Monday, 31 May 2010

more criticism of the ABC

Jim Naughton has written an article at Episcopal Café titled The self-trivializing Anglican Communion.

…About halfway through weighing some of the issues that I’ve written about here before, I had a sudden realization: reflecting on Rowan Williams’ letter wasn’t a worthwhile use of my time; writing it was not a worthwhile use of his. The issues at stake have become so trivial — We are not debating right and wrong, we are debating whether there should be trifling penalties for giving offense to other members of the Communion.—that to engage them at all compromises our moral standing and diminishes our ability to speak credibly on issues of real importance.

This isn’t to say that we don’t have to make a decision about whether to accede to the archbishop’s proposal — and I suppose I think that we shouldn’t because it would only encourage him to make other such requests — just that whether we accede or not make very little difference to the world, to the Communion, to our ecumenical partners, to our church, or even to a Communion news junky like me.

Which is why I was of no use to the reporters I spoke to on Friday afternoon; because, God bless them, they had to write stories based on the mistaken notion that all of this stuff still matters, and increasingly, it does not. In attempting to ram through a covenant that marginalizes the laity and centralizes authority in fewer hands, Rowan Williams has unwittingly made it clear that the governance of the Communion is as nothing compared to the relationships within the Communion, and the relationships are beyond his control.

Last week, Jim also wrote a piece endorsing last week’s Observer article criticising Anglican silence on gay persecution in Africa, see Complicity is too mild a word.

As Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams has not only been complicit in the persecution of gay and lesbian Africans, he has actively abetted the cause of the Anglican Communion’s most virulently bigoted prelates, and twisted the Communion’s moral calculus beyond recognition…

…Williams’ silence on these issues would be less troubling had he not so frequently and publicly criticized the Episcopal Church for treating gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered Christians as full members of the Church. He used an invitation to the Church’s General Convention last summer to urge worshipers — during a sermon — not to pass legislation making it more likely that a gay or lesbian candidate would be elected to the episcopacy. When then-Canon Mary Glasspool, a lesbian, received sufficient consents to be consecrated as suffragan bishop of Los Angeles, Williams expressed his displeasure in a press release emailed far and wide at the crack of dawn (in stark contrast to his tepid criticism of the Ugandan legislation). And he continues to warn about the “consequences” that the Episcopal Church will face for Glasspool’s consecration.

Williams’ behavior suggests that there is only one sin for which an Anglican leader can earn public condemnation, and only one act that merits exclusion from the councils of the Communion: repenting of the Church’s age old homophobia. Calling him complicit in the persecutions of LGBT people in African suggests that he acquiesced in the creation of a climate of intolerance within the Anglican Communion. But in reality, he is one of its architects.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 31 May 2010 at 6:35pm BST | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 30 May 2010

Primate calls for Nigeria to leave the UN

Two news sources from Nigeria report this story.

Sunday Trust Anglican Primate urges Nigeria to withdraw from the UN

Weekend Observer Homosexuality:Pull Out Of United Nations … Anglican Primate Urges FG

The Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, last Thursday called on Nigeria to quit the UN, over the latter’s support for homosexuality.

Okoh said that it was regrettable that the UN was currently using human rights bodies and non-governmental organisations to ensure the entrenchment of homosexuality globally. The cleric made the call in Lagos at a reception held for him by the Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos.

“If the UN has made itself an agent for the propagation of homosexuality globally, then it is time for us (Nigeria) to pull out of the organisation.

“This is because the UN has no right to determine for or impose moral standards on us (Nigeria). Let us stand firm and refuse to be bought over by the West,’’ he said.

Okoh promised to continue the fight against homosexuality and urge the Anglican Church to support him…

Hat Tip, Lionel Deimel.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 30 May 2010 at 1:25pm BST | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 29 May 2010

late May opinion

Kelvin Holdsworth, the provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, preached this Sermon for Affirmation Scotland at Pentecost.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times Consider the bees, not the wasps.

Ian Bradley writes in a Face to faith column in The Guardian that Liberals must stand together. Liberals across all faiths should create a coalition to turn the fundamentalist tide.

Francisco J. Ayala writes in The Guardian that Religion has nothing to do with science – and vice versa

Maggi Dawn writes about the acceptance of gay clergy in the inside view.

This week’s The Question at The Guardian’s Comment is free Belief is What is theology? Is it all just pointless talk about a non-existent being?
Here are the responses.
Monday: Tina Beattie A bulwark against ignorance. To do theology well is to empower people to resist religion’s co-option by the powers of fanaticism and violence.
Tuesday: Terry Sanderson Theology – truly a naked emperor. In the words of Robert A Heinlein, ‘Theology … is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn’t there.’
Thursday: Nick Spencer Theology illuminates reality. Theology would be worth studying even if God did not exist for then it would tell us about our deepest selves.
Friday: Michael McGhee A critical eye on theology. Whatever else they do, the scriptures, like any other literature, reveal the unconscious ambivalences of their writers.

Terry Sanderson’s article above has prompted this from Andrew Brown: Making sense of Rowan Williams. Theology isn’t trying to produce scientific knowledge. We can all agree on that. But what other sorts of knowledge are there?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 29 May 2010 at 10:16am BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Italian crucifix case develops

Updated 3 June

See earlier reports here.

The full judgment is available in English here (PDF also available there), or as a Word file, downloadable here.

Neil Addison notes that a relevant bit of history is contained in paragraph 16, see here.

The next hearing in the case will be at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on 30 June.

The Italian Government has submitted a brief (PDF), which is so far only available in French.

Several other parties have filed Amicus Curiae briefs in this case. Here are links to some of them.

The European Centre for Law and Justice has filed a brief (PDF).
See their press release: The ECLJ Admitted as Amicus Curiae in the Italian Crucifix Case Before the European Court of Human Rights.

The American-based Alliance Defense Fund has submitted a brief (PDF) on behalf of 32 members of the European Parliament.
See their press release: Court grants ADF request to allow 32 members of European Parliament to defend Italy in cross case.

Another American-based group, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has also filed a brief (PDF) prepared by a team of 37 law professors.
See their press release: 37 Law Professors Urge European Court to Reject Ruling Banning Cross from Italian Classrooms.

Also, the European Humanist Federation has filed this brief (PDF). More from the EHF available here. Update This organisation has had its application to intervene rejected.


There are also reports that ten European states have joined Italy in petitioning the European Court of Human Rights to overturn its decision. They are reported to be:

  • Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, San-Marino, Romania, and The Russian Federation.
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Friday, 28 May 2010

Los Angeles consecration of bishops service

As there are a number of people, even bishops, who have expressed criticism of this event, it may be helpful to link to the Order of Service that was followed.

It is in a PDF file, available here.

Direct links to the video recordings are also available from this page.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 28 May 2010 at 11:40am BST | Comments (54) | TrackBack
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ABC speaks about Malawi

Archbishop welcomes bishops’ statement on Malawi sentencing

Thursday 27 May 2010

The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomes the statement made by the Anglican Bishops in Southern Africa regarding the sentencing of Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga to 14 years of hard labour.

The Imprisonment of Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga

This Statement from the Anglican Bishops in Southern African on the Imprisonment of Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga…

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Archbishop's Pentecost letter

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written his Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion.

The press release about it, together with Notes to Editors is reproduced in full below the fold.

Read the full text of the letter by going here. Another copy here (scroll down).

Press release starts here:
In his Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury encourages Anglicans to pray for renewal in the Spirit and focus on the priority of mission, so that ‘we may indeed do what God asks of us and let all people know that new and forgiven life in Christ is possible’.

The Archbishop acknowledges that Anglicans are experiencing a period of transition in the world: ‘when the voice and witness in the Communion of Christians from the developing world is more articulate and creative than ever, and when the rapidity of social change in ‘developed’ nations leaves even some of the most faithful and traditional Christian communities uncertain where to draw the boundaries in controversial matters – not only sexuality but issues of bioethics, for example, or the complexities of morality in the financial world.’

In response to the current situation the Archbishop makes clear that when a province ‘declines to accept requests or advice from the consultative organs of the Communion, it is very hard to see how members of that province can be placed in position where they are required to represent the Communion as a whole. This affects both our ecumenical dialogues…and our faith-and-order related groups’

Dr Williams goes on to makes two specific proposals. Firstly, that members of provinces that are in breach of the three moratoria requested by the Instruments of the Communion should no longer participate in the formal ecumenical dialogues in which the Anglican Communion is engaged. Secondly, that members of these provinces currently serving on the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (a body that examines issues of doctrine and authority) should, for the time being, no longer have full membership, but retain the status of consultants. ‘This is simply to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as acceptable limits of diversity in its practice’.

The Archbishop finally urges that ‘everyone should be reflecting on how to rebuild relations and to move towards a more coherent Anglican identity (which does not mean an Anglican identity with no diversity)’ and to remember that ‘there are things that Anglicans across the world need and want to do together for the care of God’s poor and vulnerable that can and do go on even when division over doctrine or discipline is sharp’. All this entails ‘…praying for a new Pentecost for our Communion. That means above all a vast deepening of our capacity to receive the gift of being adopted sons and daughters of the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It means a deepened capacity to speak of Jesus Christ in the language of our context so that we are heard and the Gospel is made compelling and credible. And it also means a deepened capacity to love and nourish each other within Christ’s Body’.


Notes to editors:

Q. Practically, what does this letter mean for Provinces, national or regional churches who have broken any of the moratoria?

A. Representatives of those Provinces, national or regional churches whose decision-making bodies have gone against the agreed moratoria a) will be asked to step down from formal ecumenical dialogues such as those with Orthodox Churches or the Roman Catholic Church, and b) will no longer have any decision-making powers in the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order that handles questions of church doctrine and authority.

