Thursday, 31 January 2013

Women Bishops - summit next week

Madeleine Davies writes in the Church Times: Women-bishops summit next week. She reports that ““Intensive” facilitated discussions are to be held on Tuseday and Wednesday next week by the working group on women bishops”.

The chair of the working group has sent a statement to all General Synod members (GS Misc 1041), and this is copied below.

GS Misc 1041
GENERAL SYNOD
Women Bishops: Working Group on new legislative proposals

Please see below a statement which the Chair of the Working Group has asked to be circulated to Synod members.
William Fittall
Secretary General
31 January 2013

Synod members will have seen that, on 11 December, the House of Bishops established a working group drawn from all three Houses of Synod to advise it on the preparation of fresh legislative proposals to be brought before the Synod in July. The Archbishops announced the names of the ten members of the Group on 19 December.

We held our first meeting on 3 January and met again yesterday. At our first meeting we decided to invite 15 people to join us for intensive facilitated discussions on 5/6 February. We sought nominations for some of these places from interested groups and issued some invitations to named individuals.

We thought long and hard about the best arrangements and came to the conclusion that an event of this kind, at which we could do intensive and focused work with the help of outside facilitators, would be what was most productive at this stage of the process.

After our conversations conclude at the end of Wednesday afternoon the Working Group will be meeting the Archbishops and other members of the House of Bishops Standing Committee that evening in preparation for a special meeting of the House of Bishops on Thursday 7 February.

It will be for the House to decide what should happen thereafter in the light of the conversations that have happened. My expectation is that the House will issue a statement and give the working Group a fresh mandate for the next phase of its work. I would also hope that, shortly thereafter, there will be an opportunity to circulate a consultation document enabling all Synod members to make a contribution. Given the timescale to which we are working we shall probably need to seek responses by the end of February.

The ten of us who have been appointed to serve on the Working Group – 4 bishops, 3 clergy and 3 laity – are very conscious of the weight of expectation and responsibility placed on us. Do pray for us and for all those involved in the various discussions during the week of 4 February

+Nigel St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

We reported on the establishment of the working group here and here; the second link includes a list of the group’s members.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 4:24pm GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Justin Welby interview

Justin Welby and his wife were interviewed at the Trent Vineyard Church in Nottingham on Sunday. The church website has this description

John Mumford talks to Archbishop of Canterbury Elect, Justin Welby, and his wife Caroline. They discuss their faith, the ‘journey to Canterbury’, and their hope for the Church.

and there are links to audio and video of the hour-long interview here.

Ed Thornton reports on the interview for the Church Times as Welby told CNC: ‘appointing me would be absurd’.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 10:24am GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Retiring Bishops

As well as the Bishop of Liverpool, another diocesan bishop has announced his retirement this month. This is Michael Langrish, the Bishop of Exeter, whose announcement came on 6 January.

Exeter and Liverpool therefore join the queue of dioceses (behind Blackburn, Manchester, Durham, and Bath & Wells) awaiting consideration by the Crown Nominations Commission. In addition, if and when reorganisation of the three West Yorkshire dioceses is finally agreed, the new diocese will also have to join the queue. There is only one unallocated slot in the CNC’s programme for 2013, so at least one out of Exeter and Liverpool will have to wait twelve months or more for their new bishop to be chosen, and then probably several more months before he actually takes up his post.

I maintain a list of vacant diocesan sees.

Suffragan bishops also announce their retirements, most recently Christopher Morgan, the Bishop of Colchester, and I keep a list here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 9:40pm GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Developments in South Carolina

Updated again Friday

TEC Agrees to Injunction that Prohibits Them From Using Diocese of SC Identity
South Carolina lawsuit parties agree to temporary injunction

I last reported on South Carolina on 8 January. Since then there have been significant developments.

A South Carolina Circuit Court judge Jan. 23 issued a temporary restraining order preventing any “individual, organization, association or entity” from using registered names and marks that are claimed by Mark Lawrence and other leaders who led some Episcopalians in that state out of the Episcopal Church.

Judge Diane S. Goodstein’s order is in effect until Feb. 1 when a hearing is scheduled.

See ENS report South Carolina court temporarily restrains use of diocesan names, seal and also this diocesan press release
Circuit Court Blocks the Use of Diocese of South Carolina Identity By Anyone Outside of the Diocese.

And on 26 January a provisional bishop for those remaining in The Episcopal Church was elected, see this ENS report South Carolina continuing Episcopalians meet to plan their future.

See also:

Presiding bishop preaches to Episcopalians in South Carolin

House of Deputies president supports South Carolina Episcopalians

New bishop provisional addresses South Carolina Episcopalians

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 4:25pm GMT | Comments (19) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA

IF campaign

I reported on the launch of the Enough Food For Everyone If campaign last week. Here are a few reports on and reactions to the launch.

Liz Ford in The Guardian Anti-hunger campaign ‘If’ launches with call for G8 to act

Ed Thornton in the Church Times There is one direction: ending world hunger

Luke Harman for Christian Aid IF campaign launches

Zahid Torres-Rahman in The Guardian Business should be part of solution in enough food for everyone campaign

Leni Wild and Sarah Mulley in the New Statesman Is the new IF campaign trying to ‘Make Poverty History’, again?

Maria Caspani for AlertNet IF campaign to end hunger seems a bit iffy

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 10:15am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

RC bishops respond to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

The Roman Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales has issued, via this page, a Briefing to Members of Parliament on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. (PDF)

Another copy is available from the Catholic Herald as a normal web page over here.

Catholic Voices has its own summary of their arguments at Bishops to MPs: this Bill will radically alter meaning of marriage.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 at 12:41pm GMT | Comments (34) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation

Free Church of England orders recognised by CofE

This press release: Free Church of England Orders recognised.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have recognised the Orders of the Free Church of England under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967. The Measure gives the Archbishops authority to determine whether the Orders of any Church are ‘recognised and accepted’ by the Church of England.

The recognition of the Orders of the Free Church of England follows approximately three years of contact between the bishops of the Free Church of England, the Council for Christian Unity and the Faith and Order Commission, which recommended that the Orders of the Free Church of England be recognised. That recommendation was subsequently endorsed by the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops…

Much information about the Free Church of England can be found on its websites:

The Free Church of England

The Northern Diocese

The Southern Diocese

The following pages may be of particular interest:

One FAQ is this:

Is the Free Church of England an Anglican Church?

The Free Church of England is required by its Constitution to ‘conform to the ancient laws and customs of the Church of England’. Our doctrinal basis, structures, organisation, worship, ministry and ethos are therefore recognisably ‘Anglican’. Anyone coming from an Anglican background would find much that was familiar to him or her – including the layout of our Churches, robes, churchwardens, church councils and the like. Our worship is that of the Book of Common Prayer or conservative modern-language forms that belong to the Anglican tradition.

The Free Church of England is not a member of the Anglican Communion – though the Provinces that make up the Communion are currently re-defining their relationships with each other and with the See of Canterbury. Since the 1870s the Free Church of England has been in full communion with the Reformed Episcopal Church in the United States and Canada. The REC is a full member of the recently-formed Anglican Church in North America. The fact that the ACNA has been recognised by some Provinces of the Anglican Communion means that the Free Church of England now stands in some degree of relationship with them, though the precise details have not yet been worked out.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 at 9:03am GMT | Comments (19) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ACNA | Church of England

Monday, 28 January 2013

Bishop of Liverpool to retire

The Rt Rev James Jones has announced that he will retire as Bishop of Liverpool on his 65th birthday in August.

The bishop has released this letter.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 28 January 2013 at 9:56am GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Church Times feature on women bishops

Updated

The 18 January issue of the Church Times carries an eight-page supplement: “women bishops theological debate” with this introduction:

CLEARING the way for women to be consecrated bishops in the Church of England is unfinished busi­­­ness after the defeat in the General Synod last November. In the pause before the fine detail is discussed yet again, we thought to answer readers’ questions about what exactly were the theological objections. We commissioned four main pieces, for and against women bishops, from Evangelical and Catholic viewpoints (encountering a few refusals along the way). We invited the contributors to consult whom they wished, and most filed in time for us to show the pieces to the others, to allow emendations and additions. There are also a few other pieces we thought illuminating. These are, of course, not definitive. As Edward Dowler suggests in the final piece, there are vaster areas of theological reflection about authority and gender with which the Church ought to engage. But, for the time being, we hope that these pages might provide a useful insight into the most pressing issues in the debate.

There is also this related editorial: An issue of unity,

The nine articles themselves are behind the Church Times paywall and so only available to subscribers. But versions of two are available elsewhere: An Ordinary Radical Event is an extended version of the article by Judy Stowell, and Veni Sancte Spiritus - but please don’t tell us anything we’d rather not hear is an earlier version of that by Edward Dowler.

Rachel Weir, the chair of WATCH, has responded to this CT supplement with Last year’s words belong to last year’s language … And next year’s words await another voice…..

In an eight page feature, nine articles are printed only three of which take a positive line on the ordination of women (and only one is actually written by a woman). Many of the rest seem to assume that having women as priests/leaders in the church is an interesting hypothesis to which they would not themselves subscribe!

There is clear bias of content here but there also seems to be a wilful blindness to the fact that women are already ordained as priests in the Church of England. The theological ‘rightness’ of this reform was decided back in 1975 when General Synod decided that there is ‘no fundamental objection to the ordination of women as priests’ and that decision was enacted in 1994 in the first ordinations.

So why is it that the Church Times is running a series of articles this week that seem to be trying to re-open the debate?

The offense to women clergy is extraordinary. Since 1994, over 5,000 women have been ordained and have served faithfully in ministries throughout the land. Many already exercise considerable authority and ‘headship’. The Church of England simply couldn’t survive without her women priests.

Another response comes from Miranda Threlfall-Holmes who writes about Loyal Anglicans : A historical view.

A few years ago, the Church of England’s General Synod passed a resolution declaring that both those who agree and those who disagree with the ordination of women are ‘loyal Anglicans’.

Since then, this phrase has been repeatedly quoted by those who disagree with women’s ordination. Look here, the argument runs. We are loyal Anglicans - Synod has agreed - and we cannot be called disloyal just because we don’t support the church’s decision to ordain women. You have to let us have everything we feel we need to flourish. Separate bishops. Separate dioceses, preferably, but failing that certainly separate Chrism masses, separate ordination services, separate selection conferences. It isn’t disloyal or separatist to ask for these things, we are assured: how can it be, when we know everyone involved is a ‘loyal Anglican’?

Let’s leave aside, for a moment, the illogicality of basing your argument on a declaration that both sides are loyal, and then using that declaration as an excuse for disowning your opponents as invalid innovators who are not loyal to the inheritance of faith.

