Saturday, 30 April 2011


Christopher Howse writes in The Telegraph about A sun within him: Thomas Traherne’s Easter and about Nazareth near Sandringham.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has just published this address that he gave on 1 March 2011: Relations between the Church and state today: what is the role of the Christian citizen?

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about Why being thankful is real belief in resurrection.

Maya Shwayder writes for the Harvard University Gazette about Debunking a myth. “In medieval Christianity, dissection was often practiced.”

Simon Barrow writes at Ekklesia: Wedded to a right royal theological confusion.

James Martin writes for the Huffington Post about The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Done.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 30 April 2011 at 11:00am BST | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Charity Tribunal rejects appeal from Catholic adoption agency


The Charity Tribunal has today rejected the latest appeal filed by Catholic Care. For earlier reports on this long-running saga start here.

The tribunal’s own press release appears below the fold. The full text of the judgment can be downloaded here (PDF).

Jerome Taylor had this report in the Independent Catholic adoption charity appeal dismissed.

Kaye Wiggins had this in Third Sector Catholic Care loses tribunal appeal over gay adoption.

Other reports: Press Association, BBC News, and Guardian.

Comment from:

Religion Law Blog Catholic Care v Charity Commission

British Humanism Association No ‘opt out’ from equality law: Catholic adoption agency will not be able to discriminate against same-sex couples

Christian Concern Catholic Care forced to offer adoption services to homosexual couples

Stonewall Stonewall response to Charity Tribunal dismissal of Catholic Care’s appeal

Christian Institute RC adoption group loses gay couples appeal

Press Release from Charity Tribunal

1. This case concerned an appeal by Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) a charity, against the decision of the Charity Commission to refuse its consent to a change of charitable objects. The charity wanted to change its objects so as to bring itself within an exemption to the Equality Act 2010 and thus be allowed to refuse to offer adoption services to same sex couples.

2. The Tribunal has dismissed the charity’s appeal for the reasons given below.

3. This matter has had a complicated procedural history and has been affected by changing legislation over the past 2 years or so (paras 2-5) The test the Tribunal had to apply was under s. 193 of the Equality Act 2010 which exempts charities from the equality obligations of the Act, where the Charity (a) acts in pursuance of a charitable instrument - ie their charitable objects require it and (b) it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

4. It was accepted by the charity that discrimination on the basis of religious belief alone would be unlawful - para 14 - so this was not in issue. The Bishop of Leeds gave evidence in which he expressed the view that the law should respect the Catholic Church’s views on this issue in the same way that it allows Churches not to have to bless civil partnerships. However, adoption is a public service, funded (in part) by local authorities, so does not have the same exemptions under the 2010 Act as those which cover private religious worship (para 60);

5. The charity argued that the discrimination should be permitted because:

(I) Same sex couples could obtain adoption services from local authorities and other voluntary agencies so would not suffer detriment if the charity alone refused them services;

(II) The charity can only operate its adoption service with the assistance of donated income, and its supporters would stop supporting it financially if it did not discriminate, so it would have to close if the discrimination were not permitted;

(III) The closure of the service was such a serious consequence that the discrimination proposed was proportionate to the aim pursued, which was that of seeking to increase the number of adoptions which take place;

(IV) The charity can attract potential adopters that other agencies would not attract because of its distinctive approach.

6. The Tribunal found that:

(I) There must be particularly weighty reasons to justify discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which is a protected characteristic under the 2010 Act (para 53);

(II) Same sex couples would suffer a significant detriment by not being able to use the charity’s own high quality service. The availability of other services to same sex couples could not amount to a justification for discrimination by the charity (para 53 again);

(III) The charity had not made out its case that its donors would cease to support it if it offered adoption services to same sex couples. Its accounts showed that its donated income is not restricted to its adoption services but applicable for all of its work; it produced no evidence of the views of donors, only the Bishop’s opinion on this point; the discriminatory views of 3rd parties cannot in any event justify discrimination by the charity (paras 54 - 57);

(IV) As to the risk of closure, the charity has not yet explored all the alternatives. Other Catholic charities have found alternative means of operating since the law changed. The expert evidence heard by the Tribunal contradicted the charity’s case that if it were to close, children would be left un-adopted (para 58).

(V) The charity did not prove its assertion that an increase in its resources would inevitably lead to more adoptions taking place, because the Tribunal found that the expert evidence about the local authority funding arrangements for adoptions did not support the charity’s case in this regard (para 49).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 26 April 2011 at 6:31pm BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation

Monday, 25 April 2011

Easter sermons

Here are just a few of the many sermons preached yesterday.

Archbishop of Canterbury

Bishop of Chelmsford [You can see a picture of the icon referred to by the bishop here.]

Bishop of Monmouth

Bishop of Ely

Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow

Catholic Archbishop of Westminster

Not a sermon, but it could be: Savi Hensman

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 25 April 2011 at 10:26am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 24 April 2011

Common sense about the Ordinariate

Riazat Butt has written an excellent article for the Guardian, titled Catholic defectors will leave Anglicans breathing sigh of relief – bishop.

Bishop Christopher Hill of Guildford is quoted:

A Church of England bishop says congregations will breathe a “sigh of relief” this week when hundreds of worshippers defect to the Roman Catholic church, potentially drawing a line under the schism over the ordination of women.

Up to 900 Anglicans, including 60 clergy, are preparing to be received into the Roman Catholic faith in special services during Holy Week.