Q. What are the agreements that have been broken?

A. As far back as 2004, the Anglican Communion leadership agreed to three moratoria: 1) No authorisation of blessings services for same-sex unions; 2) No consecrations of bishops living in same-sex relationships; 3) No cross-border interventions (no bishop authorising any ministry within the diocese of another bishop without explicit permission). These have been affirmed repeatedly in subsequent years at the highest levels of the Communion.

Q. Is anyone being asked to leave the Communion?

A. No. By proposing these actions the Archbishop is working to safeguard the common life of the Communion. His proposals come after several churches broke the Communion’s agreed moratoria (their promises to the Communion). Nevertheless the churches concerned remain full members of the Anglican Communion.

Q. Why did the Archbishop decide to issue this letter now?

A. His comments are made at the season of Pentecost when Christians pray for a renewing of the Holy Spirit which is the Spirit of communion and of fellowship. The letter also comes shortly after the Episcopal Church broke one of the moratoria by appointing a bishop in a same-sex relationship.

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Thursday, 27 May 2010

Tom Wright's opinions

The Bishop of Durham has addressed his last diocesan synod. He had a lot to say about women bishops and about Anglican Communion matters. Read the full text at Diocese of Durham: Diocesan Synod, May 21 2010. Two extracts follow:

On women bishops:

…It therefore doesn’t surprise me that the discussion over women bishops has run into such difficulty. As you know, I have argued strongly and scripturally for the propriety of ordaining women to each order of ministry; my colours have been nailed to that mast for a long time. And I have argued, again and again, in line with successive Lambeth resolutions, that this is something the whole church has said it can live with but need not impose on everyone – though I am very well aware of the particular problem this poses. In other words, this has not been an innovation, carried out by rogue provinces who declare on their own local authority that this is adiaphora and can therefore be decided by them alone. It has been debated and decided by the whole church meeting in solemn conclave. That doesn’t, of course, make it any easier when the decision is passed down from Lambeth to Canterbury and York, which is where we now are. But it does tell us that the church as a whole has said that this matter is adiaphora: that it ought not to be something over which the church needs to divide.

I know, very well, that for some the issue is that Lambeth cannot decide such a thing while Rome, and perhaps also Constantinople, remains uninvolved. The obvious reply is that while Rome still officially treats Anglican orders as ‘absolutely null and utterly void’ it is hard to give them a veto on what we do with those orders, and that if we went that route we should have to return to the celibate priesthood and embrace the Papal dogmas. These are just as mandatory in Rome as male-only ordination, and I don’t know of a sustained argument as to why Anglicans who insist that only when Rome changes will we be allowed to do the same should be allowed to disagree with Rome on these other points. If there is an implicit hierarchy of truths there, I have yet to hear it articulated. However, like many bishops who are in principle committed to the ordination of women to the episcopate I do not think I have yet seen the scheme which would enable us to proceed as one body, without further and deepening division, without straining one another’s consciences. All ministry, according to St Paul, is given to serve the unity of the church, not to divide it. That is especially true of the ministry of Bishops. I hope and pray we will be able to square that circle, and I would rather get the right answer in two or three years’ time than the wrong one tomorrow. I really do believe that ordaining women is the right thing to do; but St Paul’s insistence on how adiaphora works prohibits me from forcing it on those who in conscience are not ready for it. And the answer here, I believe, is a proper theological argument, which we have not yet had. The Rochester report has never been properly discussed.

My hope and plea, then, is that this summer in General Synod, and in the months that follow whatever happens there, we will observe restraint and patience with one another, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. As followers of Jesus, invoking his Spirit at Pentecost, we should expect to have demands made on our charity, our forgiveness and our patience; not on our conscience. That is the key to how adiaphora works in the church.

And on TEC and the Anglican Covenant:

…And that, too, is why recent events in America are placing an ever greater strain on the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury is, I believe, in the process of writing a pastoral letter to all the churches, and I don’t want to pre-empt what he will say. But the point is this. Unlike the situation with children and Communion; unlike the situation with the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate; in the case of sexual relations outside the marriage of a man and a woman, the church as a whole, in all its global meetings not least the Lambeth Conference, has solidly and consistently reaffirmed the clear and unambiguous teaching of the New Testament. But the substantive issue isn’t the point here. The point is that the Church as a whole has never declared these matters to be adiaphora. This isn’t something a Bishop, a parish, a diocese, or a province can declare on its own authority. You can’t simply say that you have decided that this is something we can all agree to differ on. Nobody can just ‘declare’ that. The step from mandatory to optional can never itself be a local option, and the Church as a whole has declared that the case for that step has not been made. By all means let us have the debate. But, as before, it must be a proper theological debate, not a postmodern exchange of prejudices.

Actually, if you want to know about the present state of the church in America you ought to watch the video of last Saturday’s service in Los Angeles, which is readily available on the web. The problems, shall we say, are not about one issue only. But my point for today is this. In November the newly elected General Synod will be asked to approve the Anglican Covenant, which has been through a long and thorough process of drafting, debate, redrafting, polishing and refining. Synod will be asked to send the Covenant to the Dioceses for approval, and all being well it should be with you, the Synod of this Diocese, by the end of the year, and you will be asked to think wisely and clearly about it. No doubt it isn’t perfect. But it is designed, not (as some have suggested) to close down debate or squash people into a corner, but precisely to create the appropriate space for appropriate debate in which issues of all sorts can be handled without pre-emptive strikes on the one hand or closed-minded defensiveness on the other. The Covenant is designed to recognise and work with the principle of adiaphora; and that requires that it should create a framework within which the church can be the church even as it wrestles with difficult issues, and through which the church can be united even as it is battered by forces that threaten to tear it apart. Some of the voices raised against the Covenant today are, in my judgment, voices raised against the biblical vision of how unity is accomplished and sustained, the vision which enables us to discern what is adiaphora and what is not. I hope and pray that this diocese at least will appreciate where the real issues lie, and think and live wisely and cheerfully in relation to them.

Also Martin Beckford reports in the Telegraph that

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Tom Wright, called repeated demands for Criminal Records Bureau checks a “waste of time” and claimed they are solely designed to create a “paper trail” rather than safeguarding the vulnerable.

He also condemned the weight of legislation created by the recent Labour government, saying that new rules and regulations do not make for a better society…

Read the full report at Bishop of Durham criticises ‘time-wasting paper trail’ of Criminal Record Bureau checks.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 11:08pm BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Southern African bishops respond to Malawi

The Bishops of the Church of Southern Africa have responded to the recent events in Malawi.

We, the Bishops of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa call upon the Government of South Africa to seek the release of Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who were recently sentenced in Malawi to 14 years imprisonment with hard labour, after they shared in a traditional ceremony of engagement.

As we have previously stated, though there is a breadth of theological views among us on matters of human sexuality, we are united in opposing the criminalisation of homosexual people. We see the sentence that has been handed down to these two individuals as a gross violation of human rights and we therefore strongly condemn such sentences and behaviour towards other human beings. We emphasize the teachings of the Scriptures that all human beings are created in the image of God and therefore must be treated with respect and accorded human dignity…

Read the full text of their statement.

See also their earlier statement about Uganda.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 9:45am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Tom Butler changed his mind

Bishop Tom Butler spoke on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day on Tuesday, about how people change their minds on issues such as divorce and remarriage, or homosexuality.

The press has been remarking on Theresa May’s response to a question from a member of the Question Time audience, about the new home secretary’s apparently less than gay-friendly voting record . Her reply: “I’ve changed my mind”.

I don’t think that she’s alone in that. It’s remarkable to observe how, in spite of traditional religious teaching, public opinion in Britain over a period of a decade or so, in a remarkable shift of thinking has mostly changed its mind on the worth and place of gay people in society. The reason is simple: it’s difficult to hold dogmatic views about what is good and desirable behaviour, when some of the often obviously good, loving and responsible people you actually encounter are behaving in an alternative way…

Read the full text here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 9:45am BST | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Church Commissioners full report for 2009

We linked to the announcement on 28 April of the Church Commissioners’ results for 2009 here. Their full Annual Report and Accounts for 2009 have now been published, and summarised in an official press release, copied below.

Helping parishes and dioceses across the Church of England: Church Commissioners publish 2009 Report & Accounts
25 May 2010

The Church Commissioners today publish their full Annual Report and Accounts for 2009.

It follows publication of their 2009 annual results on 28 April, when they announced that they had achieved a 15.6 per cent return on their investments during 2009. The fund outperformed its comparator group over the last year as well as over the past five, 10 and 20 years.*

The results mean that the Commissioners’ current level of support to the Church – including increased pensions costs - can be maintained, in cash terms, for a further three-year period, from 2011 to 2013.

The Commissioners’ asset value has grown to £4.8 billion (from £4.4 billion at 31 December 2008), and the fund has been able to distribute £31 million more each year to the Church than if the investments had performed only at the industry average over the last ten years. The 15.6 per cent return was achieved against a comparator performance of 15.1 per cent for 2009.

The Report shows that annual spending on the Church of England’s mission and ministry is just over £1.2 billion. Around three quarters of this sum comes from dioceses and parishes, mostly through the giving of Church members.

In 2009 the Commissioners contributed £193 million - around 16 pence in every pound - of these costs. The Commissioners’ spending for parish-level work reflects their long-standing commitment to supporting the Church’s ministry where there are needs and opportunities. This support breaks down into two key funding streams – clergy pensions; and a wide range of support for different aspects of the serving ministry.

