spirit.”
The Commission has a responsibility to consult widely. Its first step will be to seek the insights of the diocesan bishops, archdeacons and diocesan secretaries of the dioceses under review. It will then consult other leading clergy and laypeople of the dioceses, and representatives of any deaneries and parishes that might be affected by changes. Proposals for change will normally need the agreement of the diocesan synods concerned before going to the General Synod for decision. The Commission sees its role as one of helping the bishops, clergy and people of the Church of England in the areas concerned to come to a view as to how the Church can best be structured for mission in the 21st century.
In identifying the local communities to which the Church needs to relate, the Commission will look at how diocesan boundaries correlate with the boundaries of counties and unitary/metropolitan authorities and which configurations might best further the Church’s mission. It will also have in mind other factors. Among these are:
- the sense of local identity resulting from history and shared culture,
- contemporary communities reflecting the places between which people travel for work, shopping, leisure, education and health services,
- road and rail communication routes, and
- the accessibility and distance of cathedral cities by car and public transport from all parts of the diocese.
Two sections of Part II of the Measure remain to be brought into force at a later date: section 12 (which will place diocesan bishops under a duty to keep provision of episcopal ministry under review) and the related section 17 (which will enable the Commission, when a suffragan see falls vacant, to require that the approval of the General Synod would be needed before the see could be filled). The Commission’s present expectation is that these provisions will be brought into force towards the end of 2009.
One consequence of the start of the Commission’s work is that the General Synod’s business committee has decided to park* this diocesan synod motion from Bradford “for the moment while the new Dioceses Commission, recently established at the initiative of the Synod, is having its initial meetings to consider the first phase of its programme of work”.
That this Synod request the Archbishops’ Council to formulate proposals for reductions in the numbers of episcopal and senior clergy posts, taking into account reductions for the number of stipendiary clergy since 1979; and submit a report with recommendations to the General Synod within three years.
* Note: Diocesan Synod motions are normally taken in order of receipt, but can be “parked” by the Business Committee if it makes sense to delay their consideration until some other related business has been completed.
Continued from here.
Paul Feheley Anglican Church of Canada A study in contrasts
Colin Coward Changing Attitude Primates meeting Day 5 - Are Primatial attitudes changing? and Primates meeting Day 6 – Deeper Communion; Gracious Restraint
Christopher Landau of the BBC has Split Anglicans call in mediators.
Marites N. Sison Anglican Journal No consensus on separate North American Anglican province
George Conger Living Church Communion ‘Deeply Divided’ But No Schism, Archbishop Williams Says and earlier, Primates Focus on Conflicts and Crisis
Rachel Zoll Associated Press Anglicans seek extended moratorium on gay bishops
ACNS has now released the audio recording of today’s press conference, and it can be found at Primates Press Briefing 5th February 2009. The text summarising the briefing is reproduced below the fold.
Matthew Davies ENS Primates support ‘pastoral visitors’ to assist in healing Anglican divisions
CANA has issued a statement, CANA Responds to Primates’ Communiqué.
Daniel Burke of Religion News Service has written Anglican Leaders Take Dim View of Rival U.S. Church. It includes these quotes:
…The Rev. Peter Frank, a spokesman for ACNA, said he would take a wait-and-see approach to the primates’ statement, which also calls for a “provisional holding arrangement” for the new church.
“There are no real surprises here,” Frank said. “We’re waiting for words to move into action before we judge.”
Added ACNA Bishop Martyn Minns, “We didn’t go into this meeting expecting to get permission. We basically went in and said `We’re here’ and, in my mind, they acknowledged that.”
Ruth Gledhill Archbishop plans ‘mediated talks’ with conservatives
At the press briefing the Archbishop of Canterbury said the spirit of the meeting had been very constructive and while people might not have changed their minds on key issues there had been a willingness to listen and to try to find accommodations for each other.
The Archbishop of Canterbury went on to outline the main items from the meeting including the report of the Windsor Continuation Group which contained three main elements as outlined in the communiqué:
1) The need for a shift of focus in the life of the communion from autonomy of provinces with communion added on, to communion as the primary reality with autonomy and accountability understood within that framework.
2) A set or recommendations about the instruments of communion and how they should work. All four; the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates Meeting, The Anglican Consultative Council and the Lambeth Conference need some looking at as to whether their present structures of working are adequate to the situation.
3) The current situation in North America and the coalition of the Anglican Church of North America out of the common cause partnership. The continuation group report notes the enormous difficulties of parallel jurisdiction but also recognizes the desire of these groups to be Anglicans and be in relationship with the Anglican Communion. The recommendation was that the Archbishop of Canterbury convenes a professionally resourced mediation process. In addition there was support for the appointment of a pastoral forum and pastoral visitors who can act as consultants in situations of stress and conflict.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams also spoke about the Primates statement on Zimbabwe and of hearing harrowing first hand reports from the region and from Zimbabwe itself.