The Right Rev Christopher Hill said congregations losing clergy or laity to the Personal Ordinariate, a Vatican initiative allowing Anglicans to convert while keeping elements of their spiritual heritage, would allow the church to move on after being “racked” by the issue of women priests.

Hill, who is the bishop of Guildford and chair of the Council of Christian Unity, said while there was sadness at congregations losing their clergy or co-worshippers – in some instances both – there was reason to be positive.

“Where a decision has been made then those who go will have a bigger agenda, as do those who stay. They can leave this issue alone. It has racked these congregations. It has absorbed a lot of energy. Where a church has had such an exodus, there will be a sigh of relief that a decision has been made.”

Riazat also reports on two parishes where clergy and some laity have left. One of these is St Barnabas, Tunbridge Wells.

For the congregation of St Barnabas, in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, the loss of a priest and 72 worshippers has caused personal and practical difficulties.

All but two members of the parochial church council – the executive body of the parish – have left, and people with no prior involvement in the running of the church have been forced to help out.

Christine Avery, a churchwarden who has been praying at St Barnabas for 20 years, said: “We have to make ends meet and it’s a big church. Everyone is doing jobs they never thought they could do. But there’s a great atmosphere and we want this church to stay open.”

On Palm Sunday a reduced but resolute congregation threw themselves into a Sung Eucharist and a procession along the Camden Road.

Avery, and others, say they have noticed that people who had stayed away from St Barnabas have returned, as have some who said they were leaving for the Ordinariate. The church is by no means united on women’s ordination, but one worshipper implied there were fewer divisions than before the 70 departures…

Some more background on the situation in this parish here.

An earlier report in the Telegraph by Jonathan Wynne-Jones mentioned St Mary the Virgin, Torquay. A letter in the Telegraph today (scroll down) reports that:

Anglican parish carries on despite departures

SIR – Jonathan Wynne-Jones reports on events at St Mary the Virgin, Torquay (“The faithful torn apart”, News Review, April 17). As an honorary priest at St Mary’s I know that when the vicar, the Rev David Lashbrooke, announced his departure to join the Roman Catholic Church on March 6 it came as a shock to some parishioners, but it was not unexpected because there had been speculation for months.

Some 25 adults and children went with him to the Ordinariate and that did cause some distress because they went without notice, some abandoning their offices in the parish.

Since Ash Wednesday on March 9 the congregation has begun to grow under the exemplary leadership of Fr Dexter Bracey, the assistant curate, supported by two retired priests. Sunday services have been adjusted, but numbers have increased and the atmosphere is purposeful and joyful as people grow closer and more confident.

There are new churchwardens and a newly elected parochial church council, so we are moving forward still rooted in our Catholic heritage and determined to keep the faith within the Church of England.

“Though much is taken much abides,” as Tennyson wrote.

We miss our friends who have gone to the Ordinariate but we continue to pray for them as they seek to follow their consciences and remain faithful to their calling.

Fr Warwick Whelan
Torquay, Devon

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 24 April 2011 at 1:43pm BST | Comments (43) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 23 April 2011

opinion for Holy Saturday

James Martin in The Huffington Post asks Why Did Judas Betray Jesus?
The Times has a series of articles to mark Holy Week. The Archbishop of York has written “Our destiny is sure, but Jesus never promised an easy journey” and placed a copy outside the paywall.
In The Vancouver Sun three Anglican priests (Peter Elliott, Ellen Clark-King and Chris Dierkes) born in different decades write about how they experience Holy Week from their own perspectives: Easter celebrates faith, hope and love.
Paul Handley writes in The Guardian: In this for the long haul. “Easter Day is all the more special for Christians who fail in self-denial during Lent.”

Martin Wainwright writes in The Guardian about Last Supper … or penultimate supper? Scientist challenges Maundy Thursday. “Cambridge professor Sir Colin Humphreys claims Last Supper took place on a Wednesday, not a Thursday.”
Christopher Pearson covers the same story in The Australian Search for the real man in the Gospels.
Humphreys himself writes in The Huffington Post: The Mysteries of the Last Supper and Jesus’ Final Days.
Two sceptical responses are by Mark Goodacre Dating the Last Supper a Day Early? and Andrew McGowan Christ our Passover: Making Sense of the Gospel Accounts of Jesus’ Death. Goodacre has several links to other articles.

In the New Statesman leading public figures and scientists explain their faith to Andrew Zak Williams: I’m a believer.

Aleks Krotoski in The Observer asks What effect has the internet had on religion? “Online, God has been released from traditional doctrine to become everything to everybody.”
The entire Fall 2010 issue of The Princeton Theological Review was devoted to articles on The Church after Google. You can download all 122 pages as a one megabyte pdf file.

Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian about Theological uncertainty. “Holy scriptures can demand that their believers do evil things. Would this be true if evil didn’t prosper?”

Timothy Beal writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education: The Bible Is Dead; Long Live the Bible.
Michelle Boorstein writes in The Washington Post about Sign of the times: Updated Bible.

Simon Barrow writes for Ekklesia about The religious betrayal of God and its antidote.

Simon Jenkins writes for The Guardian that There’s no such thing as ‘big society’ – just many small ones, under steeples. “Churches are the obvious place for revived localism yet their potential remains locked behind regulatory clutter and spiralling costs.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 23 April 2011 at 11:00am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Friday, 22 April 2011

CofE school admissions: a policy change?

The Bishop of Oxford, John Pritchard, who is also chairman of the Church of England’s Board of Education, has been speaking about school admission policies.

This began with an article in the TES Education Supplement C of E opens school gates to non-believers

The Rt Revd John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, said that admissions policies favouring religious children should be changed, even if accepting a broader range of pupils damaged results.