“The Church Commissioners have had a satisfactory first decade of the twenty-first century”, writes the First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith, in his introduction to the Report. “The bottom line is that the Commissioners’ assets grew at an annual rate of 5.1 per cent, two percentage points better than the average fund and 2.4 per cent faster than inflation or, in other words, by 2.4 per cent per annum in real terms.”

The Commissioners have distributed £31 million more each year to the Church for the past 10 years than if their investments had performed only at the industry average. They operate a distributions policy that smoothes fluctuations in the financial markets, with the aim of providing stable support to their beneficiaries.

The Church Commissioners manage an investment portfolio of £4.8 billion derived from the Church’s historic resources. They play a vital role in supporting the Church of England as a Christian presence in every community by looking after this as a long-term resource, balancing the needs of both current and future generations.

The First Commissioner added: “Don’t let it be thought that the Assets Committee and the staff who carry out the day-to-day work of managing our general fund are at all complacent about the Commissioners’ performance. As well as managing the general fund so as to produce increasing returns without undue risk and in line with ethical considerations, the Commissioners also have to decide how best to meet the needs of their beneficiaries.

“The first step is to declare how much may be distributed during successive three-year periods on the footing that the value of the fund in real terms is maintained through time. This leads to a second question: how best to smooth these distributions so that beneficiaries are not subjected to unsettling volatility in their support from the Commissioners.”

The Commissioners’ total charitable expenditure in 2009 was £190.8 million (£189.1 million in 2008). Total non-pensions expenditure, including support for ministry within dioceses and for the ministry of bishops and cathedrals, totalled £81.6 million in 2009 (£84.8 million), following a reduction in bishops’ and other administrative costs of £3.5 million. Governance costs and other resources expended were £1.8 million in 2009 (£3.6 million).

Dioceses have welcomed the mission development funding for giving them flexibility outside their normal budgetary commitments. It has given them headroom for risk-taking and creativity to enable churches to experiment with different forms of engagement with their communities. Examples include the appointment of a sports ambassador in Southwell and Nottingham diocese, and of a pioneer minister attached to Gloucester cathedral, who has helped build a new church community of 60 starting from none.

“Our task is to develop proposals on how best the Commissioners’ funds should be used to advance the Church’s mission”, Mr Whittam Smith concluded. “We don’t start with a clean sheet. Some distributions are determined by legislation. Other long established distributions are quite properly relied upon by recipients. Substantial sums are made available to poorer dioceses. Yet alongside these existing dispositions, new funding for mission is already bearing fruit.”

Continued below the fold


*(See paragraph two). The comparator group quoted is the WM All Funds Universe. It is a collection of the investment results of UK pension funds and is widely used as an independent measure of the performance of funds. There were 218 funds in the 2009 universe, and there were 159, 139 and 100 funds that have been included in the sample for the last five, 10 and 20 years respectively.

The 28 April announcement of the Commissioners’ annual results is available here.

The Commissioners’ responsibilities:

The Church Commissioners exist to support the ministry of the Church of England, through:

  • Supporting poorer dioceses with ministry costs
  • Providing funds to support mission activities
  • Paying for bishops’ ministry and some cathedral costs
  • Administering the legal framework for pastoral reorganisation and closed church buildings
  • Paying clergy pensions for service prior to 1998
  • Running the national payroll for serving and retired clergy.

The Commissioners:

  • contribute 16p in the pound to the cost of the Church of England’s mission – most of the balance coming from the giving of today’s Church members.
  • manage their investments within ethical guidelines, advised by the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group.
  • pay for all clergy pensions earned up to 1998 - pensions since then are paid for by dioceses, largely from money donated by parishioners.
  • pay the stipends and working costs of all the Church of England’s bishops (plus the housing costs of all diocesan bishops) in support of their local and national ministries.
  • provide more than £40 million each year in support for parish ministry, primarily to less-resourced dioceses.
  • support the mission of the Church’s cathedrals by paying the stipends of the dean and two residentiary canons of most cathedrals and making other cathedral grants.
  • encourage innovative uses for churches no longer in use for worship.
  • support the administration of parish reorganisation and give grants to other Church bodies.
  • manage the national payroll for serving and retired clergy.

The Commissioners’ fund is a closed fund, taking in no new money.


The Queen Anne’s Bounty and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners joined in 1948 to form the Church Commissioners. Queen Anne’s Bounty was a charity founded in 1704 to help poor clergy. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners were given the estates belonging to bishops and cathedrals, so they could fund their ministry as well as the Church’s ministry into new urban areas.

The 33 Church Commissioners are:

  • the two Archbishops;
  • three Church Estates Commissioners, who represent the Church Commissioners in General Synod and (Second Commissioner) in Parliament;
  • eleven people elected by General Synod: four bishops, three clergy, four lay people;
  • two deans
  • nine people who are appointed by the Crown and the Archbishops;
  • six ex-officio members: the Prime Minister, the Lord President of the Council, the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Speakers of both Houses of Parliament.
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Monday, 24 May 2010

Women in the Episcopate - more Synod papers

We linked earlier to the report of the revision committee on the legislation to enable women to be bishops, and the accompanying draft measure and canon. These papers have now been reissued in standard synod form.

GS 1708-09Y Revision Committee Report Women in the Episcopate
GS 1708A draft Women in the Episcopate measure
GS 1709A Amending Canon No 30
GS 1708AX Explanatory Memorandum to the draft Measure as revised in committee

The last of these is new. It has been prepared by the Legal Office and explains the effect of each clause of the draft measure in understandable, lay language.

There is also a paper from the Business Committee explaining how the draft legislation will be handled at the July meeting of General Synod (and subsequently) and an outline agenda for July.

GS Misc 952 This July’s Synod
Outline Agenda July 2010

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 24 May 2010 at 10:39pm BST | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 23 May 2010

Observer challenge to Anglicans

Today’s Observer newspaper carries this editorial article:
The church must not be complicit in gay persecution in Africa
with a strapline on the web version:
Anglican influence must be brought to bear to end this vile practice.

The article begins:

Homosexuality is not a sin or a crime. There is no caveat or quibble that should be added. The repression of gay men and women by legal means and public intimidation is an offence against the basic principles of a free and just society. Where it exists, which it does to varying degrees in many countries around the world, it must be confronted and defeated…

And the article ends:

The Anglican hierarchy in Britain has avoided speaking out too frankly on this matter to avoid a schism, but the church’s quiet diplomacy has done nothing to help the victims of homophobic repression. Increasingly, it looks like complicity.

For the background to this, see Love in the dock from Saturday’s Guardian.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 23 May 2010 at 9:05am BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 22 May 2010

opinion for Pentecost

Theo Hobson in The Guardian writes about A new recipe for Christianity. Pete Rollins, frustrated with institutional Christianity, has used poetry, song and performance art to rethink religion.

Andrew Brown in The Guardian asks Is Henry VIII in hell? Rowan Williams wonders whether Henry VIII is in hell now, and talks about the Christian reaction to the triumphs of tyranny.

Christopher Howse asks a similar question in the Telegraph: Has Rowan Williams damned Henry VIII to hell? King Henry VIII might be in hell, the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested the other day in a sermon.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church times about Teasing out the morality of coalition.

Diarmaid MacCulloch writes in The Guardian Vatican II: Benedict rewrites history. At a speech in Portugal Pope Benedict gave us a rare insight into his feelings about the second Vatican council.

Graham Kings has written this Pentecost article for the Times: Picturing the Spirit. [also online at Fulcrum]

Rebecca Paveley writes in the Times that The bishops won’t go quietly in the struggle over Lords’ reform. The campaign for a fully elected Upper House would mean an end to their presence. So is Parliament still accountable to God or have clergymen in politics become an anachronism?

This week’s The Question at The Guardian’s Comment is free Belief is Who can claim Newman? Cardinal Newman was the greatest English Catholic of the Victorian age. But whose side would he be on today?
Here are the responses.
Monday: Hugh O’Shaughnessy An example for reform. Newman said ‘To live is to change’. A timely reminder to those churchmen who love power and the status quo.
Tuesday: Luke Coppen Newman’s universal message. Gandhi’s love of Newman’s hymn ‘Lead, kindly Light’ proves that the cardinal is not just for Catholics.
Thursday: Martin Pendergast Newman’s democratic church. Newman’s legacy is an inclusive, diverse church, with a theology rooted in the practices of the community.
Friday: Francis Davis A distracting debate. Catholics often fight their present battles using scripts from the past. But this pretence is a waste of time.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 22 May 2010 at 11:42am BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Friday, 21 May 2010

catching up on the McFarlane judgment

I have not so far linked to the detailed Church Times report on the latest judgment, written by Shiranikha Herbert and published on 7 May. Here it is: McFarlane’s appeal is refused.

In the same issue, there was a news report headlined Bishops criticise ‘secular’ judgment.

And Andrew Brown devoted most of the Press column to this: The Lord and the Law Lord.

Even earlier Carl Gardner had written on his own blog, on 30 April Short shrift for Lord Carey.

And the day before, Heresy Corner had published Laying down the Laws.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 21 May 2010 at 4:22pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 19 May 2010


Updated again Thursday morning

The Anglican Mission in the Americas, which is linked to the Anglican Communion by its affiliation with the Province de l’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda, has announced an intention to change the form of its relationship with the Anglican Church in North America.

Read the details in Special Report: Anglican Mission’s Structural Relationship within the ACNA.