He also talked about the statement on the situation in Sudan and about the brief statement on Gaza, calling for greater support for humanitarian effort and support for ceasefires.
Updated Sunday afternoon
The Primates of the Anglican Communion, meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, have issued no less than three communiqués, in addition to the earlier Statement on Zimbabwe.
A presentation to the primates on Global Warming and Climate Change has also been published (PDF).
Last updated 13.00 GMT Thursday
Riazat Butt for the Guardian has a report on the Zimbabwe statement, Archbishop seeks envoy to tackle Mugabe.
Matthew Davies at ENS has Primates express ‘horror’ at Zimbabwe crisis. (Scroll down for a report on other topics.)
George Conger reports for the Living Church that Primates Need Extra Time for Windsor Group Presentation.
…In December, the WCG met at the Diocese of West Texas’s conference center and prepared a final draft of its report to the primates. The report was given to the primates Tuesday, but placed under a media embargo until the close of the conference…
Rumour has it that the Primate of Nigeria was detained for two hours by Immigration authorities on arrival in Cairo, and was released only after the intervention of the Dean of Alexandria’s driver. He was then whisked off by car by one Revd Canon Julian Dobbs, who is not accredited to the conference but staying in the Helnan Palestine Hotel. Archbishop Akinola was previously refused entry to Jordan in 2008 for the GAFCON conference which then hastily decamped earlier than planned to Israel…
…Bearing in mind the absence of Chris Sugden et al, apparently on the instructions of the conservative Primates, Mr Dobbs’ presence is of considerable interest. He was appointed in December 2008 by The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) to the position of Canon Missioner…
ACNS now has Primates Press Briefing Tuesday 3rd February 2009 complete with audio recording of the session. Also a loosely-related story, Archbishop of Canterbury in surprise greeting for Adelaide pilgrims.
Paul Feheley Anglican Church of Canada ‘Hasten to prayer’
George Conger Religious Intelligence Anglican Primates call for action on Zimbabwe
Riazat Butt Comment is free More than talk?
Riazat Butt Guardian Archbishop of Sudan calls for New Hampshire bishop Gene Robinson to resign
There were renewed calls yesterday for the resignation of the Right Reverend Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire, and of the clergy those who consecrated him.
The demand came from the Archbishop of Sudan, the Most Reverend Daniel Deng, who last summer shocked Anglicans by issuing a statement condemning the 2003 decision to consecrate Robinson, a non-celibate gay man, and the US bishops responsible for his appointment…
…Signs of strain are beginning to show. The archbishops of Nigeria and Uganda failed to appear for a group photograph in the hotel grounds, nor did they materialise for a high-profile visit to the prestigious Alexandrian Library.
This is not mentioned in the report from Matthew Davies of ENS Sudanese archbishop appeals to fellow primates for urgent support but see in comments below, where Colin and Riazat discuss what actually happened.
George Conger Living Church Primates Begin Work on Final Communiqué
ACNS has a photo gallery, here.
Colin Coward also has photos, in Primates meeting Day 5 - Biblioteca Alexandrina visit.
ACNS now has Primates Press Briefing 4th February 2009 with link to audio of the event, and a PDF of the Climate Change presentation.
George Conger Religious Intelligence War is looming in Sudan, warns Archbishop
The Primates of the Anglican Communion, meeting in Alexandria, Egypt on 3rd February, 2009, have issued this Primates’ Statement on Zimbabwe.
The Primates of the Anglican Communion, meeting in Alexandria, Egypt on 3rd February, 2009, heard first hand reports of the situation in Zimbabwe, and note with horror the appalling difficulties of the people of this nation under the current regime.
We give thanks to God for the faithful witness of the Christians of Zimbabwe during this time of pain and suffering, especially those who are being denied access to their churches. We wish to assure them of our love, support and prayers as they face gross violation of human rights, hunger and loss of life as well as the scourge of a cholera epidemic, all due directly to the deteriorating socio-political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.
It is a matter of grave concern that there is an apparent breakdown of the rule of law within the country, and that the democratic process is being undermined, as shown in the flagrant disregard of the outcome of the democratic elections of March 31st 2008, so that Mr Robert Mugabe illegitimately holds on to power. Even the recent political situation of power sharing, brokered by SADC, may not be long lasting and simply further entrench Mr Mugabe’s regime. There appears to be a total disregard for life, consistently demonstrated by Mr Mugabe through systematic kidnap, torture and the killing of Zimbabwean people. The economy of Zimbabwe has collapsed, as evidenced by the use of foreign currencies in an independent state.
We therefore call upon President Robert Mugabe to respect the outcome of the elections of 2008 and to step down. We call for the implementation of the rule of law and the restoration of democratic processes.
