Updated Friday morning
Savi Hensman has written for Cif belief When is Gafcon going to start listening?
Religious ultra-“conservatives” have launched an Anglican Mission in England (Amie). This is “dedicated to the conversion of England and biblical church planting”.
Leaders of Gafcon (Global Anglican Future Conference) and FCA (Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans) see themselves as championing traditional Anglicanism. Others regard them as out of step with church tradition, and object to their attempts to undermine others in the family of churches making up the Anglican Communion.
In May, a statement was issued by the council of primates (most senior bishops) of Gafcon/FCA, which lamented “the promotion of a shadow gospel that appears to replace a traditional reading of Holy Scriptures and a robust theology of the church with an uncertain faith and a never ending listening process”. Yet for many, the “listening process” on sexuality never truly started…
In this week’s Divine Dispatches Riazat Butt writes about AMiE:
If You Seek Amie then you’ve come to the right place. Amie is of course an acronym for the Anglican Mission in England – not to be confused with Amie – The Associate Member of the Institute of Engineers. And what a misnomer of an acronym it is. What’s that saying? Beware of strangers bearing gifts. Amie states, not at all ominously, that its intention is to support “those who have been alienated so that they can remain within the Anglican family. Churches or individuals may join or affiliate themselves with the Amie for a variety of reasons. Some may be churches in impaired communion with their diocesan bishop who require oversight. Others may be in good relations with their bishop but wish to identify with and support others.”
So, in non-Anglican parlance, this means if you don’t like your bishop you can have another one that fits more neatly with your world view. They don’t even have to be a bishop in the Church of England. I have three words for you – cross-border intervention. I also have four words for you – church within a church. What do the sages at Lambeth Palace and Bishopthorpe have to say about this parking of tanks on the CoE lawn? I’ll tell you – nothing! What should they say? Get off my land, that’s what.
The Church Times has the headline: Group names five bishops ready to defy diocesans.
…The three unnamed clerics were ordained in Kenya on 11 June by the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, who chairs the GAFCON Primates’ Council, formed after the Global Anglican conference in Jerusalem in 2008. All three come from the diocese of Southwark. The diocese said on Wednesday that it had received no request for permission to officiate there.
Dr Williams was in Kenya last week. A Lambeth spokeswoman was unable to say this week whether the two had discussed this development.
The Revd Charles Raven, the director of the Society for the Propagation of Reformed Evangelical Anglican Doctrine, wrote on the organisation’s website on Thursday of last week that the three men had gone to Kenya to be ordained “because the English diocesan bishop concerned had refused to give any assurances that he would uphold biblical teaching on homosexual practice”.
The chairman of the AMiE steering committee is the Revd Paul Perkin, Vicar of St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, and the group’s secretary is Canon Chris Sugden.
Dr Sugden said that the group was awaiting a response from Dr Williams to Dr Wabukala’s request that the three clergy be granted permission to officiate under the Overseas Clergy Measure. The chairman of Reform, the Rt Revd Rod Thomas, said that “episcopal oversight” of the three men “has been delegated to the AMiE bishops”…
Following on from this announcement, the Sunday Times carried an advertisement for a new Communications Director which you can see here. Further information about the post can be found here and then here.
This is no ordinary Communications Director job. We are looking for somebody who will share our values and whilst not necessarily an Anglican, is a practising Christian (this post is subject to an occupational requirement that the holder be a practising Christian under Part 1 of Schedule 9 to the Equality Act 2010 because of its representational role and its responsibility for maintaining a Christian ethos within the national Church, as one of its senior officers).
Now, this has been assumed by some people to be a reference to Clause 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 9. That clause is the one which contains all the exemptions relating to gender, marital status, sexual orientation and so forth.
However, I do not believe that is what they meant to reference. I believe the intention was to reference Clause 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 9. This reads (scroll down at the previous link):
Other requirements relating to religion or belief
3 A person (A) with an ethos based on religion or belief does not contravene a provision mentioned in paragraph 1(2) by applying in relation to work a requirement to be of a particular religion or belief if A shows that, having regard to that ethos and to the nature or context of the work—
(a) it is an occupational requirement,
(b) the application of the requirement is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, and
(c) the person to whom A applies the requirement does not meet it (or A has reasonable grounds for not being satisfied that the person meets it).
This is the clause that transposes into the Equality Act 2010 the exemption formerly contained in The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003. This exemption was, and is, entirely separate and distinct from others which were formerly contained in the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, as amended and The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003. All of these are now bundled into Clause 2.
So, why have other interpretations been put upon this advertisement? I think there are two causes.
The second is the fact that during the passage of the Equality Act, Secretary General William Fittall gave evidence to a parliamentary committee in which he specifically cited this job as an example of a senior post, likely to be held by a lay person, which he considered should fall within the ambit of the Clause 1 exemptions. Here is what he said at the time. The context of his remarks was a Labour government proposal incorporated in the draft bill to modify the wording of the Clause 2 exemption to be more explicit about who was to be included. This was fiercely resisted by the CofE, and was the reason why a large number of bishops turned out to vote in the House of Lords in favour of an amendment which deleted the proposed changes. The amendment passed, and so the scope of the exemption today remains exactly what it was before.
It is therefore understandable that some would now be suspicious. And, if my interpretation of the intention to invoke only Paragraph 3 is correct, it might be helpful if future advertisements were worded more precisely.
The official CofE response to queries on this is as follows:
‘The occupational requirement that the postholder be a practising Christian means what it says, neither more nor less. Staff are appointed to senior positions in the national institutions of the Church of England by fair and competitive processes. They have to be able to show that they can serve it in all its diversity and operate its equal opportunities policies. Suggestions that appointments are made in pursuit of a particular cultural or partisan agenda are completely unfounded.’
The Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church has issued a report on the Anglican Covenant.
See this ENS news report: Task force releases report on Anglican Covenant.
“The SCCC is of the view that adoption of the current draft Anglican Covenant has the potential to change the constitutional and canonical framework of [the Episcopal Church], particularly with respect to the autonomy of our Church, and the constitutional authority of our General Convention, bishops and dioceses,” says the report.
The full text of the report can be found here as a PDF.
Mark Harris has commented on it: The Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons’ report. There it is.
Two more diocesan synods have voted on the legislation to allow women to be bishops. On the main motion to support the legislation both synods voted in favour in all three houses.
Several following motions all failed. See details in the comments below.
Southwell & Nottingham
At Southwell & Nottingham a following motion seeking greater provision for the opponents of women bishops was defeated (For: 8 Against: 68 Abstained: 4).
WATCH is maintaining a list of all the votes on the main motion.
Press release from Fulcrum:
Fulcrum Statement on Interventionist Anglican Mission in England
Fulcrum expresses serious concern at the launch of the Anglican Mission to England (AMIE) and calls for immediate dialogue within the entire evangelical constituency over this development, for reasons including:
- A name reflecting breakaway movements in the USA inviting the conclusion that this is the true purpose of the new society
- The creation of a society with a conservative evangelical ‘political’ agenda not simply mission
- The creation of a panel of bishops that signals the intention of offering alternative oversight without collaboration with senior leaders of the Church of England
- Indications that the society will take its own path in the authorisation of ministry, as evidenced by its approval of the recent secret ordinations in Kenya, which is an escalation of the earlier regrettable Southwark ordinations
For the full statement, go to the Fulcrum website.
Margaret Duggan has a detailed preview of next month’s General Synod agenda in the Church Times: Small groups and a ‘big idea’ for Synod in York.
My list of online synod papers is now, I think, complete.
One item of synod business is the order setting parochial fees for 2012 to 2014. As well as the draft order itself there is an explanatory memorandum and a rationale.
Amendments to the Order are permissible. Any member who wishes to give notice of an amendment must do so in writing to the Clerk to the Synod not later than 5.30 p.m. on Thursday 7 July 2011.
The Fees Order will only come into effect if it is passed by Synod; if it is not passed the current scale of fees will continue to apply.
There has been some not necessarily totally accurate reporting of these proposals.
Steve Doughty in the Mail Online: End of ‘Ryanair’ fees for church weddings where choirs and organists are extra
John Bingham in the Telegraph: For poorer: cost of church weddings to rise 50pc
Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that To be alive is to be more than physical.
Mark Vernon writes for Cif belief that If you want big society, you need big religion.
Faith communities may encourage their members to contribute to society – but can politicians harness their benefits?