Instead, I want to consider the phrase ‘loyal Anglicans’ as a historian. Because from a historical perspective, this phrase ‘loyal Anglicans’ is a very richly evocative phrase.

It is hardly going too far to say that the entire basis of Anglicanism is loyalty. Loyalty to the Crown over the Pope, mainly. And secondly, loyalty to a prescribed way of doing things rather than to our own ideas.

But if Synod’s statements are to be taken as the grounds for argument, there is no getting away from the fact that Synod has said that women can be ordained. That women can and should become bishops, that there are no fundamental theological objections to women’s ordination. And since Synod has declared women can be ordained, there is no grounds for refusing to accept that your (male) bishop is a loyal Anglican, let alone demanding an alternative one with whom you can agree.

We should stop the creeping separation that we have allowed to infiltrate the Church of England since the Act of Synod. Let’s all go to the same Chrism masses, the same ordination services. Let’s enact unity, rather than talking about it. Or let’s stop, please, claiming to be loyal.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 27 January 2013 at 8:28pm GMT | Comments (60) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Some Initial Comments on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

The Government Equalities Office has published a range of supplementary materials here: these include a FactSheet, a Mythbuster and a Short Guide.

Frank Cranmer at Law & Religion UK has published a very helpful summary of the bill in Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill: the published text.

Adam Wagner at the UK Human Rights Blog has written Equal marriage on the way as Bill published.

The Roman Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have issued this statement opposing the bill.

Maria Miller, the Secretary of State responsible for the bill, appeared on the BBC Radio 4 programme Today on Friday morning, and the full interview is available here: Maria Miller: Churches ‘free to choose’ on gay marriage.

Colin Coward has commented at Changing Attitude on the CofE’s official statement in Church of England’s attitude to civil partnerships and same-sex marriage.

Ed Thornton reported for the Church Times that Stevens holds line as Government publishes same-sex marriage Bill.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 27 January 2013 at 8:29am GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church in Wales | Church of England | equality legislation

Saturday, 26 January 2013

opinion

Andrew Brown asks How can faith bodies provide welfare when their own cupboards are bare?

Andrew Goddard writes for the Church of England Newspaper about The legacy of Rowan Williams to the Church of England.

Christopher Howse writes in his Sacred Mysteries column in The Telegraph about When ravens beat their black image.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 26 January 2013 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

David Hope sermon

David Hope, the former Archbishop of York preached at yesterday’s consecration of Glyn Webster as the Bishop of Beverley. The full text of his sermon is online here.

Minster FM has a report of the sermon - Former Archbishop of York Attacks Church Bureaucracy - but there is much more in the sermon than that so do read the full text.

There are photographs of the consecration here, although they are muddled up with ones of the announcement of the appointment last August.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 26 January 2013 at 10:57am GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | Sermons

Friday, 25 January 2013

Anglican responses to Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

The Church in Wales has issued this: Marriage (Same Sex Couples ) Bill - A statement:

PRESS RELEASE
Marriage (Same Sex Couples ) Bill - A statement
25 January 2013

Since the Statement to Parliament by the Minister for Women and Equalities on 11 December 2012, the Government has worked to understand and accommodate the position of the Church in Wales in its equal marriage Bill. As a disestablished church with a legal duty to marry the Church in Wales is uniquely placed. The Bill provides protection for the Church whilst still enabling it to make its own decision on same-sex marriage.

Under the Bill, the duty of Church in Wales ministers to marry will not be extended to same-sex couples. However, should the Church’s Governing Body decide in the future that the Church wishes to conduct such marriages, there is provision in the Bill for the law to be altered without the need for further primary legislation by Parliament. Instead, a resolution from the Church’s Governing Body would trigger an order by the Lord Chancellor for the necessary legal changes to be made.

The Church of England has issued this: Bishop of Leicester responds to Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill:

25 January 2013

The Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, has today made the following statement on the publication of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

“I am grateful to the Secretary of State and her officials for the constructive way in which they have consulted with the Church on the issue of effective legal safeguards. I acknowledge the progress made on that front, and the commitment of the Government to ensuring that the churches concerns are properly accommodated in the draft legislation. As we have repeatedly made clear to officials, we regret that more time has not been made available before publication of the Bill to give every detail the attention it deserves. We will wish to comment further when we have had the opportunity to examine the provisions in the Bill more closely.

“The Church of England however continues to hold the view, set out in doctrine and Canon law, that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. It is a social institution that predates both church and state and has been part of the glue that has bound countless successive societies together. I welcome the opportunity that civil partnerships have given to enable same sex couples to mark and celebrate their commitment to each other. Further, I recognise that there is a range of views amongst the membership of the Church of England. I do not however believe that holding to a traditional understanding of marriage is, or should be, regarded as a discriminatory position.

“Many principled and practical concerns about legislating to redefine marriage were set out in the Church of England’s submission to the Government consultation in June 2012. For the Church of England, in common with other denominations and faiths, one central test of this Bill is whether it will preserve and guarantee religious practice and religious conscience. We recognise that the Government has sought hard to do so in the drafting, but as the legislative process continues we shall wish to press serious questions about the implications for wider society, for the significance of procreation and upbringing of children as part of the purpose of marriage, the effect on teaching in schools, and the work of chaplains and others with religious convictions who are involved in public service delivery.

“We have also continued to raise questions about whether it is wise or appropriate to legislate at speed on a matter of such fundamental importance to society, when the proposal was not in any major party manifesto, the Coalition Agreement or the last Queen’s Speech. The lack of a clear mandate and the absence of an overwhelming public consensus for change ought at least to give pause for thought.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 25 January 2013 at 10:27am GMT | Comments (28) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church in Wales | Church of England | equality legislation

Church Commissioners Questions - women bishops

The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry, answered several questions in the House of Commons yesterday, including these on women bishops and the related topic of how representative is the House of Laity.

Women Bishops

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): What assessment he has made of whether the informal discussions amongst General Synod members in February 2013 will lead to significant progress on enabling women to become bishops.

Sir Tony Baldry: I refer the hon. Lady to the letter from the secretary-general of the General Synod, which was placed in the Library of the House on 19 December. I understand that the working group established by the House of Bishops had a good first meeting on 3 January. It meets again next Wednesday. The facilitated discussions in early February will be followed immediately by a further meeting of the House of Bishops. I know that all concerned understand the urgency of the situation.

Diana Johnson: But does the hon. Gentleman accept that the document that was produced and put in the House of Commons Library shows no acceleration of the usual glacial way in which the Church of England operates? Does he also accept that in 2015 we could still find ourselves dealing with an unrepresentative laity stopping the Measure? Surely we can do more something more quickly.

Sir Tony Baldry: The hon. Lady is being uncharacteristically uncharitable. Anyone present at the meeting in the Moses Room with the Archbishop of Canterbury-designate would have been left in absolutely no doubt that the Church is determined to take the matter forward with all due speed and diligence. A working group was set up immediately and facilitated discussions will take place next week. It is important to try, as quickly as possible, to find a way forward that enables fresh legislation to be brought before the General Synod in July.

House of Laity

Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): What steps are being considered within the Church of England as to how the House of Laity may be made more representative of church congregations.

Sir Tony Baldry: Last year, the Synod voted to explore alternatives to the present system under which the House of Laity is elected by deanery synod members. I understand that the report, with options for change, will be discussed by the synod at one of its meetings this year.

Martin Vickers: I thank the Church Commissioner for that reply. The unrepresentative nature of the House of Laity is clearly holding the Church back, involving it in interminable, internal debates. Very few congregations are aware of the process of election and very few members of congregations get involved in election. Will he use his good offices to ensure that, as a matter of urgency, new proposals are brought forward?

Sir Tony Baldry: I think my hon. Friend’s comments will be shared by many throughout the Church, which is why it is exploring alternatives to the present system under which the House of Laity is elected by deanery synod members. I am sure that the comments my hon. Friend makes will be borne in mind when that report comes to be debated later this year.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 25 January 2013 at 10:10am GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

Updated

Hansard reports:

Bill Presented
Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Secretary Maria Miller, supported by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary Theresa May, Secretary Michael Gove, Secretary Eric Pickles, Hugh Robertson, Lynne Featherstone, Mrs Helen Grant and Jo Swinson, presented a Bill to make provision for the marriage of same sex couples in England and Wales, about gender change by married persons and civil partners, about consular functions in relation to marriage, for the marriage of armed forces personnel overseas, and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 126) with explanatory notes (Bill 126-EN).

The Leader of the House of Commons announced that the Second Reading (first stage of actual debate) of the bill will take place on 5 February.

The text of the bill, and an explanatory note, are available here.

The impact assessment is also linked from that page.

Meanwhile, some news reports and comment:

BBC Gay marriage: MPs set to vote on proposals for the first time and Gay marriage support growing says Tory MP Nick Herbert

Changing Attitude Same-sex marriage bill introduced in House of Commons and earlier The legal status of marriage and equal marriage in the Church of England

Ekklesia Religious groups welcome draft Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill

Yesterday was also one of the days for Questions to be asked of the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry. In relation to this topic, and on the related topic of Civil Partnerships, here is what he said:

Same-sex Marriage

Miss Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton) (Con): What recent representations he has received on the implications of same-sex marriage for the Church.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): The Church has had a series of discussions with the Government Equalities Office and officials over the past few weeks regarding the drafting of the Government’s Bill. There have also been meetings between senior Church representatives and the Secretary of State.

The Church of England’s position on the issues of principle were set out clearly in the published submission from the two archbishops last June. I understand that the Bill is to be published later today, and I would prefer to defer any further comment on the detailed drafting of it until Second Reading, which I understand will be soon.

Miss McIntosh: I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. Will he give an indication of the timetable that the Church would need in order to implement the rather complicated system envisaged in the Bill?

Sir Tony Baldry: That will depend largely on the timetable set out in the Bill, and my hon. Friend gives me the opportunity to clarify one important point. The Church of England is not asking for any special treatment or protection under this legislation; the issue is simply that the Bill should be drafted to ensure that the Church of England has the same freedoms as all other Churches and denominations to decide these matters for itself, and that, of course, must reflect the unique legal position of the Church of England.

Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) (Con): Speaking as someone who had a heterosexual marriage celebrated and registered in church, I hope that the Church Commissioners will explain to Colin Hart, the self-appointed campaign director of the so-called Coalition for Marriage, that having unity and diversity is a good idea, and that nobody in the Church of England ought to be worried about same-sex couples having the same opportunities of marrying as those of the opposite sex.