…As a founding member of the ACNA, the Anglican Mission has invested significant time and energy into its formation and has been strongly supportive of the Province and Archbishop Duncan’s leadership. In light of this support, the Anglican Mission initially chose the jurisdictional option for membership in the ACNA while maintaining its identity as a missionary outreach of Rwanda. This “dual citizenship” approach, however, has resulted in significant confusion within the Anglican Mission and the ACNA regarding membership in two provinces, and more importantly, is inconsistent with the Constitution and Canons of the Province of the Anglican Church in Rwanda. Practically speaking, this jurisdictional/membership status became untenable and non-sustainable.

Given these circumstances, both the Anglican Mission’s Council of Bishops and the Rwanda House of Bishops has unanimously agreed that the Anglican Mission will apply for Ministry Partner status at next month’s ACNA Council meeting. This revised status, if approved in Boston, will allow the Anglican Mission to maintain a level of connection to the North American Province, even though the missionary movement will remain under the spiritual and canonical authority of Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini and the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. It also allows for the Anglican Mission to continue to function as a missionary movement committed to church planting as we have for the last decade. Finally, this decision will serve to overcome the inherent confusion that has arisen, and we view a transition to Ministry Partner status as a positive development for all concerned…


There are reports elsewhere of an email from ACNA about this. See here. Or over here.

And an interesting conservative analysis in the comments of this report.

A fuller version of the ACNA email can be found here. This notes:

Other Ministry Partners within the Anglican Church in North America include:

  • American Anglican Council
  • Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans - North America
  • Forward in Faith-North America
  • Federation of Anglican Churches in America [FACA]
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at 7:26am BST | Comments (38) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 18 May 2010

reflections on Bishop Glasspool's consecration

Doug LeBlanc wrote in the Living Church Lambeth Silent after Glasspool Consecration.

Tobias Haller wrote about The Pluperfect Mindset.

Savi Hensman wrote at Cif belief Mary Glasspool is ordained.

Jim Naughton asked at Episcopal Café What if we are asked to dis-invite ourselves again?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 10:35pm BST | Comments (31) | TrackBack
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Women in the episcopate - House of Bishops' statement

The House of Bishops of the Church of England has issued this statement this afternoon.

Women in the episcopate - House of Bishops’ statement

At its meeting in York on 17/18 May, the House of Bishops discussed the Revision Committee’s report on the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops.

The House noted that the forthcoming meeting of the General Synod in July would be a key moment in the legislative process when all 470 members of Synod would have the opportunity to debate the report and proceed to a clause by clause consideration of the draft Measure and Amending Canon. The House believed that the Synod would be helped in its task by the clarity and thoroughness of the Committee’s analysis.

As previous debates have shown, a majority of the members of the House strongly support the admission of women to the episcopate. At the same time there remains a strong commitment on the part of the House to preserve an honoured place within the Church of England for those unable to receive this development. There continues to be a variety of views within the House over the best way of achieving that, while enabling women fully to exercise their new ministry.

The July Synod has the potential to be one of the most demanding meetings of the Synod for many years. It will, in the view of the House, be an occasion when all concerned will need to listen with particular care to those with views that differ from their own and to acknowledge the passion and sincerity with which those views are held.

The House is aware that there are those who believe that the present legislative process does not have the potential to lead to a satisfactory conclusion and that a better outcome is more likely to be achieved in some years’ time. Most members of the House consider, however, that it is crucial to keep faith with the present process. They see no grounds for believing that the issues with which the Church is grappling will become significantly easier to resolve with the passage of time.

The July debates will provide the chance for the full Synod to decide whether it wishes to make significant changes to the draft legislation, including whether to retain an approach based on a statutory code of practice or to support amendments giving effect to some other approach. What happens thereafter will depend on what Synod decides. On any basis it will be at least another two years before the mind of the Church of England can be determined at the final approval stage.

The House accepted the recommendation of the Revision Committee that, if the proposal for a statutory code of practice is retained in July, work to develop a fresh draft of the code should start soon thereafter. The House will, in those circumstances, establish a group, constituted consistently with the Committee’s recommendation.


The report of the Revision Committee was published on 8 May.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 2:13pm BST | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Monday, 17 May 2010

Bishop of Gloucester and the Anglican Communion

Updated again Saturday

Michael Perham, the bishop of Gloucester, gave an address about the Anglican Communion to his clergy on 6 May 2010. Here is an extract.

I think there are some things here we need to explore sensitively together. In doing so I want to acknowledge the honesty and courage of my friend, James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, who has publicly told his own story of moving his position on the issue of homosexuality over recent years and urged the Church not to allow this issue to divide us in a way that breaks communion. And I also need to acknowledge that I have long been in a different place and so have not had to travel as difficult a path as he has to be in the place where I now am. My own understanding has long been that the Church of England’s current stance is not tenable long term, but that, while we engage, struggle, with these issues, it must be task of the bishop to uphold our agreed policy, with all its weaknesses, and to try to hold the Church together while we tackle the things that divide us. I don’t believe I can move away from that position, though I need to share with you some of my discomfort.

It is difficult to know where to begin, but I think the best place is with the categorising of first and second order issues. I am quite clear that the issues on which the creeds make a firm statement - God as trinity, the divinity of Christ, the death and the resurrection of the Lord, the role of the Spirit and more - are first order issues on which there can be no change in what the Church teaches. They are fundamental to the Christian faith. I am equally clear that there are second order issues, which are important, and where interpretation of the tradition needs to be careful and prayerful, but where nevertheless individual churches and provinces need to be free to define doctrine in the way that seems to them to be in accordance with the mind of Christ.

The full address is a 40kB Word document and can be downloaded here: Bishop Michael’s address on the Anglican Communion. Read the whole address for Bishop Michael’s views on first and second order issues, the Episcopal Church, his own diocesan triangular partnership with Western Tanganyika and El Camino Real, the Anglican covenant, and the status in England of clergy ordained abroad by a woman bishop.


An html copy of this address can now be found here on this website, and over at this website.

For Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves’ comments on this, see below the fold.

Email comments of Mary Gray-Reeves Bishop of the Diocese of El Camino Real, on Bishop Michael Perham’s comments regarding Mary Glasspool’s ordination to the episcopate. Reproduced with her permission.

By way of background, The Diocese of El Camino Real of which I am bishop began a triad partnership with Gloucester and the Diocese of Western Tanganyika in Advent, 2008. We, bishops, Michael, Gerard and I, met at Lambeth and began to consider what it would be like to see if a partnership could form across huge differences of opinion on human sexuality and other matters before the Anglican Communion. We, who might ordinarily remain on opposite sides of the room, not connecting, have managed a lot of diversity and conversation around the issues that divide the Anglican Communion. There are, for example, no ordained women in Western Tanganyika, and of course no women bishops in Gloucester. My presence has been welcomed in the conversation that is ongoing in the Communion and has contributed to increased understanding of the presence of women in all orders of ministry. On team visits to each of our three dioceses we have listened and spoken about the issues before us. We have listened to the strains our decisions cause in everyday life in Africa for Anglicans. They have listened to the stories of gay and lesbian couples. While +Gerard represents conservative Anglicism, and depending on who is ticking the boxes, I represent liberal Anglicanism, +Michael is devoted to the holding together of the Anglican Communion. Nonetheless, he is one of the leading proponents of the ordination of women to the episcopate in the Church of England. We have had many honest, difficult and yet graceful exchanges that have been exemplary of Anglican breadth, diversity and patience.

Our partnership is significant in each of our dioceses. In El Camino Real this relationship has taught us so much about reconciliation and been of great value to our healing as a diocese. It has encouraged us in our own efforts towards rebirth. The people of El Camino Real, a diocese that has been described in years past as “failed” and “broken” knows first-hand something of the work of reconciliation. It is one thing to talk about it, it is another to do it. This diocese began gut-wrenching work of reaching across divides before I arrived in 2007 and we continue living into our call as the reconciling body of Christ sharing the good news of God’s kingdom.

While Bishop Michael’s comments refer to the partnership directly, it is important to remember that decisions about matters as deep as human sexuality will naturally be systemic. One thing affects another. Bishops, charged with oversight and care of large systems, must not think only of their personal opinion, but must consider the greater good of the people and context they serve. In the case of our diocese, respectful listening and acting, building trust, and giving voice to everyone have been crucial components of our healing. I have consistently said that God has set a broad and gracious table in El Camino Real for all people - including the ones that do not agree with me.

I am aware that historically in El Camino Real GLBT folks have not always felt heard; and that our conservative members have also felt silenced and pushed back from the feast. Layer this on a diocese that has struggled with being reconciled one to another for all sorts of other reasons, and a trend appears. And I am quite sure it is not unique to El Camino Real. It happens everywhere: that before we know it, our appropriation of grace, that unlimited commodity of God, starts fissuring with all sorts of boundaries and limits as to who is in and who is out - and then we are stuck not talking about how far from God’s grace we have actually gotten ourselves. The successful ministry of El Camino Real depends on us talking, remaining in a graceful conversation that is transformational. The future of the Communion relies on that same dynamic. An emergent church leader in Seattle I met recently, Eliacin Rosario said in a conversation I had with him in February, “Reconciliation requires something of you.” That it does. And the big picture of the work may require different things of different people.

For myself personally, I rejoiced at Mary and Diane’s election. I would have been happy to get just one more woman bishop in California - but two! It was like Christmas! I knew though that many did not share this joy, and that included people in our partnership and in my diocese. After weeks of prayer and conversation I realized I had an opportunity to make no one particularly happy, but importantly to act in a way where the integrity of everyone’s deeply held beliefs - and their very beings - could be honored so we might remain at the table. In our system, it is consents that allow a bishop to be ordained. I consented to Mary’s election without hesitation. The laying on of hands makes a bishop, and in other provinces where there is no consent process like ours, this is a very key symbol. It took awhile, and as +Michael said, I did not come easily to the decision of not attending on Saturday. But the truth is, Mary and Diane had plenty of bishops to get the job done, and my hands were not needed there on May 15th. They were needed to reach other places and so I did.

As people have emailed me or blogged their anger and concern it seems that people think I was pressured by my partner bishops. Indeed, they made a request - as did many in the Anglican Communion of our entire church - for us not to consent or consecrate Mary. While listening is an important part of our partnership, we respect one another’s autonomy. Hopefully we the body of Christ all make prayerful decisions with one another in mind. You may not like the decision I made, but let me be clear, it was mine to make, not +Michael’s or +Gerard’s.

My gesture of not attending on Saturday was received graciously by both partner bishops, and we will just have to see what the future holds for our unusual and extraordinary relationship. We give thanks for every day we are blessed with this fellowship and agree to forgive one another when we fail, including if that means we can’t walk together. Likewise, my diocese understands my decision well because of our context. El Camino Real has lived through and beyond brokenness to reconciliation. There has been support for my decision across the diversity of opinion around human sexuality and Mary’s ordination, liberal to conservative and vice versa. We are functioning like a graceful body should, forgiving each other when we let each other down.

Mary Glasspool and I are friends, having now enjoyed one another’s presence immensely at the last House of Bishops meeting. What a beautiful human being she is! She knows all about my decision making process. She is my sister bishop - as is Diane - with whom I also shared what I planned to do (their elections and consecrations go hand in hand as a matter of circumstance and my not being at one meant I couldn’t be at the other). Mary and Diane are graceful women, and we look forward to years of serving together as bishops, crossing our border at least occasionally for lunch!

I do want to say that while the temptation to run with the anxiety in the Anglican Communion right now is high, please resist that. Take care not to impose +Michael’s words on our context and ours on his. In his context, his speech represents much prayerful consideration and a stepping out from the traditional “holding the line” of their House of Bishops. We do not have this same expectation in our system and don’t understand it very well. Furthermore, the people of Gloucester are not, of course, uniform in their opinions on GLBT and women in all orders of ministry. In fact +Michael is giving voice to a broad center in this speech that may facilitate some movement on issues of inclusion in that system. As one who believes all orders of ministry should be open to all people regardless of gender or orientation I encourage and support that voice - in that context.

Finally, I pray and hope the Anglican Communion ultimately makes it. I am not always very confident about that. Michael, Gerard and I, and our dioceses, concur that our partnership provides an excellent model for the development of valuable relationships across the Anglican Communion, but we are realistic that for some the division will just be too great to remain. The sooner we acknowledge that, the sooner we can recognize our deep need for the redemptive work of Christ, and own our call as the church to do the work of reconciliation. It is a very big mission field out there.

+Mary Gray-Reeves
El Camino Real

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 17 May 2010 at 11:57am BST | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 16 May 2010

Los Angeles consecrations

updated again Monday morning

Diane Jardine Bruce and Mary Douglas Glasspool were consecrated bishops suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles yesterday.

Pat McCaughan reports this for Episcopal Life Online: Diane Bruce, Mary Glasspool consecrated bishops in joyous celebration in Los Angeles diocese.

Here are other reports, some reporting on the service and others previewing it.

Mitchell Landsberg in the Los Angeles Times L.A. region’s first two female Episcopal bishops are ordained
Arthur Hirsch in The Baltimore Sun Beyond the label
Gay Episcopal bishop-elect prepares for historic move to Los Angeles
Reuters U.S. Episcopal Church consecrates lesbian bishop
CNN Episcopal Church consecrates first openly lesbian bishop
Associated Press Episcopal church ordains its 2nd openly gay bishop
BBC US Church ordains lesbian bishop Mary Glasspool
Martin Beckford in the Telegraph First lesbian bishop to be consecrated by Anglican church in America
Jonathan Wynne-Jones comments in the Telegraph that Lesbian bishop proves that liberals have won the battle over gay clergy.


Giles Whittell and Ruth Gledhill in the Times Anglican rift deepens over Episcopalian ordination of lesbian bishop

Ruth Gledhill also has a Commentary article, For the sake of God, Anglican Church must put aside its differences.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 16 May 2010 at 2:06pm BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 15 May 2010

Women bishops - GRAS response

GRAS (the Group for the Rescinding of the Act of Synod) have issued this press release.

GRAS For women as bishops, against discrimination

GRAS welcomes the May 2010 report of the Revision Committee mandated by the General Synod to set out the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops in the Church of England.

The vast majority of Anglo-Catholic priests and lay people in the Church of England (as well as the rest of the Church) support women becoming bishops with the many gifts they will bring. However as a general rule there is no future in trying to keep people in an organisation which they are threatening to leave, so GRAS hopes that the eventual principal Code of Practice will follow a vision of a Church which is fair to all who have decided to remain in it, whatever their views, making provision for conscience where necessary, but preventing any discrimination. A two-tier episcopacy would be totally unacceptable.

While GRAS, at first reading of the report from the Revision Committee, is content with the proposals, it is hoped that Bishops will not dilute the principal Code of Practice to include in their diocesan Codes of Practice anything which has been previously turned down by the synod, or rejected by the Revision Committee. It is very important that women are appointed as bishops on exactly the same terms as men with no impediment to their episcopal role.

Furthermore any rights given should be reciprocal - available equally to those who ask for women’s ministry in areas where this is not being offered as much as to those who oppose the ordination of women

GRAS believes that to give credibility to the proposed Code of Practice it is vital that the committee or group appointed to prepare the guidelines should draw at least one third of its members from among senior women in the Church.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 15 May 2010 at 9:25pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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mid-May opinion

John Cornwell in the Times explains Why Cardinal Newman is no saint. The Catholic Church plans to make Cardinal Newman a saint when the Pope comes to Britain. A private Vatican document supposedly proves he was responsible for a miracle of healing. It shows no such thing.

Roderick Strange, also in the Times, writes that John Henry Newman’s fidelity to his calling should inspire us all.

Earlier this month the Archbishop of Canterbury gave a sermon at an ecumenical service held at Charterhouse, London, to commemorate the 475th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of St John Houghton and his companions.
Archbishop of Canterbury’s sermon to commemorate Carthusian Martyrs
This week he delivered a lecture entitled “Enriching the arguments: the refugee contribution to British life”.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times: Blowing on the embers of society.

Stephen Tomkins writes in The Guardian that Christian parties take a hammering. Christians in this country want real politicians, not the amateurs who lead the pitiful ‘Christian parties’.

Michael Nazir-Ali, also in The Guardian, writes that It’s not just the economy, stupid. Amid pressure to slash budgets, the new government must not leave the spiritual and moral agenda out of its plans.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 15 May 2010 at 11:50am BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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New Zealand and the Covenant

The Anglican Communion Institute has published has published a paper Asking The Wrong Question: New Zealand and The Covenant. The paper is also available on the Fulcrum website.

The paper refers to Monday’s debate on the Anglican Covenant at the General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia that we linked to earlier.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 15 May 2010 at 11:14am BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Friday, 14 May 2010

Treasures of Lambeth Palace Library Exhibition

Updated Saturday morning

Lambeth Palace Library is one of the earliest public libraries in England, founded in 1610 under the will of Archbishop Richard Bancroft. In celebration of its 400th anniversary in 2010, the Library is opening a fascinating exhibition to the public in the Great Hall of Lambeth Palace.

The exhibition will run from 17 May - 23 July 2010. Find out more and buy tickets at Treasures of Lambeth Palace Library Exhibition: Summer 2010

There are several press previews, some with pictures.
Stephen Bates in The Guardian Lambeth Palace to exhibit 400 years of religious and royal treasures
Chris Smyth in the Times Palace unveils historic hoard of a sticky-fingered prelate
Paul Harris in the Mail Palace of treasures: Archbishop of Canterbury’s exhibition tells Britain’s story
London SE1 community website See Lambeth Palace Library treasures at 400th anniversary show
Press Association Royal and religious documents shown

Christopher Howse in the Telegraph A tortoise and the hair of the prophet

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 14 May 2010 at 10:35am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Women bishops - Church Times report

Paul Handley has a detailed article in the Church Times today about the report of the revision committee on the legislation to enable women to be bishops in the Church of England: Resolutions A, B, and C to go under draft women Measure.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 14 May 2010 at 10:19am BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 13 May 2010

Church of Ireland General Synod

The Church of Ireland held its annual General Synod in Christ Church Cathedral Dublin from Thursday 6 to Saturday 8 May, 2010. There is an official Synod 2010 website with links to reports, news items and photographs.

One debate included some discussion of the proposed Anglican Covenant:
Inter-Anglican and Ecumenical Relations Highlighted in Standing Committee Debate

Here is the Anglican Communion section of the Standing Committee report.


In June 2009, the Standing Committee appointed the Anglican Covenant Working Group to examine Section 4 of the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the Anglican Covenant and to recommend a response.

In September 2009, the Standing Committee adopted the report of the Anglican Covenant Working Group (Appendix B on page 233) as the official response to Section 4 of the Ridley Cambridge draft of the Anglican Covenant from the Standing Committee of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland. This response was then forwarded to the Anglican Communion Office.

The final text of the Anglican Covenant (Appendix C on page 234) was submitted to the Standing Committee in January 2010. The Committee agreed to refer the final text of the Anglican Covenant to the Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue to enable the Commission to make a recommendation concerning appropriate action in relation to the Covenant at the General Synod 2011.


Having considered Section 4 of the Draft Anglican Covenant very carefully, and bearing in mind a full range of points of view, we believe that the text of Section 4 as it stands commends itself in the current circumstances. The term ‘Joint Standing Committee’ clearly needs to be updated following its re-styling at ACC-14. We appreciate the work of the former Covenant Design Group, not least in taking into account the Church of Ireland’s views, and encourage the Archbishop of Canterbury and his new group under the chairmanship of the Archbishop of Dublin as they seek to conclude the work on the text of the Covenant.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 13 May 2010 at 12:05pm BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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New Zealand General Synod

The meeting of the General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has come to an end. We have already linked to reports of Monday’s debate on the Anglican Covenant, and some other business. Here for the record are reports of the remaining business.

Major reform for St John’s College
Synod votes to take action on Te Aute
Talking and tackling poverty
Educational milestone for Pasefika

Social justice comes under scrutiny
“Give us your best” – the mission challenge
Winston Halapua becomes our third Archbishop
Commission to look into resource sharing

Environment in the spotlight
An end to “hair curling” questions?
Synod to lobby Govt on family care
Journey over for Waikato and Taranaki
Synod seeks cuts in liquor advertising

Concern over growth of Sunday options

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 13 May 2010 at 11:04am BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Church of England finances

Updated Wednesday afternoon

The report is available for download from Mazars, who carried out the study.
Church of England diocesan benchmarking study
Ruth Gledhill writes about it on her blog: One quarter of CofE dioceses ‘in the red’, new study shows

There are stories in today’s papers about a report on diocesan finances commissioned by the Church of England.

Ruth Gledhill and Alexandra Frean in the Times Church of England clergy asked to cut costs as recession takes toll

Alastair Jamieson in the Telegraph : Church of England ‘should prepare for staff cuts to deal with deficits’. One quarter of Church of England dioceses are running deficits, according to a report that suggests parishes prepare for staff cuts that could affect pastoral care and worship.

The Times offers this case study: Bath and Wells diocese sells family silver to tackle £2.5m deficit.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 12 May 2010 at 11:18am BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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BBC - CofE views

The Church of England has responded to the BBC’s proposals for the future strategy of the corporation. Their press release, Church calls for BBC to go back to the future in its public service mission, is copied below the fold. The full response is online here.

Mark Sweney writes in The Guardian that Church of England voices fears over BBC cutbacks. Corporation’s strategy review could result in fewer religious programmes and less content online, says C of E.

Church calls for BBC to go back to the future in its public service mission
12 May 2010

The BBC’s proposed return to its core public service mission is a welcome ‘homecoming’ that should herald output appealing to the broadest possible range of audiences, according to the Church of England’s response to the Director-General’s proposals for the future strategy of the corporation.

Noting that the term “public service” had increasingly been replaced in the BBC’s corporate language by the “rather more nebulous and management-speak version ‘public value,” the Church’s response welcomes the fact that the current proposals “keep that traditional (but nevertheless evolving) concept of public service mission firmly in mind”.

The response is issued by the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester and the Church of England’s lead spokesman on communications. It calls for the BBC Trust to consider how this mission needs to be reinterpreted for today’s society, stressing that while some tough choices have to be made, “the BBC should continue to retain at its core the imperative to produce programmes appealing to a wide range of tastes and interests and of broad general appeal.”

The response echoes the tone of ‘critical friendship’ towards mainstream broadcasters set by the General Synod’s debate on the subject of religious broadcasting in February this year. Following its debate, the Synod resolved to “express its deep concern about the overall reduction in religious broadcasting across British television in recent years, and call upon mainstream broadcasters to nurture and develop the expertise to create and commission high quality religious content across the full range of their output, particularly material that imaginatively marks major festivals and portrays acts of worship”.

The Church’s submission highlights the central theme of this motion, calling on the BBC to ensure that “that appropriate resources are allocated towards ensuring high-quality provision of content that reflects and explores religion,” and warning “that the implied benefits of having a more mobile and flexible workforce outlined in the Director-General’s proposals need to be balanced not only against the human and social costs of operating in such a work environment, but also the importance of retaining sufficient in-house knowledge and skills in a range of specific ‘knowledge’ areas.”

It draws attention to the “highly valued” role of BBC local radio stations and the thematic content available online linked to these stations’ outputs, especially that relating to religion and ethics.

The submission also calls for a greater emphasis on promoting media literacy among audiences, and careful consideration of the issues surrounding the selection of institutions for partnership projects.

The Church’s full submission to the BBC Trust strategic review can be found on the Church of England website.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 12 May 2010 at 10:50am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Affirming Catholicism response to Report of the Women Bishops Revision Committee

Affirming Catholicism has issued this response to the proposals of the Report on Women Bishops published on Saturday.


Affirming Catholicism welcomes the Report of the Women Bishops Revision Committee which was published on Saturday 8th May 2010 (see Our gratitude and thanks are due to all those who served on the Revision and Steering Committees which have enabled the Church to come to this point. Now is the time to move forward, in line with the proposals, so that women can take their full place within the Church of England’s ministry.

As the Report says, the legislation proposed “will, for the first time, enable women to be admitted to all orders of ministry. By preserving intact the authority of the diocesan bishop it will avoid any changes in the historic understanding of that office and of the episcopate more generally. And by making statutory arrangements for those with theological difficulties it will endeavour to preserve that broad and comprehensive character of the Church of England that is one of its defining and most attractive features.” (para. 459)

The Chair of Affirming Catholicism, Rev’d Jonathan Clark, said, “The Report bears witness to the careful exploration of the many and complex issues surrounding this legislation, and to the desire of all the members of the Church to retain the highest possible degree of unity. We recognise with sadness that many traditionalist Catholics do not believe that the provision for those who disagree is adequate to their needs. For those many Catholics in the Church of England who affirm the ordained ministry of women, though, this is good news – and we encourage the General Synod to move forward in working with these proposals.”

Affirming Catholicism has always stated its desire both to see women admitted to the episcopate, and also to include within the Church those who oppose that decision. We continue to affirm that the Church cannot remain as one body if it is divided into two parts, one of which does not recognise the ministry of the other. We are encouraged that the proposed legislation preserves the Church’s integrity, and thus serves its mission.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 12 May 2010 at 10:24am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Monday, 10 May 2010

Women bishops - more responses

Updated Tuesday afternoon

We linked to the announcement of the publication of the report of the revision committee on the legislation to enable women to be bishops in the Church of England on Saturday.

The Church Mouse has some comments from Pete Broadbent, one of the members of the committee: Bishop Pete Broadbent on the draft measures to allow women bishops

Mouse draws our attention to two statements issued by Forward in Faith UK.
FiF reacts to Revision Committee Report
Further reaction to Revision Committee Report
The second of these is from three members of the revision committee.

We have already posted the views of WATCH and some early press reports.

Reform has said that Report on Women in the Episcopate “provides no adequate framework” and sent a letter to every bishop.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 10 May 2010 at 6:00pm BST | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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New Zealand General Synod - Monday

The General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia debated the proposed Anglican Covenant today (Monday). Anglican Taonga has a number of reports of the debate.

‘Fear not’ says Bishop Victoria
Covenant section seen as ‘punitive and unAnglican’
Covenant wins partial approval

The text of the Covenant is online here.

There are also these reports of weekend events at Synod.

Mission means mobilizing for justice, say Archbishops
Octopus or hammerhead? The Synod sermon
Archbishop Jabez gets pride of place at powhiri

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 10 May 2010 at 10:20am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 9 May 2010

Women bishops - press reports

Martha Linden of the Press Association via The Independent Church faces fresh turmoil over women bishops

Christian Today CofE gears up for debate on women bishops at July Synod

Ruth Gledhill and Jack Grimston in the Times Draft law opens way for first women bishops by 2014

Jonathan Wynne-Jones in the Telegraph Church faces turmoil over plans for women bishops

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 9 May 2010 at 11:48am BST | Comments (41) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 8 May 2010

WATCH response to Report of the Women Bishops Revision Committee

WATCH (Women and the Church) has issued this initial response to the proposals of the Report on Women Bishops published today.

WATCH encouraged by draft legislation on Women Bishops

WATCH is very encouraged by the Report of the Women Bishops Revision Committee which was published today, Saturday 8th May (see It proposes that women should be consecrated as bishops on the same basis as men. WATCH has argued for this for the last fifteen years, as there are sound theological reasons for it as well as scriptural warrant: the first chapter of Genesis says we are all made in the image of God, both male and female, and St Paul says that in Christ there is no male or female.

WATCH will be studying the details of the Report carefully over the coming days and will give a fuller response in due course. Our initial reaction is that we hope that the draft legislation will be approved by General Synod substantially as it stands in July and then be sent out to the 44 dioceses of the Church of England for them to debate and approve; which is the next stage in the legislative process.

A major concern of the Revision Committee has been how to draft legislation that does not create second-class bishops and yet enables those opposed to women bishops to remain in the Church. We are pleased that the Revision Committee has found a way forward that acknowledges their position, because it has never been the aim of WATCH to exclude those with a differing conscience. However, it is now right for the Church of England as a whole to accept women and men as equal before God in all parts of its ministry.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 8 May 2010 at 2:26pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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LGBT Anglican Coalition Rejoices at Los Angeles Consecrations

The LGBT Anglican Coalition has issued this press release welcoming the forthcoming consecration of Diane Bruce and Mary Glasspool as bishops in Los Angeles.

LGBT Anglican Coalition Rejoices at Los Angeles Consecrations

The LGBT Anglican Coalition rejoices that Diane Bruce and Mary Glasspool will be consecrated as bishops in Los Angeles on the 15th May.

The Revd Diane Bruce and the Revd Mary Glasspool were each elected by large majorities of the laity, clergy and bishops of the Diocese of Los Angeles. Subsequently, their elections were confirmed by clear majorities, both of the bishops with jurisdiction in The Episcopal Church of the United States and of the standing committees of that church’s dioceses.

We rejoice that two more women will become bishops in the Anglican Communion. We send them our congratulations and welcome them as bishops with the many gifts that each will bring to the church.

We are deeply sorry that the reaction from some within the Church of England to the election of Mary Glasspool has been negative.

A great many people within the Church of England are unequivocally supportive of The Episcopal Church in being open to the election of bishops without regard to gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. We pray that the Communion at large will grow in confidence and maturity, so that it can learn to celebrate both those things which hold us together and those things over which we disagree.

We agree with the Chicago Consultation that:

“As a bishop, she is no threat to the work of God, or to Jesus’ commandment that we love our neighbour as ourselves.”

Honouring the relationships and ministries of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians, is, in the end, the only way in which the Anglican Communion can be faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We hope that the whole Anglican Communion will come to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity we have among us.

We endorse the recent words of Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori addressed to the primates of the Anglican Communion concerning Mary Glasspool’s election and confirmation:

“It represents a prayerful and thoughtful decision, made in good faith that this Church is ‘working out its salvation in fear and trembling, believing that God is at work in us’ (Philippians 2:12-13).”

The LGBT Anglican Coalition is “here to provide UK-based Christian LGBT organisations with opportunities to create resources for the Anglican community and to develop a shared voice for the full acceptance of LGBT people in the Anglican Communion”.

The Coalition members are:
Accepting Evangelicals
Changing Attitude
The Clergy Consultation
The Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and Gay Christians
Inclusive Church
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement
The Sibyls

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 8 May 2010 at 12:48pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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post-election opinion

updated Saturday lunchtime to add Colin Slee’s article

Colin Slee writes a Face to faith article for The Guardian: A haven from crisis. Disillusioned Catholics can find solace in a church that combines tradition and modernity.

This week’s question at The Guardian’s Comment is Free belief is Is intelligent design bad theology?
Here are the responses.
Steve Fuller Science in God’s image The greatest scientific advances presuppose something that looks very like the mind of God.
Michael Ruse Intelligent design is an oxymoron Intelligent Design theory is a mountain of waffle resting on analogy. Neither scientists nor believers should touch it.
Mark Vernon Bad science, bad theology, and blasphemy ID is indeed bad theology. It implies that God is one more thing along with all the other things in the universe.

Geoffrey Rowell writes in a Credo column for the Times about Encountering divine love in the desert and in Norwich. The mystic Julian of Norwich discovered the depth of God’s love during sixteen divine apparitions.

Also in the Times Ruth Gledhill writes about Church factions in theological battle for soul of Cardinal Newman.

Christopher Howse looks at the history of rented seats in the UK’s churches in a Sacred Mysteries column in the Telegraph: Renting the best seats in church.

Giles Fraser wrote this for the Church Times before Thursday’s general election: It’s time to prepare for lean years. But this is only available to subscribers. This might be a mistake so look again on Monday after the Church Times office opens.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 8 May 2010 at 12:28pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Women Bishops legislation

The General Synod revision committee on the legislation to enable women to be bishops has completed its work and their report is published today, together with a draft measure and canon. The report will be debated at the July meeting of General Synod.

Here is the official press release.

Stage set for key July debates on legislation to enable women to be bishops
8 May 2010

The Church of England has today published the 142-page report of the Revision Committee that has been considering in detail the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops in the Church of England. Also published is an amended version of the draft, eleven clause Measure and associated draft Amending Canon.

The Committee has met on 16 occasions over the past 12 months and considered 114 submissions from members of the General Synod and a further 183 submissions from others. After much discussion the Committee rejected proposals aimed at fundamentally changing the approach of the legislation, whether by converting it into the simplest possible draft Measure or by creating more developed arrangements – whether through additional dioceses, a statutorily recognised society or some transfer of jurisdiction – for those unable to receive the ministry of female bishops.

As indicated to the General Synod in February 2010 (scroll to p6), the draft legislation continues to provide special arrangements for those with conscientious difficulties by way of delegation from the diocesan bishop under a statutory Code of Practice. The legislation has been amended in a number of detailed respects. Provision for statutory declarations by bishops unable to take part in the consecration of women as bishops or their ordination as priests has been removed as has an obligation on the Archbishops to nominate particular suffragan sees to be occupied by those who do not consecrate or ordain women.

Added to the Measure are new provisions requiring each diocesan bishop to draw up a scheme in his or her diocese that takes account of the national Code of Practice and provides local arrangements for the performance of certain episcopal functions in relation to parishes with conscientious difficulties. A further new provision allows such parishes to request, when there is a vacancy, that only a male incumbent or priest-in-charge be appointed.

It is expected that much of the July group of sessions of the General Synod in York (9-13 July) will be devoted to debating the Revision Committee’s report and conducting the Revision Stage of the legislation. This is the moment (equivalent to a parliamentary Report Stage) when all 470 members of the Synod have the opportunity to consider the draft legislation clause by clause and to vote on proposed amendments. Proposals rejected by the Revision Committee can be debated afresh at the Revision Stage.

Once the Revision Stage has been completed – and provided the Synod does not decide that further work is necessary in Revision Committee – the draft legislation will have to be referred to diocesan synods and cannot come back to the General Synod for final approval unless a majority of diocesan synods approve it.

The earliest that the legislation could achieve final approval in Synod (when two-thirds majorities in each of the Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity will be required) is 2012, following which parliamentary approval and the Royal Assent would be needed. 2014 remains the earliest realistic date when the first women might be consecrated as bishops.

There are some notes attached to the press release, and these are copied below the fold.


The motion carried by the General Synod in July 2008 was:

‘That this Synod:

(a) affirm that the wish of its majority is for women to be admitted to the episcopate;

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

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

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

The Legislative Drafting Group on Women in the Episcopate, chaired by the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, published in December 2008 its further report and drafts of a Measure and associated Amending Canon, together with an illustrative draft Code of Practice and an Explanatory Memorandum.

At its February 2009 group of sessions, the General Synod agreed that the draft legislation should be passed to a Revision Committee for detailed scrutiny. The Revision Committee comprised (ex officio) the members of the Steering Committee appointed from the Synod by the Appointments Committee of the Church of England in November 2008 to be in charge of the draft legislation throughout its Synodical stages, together with additional members newly appointed to constitute the majority of the membership of the Revision Committee and was chaired by the Venerable Clive Mansell, Archdeacon of Tonbridge.

The Revision Committee issued press releases on its discussions in October 2009 and in November 2009.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 8 May 2010 at 10:12am BST | Comments (27) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 6 May 2010

GS primates on the Covenant

The Christian Post has published a very lengthy article titled New Power Brokers Discuss Future of Anglicanism.

Paul Bagshaw has written about it, in a blog article No clear view of the Covenant from the South. He begins:

Singapore based The Christian Post has kindly set out the views of the Primates at the recent Global South Encounter concerning the Covenant in an article by Edmond Chua entitled New Power Brokers Discuss Future of Anglicanism.

I make the vote:
Yes 1
No 0
Depends on the Covenant / still negotiate 3
No clear statement 5 and (based on the tone of comments) probably no 2, probably yes 3

It was clear that the Global South leaders do not agree on the matter, despite a statement prior to the meeting that 20 Provinces would be expected to endorse the Covenant…

Related to these views, Anglican Mainstream has published the views of Chris Sugden from the May issue of Evanglicals Now. This is in an article headed The Covenant, Canterbury and Persecution. The latter is a reference to Nigeria. His comments include this:

…The UK website group Fulcrum have now recognized that TEC was dishonest from the beginning. But they are still blinded by the belief that Canterbury remains the key to the unity of the Communion and the integrity of orthodox faith in the Communion.

The real issue is not the Covenant, but the Archbishop of Canterbury. His track record in protecting and including TEC is obvious – namely reneging on the agreements at Dromantine (so that TEC was present at the ACC in Nottingham), inviting the consecrators of Gene Robinson to Lambeth ( in advance of the conclusion of the Dar-es-Salaam timetable), and undermining the debate at the ACC in Jamaica which would have mandated a covenant with sanctions…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 6 May 2010 at 8:14am BST | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 5 May 2010

New Zealand General Synod

The General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia will meet from 8 to 13 May.

Anglican Taonga, the “communications arm of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia” has two news items about the meeting.
Synod primed for covenant debate
New archbishop likely to be named at General Synod

But that appears to be all that is officially available online. In particular, none of the papers are available. This does not please everybody and Bosco Peters says put General Synod online.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 5 May 2010 at 8:35pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 4 May 2010

still more on the McFarlane case

Nancy Doyle asks on the Charities_Parliament blog Was Lord Carey right to question ruling made against Christian who refused to treat gay couple?

Tom Chivers at the Telegraph argues that Religious beliefs should not trump the laws of the land.
George Pitcher does not agree.

From Eastbourne comes Christians warned of increasing marginalisation in the UK, a report on a conference where Bishop Wallace Benn, Oak Hill principal Mike Ovey, and others attacked Lord Justice Laws:

“Lord Laws also believes something, he fails to see that he has a faith too … secularism fails to understand that it is a religion.”

And there is an interview with Bishop Benn over here: Wallace Benn on the marginalisation of Christians in the UK.

But best of all, in today’s Guardian Stephen Bates tells us how Anglican the judge at the centre of this controversy really is. In the Diary column he writes:

…So just who is this wicked, secularist judge who doesn’t understand the former archbish’s concept of Christianity? Intriguingly, it turns out that Laws could scarcely be more Anglican if he tried…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 4 May 2010 at 7:00am BST | Comments (24) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 2 May 2010

departures to the ordinariate?

Updated twice

Jonathan Wynne-Jones in the Telegraph has another exclusive, this time about traditionalists threatening to leave the Church of England.

Anglican bishops in secret Vatican summit

Bishops’ defection: A major new blow to the Anglican church


Associated Press British bishops in defection talks with Vatican

…Rev. Keith Newton, the bishop of Richborough, said the trip consisted of “nothing more than exploratory talks” and denied a report in The Sunday Telegraph that he and his colleagues had secretly promised the Vatican they were ready to defect to Rome.

…Newton was joined in his most recent trip by Rev. Andrew Burnham, the bishop of Ebbsfleet, and Rev. John Broadhurst, the bishop of Fulham.

Burnham did not immediately return a call seeking comment, but Broadhurst also confirmed that the trip had taken place, although he declined to say what was discussed.

“I don’t want to be drawn on it,” he said, explaining that the issue “can damage both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.”

Monday’s Times has a report by Ruth Gledhill that reports on the forthcoming publication of the proposed legislation at the end of this week.

See Synod to vote on final stage of code to allow women bishops.

The Church of England is expected to pave the way for the consecration of women bishops when it publishes final proposals this week. The legislation, to be debated by the General Synod in July, will trigger a departure of some traditionalists to the Roman Catholic Church.

Sources told The Times that the legislation for women bishops would include no statutory provision for opponents. Instead, arrangements to allow traditionalist parishes to opt out of the oversight of a woman bishop are expected to be included in a voluntary code of practice. This will not be enough to placate a small number of leading Anglo-Catholics who fear that female bishops will “taint” the historic catholicity of the Church of England.The proposed legislation is to be sent to members of the synod on Friday…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 2 May 2010 at 5:36pm BST | Comments (99) | TrackBack
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more on religion and the election

Updated again Wednesday afternoon

May day opinion has links to several articles about this.

The Observer today has three articles on related topics:

First, on the front page, it has Rising Tory star Philippa Stroud ran prayer sessions to ‘cure’ gay people.

Then on page 7, there is Secret Christian donors bankroll Tories.

And on page 38, Henry Porter writes that A little bit of religious bigotry is tolerable in a healthy society.


Andrew Brown writes at Cif belief on Bigotry and homelessness

The New Frontiers church to which Philippa Stroud belongs and where her husband is a major star is the fruit standard of fruit loopiness among English evangelical Christians. It was at a New Frontiers church in Brighton that I once went to hear the New Zealand evangelist Bill Surbritzky, a man who believes that not merely homosexuality but smoking and swearing are caused by demonic infestation. But it is very successful and it is not in the least bit American…

Cif at the polls covered this further, see No anger over Philippa Stroud?

And Cif belief has Feedback on Philippa Stroud

The Twitter aspect was dealt with comprehensively by Benjamin Cohen for Channel 4 News.

Ekklesia has more background on her husband.

Meanwhile, Andrew Brown also wrote about the Citizens UK meeting, see Faith trumps party politics.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 2 May 2010 at 10:02am BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 1 May 2010

Little Gidding Pilgrimage

Saturday 22 May

For nearly 400 years pilgrims have been drawn to Little Gidding in the north of the diocese of Ely, ever since the saintly Nicholas Ferrar and his family lived there in the early seventeenth century.

You are warmly invited to join the annual Pilgrimage to Little Gidding
commemorating the life and example of Nicholas Ferrar

This year’s pilgrimage is led by David Thomson, Bishop of Huntingdon, well-known blogger and occasional contributor to Thinking Anglicans.

Join the celebration of Holy Communion in Leighton Bromswold Church
whose restoration was funded by George Herbert and directed by the Ferrars

Share lunch with fellow pilgrims at the historic Green Man at Leighton Bromswold

Enjoy the gentle walk through the Huntingdonshire countryside
from Leighton Bromswold to Little Gidding
(about five miles along the country roads, with three short stations for prayer and rest)

Gather round the tomb of Nicholas Ferrar for prayer

Sing Evening Prayer at Little Gidding ‘where prayer has been valid’
(preacher: Bishop David Thomson; choir: the Hurstingstone Singers)

Delight in Tea and conversation at Ferrar House

For more details see

Timetable for the day

10.30am: Holy Communion at Leighton Bromswold Church
12 noon: Pilgrims’ Lunch at the Green Man
1pm: First Station at the Hundred Stone at Leighton Bromswold, and start of Pilgrimage Walk
2pm (approx): Second Station at Salome Wood
2.45pm (approx): Third Station at Hamerton (refreshments and toilets available)
3.30pm (approx): Fourth Station at Steeple Gidding Church
4pm: Fifth Station — Prayers at the Tomb of Nicholas Ferrar at Little Gidding
followed by Pilgrimage Evensong and Tea

What is the Pilgrimage about?

Born in London in 1592, Nicholas Ferrar gave up a life in commerce and politics to move to Little Gidding, with his mother and his brother and sister and their families, establishing a life of prayer and charitable works. Ordained deacon, he was the leader of the household, foremost in the life of prayer, study, and work, setting an example of devotion and spiritual life to the English Church that has stood as a beacon to those who have followed. Nicholas died on 4 December 1637, and his devout life and example have consecrated Little Gidding as a holy place to this day. Our pilgrimage to his grave not only honours his memory and devotion, but also binds us into that same story.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Saturday, 1 May 2010 at 11:27am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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May day opinion

Updated Saturday afternoon to add another favourite poet

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave an address at the Christian Muslim Forum Conference of Scholars, held at Lambeth Palace. Dialogue is a means of ‘God-given discovery’

This week’s The Question in The Guardian’s Comment is free Belief is Who’s your favourite religious poet? If you had to take one religious poet to a desert island, who would it be? And here are the replies.
Maggie Dawn A whole live poet for my desert island. I don’t want the bound works of any religious poet: I would rather have a real one, unbound, who would perform for me.
Alexander Goldberg The power to bring you home. There’s a wealth of beautiful and comforting imagery in Jewish liturgical poetry. That’s what I’d want on my island.
Alan Wilson Australian poet, Les Murray. It’s a close call: Milton would provide food for thought, but Murray instinctively recognises the glory of God in the natural world.
Luke Coppen RS Thomas. The great Welsh poet-priest didn’t aim to soothe, but to unsettle, with an unflinching record of his inner life.
Peter Thompson Friedrich Hölderlin. Hölderlin’s poems display those little shards of light which remind us of who we are and what we might become.

There is a general election in the UK on 6 May.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written an article for the Church Times about the questions that, they say, should guide political choices. Read it here or here.
Sunny Hundal writes in the New Statesman about The right hand of God. Christian fundamentalists form a noisy wing of the Conservative Party, and their influence is growing fast.
Also in the New Statesman Sholto Byrnes asks Does it matter what our leaders believe?. The polite compromise between religion and state has served us well.
Nick Spencer in The Guardian writes that There is no Christian vote. Believers don’t form a single voting bloc in this country, but Christians are more likely to vote than “nones”.
Jonathan Bartley of Ekklesia describes Jesus’ alternative election strategy.
Christopher Howse in a Sacred Mysteries column in the Telegraph asks Is it always a sin to be cynical?

The Guardian has published two articles on what it means to believe in God.
Michael McGhee wrote about This tedious fixation on belief. What is it to believe in God? It may seem odd, but it’s not a matter of believing there is a God.
And in response Stephen Clark wrote about How to believe in God. Michael McGhee argued that there was no such thing as a belief in God. As a philosopher, I disagree.

Giles Fraser argues in the Church Times that There are limits to free speech.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 1 May 2010 at 10:31am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Church Times on the Carey witness statement

Last week, before the McFarlane judgment was issued, the Church Times carried an article by Mark Hill entitled Judges should not be hand-picked.

One might be forgiven for thinking that Lord Carey of Clifton has gener­ated more column-inches since re­tiring as Archbishop of Canterbury than he did when in office. His latest foray into the nation’s media is more than usually regrettable, as it strikes at the heart of the independence of the judiciary.

In a witness statement placed be­fore the Court of Appeal on Thursday of last week, Lord Carey sought to lend his support to an application by Gary McFarlane that his case be heard by a specially constituted Court of Appeal comprising five Lords Justice who had “a proven sensitivity to reli­gious issues”.

By what authority he sought to intervene is far from clear. He gave written evidence that, during his time as 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, he was “responsible for the spiritual welfare of 70 million Anglicans in the worldwide communion” — a curious assertion in the light of the principle of autonomy underscored by the Lambeth Quadrilateral (See Press) His compulsion to intervene was couched as follows: “I am bound by my commitments as former Arch­bishop of Canterbury to defend the spiritual requirements of the Anglican Communion and of all sincere Christians. I am also bound to con­sider the rights of religious minor­ities.”

He seems to forget that, after he vacated the see of Canterbury, his successor inherited these respon­sibilities. As Monty Python would put it, he is an ex-Primate…

The same issue had comment on this topic by Andrew Brown in the Press column (scroll down past the pope stuff).

LORD CAREY’s impulse to self-dramatisation as a member of a persecuted Church is not as sinister as Cardinal Castrillón’s. Sorry, that was disrespectful: let me quote his proper dignities, as set out in the preamble to his witness statement: “I was the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury and I was responsible for the spiritual welfare of 70 million Anglicans in the worldwide communion. I was created Lord Carey of Clifton upon retirement. . . Currently, I am Chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire, and I am the recipient of 12 Honorary Degrees. I am the author of 14 books.” Not even Baron Widmerpool could boast as much, and he had the advantage of an Eton education…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 1 May 2010 at 9:54am BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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