Also for Cif belief Nick Spencer writes for that Trevor Phillips is muddled on faith and equality.
The EHRC cannot have it both ways – faith communities are either right or wrong to adhere to their beliefs.
Greg Carey writes for The Huffington Post about What The Bible Really Says About Slavery.
In his Sacred mysteries column in the Telegraph Christopher Howse discovers how Westminster Abbey had a narrow escape: When they put a shell on the Abbey.
According to the remarks of the Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, Robert Duncan, speaking on 21 June:
Our global commitments remain strong and we continue to be seen as “gospel partners” and bearers of “authentic Anglicanism” (South-South Encounter IV) by most of the world’s Anglicans. The GAFCON Provinces accord our Province status as the North American Province and I am seated as a Primate in the Primates Council. I was privileged to be present at Archbishop Ian Earnest’s invitation at the All Africa Bishops Conference (of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa) last August in Entebbe and was accorded a seat there for public and state events as one of the archbishops of the provinces. It is the greatest of joys to welcome Archbishop Ian Earnest – Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean and Chairman of CAPA – to this Provincial Council as speaker, observer and friend, and to our College of Bishops as Bible teacher and consultor. It is also a privilege to welcome Fr. Thomas Seville, CR, of the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England here as participant and observer, in partial response to the action of the General Synod of the Church of England in February 2010 regarding consideration of an appropriate form of recognition or relationship with the Anglican Church in North America.
Mark Harris has commented at length about this, in So, explain again just what the Church of England is up to in America?
…Participant and observer….sounds like more than just an exploratory visit. What in the world is the Church of England proposing to do “regarding consideration of an appropriate form of recognition or relationship with the ACNA”?
I presume the Archbishop of Canterbury, not in communion with ACNA as yet, knows that the Archbishop of ACNA is not the Archbishop of a Province of anything, much less a Province of the Anglican Communion. So it must be that in sending Fr. Seville over to participate and observe, the CofE is feeding the optimistic fires of ACNA’s Archbishop for recognition…
Tony Baldry MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner, answered five Written Questions from Diana Johnson MP in the House of Commons yesterday (23 June).
They covered the length of time to appoint and then consecrate new bishops, the ratios of bishops to parishes and the powers of PEVs.
The full text of the questions and answers from Hansard is reproduced below the fold. The not entirely appropriate headings are Hansard’s.
Church Commissioners Bishops: Public Appointments
Diana Johnson: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what the average length of time between announcing the retirement or resignation of a bishop and announcing the successor was in the latest period for which figures are available; what the period was in respect of the two provincial episcopal visitors who were recently appointed; and if he will make a statement. 
Tony Baldry: There are several factors which affect the period taken to fill an episcopal vacancy, the principal ones being the amount of notice, if any, that a bishop gives of his intention to leave office and, in the case of diocesan sees, the number of vacancies with which the Crown Nominations Commission is already dealing. Because of a peak of diocesan vacancies over the past three years the length of diocesan vacancies has been unusually long.
The following table contains data in respect of eight recent vacancies for diocesan sees, 10 for suffragan sees, and two (which occurred at the same time as each other) for the suffragan sees occupied by provincial episcopal visitors. All answers are in days and are for the period between the announcement of the intention to leave office and the announcement of the appointment.
|Average time taken||Actual time taken|
Diana Johnson: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what average time elapsed between the announcement of the appointment and the consecration of suffragan bishops in the latest period for which figures are available; what the period was in respect of the two provincial episcopal visitors who were recently appointed; and if he will make a statement. 
Tony Baldry: The table gives the period, in days, between the announcement of the appointments and the consecration dates in relation to 10 recent vacancies in suffragan sees and the two recent provincial episcopal visitor appointments:
|Average time taken||Actual time taken|
Church of England
Diana Johnson: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what the ratio is of Church of England parishes which have passed Resolution C to provincial episcopal visitors. 
Tony Baldry: The 2010 figures show that out of 12,614 parishes 363 parishes had petitioned for extended episcopal oversight, 802 had passed resolution A (under which a woman may not preside at Holy Communion) and 966 resolution B (under which a woman may not be incumbent of the parish). Under the Act of Synod the three provincial episcopal visitors have a spokesman and advisory role in relation to all those unable to receive the ministry of women priests as well as a direct oversight role for many of the 363 parishes who have petitioned for extended Episcopal oversight. For some of the 363 parishes oversight is provided by diocesan or other suffragan bishops who do not ordain women.
Church of England: Bishops
Diana Johnson: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what the ratio is of Church of England parishes to serving bishops. 
Tony Baldry: The most recent figures (2009) show that in the 43 dioceses of England and the Isle of Man there were 12,614 parishes and 110 bishops, of whom 43 were diocesan bishops. This gives a ratio of 115 parishes per bishop, though the actual ratio varies significantly between dioceses.
Diana Johnson: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what limits there are on any structures that provincial episcopal visitors are permitted to establish. 
Tony Baldry: Provincial episcopal visitors are suffragan bishops within the dioceses of Canterbury and York and have no authority to establish any structures separate from those of their dioceses.
Today the Church Times has this leader: Gay bishops again.
After summarising the non-story aspect of last weekend’s reports, it comments on the content:
In May, our view was a negative one, since the document listed several reasons why the appointment of a gay bishop could be blocked. This week’s positive spin has not changed our opinion. As the leaders of the “gay-led” Metropolitan Community Church in Manchester wrote to Dr Williams this week, “We note that [unlike a gay candidate] heterosexual candidates for bishoprics are not asked to repent of any sexual activity with which the Crown Appointments Commission may be uncomfortable.” More than one serving bishop has said that he would have considered it an impertinence had he been asked about his sexual history.
The legal advice has no more weight now than before it was circulated to Synod members. It was not approved by the Bishops when they discussed it in May, not least because, to many, the brief was not how to remove discrimination within the Church, but how to continue it untroubled by the law.
The earlier report in the Church Times was House of Bishops divided on keeping out homosexuals.
Updated Friday evening
This press release from GAFCON New Anglican Mission Society announced
The Anglican Mission in England (AMIE) held its inaugural event on Wednesday June 22 during an evangelical ministers’ conference in central London.
AMIE has been established as a society within the Church of England dedicated to the conversion of England and biblical church planting. There is a steering committee and a panel of bishops. The bishops aim to provide effective oversight in collaboration with senior clergy.
The AMIE has been encouraged in this development by the Primates’ Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON) who said in a communiqué from Nairobi in May 2011: “We remain convinced that from within the Provinces which we represent there are creative ways by which we can support those who have been alienated so that they can remain within the Anglican family.”
The AMIE is determined to remain within the Church of England…
This society is, it appears, a renaming of this one.
There is more information, including a list of names of bishops, in this: The Anglican Mission in England – Seeing the Church of England Again for the First time.
Church of England press release:
The Church of England has today submitted its response to the Government’s consultation on Civil Partnerships in Religious Premises.
A Church of England spokesman said: “Given the decision that Parliament has already taken to amend the Civil Partnership Act 2004 in the Equality Act 2010, the response focuses on the need to assure that the forthcoming regulations continue to provide unfettered freedom for each religious tradition to resolve these matters in accordance with its own convictions and its own internal procedures of governance.
“That means that there needs to be an ‘opting in’ mechanism of the kind that the Government has proposed. In the case of the Church of England that would mean that its churches would not be able to become approved premises for the registration of civil partnerships until and unless the General Synod had first decided as a matter of policy that that should be possible.”
The full text of the submission that addresses the specific questions raised by the consultation is set out below.
Some key passages relating to whether the Church of England will allow its premises to be so used are copied below the fold (emphasis added).
Q2 and Q3: who will be required to give consent?
5. We agree that because governance structures in faith groups are complex and varied, the Regulations should reflect that diversity.
6. In the case of the Church of England the relevant national decision-making body is the General Synod. The two Archbishops are its presidents, and it comprises a House of Bishops whose membership includes all the diocesan and some suffragan bishops, and Houses of Clergy and Laity whose elected members represent, respectively, the clergy and laity of each diocese. The statutory functions of the General Synod include legislating in respect of matters concerning the Church of England (under legislative powers devolved by Parliament) and considering and expressing its opinion on other matters of religious or public interest.
7. The specified body for the Church of England should, therefore, be the General Synod and it should be named for that purpose in the Regulations.