Sir Tony Baldry: These are issues that we will each have to address on a free vote on the Bill’s Second Reading, which I understand will take place soon. It may be for the convenience of the House if I give a brief summary of the submissions made by both archbishops in response to the Government’s earlier consultation, so that there is no ambiguity about the Church of England’s position. In their summary, the two archbishops said:

“The Church of England cannot support the proposal to enable ‘all couples, regardless of their gender, to have a civil marriage ceremony.’ Such a move would alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as enshrined in human institutions throughout history…To change the nature of marriage for everyone will be divisive and deliver no obvious legal gains given the rights already conferred by civil partnerships. We also believe that imposing for essentially ideological reasons a new meaning on a term as familiar and fundamental as marriage would be deeply unwise.”

And here on Civil partnerships:

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): What the policy of the Church of England is on celebrating civil partnerships.

Sir Tony Baldry: The Church of England’s position remains as set out in the House of Bishops pastoral statement of July 2005. A working group chaired by the former Northern Ireland Office permanent secretary, Sir Joseph Pilling, is reviewing the Church’s approach to sexuality more generally and will submit a report to the House of Bishops by the end of this year. A private member’s motion seeking to authorise the registration of civil partnerships in Church of England churches is due for discussion in the General Synod in due course.

Mr Bradshaw: As the hon. Gentleman will know, a number of senior Church of England bishops have, in the context of the debate on same-sex marriage, expressed their support for civil partnerships, but would the Church of England’s opposition to same-sex marriage, and the distinction it tries to draw, be more credible and have more authority if it allowed Church of England parishes that want to conduct civil partnerships to do so?

Sir Tony Baldry: The right hon. Gentleman makes his point well. Given the sensitivity of the issue, the most sensible thing for me to do is to ensure that his comments and those of any other right hon. and hon. Members are drawn to the attention of Sir Joseph Pilling.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 24 January 2013 at 10:30pm GMT | Comments (14) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church in Wales | Church of England | equality legislation

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Enough Food For Everyone If

Enough Food for Everyone If is a national campaign, launched today, involving 100 organisations that have come together to make 2013 the year in which we make dramatic progress towards ending global hunger. The Church of England is a member of the campaign and has issued this press release about its involvement.

In today’s age of plenty there is no reason why anyone should go without, IF ….
23 January 2013

The Bishops of Hereford and Derby today challenge governments, companies and citizens to take the necessary steps to reduce the millions currently going hungry, as a coalition 100 organisations come together to make 2013 the year in which we make dramatic progress towards ending global hunger - IF.

Speaking as the Lead Bishop on rural issues, the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, said: “Today, the world produces enough food to feed all seven billion of its inhabitants, but nearly one billion still go without. The growing levels of food insecurity in an age of plenty challenge the Gospel message of abundant life.”

Bishop Anthony continues: “As a Church we are called upon both to feed the hungry and to expose and eradicate the causes of debilitating hunger. This year’s IF campaign provides us all with an opportunity to cast a spotlight on our broken food system and to press governments, companies and citizens to take the necessary steps to reduce the millions currently going hungry.”

In a podcast released to mark the launch of the IF campaign, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, who will be speaking at the campaign launch, said: “IF is a very small word but it can have enormous consequences and this campaign asks all of us to use the word ‘IF’ for ourselves - our spending, our resources, our praying, our hopes for a better world in 2013.”

Bishop Alastair continues: “It’s a national campaign, an international campaign, drawing people together - IF. IF we can join together then many more people can be lifted out of hunger. Let all of us hear that word: “If you wanted to, you could help me more.” And let each of our hearts reflect on that word: “If we tried harder we could make a huge difference.” And that’s what this year of 2013 is all about and what our endeavours are about as we join with others for this campaign.”

Notes

The Church of England is a member of ENOUGH FOOD FOR EVERYONE IF. This is a national campaign involving 100 organisations that have come together to make 2013 the year in which we make dramatic progress towards ending global hunger. For more about the campaign and its launch please visit the campaign website at www.enoughfoodif.org.

The Church of England will be using the UK Presidency of the G8 to focus on two key concerns: hunger and sexual violence in conflict. To learn more about the Church’s work in both these areas please visit this website.

The Bishop of Derby’s podcast can be found at this link.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 at 10:51am GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Diocese of Blackburn clergy write to the Archbishop of York

The following press release has been received:

22 January 2013
MEDIA RELEASE:
Lancashire clergy write to the Archbishop of York

Over fifty clergy from the Diocese of Blackburn have written to the Archbishop of York, urging him to ensure that the next Bishop of Blackburn will be prepared to ordain women as priests, and fully affirm their ministry.

The letter was co-ordinated by the Vicar of Lancaster, the Revd Chris Newlands, and has been signed by fifty-five clergy from across the diocese who are keen to see a supporter of women’s ministry appointed as Diocesan Bishop.

Mr Newlands said, “Many churches across the diocese have been greatly enriched by the ministry of women, and we believe that to fulfil his calling as a focus of unity, the next Bishop of Blackburn should affirm the ministry of all the priests in the diocese who hold his licence.”

The Crown Nominations Commission will be meeting at the end of January to choose the name that will be submitted to the Queen who formally makes the appointment. An announcement is expected within the next weeks.

The last two diocesan bishops have not accepted the ordination of women as priests and the signatories to the letter have urged the Archbishop and members of the Crown Nominations Commission to ensure that the 9th Bishop of Blackburn is a supporter of the ministry of women priests in the church.

For further information please contact:

The Revd Chris Newlands, Lancaster Priory.

The first meeting of the Crown Nominations Commission for the See of Blackburn was held on 10 January. The second meeting is due to be held on 30/31 January.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 at 7:07pm GMT | Comments (49) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Succession to the Crown Bill 3

The Government’s Succession to the Crown Bill will receive its second Reading and complete its remaining stages in the House of Commons today (Tuesday 22 January 2013).

The Church of England has issued this briefing for MPs welcoming or agreeing to all the clauses in the bill, and to the way in which it is being fast-tracked.

Law & Religion UK has published a second article by Dr Bob Morris of the UCL Constitution Unit: Succession to the Crown Bill: possible untoward effects?

Amongst other things the article considers the fears expressed by some people that the clause in the bill allowing heirs to marry Catholics without disqualification would somehow open up the Crown to Roman Catholics. But Morris writes

The Bill does not disturb the requirements that no Catholic may succeed, that the heir must be in communion with the Church of England, must make a declaration on accession that swears fidelity to the Protestant faith, and must swear at coronation to uphold the Church of England. It is therefore the case that heirs who become Catholics are still barred from the throne.

I have previously covered this bill here and here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 at 1:40pm GMT | Comments (15) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Monday, 21 January 2013

still more comments on the European court decisions

In a guest post at Law & Religion UK Christopher Luff has written Eweida et al v United Kingdom: some thoughts on the wider ramifications.

And in a guest post at the ECHR Blog Paul Johnson has written Eweida and Others Judgment Part I - The Sexual Orientation Cases.

Erica Howard has written at EJIL TALK! The European Court of Human Rights Gets It Right: A Comment on Eweida and Others v the United Kingdom.

As a follow-up to the radio discussion of the role of the Christian Legal Centre yesterday, readers may find its briefing paper of interest.

Other views have been expressed by Cranmer in Victory for religious symbols; defeat for the religious conscience, and by European Dignity Watch in ECHR: “Obsessive political correctness” trumps freedom of conscience.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 21 January 2013 at 11:36pm GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Sunday programme discusses European court rulings

The BBC Radio 4 programme Sunday today has a major feature on this.

Starting at about 27 minutes in, there is a lengthy discussion, not only of the court’s rulings, but also of the role played in them by advocacy groups such as the Christian Legal Centre.

The BBC’s own description:

In light of the European rulings on 4 religious discrimination cases this week William asks if the courts are the right place to decide what expressions of faith and belief are acceptable in the workplace. Christian Legal Centre’s Andrew Marsh, gives his opinion.

Also in the programme:

A leading Evangelical, Steve Chalke, this week published an article arguing that the Church should bless committed homosexual partnerships without requiring that they should be celibate. He debates with Dr Stephen Holmes of the Evangelical Alliance who defends their current teaching that gay sex is sinful.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 20 January 2013 at 7:24pm GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation

Saturday, 19 January 2013

opinion

Kelvin Holdsworth offers us 8 Things the Churches Could Learn From the collapse of HMV and Should churches use e-mail? Or indeed blogging?

Valerie Tarico writes for Salon that Religion may not survive the Internet.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about A chance to witness to the vision.

Jody Stowell writes about An Ordinary Radical Event.

Paul Lay writes for History Today about Beyond Belief.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 18 January 2013

House of Laity meeting - press reports

The Church of England website has this press release about this afternoon’s debate.

House of Laity rejects vote of no confidence
18 January 2013

The House of Laity, meeting in Church House, Westminster today, rejected a motion of no confidence in its Chair, Dr Philip Giddings, with 47 voting for the motion and 80 voting against.

The motion was brought by Mr Stephen Barney, a lay canon of Leicester Cathedral, who said he had lost confidence in Dr Giddings as Chair of the House of Laity following Dr Giddings’ speech in the debate on women bishops legislation in November. In a letter to all members of the House of Laity before the debate, Mr Barney said, “Whatever we decide, I hope it will contribute to resolving this issue in the long term, for the flourishing of all.”

After the vote, Dr Giddings told the House: “Mr Chairman I am grateful for that vote of confidence but I need to, in a sense, take my medicine. There are clearly a substantial minority of the House who do not have confidence in me. I intend to continue in office but I shall take careful advice from colleagues about how we proceed from here. And in particular I think we need to have some kind of debate about what are the expectations of chair and vice chair in matters of this kind. I hope and pray that we can now put this behind us and the temperature can be lowered and that we can seek to work together for the sake of God’s mission to this country.”

There are several online press reports of the debate.

Madeleine Davies and Ed Thornton in the Church Times House of Laity bid to oust Giddings fails

Sam Jones in The Guardian Female bishops: house of laity chair survives no-confidence vote

Lauren Turner in The Independent Women bishops: Church leader Dr Philip Giddings wins confidence vote

BBC Church of England no-confidence vote defeated

John Bingham in The Telegraph Spectre of gay bishops feud returns amid Church debate on women

Matthew Davies of Episcopal News Service England’s laity rejects ‘no confidence’ vote in their chair

Christian Today Church of England: Philip Giddings survives lay vote

Andrew Brown of The Guardian has this comment: God’s hand in General Synod politics.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 18 January 2013 at 7:46pm GMT | Comments (52) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

House of Laity meeting - outcome of the debate

The motion before the House was:

That this House have no confidence in Dr Philip Giddings as Chair of this House.

Immediately before the vote was due to be taken, a motion to pass to next business (and thereby cancel the vote on the main motion) was moved, but overwhelmingly lost.

