Wednesday, 30 September 2009

three dioceses learning together

The Living Church ran an article at the beginning of last week which reported Trio of Bishops Seek to Strengthen Communion Ties.

The initial meeting between Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of the Diocese of El Camino Real and Bishop Michael Perham of Gloucester, England, at the 2008 Lambeth Conference was an auspicious one. When a protester jumped up and called Bishop Gray-Reeves “a whore of the church,” Bishop Perham stepped in to help his new American acquaintance around the protesters and on to safety.

This frightening encounter brought together two parts of what has become a trio of bishops — the third is Bishop Gerard Mpango of the Western Tanganyika Diocese in Tanzania — who have linked up as companion dioceses. The combination of American, British and African dioceses is intentional. The three locations encompass three regions of discontent in the Anglican Communion. By meeting, talking and working together, the three bishops hope to show that people of different cultures, and these three cultures in particular, can maintain civil relations and look for answers to divisive issues…

A week later, ENS has also published an article on the same topic, EL CAMINO REAL: Visit from African, English bishops deepens partnerships.

Three bishops who met by chance during last year’s Lambeth Conference spent a week in California recently, planning very intentional, international ministry together.

At first glance their dioceses — Western Tanganyika, Tanzania; Gloucester, England; and El Camino Real, California — couldn’t have seemed more different.

And then each decided to take a closer look.

“We have more in common than might first appear,” said Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real, who hosted Bishop Gerard Mpango of Western Tanganyika and Bishop Michael Perham of Gloucester September 20-25 in the Central California diocese…

You can find reports and pictures of the most recent event over here.

Diocese of Gloucester and read more about their international links here

Diocese of El Camino Real and their companion dioceses page

Diocese of Western Tanganyika (This is a page from the Tanzania provincial website, no diocesan website yet.)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 30 September 2009 at 2:03pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England | ECUSA

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

thinking about establishment

Alan Wilson has a post today about Church Establishment and Freedom, which considers the situation in Denmark.

It’s interesting to see Denmark extolled by a thoughtful commentator as the freest country in Europe, most open to humane debate, with the world’s most atheist-friendly culture. Many believe you can’t pass go in becoming a free society until you have separated church and state. So how do they handle religion in Denmark?

The Oxford Centre for Ecclesiology and Practical Theology in conjunction with Affirming Catholicism and the Theology Faculty of Oxford University is holding a day conference on The Established Church: Past, Present, Future.

A Day Conference at St John’s College, Oxford 24th October 2009

Day Chair: Canon Prof Sarah Foot (Christ Church, Oxford)

  • Session 1: Theology and Establishment Canon Prof Nigel Biggar (Christ Church, Oxford): ‘Why the Establishment of the Church of England is Good for a Liberal Society
  • Session 2: Case Studies Dr Matthew Grimley (Merton College, Oxford): ‘The dog that didn’t bark: the Prayer Book Crisis and the failure of disestablishment’
    Rev’d Dr Mark Chapman (Ripon College, Cuddesdon): ‘“A Free Church in a Free State”: Anglo-catholicism and Establishment’
  • Session 3: Contemporary Issues Canon Dr Judith Maltby (Corpus Christi College, Oxford): ‘Gender and Establishment’
    Prof Elaine Graham (University of Manchester): ‘Establishment, multiculturalism and social cohesion’
  • Session 4: Comment and Roundtable Comment: Revd Prof David Martin (Emeritus Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics)
    Roundtable responses, opening to a Q&A/Discussion session.

Full details and the application form are available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 29 September 2009 at 11:18am BST | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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Monday, 28 September 2009

comment on the Pawleys Island case

Lionel Deimel has published some comments written by a Pittsburgh lawyer, Ken Stiles.
See A Perspective on the Pawleys Island Case.

Anglican Centrist has published comments by another lawyer, Eric Von Salzen.
All Saints Church Waccamaw – Abuses of the Statute of Uses?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 28 September 2009 at 11:44pm BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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thoughts related to an Anglican Covenant

Tobias Haller has written about a shift in the understanding of subsidiarity, from the time of the Virginia Report until now.

See The Upside-downity of Subsidiarity.

Pierre Whalon, Bishop in charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, has written an article about the need for a covenant.

See Covenant, shmovenant?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 28 September 2009 at 11:34pm BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 27 September 2009

A post-secular age?

Updated Tuesday morning

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres preached last week at the installation of Giles Fraser as Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s.

Comment is free: belief has published a shortened version of his sermon here. Some of the comments left by readers are interesting…

Update

George Pitcher reflects on the service at Faith is not an accessory - it’s an alternative.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 27 September 2009 at 11:38pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 26 September 2009

opinions before Michaelmas

In The Times Jonathan Sacks writes Holy days are an annual check to mission drift.

In the Guardian Naftali Brawer also writes about Yom Kippur.

In the Church Times Giles Fraser tells us What’s right with the neo-cons.

Cif belief this week posed the question Have extremists retaken American Christianity? Answers came from Harriet Baber, Stephen Bates and Sarah Posner.

The CofE’s College of Bishops issued a statement about climate change.

George Pitcher wrote Assisted suicide: The worm has turned.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 26 September 2009 at 8:31am BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Friday, 25 September 2009

Back to Church?

The Bishop of Reading Stephen Cottrell got a lot of media coverage this week when he said, in a Church of England press release:

“Even today I meet people who think you have to be highly educated or suited and booted to be a person who goes to church. That’s so frustrating. How did it come to this, that we have become known as just the Marks and Spencer option when in our heart of hearts we know that Jesus would just as likely be in the queue at Asda or Aldi?

See reports in the Guardian, Times, Telegraph, and Mail, not to mention International Supermarket News.

And this on Cif belief.

The Church Times had a leader column about it, see Where would Jesus shop?

Heresiarch wrote a perceptive blog article, More tea, vicar. Not so much rap.

This in turn caused Andrew Brown to write Snobbery with godlessness.

As for Back to Church Sunday, which is what this was originally about, George Pitcher critiques that in Patronising bishops want ‘ordinary people’ back at church.

Paul Bayes’ podcast (mentioned by George) is here.

A Church Near You is here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 25 September 2009 at 11:11pm BST | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Assisted Suicide: Church views

Keir Starmer the Director of Public Prosecutions [for England and Wales] has issued an Interim policy for prosecutors in respect of cases of assisted suicide. The background to this action is explained in this government press release.

He also wrote an article in the Telegraph Why I am clarifying the law on suicide, by Keir Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions.

Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff issued this statement on behalf of the Roman Catholic Bishops Conference.

The Bishop of Exeter, Michael Langrish, issued this statement on behalf of the Church of England.

The CofE website has this section: Protecting Life - opposing Assisted Suicide:

The Church of England is opposed to any change in the law, or medical practice, to make assisted suicide permissible or acceptable.

Suffering, the Church maintains, must be met with compassion, commitment to high-quality services and effective medication; meeting it by assisted suicide is merely removing it in the crudest way possible.

In its March 2009 paper Assisted Dying/Suicide and Voluntary Euthanasia [PDF], the Church acknowledges the complexity of the issues: the compassion that motivates those who seek change equally motivates the Church’s opposition to change…

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu wrote this article, also in the Telegraph: Assisted Suicide: There must be no slippery slope.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 25 September 2009 at 1:07pm BST | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 22 September 2009

A History of Christianity

Last week’s Church Times had a feature article by William Whyte entitled The Church: ‘appalling, yet wonderful’.

Diarmaid MacCulloch has just completed a sweeping history of Christianity. William Whyte dragged him from his indexing to talk about it. A History of Christianity: The first three thousand years (Allen Lane, £30 (CT Bookshop £27) is published on 24 September.

The Guardian published a review of the book, written by Rowan Williams last Saturday. See A History of Christianity by Diarmaid MacCulloch.

The Economist also published a review, under the heading The greatest story, or the trickiest?

The BBC television series can be previewed here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 22 September 2009 at 6:40pm BST | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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news from South Carolina

Updated yet again Wednesday evening

A very long-running lawsuit in South Carolina has reached a decision. This one goes back to 2000 when the Diocese of South Carolina first tried to record its interest in the parish property of All Saints, Pawleys Island. That parish decided in October 2003 that it wished to leave the Diocese of South Carolina and affiliate with what is now the Anglican Mission in the Americas.

At the time of writing, there is still no report of this decision on any of the websites linked above.

The actual decision is a PDF file, available here. (I have been unable to reach this site, but was kindly sent a copy of the file.)