Q 21: Other issues
The faculty jurisdiction
35. In English law, all parish churches of the Church of England and a number of other ecclesiastical buildings are subject to the jurisdiction of the consistory court of the diocese. This aspect of the court’s jurisdiction is called “the faculty jurisdiction”. It extends to controlling not only the making of physical alterations to a church building and to the introduction or removal of articles to or from the building, but also the uses to which a church building may lawfully be put with the consent of the bishop through his chancellor.
36. Any non-sacred use of a church building which is subject to the jurisdiction of the consistory court (other than a use which is expressly authorised by legislation) requires the authority of a formal permission - called a ‘faculty’ - from the consistory court in order for that use to be lawful.
37. The registration of civil partnerships in a church building would, as a matter of law, amount to a non-sacred use of that building. It would, accordingly, require the authority of a faculty. The regulations need therefore to be drafted in a way that leave no doubt that that they are without prejudice to the jurisdiction of the consistory court of the diocese.
The Tablet had an article last week by Francis Davis entitled Players in the public square.
Catholic bishops are often overshadowed in the national debate by their Anglican counterparts, as shown in the furore caused by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s critique of the Coalition Government last week. A Catholic academic and political adviser asks why this may be…
A sample of the analysis:
…For a start, there are more than 100 Church of England bishops across 43 dioceses compared with 29 Catholic bishops across 19 dioceses in England. Catholic bishops in these dioceses shepherd around 4,000 clergy in England while the Anglican tally is double that number, bringing with them spouses and children whose joys and sorrows have direct consequences for the success of diocesan ministry.
The Anglicans have more than twice the number of schools – 4,820 with more than a million pupils – giving them greater presence in communities and opportunities for encounter. These schools are mainly primaries while the Catholic Church has far more secondary schools. There are 2,000 Catholic schools altogether in England and Wales educating 860,000 children.
I have also selected for closer examination the 19 Church of England bishops whose dioceses most closely compare with their Catholic counterparts. In these dioceses, Catholic bishops are generally older and remain in post longer than the Anglicans. The average Catholic episcopal age is 66 and their average service a decade at the diocesan helm compared to 60 and just over seven years for the Anglicans. Church of England bishops normally retire a decade younger than their Catholic counterparts.
This contrast in institutional reach and episcopal age is mirrored by matters of formation and experience. Each of the 19 Church of England bishops I surveyed had at least one degree from Oxford, Cambridge, London or another leading university. Only nine Catholic bishops in England have degrees from outside Catholic institutions, with some having pursued all their studies from secondary age in a seminary. Four of the current Anglican bishops have published more books between them than all English Catholic bishops combined since the Second Vatican Council. This is not only a question of class, as half of both groups surveyed were schooled in grammar or other state schools…
Third Sector reports:
The charity Catholic Care has been refused permission to appeal against a ruling that it cannot exclude gay couples from using its adoption service.
That earlier ruling was reported here on 26 April: Charity Tribunal rejects appeal from Catholic adoption agency.
This latest ruling can be found at Decision on Application for Permission to Appeal (7 June 2011).
…In the document, Alison McKenna, principal judge of the charity tribunal, wrote: “I have concluded that the grounds of appeal before me do not identify ‘errors of law’ in the decision.
“In the circumstances, I conclude that there is no power for the tribunal to review its decision in this case and I have also, for the same reasons, concluded that permission to appeal should be refused.”
Benjamin James, a solicitor at the law firm Bircham Dyson Bell, acting on behalf of Catholic Care, told Third Sector the charity could appeal to the Upper Tribunal for a review of the charity tribunal’s decision not to allow the appeal. He said trustees had not decided whether to do so.
A review of research evidence commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission indicates there are different perceptions about the legal protections for religion or belief and about the level of discrimination towards different religions or beliefs.
Evidence in the report shows that people’s understanding of their rights around religion or belief is not always matched by recent changes to equality law. The Commission is concerned that this could be preventing people from using their rights…
View the report: Religious discrimination in Britain: A review of research evidence, 2000-10 by Paul Weller of the University of Derby.
(The Commission’s statistical briefing paper on Religion or Belief is also available.)
Read the interview with Trevor Phillips in the Telegraph: Trevor Phillips wades into debate on religion in modern society by Jonathan Wynne-Jones. This interview has provoked a lot of reactions from all sides, and I will add some further links to these later.
Christian Concern Equality Commission questions Christian ‘integration’
British Humanist Association Humanists call for EHRC Chair Trevor Phillips to apologise, following ‘sectarian and divisive’ statements
Updated twice on Monday evening
There has been an outburst of media reports yesterday all based on the release by the Church of England of a legal opinion prepared by the Legal Office, with this title. Many of them are wildly inaccurate.
As the cover note shows, this is published to synod members for information only. No synodical action is planned in respect of it.
I attach for the information of Synod members a copy of a note on the Equality
Act prepared by the Legal Office in connection with episcopal appointments for
members of Crown Nominations Commissions and diocesan bishops and their
The document is identical to the one leaked over three weeks ago to the Guardian and published in full by them. See the links in this report on TA dated 26 May: House of Bishops tied in knots over gay bishops and in particular this link to “legal document”.
The regular pre-synod press briefing
is scheduled for this morning. There may be more to report following that event. took place this morning. It was confirmed that this document is being issued for information only (due at least in part to having been previously leaked by the Guardian) and that it presages no synodical action and proposes no change from recent past practice in selecting bishops.
Reform has issued a press statement: Reform calls for legal advice on Bishops’ Appointments to be withdrawn.
Updated Monday morning, afternoon and evening
Updated Saturday 25 June
Update: This press release, outlining the contents of the Synod agenda, was released on Monday: Full agenda published for July 2011 General Synod sessions in York.
Online copies of the papers for the July 2011 meeting of General Synod are starting to appear online; they are listed below, with links. I will update the list as more papers become available.
The Report of the Business Committee (GS 1824) includes a forecast of future business, and I have copied this below the fold.
The Church of England’s own list of papers is presented in agenda order.
GS 1823 July 2011 Group of Sessions - General Synod - Agenda
GS 1824 Business Committee Report July 2011
GS 1827 Annual Report of the Archbihsops’ Council
GS 1828 The Payments to the Churches Conservation Trust Order 2011
GS 1830 Annual Report of the Audit Committee
GS 1831 Appointments to the Archbishops’ Council
GS 1836 Higher Education Funding Changes: a report from the Ministry Council
GS Misc 990 Higher Education funding - April 2011 report of the working group chaired by the Bishop of Sheffield
GS Misc 990A Funding ministerial training - background information for the above report
GS 1837 The Anglican-Methodist Covenant: a report from the Council for Christian Unity, to which is appended Moving Forward in Covenant: Interim Report of the Joint Implementation Commission
GS 1838 Generous Love for All: Presence and Engagement for the new Quinquennium: a report from the Presence and Engagement Task Group
GS 1839 The Reorganisation Schemes (Compensation) Rules 2011
GS 1841 Conversations with the United Reformed Church: a report from the Council for Christian Unity
GS 1842 The Archbishops’ Council Draft Budget and Proposals for Apportionment for 2012
GS Misc 981 EIAG Annual Review 2010/2011
GS Misc 983 Additional Eucharistic Prayers
GS Misc 984 The Changing Role of Deaneries
GS Misc 985 Dioceses Commission Annual Report 2011
GS Misc 986 Clergy Discipline Commission Annual Report 2011
GS Misc 987 Activities of the Archbishops’ Council
GS Misc 988 Analysis of Mission Funds
GS Misc 989 2012-2014 Fees Order - Rationale
GS Misc 990 Higher Education Funding (electronic distribution only)
GS Misc 990A Funding Ministerial Training (electronic distribution only)
GS Misc 991 Chaplains to the Synod
GS Misc 992 Choosing Bishops - The Equality Act 2010 (Our html copy is here.)
GS Misc 994E Apprendices for GS 1844 (electronic distribution only)
GS Misc 995 Challenges into the new Quinquennium: Next Steps
GS Misc 996 Background to GS 1845
Forecast of future General Synod businessOne or more Private Members’ Motions and Diocesan Synod Motions are customarily included in each group of sessions.
see the press release: Governance Working Group analyzes Covenant.
…This GWG report is one step in the Anglican Church of Canada’s ongoing consideration of the Covenant. A resolution at General Synod 2010 (A137) requested several actions to advance this work. First, the Anglican Communion Working Group was asked to prepare materials for parishes and dioceses to study the Covenant and give feedback. These materials were released June 9 and are available online.