The main motion was defeated with 47 votes in favour, 80 votes against and 13 recorded.

After the debate Dr Giddings said that he would continue in office, but that there was a need for a debate on the role of the chair of the house.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 18 January 2013 at 3:45pm GMT | Comments (18) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

"awash with misconceptions"

The Anglican Mainstream website carries this editorial (reprinted from New Directions): Special meeting of the House of Laity. It starts:

We are appalled by the news that there is to be a special meeting of the House of Laity of the General Synod to have a vote of no confidence in the Chairman of the House of Laity, Dr Philip Giddings. Dr Giddings spoke up for proper and fair provision for those who in conscience cannot accept the ordination of women to the episcopate. He has been accused of impartiality, a charge not levied against those leaders in other Houses who spoke out firmly in favour of the legislation and indeed in one case against any provision whatsoever for us.

and later continues:

In response to Bishop Jonathan Baker’s fine reflection on the vote in synod the website ‘Thinking Anglicans’ has been awash with misconceptions and in some cases simple untruths. Many commentators have become fixated with the idea that there is a See of Ebbsfleet. Given that Ebbsfleet is a suffragan see of the Archbishop of Canterbury and on the official advert declaring a vacancy in the see it was called the See of Ebbsfleet, one wonders why people are getting so irate. It is of course because they dislike what the See of Ebbsfleet and indeed the other Catholic sees stand for. They dislike the sense of coherence around a bishop that has grown up in our constituency. They cannot understand the world in which we operate, supporting one another and meeting together, because we share a common faith and a common vision. [emphasis added]

Unlike the Anglican Mainstream website, we are open for comments.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 18 January 2013 at 10:17am GMT | Comments (20) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: About Thinking Anglicans | Church of England | General Synod

Thursday, 17 January 2013

more comments on the European court decisions

Law and Religion UK Frank Cranmer Chaplin, Eweida, Ladele and McFarlane: the judgment

Cif belief Mark Hill Lillian Ladele is the real loser in Christian discrimination rulings

Guardian Joshua Rozenberg Balancing Christian and gay rights isn’t easy - give Strasbourg some credit

Law and Lawyers Eweida and others v UK ~ a look at what is being said? which in turn has links to several further articles.

Also, from the Guardian Local Government Network, Phil Allen What a religious discrimination ruling means for local government.

And the International Business Times has this: Full Gay Rights Threaten Christians in Public Life, Says Anglican Mainstream.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 17 January 2013 at 10:28pm GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation

House of Laity meeting

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK looks ahead to tomorrow’s meeting with these Questions for the House of Laity (and the Church), and suggests that members of the House of Laity might ponder the following:

  • What will be achieved by holding this debate?
  • Is this a responsible use of Church resources?
  • Has the issue been discussed in the parishes/deaneries/dioceses other than between members of the House of Laity? If not, on what basis are the views of these groups to be represented?
  • What message is the meeting likely send to those outside the Church (and to those within who were not consulted)?
  • How does this fit into the bigger picture of: a] the ordination of women into episcopate; and b] synodical governance?

But do read the whole article.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 17 January 2013 at 5:52pm GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

House of Laity meeting

Updated

As Friday’s meeting of the House of Laity of the General Synod approaches with its motion of no confidence in Dr Philip Giddings as Chair of the House, James Townsend looks ahead to the meeting with Philip Giddings – the mood of the House is yet to settle.

Townsend is a lay member of Synod from the diocese of Manchester. He predicts “a reasonably high turnout of between 75% and 79%”, and his soundings suggest that the voting on the no confidence motion will be close.

Update

Anglican Mainstream has published House of Laity Meeting on Friday January 18 with views from Bishop Jonathan Baker, Canon Stephen Barney, Peter Ould, Tom Sutcliffe and Stephen Trott.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 at 4:03pm GMT | Comments (26) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

European Court rejects all but one discrimination claims

Updated

The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights is now available in the cases of Ms Nadia Eweida, Ms Shirley Chaplin, Ms Lillian Ladele and Mr Gary McFarlane.

In brief, only Nadia Eweida won her case.

See the full text of the judgment at this page, or download a PDF file here.

The court’s own press release is over here (PDF).

Telegraph John Bingham Christian wins right to wear cross at work

BBC British Airways Christian employee Nadia Eweida wins case

Guardian Owen Bowcott BA worker’s rights were infringed by cross ban, European court rules and Ruling on Christian’s right to wear cross ‘does not trump other human rights’

The Archbishop of York has issued a statement: Wearing religious symbols at work.

The National Secular Society has issued a statement.

And the British Humanist Association has issued this statement.

Rosalind English has written at UK Human Rights Blog Strasbourg rules against BA on crucifix issue.

Church Times Gavin Drake British Airways wrong in cross case, says European Court in landmark judgment

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 at 9:28am GMT | Comments (15) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation

Sunday, 13 January 2013

ACNA comments on bishops in civil partnerships

The Anglican Church in North America included this comment in its latest Communique:

We noted the communication of the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) concerning the recent decision of the House of Bishops in the Church of England to allow those in civil partnerships to be eligible to serve as bishops. This impacts both the doctrine of marriage and that of episcopacy. The Nigerian bishops wrote:

When the Church of England failed to exercise its legal and moral right to opt out of the civil partnerships legislation in 2005 warnings were given in England and around the Anglican Communion that this was a first step towards the recognition and institutionalization of behaviour contrary to the plain teaching of scripture and reaffirmed for all Anglicans by the 1998 Lambeth Conference in its Resolution 1.10. Sadly those warnings were ignored and we now face the next step in a process that could very well shatter whatever hopes we had for healing and reconciliation within our beloved Communion….

As a House of Bishops, while we acknowledge that we all fall short of God’s call to holiness, we dare not compromise the clear teaching of our Lord on faithfulness within Holy Matrimony and chastity outside of it. Sadly we must also declare that if the Church of England continues in this contrary direction we must further separate ourselves from it and we are prepared to take the same actions as those prompted by the decisions of The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada ten years ago.

The College agreed with the principle articulated in the Windsor Report that “what affects the communion of all should be decided by all.” The experience in North America has been that that the theological departures from historic Anglican norms have brought devastating consequences. The admonishment from the Nigerian Bishops will, if heeded, avoid further anguish.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 13 January 2013 at 11:10pm GMT | Comments (26) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ACNA | Church of England | equality legislation

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Civil partnerships and bishops: Global South Anglican statement

A statement has been issued from the Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion:

We, Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion, are deeply concerned and worried by the recent decision of the Church of England’s House of Bishops which approves that clergy livingin civil partnerships can be candidates to the episcopate.There is already an ambiguity regarding civil partnerships per se. We learnt that most civil partnerships, according to the Office for National Statistics in the UK, take place among the most sexually active age group. In addition dissolutions of civil partnerships are now increasing especially in the last few years. This puts into question the motives behind this civil partnership and adds to our confusion in the Global South.

When the Church of England allowed civil partnerships in 2005, they said that “The House of Bishops does not regard entering into a civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with holy orders, provided the person concerned is willing to give assurances to his or her bishop that therelationship is consistent with the standards for the clergy set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.” Now, with allowing candidates for episcopacy to do the same, to whom should they give assurances? Clarification on this point is needed.

Sadly, both the decision to permit clergy to enter civil partnerships and this latest decision which some call it a “local option,” are wrong and were taken without prior consultation or consensus with the rest of the Anglican Communion at a time when the Communion is still facing major challenges of disunity. It is contrary to “the inter-dependence” which we try to affirm betweenchurches within the Communion. Moreover, it does not only widen the gap between the Church of England and Anglicans in the Global South, it also widens the gap between the Anglican Communion and our ecumenical partners. Further, it jeopardizes the relationship between us Anglicans living in the Global South and followers of other faiths, and gives opportunities to exploit such departure of moral standards that this type of decision may provide.

The Church, more than any time before, needs to stand firm for the faith once received from Jesus Christ through the Apostles and not yield to the pressures of the society! In other words, the Church needs to be “salt” and “light” and to present a distinctive message from that of the secular world around us.

We strongly urge the Church of England to reconsider this divisive decision.

+ Mouneer Egypt
The Most Revd Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis
Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
Chairman, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Nicholas Abuja
The Most Revd Nicholas Okoh
Primate of All Nigeria Bishop of Abuja
Vice-Chairman, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++ Ian Maritius
The Most Revd Ian Ernest
Primate of the Indian Ocean Bishop of Mauritius
Hon. General Secretary, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Bolly Kuching
The Most Revd Datuk Bolly Lapok
Primate of South East Asia Bishop of Kuching
Hon. General Treasurer, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++ Stephen Yangon
The Most Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo
Primate of Myanmar Bishop of Yangon
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Eluid Nairobi
The Most Revd Dr. Eluid Wabukala
Primate of Kenya Bishop of Nairobi
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Bernard Matana
The Most Revd Bernard Nhatori
Primate of Burundi Bishop of Matana
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Hector Chile
The Most Revd Hector “Tito” Zavala
Primate of the Southern Cone Bishop of Chile
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Henri Kinshasa
The Most Revd Kahwa Henri Isingoma
Primate of Congo Bishop of Kinshasa
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 12 January 2013 at 3:23pm GMT | Comments (25) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England | equality legislation

opinion

Mark Vernon writes for The Guardian Spiritual, but not religious? A dangerous mix.

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes writes about Normality and Deviance.

Jill Segger writes for Ekklesia about Much ado about bishops: time for a more humane dispensation?

Mark Beach writes for the Church Times about New ecumenism at work.

Paul Vallely writes in the Church Times that They want people to be ashamed.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 12 January 2013 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 11 January 2013

House of Laity meeting

Madeleine Davies in the Church Times looks ahead to next week’s meeting of the General Synod’s House of Laity with Lay rebel explains his Giddings challenge.

Another letter to members of the House of Laity about next week’s meeting has reached us; this time from Tony Berry, a lay member from Chester diocese.

Dear Fellow member of Synod;

We are to debate a motion of no confidence in the chair of the House of Laity at our meeting on the 18th of January.

There appear to be three areas of concern; Leadership, Representation and Accountability. The debate on the Women Bishops measure provides a kind of critical incident through which these may be viewed. The comments below follow the three issues.

It may be that the chair of the House of Laity is not expected to be a leader or to exhibit leadership. In the debate the chair (having as I understand it) voted in July 2010 for the clause defining the principle of provision by delegation (itself carried by 393 to14) and voted to send the measure to the dioceses, then chose to be led by the minority in speaking and voting against the measure. This after the measure had had a ringing endorsement from the dioceses and the support of more than 2/3 of lay people.