Episcopal Café has reported it with the headline Ruling on Pawleys Island: TEC and DioSC lose, and has also published a very helpful further article, Putting the South Carolina decision into perspective which includes comments made at the TitusOneNine blog.

Late last week the Supreme Court of South Carolina issued a ruling in the ongoing legal battle between the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Chuck Murphy (of the Anglican Mission in America) and Vestry of All Saint’s, Pawley’s Island. The property dispute stems from the decision of then Rector Murphy and the Vestry to leave the Episcopal Church and become part of the AMiA (connected to the Anglican Province of Rwanda and now associate with the ACNA).

The Supreme Court ruled that the Dennis Canon, which says that diocesan and parish property are all held in trust for the Episcopal Church is not valid in this case.

There are a couple of reasons that this decision is unique. First, the parish in question, like a few others on the East Coast, predates the foundation of the Episcopal Church in 1789 so it has been argued that the Episcopal Church is more a creation of the parish than the parish of the Episcopal Church.

Second, the Supreme Court has decided to decide based primarily on neutral principles of law rather than by being guided by deference to denominations being allowed to create their own internal governance structures…

The Charleston Post and Courier reports the story: see Court rules in favor of Pawleys Is. congregation by Dave Munday.

A Pawleys Island congregation, embroiled in litigation ever since it left the Episcopal Church in 2004, has won a major court battle over land and assets that could have wide implications for others looking to break away.

The S.C. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Friday that All Saints Church at Pawleys Island belonged to the independent corporation All Saints Parish, Waccamaw Inc. and not to the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, which had staked a claim to the property.

“When a vestry of a parish in the diocese votes to take action to leave the church, they cannot then hold an office as a vestry of the church from which they have voted to depart,” wrote then-Bishop Edward L. Salmon Jr. soon after All Saints’ vestry voted to break its ties with the Episcopal Church and modify its 1902 parish charter.

But last week, the state’s highest court repudiated the diocese’s claims, overturning an earlier Circuit Court verdict.

The court rejected the Episcopal Church’s claim that “all real and personal property” used by a congregation, mission or parish “is held in trust for this church.” That rule, codified in 1979 and called the Dennis Canon, makes it impermissible for congregations to assume ownership of church property. The Episcopal Church long has argued that when individuals choose to leave the church, dioceses and parishes remain intact and available to others who choose to remain, even if they constitute a minority of the congregation…

Note that the quote in this article originally attributed to Kendall Harmon has now been corrected to show that it comes from this article by A.S. Haley.

And the Georgetown Times has Historic church property goes to Anglican Mission.

The Living Church has S.C. Decision Could Have Far-Reaching Impact.

Still no report on the websites of the parish, the diocese, or AMiA. However, Episcopal News Service now has a report: SOUTH CAROLINA: State Supreme Court rules in long-running Pawley’s Island case by Mary Frances Schjonberg:

The South Carolina Supreme Court has overturned a lower court decision in favor of the minority of the members of the parish of All Saints, Waccamaw in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina who remained loyal to the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina.

The Supreme Court said in its September 18 opinion that the majority of the parish members could retain the parish’s property after they left the Episcopal Church and the diocese in 2003 to affiliate with the breakaway Anglican Mission in America (AMiA).

A statement issued by the Presiding Bishop’s office said that the opinion was “particularly disappointing in the light of the long struggle in which the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina have worked cooperatively to preserve the property of this parish for the mission of the church and the diocese.”

“Time has not permitted a careful analysis of the opinion or of the options that confront the church and the diocese at this point,” the statement said.

South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence said that “there’s a long wisdom of tradition in the scriptures, and counsel in the book of Ecclesiastes that there is a time to keep silent and a time to speak, and as picked up in the letter of James, where James says, ‘Know this my beloved brothers and sisters, let everyone be quick to hear and slow to speak.’ I believe this is such a time.”

Religious Intelligence US dioceses ‘free to secede’ by George Conger

he Sept 18 decision in the case of In Re: All Saints Parish, Waccamaw ends nine years of litigation over the mother church of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA), and is the second major legal defeat for the Episcopal Church in a week.

While the ruling only affects the state of South Carolina, the legal analysis the court used in rejecting the ‘Dennis Canon’ —- the 1979 property canon that states that parish property is held in trust by congregations for the diocese and national church —- will likely have an unfavourable impact upon the dozens of other pending parish property suits prosecuted by the Episcopal Church across the nation…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 22 September 2009 at 8:00am BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 19 September 2009

A better future for the Anglican Communion?

Ekklesia has published a detailed analysis of Rowan Williams’ recent Reflections paper, written by Savi Hensman.

See A better future for the Anglican Communion?

Here’s the abstract:

Rowan Williams has recently proposed major changes in the way the Anglican Communion is organised. Because of growing willingness in the Episcopal Church (TEC) to recognise the status and ministry of lesbian and gay people, and the global disagreement on this issue, he is putting forward a “two-track” approach. Provinces such as TEC in North America would not be able to carry out certain functions such as representing the Anglican Communion in ecumenical circles, while those which signed up to a Covenant would have a more central position. This research paper describes the background, examines the evidence on which the Archbishop’s main points are based, discusses their implications, and corrects some mistaken assumptions about history and practice. Inter alia it tackles a number of key theological issues. It suggests that a two-level Communion would be practically and spiritually harmful and suggests a different approach, less focused on institutional structures, that could be more effective in addressing divisions and ultimately enabling Anglicans to move towards a deeper unity.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 19 September 2009 at 10:18pm BST | Comments (65) | TrackBack
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more on the new Nigerian primate

Updated Sunday

The Lagos Guardian has a long article New primate, same steadiness in the Anglican Church of Nigeria

From March next year when he will lead the over 18 million Nigerian Anglicans, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh will bring strict conservatism of his military background and years of close collaboration with out-going Primate Peter Akinola to bear on the Church, write Hendrix Oliomogbe (Asaba), Lawrence Njoku (Enugu) and Wole Oyebade (Lagos)

GENERALLY, Christianity is founded on strict conservatism. The heads of nearly all the old Christian groups are known for their conservatism. The heads practically take to heart the Biblical saying: As it was in the beginning, so it is now, and so shall it be, a world without end!

The world should not expect any thing less from the in-coming head of the Anglican Communion in Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Dikeriehi Orogodo Okoh who will assume office in March next year. Primate-elect Okoh will be an iron-cast conservative, given the constituency he is coming from: The military. Until 2001 when he retired from the Nigerian Army as a Lieutenant Colonel, Okoh has not known another profession since adolescence. He worked for about four years with his uncle in private business after leaving primary school at the age of 12 in 1964.

On the current issues tearing the worldwide Anglican Communion apart, Archbishop Okoh is on the same plane as the man he will succeed on March 25, 2010, the ultra-conservative Archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola who literarily looked the worldwide Anglican Church eye-ball to eye-ball and proclaimed that the Church was wrong to have looked the other side on a vital issue of spirituality. Since 2003 when Archbishop Akinola took the stand against the dilution of the priesthood with confessed gays in the United States (U.S.) and homosexuality, the Communion has not been the same again.

The worldwide Anglican Communion should not expect any deviation from Archbishop Okoh. In fact, he has been one of the greatest and most fastidious supporters of Archbishop Akinola on the Nigerian Anglican Communion’s stand against the “sins” of the Episcopal Church of the North Americas on the matter of embrace of gays and homosexuality in the Church…

Sunday The Lagos Guardian has Our Faith In Okoh, By Anglican Priests.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 19 September 2009 at 10:14pm BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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opinions on the feast of Theodore

Catherine Pepinster wrote in The Times about how the Relics of St Thérèse highlight the flesh and blood nature of Christianity.

Jonathan Romain wrote that Rosh Hashanah opens a season of fruitfulness and reflection.

At the Guardian Musab Bora asked Is it reasonable to describe Eid al-Fitr as the Muslim Christmas?

In the Church Times Giles Fraser asks us to Respect the mystery of risk.

Barry Morgan’s presidential address to the Church in Wales Governing Body concerns the role of the church in the public square. Press release here.

Alan Wilson reported on what the CofE College of Bishops learned this week. See Sleepwalking over a cliff? and also Bishops roles in context.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 19 September 2009 at 9:26pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Friday, 18 September 2009

update on swine flu advice

Updated Saturday

This is not very prominently linked on the CofE website, so is copied below.

