Thursday, 30 December 2010

A church-state clash in 1980

Documents released today by the National Archives show that the government of the day had to change the planned date for the Budget to avoid a clash with the scheduled date for the enthronement of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie.

News articles:

Financial Times Cabinet and Church tussled over Budget date

BBC Thatcher wanted Church to relent on Budget Day clash

You can download your own (free) copy of a PDF file containing the relevant documents from here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 10:38am GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Bishops attack equality legislation again

The former archbishop, Lord Carey has written a letter to the current prime minister, David Cameron. This is reported in a news article by Tim Ross under the headline Only half of Britons say UK is a Christian country. The text of the letter itself doesn’t appear to have been published yet.

In the letter to the Prime Minister, Lord Carey said Christians were too often “ridiculed” and dismissed as relics of “a bygone age”.

“Notwithstanding its vast and varied contribution to our society, there appears to be a suspicion about the validity and value of the role that the Christian faith plays in our national life,” he said.

“This has been highlighted by the spate of recent instances in which ordinary Christians who have sought to manifest their Christian faith in the workplace and have allowed their Christian conscience to direct their public service have fallen foul of new employment practices and then discovered that rather than protect them, the law has sided against them.”

Lord Carey suggested that recent legislation was unclear on where the balance of rights fell between different groups. One particularly contentious subject has been the clash of rights between homosexuals and Christians.

“Whatever the explanation, this situation needs urgent review and action from government,” he said.

“It is a remarkable state of affairs that, in such a short space of time and in a country that has been so shaped by, and benefitted so significantly from, a Christian foundation, those who hold traditional Christian viewpoints, in common with millions across the globe and across history, can suddenly find their position labelled discriminatory and prejudiced and then discover that it has effectively become a legal bar to public service.”

Earlier, on a BBC radio news broadcast, the Bishop of Winchester, Michael Scott-Joynt also criticised the legal system. Again the Telegraph has the story, see Bishop of Winchester: legal system discriminates against Christians by Rosa Prince.

Bishop Scott-Joynt told the BBC’s World This Weekend: “The problem is that there is a really quite widespread perception among Christians that there is growing up something of an imbalance in the legal position with regard to the freedom of Christians and people of other faiths to pursue the calling of their faith in public life, in public service.

“Probably for the first time in our history there is a widespread lack of religious literacy among those who one way and another hold power and influence, whether it’s Parliament or the media or even, dare I say it, in the judiciary.

”The risk would be that there are increasingly professions where it could be difficult for people who are devoted believers to work in certain of the public services, indeed in Parliament.

“Anybody who is part of the religious community believes that you don’t just hold views, you live them. Manifesting your faith is part of having it and not part of some optional bolt-on.

“Judgement seemed to be following contemporary society, which seems to think that secularist views are statements of the obvious and religious views are notions in the mind. That is the culture in which we are living.

“The judges ought to be religiously literate enough to know that there is an argument behind all this, which can’t simply be settled by the nature of society as it is today.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 11:54am GMT | Comments (93) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas opinion

Jane Williams continues her series for Comment is free belief with The Book of Genesis, part 2: In the beginning. “The history of how Genesis was created and passed down through the ages reminds us that we have the book for a reason.”

Kathleen Staudt writes for Episcopal Café about The poetry of Handel’s Messiah.

Giles Fraser writes for Comment is free belief about A fetish for the Bible. “The King James version has been manipulated for 400 years. Save it from the text obsessives.”
He also writes for the Church Times about Finding the numinous in music.

Mr CatOLick writes about that detail demands that you and I do not hate.

Peter Mullen writes for The Telegraph about Christmas at church: Grab a pew – if you can find one.

John Wilson in The Wall Street Journal asks Do Christians Overemphasize Christmas?. “Some theologians claim that Easter is more important. That’s wrong. When we celebrate one, we celebrate the other.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 25 December 2010 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (74) | TrackBack
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Friday, 24 December 2010

General Synod committee elections

In addition to the election of the General Synod officers (who, amongst other things, will be members of the Archbishops’ Council), Synod has been electing members of the Appointment and Business Committees. So far, I know of the following successful candidates.

Appointments Committee of the Church of England

three clergy elected by and from the House of Clergy
The Ven Dr John Applegate (Manchester)
The Ven Annette Cooper (Chelmsford)
The Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark)

three laity elected by and from the House of Laity
Ms Susan Cooper (London)
Ms Sarah Finch (London)
Mr Aiden Hargreaves-Smith (London)

The Business Committee of the General Synod

three clergy elected by and from the House of Clergy
The Revd Canon Susan Booys (Oxford)
The Revd Canon Simon Butler (Southwark)
The Ven Julian Henderson (Guildford)

three laity elected by and from the House of Laity
Mrs Anne Foreman (Exeter)
Mrs Sue Johns (Norwich)
Mr Gerald O’Brien (Rochester)

In addition the House of Bishops elects one member to each committee.

The committee chairs are appointed by the Archbishops (Appointments Committee) or the Archbishops’ Council (Business Committee), and the Archbishops’ Council appoints respectively four and two of its members to the committees.

I maintain a list of members of these, and other committees, here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 24 December 2010 at 4:32pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Marriage and Civil Partnership changes?

The Telegraph is observing Christmas Eve by publishing a clutch of articles relating to possible changes in the law relating to marriage and civil partnerships.