In his speech he (three times) used the phrase “there must be a better way” without giving any indication of what he might have had in mind. It would have been an act of leadership (given the lay votes in the dioceses to at least given some indication of what a better way might be. Instead there was emptiness, an emptiness that was widely shared.

[continued below the fold]

However the opponents of the WB measure appeared to have had a common rubric for the debate; “This is not about women Bishops, it is about the provision, there must be a better way”. So far from the lay chair speaking as an individual he was it appears party to an organised process to wish for a better way but to have no idea (or no idea to be admitted) of what that might be. Note that the provision only exists because of the objections to women bishops so the provision has everything to do with women bishops. In this respect the lay chair ignored the other Bishops’ amendment which distinguished between delegation of institutional authority (surely the church has this authority) and the derivation of orders. This amendment did underscore the provision in the measure by making it clear that the Episcopal orders are not delegated.

It may be the case that the lay chair and others thought that by using their blocking minority in the house that they could persuade the new archbishop to change the measure for them. The lay chair appears to be seeking “provision” that would see other lay people in parishes being denied the Episcopal and priestly ministry of women when in parishes that joyfully accept women’s ordained ministry all male orders are welcome; doubtless you will have your own views on the fairness of this.

The lay chair spoke of the “unchurching” of some objectors if the measure was passed. This is an old ploy, to threaten, to choose to be a victim and to then blame others for the self imposed condition. So he was prepared to lay down 3,500 serving women priests for the sake of his friends. And incidentally just because Paul lived in a sexist culture we do not and there is no reason why we should and certainly no reason to subject women to male dominance.

The lay chair appeared to accept the argument that as men may be or are the head of a household so men should exercise headship in the church. This weak argument by analogy rests upon socially constructed gendered roles. There is a stronger argument by analogy which is; to participate in God’s creation of human beings is the most wonderful thing we humans can do. To create humans requires the product of the male testes and the female ovaries to be brought together in an act of mutuality (the woman is not a mere receptacle). This mutuality, the wonderful jointness of creation, provides a splendid analogy for the mutuality and sharing in family, social and church life where we could celebrate mutual dependence and not use trivial ideas of male dominated complementarity. Again in our culture most marriages are partnerships of equals and the idea of male headship in marriage is rather quaint. And it is not surprising that the decision caused by the blocking minority of our house produced such widespread consternation in the dioceses and parishes together with incredulity bordering upon contempt in the country in which our church is supposed to be the national church.

The lay chair did not comment upon the odd and questionable role of lay evangelical women in the debate and in the vote. Here we had examples of such synod members exercising headship in the church (when they argue that women should not do so) and exercising that headship in order to deny that women should exercise headship. The lay chair might have noted this anomaly and asked such women not to vote at all as even to register an abstention was to exercise headship. At the time of the suffragette movement there was a general view that significant numbers of women did not want the vote, it seemed odd to them then to have the vote, it does not now. Very few women do not exercise their right to vote now as a matter of principal.

The lay chair asked that no decision be taken without consensus. Well if he believed that he would not have been party to any contested election in the church. But after twenty years of women priests and nearing ten years of debate on women bishops it was clear enough that his statement regarding consensus was just a kind of resistance tactic, a desperate seeking of avoidance of decision; an abdication of leadership. And let us remember that in July 2010 General Synod had not accepted the third province (a non runner), had rejected separate dioceses and automatic transfer by almost 2/3 majorities, had (just) rejected co jurisdiction but to the extent that it would never have attained a 2/3 support. Also note please that co jurisdiction would have had a women bishop in co jurisdiction with a male who did not accept that she had any jurisdiction; just how many insults do women have to bear?

The lay chair knew as did we all of Tom Sutcliffe’s letter in which Tom wrote that those who claim that the “measure makes provision” were lying. Note that Tom did not qualify the word provision. Any lay chair in a role of leadership must have taken up this issue in the debate for to let it go by was to accept unacceptable behaviour in the house of laity. Before the November meeting of Synod I took the matter up with the clerk to the synod and he referred it to the lawyers, but unlike parliament we have no rules about accusing others of lying so nothing could be done.

It could be said that in going against the expressed wishes of the lay people in the dioceses the lay chair was being brave; well maybe. But it was the act of following the objectors and not leading on behalf of the laity that was the failure of leadership. He noted that he had voted for women priests’ measure as there was the parallel Act of Synod to be brought forward at a later date.

So the whole church now knows that far from representing the house of laity the current lay chair represents only a small section of it. Now by virtue of office the lay chair sits on various bodies including the Group of Six which decided whether the revised measure brought to Synod would have to be referred to the dioceses. It would be useful to know how the lay chair and the lay vice chair voted on this matter as it would clarify their positions; surely it is not enough to hide behind a cloak of confidentiality on such a crucial issue. However in all of these other roles and settings every other person will now know, if they did not know previously, that the current lay chair is not their point of reference for the views of the house of laity. In this critical incident of the debate on the WB measure the current lay chair has lost credibility in role with the great majority of the laity in the church and has lost credibility in other roles as well. He is in office but not in authority. As this becomes clearer the current lay chair whatever the vote on the 18th may well need to consider his position.

The lay chair spoke of the need to have diversity and difference acknowledged and respected; that is true enough for us all. However when slavery was abolished there were no special provisions for those who wished it to continue because to continue slavery would be to legitimise a continuing domination of the enslaved, even where deep acculturation had so accustomed some to slave hood that they wished it to continue. It would also permit the cruelty and corruption of the slave owners to continue. There is a sense in which no provisions should be made for those who wish for whatever reasons they might advance wish to continue in the church the domination of women by men with or without the connivance of other women. A university teacher can hardly claim innocence in the history of female emancipation.

You may agree, as do I, that the lay chair has a right to his opinions. But in most other walks of life to stand so determinedly against the prevailing well argued and agreed position of the great majority of lay people would mean a speech from the back benches following a resignation. That would have been a very honourable position to take. It would have underlined that idea that the lay chair is accountable to the electorate for his actions.

Now you may see the meeting on the 18th as unnecessary, unfortunate, and expensive. Some members have reported that they will not attend. There are two ways to avoid the expense, a withdrawal of the motion of no confidence or the resignation of the current lay chair.

Clearly this motion of no confidence raises significant considerations in respect of Leadership, Representation and of Accountability. These are serious matters, not to be dismissed lightly, not to be laughed off as the action of the winners of the great and long standing church debate about women bishops, surely not to be ignored as bad manners or decided upon “party” lines. So let us have a proper debate about these issues.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 11 January 2013 at 11:32am GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Civil partnerships and bishops: Church Times report

Ed Thornton in the Church Times has this report: Civil partnerships: ‘We should have shown workings’.

…Speaking on Monday, Bishop Paterson said that the group - whose other members were the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, and the Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher - had produced a 20-page report for the House of Bishops in May last year.

The group’s report examined three questions: should the moratorium be maintained or not? If not, should there be any additional requirements made of candidates for the episcopate that would not be made of those seeking a parish appointment? If so, what should those additional requirements be?

Bishop Paterson said that although the group “did make a proposal”, he could not say what it was. In addition, it had assumed that it would be asked to produce a final report. In May, however, the House of Bishops standing committee took over responsibility for the review.

The standing committee produced a shorter document, which was discussed by the Bishops when they met in December at Lambeth Palace. The Bishops issued a paragraph, included in a summary of decisions, on 20 December, which “confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate”.

Bishop Paterson said: “It is fair to say that what came out at the end did not represent the fairly considerable amount of work by our group and the standing committee. But something had to be said by the end of the year, because it had been promised…”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 11 January 2013 at 8:11am GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Election of the Archbishop of Canterbury

News from Canterbury
The link (a 3 MB pdf file) also includes photographs.

TO ALL AND SINGULAR CHRISTIAN PEOPLE whom the underwritten shall or may in any way concern ROBERT ANDREW WILLIS DL, DCL, DD DEAN of the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ Canterbury GREETING in the Lord Everlasting

WE DO MAKE IT KNOWN to you universally by these presents that the See of Canterbury being vacant by the resignation of The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Rowan Douglas Williams late Archbishop and Pastor thereof We the College of Canons aforesaid by virtue and authority of The Queen’s Licence granted to us for the Electing another Archbishop and Pastor of the said Church assembled together in our Cathedral on this Tenth day of January in the year of Our Lord Two thousand and thirteen and making a College of Canons there and observing the Laws and Statutes of this Kingdom and the ancient customs of the Cathedral Church in this behalf to be observed did elect THE RIGHT REVEREND JUSTIN PORTAL WELBY, Master of Arts, by Divine Permission Lord Bishop of Durham, to be Archbishop and Pastor of the said Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ Canterbury

[signed] Robert Willis

DEAN

Readers are referred to the Appointment Of Bishops Act 1533 for the background to this news. They may also find this press release from Lambeth Palace helpful: Bishop Justin now Archbishop of Canterbury Elect.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 10:16pm GMT | Comments (20) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

House of Laity meeting - Gavin Oldham letter

Archbishop Cranmer has written on his blog an article entitled The revenge of the liberal laity. In it he quotes the full text of a letter from Gavin Oldham, a lay General Synod member from the diocese of Oxford. In it Oldham explains why he will be voting for the vote of no confidence in the chair of the House of Laity at the meeting of the House next week.

Here is the letter.

Dear friends in Christ,

On 18 January the House will be debating a ‘No Confidence’ motion in its Chair, a motion which has arisen directly from the General Synod debate on women bishops in November. I have given my support to the motion being debated, and it is my intention to support the motion on the day unless by the grace of God there is clear evidence of change.

I owe it to my friends in the House who voted against the women bishops’ legislation to explain why I have given my support, and how my views have changed since that day in November. Let me first explain that I have been a member of the General Synod since 1995 representing Oxford diocese: as does Philip Giddings, who I have been fortunate to regard as a friend over these last 17 years. I am also a member of EGGS, as he is and, although I have been a consistent supporter of women bishops, I regard myself very much as an Evangelical, albeit one who places a high importance on the place of reason alongside scripture and tradition.

This is not in any respect a personal issue.

[continued below the fold]

Over the past years my position on women bishops has been to support the maximum provision for those who have found it difficult to accept the change, consistent with the solution being convergent for the Church as opposed to divergent. I explained this position in July 2012 at the meeting of the House which took place before General Synod. I have never been prepared to contemplate a solution which could evolve into a schism.

However my position has hardened considerably since the November debate, as I have come to realise that it is the destructive ideology of male headship which lies at the root of our problems.