The Church Times has a report Chalice is returning to the people. This includes the news that

Among the dioceses where advice favours the administering of the chalice to the congregation are Wake­field, Lincoln, Hereford, Gloucester, and St Edmundsbury & Ipswich.

And also this tidbit:

It is understood that at the College of Bishops’ meeting in Oxford this week “the president gave each person the option of receiving the wine or not. All bar less than a handful drank from the chalice.”

Text of Statement

Feast of St Ninian, Bishop of Galloway, Apostle of the Picts
16th September 2009

Dear Colleagues,

SWINE FLU: STATEMENT FROM THE ARCHBISHOPS TO THE COLLEGE OF BISHOPS

At the end of July the Department of Health advised us that the pandemic had reached the stage at which ‘it makes good sense to limit the spread of disease by not sharing common vessels for food and drink.’

In the light of this we felt it would be irresponsible not to alert parishes and dioceses to this advice, and to recommend the suspension of the administration of the chalice while the Department of Health information and advice remained as it was. To date the advice we have been given has not changed.

Of course national advice given by Archbishops is just that – advice – as indeed is any separate advice that Bishops may decide to give to parishes.

Judgments about the best course of action in particular contexts may vary, but it remains important
a) to encourage everyone to recognise that the Church has a responsibility to take public health considerations seriously, and
b) to ensure that communication around the Church is good so that we don’t appear to be at sixes and sevens, and
c) to remember that responsible practice in this area is not primarily about protecting ourselves, but about avoiding transmitting infection unwittingly to others.

We are keeping regular contact nationally with the Department of Health and all relevant information and advice will be passed on.

We have decided to review our own advice towards the end of October, in the light of the information, statistics, and guidance coming by then from the Department of Health. By that time the progress of the vaccination programme and the effects of schools and universities having started back will be assessed.

If at that stage the perceived risk is significantly lower than when we issued our advice at the end of July, then fresh guidelines will be given. We would urge patience and vigilance until we have reached that point.

+ Rowan Cantuar + Sentamu Ebor:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 18 September 2009 at 8:49am BST | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Fort Worth legal ruling

There are conflicting reports on this from either side in the dispute over who is the “real” diocese.

Living Church reports Both Sides Debate Significance of Fort Worth Ruling

Episcopal News Service reports FORT WORTH: Continuing diocese has right to sue breakaway group, judge rules.

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has published a PDF of the actual ruling made by the judge, see here and issued these two statements:

What the legal language of the order means

What the legal language of the order (click here to read it and note that the hand-written portions of the order are in the judge’s own hand) means is this: essentially the court refused to strike the pleadings i.e. it ruled that the reorganized Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the Corporation had the right to continue to sue the defendants and establish our right to seek declarative judgment. The defendants lost on their main argument that we should not be able to sue the defendants because they are the rightful diocese. This was the main objective of former Bishop Iker’s attorneys, and they did not achieve it. The court left that determination for a later hearing.

The order also barred our attorneys from appearing on this suit as attorneys for the entities associated with Jack Iker. Our attorneys have, of course, never asserted that.

As is clear in the order, no other rulings were made. The judge did make comments and he did ask questions, but he made no other rulings.

We now await the October 15 hearing.

Statement on hearing that concluded on September 16

The Hon. John Chupp, judge of the 141st District Court of Tarrant County, Texas today ruled that attorney Jon Nelson and Chancellor Kathleen Wells are not authorized to represent the diocese or the corporation that are associated with Jack L. Iker. These attorneys have never claimed to do so. The judge denied the motion by Bp. Iker’s attorneys to remove the diocese and the corporation from the lawsuit filed April 14, 2009.

While the judge did make some off hand remarks in court and asked many questions, he made no other rulings.

A hearing is set for Oct. 15 on the motion for partial summary judgment in this same court.

The Southern Cone diocese has published a statement as a PDF:

Court Issues Decision on Rule 12 Motion

FORT WORTH, Texas – In a hearing today in the141st District Court, Judge John Chupp granted the Diocese partial relief under Rule 12 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. He ruled that attorneys Jonathan Nelson and Kathleen Wells do not represent the diocese or the corporation which have realigned under the Province of the Southern Cone. He denied a second aspect of Rule 12 relief which would have removed the plaintiffs’ diocese and corporation from the lawsuit filed April 14, 2009.

The judge also ruled that neither the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church nor the Constitution and Canons of this diocese prohibit withdrawal from TEC and realignment under another province. Further, he found that the Diocese had done so at its November 2008 annual convention, saying that “they [the members] took the diocese with them.” The action of the November convention was not, he said, ultra vires and void, as the suit’s plaintiffs have argued. He declared, too, that the Diocese had taken its property with it in realignment. He said he did not consider any court ruling concerning a realigning parish to be applicable in the present case, and he said that he considered it “self-serving on [the part of TEC] to say that [Bishop Iker] abandoned his job.”

The hearing on the Rule 12 motion began Wednesday, Sept. 9. At that time, the judge denied a motion for continuance filed by Nelson and Wells. Each party filed a supplemental written statement in the period between the first and second portions of the hearing. The statement submitted by attorney Shelby Sharpe is available on the diocesan Web site.

Commenting on today’s ruling, Bishop Iker said, “We are pleased that Judge Chupp has recognized the legitimacy of the vote of our Diocesan Convention in November 2008 to withdraw from the General Convention of The Episcopal Church and has ruled that we had the legal right to amend our Constitution in order to do so. This a positive step in support of the position we have taken. We will continue to keep our concerns before the Lord in prayer.”

The date for a further hearing to take up the remaining Motion for Leave to File a Third-Party Petition will be set shortly. A date of October 15 has been set to hear the plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgement.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 18 September 2009 at 8:17am BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

new Nigerian primate chosen

Updated again Wednesday lunchtime

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has issued this announcement:

New Primate for Church of Nigeria

ABP. NICHOLAS OKOH ELECTED NEW PRIMATE

A new Primate has emerged for the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) in the person of Archbishop Nicholas Orogodo Okoh. (57 this November ) He is presently the Archbishop of Bendel Province and bishop of Asaba.

The news of his election was announced today 15th September, 2009 by the Dean of the Church of Nigeria, Most Rev. Maxwell Anikwenwa immediately after the election by the Episcopal Synod held in Umuahia, Abia State.

And another longer press release says:

BEHOLD OKOH ANGLICAN’S NEW PRIMATE

BY REV CANON FOLUSO TAIWO

A new Primate has emerged for the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion. He is the 57 year old rtd Lt colonel, Archbishop of Bendel Province and Bishop of Asaba Diocese the Most Rev. Nicholas OROGODO OKOH.

The news of his election broke today after a hitch free voting exercise by the house of Bishops at the Cathedral Church of St. Stephen’s Umuahia Abia State.

Archbishop Okoh came out tops after securing two-thirds majority of the total votes cast. Three other Clerics contested with him.

By today’s Election Archbishop Okoh has become the fourth (4th) Primate of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion. He is taking over from the Most Rev Peter Akinola the incumbent Primate who vacates his office on March 25, 2010.

The atmosphere was suspense filled as the Bishops engaged in the secret ballot election. Immediately after the peaceful election, the Dean of Church of Nigeria the most Rev Maxwell S. C. Anikwenwa

(O. F. R.) issued a statement that the most Rev Nicholas Orogodo Okoh has been duly elected Primate in succession to the most Rev Peter. J. Akinola (CON) and has been issued with a Certificate of return.

Archbishop Nicholas Orogodo Okoh attended the famous Immanuel College of Theology Ibadan Oyo State between 1976 and 1979. He was made deacon in 1979 preferred a Canon in 1987, collated Archdeacon in 1991 and was elected Bishop of Asaba in 2001.

On the 22nd of July 2005 the Primate elect was elected Archbishop of Bendel Province at St Matthew’s Cathedral Benin. He was in the Army and fought the civil war. He retired as a Lt Col in 2001 after his election as Bishop of Asaba.

CANA has issued this press release:

Archbishop Okoh Primate-Elect

CANA Congratulates Archbishop Okoh as Primate-Elect of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)

HERNDON, Va. (September 15, 2009) – The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) congratulates Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, who was elected to become the primate-elect of the Church of Nigeria.

“Archbishop Okoh is a Godly leader and CANA is delighted that he will be leading the Church of Nigeria. He is a strong supporter of CANA and the Anglican Church in North America, and has been instrumental in helping to advance the orthodox Anglican GAFCON movement. Archbishop Okoh is committed to spreading the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is a personal friend, and I’m pleased that he is stepping into this leadership role during this crucial time in the life of the worldwide Anglican Communion,” said CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns.