“I’m really committed to our schools being as open as they can be,” Revd [sic] Pritchard told The TES. “I know that there are other philosophies that will start at the other end, that say that these are for our church families, but I have never been as convinced of that as others.

“Every school will have a policy that has a proportion of places for church youngsters … what I would be saying is that number ought to be minimised because our primary function and our privilege is to serve the wider community. Ultimately I hope we can get the number of reserved places right down to 10 per cent.”

The Bishop’s comments come ahead of guidelines on admissions to be published by the CofE during the summer. Around half of the church’s 4,800 schools are voluntary aided, meaning they control their own admissions policies.

He also gave an interview to the BBC News TV channel, which is linked from Bishop: ‘Open school access, even if standards fall’.

And he gave an interview to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4: Church schools to be ‘fair’ to non-believers.

Other news reports:

Guardian Church of England schools urged to offer more places to non-Christians
Telegraph Limit believers to 10pc of pupils in CoE schools, urges bishop

Organisations which have been campaigning for such a policy change responded:

ACCORD Accord welcomes radical recommendation to reduce religious discrimination in Church of England schools
British Humanist Association New Church of England plans to reduce discrimination in school admissions welcome but do not go far enough
National Secular Society Bishop admits that church schools succeed because of selection
Ekklesia Church schools should end selection by religion

Further responses:
Telegraph Bishop under fire over quota plan for church schools
Polly Toynbee at Cif belief Faith schools: now even the church admits they’re unfair

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 22 April 2011 at 10:25pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Archbishop of Canterbury's website

The Archbishop of Canterbury has marked Holy Week by launching a redesign of his website. The contents appear to be much the same as before. BUT everything has been moved, so old links to the site no longer work. All they do is take you to the home page.

If you use the rss feed to read news items from the site, that too has moved. There is a link to the new feed on the home page.

The only announcement that I can find of this redesign was made at 00:03 on Wednesday of this week on the Archbishop’s recently created Facebook fan page. Lambeth Palace did not announce it on Twitter.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 22 April 2011 at 7:56pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

General Synod resources

There are many General Synod resources on the Church of England website. Here are some that have been recently added or updated.

The verbatim Report of Proceedings: February 2011 is now available.

The verbatim report of the meeting of the House of Laity held on 7 February 2011 is also available.

The Agendas and Papers page now includes links to the General Synod Index. This is a classified list of General Synod papers, issued after each quinquenium, that now goes back to the first General Synod in 1970.

There is also a list of Synod papers in number order with links to online papers. It is not yet complete but is gradually being extended.

There is a forecast of the business for the July 2011 meeting of General Synod. There is a note here to say that the final agenda will be determined by a meeting of the Business Committee on May 25 2011.

There are up-to-date lists of private members’ motions and diocesan synod motions.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 20 April 2011 at 5:41pm BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Covenant alternatives: are there any?

Alan Perry has written Yes, Virginia, There is an Alternative

TINA: There Is No Alternative.

The slogan was used so often by Margaret Thatcher that my English friends tell me her detractors began to call her Tina.

TINA can indicate a number of possible things:

At times, it is true, that options are in short supply. And it may seem there are no choices but a single proposal on the table. But that is not the usual meaning of TINA.

TINA can also indicate a failure of imagination or initiative. In this case, it’s not so much that there are no alternatives, but rather that whoever is in charge is unable to think of any, or simply couldn’t be bothered.

But in its usual sense, TINA is an ideological assertion. It’s not that there aren’t any alternatives, but that whoever is saying TINA is unwilling to entertain any other options than that which is being pushed. In this sense, TINA is a slogan. It’s propaganda, which dismisses any attempt to suggest that alternatives should be imagined and explored. It’s a slightly less impolite way of saying, “my way or the highway.” TINA is the slogan of what is euphemistically called strong and decisive leadership, or bullying in plain English.

TINA has taken a central place in the narrative in support of the proposed Anglican Covenant. We are told that it is the Covenant or the demise of the Anglican Communion. We are told that there are no other options, so we’d better get on board with the right side of history and support the Covenant. I’m not here launching an ad hominem attack on the leadership of the Anglican Communion. I’m not calling them Margaret Thatchers or bullies. Nor am I suggesting that they are deliberately engaging in propaganda. I am prepared to believe that they honestly believe that there is no alternative to the Anglican Covenant as proposed.

But they’re wrong. TINA isn’t true. There are alternatives…

In the same vein, Laura Sykes penned Is Archbishop Rowan fatally dependent on his sat nav?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 at 6:44pm BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Monday, 18 April 2011

New Zealand Maori diocese rejects Covenant

The central North Island hui amorangi (Maori diocese) of Te Manawa o Te Wheke has become the first New Zealand episcopal unit to formally give the thumbs-down to the proposed Anglican covenant.

Read more about this at Manawa o Te Wheke rejects Anglican covenant.

The text of the motion passed unanimously:

That Te Hui Amorangi o Te Manawa o Te Wheke, for the purpose of providing feedback to Te Hinota Whanui/ General Synod, states its opposition to The Anglican Covenant for the following reasons:

  • After much consideration this Amorangi feels that The Anglican Covenant will threaten the Rangatiratanga of the Tangata Whenua.
  • We believe The Anglican Covenant does not reflect our understanding of being Anglican in these islands.
  • We would like this Church to focus on the restoration of justice to Te Tiriti o Waitangi which Tangata Whenua signed and currently do not have what they signed for.

There are five [Maori] hui amorangi. Any motion must gain a majority in all three Tikanga (Maori, Pakeha, and Polynesia) and three hui amorangi constitute a majority in Tikanga Maori. So two further similar votes would cause the Covenant to be “dead in the water” in New Zealand.

Peter Carrell has written Dead Duck Covenant?

Bosco Peters has written Maori vote against Covenant

…Since 1992, the Constitution of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia provides for three Tikanga (cultural streams) partners to order their affairs within their own cultural context: Tikanga Maori (the indigenous people of Aotearoa-New Zealand); Tikanga Pakeha (those here by virtue of te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi); Tikanga Pasefika (encompassing the episcopal units of Polynesia in New Zealand, Vanua Levu and Taveuni, and Viti Levu West, and the Archdeaconries of Suva and Ovalau, Samoa and American Samoa, and Tonga).

When significant decisions are made at te Hinota Whanui/General Synod, as with other Anglican Provinces, there must be agreement across all houses – here those are the house of bishops, clergy, and laity. There must also be agreement across all Tikanga. In other words, even if Tikanga Pakeha and Tikanga Pasefica are in majority agreement in favour of the Covenant, if Tikanga Maori votes against the Covenant, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia would be saying no to the Covenant…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 18 April 2011 at 8:33am BST | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 16 April 2011

opinion for Palm Sunday

James Hannam writes for Patheos that Science and Christianity Can Get On Better Than You Think.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that Faith offers a tragic wisdom.

Jay Michaelson in The Huffington Post asks Who Are the Real Sodomites?

Christopher Howse writes in The Telegraph that St George gets his bank holiday.

Emine Saner interviews Robert Winston and Sam Harris in The Guardian: Is there any place for religious faith in science?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 16 April 2011 at 11:00am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Three articles from the Living Church

There have been several articles recently in the Living Church by Church of England writers.

Andrew Goddard has written about Establishment in the CofE.
See Arbiters of the Faith?

The Church of England, wrestling with internal differences over provision for opponents of women bishops and over responses to same-sex relationships, could soon find a further contentious topic being added to the mix: the question of establishment, the church’s relationship with the state. This has been highlighted by two recent developments in which government ministers or Members of Parliament have pressed for a certain conception of equality in English law and society…

Paul Avis and Geoffrey Rowell have both written about the Anglican Covenant.

See Catholicity Outweighs Autonomy by Avis.

The future of the Anglican Communion is in jeopardy. The Windsor Report proposed an Anglican Covenant, centering on mutual commitment, to secure a unified future for the Communion. The Anglican Covenant is the only credible proposal that I am aware of to help hold this family of churches together. The alternative to the Covenant is to allow the present sharp tensions to be worked out in the formal separation of some churches of the Communion from others — and that means schism, and the fracture and possible dissolution of the Anglican Communion…

And Belonging Together by Rowell.

…As vice-chair for a number of years of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations, I am aware of how divisions in the Communion pose challenges to our ecumenical partners in dialogue — who are we talking to? Do Anglicans affirm same-sex relationships as equal and equivalent to marriage, or do they uphold Christian teaching of marriage as being a lifelong union between a man and a woman? Behind the particular questions are questions about authority in the Communion, and our belonging together. The Anglican Covenant emerges out of this situation and is a result of careful consultation. If we can make ecumenical agreements with other churches we ought clearly be able to do so among ourselves…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 16 April 2011 at 9:18am BST | Comments (51) | TrackBack
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Anglican Standing Committee update

The Standing Committee is a 14-member group (15, if the Archbishop of Canterbury is present, as he is an ex officio member, as well as being its President). Seven of its members are elected by the members of the ACC, and five are members of the Primates’ Standing Committee. The other two members are the Chair and Vice-Chair of the ACC, elected by the members in plenary session. Their function is together to assist the Churches of the Anglican Communion in advancing the work of their mission worldwide.

There is a Q and A about the Standing Committee here which has further information.

The previous TA update was this one. And later there was an interview with Canon John Rees which we reported here.

The minutes of the meeting held in July 2010 are available from this page as a PDF, here.

The meeting held in March 2011 was reported in a series of bulletins starting with this one, and continuing here, then here, and finally here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 16 April 2011 at 8:24am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Friday, 15 April 2011

new Bishop of Lincoln

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Christopher Lowson, AKC, STM, MTh, LLM, Director of Ministry at the Archbishops’ Council, for election as Bishop of Lincoln in succession to the Right Reverend Dr John Charles Saxbee, BA, PhD, on his resignation on the 31 January 2011.

Press release from 10 Downing Street Bishop of Lincoln

Press release from diocese: Appointment of 72nd Bishop of Lincoln

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 15 April 2011 at 7:43am BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Church Commissioners announce 2010 results

The Church Commissioners have announced their financial results. The full press release is now available here.

Church Commissioners’ results confirm long-term growth

The Church Commissioners have today announced a 15.2 per cent return on their investments during 2010. Their fund has now outperformed its comparator group over the past 10 and 15 years.*

Despite challenging economic times for both the Church and wider society, the Commissioners - who contributed more than £200 million in 2010 towards the cost of maintaining the mission of the Church of England - grew their fund to £5.3 billion (from £4.8 billion at December 31, 2009).

Although most of the costs of the Church’s mission are met by the generous giving of today’s parishioners, the Commissioners contribute around 17p in the pound towards the total. The Commissioners’ contribution is biased towards supporting poorer dioceses.
Today’s results show that the Commissioners are able to distribute £26 million more each year to the Church than if their investments had performed only at the industry average over the last ten years, while pursuing their policy of maintaining the real value of the fund.

Andreas Whittam Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner, said: “These results are good news for the Church and its vital role in the life of the nation. Our mission is to support the Church’s ministry, particularly in areas of need and opportunity - we meet that by ensuring our investments achieve sustainable long-term growth.”

Returns from the fund, held in a broad range of assets, pay for: clergy pensions for service up to the end of 1997; supporting poorer dioceses with the costs of ministry; funding some mission activities; paying for bishops’ ministries and some cathedral costs; and funding the legal framework for parish reorganisation.

The Commissioners manage their investments within ethical guidelines, with advice from the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group.
Andrew Brown, Secretary to the Church Commissioners, said: “Investment performance was strong across the board in 2010 underlying the importance of our diversified portfolio. We plan to continue to diversify the fund into other attractive and appropriate asset classes to reduce further the fund’s overall volatility.
“In addition, our Assets Committee has adopted a deliberate policy of being more active in terms of the fund’s overall asset allocation, adjusting the level of risk depending on the market opportunity.”

The main factors behind the fund’s strong performance in 2010 were:

  • The Commissioners’ higher weighting in shares, particularly those held in companies with overseas interests.
  • The bias to higher performing smaller companies within UK shareholdings.
  • The low weighting in UK government bonds, index-linked bonds and UK investment grade bonds and higher investment in property compared with the average pension fund.
  • The Commissioners’ property portfolio achieved a 15.4 per cent return, exceeding its comparator group, the Investment Property Databank.
  • The contribution from the Commissioners’ multi-asset fund managers.

The Commissioners’ overall 15.2 per cent return was achieved against a comparator performance of 12.7 per cent for 2010. Over the past 10 years, total returns averaged 6.3 per cent per year, against the comparator group’s 4.5 per cent. Over the past 15 years, the Commissioners outperformed the comparator group with an average annual return of 9.3 per cent against 7.0 per cent…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 15 April 2011 at 1:00am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 14 April 2011

Archbishop Okoh answers some questions

The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, has been interviewed on a range of subjects. The full text is published on the website of the Church of Nigeria. Read it here.

TA readers may be most interested in this section:


RESPONSE: The fight against homosexual had been on for quite some time and the Anglican church in Nigeria and I must say not only in Nigeria in other places of the world have said no to the homosexual lifestyle, that that type of sexual orientation is unbiblical, ungodly, unnatural, unacceptable.

We have said that over and over again, we discover that those who are set on it think we are ignorant, they think we are living the old past time- ancient days but that this is a post modern day and that they can rewrite the bible to suit their culture the way they want it.

But what we have continued to say is that that sexual relationship is against the society because the society rules through procreation and when we allow a sizeable member of the society to be homosexuals or Lesbians we cannot expect procreation to take place so naturally it is against nature.

It is unfortunate and right now, the other time I visited United Kingdom they were saying that people are free to come to the places where they worship to come and solemnize their homosexual relationship or lesbian relationship in their places of worship.

I am aware that the Church of England says no and so also the Roman Catholic Church.

There are quite a number that says they don’t mind and that the basic thing is that two people love themselves which is a very selfish perspective.

The issue at stake is not just a case of if it will make two people happy if they love themselves. I think that the rejection of absolute truth, absolute right and wrong had turned everything to the doctrine of relativism.

We are in a kind of free moral fall and we do not know when it is going to stop. Let me say this is not an Anglican form, it cuts across denominations. Some have decided to keep quiet because it is very embarrassing they decided to hide it.

The Anglican Church has been quite vocal about it discussing it openly. Those of us in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and some other parts of the world, some parts of Australia, some part of America, some parts of United Kingdom.

You don’t have a particular place where you will say the whole of this people are homosexuals we just have pockets, in fact this is a kind of focal minority who are trying to turn the table against the majority and right now as I talk to you, the journalists, the lawmakers, in the UK, the politicians, the school authorities, the government, they are all in support. In America, we now have two bishops who are homosexuals and of course Canada supported it.

I can say that this vocal minority has redefined the family in a very radical way. What we used to know is a family made up of a man a woman and Godly raised children. We are now being told that a man and a man can form a family and then they can get a child.

There was even a very amusing one claiming to be a mother and presenting another man who is the husband and they adopted a child from a surrogate mother. All these are happening in our time, and when you dare raise objection they say you are not sufficiently educated, they say you are living in the pre-medieval age, they say you need to be exposed.

But the question we continue to ask is that the gospel came to us and identified areas where we were not living well and the gospel corrected us, the gospel transformed our lives, for instance we were killing twins here and when it was exposed to us that we were wrong, we dropped it.

The irony of the situation now is that the people who brought this are now telling us that such things are right but thank God we are not very confused we are not confused at all.

The scripture has been given to us we will not return it to anybody, we have accepted it and we are implementing it because we have a heavenly agenda.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 15 April 2011 at 12:16am BST | Comments (38) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Los Angeles declines to endorse Anglican Covenant

The Diocese of Los Angeles has issued this press release: Diocese of Los Angeles declines to endorse Anglican Covenant.

And there is this video documenting the process by which Diocesan Convention initiated the response.

Here is an extract:

… We are concerned about the omission of the laity from Section 3. As St. Paul teaches, we are all of us the Body of Christ and individually members thereof (I Corinthians 12). There are four orders of ministry in the Church – bishops, priests, deacons and lay people, who also minister as members of the baptized people of God. Such an ecclesiology should both undergird the theology expressed in the Covenant and the church structures developed as means of connecting and serving the churches of the Communion. A Covenant to which we could subscribe would need to re-imagine the Instruments of Communion to provide a stronger representation from all the orders of ministry.