Tim Ross writes that Coalition ministers consider gay marriage plans.

He also provides a Q&A: same-sex marriages and civil partnerships.

The Bishop of Truro, the Rt Rev Tim Thornton writes that Marriage should be between a man and a woman.

And the Rev Sharon Ferguson, chief executive of LGCM, writes that We were brought up to believe we would fall in love and get married.

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Thursday, 23 December 2010

General Synod officers

Elections for officers of the Church of England General Synod have recently taken place and the following were elected.

House of Laity
Chair: Dr Philip Giddings (Oxford)
Vice-Chair: Mr Tim Hind (Bath & Wells)

House of Clergy
Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury: The Venerable Christine Hardman (Southwark)
Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of York: The Revd Canon Glyn Webster (York)

The detailed voting figures have been issued to candidates and I have collated them into this web page.

The elections were carried out by STV (single transferable vote), with voters putting candidates in order of preference. When, as here, there is only place to be filled in an election, STV reduces to the successive elimination of the candidate with the fewest votes, and the re-allocation of those votes to the elector’s next preference, until one candidate has more than half the votes.

The turnout, particularly for the clergy elections, appears to be rather low. I don’t have definite figures for the number of eligible electors, but I don’t think the figures in the table below are significantly in error.


  votes cast electors percentage
turnout
Laity Chair 163 212 77
Laity Vice-Chair 162 212 76
Canterbury Prolocutor 90 142 63
York Prolocutor 32 60 53
Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 23 December 2010 at 1:30pm GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Natural Justice and the Anglican Covenant

Does the proposed Anglican Covenant satisfy the standards of Natural Justice? In other words, are the procedures for dispute settling in section 4 demonstrably fair?

Canon Alan Perry has written two articles which discuss this issue.

Natural Justice and the Anglican Covenant - Part 1

Natural Justice and the Anglican Covenant - Part 2

By the end of the second article, he concludes:

There is no remedy for the multiple overlapping roles of the members of the Standing Committee. In my view, the use of the Standing Committee as decision maker in the process is fatal to the Duty to be Fair. The proposed Anglican Covenant does not meet the standards of Natural Justice. It is intrinsically incapable of rendering decisions which are demonstrably fair.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 22 December 2010 at 4:12pm GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Archbishop of Kaduna appeals to Primates

Ed Thornton reports in the Church Times today that:

AN ARCHBISHOP in the Church of Nigeria has urged Primates from the Global South not to boycott the Primates’ Meeting in Dublin in January (News, 26 November).

Writing in the Church Times today, the Archbishop of Kaduna, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who was a member of the Lambeth Commission which produced the Windsor report, pleads with the Primates “not . . . to give room for the Communion to break up, during the time God has given [them] the privilege to represent [their] various provinces”.

Read the full news story at Plea to rebel Primates: ‘Bring your wisdom to next meeting’.

The same issue, published today, contains the full text of the article by the archbishop, but this is only available to Church Times subscribers at present. Those with access can find it here.

Here is some more of the news article:

…Speaking on Friday, he said that his intervention was not prompted by pressure from any individual, “but by my conviction to work for the unity of this communion”.

He said that he feared that some of the Primates had “not actually consulted properly” before announcing their intention to boycott the meeting. There was “a huge desire” among “ordinary members” of the Church of Nigeria for the Communion to stay together, he said.

Responding to the suggestion made by the Primates that “the current text” of the Anglican Covenant is “fatally flawed”, Dr Idowu-Fearon said: “If those Primates believe they have a superior wisdom than the collective wisdom of those who produced the Covenant, let them meet and present their wisdom and not start throwing tantrums.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 22 December 2010 at 3:55pm GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 18 December 2010

pre-Christmas opinion

Jane Williams starts a new series for Comment is free belief with The Book of Genesis, part 1: God created. “Genesis looks at what the culture around it believes about the nature of the material world, and disagrees with it profoundly.”

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about Defending the faith from its cheerleaders.

James Jones writes for Living Lightly: The Bishop Reflects at Christmas.

Christopher Howse writes in The Telegraph about An African church in Hampshire. “The leading church architect of the 20th century found inspiration in North Africa,” he says.

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite writes for The Washington Post about The difference between Jesus and Santa Claus.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 18 December 2010 at 11:39am GMT | Comments (39) | TrackBack
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Friday, 17 December 2010

General Synod - February 2011 - outline agenda

The General Synod of the Church of England will be meeting for a shorter than usual group of Sessions in February 2011. The outline agenda was published today, and is copied below.

One item is “Draft Act of Synod Adopting the Anglican Communion Covenant (GS 1809): John Ward’s following motion”. Here is the text of this motion.

That this Synod resolve that final approval of the Act of Synod adopting the Anglican Communion Covenant shall require the assent of two-thirds of the members of each House present and voting.