Both the GWG and the Faith, Worship, and Ministry Committee were asked to assess the Covenant by “providing advice on the theological, ecclesiological, legal, and constitutional implications.”
The resolution also requested that “conversations, both within the Anglican Church of Canada and across the Communion, reflect the values of openness, transparency, generosity of spirit, and integrity, which have been requested repeatedly in the context of the discussion of controversial matters within the Communion.”
After this period of consideration, the Council of General Synod will bring a recommendation regarding adoption of the Covenant to General Synod 2013.
I have reproduced below the fold those parts of the Executive Summary which are of most relevance outside Canada. A read of the full report is highly recommended, as many of the issues raised by it should be of concern to all Anglicans worldwide.
The Anglican Church of Canada Governance Working Group
LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES PRESENTED TO THE CANADIAN CHURCH BY THE PROPOSED ANGLICAN COVENANT
…The GWG’s Memorandum identifies four broad areas of concern:
1. Lack of Definitional Clarity
Because the Covenant is intended to bind those Churches which adopt it, there are concerns about the imprecision or ambiguity of important terms used in the Covenant, which makes it difficult to know with certainty the meaning, scope and operation of the Covenant:
2. Procedural concerns
The procedures contained in section 4 of the Covenant raise a number of concerns:
The multiple roles of the Standing Committee creates uncertainty about the authority and jurisdiction granted to it under each role and cumulatively.
There is a lack of both substance and detail in the rules of process to be followed.
There are no criteria for actions or decisions which are deemed to be “controversial”, which is what initiates the procedure under section 4.
The Covenant does not contain the normal procedural fairness that is fundamental in Canadian jurisprudence.
The rules around the establishment, application and length of moratoria are ill-defined or absent.
The proposed Covenant does not provide rights for appeal.
The outcomes for a Church declining to implement recommended “relational consequences” are unspecified.
3. Constitutional Issues for the Canadian Church…
4. Consequences of Non-Adoption
Not adopting the Covenant does not affect the membership of the Anglican Church of Canada in the Anglican Communion.
How do non-covenanting churches relate to the actions of the Standing Committee?
Apart from section 4.2 of the draft text, are there any substantial consequences to the Canadian Church if it chooses not to adopt the Covenant.
Giles Fraser writes for the Church Times about When us-and-them can seem unwelcome.
Matt J Rossano writes for The Huffington Post about The Christian Revolution.
Graham Kings has preached the Richard Johnson annual sermon at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, London: Moral Journalism.
The Archbishop of York has written this article for the Yorkshire Post: Tackling Poverty, Wherever It Occurs.
The Anglican Journal reports: Canada’s top court denies appeal to dissident Vancouver churches
New Westminster: Supreme Court Denies Leave to Appeal
Anglican Network in Canada: Congregations Evicted from their Church Buildings
Updated Friday morning
The Telegraph has a report about what the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Tony Baldry MP, has written in this week’s Church Times about the row following the article published last week in the New Statesman by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Tim Ross wrote this: Baldry: Archbishop must stop ‘shouting’ at ministers
The Archbishop of Canterbury should stop “shouting” at the government like a noisy protester in Parliament Square if he wants Church of England bishops to keep their seats in the House of Lords, a senior Conservative MP has suggested.
Here’s an excerpt:
Writing in the Church Times newspaper, he said that “dismayed” Tory MPs and ministers “simply feel monumentally misunderstood by the Archbishop”, who they believe has failed to grasp the scale of the financial difficulties that the coalition inherited from Labour.
Mr Baldry said that when he was appointed to be commissioner last year, he hoped it would be possible to avoid the “disintegration” of the relationship between the Church and Parliament.
“I am disappointed that, less than a year into this Parliament – a Parliament almost certainly of a five-year term – the perception of many MPs sitting on the Coalition benches is that the Church of England is shouting at us from the other side of the street,” he said.
“Later in this Parliament, the Church of England is going to want the understanding of MPs, not least when they debate the place of the Church of England in a reformed, mainly elected Second Chamber.”
He suggested that a further source of friction could develop over plans to consecrate women bishops, which have already caused an internal rift and led hundreds of Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism in protest.
Some MPs want the government to strip the Church of its exemption from equality rules and force traditionalists to accept women bishops.
The original is now available to all
subscriber-only for one week, but here is one sentence from it that may explain why it is not the substance of the NS article but the reporting of it that is the cause of this response:
They [government ministers] simply feel monumentally misunderstood by the Archbishop. Lambeth Palace took care to circulate the full texts of the Archbishop’s New Statesman editorial to every MP; but, so far as my colleagues are concerned, it is no good responding to criticism by saying that that is not what the Archbishop said. In public life and politics, it is what is heard that matters.
Further update The full text of Baldry’s article is available via this page.
The latest report from the Joint Implementation Commission under the Covenant between the Methodist Church of Great Britain and The Church of England has been released.
The Methodist Church has made the full report available for download: Moving Forward in Covenant.
Moving Forward in Covenant
The Methodist Church and the Church of England should work more closely together in their local communities, according to a new report from representatives of both Churches.
The Joint Implementation Commission, set up under the Anglican-Methodist Covenant of 2003, is recommending that the two Churches should share their mission and ministry more widely. Its new interim report Moving Forward in Covenant, due to be considered by both the Methodist Conference and the General Synod in July, urges Methodists and Anglicans to join forces on the ground in a more far-reaching way than ever before.
Professor Peter Howdle, Co-Chair of the Joint Implementation Commission, said: “Moving Forward in Covenant contains some significant material. First, it summarises where both our Churches currently are regarding their 2003 Covenant and states where further progress needs to be made in order to move towards closer communion. Secondly, it includes an important development by proposing the establishing of ‘Covenant Partnerships in Extended Areas’.
“This is a result of innovative thinking using the current regulations of both our Churches. It will allow an increase in shared ministry in many places where both Churches should and could be acting together which can only enhance the missionary imperative of the covenant relationship. I am encouraged by the positive comments we have received about ‘Covenant Partnerships in Extended Areas’ as we have developed this idea and I think it is an exciting way forward. I hope both Churches will receive it in this light as we seek to move closer together.”
“Looking back to 2003 there is no doubt in my mind that the relationship between The Church of England and The Methodist Church of Great Britain is closer and that our Covenant has been a positive influence on ecumenism in the UK.”
The report suggests that Anglican parish churches and Methodist local churches should work together closely through Covenanted Partnerships over wider areas. Covenanted Partnerships already exist in many places. The suggestion now is that greater numbers of Methodist local churches or circuits and Church of England parishes enter Partnerships that encompass wider geographical areas. Where the bishop, parish authorities and the appropriate Methodist Circuit and District authorities give permission, larger areas could benefit from shared ministry, so enabling a strategic approach to the deployment of Anglican clergy and Methodist ministers across all communities.
The report explains how Covenanted Partnerships in Extended Areas would relate to the existing law and rules of both Churches and gives guidance on good practice in implementing them. It recognises that they may not be appropriate in every area and that not all parts of the Church will move at the same speed.
The proposals are being referred to the relevant bodies in both Churches as part of a consultation process.
Gloucester Diocesan Synod met yesterday evening and debated the legislation to allow women to be bishops. The synod voted overwhelmingly in favour of the main motion (to approve the legislation).
A following motion seeking greater provision for the opponents of women bishops was heavily defeated (8 for, at least 93 against).
St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocesan synod also debated the legislation earlier this month, with similar results.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy, says Jensen
ALLOWING same-sex couples to marry could lead to the acceptance of polygamy and incest, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, has warned.
Writing in the church’s newspaper, Southern Cross, Dr Jensen said the push for same-sex unions to be enshrined in the Marriage Act was not a drive for the extension of rights but the redefinition of ”one of the indispensable foundations of community”…
The full text of Archbishop Jensen’s article in Southern Cross titled Real Marriage can be found here (pdf).
Australian Marriage Equality convenor Alex Greenwich hit back at the comments, saying any amendments to the Marriage Act would only mean that celebrants outside the Anglican community could perform same-sex marriages.
“The Archbishop should acknowledge we live in a secular, multi-faith society, and as such he must understand that his views should not be imposed on those religions that want to perform same-sex marriages, such as the Quakers and progressive Synagogues,” Mr Greenwich said in a statement on Saturday.