We request that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chair of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, in consultation with the Church of the Province of Central Africa, commission a Representative to go to Zimbabwe to exercise a ministry of presence and to show solidarity with the Zimbabwean people. We also request the President of the All Africa Conference of Churches and the Chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa to facilitate a meeting with the African Union president and other African political leaders (especially those of SADC) to highlight the plight of the Zimbabwean peoples.
We call upon parishes throughout the Anglican Communion to assist the Anglican Communion Office, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Office and the Anglican Observer to the United Nations in addressing the humanitarian crisis by giving aid through such mechanisms as the Archbishop of Canterbury is able to designate, and asking that Lambeth Palace facilitate processes by which food and other material aid for Zimbabwe can be distributed through the dioceses of the Church of the Province of Central Africa.
We urge the Churches of the Anglican Communion to join with the Anglican Church of Southern Africa in observing Wednesday 25th February 2009, Ash Wednesday, as a day of prayer and solidarity with the Zimbabwean people.
As representatives of the Anglican Communion, we reiterate that we do not recognise the status of Bishop Nolbert Kunonga and Bishop Elson Jakazi as bishops within the Anglican Communion, and call for the full restoration of Anglican property within Zimbabwe to the Church of the Province of Central Africa.
We affirm the initiative of the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist (ACSA) in collaboration with Lambeth Palace, the Anglican Communion Office and the Church of the Province of Central Africa in establishing a chaplaincy along the Zimbabwe-South Africa border for the pastoral care of the many refugees, and call upon the Anglican Communion to support this work.
ENS republishes a background report, from Ecumenical News International ZIMBABWE: Anglicans pray outside as Mugabe bishop holds property.
News reports on other topics from the meeting can be found here.
The story was covered exhaustively on Political Spaghetti.
That issue has returned, see this from Amnesty International last week, Nigeria: ‘Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill’ violates Constitution, and also Nigeria: ‘Same gender marriage (Prohibition) Bill’ threatens imprisonment of members of the LGBT community.
This development makes even more timely the publication by Ekklesia of a research report by Savi Hensman Contrasting church attitudes on human rights for all.
Simon Barrow writes:
Savi Hensman has produced another very useful research essay for Ekklesia on different church attititudes and stances towards human rights for all. Since 1948 Christians have played a significant role in extending personal and societal respect for human dignity, including promotion of the UN Declaration. At the same time, church leaders have also questioned and denied rights-based precepts and practices in a number of instances. In this paper, Savi traces these discontinuities while pointing to the substantial traditional theological and spiritual resources that can be deployed in producing and developing shared commitments to freedom and justice.
The publication of this document coincides with the Primates of the Anglican Communion meeting in Egypt from 1-4 February 2009, the upcoming Church of England General Synod discussion on the Human Rights Act, the Convention on Modern Liberty in the UK, and recent comments on human rights from the Vatican, from Evangelicals and from the new Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Kyrill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad.
Last updated 22.30 GMT Tuesday
Times Online Ruth Gledhill Anglican primates to discuss “two-tier” communion and also
Anglicans meet in Egypt to discuss plan to prevent Church split
Anglican Church of Canada Paul Feheley Primates’ Meeting starts on a low key
Guardian Riazat Butt Sexuality debate looms as Anglicans gather in Alexandria
Living Church George Conger Primates Unsure What Egypt Gathering Will Achieve
Changing Attitude Colin Coward Primates meeting Day 2 and earlier Alexandria Primates meeting Day 1
Update Two more items, Primates meeting Day 2 - What has changed? and Primates meeting Day 3 - behind the lens and laptop.
Anglican Communion News Service Primates Meeting begins with celebration in Egypt and this has a link to a podcast of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Sermon (15 minutes, 14 Mb)
Times Online Ruth Gledhill blog article Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘Churches must not be too busy.’
Anglican Church of Canada Paul Feheley The Primates’ Meeting: “The person praying next to me …”
Living Church George Conger Meeting Must Honor Past Decisions, Primates Say
Religious Intelligence George Conger Primates’ Meeting opens in ‘fog of confusion’
Guardian Riazat Butt Williams sensitive to limits of his authority, archbishop says
ENS Matthew Davies Primates discuss Anglican covenant, Zimbabwe crisis in private sessions
Changing Attitude Colin Coward Primates meeting Day 2 - the GAFCON paper and Primates’ Meeting Day 2 St Mark’s Cathedral Dedication
ACNS Primates Meeting questions language of sanctions and this has a link to an audio recording of the press conference held on Monday.
Living Church George Conger Primates See Covenant ‘With Teeth’ As Unrealistic
Religious Intelligence George Conger Anglican Primates discuss Covenant solution to problems and Primates tackle human sexuality issue
Anglican Church of Canada Paul Feheley Stretching the soul
Several more blog entries by Colin Coward here, including interesting pictures.
I will start a new article tomorrow morning.