Section 4 is of greatest concern. It creates a punitive, bureaucratic, juridical process within the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, elevating its authority over the member churches despite previous affirmations of member church autonomy (see, e.g., Section 4.1.3). It contains no clear process for dispute resolution, no checks and balances, no right of appeal. The concept of mediation, introduced in Section 3.2.6, is not mentioned in Section 4. The covenant’s focus on “maintenance, dispute and withdrawal” bodes of an immobilized church mission instead of one that is flexible and prophetic. For these reasons, we cannot agree to Section 4.

We cannot endorse a covenant that, for the first time in the history of The Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion, will pave the way toward emphasizing perceived negative differences instead of our continuing positive and abundant commonality. We strongly urge more direct face-to-face dialogue, study, prayer and education before the adoption of a document that has such historic significance in the life of the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church. Our differences should not be seen as something that must be proved wrong or endured but rather a motivation to dig deeper into discerning God’s purposes for God’s church…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 at 11:56pm BST | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Sham marriages


The English House of Bishops has issued new Guidance on the marriage of persons from outside the European Economic Area which can be downloaded from here.

This page links to two documents:

In addition, reference is made in the first document to:

Here is the official press release: Bishops act to tackle sham marriages

And some press reports:
Alan Travis in The Guardian: Sham marriages targeted in Church of England crackdown
Tom Whitehead in The Telegraph: New rules for migrant church weddings
BBC: Church of England in ‘sham marriage’ crackdown

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 12 April 2011 at 10:55am BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | News

new Bishop of Salisbury

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Nicholas Roderick Holtam, BD, MA, FKC, Hon DCL, Vicar of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields in the diocese of London, for election as Bishop of Salisbury in succession to the Right Reverend Dr David Staffurth Stancliffe, MA, DD, on his resignation on 30 September 2010.

Press Release from 10 Downing Street: Diocese of Salisbury

Statement on diocesan website: New Bishop of Salisbury Announced

Statement on the St Martin-in-the-Fields wesbite: Revd Nicholas Holtam appointed Bishop of Salisbury

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 12 April 2011 at 7:48am BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Monday, 11 April 2011

Self-Supporting Ministry

BRIN (British Religion in Numbers) reports on a study of Self-Supporting Ministry in the UK.

Self-Supporting Ministry

In 2009 3,100 or 27% of all the Church of England’s diocesan licensed ministers were in self-supporting ministry (SSM), sometimes described as non-stipendiary ministry. Hitherto, comparatively little has been known about these SSMs and how they are utilized by the Church.

That omission is now rectified by research published in the Church Times of 1 April 2011 (pp. 5, 22-3) and 8 April 2011 (pp. 4, 22-3, 30). These articles, together with some of the raw data in chart form, can be downloaded from:

The study was undertaken by Rev Dr Teresa Morgan, Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History at Oriel College, Oxford and herself in the SSM, in the parish of Littlemore.

Fieldwork took place during the autumn of 2010 by means of an online questionnaire, to which 890 SSMs in the UK (but mostly from England) responded, representing 28% of the universe.

SSMs were found to contribute a significant amount of time to their ministry, with one-quarter putting in more than 30 hours a week and a further one-fifth between 20 and 30 hours. Only 15% spent fewer than 10 hours a week on their ministry.

Moreover, the overwhelming majority regarded their ministry as a privilege and a joy and had received extensive pre- and post-ordination training.

Notwithstanding, many respondents gave the clear impression that they were ‘ignored, overlooked or under-used’ in the Church, ‘parked somewhere, and left’, and ‘sidelined’. Some commented that stipendiary ministers appeared not to regard SSMs as ‘proper’ clergy and treated them badly.

Likewise, many SSMs reported a degree of stagnation in their ministry since ordination. 46% had held only one post since ordination, and 41% reported no change in their ministry during this time. Just 13% had lead responsibility for ministry in their parish or chaplaincy. 59% exercised no significant ministry beyond the Church. Almost one-quarter claimed to have received no ministerial development review.

Morgan is critical of the Church for its lack of strategy with regard to SSM and especially of the failure of dioceses to consider SSMs in their planning processes. She dismisses the raft of alleged impediments to the effective use of SSMs often cited by Church leaders, arguing that her survey has empirically disproved them.

The two reports in the Church Times are

Unpaid, unregarded, and under-used
Equipped and ready for action

although the second of these is only available to subscribers until Friday.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 11 April 2011 at 12:00pm BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 9 April 2011


David Lose in The Huffington Post asks Is the Bible True?

James McGrath writes for Religion at the Margins about The Veil That Prevents Fundamentalists from Understanding the Bible.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that The Bible is not like moral sayings.

Here’s an early Easter message from the USA: The Presiding Bishop’s Easter message.

Harriet Baber writes in The Guardian that Religion is not really about ethics. “As a compendium of moral doctrine the Bible doesn’t come off well. Its relevance lies in its teaching of the nature of God.”
Her article is one of several answers to this week’s The Question: What would you add to the Bible?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 9 April 2011 at 11:00am BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 7 April 2011

Martin Rees wins the Templeton Prize

updated Friday morning to add Church Times article and Guardian editorial, and again to add Times interview, and in the afternoon another Guardian article.

It was announced yesterday that the astrophysicist Martin Rees had been awarded the 2011 Templeton Prize.

The Guardian covered this story extensively.
Ian Sample: Martin Rees wins controversial £1m Templeton prize
Templeton Prize 2011: Full transcript of Martin Rees’s acceptance speech
Ian Sample interviewed Martin Rees on Tuesday before the announcement that he had won the Templeton Prize. This is a full transcript of the interview: Martin Rees: I’ve got no religious beliefs at all – interview.

The Guardian also has these comment articles
Mark Vernon: Martin Rees’s Templeton prize may mark a turning point in the ‘God wars’
Jerry Coyne: Martin Rees and the Templeton travesty
Michael White: Martin Rees and the Templeton prize: why are the atheists so cross?
Dan Jones: The Templeton Foundation is not an enemy of science
and this editorial: Martin Rees: Prize war.

But there was other coverage.
Michael Banks at Martin Rees wins £1m Templeton Prize
Daniel Cressey in Nature: Martin Rees takes Templeton Prize
Steve Connor in The Independent: For the love of God… scientists in uproar at £1m religion prize
Chris Herlinger in The Huffington Post: Martin Rees, British Astrophysicist, Wins Templeton Prize
Ed Thornton in the Church Times: Non-believing churchgoer is winner of Templeton Prize
Hannah Devlin and Ruth Gledhill of The Times interview on YouTube: Martin Rees, winner of The Templeton Prize, on God, life, the universe (21 minutes)

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 7 April 2011 at 4:56pm BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Wales and the Anglican Covenant

The Church in Wales is inviting the public to comment on the Anglican Covenant, see this page.

To help in this matter, a commentary provided by the Church in Wales Doctrinal Commission has also been published, as a PDF file, here (link now corrected)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 6 April 2011 at 7:06pm BST | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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Nigerian bishops ask for help in England

The following passage comes from Archbishop Okoh’s opening address to the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria held on 3 March 2011. (It has only just come to my attention.)

Visit to the UK: In our meeting in Lagos, we were mandated to visit the UK to ascertain the condition of Nigerian Anglicans, and how to help them. Our first attempt was on 17th December 2010, which failed because excessive snow fall, led to the closure of Heathrow airport. We rescheduled for 16th February, 2011. Thank God we were able to go. It was a full delegation. The Group was made up of:

The Most Revd Nicholas D. Okoh - Primate
The Most Revd Joseph Akinfenwa - Ibadan
The Most Revd Michael Akinyemi - Kwara
The Most Revd Bennet Okoro Owerri
The Most Revd Ignatius Kattey Niger Delta
The Most Revd Emmanuel Egbunu - Lokoja
The Rt. Revd David Onuoha - Secretary
Barr. Abraham Yisa - Registrar

The delegation was well received by the Nigerian High Commission in London. There was a brief meeting and an interactive section. The group also visited the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace. Our message:

The need to allow Nigerians to worship “the Nigeria way” in abandoned Church buildings or allow them a scheduled time in parish Churches where they could express themselves unreservedly in worship, to save us from the unceasing and intense bleeding of our young executive Anglicans moving over to the New Generation Churches due to what they describe as “cold” worship style. Our request was viewed positively by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of All England. We also visited the Lord Bishop of London and the Bishop of Southwark. Other places visited include Manchester and Birmingham. In summary the Archbishop requested us to put our proposal into writing. He assured us that it is a practical proposal. We addressed a group of Nigerians of different age brackets in London, Manchester and Birmingham and had a special session with representatives of Nigerian Clergy in the UK. Our visit was said to be timely. But a few had their reservations.

Another issue which has emerged in this visit is the status, sponsorship and future of the Nigerian Chaplaincy in the UK. At the moment they are enjoying the last part of the generosity of the CMS, and the grace and benevolence of St. Marylebone. These are issues requiring urgent attention.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 6 April 2011 at 1:34pm BST | Comments (33) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Chicago Consultation publishes The Genius of Anglicanism

press release from The Chicago Consultation


The Genius of Anglicanism includes essays by theologians, church leaders

April 5, 2011—The Chicago Consultation, which advocates for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the worldwide Anglican Communion, has released a collection of essays and study questions on the proposed Anglican Covenant.

The Genius of Anglicanism, a 64-page booklet, includes eight essays and study questions, and may be downloaded at no cost at

“We believe that congregations, bishops, General Convention deputations and individual Episcopalians will benefit from this careful exploration of the proposed covenant,” said the Rev. Lowell Grisham, co-convener of the Chicago Consultation and rector of St. Paul’s Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

“The proposed covenant is a complex document that could have a major impact on the Episcopal Church and its many vital and longstanding relationships within the wider Anglican Communion,” he added. “We are grateful that well-respected theologians, clergy and lay leaders were willing to analyze it for us.”

The Very Rev. Jane Shaw, Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and former dean of divinity at New College, Oxford, wrote the introduction for the guide, which was edited by Jim Naughton and includes essays by:

  • The Rev. Ruth Meyers, Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California, on the relationship of the proposed covenant to the Baptismal Covenant of the Episcopal Church
  • The Rev. Ellen Wondra, editor in chief of the Anglican Theological Review and academic dean at Seabury Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois on how a theological innovation, such as the proposed covenant is received or rejected by a community of faith
  • The Rev. Timothy Sedgwick, Clinton S. Quin Professor of Christian Ethics at Virginia Theological Seminary, on the concept of episcopal authority in the proposed covenant
  • Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Mary Wolfe Professor Emerita of Historical Theology at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cam bridge, Massachusetts, on how the proposed covenant will affect the participation of the laity in Communion affairs
  • The Rev. Canon Mark Harris, of the Diocese of Delaware, a member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council on the proposed covenant and the traditional concept of “the historic episcopate locally adapted”
  • Sally Johnson, chancellor to Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies on the judicial and disciplinary provisions in the fourth section of the proposed covenant
  • The Rev. Gay Jennings, the Episcopal Church’s clergy representative to the Anglican Consultative Council, on the Anglican Communion’s existing covenant, which is grounded in the Five Marks of Mission
  • The Rev. Winnie Varghese, priest-in-charge at St. Mark’s-Church-in-the-Bowery in New York City and member of Executive Council on the kind of covenant necessary to make the Communion an ally of the poor and the oppressed.