The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (http://www.canaconvocation.org) currently consists of more than 85 congregations and 190 clergy in 25 states. CANA was established in 2005 to provide a means by which Anglicans living in North America who were alienated by the actions and decisions of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada could continue to live out their faith without compromising their core convictions. Created as a missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria, about a dozen of the congregations are primarily expatriate Nigerians. CANA is a founding member of the Anglican Church in North America, an Anglican province that includes about 700 congregations.

Updates

There is a lengthy and informative news report in the Lagos Guardian Okoh takes over from Akinola as Anglican Church Primate.

GAFCON has issued this: Gafcon welcomes new Primate of Nigeria.

The document produced by the group he chaired can be found here.

He recently visited England, see here, and also over here. (H/T Fulcrum.)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 15 September 2009 at 10:55pm BST | Comments (31) | TrackBack
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'untainted' bread redux

Readers may recall our earlier article ‘untainted’ bread?

The Diocese of Blackburn has issued this press release: Cathedral Changes Holy Communion Policy

and Blackburn Cathedral has issued this Policy Statement on Eucharistic Presidency - 12/9/2009

Mindful of our strong desire to find a way of journeying together, in a context where people cannot yet reach agreement over the ordination of women to the priesthood, we have been reflecting on the Eucharistic arrangements which we made in the light of the appointment of the first woman canon to the cathedral staff.

Though we hope that people will respect the fact that we did so for the most collegial of motives and wished to make full use of the opportunities that a cathedral offers for creative exploration, we now regret the course of action that we took.

We apologise for any hurt or pain that this has caused.

It will now be the case that the sacrament at any given celebration of the Eucharist will be consecrated by the President alone.

No alternative provision will be made when a woman presides for those who cannot in conscience recognise her Eucharistic ministry, though we continue, of course, to offer a range of Eucharistic provision on a Sunday…

WATCH has issued a statement which says in part:

WATCH (Women and the Church) is delighted that Blackburn Cathedral has overturned its decision to offer communion wafers consecrated by a male priest when a woman priest is taking a service.

WATCH is grateful to Blackburn Cathedral for acknowledging the offence this caused and for discontinuing the practice which they introduced a year ago after a female canon was appointed to the Cathedral staff. This practice harks back to beliefs outlawed as heretical in the 4th century.

The Church of England’s law-making body, the General Synod, passed the vote allowing women to be admitted to the priesthood 17 years ago. In 1994, 15 years ago, 1,500 female deacons were ordained as priests. Since then 4,000 women have been ordained and there are now almost 3,000 active clergywomen serving in the Church of England, nearly a quarter of all active clergy.

Christina Rees, Chair of WATCH said, “Bearing in mind that the Church is now in the process of making it lawful for women to be bishops, this is very good news. It shows that treating women in ways we wouldn’t treat men is no longer acceptable. Blackburn Cathedral has got the message and has done the right thing and we are very, very pleased.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 15 September 2009 at 11:05am BST | Comments (77) | TrackBack
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support for the seven bishops

As happened previously with a Communion Bishops statement, a number of priests who are affiliated with Communion Partners have endorsed it. In this case, they pledged to fulfill the “non-episcopal requests” made by those bishops who met with the Archbishop of Canterbury on Sept. 1.

The Living Church reports that the 74 priests lead parishes with a collective baptized membership of 60,000.

See Communion Partner Rectors Endorse Bishops In Meeting With Archbishop of Canterbury

The undersigned Communion Partner Rectors [and] associate Clergy commend and support the initiative taken by the Communion Partner bishops in meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury on September 1, 2009 in order to discuss and clarify the present circumstances of The Episcopal Church, as well as his understanding of what entities might be eligible to sign and adopt the Anglican Communion Covenant.

We echo the commitment of the bishops “to remain constituent members of both the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church.” Our desire is also to use the present situation as an opportunity to make manifest our commitment to becoming “a part of a ‘Covenanted’ global Anglican body in communion with the See of Canterbury.”

In support of the bishops, we commit ourselves to the five non-episcopal requests listed in their report of September 7, 2009…

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Sunday, 13 September 2009

statements from Southern Africa

The bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa have issued a statement.

Statement by the Synod of Bishops, 9 September 2009
The Synod of Bishops meeting in Midrand, Gauteng from 7 – 9 September 2009, has been disturbed by various recent reports in the media to the effect that the world-wide Anglican Communion and the Anglican Church in Southern Africa are on the brink of schism. We want to assure the faithful that these reports are grossly exaggerated and in some cases, misrepresented.

Our Worldwide Anglican Communion has for a number of years been struggling with the issue of human sexuality without, as yet, having reached any significant consensus. There are, indeed, broken and damaged relationships within the Communion, but there is still a deep desire among the bishops throughout the world to maintain the bonds of unity in obedience to the High Priestly prayer of our Lord that “..they may be one as we are one (Jn 17:11).

To this end the Communion is exploring an Anglican Covenant which would express our Common Unity in Christ and the criteria for accountability to each other.

We the Bishops and the Anglican Church of Southern Africa have, on a number of occasions spelt out our common mind at this stage of our journey with the world-wide Communion. We believe that we are called to love others with God’s unconditional, sacrificial love and do not believe sexual orientation a barrier to leadership within the church. However, holding as we do, that Christian marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, we hold that clergy unable to commit to another in Christian marriage partnership are called to a life of celibacy.

We have also received the resolution of the Diocese of Cape Town requesting us to provide guidelines for the pastoral care of those in committed same sex relationships. Despite the misconceptions created by media reports, Cape Town Diocese is intending to proceed with the blessing of same sex unions, we recognise the request to be pastoral in nature and not in any way in conflict with Resolution 110 of Lambeth Conference 1998. The task of responding to this request has been referred to a team committee which will prepare a preliminary paper building upon the resolutions and statement made thus far by ACSA.

We remain committed to holding together the bonds of unity when we journey together through the difficult questions that confront the world-wide Anglican Communion. Differences of opinion are inevitable, schism is not.

Now to him, who by the power at work within us
is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think to him be glory in the
Church and in Christ Jesus
to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen

The resolution from the Diocese of Cape Town can be found at Resolution of the Diocese of Cape Town on Ministry to Gays and Lesbians in Covenanted Partnerships. (scroll down for the full text).

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Saturday, 12 September 2009

opinions for mid-September

Roderick Strange writes in The Times that Great achievements call for sacrifices and failures.

Andrew Linzey writes there about Brute creatures and the Passion.

Josh Howle writes about Yom Kippur in the Guardian.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that Evensong calm ends my fidget.

Simon Barrow writes at Ekklesia about A different way of reading the world.

Last month he wrote about Abandoning the religion and politics of exclusion.

Andrew Brown wrote at Cif belief about The origins of religion.

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Friday, 11 September 2009

What is the future for Anglican conservatives? (part 3)

Graham Kings has written a response to the Cif belief Question of the Week. Go here and here for earlier responses.

See People must come first.

Also available on Fulcrum.

…Are Anglican conservatives in the Anglican Communion turning their attention away from issues of sexuality to the threat of Islam? From reading articles and comments and taking part in various private discussions, this seems to me too simplistic an analysis. Perceptions on both these subjects may interweave and are likely to feature in future comment and campaign.

Anglican conservatives are no more a monolithic block than are Anglican liberals. Some, sadly, are so caught up in the combat of the single issue of sexuality that their words appear to many to be blinkered and splintered. Others, while remaining conservative on sexual issues, may have friends and relatives who are gay and join in with long term private conversations and organized discussions on the subject. Oliver O’Donovan has recently published A Conversation Waiting to Begin: the Churches and the Gay Controversy (SCM Press, 2009), which originated as a series of articles on Fulcrum. And there are many who are betwixt and between these general positions…

The series on Fulcrum to which reference is made, The Church of England and Islam: Hospitality and Embassy starts here.

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The business of bishoping

Last week’s Church Times has an article by Bishop Kenneth Stevenson which was titled Rootless, isolated, and churched out.

This was edited from his farewell address to the Portsmouth diocesan synod which can be found in full at THE BUSINESS OF BISHOPING – A BOTTOM UP THEOLOGY.

WHEN I went to my first meeting of the House of Bishops as a member in October 1995, I sat at the back (like a good Anglican) and watched.