Our deadlock over women bishops has, of course, resulted from a combination of Anglo-Catholic and conservative Evangelical opposition. The Anglo-Catholics naturally look to Rome for a lead, and while Rome might prefer to see a clear resolution of the matter within the Church of England, it is not about to give that lead.

However it is the concept of male headship, espoused by many of my Evangelical friends as theology, which presents the major problem: as was clear from speech after speech during our debate. For while valid questions may have been asked about the representative quality of the House of Laity in the General Synod, the Church should – and does – acknowledge the vibrancy and growth of Evangelical churches which have so much to offer. This vibrancy is not dependent on the adoption of male headship ideology by conservative Evangelicals, but on the working of the Holy Spirit through people of faith.

I have come to realise since the November debate that male headship is to be seen alongside a number of similar major historical issues where prejudice and discrimination have been justified by selected biblical references. These include slavery, national socialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Male headship has its roots in the same soil of prejudice and discrimination. It is another elitist creed which, in my view, has no place in the Church of England, nor indeed in the Christian faith.

It may be helpful to consider these selected biblical references through the filter of the two great commandments from which hang all the law and the prophets. For example, how can a man who is a male headship advocate claim to ‘love his neighbour as himself’ if he is not prepared to accept that she can carry the same roles within the church? Obviously it can’t be ‘as himself’, or perhaps he is denying that women are his neighbours by virtue of their gender? I don’t think Jesus was making that distinction.

The Bishop of Liverpool spoke clearly in the debate setting out how he had come to understand St. Paul’s teaching, and why it should not be used as a prop for male headship ideology. The bishops are the seat of theology within the Church, and I do feel that conservative Evangelicals should listen carefully to, and be prepared to accept, what they say.

The ideology of male headship has come to have assumed the status of doctrine, but even doctrine is shown as capable of change from a biblical perspective. St Peter was clearly of the doctrinal view that the Gospel was meant only for the Jews, and yet his vision at Cornelius’ house (Acts 10) made clear that he must change. And thank God that he did, because otherwise we would not have the opportunity to receive Christ’s salvation today.

So I have come to realise that male headship ideology must be confronted and not appeased, just in the same way that St. Peter confronted his erstwhile interpretation that the Christian faith was reserved for the Jews. Male headship is simply the latest in a long line of elitist creeds, and it is time to consign it to history, as with the others.

Finally, let me say again that the 18 January debate is not personal: it is about the integrity of the House of Laity. Nobody will be more delighted than me to see Philip being prepared to encourage Evangelicals to pursue their zeal for Christ unencumbered with elitist ideology. With best wishes

Gavin
Gavin Oldham
Oxford 370

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 9 January 2013 at 8:27pm GMT | Comments (65) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Civil partnerships and bishops - latest comments

Updated 4.15 pm

The Bishop of Salisbury has issued this statement: The Church of England and the criterion for episcopacy.

…The other, chaired by the Bishop of Sodor and Man, considered the implications of civil partnerships in relation to the episcopate, something which had not been dealt with explicitly in the pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships issued in 2005.

In December the House of Bishops confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate.

This information has been available since the Summary of Decisions of the House of Bishops was posted on 18th December. It is good deal less dramatic than has been presented in the media in the last few days.

It might be helpful to note that other criteria are also used in the selection of bishops. The substance of this is contained in the service for the ordination and consecration of bishops…

Church Society has issued this press release:

Civil Partnerships and Christian Leadership

The church is open to all people, whatever their sexual orientation, to respond to Jesus’ call to “Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark chapter 1 verse 15). We stand in firm agreement with the church’s clear and biblically-faithful statement that sex is exclusively for heterosexual marriage.

We recognise how pastorally unhelpful the existence of civil partnerships is for gay, lesbian, and bisexual disciples in our congregations who are positively committed, in response to God’s word, to celibacy and fleeing sexual sin daily. Like many heterosexual believers, some have given up long-term relationships in their pursuit of Christ-like godliness in this area, often with great pain and immense difficulty. Our prayers are with them, and we would ask the whole church to be sensitive and supportive, as they look to Christ Jesus our only Lord and Saviour.

In this context, we do not believe that church leaders at any level should confuse and undermine the call of the gospel — to deny oneself and follow Jesus — which unfortunately would be the case if those who have chosen a different path by entering civil partnerships are permitted to undertake authorised public ministry in the church.

Church Society Council

Canon Chris Sugden has quite a lot to say about the topic in this article.

Savi Hensman has written at Ekklesia about how Uganda archbishop highlights Anglican differences on sexuality.

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has issued this statement: The Church of Nigeria Responds to the Church of England Bishops and Civil Partnerships. Full text below the fold.

1. The Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) meeting for their annual retreat held from Jan 7/11, 2013, at the Ibru Centre, Agbarha Otor, Delta State, Nigeria, heard with dismay the news of the recent action of the Church of England House of Bishops. The decision to permit homosexual clergy in civil partnerships to now be considered for the episcopacy is one step removed from the moral precipice that we have already witnessed in The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada.

2. When the Church of England failed to exercise its legal and moral right to opt out of the civil partnerships legislation in 2005 warnings were given in England and around the Anglican Communion that this was a first step towards the recognition and institutionalization of behaviour contrary to the plain teaching of scripture and reaffirmed for all Anglicans by the 1998 Lambeth Conference in its Resolution 1.10. Sadly those warnings were ignored and we now face the next step in a process that could very well shatter whatever hopes we had for healing and reconciliation within our beloved Communion.

3. We are also grieved by the timing of this decision coming only days before the retirement of Archbishop Rowan Williams and before Bishop Justin Welby becomes the new Archbishop of Canterbury. We urge the House of Bishops to reconsider their decision so as to allow for a full, prayerful and sober reflection on the call on all clergy, especially bishops, to live holy lives and not encourage what are, at best, morally ambiguous partnerships that make it impossible for a bishop to be a wholesome example to the flock. Especially since the supposed assurances of celibacy, while perhaps well intentioned, are both unworkable and unenforceable.

4. As a House of Bishops, while we acknowledge that we all fall short of God’s call to holiness, we dare not compromise the clear teaching of our Lord on faithfulness within Holy Matrimony and chastity outside of it. Sadly we must also declare that if the Church of England continues in this contrary direction we must further separate ourselves from it and we are prepared to take the same actions as those prompted by the decisions of The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada ten years ago.

5. In all of this we continue to give thanks for the mercy of God newly revealed to us in this season of The Epiphany and we are filled with gratitude for the millions of faithful Anglicans within the GAFCON/FCA community who have not ‘bowed the knee’ to the contemporary idols of secularism and moral expediency.

6. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 9 January 2013 at 1:07pm GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Succession to the Crown Bill 2

Updated to add yesterday’s Questions in the House of Commons

Frank Cranmer and David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK have published a follow-up article on the Succession to the Crown Bill: La Reine (ou le Prince) le veult?. We covered the earlier article here.

The new article looks at the proposal that an heir to the Crown should be allowed to marry a Roman Catholic, and what the Canons of the Roman Catholic Church have to say about such a mixed marriage. It also includes links to press reports that the Prince of Wales and the Bishop of Leicester (convenor of the Lords Spiritual) have expressed their concerns about the proposal.

However The Telegraph reports that Nick Clegg reassures Prince Charles and Church of England over royal succession. This refers to an answer that the Deputy Prime Minister gave in the House of Commons yesterday. It was one of several Topical Questions (and answers) that can be read in Hansard. I have extracted the ones about the Succession to the Crown Bill below.

Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (LD): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on bringing forward legislation on the succession to the Crown. However, does he think that it is necessary to push it through in one day as if it was emergency terrorism legislation, when Parliament has a job to do to ensure that it is correctly drafted and that any concerns or unforeseen difficulties are addressed properly?

The Deputy Prime Minister: Making a small, concise amendment to an Act that has been on the statute book since 1701 is hardly acting hastily.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): 1700.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I am being corrected by the historians on the Opposition Benches. None the less, this is something that has been on the statute book for more than 300 years. Let us remember that this is a very specific act of discrimination against one faith only. The heir to the throne may marry someone of any religion outside the Church of England—Muslim, Hindu and so on—but uniquely not a Catholic under the terms of the Act of 1700 or 1701. This is a precise change and it is being co-ordinated precisely with all the other realms that have to make the identical change in their legislation.

Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): Can the Deputy Prime Minister assure the House that the Succession to the Crown Bill will give the public confidence that the relationship between Church and state will be unaltered, even if a future monarch should marry a Roman Catholic and the ensuing child is a Catholic?

The Deputy Prime Minister: I can give the hon. Gentleman complete reassurance that the provisions in the Bill will not in any way alter the status of the established Church in this country and the monarch as head of that Church. We have had monarchs who have married Catholics. I think Queen Anne of Denmark was married to James I of Scotland—I may be corrected by our historian, the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), from a sedentary position. There is absolutely nothing in the provisions that will alter the status of the Church in the way feared by the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr Turner).

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): I wish the Deputy Prime Minister a happy new year. Was one of his new year resolutions to decide that, if he thinks a policy is right, it should be rushed through in a day? Will he answer properly a question he has been asked before? Why will the succession Bill be rushed through in a day under emergency legislation procedures? Those procedures should be used only for emergency legislation, which the succession Bill is not.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I wish the hon. Gentleman a happy new year too—and Mrs Bone. It is important to stress that the Bill is not a capricious legislative initiative on behalf of the Government. It was solemnly agreed at the Commonwealth summit in Perth by all the Commonwealth realms. It has also been subject to extensive discussion between officials in the Cabinet Office and the royal household, and between Governments and officials of this country and of the Commonwealth realms. We have said that we will take the lead in setting out the legislative provisions for the other Commonwealth realms. The legislative change is very precise, which is why we are keen to proceed as quickly as possible.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 9 January 2013 at 11:05am GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury website

The website for the Archbishop of Canterbury has been updated to refer to Justin Welby.

The content from the time of his predecessor Rowan Williams has been archived here. I’ve tried a few old links and it looks as if they all correctly redirect to the archive site.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 8 January 2013 at 8:13pm GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Lawsuit filed in South Carolina against The Episcopal Church

See this press release: Diocese Seeks Declaratory Judgment to Prevent Episcopal Church from Seizing Local Parishes and “Hijacking” their Identities.

St. George, SC, January 4, 2013 –The Diocese of South Carolina, the Trustees of the Diocese and congregations representing the vast majority of its baptized members today filed suit in South Carolina Circuit Court against The Episcopal Church to protect the Diocese’s real and personal property and that of its parishes.

The suit also asks the court to prevent The Episcopal Church from infringing on the protected marks of the Diocese, including its seal and its historical names, and to prevent the church from assuming the Diocese’s identity, which was established long before The Episcopal Church’s creation.