Grisham, who prepared the study questions that accompany each essay, said he believes the booklet will be widely used in the run-up to the Episcopal Church’s next General Convention in July 2012.

The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. To learn more about the Chicago Consultation, visit

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 6 April 2011 at 12:37am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | ECUSA

Religion and the Courts

Aidan O’Neill QC has written about Religious Organisations and Secular Courts: The Ministerial Exception.

Read it in two parts at the UK Supreme Court Blog.

Part 1: The Ministerial exception in US case law

On 28 March 2011 the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Perich v. Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church. This means that an appeal can be brought before the US Supreme Court in which, for the first time, that court will consider the constitutionality of the legal doctrine known as the “Ministerial exception”.

The “Ministerial exception” is a US court created (common law) principle which is said to be implicit within and derived from the US Constitution’s First Amendment’s prohibition of “religious establishment” and its guarantee of “religious freedom”…

Part 2: The Ministerial exception in UK and EU case law

Perhaps under the influence of this US case law, by the last quarter of the twentieth century the growing tendency of the courts – at least in England and Wales – was to seek to avoid becoming mired in matters of ecclesiastical sensitivity and/or theological controversy by denying that they had jurisdiction to consider (intra- or inter-) religious disputes brought before them.

Paradoxically, this new found uneasiness as to the propriety of the civil courts ruling on matters religious might be thought to reflect the growing secularisation of public life in the UK, with the judges drawn from an increasingly unChurched class who – in contrast to their church-going and religiously literate Victorian and Edwardian forbears – felt uncomfortable and unqualified to sit in judgment on religious matters. Thus, the courts in England and Wales in this period declined to consider applications for judicial review brought by individuals exercising ministerial functions within various non-established religious denominations on the grounds that there was no “public law” element such as to make the case suitable for judicial review, apparently relying on a UK public law principle of separation of Church and State which had, in fact, no place historically with the polities making up the United Kingdom…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 5 April 2011 at 5:24pm BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 3 April 2011

Anglican Covenant section by section

Alan Perry has just written an analysis of Section 3 of the Anglican Covenant, see Life Together.

Section 3 of the proposed Anglican Covenant describes the way in which the Churches of the Anglican Communion collaborate with each other. At the heart of this section is a description of the Instruments of Communion. These used to be know as Instruments of Unity, but for some inscrutable reason the term was changed in recent times.

Section 3.1.2 correctly notes, quoting the Lambeth Conference of 1930, that “Churches of the Anglican Communion are bound together ‘not by a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the bishops in conference’ and of the other instruments of Communion.” This statement is a little ironic, of course, being contained within a document which is being proposed as central legislation for the Communion, and which gives at least some executive powers to the Instruments of Communion and the Standing Committee. As we say in Quebec, it seems the proposed Covenant is speaking out of both sides of its mouth…

His earlier analyses of Section 1 are called Defining the Faith and Living the Faith.

That of Section 2 is called Vocation and Mission in the Anglican Communion.

And there is lots more analysis of the Anglican Covenant elsewhere in his blog.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 3 April 2011 at 7:52pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Court rejects request to review in Pittsburgh

The Diocese of Pittsburgh reports that the earlier court decision in its favour is upheld.

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has turned down a request made by former diocesan leaders to reargue their appeal of a lower court’s ruling concerning diocesan property.

On February 2, 2011, Commonwealth Court affirmed the decision by Judge Joseph James of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County that found the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church to be the rightful trustee of diocesan-held property and assets, based on a Stipulation the former diocesan leaders agreed to in 2005. Those former leaders had appealed Judge James’ decision to Commonwealth Court, and two weeks after the appeals court affirmed Judge James, they asked the appeals court to reconsider its ruling.

The actual court order is available as a PDF, but the content is reproduced here:

NOW, March 29 2011, having considered appellants’ application for re-argument before the court en banc and appellees’ answer, the application is denied.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 2 April 2011 at 11:26pm BST | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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opinion for Refreshment Sunday

Maggi Dawn writes for Ekklesia about Recovering ‘Refreshment Sunday’. The article is also on her blog under the title Mothers Day (AKA Refreshment Sunday).

Brett McCracken in Relevant asks Is Church Worth It? “Many of us have been hurt by church. But what if sticking with it actually matters?”

Giles Fraser in the Church Times explains Why I did not march on Saturday.

Becky Garrison writes in The Guardian that Trans clergy are finally gaining greater acceptance. “As we approach Transgender Faith Action Week, progress can be seen in attitudes to trans people within the church.”

Christopher Howse has two Sacred mysteries columns in The Telegraph this week: Why did the king sack El Greco? and Mary’s feet on the dusty ground.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 2 April 2011 at 11:00am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Friday, 1 April 2011

letters about the Anglican Covenant

Letters published last week in the Church Times can now be found at Anglican Covenant: responses to last week’s Church Times guide.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 1 April 2011 at 8:12am BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England