This provoked me into playing two games. The first, an easy one, was to identify who were the prefects and who were the rogues. I soon came to the conclusion that the system — the Church — produced too many of the former, and too few of the latter.

The second game was to spot the defining job that someone held be­fore he became a bishop, and how this affected the way he was ap­proaching the discussion. Some bishops are manifestly former parish priests; others were theological teachers; some were involved in lay training; others worked a great deal with ordinands. Some ran cath­edrals, often giving them a convinc­ing civic awareness, while others were arch­deacons, who seemed to know the ropes better than the others…

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Ian Hislop and Rowan Williams

Ruth Gledhill has the details of this event, which happened in Canterbury Cathedral last Friday. See Archbishop of Canterbury laments loss of Christian knowledge.

There is a transcript, and links to a complete audio recording on Ruth’s blog.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has blamed education and pluralism for Britain’s loss of Christian culture. He said the Church does still have its foot in the door but the foot is being ‘squashed very painfully’. Writers in the past such as PG Wodehouse could assume knowledge in the reader of the Bible and Hymns Ancient & Modern. No longer. ‘It’s all gone, gone because of shifting patterns of education not just religious education, it’s gone because of a much more anxious awareness of a plural society and not wanting to privilege one religious tradition over another. What to do about it? I’m not sure I have a quick answer. The good side of it is that if not everybody knows it the story isn’t necessarily boringly familiar.’

The Archbishop was speaking at a Christian ‘gathering’, a new form of community meeting that seems to be gaining ascendancy. There was one such last Friday at Canterbury, where the sell-out event was Private Eye editor Ian Hislop in conversation with Dr Williams…

The Church Times also has a report, Door is closing on Church’s foot, says Williams by Ed Beavan.

“THE FOOT is still in the door, even if it is being squashed very painfully,” the Archbishop of Canterbury said last weekend when he was asked about the Church’s participation in public debate. He did not think that the Church had yet “dropped off the radar”.

Dr Williams was in dialogue with Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye and panellist on the BBC’s Have I Got News for You, at an event during “The Gathering”, a series of activities for all ages at Canterbury Cathedral.

Mr Hislop described the difficulty that Dr Williams faced with the media when people called for a moral lead from the Church. “When the Archbishop of Canterbury says anything, they say, ‘Shut up,’” he suggested.

Dr Williams responded that “the leadership thing is a problem.” It was “a matter of trying to remember that when you’re speaking from the Church you’re trying to give some sort of critical perspective to try and show some­thing”. The Archbishop admitted that he was “not brilliant at sound-bites”…

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Stockholm election confirmed

TA reported earlier that a new bishop had been elected for the (Swedish Lutheran) Diocese of Stockholm.

Some procedural objections were raised, but earlier this week the election review board decided to reject these appeals.

At its meeting on Monday the Board received six complaints about the handling of the elections last April. It was argued that the election results, in which Eva Brunne got the most votes, were not accurate because of an ambiguity in the notice of the election which was not implemented uniformly across the diocese. But the Election Review Board says in summary that “the errors committed in connection with the election on April 21, 2009 are not reasonably likely to have affected the outcome of the elections”. They thus rejected the appeals, while criticising some parts of the electoral process.

Eva Brunne will now be consecrated as a bishop in Uppsala Cathedral on 8 November.

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Thursday, 10 September 2009

What is the future for Anglican conservatives? (cont.)

Two further contributions to this week’s Guardian Question series.

Julian Mann wrote Nazir-Ali is right.

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali has been of one of the well-informed voices that has exploded the myth that the Qu’ran really belongs to moderate liberal Muslims and not to the militants who ex animo believe it.

But I would respectfully argue that Nazir-Ali would be better placed to counteract the persecution of Christians by Muslims as a diocesan bishop than he is in the peripatetic role he is anticipating for himself. It is difficult to see how an ex-bishop hopping on and off airplanes can influence foreign governments, such as Pakistan’s, to provide proper protection for their Christian minorities.

Apart from a newspaper editor, who is more “ex” than a diocesan bishop?

Jim Naughton wrote The right gains ground.

The Anglican Covenant may never come to pass. Or its doctrinal statements may be so unobjectionable, and its enforcement mechanisms so weak, that every church in the communion will hastily sign on. Or the gay-friendly churches threatened with diminished status may realise that they will always have more opportunities than resources for mission within the communion, and happily agree to run their trains on track number two.

Yet if Rowan Williams succeeds in his misguided effort to establish a single-issue magisterium that determines a church’s influence within the communion, a significant risk remains. That risk is run not by the Anglican left, which has nothing practical to lose, nor by the Anglican right, whose leaders embarrass less easily than Donald Trump and don’t fear public opprobrium. Rather, the parties at risk are the Church of England and the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which may find themselves at the head of a communion synonymous with the agenda of the American right…

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Wednesday, 9 September 2009

more writing about the covenant

Updated again Thursday evening

Not content with their recent magnum opus the Anglican Communion Institute has published another (shorter) essay, titled Communion Partner Dioceses and The Anglican Covenant.

We address below issues related to the capacity of CP dioceses to sign the Anglican Covenant. We consider the text of Section 4 of the Ridley Cambridge draft, ACC Resolution 14.11, the unique polity of TEC and the ACC constitution and membership schedule. Although the final wording of Section 4 has not yet been agreed, the principles discussed below, particularly the constitutional integrity of member churches, are fundamental to Anglicanism and not in dispute…

Pluralist has already responded.

Updates Mark Harris has now also responded with Why bother, #1

Why bother with the in house realignment crowd (the Communion Partners Bishops, the Anglican Communion Institute, the Covenant-Communion writers.) The logic chopping is so bad in some of their essays that the noise of it turns the brain to Wheatena.

Here is example #1…

And later, with Why bother, #2

The Covenant-Communion article, subject of my first “Why bother?” post, was published just the day after the seven bishops who visited with the Archbishop of Canterbury published their report.

The “realignment-from-within” Bishops, the RFW Bishops aka the Communion Bishops, have produced a somewhat odd report, as if jet lag had not yet left them able to work at full speed…

Mark Harris has also written The Anglican Covenant: A tempting but wormy apple.

The notion of an Anglican Covenant is as tempting for some as the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The promise is that the Anglican Covenant would make it clear to ourselves and to all the world just who we were and what we stood for and how we would comport ourselves as a Christian fellowship. Many Anglicans can just taste it! A sense of self esteem when we are compared to other world wide churches and a sense of religious order when we look at our own community. The Anglican Covenant would make us one of, you know, THEM, world wide Churches that have real apostolic heft, with bishops and all.

The Anglican Covenant promised a lot, but preliminary taste tests seem to indicate that the fruit is wormy. The apple, it seems, is a bit rotten in places…

Further criticism of the earlier ACI document comes from Tobias Haller who has written The Heterosectual Communion.

The soi-disant Anglican Communion Institute has a knack for inverting the old Latin tag, “the mountains labored and bore a mouse.” In this case the gang of three, augmented by an attorney and a bishop, have given birth to a mountain of verbiage which in the long run, fundamentally flawed as it is, amounts to less than a mole-hill…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 9 September 2009 at 11:22pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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an imagined community

Episcopal Café has published an essay by Frank M. Turner The imagined community of the Anglican Communion.

One of the most fertile political concepts to emerge in the past quarter-century is Benedict Anderson’s “imagined community.” Anderson, now a retired Cornell professor of international studies, government, and Asian studies, contended that the emergence of modern nationalism involved the creation among various groups living in their own localities with no direct interaction between or among themselves of the idea of an imagined community with other people on the basis of supposed common histories, customs, language, and ethnic identity. The reality of the community resided in the imagination of those drawn to these ideas that circulated in the print media of the day.

Over the past twenty years proponents of what is called “The Anglican Communion” have sought to establish a similar imagined ecclesiastical community among various provinces around the world whose churches derived in some fashion from the Church of England. In the case of the Episcopal Church the derivation of Episcopal orders was not direct but through the Scottish Episcopal Church and its character was strongly influenced by its eighteenth century American setting. The so-called Anglican Communion exemplifies a religious version of Anderson’s “imagined community.” At its most banal, the Communion exists to justify bishops traveling about the world on funds contributed by the baptized. At its worst, it has come to represent an imagined community several of whose Episcopal spokespeople now seek to persecute and degrade or relegate into a second track churches who have opened themselves, their process of ordination, and their episcopate to gay and lesbian people. In this respect, it this ecclesiastical imagined community replicates in its drive to exclusion the persecution that ethnic minorities have experienced at the hands of dominant nationalist groups from the early nineteenth century to the present day…

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Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Statement from "Communion Partner" bishops

Updated Wednesday morning

The seven “Communion Partner” American bishops who recently visited Lambeth Palace have issued a statement.