“Not one of the alarmist predictions made by the Archbishop have come to pass in any of the countries that allow same-sex marriages to take place, including Catholic Spain, Portugal and Argentina.”
Affirming Catholicism is holding a day conference on Thursday 30 June at St Matthew’s Westminster.
The full title is: Thy Kingdom Come! Prayer and Mission in the building of The Kingdom.
Details can be found here.
Updated Wednesday and Thursday
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has released the following statement regarding recent violence in South Kordofan, Sudan:
Along with the Christian leaders represented in the Sudan Ecumenical Forum and Council of Churches and many more throughout the world, we deplore the mounting level of aggression and bloodshed in South Kordofan State and the indiscriminate violence on the part of government troops against civilians. Numerous villages have been bombed. More than 53,000 people have been driven from their homes. The new Anglican cathedral in Kadugli has been burned down. UN personnel in the capital, Kadugli, are confined to their compound and are unable to protect civilians; the city has been overrun by the army, and heavy force is being used by government troops to subdue militias in the area, with dire results for local people. Many brutal killings are being reported.
This violence is a major threat to the stability of Sudan just as the new state of South Sudan is coming into being. The humanitarian challenge is already great, and the risk of another Darfur situation, with civilian populations at the mercy of government-supported terror, is a real one.
International awareness of this situation is essential. The UN Security Council, the EU, the Arab League and the African Union need to co-operate in guaranteeing humanitarian access and safety for citizens, and we hope that our own government, which has declared its commitment to a peaceful future for Sudan, will play an important part in this.
The Diocese of Bradford is linked to the Diocese of Kadugli in Northern Sudan. There is an appeal from the Bishop of Bradford on the diocesan website. This has links to information about what is going on in Sudan.
The Diocese of Salisbury also has a link with the Episcopal Church of Sudan. It has published a response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement. There is more information on the diocese’s link at Sudan Link.
From the Anglican Communion News Service: Anglican agencies to work together on humanitarian crisis in Sudan.
ENI News has Christian leaders condemn terror in Sudan’s Kordofan.
Victoria Coren has written this: Bashing the Bishop.
… Dr. William’s oeuvre has caught the imagination, snatched headlines and triggered a national debate. Maybe we should swap jobs? Except I’d make a terrible archbishop.
It’s exactly what he should be doing, of course: getting stuck in to matters of public ethics, questioning the national conscience, being a strong and relevant voice on issues of social concern. I can understand why some in the press feel obliged to disagree with him - and this is a good thing; we all want to live in a country of robust debate - but the way that some have slammed him for speaking out at all is just embarrassing. It’s like they don’t understand who he is, what he does or what the role’s about…
(The NoTW article she mentions is here.)
Paul Vallely wrote at the Independent on Aid and what the Archbishop should have said.
Those naughty people at the New Statesman. Apparently when the Archbishop of Canterbury arrived to do his week as guest editor he was planning to write the main editorial on aid to Africa. But Rowan Williams was persuaded to offer, instead, his thoughts on the state of the coalition government one year in. The paper got the headlines it wanted but we have been deprived of his thoughts on the place we used to call the dark continent. So what might he have said? And why does it matter?
At least one other bishop has spoken up in support of the archbishop:
John Pritchard of Oxford is reported in the Witney Gazette Bishop John joins attack on ‘disastrous’ Government cuts.
Updated Monday evening
The Church of St-Matthew-in-the-City in Auckland, New Zealand published this petition on its website: Petition to the Anglican Bishops of New Zealand. The heading reads:
Stop White Collar Crime - Ask NZ bishops to end their discrimination against gays and lesbians
Following an explanation of the specific NZ circumstances, it says:
We respectfully ask the bishops of the Anglican Church in New Zealand to be true to the values of the Gospel and end the discriminatory practices that prevent the selection and ordination of gays and lesbians who are in committed relationships.
Bishop Philip Richardson, Bishop in Taranaki then wrote this response: White collar crime?
And the anglicantaonga website also published a news article about the exchange, Bishop refutes “white collar crime”.
A new petition urging bishops to end their “discrimination” against gays and lesbians misunderstands both church law and the power of bishops to change church doctrine.
That’s the view of Bishop Philip Richardson, who has released a public response to the “Stop White Collar Crime ” petition being driven by Auckland’s St-Matthew-in-the-City…
Both Kiwianglo’s Blog and Anglican Down Under have drawn attention to this. Both seem to think this dialogue is a good development. Scroll down here to see Ron Smith’s comments. Peter Carrell has identified the following key passage from Bishop Richardson’s response:
I believe that General Synod needs to reach an agreed position on these three inter-related issues, in the following order:
First , whether sexual orientation towards those of one’s own gender is a consequence of wilful human sinfulness, or an expression of God-given diversity. This in itself requires the process of collective biblical exegesis, prayer and discussion and debate which we are engaged in.
Depending on our collective answer to the first question, the church might then be in a position to move to the development of a formulary for the blessing of committed, life-long, monogamous, relationships other than marriage.
It is worth making the point that as bishops of the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki we have suspended the licenses of heterosexual ministers living in relationships other than marriage (for example, in civil unions) for exactly the reason that there is no agreed position in this church on the status of committed relationships other than marriage.
Thirdly, the church could agree that such relationships so blessed and formally recognised by the church meet the standards of holiness of life that is the call on every Christian life, and is required to be reflected in the lives of those called by God and affirmed by the church to holy orders.
Bosco Peters has written a response to this: Gay Ordinations Invalid?
For our earlier report on the New Zealand situation, see New Zealand Maori diocese rejects Covenant.
Now, Bosco Peters reports that a second Maori diocese has also voted against it. See Maori momentum growing against Anglican Covenant. Below is the text of the motion, see Bosco’s post for further analysis.
TE HUI AMORANGI O TE TAIRAWHITI
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Saturday 11 June 2011
Motion concerning the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant
IT IS MOVED:
That for the purposes of providing feedback to Te Hinota Whanui (General Synod) and Te Runanganui o Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa, Te Hui Amorangi o Te Tairawhiti wishes to express the following:
- We have carefully considered the text of The Anglican Communion Covenant, and what we know of the context in which it was proposed;
- In terms of our shared Mihingare and Anglican heritage, our call to communion, and our call to ministry and mission, the Covenant offers us nothing new or more compelling than the Spiritual Covenant that we already have with each other through faith in Jesus Christ;
- We see that Section Four of The Anglican Communion Covenant propose measures of compliance and discipline – including “relational consequences” and being declared “incompatible with the Covenant” – that go against our Gospel imperative to “love one another” (John 13:34-35).
We note that our sister Amorangi, Te Hui Amorangi o Te Manawa o Te Wheke, has stated its opposition to The Anglican Communion Covenant because:
- It is a threat to the rangatiratanga of the Tangata Whenua;
- It does not reflect our understanding of being Anglican in these Islands; and
- We should instead focus on the restoration of justice for Tangata Whenua under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
We agree with Te Hui Amorangi o Te Manawa o Te Wheke, and choose here to stand in solidarity with them.
For the reasons expressed above, Te Hui Amorangi o Te Tairawhiti states that it is opposed to the adoption of The Anglican Communion Covenant.
MOVED: Rev Don Tamihere SECONDED: Rev Connie Tuheke-Ferris
CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY WITH ACCLAMATION
Today was the last day of the meeting of the Scottish General Synod.
Here is an official summary of today’s business: General Synod - Saturday 11 June.
The Edinburgh Evening News has this very brief report of yesterday’s business: Synod talks on gay issue.
Heather McDougall writes for Cif belief about St Francis of Assisi: a saint for our times.
The message of St Francis was uncompromising and simple: greed causes suffering for both the victims and the perpetrators.
Also at Cif belief Andrew Brown writes Social cohesion needs religious boundaries.
The new Prevent strategy shows an old pattern of social organisation is emerging in a new form, around new doctrines.
John Blake writes for CNN that Actually, that’s not in the Bible.
Bishop Pierre Whalon in The Huffington Post asks Many Mansions in Whose House?
And in his latest essay for Anglicans Online The Ministers of the Church Are … Bishop Whalon argues that an upside-down pyramid is just the kind of church organisation Jesus would want.
A Private Member’s Bill has been introduced into the House of Lords by Baroness Cox entitled Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill.
To make further provision about arbitration and mediation services and the
application of equality legislation to such services; to make provision about
the protection of victims of domestic abuse; and for connected purposes.
Some news reports:
This bill has won support from an improbable alliance of lobbying groups:
Andrew Brown explains, in The state cannot curb sharia law alone.
A bill to limit the scope of courts is laudable, but sharia law’s discriminatory aspects must be undermined by Muslims.
…What is politically interesting about this is that it represents an alliance of Christians and atheists along with what one might call normal secularists who just dislike institutionalised sexism and exploitation. The campaign against sharia law has long been confined to a leftwing atheist ghetto. Cox has broken it out of that. It’s to the credit of both parties that Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society appeared next to an American Christian missionary at the launch of the bill yesterday.
There’s no doubt that the bill will be used by some people to stir up distrust and hatred of Muslims. But I don’t think that is in itself a good enough reason to oppose it. What it does is to make explicit the fact that Islam is practised like any other religion in Britain, under the rules that parliament makes…
From the Anglican Journal New resources help unpack the Anglican Covenant
Canadian Anglican parishes and individuals who would like to learn more about the proposed Anglican Covenant will soon have a study guide at their fingertips.
The Anglican Church of Canada’s Anglican Covenant Working Group has released the study guide on the national church’s website in time for Pentecost, June 12.
“We’re encouraging people to look at the [details of the Covenant] and to reflect on what its implications are,” diocese of Ontario Bishop George Bruce, chair of the working group, said in an interview.
And on the official church website, Anglican Covenant study now available.
The Anglican Church of Canada has released a study guide to help parishes and dioceses consider the Anglican Covenant, a document that, if adopted, would define the relations among the provinces of the Anglican Communion. The material was prepared by the Anglican Communion Working Group, chaired by Bishop George Bruce…
Exploring the Anglican Covenant is available as a PDF file from here.
Here is an official summary of today’s business: General Synod - Friday 10 June 2011.
Below the fold is the Primus’s introduction to the today’s discussion (in Indaba groups) of the Anglican Covenant.
Kelvin Holdsworth has continued to blog from the floor of Synod.
Today we begin our consideration of the Anglican Covenant. Next year, we shall decide whether or not we shall adopt it. This year, we explore it together through Indaba method. Canon Michael Fuller will briefly set out for you something of the content of the Covenant. My task is to set it in context – to explain why it is before us and why we need to consider it carefully.
We are a Communion of independent provinces – diverse in social, cultural and historical settings. But each of the Provinces – the Scottish Episcopal Church is no exception – is both enriched and challenged by its internal diversity. I believe that respect for our internal diversity should lead us to give this issue measured and careful consideration – the use of Indaba is one method of achieving this.
I do not think that it is unreasonable that we should have a Covenant which sets out what it means to be part of the Anglican Communion. In former times, we spoke of bonds of affection which held us together. But times have changed. As a missional world faith, Anglicanism has been extraordinarily successful. So we now hold within our life a rich diversity of peoples and cultures. Against that background of growth, one can argue that bonds of affection can no longer be enough.
But of course it isn’t just about response to growth. The Anglican Covenant arises from the Windsor Report which in turn was a response to the dissension which arose in the Communion following the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. The Covenant therefore addresses the issues of Communion life not just in general but against the specific background of issues in human sexuality.
In the porch of Holy Trinity, Pitlochry, as in many of our churches, are two pictures. Alongside the baptism at Stonehaven Gaol is the consecration by the Scottish Bishops in 1784 of Samuel Seabury as the first bishop of the Episcopal Church in America. That was a foundational moment in the life of the Anglican Communion and we were at the heart of it. Our Anglican credentials are not in doubt. Nor is our commitment. The Communion matters deeply to us – as it does to all small churches. We are deeply involved in Communion life – our bishops at the Lambeth Conference, John Stuart representing us at the Anglican Consultative Council, my own membership of the Anglican Communion Standing Committee. At more informal levels, there are all the diocesan companionship links, the work of the Provincial Overseas Committee and much more.
The intention of the Anglican Covenant is that it should lead us into deeper communion. Communion in that sense is a relationship of shared faith in Christ, shared belonging, trust and mutual respect. The prize is a global church held together by the richest of aspiration and the most minimal of structure. But we are human – the question is whether we need some structure and some boundaries to help us to live up to that aspiration. Isn’t that what the institution of marriage is about? But there is another side to the same argument. It is that mutual respect which has to be organized and institutionalized is a contradiction in terms. The risk is that the Covenant may push further away the very thing which it is trying to engender and safeguard. It is for us to make the judgement as to which it is.
As I develop my contacts and travel increasingly in the Anglican Communion, I am astonished at how Anglican it is – in culture, worship and polity. There are all sorts of cross-currents – numerical strength on the one hand, wealth and power on the other are powerful factors. So is the legacy of colonialism. Yet what each Province says and does matters – what we do in this Synod this year and next matters.
What matters is whether we in this church - the heirs to those who consecrated Seabury – feel that the Anglican Covenant is a reasonable and proper step to safeguard and enrich the life of an ever more diverse Communion – or whether we feel that it makes less likely the very quality of Communion life which we seek.
I want to thank those who have prepared our Indaba discussion. It has become the ‘method of choice’ in the Anglican Communion for conversation across difference. I pray that God will bless our deliberations.
Updated again Friday evening
This is a selection from the huge volume of articles written today (Thursday) in response to the New Statesman article by Rowan Williams.
Church Mouse What Rowan really said in the New Statesman
Nick Baines Feeding frenzy
Andrew Brown Cif belief Rowan Williams is not interested in party politics
Gary Gibbon Channel 4 News Will Archbishop’s criticism spark repeat of 1980s?
Jonathan Wynne-Jones Telegraph Anyone who wants Britain’s Christian heritage preserved must be glad that Rowan Williams spoke out
Friday morning update
Church Times Primate criticises ‘policies for which no one voted’
Giles Fraser Guardian Archbishop of the opposition
Guardian editorial: Welfare reform: Canterbury tales
Financial Times editorial: Pundit in purple
Telegraph editorial The Archbishop should not have played politics
Independent Leading article: Voice in the wilderness
Gregory Cameron interviewed by BBC Wales video Archbishop of Canterbury ‘right to ask questions’
Friday evening update
Daily Mail editorial Politics, morality and a discredited archbishop
Jonathan Wynne-Jones Telegraph Why the Catholic Church stands to gain from Rowan Williams’ outburst
Church Mouse Top five silly things said in the news yesterday
Nick Spencer Cif belief An archbishop who can spark national debate
Stephanie Flanders BBC God, poverty and the government (includes video interview with Ian Duncan Smith)
Simon Barrow Ekklesia Daily Mail tries to launch a ‘holy war’
Update Monday evening
The brief note below about the Anglican Covenant may be misleading. To clarify, a decision in principle on whether or not to adopt the covenant will be made at the General Synod in 2012. Formal adoption requires canonical legislation, and it is this that will require a further two years. Full details are in the Paper from Faith and Order Board.
Update late Thursday:
Kelvin Holdworth reports that the Primus actually said more about the Anglican Covenant in his charge than was included in the official text, and gives a transcript, in What the Primus actually said.
The Scottish Episcopal Church is holding the 2011 meeting of its General Synod in Edinburgh from today until Saturday. There was a official preview published last month, General Synod 2011, and all the papers can be downloaded.
There is also an official Twitter stream.
Kelvin Holdsworth is blogging from the floor of Synod.
The business included a paper on the process of considering the Anglican Covenant: Paper from Faith and Order Board. The process described in this paper was accepted by the Synod; this will involve making a final decision on whether to adopt the covenant at the 2014 meeting of the Synod, although a decision not to adopt it could be made earlier.
There is background information on the Scottish General Synod here.
By an extraordinary coincidence, Theos has chosen today to publish its report, Turbulent Priests? (link to PDF copy)
‘Turbulent Priests?’, by Daniel Gover, examines the political interventions of Rowan Williams, George Carey and Robert Runcie since 1979.
Covering issues as wide ranging as asylum, criminal justice, military conflict and church schools, the report seeks to answer the question: does the Archbishop of Canterbury contribute a moral voice in support of the common good that is much needed in contemporary British politics?
Updated again Thursday noon
Update the New Statesman has now published the full text of the leading article: The government needs to know how afraid people are by Rowan Williams.