GENERAL SYNOD FEBRUARY 2011

TIMETABLE

Monday, 7 February

1.45 pm Meeting of the House of Laity
[House of Clergy/Convocations (tbc)]

3.00 pm Prayers, welcomes and introductions

Progress of Measures and Statutory Instruments

Address by the Secretary of State for International Development, followed by questions and response from one of the Archbishops

Report by the Business Committee

Draft Act of Synod Adopting the Anglican Communion Covenant (GS 1809): John Ward’s following motion

Questions

Tuesday, 8 February

9.30 am Service of Holy Communion (Assembly Hall)

Legislative Business:
    Clergy Discipline Amending Code of Practice
    Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Measure – First Consideration

Ethical investment policy: Presentation by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group

1.00 pm LUNCH

2.30 pm Presidential Address (by the Archbishop of Canterbury)

Into the New Quinquennium

Appointment of the Chair of the Business Committee and of the Clerk to the Synod

Weddings Project: presentation

Parochial Fees policy

Wednesday, 9 February

9.30 am Prayers

House of Bishops’ statement on marriage after divorce and the ordained ministry (GS Misc 960)

Liverpool Diocesan Synod Motion: Common Worship Baptism Provision

Introduction to the debate on ARCIC report on Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ - Joint presentation by the Bishop of Guildford and senior RC Bishop

1.00 pm LUNCH

2.30 pm ARCIC report on Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ

Farewells

Prorogation

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 6:05pm GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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New Bishop of Bradford

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Nicholas Baines, BA, Area Bishop of Croydon, for election as Bishop of Bradford in succession to the Right Reverend David Charles James, BA, BSc, PhD, on his resignation on the 14 July 2010.

Press Release from 10 Downing Street: Diocese of Bradford.

Statement on Diocesan website: New Bishop for the Diocese of Bradford

Message to the Diocese of Bradford from The Rt Revd Nick Baines

Bishop Nick Baines writes on his own blog: Northern Light.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 8:31am GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Anglican Covenant - Ten Reasons Why Not

From the No Anglican Covenant Blog:

Ten Reasons Why the Proposed Anglican Covenant Is a Bad Idea

  1. The proposed Anglican Covenant would transform a vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches into a contentious, centralized aggregation of churches designed to reduce diversity and initiative. The Covenant would institutionalize the “Instruments of Unity” as never before and would give extraordinary power to the newly enhanced Standing Committee.
  2. Under the Covenant, churches will be inhibited from undertaking new evangelical or mission initiatives for fear of offending other Communion churches and becoming embroiled in the disciplinary mechanisms set up by the Covenant.
  3. The centralization of authority envisioned by the proposed Covenant is cumbersome, costly, and undemocratic. In an era in which power and authority are being distributed in many organizations in order to achieve greater efficiency, responsiveness, and accountability, what has been proposed for the Communion seems out of step with current thinking regarding large organizations.
  4. Although the proposed Covenant is offered as a mechanism to achieve unity, its immediate effect is to create divisions. Churches that cannot or will not adopt the Covenant automatically become second-class members of the Communion. The inevitable application of the disciplinary provisions of Section 4 will likely further distinguish between “full” members of the Communion and less-than-full members.
  5. The proposed Covenant is dangerously vague. Sections 1–3 of the Covenant, which are seen by many as innocuous, leave much room for divergent interpretations. Section 4 makes it all too easy for any church to “ask questions” about the actions of another, which may then be subjected to unspecified “relational consequences.” There is no sure measure of what behaviour is likely to be acceptable, no checks provided against unreasonable complaints, and no guarantee that “consequences” (i.e., punishments) meted out will be commensurate with the alleged offence.
  6. The proposed Covenant runs counter to the gospel imperative of not judging others. It is all too easy for Communion churches to complain about the sins of their sister churches while ignoring or diverting attention from their own failures to live out the Gospel.
  7. The proposed Covenant encourages premature ending of debate. Rather than taking the advice of Gamaliel (Acts 5:38–39) and seeing how controversial matters play out, the Covenant evidences an eagerness to “settle” them. This is an unfortunate temptation to which the Communion seems subject. It has too quickly concluded that “homosexual practice” is “incompatible with Scripture” and that adopting the Covenant is “the only way forward,” neither of which is either intuitively obvious or universally agreed upon.
  8. The notion that we need to make “forceful” the “bonds of affection” is fundamentally flawed. If we need force and coercion to maintain relationships between Communion churches, there is no true affection, and the very foundation of the proposed Covenant is fraudulent.
  9. The proposed “Covenant” seems more like a treaty, contract, or instrument of surrender than a covenant. In the ecclesiastical context, a covenant is usually thought of as an agreement undertaken in joy and in an atmosphere of trust—baptismal and marriage covenants come to mind. The proposed Anglican Covenant, on the other hand, is advanced in an atmosphere of anger, fear, and distrust, and with the threat of dire consequences if it is not adopted.
  10. The proposed Covenant is not the only way forward; there are better options. The Anglican Communion would be better served by remaining a single-tier fellowship of churches, allowing disaffected members to leave if they must, while keeping the door open for their return. Any alternative position cedes too much power to those willing to intimidate by threatening to walk away.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 15 December 2010 at 11:09pm GMT | Comments (129) | TrackBack
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ECHR rules against sham marriages law

Updated Thursday

The European Court of Human Rights today declared that a government scheme was discriminatory for charging some immigrants a fee only if they are not planning to marry in the Church of England.

Read this press release from the Equality and Human Rights Commission: European Court finds marriage fee discriminatory.

See press reports:

Belfast Telegraph Couple get payout after law violated their right to wed

BBC Northern Ireland Londonderry couple ‘s victory on sham wedding law

Daily Mail European judges kill off British law that curbed sham marriages

From the press release:

The Commission submitted to the European Court of Human Rights that the scheme was wrong as a blanket ban on marrying anywhere other than a Church of England unfairly targets innocent people. The scheme could only be justified if it was actually designed in a way that could identify marriages of convenience.

The European Court ruled that “the scheme was discriminatory on the ground of religion and that …. no reasons were adduced by the Government …. which were capable of providing an objective and reasonable justification for the difference in treatment”.

And the Church of England doesn’t even operate in Northern Ireland!

Update

Quite a lot more information about this case is now available:

UK Human Rights Blog UK scheme to police sham marriages slammed by Human Rights court

Press release from the ECHR: UK immigration law to prevent sham marriages breached the right to marry and was discriminatory (PDF)

And a link to the full text of the judgment of the court is available at O’Donoghue and Others v. the United Kingdom (application no. 34848/07).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 15 December 2010 at 2:50pm GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Monday, 13 December 2010

parishes appeal to Supreme Court of Canada

Updated Monday evening

The Trustees of four Vancouver-area churches have instructed their legal counsel to file an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada of a British Columbia Court of Appeal decision (November 15, 2010).

Read about the November decision here.

The text of Bishop’s Ingham’s pastoral letter is available as a PDF here.

The text of the judgment is available as a PDF over here.

Then read about the proposed appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada here.

A statement from the Diocese of New Westminster is copied below the fold.

A Statement from the Diocese of New Westminster

Trustees Initiate Further Legal Action

Congregational leaders of four churches aligned with the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) indicated in web statements and in letters read at worship services on Sunday, December 12th, 2010 that they intend to initiate further litigation by seeking Leave to Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. To date, the Diocese has not received formal notice of the application, nor of their intention to file.

This announcement indicates they will continue their challenge of the BC Supreme Court’s decision of November 25th, 2009, which was upheld by the BC Court of Appeal November 15th, 2010. The Courts ruled the church properties currently being used by the four congregations are to remain under the authority of the Bishop and Diocese of New Westminster for public worship in and as part of the Anglican Church of Canada, and not for the use by clergy and others who have left the Anglican Church of Canada.

The Diocese of New Westminster under the leadership of Bishop Michael Ingham is satisfied with the decisions of the BC Supreme Court and the BC Court of Appeal and notes that both BC courts have upheld and supported the statutes, canons and regulations of the Diocese of New Westminster and the Anglican Church of Canada.

Bishop Ingham has offered to meet with the leaders of the four congregations to discuss how everyone can move forward in keeping with the decisions of the courts and appoint new clergy for these parishes. To date, there has been no response.

Bishop Ingham and Diocesan leadership do not believe that there is any need to take any further court challenges, which will incur more expense and anxiety. However, they respect the Plaintiffs’ right to request the Supreme Court to hear their case as the final legal option available to them.

The Diocese of New Westminster under Bishop Ingham’s leadership continues its mission of welcoming all people into the worship and ministry of the Anglican Church of Canada. All are encouraged and supported who seek the presence of the Divine and wish to grow in their faith as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Diocesan legal counsel will respond to all the actions initiated by the Plaintiffs (ANiC Trustees and Clergy), and under the direction of diocesan leadership will move to ensure that the decisions of the BC Courts will be acted on in the months ahead.

Counsel for ANiC will need to file their request prior to January 14th, 2011 and until filed, the Diocese is unable to make any further comment on the legal aspects of the dispute.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 13 December 2010 at 3:13pm GMT | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 11 December 2010

General Synod - Question on Crown Nominations Commission

At the recent November group of sessions Rachel Beck (Lincoln) asked the Archbishop of Canterbury:

Have any actions been taken by the CNC in response to the media reports that appeared in July, purporting to disclose details of its deliberations in relation to the Southwark episcopal vacancy, and will the CNC undertake to make public the full results of any investigation that it may have commissioned into the circumstances surrounding those reports?

The Archbishop of Canterbury replied:

The answer to the first part of the question is Yes. The Archbishops commissioned an external scrutiny by Baroness Fritchie, a senior cross bench peer, of how the CNC process around the vacancy in the See of Southwark gave rise to a number of media reports. This scrutiny has just been completed and the document will be shortly be shared with the members of the Commission for Southwark. It would not be appropriate to give that wider circulation. Any recommendations made in the report will first have to be carefully considered by the central members of the Commission and they will be so considered.

Rachel Beck asked a supplementary question:

What measures have been taken to limit the effects of the disclosure on the ministries of all those concerned.

The Archbishop replied:

There has been contact from both myself and the Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary to deal with the pastoral questions arising as you have identified them.

Robert Hammond (Chelmsford) asked a supplementary question:

What steps have been taken to reduce the time taken for each CNC and the following announcement, and therefore reduce the potential for leaks of this type.

The Archbishop replied:

No steps are being taken at the moment. The timetable is of course not entirely in the CNC’s hands on the rate of vacancies appearing from dioceses. Every step is taken to accelerate that process but it is extremely difficult with the quite considerable turnover we currently have to secure the kind of rapidity we would all like.

(the above is my own transcription from the audio recording)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 11 December 2010 at 5:09pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Anglican Covenant - Bishop of Gloucester's synod speech

The speech made at General Synod last month by the Bishop of Gloucester has been reproduced in full at RevdLesley.

Read it all at Bishop of Gloucester - the Indaba Process #nocovenant.

Here is an extract:

I’m one of those who will vote for the motion - with some reluctance. Reluctance because I do fear, despite assurances, that a Covenant could eventually be used in a punitive manner against fellow Anglicans, as well as because of the most general worry that a Covenant may alter the kind of church we are.

Nevertheless, I will vote for the motion for two connected reasons. First, that not to do so is to make more difficult the task of the Archbishop of Canterbury in his ministry to the Communion and I want us to strengthen and not weaken his hand. Second, that the Covenant process keeps us talking, keeps us all in Communion through challenging times. The process helps even if we fear the final outcome. What I really hope is that when we eventually reach the point when it is poised to come into force we shall look at one another and say, ‘What’s this for? We have no need of it.’ And one of the reasons that I hope that this is the outcome is the continued ‘Indaba process’…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 11 December 2010 at 5:09pm GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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opinion for mid-Advent

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written an Advent message for Radio Times magazine.
Ann Fontaine comments on the Archbishop’s article for Episcopal Café: ABC and nativity scenes.

Esther Addley writes for The Guardian: Faithful or not, all can rejoice in carols: hymns drenched in our folk memory. “It’s entirely right that Christmas carols rouse non-believers’ spirits too, given the original, and radical, meaning of many.”

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that Revelations can bring redemption.
And at Comment is free belief he writes about The cringe at the heart of Christmas. “The idea of God as a little baby is one of the most disruptive theological suggestions ever made.”

Mark Driscoll writes for The Washington Post about What we tell our kids about Santa.

This week’s The Question at Comment is free belief is What is the future of preaching? There are responses from Tehmina Kazi, Simon Jenkins and Alan Wilson.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 11 December 2010 at 10:41am GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Friday, 10 December 2010

Anglicans on wikileaks

At last! Something about Anglicans has appeared on wikileaks.

Read WikiLeaks: Pope’s offer to Anglicans risked ‘violence against Catholics’ at the Guardian by Andrew Brown, Robert Booth and Heather Brooke.

The British ambassador to the Vatican warned that Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation to Anglican opponents of female priests to convert en masse to Catholicism was so inflammatory that it might lead to discrimination and even violence against Catholics in Britain, according to a secret US diplomatic cable.

Talking to an American diplomat after the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, met the pope in November 2009, Francis Campbell said the surprise Vatican move had placed Williams “in an impossible situation” and “Anglican-Vatican relations were facing their worst crisis in 150 years as a result of the pope’s decision”.

Read the full text of the cable itself here.

See also this cable.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 10 December 2010 at 10:40pm GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Just cause?

The Tablet this week has an article about those organizations that support people who make claims of discrimination on the grounds of their Christian faith.

Read Just cause? by Sam Adams.

A new campaign to encourage Christians to show their religion openly has been launched, echoing a concern felt by some that they feel discriminated against because of their faith. But the legal groups that advise them may be simply worsening divisions as they fight their corner…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 10 December 2010 at 1:10pm GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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press reports on Yorkshire dioceses proposal

Updated lunchtime Friday

The Church Times has Diocesan unification proposed for Yorkshire by Ed Thornton.

The Yorkshire Post has Anglicans consider merging Yorkshire dioceses by Fiona Evans.

The Telegraph has Church cuts bishops where Muslims outnumber Christians by seven to one by Tim Ross and also A tipping point for religion in Britain? by Jonathan Wynne-Jones.

The Guardian has Church of England may axe some bishops and dioceses to cut costs by Riazat Butt.

The Bradford Telegraph & Argus has Bradford Diocese may be scrapped.

The BBC has A merged Church of England diocese for West Yorkshire?

Anyone who doesn’t know where Yorkshire is may find this map helpful.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 10 December 2010 at 8:15am GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 9 December 2010

General Synod - Question on episcopal appointments

At the recent November group of sessions Mr Justin Brett (Chichester) asked the Secretary General, Mr William Fittall:

The Second Church Estates Commissioner recently told Parliament that: “there is no Church of England rule that prevents a celibate person in a civil partnership from being considered for appointment as a bishop. The issue is whether someone in that position could act as a focus for unity in a diocese. That would have to be considered by those responsible for making any episcopal appointment”.

In the light of that statement and the recent coming into force of the Equality Act 2010, is the Secretary General aware of any guidance from those involved in episcopal appointments processes on how to approach these matters consistently with the law.

Mr Fittall replied:

The Legal Office stands ready to provide legal advice to those responsible for overseeing episcopal appointments exercises. The Equality Act, like the 2003 Regulations before it, permits those making appointments for the purposes of organised religion to apply a requirement related to sexual orientation so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers. The Church of England’s policy on same sex relationships and civil partnerships is set out in the various well known formal statements dating back to 1987, of which the most recent is the House of Bishops pastoral statement, issued in 2005, when civil partnerships were introduced. Any requests for clarification would be for the House to consider.

Mr Brett then asked Mr Fittall a supplementary question:

Within the procedure for appointing bishops, what is the understanding of what it means to be a focus of unity in a diocese.

Mr Fittall replied:

That’s a very good question and it’s a phrase that I think is allowed to speak for itself. It is a canonical requirement that a bishop should be a focus of unity. And it is for the judgment, in the case of a suffragan bishop, of the diocesan bishop, advised by those who support him in that process. And in the case of diocesan appointments it is for the judgment of the Crown Nominations Commission. And those making appointments have to take account of a wide range of considerations, including statements made by the House of Bishops. It is at the end of the day a judgment.

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How others see the CofE

Here’s a view expressed by Baroness Kingsmill.

It occurs in an article in the St Louis Post-Dispatch which is about the US handling of “Gays in the Military”. She was asked how the UK had dealt with this issue.

Kingsmill offered three insightful reasons.

“First and perhaps most importantly is that we are, by temperamental and historical inclination, a largely liberal-minded society,” she said. “As a small, crowded island we have to be accepting of each other. Wave after wave of immigrants first from the Commonwealth and more recently Europe, have been absorbed mostly without serious concerns. We have acquired the habit of tolerance. Sexual orientation and behaviour is just another aspect of diversity we have learned to embrace.”

Second, the weakening in the influence of the Church and the religious right has also played a role. The Established Church of England is one of the last bastions of anti-gay prejudice still outside the law. It is the only institution that legally can discriminate against the employment of gay people. The church recently fought to retain the right to refuse a religious service to gay couples wishing to marry, even in circumstances in which the church and the priest may wish to perform the ceremony. The Bishops, who have reserved seats in Parliament, face rapidly declining church attendance in the United Kingdom. Kingsmill suggested that it is only a matter of time until this last barrier to full equality falls.

Third, the impact of legislation on social change should not be underestimated. Many major shifts in social attitudes have been preceded by progressive acts of Parliament, sometimes in advance of public opinion. Foremost among these must be the abolition of the death penalty in 1969, when it was likely that a majority of the country still supported capital punishment. Today, polls show there is only a very small minority that would support its reintroduction.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 9 December 2010 at 3:22pm GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Yorkshire - Dioceses Commission reports

Updated 9 and 19 January 2011: links updated to refer to the new Church of England website.

from here:

In the autumn of 2009 the Commission commenced a review of the five Yorkshire dioceses (Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, Sheffield, Wakefield and York). The aim was to establish whether the shape and boundaries of the existing dioceses tend to facilitate the Church’s mission to the people and communities of Yorkshire or whether different boundaries would enable the Church to relate to them more effectively.

The Commission’s report on the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, Sheffield and Wakefield, and their boundaries with the Diocese of York, has now been published and sent out for consultation.

A 16 page Guide to the Report, containing a brief overview of each chapter, together with the Summary of Recommendations and Conclusion, is available to download by clicking here.

For the full Report (127 pages), or to download individual chapters, click here.

Some other background documents can be found here.

The press release (website link is at last available) is reproduced below the fold.

The Dioceses Commission today publishes its 120-page report on the four Yorkshire dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds, Sheffield and Wakefield and their boundaries with the Diocese of York. Recommendations in the report must be debated by the relevant diocesan synods before any scheme can be submitted to the General Synod, which is unlikely to be before July 2013.

The report concludes that South Yorkshire is a distinct community and should continue to have its own Diocese of Sheffield. It recommends that there should be a single diocese, instead of the current three, covering West Yorkshire and those parts of the Dioceses of Bradford and Ripon & Leeds that are in North Yorkshire.

The new, de-centralised, diocese would be divided into five episcopal areas - Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Ripon and Wakefield - each with its own area bishop and area council to achieve a strong element of devolution within a context of rationalization. “The area bishops,” the report says, “would be, as many have requested, closer in every sense to their clergy and people than it has been possible for the diocesan bishops to be.”

It also recommends that the new diocese would retain all three existing cathedrals. Wakefield Cathedral would be the principal cathedral of the diocese with Wakefield as the diocesan see. Bradford Cathedral would remain as a focus of the Church’s ministry in that city, with Ripon Cathedral providing a focus for the Yorkshire Dales. The diocesan office should be located in Leeds, it recommends. Overall, the diocese would have the same number of bishops as the current three dioceses but one fewer archdeacon.

The proposals would eliminate duplication and triplication and offer the prospect of greater efficiency and resilience in the support of parishes, schools, clergy and other licensed ministers, the report argues. Others of the 39 recommendations in the report consider boundaries and the appropriate dioceses and episcopal areas for various parishes.

“In its work, the Commission is required to ‘have regard to the furtherance of the mission of the Church of England’, and it was for the sake of the Church of England’s mission to the people who live in the four dioceses concerned that the Commission embarked upon its task,” said Dr Priscilla Chadwick, who chaired the review.

“The review and its conclusions are mission-led and not finance-driven (though mission needs to be financed, so financial considerations cannot be ignored). We have asked which structures will best enable the Church of England to relate to the communities of Yorkshire (not just in the parishes but also at city, borough, district and county levels), which will be most intelligible to non-churchgoers, which would eliminate wasteful duplication, and which are likely to prove resilient and sustainable into the medium term.”

Interested parties, those who gave evidence and others who wish to do so have until Monday, 9 May, 2011 to comment on the report and the recommendations. It is anticipated that the Commission will decide at its June 2011 meeting, in the light of comments received, whether to prepare a draft reorganization scheme, and if so, what the content should be.

The draft scheme would then be sent out to the ‘interested parties’ for comment. It is anticipated that this would take place in October 2011. The scheme, including any amendments, would then be considered by the relevant diocesan synods before any such scheme can be submitted to the General Synod. The earliest any scheme might be considered by the General Synod, if one is submitted, would be July 2013.

“Our recommendations, we believe, are both radical and realistic,” the Commission says in its report. “They reflect the evidence we received and, in many cases, suggestions made to us during the Review. It continues to be the vocation of the Church of England to provide a Christian presence in every community. We envisage a structure that would enable the Church of England to engage more coherently with the people and communities of West Yorkshire and the western half of North Yorkshire, and with the institutions of civil society there.”

The full report and guide are available on the web .

Notes

All of the interested parties, all those who gave evidence and others who wish to do so are invited to comment on the report and especially on the recommendations set out in Chapter 11. Comments should be sent to

yorkshire.review@c-of-e.org.uk

or to:

Mr Sion Hughes Carew (Assistant Secretary, Dioceses Commission), Central Secretariat, Church House, Great Smith Street, LONDON SW1P 3AZ

by Monday 9 May 2011 at the latest.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 9 December 2010 at 11:51am GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Comment on the Anglican Covenant

Alan Perry has written two articles:

Defining Controversial Actions

Defining Relational Consequences

Savi Hensman has written How might the Anglican Covenant work in England?

Benny Hazlehurst offered An Antidote to the Covenant

John Martin wrote The Covenant is good news for Anglicanism in Christian Today

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 8 December 2010 at 1:38pm GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 7 December 2010

some ordinariate news and views

First, Jared Cramer wrote an article Wounding and Grace: A Brief Appraisal of the Roman Catholic Ordinariate, Anglican Christianity, and Modern Ecumenism.

Next, the Bishop of London spoke to his diocesan synod and among other things said this:

Another aspect of the turbulence to which I have referred is of course the Bishop of Fulham’s retirement. Bishop John has served the Diocese for more than forty years in variety of roles and many of us have reason to be grateful for his ministry. He has the gift of colourful speech and there may be some Synod members unconvinced by his suggestion that he was leaving a “fascist” institution for Liberty Hall on Tiber. All people, however, who act conscientiously deserve our understanding.

There does however seem to be a degree of confusion about whether those entering the Ordinariate like Bishop John might be able to negotiate a transfer of properties or at the least explore the possibility of sharing agreements in respect of particular churches. For the avoidance of confusion I have to say that as far as the Diocese of London is concerned there is no possibility of transferring properties. As to sharing agreements I have noted the Archbishop of Westminster’s comment that his “preference is for the simplest solutions. The simplest solutions are for those who come into Catholic communion to use Catholic churches”. I am also mindful that the late Cardinal Hume, whom I greatly revered, brought to an end the experiment of church sharing after the Synod’s decision of 1992 because far from being conducive to warmer ecumenical relations it tended to produce more rancour.

And the Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion (a body whose members are primarily in India and Africa, see my report here) issued a statement, available in full over here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 at 12:35pm GMT | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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Monday, 6 December 2010

General Synod - Covenant Vote

The results of the electronic vote on the Anglican Communion Covenant at last month’s General Synod are now available.

For convenience I have made this available as a webpage.

Readers might like to note that the speculation about which bishop abstained was incorrect.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 6 December 2010 at 1:41pm GMT | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 5 December 2010

more about Dean Colin Slee

The BBC Radio 4 programme, Last Word, this week carried obituary information about Colin Slee. Here’s the blurb:

THE VERY REVEREND COLIN SLEE

Dean of Southwark who has died aged 65.

The Very Reverend Colin Slee was the outspoken Dean of Southwark. He was on the liberal wing of the church, a staunch advocate of women bishops and supporter of gay clergy. But in terms of liturgy and the dress code for priests he was more of an Anglo Catholic, insisting on following what he saw as the proper form. He oversaw the construction of a refectory, conference centre and library to complement the Southwark Cathedral building and presided over the expansion of its congregation.

Last Word spoke the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, to the religious affairs writer Stephen Bates, and to the Chief Executive of the Tutu Foundation UK, Tina Lambert.

Colin Bruce Slee was born 10 November 1945 and died 25 November 2010.

If you have access to BBC iPlayer, then you can hear it from here for a week only. It is the first seven minutes of the programme.

Earlier, we linked to some obituaries. Now we can also add:

Independent The Very Reverend Colin Slee: Controversial liberal dean of Southwark Cathedral by Leigh Hatts

London SE1 Obituary: The Very Revd Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark

and this news report of yesterday: Funeral of Colin Slee at Southwark Cathedral

And the Church Times obituary by Bill Ritson is available over here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 5 December 2010 at 4:05pm GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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sermon at Colin Slee's funeral

The Dean of St Albans, the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, preached at the Requiem Eucharist to celebrate the life of Colin Bruce Slee OBE on Saturday morning at Southwark Cathedral.

The full text of the sermon is available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 5 December 2010 at 12:19am GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 4 December 2010

opinion

Bishop Andrew Burnham gave this homily at St John the Evangelist, New Hinksey, Oxford, at a Solemn Mass of St Andrew on Saturday 27 November 2010: Bishop Andrew Burnham’s Final Sermon as Bishop of Ebbsfleet.
Damian Thompson reprinted the sermon in The Telegraph: Anglican bishop lays his mitre and crozier at the feet of Our Lady as he leaves for Rome.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about Colin Slee, fighter, RIP.

Christopher Howse in The Telegraph writes that There’s no shame in not wearing a cross. “Christianity’s trappings require no special pleading,” he suggests.
He also writes about A hatred of Turks, Jews and papists. “Luther thought he had a sound reason for his strong antipathies.”

Adam Thomas writes for the Daily Episcopalian about The pews in the north transept: a remembrance.

David Bryant writes in The Guardian about The loose ends of justice. “Meeting a murderer and rapist on a prison visit reinforced my need to believe in life after death.”

Dame Mary Tanner preached at the inaugural eucharist for the General Synod in Westminster Abbey last week. The text of her sermon is now available, courtesy of Alastair Cutting.

This week’s The Question at Comment is free belief is How should Christians think about sex? There are answers from Steve Tomkins, Roz Kaveney and John Richardson

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 4 December 2010 at 10:38am GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Friday, 3 December 2010

General Synod - Church Times detailed reports

The detailed reports in the Church Times of last week’s meeting of General Synod are now available to non-subscribers.

Presidential address: Surprise your critics by listening and agreeing, Dr Williams suggests
Big Society? We’re doing it already
Anglican Covenant: Reservations, but the Covenant moves forward
Synod in brief
Legislation and farewells

Also now available are the official record of Business Done and a brief official summary “ideal for use in parish magazines”.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 3 December 2010 at 11:06pm GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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more about GAFCON and the Covenant

George Conger writes in the Church of England Newspaper today: Gafcon primates vote of no confidence in the Covenant.

The Anglican Covenant is too little and too late, to hold the Anglican Communion together, the leaders of the Gafcon movement said last week.

Revisions to the document adopted last December by the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee were unacceptable, the Gafcon primates’ council said on Nov 24, and urged the communion to adopt “new initiatives to more effectively respond to the crises that confront us all.”

Seven primates along with Archbishops Robert Duncan of the ACNA and Peter Jensen of Sydney acknowledged as “well intentioned” the “efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant,” but concluded the “current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate.”

And he also reports:

…While the statement was released on the same day as General Synod debated the covenant, the timing of the release was not intended to sway discussion in England, a spokesman told CEN.

The “Oxford Statement” required weeks of refining and was passed from archbishop to archbishop before it was ready for release, a Gafcon secretariat spokesman said.

Sources within the Gafcon movement tell CEN, the Oxford Statement should not be read as an outright rejection of the covenant, but as a vote of no confidence in the current draft that vests authority in the Anglican Communion “Standing Committee”.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 3 December 2010 at 1:40pm GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Anglican Covenant - Bishop of Lincoln's synod speech

The speech made last week by the Bishop of Lincoln has been reproduced in full at RevdLesley.

Read it all at Bishop John Saxbee on the Anglican Covenant.

Here is an extract:

…Members of Synod, the Church of England has a bit of a history of putting in place measures in response to a particular presented issue and then discovering that the proposed cure does not only have unintended consequences (and The Good Intentions Paving Company is still very much in business, I assure you), not only will there be unintended consequences, but the cure can actually make matters worse.

We all know that the process towards the drawing up of this Covenant was triggered by events in The Episcopal Church of a few years ago, notwithstanding the long preamble which was helpfully presented to us by the Bishop of Bath and Wells. Those events were by no means trivial, but to elevate them to the status of game changers when it comes to how we deal with each other over time is… well… stepping over a very significant mark in the sand. And I truly doubt whether it will be conducive to long term stability.

The Covenant may of itself not be tyrannical, but there are those in the Communion whose treatment of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers has had at least a touch of the tyrannical about it. And if I ever come to the conclusion that a covenant of this kind would give them comfort then I would be bound to resist it.

Anglicanism has been described as a fellowship of civilised disagreement. Well I leave you to judge whether a two-tier Communion with first and second division members answers to that description of civilised disagreement. It frankly feels like we will be sending sincere and faithful Anglicans to stand in the corner until they have seen the error of their ways and can return to the ranks of the pure and spotless…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 1:10pm GMT | Comments (53) | TrackBack
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Bishop Broadhurst resigns as Chairman of FiF UK

From Forward in Faith

Bishop John Broadhurst resigns as Chairman of FiF UK

At its residential meeting this week, the Council of Forward in Faith accepted the resignation of its Chairman, Bishop John Broadhurst, both with regret and with grateful thanks for all that he has done to guide and lead this organisation from its foundation in 1992. It was Bishop John’s decision to resign and that decision had been communicated by him to the Council prior to its meeting. As a small token of the gratitude of all the members of Forward in Faith for Bishop John’s magnificent contribution to the life of the organisation as well as the enormous contribution of Judi his wife, the Council presented him with a cheque to spend in their new home. They know that they are assured of the prayers of us all for whatever the future may hold.

Pending the election of his successor some time in the New Year, Sister Anne Williams CA, the Vice-Chairman of Forward in Faith, will undertake the role of Acting Chairman.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 12:52pm GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Covenant - reactions to the synod debate

Updated Thursday

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition has published some Observations on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Presidential Address and the Anglican Covenant Debate in the Church of England General Synod,November 2010 which are available here as a PDF, but also as a web page over here.

Colin Coward has published Anglican Covenant – dangerous progress in Synod? Or GAFCON statement – dangerous threat withdraws? and also Should LGBT Anglicans be more suspicious of the Covenant?

Adrian Worsfold has taken a rather lighter approach, first with Chadderbox on the Synod Vote and then with Proposal for the Communion.

Earlier, he was a bit more serious, see The Narrowing Church of England and Be Realistic .

And just today, he has also published Not Changing Attitude.

On Thursday, Colin Coward added What will the pattern of the Anglican Communion look like in 10 years time?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 1 December 2010 at 7:47am GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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