The full text of their statement was first published at Cotton Country Anglican and is reproduced here below the fold.

It includes a recommendation to urge the adoption of the Anglican Covenant by the US General Convention. This would appear to be at odds with the views expressed recently by the ACI and the Bishop of Durham.

ENS now has a comprehensive report by Mary Frances Schjonberg at Seven Episcopal bishops urge covenant endorsement at all church levels.

A Report of the meeting of the Bishops of Albany, Dallas, North Dakota, Northern Indiana, South Carolina, West Texas and Western Louisiana with the Archbishop of Canterbury on September 1, 2009.

As seven representatives of the Communion Partner Bishops, we are grateful to have met with the Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss our concern in light of the recent actions of the General Convention and the subsequent nomination of candidates “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on Communion” (General Convention 2006, B033).

At this meeting we expressed our appreciation for his post-convention reflections, “Communion, Covenant, and our Anglican Future,” and were especially interested in his statement about whether “elements” in Provinces not favorably disposed to adopt the Anglican Covenant “will be free … to adopt the Covenant as a sign of their wish to act in a certain level of mutuality with parts of the communion.”

Given our commitment to remain constituent members of both the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church, we are encouraged by our meeting with the Archbishop. We agree with him that our present situation is “an opportunity for clarity, renewal and deeper relation with one another - and also Our Lord and his Father in the power of the Spirit.” We, too, share a desire to “intensify existing relationships” by becoming part of a “Covenanted” global Anglican body in communion with the See of Canterbury. We also pray and hope that “in spite of the difficulties this may yet be the beginning of a new era of mission and spiritual growth for all who value the Anglican name and heritage.”

We understand the divisions before us, not merely differences of opinion on human sexuality, but also about differing understandings of ecclesiology and questions regarding the independence or interdependence of a global communion of churches in discerning the mind of Christ together. However, we also shared our concern that the actions of General Convention have essentially rejected the teaching of 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 as the mind of the Communion, and raise a serious question whether a Covenant will be adopted by both Houses at General Convention 2012.

At the same time we are mindful that General Convention Resolution D020 “commended the Anglican Covenant proposed in the most recent text of the Covenant Design Group (the “Ridley Cambridge Draft”) and any successive draft to dioceses for study during the coming triennium” and invited dioceses and congregations to “consider the Anglican Covenant proposed draft as a document to inform their understanding of and commitment to our common life in the Anglican Communion.”

Therefore, at this time we make the following requests of Communion minded members of the The Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion:

1. We encourage dioceses, congregations and individuals of The Episcopal Church to pray and work for the adoption of an Anglican Communion Covenant.

2. We encourage dioceses and congregations to study and endorse the Anglican Communion Covenant when it is finally released and to urge its adoption by General Convention, or to endorse the first three sections of the Ridley Cambridge Draft and the Anaheim Statement, and to record such endorsements on the Communion Partners website (www.communionpartners.org).

3. We encourage bishops, priests, deacons and laypersons of The Episcopal Church who support the adoption of the Anglican Communion Covenant to record such endorsement on the Communion Partners website.

4. We encourage dioceses and congregations, in the spirit of GC2009 Resolution D030 [B030], to engage in “companion domestic mission relationships among dioceses and congregations within The Episcopal Church.”

5. We encourage Bishops exercising jurisdiction in The Episcopal Church to call upon us for service in needed cases of Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight.

6. We encourage relationships between Communion Partners and primates, bishops, provinces and dioceses in other parts of the Communion, in order the enhance the ministry we share in the life of the Communion.

7. We invite primates and bishops of the Communion to offer their public support to these efforts.

+Mark J. Lawrence, South Carolina
+Gary R. Lillibridge, West Texas
+Edward S. Little, II, Northern Indiana
+William H. Love, Albany
+D. Bruce MacPherson, Western Louisiana
+Michael G. Smith, North Dakota
+James M. Stanton, Dallas

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 8 September 2009 at 9:47am BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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perspectives on civil partnerships

Recently the Quakers made news on this topic. See for example, this report in The Times by Ruth Gledhill Quakers back gay marriage and call for reform:

The Quakers sanctioned gay marriages yesterday and called on the Government to give same-sex couples who marry in their ceremonies the same standing as heterosexual people.

Other Christian churches and religious denominations have approved blessings for same-sex civil partnerships but the Quakers are Britain’s first mainstream religious group to approve marriages for homosexuals…

Some background to this decision may be found in one of the papers from The Interfaith Legal Advisers Network meeting in June 2008:

At the second meeting, Network Members shared their experiences on how their own religious traditions interact with the law on marriage, including divorce, re-marriage, interfaith marriages and civil partnerships.

The papers are available as PDF files:

The concluding paragraphs of Mark Hill’s paper make interesting reading:

Thus we find ourselves in the curious position whereby Church of England clergy (i) are under a legally enforceable duty to solemnise the matrimony of atheists, non-believers and adherents of other faiths; (ii) have a statutory discretion to refuse to marry divorcées, transgendered and certain others exercisable in accordance with their conscience irrespective of the religious beliefs and affiliations of the couple; and (iii) are canonically prohibited from conducting a service of blessing following the registration of a civil partnership. Ironically, devout Christians in the latter category are denied the ministrations of the Church by way of a blessing whereas Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews and non-believer couples can compel the use Church of England rites and liturgy and the ministrations of its clergy. The pastoral damage which might result from this mixed message cannot be adequately explained away as an anomaly of the historic accident of establishment in a plural society.

CONCLUSION
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is one of a number of pieces of legislation that have had an impact upon religious communities and individuals. The Act creates a newly recognised legal relationship which cannot be entered into on religious premises, at which no religious service can be used, and the blessing of which is expressly forbidden by the Church of England. Moreover despite political and judicial rhetoric that civil partnerships are different and distinct from marriage, the exact differences have yet to be fully explored and clearly articulated by the domestic judiciary or by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Although the Act defines the relationship a being for two individuals of the same gender, physical intimacy, still less sexual fidelity, do not feature in the provisions of the Act. This means that the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement is wholly consistent with the letter of the legislation; whether it accords with popular perceptions of the legislation is another matter. Future judicial interpretation of the Act may pose challenges for the clergy of the Established Church. The implications for Church of England clergy who are commonly understood to be under a legal duty to solemnise the marriage of parishioners creates what can at best be styled a pastoral anomaly. Whether promoted by accident or design, the effects of the Civil Partnership Act on the nature of Establishment in times of changing social mores are far from insignificant and not yet fully understood.

(See PDF for omitted footnotes.)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 8 September 2009 at 8:45am BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Monday, 7 September 2009

CofE guidance on the Equality Act 2006

Here’s a document I should have linked over two years ago, but I only discovered its existence today.

The Church of England Archbishops’ Council published this guidance on the Equality Act 2006, prepared by the Legal Office at Church House (.rtf format), in May 2007.

As the CofE website page says:

Equality Act 2006

The Equality Act 2006 – relating to religion and belief, and sexual orientation – came into force on 30 April 2007. Guidance on this legislation has been issued by the Archbishops’ Council and is available here. The guidance is intended as a basic guide for dioceses, parishes and incumbents and should not be treated as a substitute for specific legal advice.

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law and religion

The Law and Religion Scholars Network has published a database of recent cases dealing with religion and law.

The database can be found here. (hat tip Neil Addison).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 7 September 2009 at 2:39pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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What is the future for Anglican conservatives?

The Guardian’s website Comment is free Belief has a weekly Question. This week it is
What is the future for Anglican conservatives?

Has the long Anglican civil war ended in defeat for both sides? Within the church, the liberals have been outmanoeuvred and may be excluded from the communion’s decision-making bodies. But the cost of this has been to establish the conservatives as anti-gay, and in the wider culture that is a great defeat for them, too. So will they abandon that fight, and move to others? Will attitudes to Islam be the next great struggle within Christianity?

The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, returned last week to devote himself to the care of persecuted Christians; and it is Muslims, he thinks, who are doing the persecuting. In countries like Pakistan, this is clearly true. But will conservative Christians be able to construct a narrative against Islam in Europe and America? Should they be trying to do so? Does it really threaten the future of Christianity?

The first contribution comes from Savi Hensman who has written ‘Conservatives’ who want to reshape the communion.