I can imagine a New Statesman reader looking at the contents of this issue and mentally supplying: “That’s enough coalition ministers (Ed).” After all, the NS has never exactly been a platform for the establishment to explain itself. But it seems worth encouraging the present government to clarify what it is aiming for in two or three key areas, in the hope of sparking a livelier debate about where we are going - and perhaps even to discover what the left’s big idea currently is…
other updates at the bottom
Tim Ross has a front page story in Thursday’s Telegraph, headlined Rowan Williams condemns ‘frightening’ Coalition.
Dr Rowan Williams will launch a sustained attack on the Coalition in the most outspoken political intervention by an Archbishop of Canterbury for a generation.
He warns that the public is gripped by “fear” over the Government’s reforms to education, the NHS and the benefits system and accuses David Cameron and Nick Clegg of forcing through “radical policies for which no one voted”.
Openly questioning the democratic legitimacy of the Coalition, the Archbishop dismisses the Prime Minister’s “Big Society” as a “painfully stale” slogan, and claims that it is “not enough” for ministers to blame Britain’s economic and social problems on the last Labour government.
The comments come in an article he has written as guest editor of this week’s New Statesman magazine.
His two-page critique, titled “The government needs to know how afraid people are”, is the most forthright political criticism by such a senior cleric since Robert Runcie enraged Margaret Thatcher with a series of attacks in the 1980s.
Lambeth Palace is braced for an angry response but Dr Williams, who became Archbishop of Canterbury nine years ago, is understood to believe that the moment is right for him to enter the political debate…
Damian Thompson adds that Rowan Williams returns to Old Labour sloganising as he desperately tries to distract himself from Anglican meltdown.
The New Statesman itself reports the story this way: Archbishop of Canterbury: “no one voted” for the coalition’s policies.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has launched a remarkable attack on the coalition government, warning that it is committing the country to “radical, long-term policies for which no one voted.” In a leading article in tomorrow’s New Statesman, which he has guest-edited, Rowan Williams writes that the “anxiety and anger” felt by voters is a result of the coalition’s failure to expose its policies to “proper public argument”.
With specific reference to David Cameron’s health and education reforms, the Archbishop says that the government’s approach has created a mixture of “bafflement and indignation” among the public…
New Statesman Philip Pullman on what he owes to the Church of England
According to a recent report in the Telegraph,
European judges have ordered ministers to make a formal statement on whether it believes Christians’ rights have been infringed by previous decisions in the British courts, which have repeatedly dismissed their right to dress and act according to their beliefs.
The move by the European Court in Strasbourg is because Christians who believe they have suffered discrimination for their beliefs are taking a landmark legal fight the court…
Their cases have been selected by the European Court as of being of such legal significance that they be examined further.
Once ministers have responded the court will decide whether to have full hearings on them.
This analysis of the subject area by Philip Henson is very helpful: Discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief. Scroll down to Persecuted Christians? for his discussion of these four cases:
How many of you have forgotten about the “big four” – the cases of Lillian Ladele, Gary McFarlane, Shirley Chaplin and Nadia Eweida? What do these people all have in common? The answer is that they have all recently issued applications at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The European angle has been massively overlooked almost all legal commentators, but it is the ECHR which will be the final battleground in the struggle for a superior right.
The British Humanist Association had this comment: European Court of Human Rights considers hearing cases which demand more privilege for Christianity.
The Christian Legal Centre had: European Court to rule on Christian discrimination cases.
Evan Harris writes for Cif belief that Religious groups have too much freedom to discriminate.
Now that faith groups are to become public service providers, the exemptions they have in British equality law must be narrowed.
The Huffington Post prints this extract from a new book by Desmond Tutu: God Is Not a Christian.
Simon Barrow writes for Ekklesia that The Kirk faces a challenging future.
The Vernacular Curate writes about Technology and God.
Theo Hobson writes for Cif belief about What Rowan Williams really dislikes about Freemasonry.
His distaste seems to have less to do with its aura of mystery, more with its roots in liberalism and the Enlightenment.
The Telegraph reports the Archbishop of Canterbury’s thoughts on the Bard’s religion: William Shakespeare was probably a Catholic.
The Archbishop of Canterbury preached at the Ascension Day Eucharist at St Martin-in-the-Fields: Sermon for Ascension Day 2011.
And Maggi Dawn writes this: Ascension Day 2011.
Two recent articles on this topic:
Diversity and democracy: Reforming the Lords by Patrick McGlinchey at Left Foot Forward.
The inclusion in the white paper of a 20 per cent appointed chamber option is a cause for concern. However, it is the proposal to allow 12 Church of England bishops to retain their seats as Lords Spiritual that could fundamentally hold the House of Lords back from democratisation and diversification.
To give special law-making privileges to one faith group over all others is almost unheard of among democratic nations
Indeed, the only global equivalent is the ‘Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran’, which gives Islamic clerics similar privileges to Church of England bishops. In modern Britain, this system is clearly an outdated one which does not enjoy the support of our citizens.
An ICM poll commissioned by the Joseph Roundtree Reform Trust as part of the Power 2010 political reform initiative found that two-thirds of the public think anyone who sits in the House for Lords and votes on laws should be elected, and 70 per cent of Christians believe it is wrong that some Church of England bishops are given an automatic seat in parliament…
Their Lordships should beware: there is an overwhelming consensus behind Lords reform by Alan Renwick at Reading Politics (A blog of the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading.)
The government launched its proposals for reform of the House of Lords two weeks ago. At the time, there were widespread rumours that senior Labour and Conservative peers were gearing up to scupper the plans. A survey of peers reported in The Times this week appears to confirm this: 80 per cent of the peers who responded said they opposed a wholly or largely elected second chamber.
As The Times points out, if peers do indeed choose to oppose the government’s plans, they will be acting counter to the manifestos of all three main parties in last year’s general election. Labour promised “to create a fully elected Second Chamber” (in stages). The Liberal Democrats, similarly, pledged to “replace the House of Lords with a fully-elected second chamber”. The Conservatives were only slightly less reformist, saying, “We will work to build a consensus for a mainly-elected second chamber to replace the current House of Lords”.
But peers tempted to flex their muscles on this issue should be aware that the consensus across the parties surrounding House of Lords reform runs much deeper than this…
Giles Fraser has written in today’s Church Times The Bishops are seeking to enshrine gay exclusion.
…This advice shows how much the Bishops have been straining every legal sinew to exclude openly gay bishops — even celibate ones — from their number. Do we really think that straight bishops have been challenged to repent of whatever they might have got up to at university, as it were? Of course not. And this double standard is a clear symptom of the fact that what is really going on here is prejudice, pure and simple.
The other weasel construction that those who pick bishops have alighted on is that a bishop must be “a focus of unity”. No: first and foremost, a bishop must be a man or woman of the gospel. Sometimes this means arguing for the right not to bring peace, but a sword.
To insist that bishops must be “a focus of unity” is a recipe for having bishops whose primary identity is that they are unobjectionable. Indeed, there is something almost heretical about this phrase; for it makes the quest for a quiet Church more of a priority than that of the preaching of the gospel.
The trouble is that, at the moment, a whole world of grammar is being invented with the express purpose of keeping gay people out of senior church positions. From the dreaded Anglican Covenant (whose purpose seems to be much the same) to this new advice, our Church is constructing its ground rules specifically to exclude homosexuals. And there is another phrase for that: institutionalised homophobia…
And the Guardian has published a series of articles this week, under the title How should gay bishops be chosen? which are all linked in this earlier post More discussion on appointing gay CofE bishops which has been regularly updated, but which has fallen down the page due to the number of other news stories since the start of the week.
The Guardian series has now been completed with this fourth piece from Mark Oakley Gay or straight, allow clergy to reflect the rest of us.
…If the bishops were to follow their lawyers’ checklist in deciding on new colleagues, history will repeat itself as religious leaders make themselves both inhumane and hypocritical.
Why inhumane? Well, gay people have no choice as to their sexual orientation but, when recognised, they do as the rest do – try to find someone to love and grow old with. Although some are drawn to a celibate life, most feel that it is not good for them to be alone and they seek intimacy and a togetherness that, as married people know, is easier to make stable when celebrated and supported publicly and without fear. Priests and bishops are no different. To stop such people being ordained because a group doesn’t like the fact that some people will always be homosexual would be as unjust as not having made John Sentamu the Archbishop of York because there was a theological argument going round for a white man. If talk of unity is to have any authenticity there has to be diversity and bishops should be signs and enablers of both. Instead, to make gay Christians even more afraid to be honest about who they are, and their need to love and be loved by someone, is not only inhumane but shameful.
Why hypocritical? Putting aside the fact that the present bishops were not questioned on their own sexual pasts, it would be an extraordinary policy to pursue this checklist when so many bishops know and privately support gay clergy in partnerships as well as those who are single who have been partnered at some stage. It would be equally duplicitous to imply that such gay bishops would be an innovation. Truthfulness would be the innovation…
Last week’s special feature in the Church Times is now available to non-subscribers for a while.
Glyn Paflin reviews the history in detail in Hoops and hurdles — the long search for agreement.
And there is a note about The Measure and the Code: not yet fixed.
The arguments against are put in two articles:
David Houlding Sacramental assurance: any man won’t do
Jonathan Baker This is not about justice and equality. We agree on those
The issue of male headship is discussed by two evangelical women, Clare Hendry and Lis Goddard in Male headship: two opposing views
John Saxbee is in favour of the legislation, as it stands There is no need to tread on any toes.
Pat Ashworth talks to four women who are serving as bishops in Women in post: the news from overseas.
Paul Handley has a report on a woman bishop already ministering in Britain, Only an issue when it comes to Anglicans.
And finally, there is a Leader: At this stage, it’s not about women.
Updated Friday evening
Sixteen church-goers have been arrested and priests have been turned out of their homes in Zimbabwe’s Diocese of Harare – where the Anglican Church is facing persecution at the hands of an ex-communicated bishop.
The Rt Revd Chad Gandiya, Bishop of Harare, said the arrests were illegal and that those detained – including a elderly woman – were traumatised.
The diocese is now trying to arrange bail and has asked for prayers for those in prison and their families.
Bishop Chad, a USPG Regional Manager until 2010, said: ‘I am really concerned about this. We shall be running around to try and bail the whole group out today, if the police will listen.’
The Anglican Church in Harare is under attack from an ex-communicated bishop, Dr Norbert Kunonga, a supporter of President Mugabe, who left the Anglican Province of Central Africa (CPCA) in 2007 to try and set up a rival church.
Kunonga, with the support of police and henchmen, has seized CPCA church property and used violence to break up church services…
And there is a lot more detail in that article, including a full statement by Bishop Chad Gandiya (scroll down).
Earllier, there was a lengthy report in the New York Times by Celia W Dugger Mugabe Ally Escalates Push to Control Anglican Church:
…But it is leaders of the Anglican Church, one of the country’s major denominations, who have lately faced the most sustained pressure. Nolbert Kunonga, an excommunicated Anglican bishop and staunch Mugabe ally, has escalated a drive to control thousands of Anglican churches, schools and properties across Zimbabwe and southern Africa.
“The throne is here,” declared Mr. Kunonga, who has held onto his bishopric here in the sprawling diocese of Harare through courts widely seen as partisan to Mr. Mugabe. He has also been backed by a police force answerable to the president, whom Mr. Kunonga describes as “an angel.”
Chad Gandiya, who was selected by the Anglican hierarchy in central Africa to replace Mr. Kunonga as bishop of Harare, said he was baffled by the support for Mr. Kunonga from state security services since the church that Bishop Gandiya leads is apolitical: “It’s not Kunonga we find at the church gates, it’s the police. It’s not Kunonga who drives us out, who throws tear gas at us, it’s the police. When we ask them why, they say they’re following orders.”
Friday evening update
USPG now reports 16 Anglicans released on bail in Harare, Zimbabwe.
The Rt Revd Chad Gandiya, Bishop of Harare, has told USPG that 16 Anglicans arrested on Wednesday have now been released on bail…
Updated Friday evening
From the Diocese in Europe website: Diocese votes on women bishops.
Members of the Diocese in Europe Synod have voted to accept the draft proposals for women to become bishops - despite the scheme being rejected by the House of Bishops in the Diocese.
The debate, referred to the Diocese from General Synod, was spread over three sessions during the 4 day Synod meeting in Cologne. First two keynote speakers. Bishops Peter Selby and Martin Warner introduced the topic offering different viewpoints but each sensitive to the effects of any change which would allow women to become bishops.
The following day Synod members met in groups to consider the issue. These groups reported back at a final session during the afternoon of Thursday 2nd June before the formal motion was debated. After that debate there was a short time of silent devotion and prayer before voting, by houses. The result was
Bishops - in favour 0 against 2
Clergy – in favour 11 against 10 abstentions 1
Laity – in favour 15 against 6 abstentions 3
After the main vote Mrs Ann Turner proposed a following motion that “this Synod desires that all faithful Anglicans remain and thrive together in the Church of England and therefore calls upon the House of Bishops to bring forward amendments to the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration of Women) Measure to ensure that those unable on theological grounds to accept the ministry of women bishops are able to receive Episcopal oversight from a bishop with Authority (i.e. ordinary jurisdiction) conferred by the Measure rather than by delegation from a Diocesan Bishop.”
This was not accepted by Synod (17 votes to 23 with 6 abstentions)
Important note:- Due to the unique Constitution of the Diocese in Europe the formal response to General Synod must come from the Bishop’s Council (which is a smaller body composed of members of Diocesan Synod – and which will meet in late October).
Go to the diocesan website for audio files relating to this.
Friday evening update
Bishop David Hamid has written on his own blog about this: The decision of Diocesan Synod regarding Women in the Episcopate:
…I am in favour of women in the episcopate, but I do not believe that the provision for those who are opposed to this development, contained in the measure, are sufficient to maintain the highest degree of unity in our Church. I therefore had to vote against the motion. I explained my position in a speech which I post below…
Jim Naughton has written a piece for Ruth Gledhill’s blog about this (original behind Times paywall).
A copy of the article also appears at the Daily Episcopalian. See Courting the Holy Spirit by practicing retail politics.
Last week, while the Church of England was dealing with embarrassing revelations about how badly the Archbishops of Canterbury and York had behaved while selecting the current Bishop of Southwark, I was observing the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D. C. as it prepared to choose the successor of Bishop John Bryson Chane, who retires in November.
The process that I witnessed was so different than the one described by the late Dean Colin Slee in his now-famous memo, that it seems almost unfair to draw comparisons. In filling the vacancy in Southwark, the English method of appointing bishops was clearly at its worst. Or so one hopes. A story of subterfuge leavened with a dash of Python-like absurdity, it featured a media leak meant to scuttle two candidacies, clumsy attempts to blame the leak on an innocent party, an investigation into the leak whose findings have been kept secret, and a delicious moment in which the Archbishop of York lobbied for votes while leading a group outing to the toilet. Little wonder that members of the Crown Nominating Committee were reduced to tears during the proceedings.
The process in Washington, on the other hand, has run relatively smoothly so far, although the election will not be held until June 18…
What Jim describes is, I think, what we here would call a “hustings”.
From 10 Downing Street: Diocese of Durham
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend Justin Portal Welby, MA, Hon FCT, Dean of Liverpool, for election as Bishop of Durham in succession to the Right Reverend Nicholas Thomas Wright, MA, DPhil, DD, on his resignation on the 31 August 2010.
Notes for editors
Justin Welby (aged 55) was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. After a career in the oil industry in Paris and London, he trained for the ministry at Cranmer Hall and St John’s College Durham. He served his title at Chilvers Coton with Astley, Coventry diocese from 1992 to 1995. From 1995 to 2002 he was Rector of Southam and also Vicar of Ufton, Coventry diocese from 1998 to 2002. From 2002 to 2007 he was Canon Residentiary at Coventry Cathedral; and was Co-Director for International Ministry from 2002 to 2005. From 2005 to 2007 he was Sub-Dean at Coventry Cathedral and also Canon for Reconciliation Ministry and in 2007 was also Priest-in-Charge at Coventry Holy Trinity. Since 2007 he has been Dean of Liverpool.
From 2000 to 2002 he was Chairman of an NHS Hospital Trust, and he currently also serves on the Committee of Reference for the ethical funds of a large investment company in the City of London.
Justin Welby is married to Caroline and they have had six children (one of whom died in infancy). His recreations include most things French and sailing.
The Diocese of Durham website has a detailed press release, with photos: NEW BISHOP DESIGNATE OF DURHAM ANNOUNCED.
Liverpool Cathedral has Justin Welby, Dean of Liverpool is to be the next Bishop of Durham.