“We seek to protect more than $500 million in real property, including churches, rectories and other buildings that South Carolinians built, paid for, maintained and expanded – and in some cases died to protect – without any support from The Episcopal Church,” said the Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary. “Many of our parishes are among the oldest operating churches in the nation. They and this Diocese predate the establishment of The Episcopal Church. We want to protect these properties from a blatant land grab.”

The Diocese of South Carolina was established in 1785 as an independent, voluntary association that grew from the missionary work of the Church of England. It was one of nine dioceses that voluntarily joined together to form The Episcopal Church in October 1789, which eventually became an American province in the worldwide Anglican Communion, also a voluntary association.

“When the Diocese disassociated from The Episcopal Church we didn’t become a new entity,” Canon Lewis explained. “We have existed as an association since 1785. We incorporated in 1973; adopted our current legal name, ‘The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,’ in 1987; and we disassociated from the Episcopal Church in October of 2012. The Episcopal Church has every right to have a presence in the area served by our Diocese – but it does not have a right to use our identity. The Episcopal Church must create a new entity.”

The Diocese of South Carolina is made up of 71 parishes with approximately 30,000 members. Of those, 22,244 members have decided to remain with the Diocese and 1900 are undecided. Fifty Three Hundred say they want to be with The Episcopal Church with nearly half of those from one church in Charleston. While the Diocese has disassociated from The Episcopal Church, it remains a part of the Anglican Communion.

Though theologically more conservative than the leadership of the national Episcopal Church, Bishop Lawrence has for five years struggled to keep the Diocese intact and in The Episcopal Church, even as some 200 parishes and four other dioceses nationwide disassociated. The parishes and dioceses have disagreed with The Episcopal Church’s recent interpretation of scripture, which is widely considered to be unorthodox by most of the world’s 80 million Anglicans…

And there is this letter from Bishop Mark Lawrence.

There is a long version and also a short version of a document entitled Stewardship of the Gospel - Stewardship of the Diocese.

And there are other materials and letters of support from elsewhere in the Anglican Communion and beyond over here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 8 January 2013 at 11:55am GMT | Comments (21) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA

LGB&T Anglican Coalition comments on Civil Partnerships decision

Press Release
8 January 2013. For Immediate Use
LGB&T Anglican Coalition Press Statement
On the admission of Bishops in Civil Partnerships to the Episcopate

The LGB&T Anglican Coalition welcomes the House of Bishops decision, confirmed on the 4th January 2013, to lift its moratorium of July 2011 on clergy in civil partnerships being nominated as episcopal candidates, even when living in conformity with the House of Bishops guidelines Issues in Human Sexuality.

The Bishops have decided that the requirements in its 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships, whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England, will apply equally in relation to the episcopate.

We had been shocked and saddened by the imposition of the moratorium, pending the outcome of the review of civil partnerships by the House of Bishops working party chaired by the Bishop of Sodor and Man. Although the lifting of the ban is only a small step it removes a glaring injustice, and was one of many recommendations in the LGB&T Anglican Coalition’s submission to the Church of England working party on civil partnerships.

However, as we noted in that submission:

It is important that any appearance of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity against those who have made considerable sacrifices (which some might regard as excessive) to comply with current church teaching be avoided… any attempt to deter or exclude such candidates by singling them out for intrusive questioning, or because their views on the theology of sexuality differ from the current Church of England position when in fact bishops have a wide range of opinions on all manner of theological issues, is not only unjust and hurtful to the individuals concerned but also damaging to mission and ministry.

We are glad that the House has addressed this particular issue, but are surprised and disappointed that this appears to be the only outcome, even though the review was expected to be complete by the end of 2012. We look forward to seeing the full report. The recent unveiling of the government’s equal marriage proposals makes the House of Bishops review of civil partnerships even more relevant and we urge the House to publish its report as soon as is practically possible.

We also look forward to hearing from the wider review by the House of Bishops working party on sexuality which is chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling and which is due to report later this year.

With the outcomes of these two major working parties at its disposal, together with Archbishop-elect Justin Welby’s commitment to end church-based homophobia and to listen carefully and prayerfully to LGB&T people, the Church of England is well placed in 2013 to become a more generous, humane and Christian community for the people we represent, their families and supporters. We believe that valuing and supporting committed and loving partnerships, regardless of whether the partners are celibate, is vital for the integrity and credibility of the Church’s mission and ministry.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 8 January 2013 at 9:11am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Monday, 7 January 2013

Further coverage of the civil partnerships decision

Updated again 10 pm

Melanie McDonagh writes for the Spectator that Gay bishops and women bishops are not the same issue.

Giles Fraser writes for the Guardian Why gay bishops have to lie.

Colin Coward wrote at Changing Attitude Civil partnerships, the episcopate and the House of Bishops furore.

LGCM issued this press release: Go-ahead for bishops in civil partnerships welcome first step.

The Independent has this editorial: The unholy row over gay Christians.

Statements have been released by two retired bishops, Michael Nazir-Ali here, and David Gitari here.

Catholicity and Covenant has published two articles: Charity, moral imagination and discipleship: some reflections on the CofE House of Bishops statement and GAFCON, the CofE and civil partnerships.

Colin Coward has published again at Changing Attitude Archbishop of Kenya criticizes C of E decision on partnered gay bishops.

And, Colin has asked, and received, responses to queries from both the Bishop of Sodor & Man, and the Secretary General. Read about them in
Changing Attitude asks for Sodor and Man working party report to be published and then in
Why did the HoB take a decision about the eligibility of clergy in CPs becoming bishops?

The Archbishop of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali has weighed in here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 7 January 2013 at 12:00am GMT | Comments (15) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Yet more on the civil partnerships decision

The BBC reports on a Mixed response to CofE decision to allow gay bishops.

Emily Dugan writes in The Independent that a Fresh storm hits C of E after move to allow gay bishops.

Barbara Ellen writes in The Observer that Gay sex is in the closet, but don’t blame the church.

Victoria Wright in The Independent has these useful Dos and Don’ts for gay Bishops in the Church of England.

On BBC Radio 4 yesterday Norman Russell and Peter Selby debated the issue on the Today programme, and later Giles Fraser and Lynette Burrows debated it on the PM programme (between 17 min 23 sec and 24 min 20 sec).
And this morning there was Richard Harries and Michael Lawson on the Sunday programme (between 34 min 28 sec and 43 min 32 sec).

Jerome Taylor writes in The Independent that the Primate of Kenya hits out at Church of England lifting of gay bishop ban.
The primate’s full statement can be read on the Anglican Mainstream website.

Alan Wilson writes A chink in the walls of Kafka’s Castle?

For Ekklesia Symon Hill writes Gay bishops: C of E offers crumbs from the table
and Savi Hensman writes The Church of England and gay bishops – has sexuality policy shifted?.

Taylor Carey writes for Lay Anglicana about Men in Pink: The Church of England’s Gay Bishop Decision.

Carrie Pemberton writes No sex please, we’re gay British bishops.

Archbishop Cranmer writes that Homosexuality is an issue blown out of all proportion.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 6 January 2013 at 2:58pm GMT | Comments (28) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Saturday, 5 January 2013

opinion

Hannah Meltzer in the New Statesman asks What makes a gay vicar stay in the Church of England?.

Lynne Tuohy of Associated Press writes First Gay Anglican Bishop Reflects on Tenure in NH.

Anglicans Online offers us 12 reasons to be a cheerful Anglican.

Jerome Taylor writes for The Independent: Happy, clappy, and out of the closet: Evangelicals who say being gay is OK.

Giles Fraser writes for The Guardian that St Paul’s ‘body as a temple’ didn’t have today’s calorie obsession in mind.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

More on the civil partnerships decision

On Thursday, before the press announcement of Friday, Fulcrum published a long article by Andrew Goddard titled Church of England Bishops and Civil Partnerships.

Tucked away within a wider press release just before Christmas it has been announced that at their December meeting the Church of England’s House of Bishops decided that “the House does not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships” and that “the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate”. The announcement is already beginning to gain attention and speculation as to its significance including at Changing Attitude and Thinking Anglicans but its full import remains largely unconsidered. What follows seeks to set this decision in context and highlight important questions that remain unanswered and issues that need addressing…

This evening, Anglican Mainstream has issued this statement:

As made clear in the Ordinal, Bishops of the Church of England promise both to fashion their own life and that of their household according to the way of Christ and to be guardians of the Church’s doctrine. Given the ambiguous nature of civil partnerships, it would not be credible for a person in such a partnership to make such promises. Most people assume that civil partnerships are sexual relationships. It is casuistical to claim that they are not. This is presumably why many clergy in such partnerships refuse to “give assurances” to their bishops that theirs is a “non-sexual” relationship. Since a decision to move from the current position would be a grave departure from the Church’s doctrine and discipline it should be made by Bishops in Synod not by Bishops alone. Otherwise it looks too much like salami-slicing away at the Church’s teaching. A bishop known to be in a civil partnership could hardly be a focus of unity nor be a bishop for the whole church. Such an appointment would be a very divisive move both within the Church of England and in the wider Anglican Communion.

Dr Philip Giddings (Convenor)
Canon Dr Chris Sugden (Secretary)
Anglican Mainstream

The Chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council has issued this statement:

PRESS RELEASE from the Chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council

At the very least, the House of Bishops’ “Statement Regarding Clergy in a Civil Partnership as Candidates for the Episcopate”, will spread confusion and at worst will be taken as an effort to conform to the spirit of the age. By its timing, the Bishops appear stung by the national reaction of outrage to the rejection by General Synod of legislation to legalise the consecration of women as Bishops. If by this statement they are trying to mend fences with the general populace, showing they are truly in touch with the mind of the nation, they are profoundly out of touch with the reality of civil partnerships, most of which are seen as a focus for sexual activity, not simply an arrangement for tax purposes.

Some bishops are known to be lax about questioning civil-partnership clergy about their sex lives. Yet the Bishop of Norwich has reported that the House of Bishops believes it would be unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline. As an argument, it has some merit. But the fact is this is not a justice issue, it is an issue of example setting to the nation. It is no surprise the BBC reported the statement as “Church removes bar to gay bishops”. That’s all most people will hear, even though under the media breath there is reference to the requirement of celibacy and traditional teaching.

The church has a poor record already on that kind of discipline. And while some Bishops are known to duck the question, the watching world may well conclude that same sex relationships are simply OK for followers of Jesus Christ. What will happen if same sex marriage is finally approved? Will the House of Bishops have another meeting to approve the next step: bishops married into same sex partnerships? Will anybody then believe there can be gay marriage without gay sex. Christians are supposed to be different and follow the teaching of Christ. The House of Bishops knows that, but on the face of the present statement they appear more concerned to avoid criticism from the watching world than to be faithful to scripture, and wise in the timing and content of its public pronouncements.