Ordinarily, being conservative is about favouring the old over the new, conserving what has been passed down from previous generations and being cautious about change. The more extreme Anglican so-called conservatives however have been so keen to “purify” the communion of what they see as undesirable that they have pushed for radical reform. Largely in response to their demands, the Archbishop of Canterbury is calling for stricter limits to the freedom of member churches, though this proposal has met with strong objections from many in the Church of England and beyond.

These Anglican “conservatives” are perhaps best-known for their hostility to same-sex partnerships. Yet some are also passionately anti-Islamic. Archbishop Peter Akinola, for instance, as well as being vocally anti-gay, appears to believe that, in the Muslim-Christian conflict in Nigeria, communal violence can sometimes be justified…

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Sunday, 6 September 2009

Marmite Man

Richard Burridge recently reviewed two books for the Church Times. The review was headlined Dissecting the thinking of Marmite Man.

The primary reference is to Paul the Apostle, as Burridge explains:

ST PAUL is, to use a current phrase, a “Marmite Man” — which means that you either hate him or love him. For some, Paul is the great Christian hero, the first theologian of the Church, and the proponent of justification by faith. According to this view, the rediscovery of this through the atoning death of Christ drove the Reformation, and has given Christianity its distinct em­phasis ever since, especially in the Evangelical traditions.

For others, however, Paul is the bad guy: a convert to Christianity, even an apostate from his own Jewish faith, and a reactionary bigot whose letters have oppressed many groups down through history, notably women and, more recently, homosexuals.

But, one of the two books reviewed is Justification: God’s plan and Paul’s vision by Tom Wright. Burridge continues:

The Bishop of Durham is also a Marmite Man, who has legions of devotees. His talks sometimes generate an atmosphere akin to a pop concert or political rally, while the internet is awash with webpages about his work, complete with videos across YouTube. The books pouring from his pen are bought in such quantities that he has single­handedly kept SPCK afloat in difficult times for publishers.

Yet, like Paul, he is not without detractors. Many in the liberal tradition, especially in the Episcopal Church in the United States, view him as an inquisitor, sent to bring them to heel through the Windsor Process and the Anglican Covenant.

What is perhaps less well known among Church Times readers is that Bishop Tom is also viewed with grave suspicion by the conservative tradition, especially the ultra-Reformed, who want to preserve the emphasis on personal justification by faith derived by Luther from Paul. This is because he is the best-known exponent of the “new perspective on Paul” — indeed, he invented that phrase in his Tyndale lecture back in 1978!

Burridge goes on to explain further about the “new perspective” and to discuss the other book under review, and then concludes:

Love him or hate him, Tom Wright is a crucial figure in New Testament scholarship and the life of the Church today. Even more important, however, similarly loved or loathed, Paul remains the tower­ing figure at the centre of attempts to grasp what God has achieved for the whole human race through Jesus Christ.

Both these books help us under­stand our contemporary arguments as well as the eternal Plan. To assist further, however, we “wait with eager expectation” for Bishop Tom to put aside these wrangles, and complete the promised fourth volume of his magnum opus, devoted to Paul — with or without Marmite.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 6 September 2009 at 8:42pm BST | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 5 September 2009

more legal moves in Fort Worth

The Diocese of Fort Worth has issued this press release:
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth files motion for a partial summary judgment in effort to recover property and assets of the Episcopal Church.

Attorneys for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, and the Episcopal Church have on Sept. 3, 2009 filed a motion for a partial summary judgment in the 141st District Court of Tarrant County, Texas as a step to recover property and assets of the Episcopal Church.

The defendants are former members of the Diocesan Corporation’s board of trustees and the former bishop of the diocese, all of whom have left the Episcopal Church and its Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth but continue to control significant Episcopal Church assets…

Follow the link above to find numerous related legal documents.

Earlier, the diocese had also filed a response to motions filed by attorneys for former bishop Jack L. Iker and former members of the corporation’s board. See this press release of 28 August:
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth responds to motions filed by former leadership.

The following excerpt is interesting:

As do many of those who have left the Episcopal Church, Bishop Iker continues to make inconsistent arguments about the hierarchical nature of the Episcopal Church. Just seven years ago, in 2002, he joined in challenging Bishop Jane Dixon’s authority as a bishop in a dispute in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. Then he represented in a “friend of the court” brief he and former Bishop Duncan authorized to be filed in the U.S. Appellate [Court] that

1. Bishops in the Episcopal Church have limited authority,
2. General Convention leads the church,
3. Dioceses are subordinate to the General Convention,
4. The Episcopal Church is not merely a loose federation of independent dioceses, and
5. That diocesan canons cannot be inconsistent with national Church canons.

Bishop Jane Dixon prevailed, and the court, in their decision, clearly determined that the Episcopal Church was hierarchical.

All these are opposite of the positions he and others take now.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 5 September 2009 at 12:02pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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opinions for today

Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times about The Crucifixion and atrocities of the killing fields.

Christopher Rowland writes in the Guardian about Gerrard Winstanley, a 17th century religious reformer.

Earlier in the week, David Walker wrote on Cif belief about A galaxy away from Deep Thought. This was part of the Question of the Week series, see Why can’t computers think?

Alan Wilson wrote yesterday about an old Islamic folk tale, see Mercy seasons justice?

Giles Fraser wrote in the Church Times: Dump RE and see God as radical. (RE is an abbreviation for Religious Education.)

Last week, in the Church Times Phil Lucas wrote about the Quakers’ support of same-sex marriage. See This is one way to talk about gay partnerships.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 5 September 2009 at 8:38am BST | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Friday, 4 September 2009

ACI writes about the Anglican Covenant

Updated Saturday afternoon

The Anglican Communion Institute, Inc. has published a long (27 US-sized pages) paper, titled The Anglican Covenant: Shared Discernment Recognized By All.

A full footnoted text is also available for download here (.pdf)

The authors listed are:

The Reverend Canon Professor Christopher Seitz
The Reverend Dr. Philip Turner
The Reverend Dr. Ephraim Radner
Mark McCall, Esq.
The Rt. Reverend Dr. N. T. Wright Bishop of Durham

The document has also been published by Fulcrum over here.

Some extracts from the document:

The approved text of the Anglican Covenant is already serving as a lens through which individual Anglican churches are inevitably and accurately being measured in terms of their character as “Communion churches.” Thus, in ways not yet properly noted by all, the text endorsed by the Anglican Consultative Council, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Joint Standing Committee in May 2009 has already raised and to a large extent provisionally answered the question “who can adopt this Covenant?” It is the purpose of this paper to explain why and how this is so, and to do this in relation particularly to The Episcopal Church, although it should be noted that the Covenant’s defining substance can be applied analogously to other Anglican churches as well…

…On the other hand, The Episcopal Church professes to continue to consider the Anglican Covenant, resolving to “study and comment” on the approved text of the Covenant (and “any successive drafts”) and requesting a report with “draft legislation concerning this Church’s response to an Anglican Covenant” at the next General Convention. It should be noted that as originally moved this resolution called on The Episcopal Church to “make a provisional commitment to abide by the terms of the Anglican Covenant,” but the clause calling for a provisional commitment was removed.

That the actions of General Convention constitute instead a provisional rejection of the Anglican Covenant is manifest. This paper will support this conclusion in detail:

  • We begin by considering the substantial and well-developed body of Anglican thought utilized in expressing the commitments in the Covenant text. This body of precedent includes the articulation of several foundational concepts used in the Covenant, including “shared discernment,” “accountability,” “autonomy,” and the comprehensive term “Communion with autonomy and accountability.”
  • We then examine the specific commitments in the first three sections of the Anglican Covenant and show that they require (i) that there be Communion-wide decisions (“shared discernment”) on issues affecting the unity of the Communion and (ii) that all covenanting churches then recognize the decision reached by the Communion’s shared discernment.
  • We will then show that the shared discernment of the Communion on the issue of human sexuality is unequivocal. All four Instruments of Communion have spoken with one voice for over a decade, both in terms of general teaching and through specific recommendations.
  • We will conclude with a discussion of the function of Section 4 in the Covenant as a whole. On one level, Section 4 is not necessary, as some seem to think, to introduce meaningful consequences into the Covenant. Profound consequences are already entailed by the first three sections. Rather, a robust Section 4 is necessary in order to provide agreed procedures that all churches can trust. Without effective procedures in Section 4, others will emerge but they will not be ones that have been accepted in advance by all.

In this light, the actions of General Convention repudiating the teaching of the Communion on human sexuality can only be seen as the repudiation of the Covenant itself. The Communion and its shared discernment cannot be separated…

CONCLUSION

An Anglican church cannot simultaneously commit itself through the Anglican Covenant to shared discernment and reject that discernment; to interdependence and then act independently; to accountability and remain determined to be unaccountable. If the battle over homosexuality in The Episcopal Church is truly over, then so is the battle over the Anglican Covenant in The Episcopal Church, at least provisionally. As Christians, we live in hope that The Episcopal Church will at some future General Convention reverse the course to which it has committed itself, but we acknowledge the decisions that already have been taken. These decisions and actions run counter to the shared discernment of the Communion and the recommendations of the Instruments of Communion implementing this discernment. They are, therefore, also incompatible with the express substance, meaning, and committed direction of the first three Sections of the proposed Anglican Covenant. As a consequence, only a formal overturning by The Episcopal Church of these decisions and actions could place the church in a position capable of truly assuming the Covenant’s already articulated commitments. Until such time, The Episcopal Church has rejected the Covenant commitments openly and concretely, and her members and other Anglican churches within the Communion must take this into account. This conclusion is reached not on the basis of animus or prejudice, but on a straightforward and careful reading of the Covenant’s language and its meaning within the history of the Anglican Communion’s well-articulated life.

Two reactions to this paper:

Jim Naughton at Episcopal Café has written ACI says: we write the rules

…It is of course impossible to believe that anything these guys write is not motivated by animus of prejudice toward the Episcopal Church and its leadership. (If you doubt that have a look at the rantings of Christopher Seitz about Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in those errant emails.) But it is their presumptuousness here—in attempting to dictate to the Communion who can sign the covenant—that would be astonishing were it not predictable.

The document represents an effort here to do with the Covenant what was done with the Windsor Report. In the way the Wright set himself up as the sole surviving member of the panel that drafted the former document, the priests are trying to set Ephraim Radner up as the only drafter of the covenant to survive the great fire that swept through their meeting room just as the final gathering adjourned.

If, someday, the first things unchurched people think of when they hear the word Anglican is homophobe, Rowan Williams and these fellows will be the reason why. Their efforts to make the Communion safe for the most vicious sort of anti-gay bigots, and unwelcoming to those who make even timid moves toward full inclusion of GLBT Christians may be clumsy and transparently self-aggrandizing, but that doesn’t mean they may not succeed…

Adrian Worsfold has written Anglican Old School Sixth Form

Down in the Anglican Old School sixth form a message circulates that the Head of the sixth form wishes to speak to Christopher Sheitz, Philip Headturner, Fred Frame Righter, Davina McCall (who is male) and Newt S. Temperament. Also outside is the Head Boy of the Sixth Form, Roman Williams, who is waiting to go in after them…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 4 September 2009 at 10:26pm BST | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 3 September 2009

news from American dioceses

In Fort Worth, ENS reports Breakaway bishop seeks challenge to authority of Episcopal bishop, others.

Attorneys for Jack Iker have asked a Texas court for permission to challenge the authority of Provisional Bishop Ted Gulick Jr. and the standing committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Iker, who left The Episcopal Church in 2008 but refused to relinquish church property or assets, is responding to a pending lawsuit filed by The Episcopal Church and the continuing Diocese of Fort Worth in April to establish the authority of the new diocesan leadership and to recover diocesan assets, according to chancellor Kathleen Wells…

In Pittsburgh, the Post-Gazette reports Episcopal bishop from Ohio nominated for Pittsburgh job.

Bishop Kenneth L. Price Jr. has been nominated to serve as a full-time interim bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh that remained in the Episcopal Church after last year’s diocesan convention voted to secede…

The diocese that Bishop Price has been nominated to serve has 9,833 members in 28 parishes. It is governed by a standing committee of clergy and laity, with the part-time assistance of retired Bishop Robert H. Johnson, who commutes from North Carolina.

If elected at the Oct. 17 diocesan convention, Bishop Price will be a “provisional” bishop, with the authority of a diocesan bishop. He will serve a few years until a permanent bishop is elected…

See diocesan press release, and three letters.

In San Joaquin ENS reports Breakaway diocese asks California appeals court to review ruling.

Representatives for the breakaway Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin have asked a California appellate court to review a July lower court decision affirming Bishop Jerry Lamb as the leader of the Episcopal Church in the Central California Valley diocese.

Bishop Jerry Lamb of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and the Episcopal Church will have until September 15 to respond to the petition filed by John-David Schofield and others.

Mike Glass, chancellor for the Episcopal diocese, said he had just received notice that the petition had been filed with the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno. After the diocese responds, Schofield will have until October 5 to submit a reply. The court will then decide whether or not to grant the review…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 3 September 2009 at 10:52pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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American bishops visit Lambeth

ENS has a report about the visit of seven bishops of the Episcopal Church USA visiting the Archbishop of Canterbury. Read Canterbury hosts seven Episcopal bishops for private meeting.

The bishops attending the meeting were Mark Lawrence of South Carolina, Gary Lillibridge of West Texas, Edward Little of Northern Indiana, Bill Love of Albany, Michael Smith of North Dakota, James Stanton of Dallas, and Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana.

A spokesperson in the Lambeth Palace press office confirmed that Williams had hosted the seven Episcopal bishops, but said that the meeting was private.

When asked for his reflections on the meeting, MacPherson told ENS that the bishops will have “something forthcoming soon.”

The Living Church reported recently that two additional bishops had signed the Anaheim Statement to which reference is made in the ENS story. See Anaheim Statement Continues to Gain Supporters.

The Rt. Rev. Charles E. Jenkins, III, Bishop of Louisiana, and the Rt. Rev. Harry W. Shipps, retired Bishop of Georgia, have endorsed the letter affirming their loyalty to the Anglican Communion in the wake of the adoption of resolutions C056 and D025 ending the moratoria forbidding the consecration of partnered gay clergy as bishops and the authorization of rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.

However, Bishop Jenkins also was one of the bishops who voted against D025 but in favor of C056. He later said he voted for C056 because his colleagues had responded well to his plea for graciousness. “I felt I was honor-bound to vote for it because these bishops had done what I had asked them to do,” he said. ” I felt that the process was a ray of hope for The Episcopal Church.”

For the earlier list of 34 signatures, see here.

For the text of the statement, see here.

Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina recently made a lengthy address to his diocesan clergy about the stance towards TEC that he believes his diocese should now take. You can read that in full here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 3 September 2009 at 6:57pm BST | Comments (31) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 2 September 2009

more from Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali

Updated Thursday afternoon

Martin Beckford has written further in the Telegraph about his interview with the (now former) Bishop of Rochester.

See The Bishop of Rochester farewell interview.

The earlier report was linked here.

Update
At Cif belief Andrew Brown has commented about this, see The Anglican right at the crossroads.

As Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali retires, are conservative Anglicans beginning to see Islam as the main threat to their values?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 2 September 2009 at 11:11pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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bishops in the House of Lords

Two items from politics.co.uk by Alex Stevenson:

Church fights on as bishop threat grows

The Church of England has rejected suggestions from Jack Straw it will give up its seats in the House of Lords without a fight.

Ending the association would be a “retrograde step”, a spokesman told politics.co.uk, after heavy hints from the justice secretary yesterday that bishops may no longer be welcome.

Mr Straw told an Unlock Democracy seminar the exclusive presence of the Church of England among Britain’s religions in parliament was “anomalous” but refused to indicate whether he believed, in a predominantly elected House of Lords, their historic place should be protected.

He said he hopes a transition to an elected House of Lords will take place over three parliamentary cycles, meaning the decision on whether to go to an 80 per cent or 100 per cent elected chamber will not have to be taken for some years…

Analysis: Should bishops remain in the Lords?

One of the most distinctive features of the ‘mother of all parliaments’ is the institutionalised guarantee of seats for the Church of England’s top cloth. Twenty-six bishops are allowed to sit in the Lords by virtue of their ecclesiastical position as the ‘lords spiritual’.

It was the case half a millennium ago. It is the case today. It may not be the case in ten years’ time.

Up for grabs is the entire makeup of parliament’s second chamber - the extent of its powers, how it will be chosen, even its name. Jack Straw revealed yesterday his preference is for the Lords to be renamed the Senate. That gives a flavour of the extent of the changes afoot…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 2 September 2009 at 5:52pm BST | Comments (24) | TrackBack
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