ENDS

Venerable Michael Lawson Chairman, the Church of England Evangelical Council

Update

Anglican Mainstream has also reproduced its 2005 letter to the House of Bishops.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 5 January 2013 at 12:10am GMT | Comments (24) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Friday, 4 January 2013

Civil partnerships and eligibility for the episcopate in the CofE - 2

Before today’s press release which was issued at 5pm (see preceding article) this topic had been reported on by the Church Times this morning, and also covered in this earlier TA article, dated 28 December.

This morning’s Church Times article: Bishops lift ban on consecration of civil-partner clerics by Ed Thornton.

…Shortly before Christmas, Church House published a 13-point summary of business conducted by the House of Bishops when it met on 10 and 11 December. Point 7 of this, which has caused some confusion in online forums and among campaigners, said that the Bishops “considered an interim report from the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality”. This group was set up in January 2012, with a wider remit than the group chaired by Bishop Paterson, which was looking specifically at civil partnerships ( News, 6 January 2012).

The summary said that the Bishops did “not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships” until the Pilling group concluded its work later this year. It did not mention the work of Bishop Paterson’s group.

The summary, however, went on to say that the Bishops “confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate”.

This amounts to a lifting of the moratorium on the appointment of clergy in civil partnerships as bishops…

This news report was updated at 5 pm to include the press release statement from the Bishop of Norwich.

Subsequently, there have been numerous media reports:

Guardian Peter Walker Church of England rules gay men in civil partnerships can become bishops and
at Cif belief Andrew Brown Gay bishops ruling makes Church of England’s position more coherent

BBC CofE drops opposition to gay bishops in civil partnerships and
Gay bishop announcement ‘laughable’, says priest and
Gay bishops: Peter Tatchell urges Jeffrey John appointment

Telegraph Sam Marsden Anglican church lifts ban on gay men in civil partnerships becoming bishops

Independent Jerome Taylor Gay bishops allowed – but they can’t have sex and
A gay bishop might be the painful medicine the Anglican Communion needs

Evening Standard Church of England paves way for gay bishops in civil partnerships and
Mixed response to gay bishop move

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 4 January 2013 at 10:56pm GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Civil partnerships and eligibility for the episcopate in the CofE

Updated

The Church of England today issued a press release with this title: Statement Regarding Clergy in a Civil Partnership as Candidates for the Episcopate.

The Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, today issued the following statement on behalf of the House of Bishops of the Church of England:

“The House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships issued in 2005 did not address specifically whether clergy who entered such partnerships should be considered for the episcopate. What the House has now done, following the work undertaken by the group chaired by the Bishop of Sodor and Man set up last year, is to look at the matter again last month.

“The House has confirmed that clergy in civil partnerships, and living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality, can be considered as candidates for the episcopate. There had been a moratorium on such candidates for the past year and a half while the working party completed its task.

“The House believed it would be unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline. All candidates for the episcopate undergo a searching examination of personal and family circumstances, given the level of public scrutiny associated with being a bishop in the Church of England. But these, along with the candidate’s suitability for any particular role for which he is being considered, are for those responsible for the selection process to consider in each case.”

Notes

The House of Bishops issued a statement detailing the business carried out at their meeting on 20 December 2012 which can be found here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/12/house-of-bishops-summary-of-decisions-published.aspx

Paragraph 7 of that statement reads “The House considered an interim report from the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality. Pending the conclusion of the group’s work next year the House does not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships. It confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate.”

The statement follows on from the House of Bishops consideration of this matter on 1st July 2011 “Civil partnerships and same-sex relationships: a statement by the House of Bishops of the Church of England” which can be found here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2011/07/civil-partnerships-and-same-sex-relationships-%E2%80%93-a-statement-by-the-house-of-bishops-of-the-church-of-england.aspx

The 2005 statement “House of Bishops issues pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships” can be found here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2005/07/pr5605.aspx

When republished by the Anglican Communion News Service this article had the following additional note:

Editor’s note: From House of Bishops issues pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships 25 July, 2005 ‘The House of Bishops,’ [the statement] says, ‘does not regard entering into a civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with holy orders, provided the person concerned is willing to give assurances to his or her bishop that the relationship is consistent with the standards for the clergy set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.’

Issues in Human Sexuality made it clear that, while the same standards apply to all, the Church did not want to exclude from its fellowship those lay people of gay or lesbian orientation who, in conscience, were unable to accept that a life of sexual abstinence was required of them and instead chose to enter into a faithful, committed relationship. ‘The House considers that lay people who have registered civil partnerships ought not to be asked to give assurances about the nature of their relationship before being admitted to baptism, confirmation and communion.’

And when republished by Episcopal News Service it had an even longer additional note:

…The 2005 statement said in part that House of Bishops “does not regard entering into a civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with holy orders, provided the person concerned is willing to give assurances to his or her bishop that the relationship is consistent with the standards for the clergy set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.”

That 1991 document said that “clergy cannot claim the liberty to enter into sexually active homophile relationships. Because of the distinctive nature of their calling, status and consecration, to allow such a claim on their part would be seen as placing the way of life in all respects on a par with heterosexual marriage as a reflection of God’s purposes in creation. The Church [of England] cannot accept such a parity and remain faithful to the insights which God has given it through Scripture, tradition and reasoned reflection on experience.”

Despite the need “to avoid public scandal,” the document rejected possible calls for bishops to be “more rigorous in searching out and exposing clergy who may be in sexually active homophile relationships,” First of all, the bishops said, it would be “grossly unfair” to assume that two people of the same sex living together were “in some form of erotic relationship.” Second, “it has always been the practice of the Church of England to trust its members and, and not carry out intrusive interrogations in order to make sure they are behaving themselves.”…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 4 January 2013 at 9:58pm GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Succession to the Crown Bill

Law & Religion UK has published an article by Dr Bob Morris of the UCL Constitution Unit: Succession to the Crown Bill: some reflections. This is of Anglican interest as the Monarch is also the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Introduction

The Succession to the Crown Bill aims to achieve three things:

  • primogeniture gender neutrality;
  • removal of marriage to Roman Catholics as a disqualification for succession; and
  • limitation to the first six in line to the throne of the sovereign approval requirement for proposed marriages.

The content of the proposals is admirably explained in the relevant House of Commons Library research paper RP12/81.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 4 January 2013 at 9:45am GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

When will Justin Welby officially become Archbishop of Canterbury?

The answer (it’s 4 February 2013) has been placed on the Archbishop of Canterbury website.

When will Justin Welby officially become Archbishop of Canterbury?

Dr Rowan Williams, 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, stepped down from the position on 31st December 2012. Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham, was named as his successor on 9th November 2012.

Bishop Justin’s name was submitted to the Prime Minister by the Crown Nominations Commission after a consultation process to determine the needs of the diocese, the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. Consideration of the candidates took place over several months, then the Commission voted to identify a recommended candidate and a second appointable candidate. These names went forward to the Prime Minister.

In this case the recommended candidate was Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham. The Queen approved Justin Welby for election to the position of Archbishop of Canterbury, and an announcement was made by 10 Downing Street on 9th November 2012.

On 10th January 2013, the College of Canons will meet in the Chapter House of Canterbury Cathedral to elect Bishop Justin as the new Archbishop, having received a Congé d’Elire from the Crown confirming that the See of Canterbury is vacant.

A legal ceremony, the Confirmation of Election, will take place on 4th February 2013 at St Paul’s Cathedral. The Dean of Canterbury will confirm to a commission of diocesan bishops that Bishop Justin has been elected according to statute. At this point, the office of Archbishop is conferred on Justin Welby - until then he remains Bishop of Durham.

The Enthronement will take place on 21st March 2013 at Canterbury Cathedral. The new Archbishop will be placed on two thrones - the diocesan throne in the Cathedral Quire as the Bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury, and the Chair of St Augustine as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 2 January 2013 at 2:19pm GMT | Comments (18) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

What 2013 will bring on the legal front

Law & Religion UK has published 2012 and 2013: retrospect and prospect.

This is a very comprehensive review of recent and forthcoming issues of a legal kind that affect Christians in England, and the Church of England in particular. Some of these have been discussed here previously, particularly those that relate to equality legislation or to discussions at General Synod.

The whole article is well worth a read, but in particular do scroll down to find a very valuable list of Bills before Westminster Parliament, 2012–13, and also a list of cases currently before the European Court of Human Rights.

The list of events in 2013 include:

10 January: the College of Canons to meet in the Chapter House of Canterbury Cathedral to elect Justin Welby as the new Archbishop, having received a Congé d’Elire from the Crown.

4 February: Ceremony in St Paul’s Cathedral where the Dean of Canterbury will confirm to an episcopal commission that Justin Welby has been elected and will then become the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.

21 March: Enthronement of Justin Welby at Canterbury Cathedral as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 2 January 2013 at 12:00pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Elections to the House of Laity: One member, One vote - now!

Paul Bagshaw is publishing an important series of articles on his blog about the electorate for elections to the House of Laity of the CofE General Synod, and of diocesan synods. In them he argues that this electorate should be all those on parish electoral rolls, rather than the lay members of deanery synods as it is a present.

He starts with

One member, One vote - now!

in which he writes:

The present system

At the moment those on the electoral roll of a church vote for Deanery Synod members. These people then vote for Diocesan and General Synod members.

This system of indirect voting means that there is no accountability from governing bodies to the people in the pews - the people who very largely pay for the Church. Where there is no accountability, the people don’t count.

The consequences of change

It isn’t possible simply to change the voting system as though it was a technical matter with no other implications.

  • The marginalization of the laity is a cornerstone of our present synodical system.
  • To change the franchise would be to change the whole set of relationships which currently structure the church - clergy:laity, diocese:parish, General Synod:parish.
  • Inevitably too the present kingpins in this structure - bishops and parish clergy - would also have to modify the ways they work and their relationships with the people around them.

The fundamental change will be to treat each enrolled member as a fully adult member of the Church. I think such change will be beneficial - and equally that it will be resisted.

Subsequent articles to date are:

How we got here (briefly)
One member : One vote - simple!
General Synod votes for direct election of lay representatives (almost)
2011 debate on lay representation - background paper 1
2011 debate on lay representation - background paper 2
Radical?
Let’s have a review - the GS debate on representing the laity, 2011

The articles can also be all be read on this one page.

Paul Bagshaw has also written this background article

Lay representation on General Synod

and this related article:

The Church is not a democracy …

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 1 January 2013 at 8:00pm GMT | Comments (19) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod