Joseph Bottum writes for Commonweal Magazine about The Things We Share: A Catholic’s Case for Same-Sex Marriage.
Kelvin Holdsworth blogs about Atonement theory and the Naughty Step.
The Church Times has a comprehensive review of Greenbelt: Greenbelt 2013 - Life begins…
The Supreme Court of Texas today handed down its decisions in two cases relating to the property of The Episcopal Church. In both cases the ruling was against a diocese of The Episcopal Church.
The actual texts of the decisions are here:
Statements were issued by the two Fort Worth diocesan organisations:
A S Haley writes:
Today the Texas Supreme Court handed down decisions in the two ECUSA cases pending before it: No. 11-0265, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, et al. v. The Episcopal Church, et al.; and No. 11-0332, Masterson v. Diocese of Northwest Texas. In the first case, the Court sided with Bishop Iker’s Diocese by a closely split vote of 5-4, reversed the summary judgment of Circuit Judge John Chupp which had awarded all of the property and assets of Bishop Iker’s Diocese to the Episcopal Church and its rump diocese, and sent the case back to the trial court. The majority held that the trial court had improperly failed to apply a “neutral principles of law” analysis to the issues. The four dissenters did not disagree with that result, but instead believed that the Court lacked jurisdiction to hear a direct appeal from the trial court’s judgment in the case.
In the second case, the Court by a vote of 7-2 reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision requiring the Church of the Good Shepherd in San Angelo to turn over its building and all other assets to the Diocese of Northwest Texas. The Court definitively ruled that all Texas courts must follow “neutral principles of law” (rather than deferring to an ecclesiastical hierarchy), and that based on such an analysis, the Dennis Canon was not effective under Texas law (or that if it were effective to create a trust, the trust was not expressly irrevocable, and so could be revoked by the parish in question)…
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, delivered the following speech in the House of Lords on the situation in Syria:
My Lords, I very much welcome the opportunity to have been able to speak later in this debate because of the extraordinary quality of many of the contributions that have been made, and how much one can learn by listening to them. Like many noble Lords I have some experience in the region, partly from this role that I have and recent visits and contacts with many faith leaders of all three Abrahamic faiths, and also through 10 years of, from time to time, working on reconciliation projects.
I don’t intend to repeat the powerful points that have been made on international law which is itself based on the Christian theory of Just War, and that has been said very eloquently. But I want to pick up a couple of points - first is, it has been said, quite rightly, that there is as much risk in inaction as there is in action. But as in a conflict in another part of the world, a civil conflict in which I was mediating some years ago, a general said to me “we have to learn that there are intermediate steps between being in barracks and opening fire”. And the reality is that until we are sure that all those intermediate steps have been pursued, Just War theory says that the step of opening fire is one that must only be taken when there is no possible alternative whatsoever, under any circumstances. Because, as the noble Lord Lord Alli just said very clearly and very eloquently, the consequences are totally out of our hands once it has started. And some consequences we can predict – we’ve heard already about the Lebanon and about Iran, particularly the effect that an intervention would cause on the new government in Iran as it is humiliated by such an intervention.
But there is a further point, talking to a very senior Christian leader in the region yesterday, he said “intervention from abroad will declare open season on the Christian communities”. They have already been devastated, 2 million Christians in Iraq 12 years ago, less than half a million today. These are churches that don’t just go back to St Paul but, in the case of Damascus and Antioch, predate him. They will surely suffer terribly (as they already are) if action goes ahead. And that consequence has to be weighed against the consequences of inaction. In civil wars, those who are internal to the civil conflict fight for their lives, necessarily. Those who are external have a responsibility, if they get involved at all, to fight for the outcome, and that outcome must be one which improves the chances of long term peace and reconciliation. If we take action that diminishes the chance of peace and reconciliation, when inevitably a political solution has to be found, whether it’s near term or in the long term future, then we will have contributed to more killing and this war will be deeply unjust.
In consequence my Lords, I feel that any intervention must be effective in terms of preventing any further use of chemical weapons. I’ve not yet heard that that has been adequately demonstrated as likely. That it must effectively deal with those who are promoting the use of chemical weapons. And it must have a third aim which is: somewhere in the strategy, there must be more chance of a Syria and a Middle East in which there are not millions of refugees and these haunting pictures are not the stuff of our evening viewing.
The debate on Syria in the House of Commons resulted in an unexpected defeat for the government, 285 votes to 272 - a majority of 13.
The Church Times has this report by Madeleine Davies Western air strikes not the answer, say Syrian clerics.
Updated thursday, twice
The Archbishop of Canterbury opened the new headquarters of the Evangelical Alliance today, and made some interesting remarks while he was there as these reports show.
Andrew Brown in The Guardian Justin Welby gets real on homophobia
…First, he admitted that the church was “deeply and profoundly divided” over the issue [gay marriage]. This is not at all what he said in the House of Lords at the time, when he claimed that all the major denominations opposed the bill. Yet there is very clear polling evidence from the Westminster Faith debates, to show that Christians, even evangelical Christians, are very conflicted about this, and the opinions of the lay members of the church much more resemble the opinions of unbelievers than they do their own leadership.
Second, he used the term “homophobia” in an honest way. There are still some evangelicals who claim it is a made-up term that refers to nothing in particular. Not so Welby. Gay marriage was, he said, an attempt to deal with issues of homophobia. “The church has not been good at dealing with it. We have implicitly and even explicitly supported [homophobia] and that demands repentance.”…
John Bingham in The Telegraph Archbishop urges Christians to ‘repent’ over ‘wicked’ attitude to homosexuality
The Most Rev Justin Welby told an audience of traditional born-again Christians that they must “repent” over the way gay and lesbian people have been treated in the past and said most young people viewed Christians as no better than racists on the issue.
Archbishop Welby, who as a young priest once opposed allowing gay couples to adopt children, said the church now had to face up to what amounted to one of the most rapid changes in public attitudes ever.
While insisting that he did not regret voting against same-sex marriage in the House of Lords, he admitted that his own mind was not yet “clear” on the wider issues which he was continuing to think about….
The Guardian also has this report from the Press Association: Young people think opposition to gay marriage is wicked, says archbishop.
The archbishop of Canterbury has said his stance against gay marriage could be seen as “wicked”. Justin Welby said he stood by his decision to vote against same-sex marriage legislation, but said opposing the move could be seen by some as akin to “racism and other forms of gross and atrocious injustice”…
The Evangelical Alliance itself has reported the event, but does not appear to have heard what the Archbishop said about homophobia: Welby calls on Church to model racial unity.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has called on the UK Church to re-commit to unity across ethnic divides, 50 years after Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I have a dream’ speech…
Paul Bignall in The Independent Archbishop of Canterbury: My gay marriage view can be seen as ‘akin to racism’
The Evangelical Alliance has now published this, Official opening with the Archbishop of Canterbury, with links to a video of the Archbishop’s address, and to audio from the official opening (Q&A session starts at 36:55).
To report on all the enormous diversity of the 40th Greenbelt Festival would be impossible. Participants will look back on the glorious sunshine in contrast to the floods of 2012 which enabled everything, music, activities, talks, worship, to be enjoyed to the full. But the most significant event may turn out to be the launch of the British response to A Moment of Truth, the Kairos Palestinian document. It is time for action by British Churches in response to the suffering of Palestinian people. The document is available here.
It is timely, for it exposes the sham of the current ‘peace negotiations’ about the future of Israel-Palestine. Even as the Israeli government is claiming to talk, its actions in annexing more Palestinian land and building settler homes give the lie to the words. The homes of Palestinians in the occupied territories continue to be bulldozed. The descendants of refugees still inhabit the camps to which their grandparents fled 65 years ago.
The Kairos event attracted the attention of Zionists who protested outside Greenbelt — they could have bought tickets and participated in debates about Palestine, but chose not to. Had they joined the Festival they would have heard a huge variety of speakers, Christian, Jewish and Muslim, all acknowledging that it is time to act, with Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. These brought an end to apartheid in South Africa, and these same means are needed to end the Israel’s apartheid both in Israel and in the occupied territories. The flawed theology of those who made religious claims in support of apartheid in South Africa was as misguided as the Zionist claims of Christians and Jews about Israel-Palestine. The genocide reported in the Book of Joshua cannot be used as a justification for the actions of the Israeli government today.
It is acknowledged that this struggle will have to begin at the grass roots, and that it will provoke hostility. Christian leaders have been intimidated into failing to support Palestinians. Last year the Church Times reported that the C of E Bishop of Newcastle and the RC Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle withdrew from a conference on Palestine organised by Christian Aid, after local Jewish organisations threatened to withdraw from inter-faith organisations.
The present situation is a shameful result of Britain’s colonial past, when countries in the Middle East were divided up after the First World War. This is why Christians in Britain today have a particular responsibility to seek the end of the continuing injustice suffered by Christian and Muslim Palestinians.
…It is a dangerous place, a narrow path we walk as Anglicans at present. On one side is the steep fall into an absence of any core beliefs, a chasm where we lose touch with God, and thus we rely only on ourselves and our own message. On the other side there is a vast fall into a ravine of intolerance and cruel exclusion. It is for those who claim all truth, and exclude any who question. When we fall into this place, we lose touch with human beings and create a small church, or rather many small churches – divided, ineffective in serving the poor, the hungry and the suffering, incapable of living with each other, and incomprehensible to those outside the church…
This passage is directly referenced in a statement issued today by the American group Communion Partners which continues:
..It is our vocation as Communion Partners to navigate this narrow path between two dangerous extremes as we pursue the mission of the Church “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” To that end, six Communion Partner bishops (Greg Brewer, Paul Lambert, Ed Little, Dan Martins, Ed Salmon and Michael Smith) made a visit to Archbishop Justin Welby at his residence in Canterbury, England last week.
There we prayed together and discussed a range of issues concerning the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church. Also present was the Archbishop’s Director of Reconciliation, Canon David Porter. We believe the opportunity to build relationships and discuss the ministry of reconciliation we share will bear fruit in this season of our common life. We are encouraged by our experience of the Archbishop as a man of faith and prayer, committed to the reevangelization of increasingly secularized Western cultures. Please keep Archbishop Justin in your prayers and remember us before God “who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.”
It’s also the subject of criticism in this article by Kelvin Holdsworth: The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Mexico Sermon.
..It is deeply unhelpful of the Archbishop to use language which appears to suggest that the risk that those who wish to affirm gay people present is one of a lack or loss of core beliefs. That just isn’t true and is a nasty slur against fellow Anglicans. The US and Canadian churches are not places where God is absent and if the Archbishop needs to find that out, he needs to go there and meet them, something that his predecessor seemed to find impossible to do.
People will read the sermon in the US and Canadian churches and take immediate offence. (I find it offensive here in Scotland, but there it will appear to be a judgement on their national churches). Those who wish to affirm the place of LGBT people do so because of their core beliefs as Christians and as Anglicans, not because of any lack of belief or loss of God…
See this earlier article for background.
Some interesting material has been published by the joint public issues team of the Baptist, Methodist, and United Reformed Churches:
… with the exception of a discussion on fuel poverty, the Church of England’s statement does not reveal its own perspective on “balancing considerations” which it claims are not being taken into account by others.
The Church of England takes on the protestors by stating that blanket opposition to fracking “fails to take into account those who suffer most.” But this link to fuel poverty begs some critical examination…
This analysis references two earlier documents:
a report and study guide to help individuals and local groups:
- understand the position of The Baptist Union, The Methodist Church and The United Reformed Church on climate change
- become aware of a vital connections between climate change and the Christian faith
- transform lifestyles through studying, praying and acting on the issues
- inspire others in the community to live in harmony with the whole of creation
Richard Beck blogs that Blessed are the Tricksters.
John Martin writes for Fulcrum about Ten Things a Vicar Needs To Hear…often.
Peter Harrison writes for ABC Religion and Ethics about Setting the record straight: Christianity and the rise of modern science.
Anthony Woollard writes for Modern Church about The wrath of God.
Christopher Howse of The Telegraph has been to Ely Cathedral: Eight oak trees suspended in air.
The Anglican Communion News Service reports: Christmas campaign does something new for 2013.
A marketing initiative established to remind Brits about the true meaning of Christmas is trying something different this year.
Concerned by the statistic that 51% of people say Jesus’s birth is irrelevant to their Christmas, the founders of ChurchAds.net are focusing on a slogan rather than an eye-catching image…
The campaign website is at http://www.christmasstartswithchrist.com/
It might be hard to believe, but knowledge of the Christmas story is fading.
Just 12 per cent of adults know the nativity story, and more than one-third of children don’t know whose birthday it is.
Some 51 per cent of people now say that the birth of Jesus is irrelevant to their Christmas. Christmas is being lost to secularism and the trend is for this to get worse.
Together we can reverse the trend
A movement made up of some of the nation’s leading Christian groups, including the Church of England, the Evangelical Alliance and the Children’s Society, is coming together because we believe Christmas is worth saving.
Christmas Starts with Christ is a campaign aimed at helping churches to make Christ and the amazing story of his birth the focus of the nation’s favourite time of year…
Benjamin Myers writes for ABC Religion and Ethics about Reflected glory: Imitation, biography and moral formation in early Christianity.
Kenan Malik writes about What do Believers Believe? (not what you might expect).
Matthew Reisz has interviewed Sarah Coakley for Times Higher Education: What’s God got to do with evolution?
Rob Williams writes in The Independent that Religious people are less intelligent than atheists, according to analysis of scores of scientific studies stretching back over decades.
Frank Furedi responds with Atheists are more intelligent than religious people? That’s ‘sciencism’ at its worst.
James Fodor writes for Bible Society Australia: An atheist’s point of view: why Christians aren’t being heard.
Updated again Tuesday
There have been numerous press reports about a leaflet that the Diocese of Blackburn produced which deals with the moral issues related to shale gas drilling techniques. The first such drilling attempts were made in that diocese.
David Pocklington has written a helpful article: Fracking, the Facts and the Church. In this he criticises the leaflet:
…Viewed in its pastoral context, the leaflet provides a good overview of this emerging technology. However, its portrayal of some of the alleged environmental concerns does not stand close scrutiny, and the use of emotive terms such as “toxic cocktail” (in relation to water usage and contamination) strays from its desired impartiality…
More recently, the Telegraph has published a rather misleading story: Church of England in ‘fracking land-grab’ (note the use of scare quotes)
The Church Commissioners website contains a detailed explanation of the Mineral registration programme.
The Church Commissioners issued this: Clarification on suggested links with hydraulic fracturing or ” fracking”
It is factually incorrect to link the Mineral Registration Programme with fracking. The Church Commissioners are registering their mineral interests in line with the Land Registry requirements, as any responsible landowner is doing before the end of October deadline. This work started in 2004. This does not create any new interests or rights and is confined to properly registering what the Commissioners have in most cases owned for many years, and in some cases for centuries. There is absolutely no link with fracking.
We would make clear that this is just a registration and protection exercise to protect existing rights and interests made vulnerable by the change in the law. There are no particular plans to mine under any property. The focus is registration and protection
The Archbishop’s Council has issued this press release.
Statement from the Church of England on ‘Fracking’
The Chair of the Church of England’s group on Mission and Public Affairs Philip Fletcher has today (16th August 2013) issued the following statement placing recent media reports in context:
“The Church of England has no official policy either for or against hydraulic fracturing (known as ‘fracking’). However there is a danger of viewing fracking through a single issue lens and ignoring the wider considerations.
“There are a number of balancing considerations which need to be taken into account when coming to a view. Fuel poverty is an increasingly urgent issue for many in society - the impact on energy bills is felt most by the least well off. Blanket opposition to further exploration for new sources of fuel fails to take into account those who suffer most when resources are scarce.
“I would want to emphasise along with all those that care for the environment the importance of proper controls in relation to any form of fracking - we do not want cowboys and cavaliers digging up the land in a free for all exploitation. However as the Royal Academy of Engineering concluded recently in a review on fracking, this is a procedure which “can be managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and robustly enforced through regulation”.
“There are issues and risks. The answer to those is to treat them seriously and to minimise them. There are examples of how this can be done in other areas. The oil well operating at Furzey Island, adjacent to Brownsea Island, demonstrates that oil production in a deeply sensitive area can continue for decades without endangering the environment.
“Clearly all carbon based fuels contribute to global warming and are less than ideal in terms of climate change. However, it should also be recognised that gas is less damaging than coal and to preclude properly managed technical development is to risk denying ourselves more important, less polluting and less costly options than the energy sources on which we currently rely.
“Fuel poverty, the creation of jobs, energy self-sufficiency and the development of technology that may reduce the impact of more polluting fuels are just some of the factors which need to be taken into account in any debate alongside the concern we all have about the impact of fossil fuels upon climate change.”
There are notes to the press release below the fold.
This follows two other church related statements on fracking which are in the public domain.
As with much of wider society the Church will continue debating the issue around fracking, seeking to balance theological, economic, environmental and societal issues.
Whilst individuals, communities and groups, both inside the church and in wider society may emphasise particular approaches or concerns there is as yet no official policy on fracking from the Church of England, with discussion expected to continue in various forms including the Ethical investment Advisory Group of the Church commissioners and the Mission and Public Affairs Group.
The Land Registration Act 2002 “LRA 2002” introduced far reaching changes to English property law.
One of the effects of these changes for the Church Commissioners was that certain historical rights and interests in mines and minerals owned in most cases for many years and in some cases for centuries might have been lost if not registered or otherwise protected within a strict timeframe.
Since 2004 the Church Commissioners have been working to register their mineral interests in line with the Government’s Land Registry requirements, as any responsible landowner is doing before the end of the October 2013deadline. This does not create any new interests or rights and is confined to properly registering what the Commissioners have in most cases owned for many years, and in some cases for centuries.
Consequently this is simply an exercise to protect existing rights and interests made vulnerable by the change in the law. There are no particular plans to mine under any property. The focus is registration and protection.
There is absolutely no link with fracking.
Home owners have been receiving notices from the Land registry since 2008 but the deadline for registration expires in October 2013 and so an increased number of these notices have been sent over the past months. The conflation of these letters with the issue of fracking has been led by the media rather than by fact.
The registration programme does not create any new rights or interests. This is therefore all about properly registering and protecting existing interests so that all parties can see and understand who owns what. These interests do not include ownership of coal or petroleum, both of which were nationalised, nor gold and silver, which belong to the Crown.
Further detail can be found on the Church of England website.
Updated Monday morning
Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, spoke at the Edinburgh international book festival today.
Charlotte Higgins has a comprehensive report in The Guardian: Rowan Williams tells ‘persecuted’ western Christians to grow up.
Christians in Britain and the US who claim that they are persecuted should “grow up” and not exaggerate what amounts to feeling “mildly uncomfortable”, according to Rowan Williams, who last year stepped down as archbishop of Canterbury after an often turbulent decade.
“When you’ve had any contact with real persecuted minorities you learn to use the word very chastely,” he said. “Persecution is not being made to feel mildly uncomfortable. ‘For goodness sake, grow up,’ I want to say.” …
Asked if he had let down gay and lesbian people, he said after a pause: “I know that a very great many of my gay and lesbian friends would say that I did. The best thing I can say is that is a question that I ask myself really rather a lot and I don’t quite know the answer.” …
Other papers concentrate on just one topic each.
Hannah Furness in The Telegraph ‘Persecuted’ British Christians need to ‘grow up’, says former Archbishop Rowan Williams
Scott Roberts in Pink News Rowan Williams: My gay friends think I let them down as Archbishop of Canterbury
Catriona Webster in the Cambridge News Western Christians who feel persecuted should ‘grow up’, says former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams
Rowan Williams has clarified some of his remarks in a letter to The Guardian.
The Governing Body of the Church in Wales will be meeting next month. On the agenda is a bill to allow women to be bishops. The Church has issued this press release today.
Church to vote on women bishops
The Church in Wales will decide next month whether or not to allow women priests to be ordained as bishops.
A Bill, proposed by the six diocesan bishops of the Church, will be voted on by the 144 members of the Church’s legislative arm, the Governing Body, at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, at Lampeter, on Thursday, September 12.
The Bill will need a two-thirds majority in each of the three sections of the Governing Body in order to be passed – the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity. However, if it is passed, it will not come into effect until a second Bill, outlining a scheme of provision for those who cannot accept women bishops, is written and passed.
The process will start with a vote on three proposed amendments to the Bill.
The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, says, “Since we ordain women as deacons and priests it makes no theological sense not to ordain them as bishops since we believe in the three fold order of ministry. That is why I and my fellow bishops will be asking members of the Governing Body to vote in favour of the Bill. It would not be able to come into effect immediately but at least we would have established the principle to which I believe most people in the Church assent.”
This will be the Bishops’ second attempt to pass a Bill to ordain women as bishops. Their first Bill was defeated in April 2008 when it failed, by three votes, to secure a two-thirds majority in the House of Clergy.
The two-day Governing Body meeting begins on Wednesday at 1.30pm with an address by the President, the Archbishop of Wales. The Bill to enable the Consecration of Women as Bishops will be introduced on Thursday at 9.30am.
Also on the Agenda are:
- Church in Wales Review – a progress report on the Review which will include a motion to support a framework for setting up “Ministry Areas” across Wales. A Ministry Area is a large group of churches led by a team of clergy and lay people. They are designed to replace the traditional parish system as a more effective structure for ministry for today’s society.
- Schools – the launch of a bond to strengthen the relationship between church schools in Wales and the National Society for Promoting Religious Education. The Revd Janina Ainsworth, the General Secretary of the National Society, will address the Governing Body, before she joins the Archbishop to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the NS and the Church in Wales. The Memorandum marks a restatement of common purpose and shared commitment to the 25,000 pupils, staff and communities of the 165 Church in Wales schools.
The Bill and its proposed amendments, as well as the full Agenda of the Governing Body meeting, will be on the Church in Wales website after August 28 here.
Under the title Marriage FAQs, the Evangelical Alliance has published a guidance document:
Earlier this month, the new Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was introduced. As this legislation has now been passed by parliament, it is important to face the reality that the state’s definition of marriage will now be different from the historical definition. The Alliance has published the following guidance for Christians and churches, answering some of the most frequently-asked questions about the implications of the Act.
The document can be downloaded as a PDF.
The Introduction is copied in full below the fold.
The Evangelical Alliance is committed to uniting evangelicals to make a difference in our society. A key element of this is providing an evangelical voice to government and culture, and in doing so we have worked hard to oppose the government’s plans to redefine marriage. A range of statements and resources can be found here:
As this legislation has now been passed by parliament, it is important to face the reality that the state’s definition of marriage will now be different from the historical and biblical definition.
However, it is also important for Christians to understand that, although we need to acknowledge the new definition of marriage, we do not need to approve of it or accept the premise on which it is based. In this context, it is vital that we are well informed of our rights and the limits of the law, and also that we speak the truth with grace and love.
It is essential for Christians to continue to defend and promote marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman, but this does not mean that they should provoke accusations of homophobia. Indeed, it is worth remembering that many people from the gay community also opposed David Cameron’s plans.
There are many concerns about what the effect of the new law will be for churches and for individual Christians. The Evangelical Alliance offers the following FAQs as guidance for its members following the introduction of the new Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013 which redefines marriage in England and Wales.
Please note that the FAQs represent advisory guidance and should not be regarded as legal advice. Many aspects of the law relating to the redefinition of marriage are complex, fluid and open to interpretation. Also, government assumptions about the robustness of protections for third parties are likely to be challenged by case law. Although the guidance is as comprehensive as possible, it is not exhaustive and may be supplemented or amended from time to time in the light of experience. Consequently the Evangelical Alliance accepts no legal responsibility for the accuracy or otherwise of the FAQs. In cases of doubt consultation with appropriate legal experts is recommended.
It should also be noted that because of its established status, which includes a public duty to conduct marriages, different rules apply to the Church of England as to nonconformist churches and other religious groups. The new legislation makes it illegal for the Church of England to conduct same-sex marriages. Accordingly, the guidance applies primarily to churches other than the Church of England, though some FAQs will apply also to the Church of England.
The Archbishop of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali held a press conference recently. Here are some reports from it:
From the GAFCON website: Ugandan primate calls for GAFCON support
The primate of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali has likened GAFCON/FCA (Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans) to the East African Revival and called for believers to back the Nairobi conference to be held in October.
In a major statement in Kampala, Archbishop Ntagali referred to the fact that exactly ten years ago an active homosexual, who was a divorced father of two children, was elected a Bishop in the Episcopal Church in America. “This unbiblical decision on the part of a church threw the entire global Anglican Communion into chaos” he said.
The chaos, the Archbishop said, shows no sign of improving.
“We have a new Archbishop of Canterbury who is born again and has a testimony. I have personally met him and I like him very much. But, the problems in the Communion are still there, and they don’t change just because there is a new global leader. In fact, ten years later, the crisis has deepened.”
From the Daily Monitor:
…The archbishop said the Anglican Church is built on the doctrines of Biblical teaching which only recognize hetero-sexual relationships.
The Ugandan Anglican community takes exception of the decision by the England House of Bishops to allow gay bishops as part of the Anglican clergy, he said, and thus will have a Global Anglican Future Conference in Nairobi, Kenya this October to resolve the issues.
The Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) will be the second of its kind that brings together Archbishops around the world who oppose gay bishops. In 2008, the anti-gay Anglican Church leaders gathered in Jerusalem, Israel to reflect on the future of the church.
Archbishop Ntagali, with these remarks, is picking off from where his predecessor left off: Henry Luke Orombi was one of the main organizers of Gafcon 2008, and also made several pastoral trips to several countries to preach against gay clergy and gay marriage.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is engaged in a week-long trip to locations in three Anglican provinces.
Lambeth Palace has issued a series of press releases:
The Diocese of Bradford has announced: ‘Roadmap’ for New Diocese
The Archbishop of York has produced a timetable of key dates for the new diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales, in which he has announced that the ‘Appointed Day’ will be Easter 2014. The timetable is available here.
The Appointed Day is when the three Dioceses cease to exist and the new Diocese comes into being, and when the three Diocesan Bishops depart. While arrangements will be put in place to allow us to operate consistently during the transitional period, the Appointed Day itself will not bring any instant changes; these will be gradual over a period of about a year.
Bishop Nick says, “It is good to have a clear road map for all that has to happen between now and the creation of the new diocese. I am confident that this gives the existing dioceses time to prepare properly, but also that there is a clear process for setting up this new and exciting venture. We will need to be both diligent and patient as we now proceed in the months ahead.”
It’s expected that the name of the new Diocesan Bishop will be announced in February and there will be an Acting Bishop between the Appointed Day and the new Bishop taking up his post - probably in the summer.
See also the Update on New Diocese from the Programme Manager.
Wakefield also has this letter from the Archbishop’s office about the administrative arrangements.
The Church of England has released Cathedral Statistics 2012 today and this press release.
Growing decade for cathedral congregations, show latest stats
The number of worshippers at Church of England cathedrals increased in 2012, continuing the growing trend seen since the Millennium. Total weekly attendance at the 43* cathedrals grew to 35,800, according to Cathedral Statistics 2012, an increase of 35% since 2002.
Along with occasional and special services, the regular worshipping life of cathedrals has proved more popular than ever over the past decade with cathedrals pointing to stronger community links attracting more people (see case studies below).
Easter 2012 saw the highest attendance in the last decade, at 54,700. Attendance at midweek services has grown most, from 8,900 in 2002 to 16,800, while Sunday attendance has grown from 17,500 to 19,100.
The numbers of children and young people attending educational events is the highest for 10 years (306,800 in 2012 compared to 265,100 in 2002).
The number of volunteers serving cathedrals continued to rise, reaching 15,570, 30% up on the 11,930 in 2002. Between them, they fulfil a range of 860 voluntary roles across the country.
Other regular services, run at least once a month, attracted a further 1,639,300 worshippers. Around one million attended more than 5000 public/civil events in the cathedrals, down from a peak in 2010 but still nearly twice as many as in 2002. 2,900 specially arranged services, such as annual festivals and school leavers’ services attracted a further 930,000.
Dr Bev Botting, Head of Research and Statistics for the Archbishops’ Council said: “Cathedrals continue to flourish as worshipping communities while offering a valuable insight into our nation’s heritage. The statistics show people of all ages are increasingly drawn to cathedrals for worship, to attend educational and civic events, and to volunteer to ensure our cathedrals are open to all those who are drawn to visit and worship in these wonderful buildings”
*There are 43 cathedrals in the Church of England, 44 including the Cathedral Church of Holy Trinity, Gibraltar in the Diocese in Europe
There are three case studies below the fold.
Liverpool is UK’s largest Cathedral and is filled to capacity a number of times a year. Alongside the 400,000 tourists and visitors that come every year, nearly 100,000 attended at least one service in 2012 with Christmas being the busiest time. Carol services are held almost every evening December building up to nearly 2,500 people attending midnight and Christmas morning celebrations. The cathedral has also seen increasing numbers for the Blessing of the crib/lighting the tree and Holly Bough services.
Easter is another busy time and this year saw between 250 and 200 people attend the first ever Cathedral Passion Play performed in Holy Week. A production conceived and produced by cathedral staff and volunteers became a popular and powerful local drama.
The Cathedral also pioneers new ways to reach different communities. The Zone2 café style service has grown from one in the morning to include an afternoon option. Zone2 is also being offered and developed in local parishes. The team behind it attracted more than 200 people to a special youth service - Night of the Living Dead - engaging culture with church in a creative way.
Education visits at the cathedral attracted nearly 10,000 students with a hugely popular ‘Holiday Drop In’ every Monday & Wednesday during the school holidays offering a range of activities including arts, crafts, and storytelling. The Pet Service takes place annually and is always well attended.
The focus in recent years has been to present the Cathedral as a community resource making the building a welcoming place for all. Last year more than 700 people attended the opening night of the Olympics which was shown on a big screen.
The Ely Cathedral Christmas Gift & Food Fair attracted 6000 people over two days and the Flower Festival 20,000 over four days. There is also a week long business exhibition in the Cathedral (A Celebration of Business) attracting thousands of people and more than 150 local businesses as exhibitors. A spokeswoman for the cathedral said: “These are not just fund raising/money making events. They help bring people into the building, often for the first time, and once they have experienced the Cathedral they may return for a Service or wish to discover more. I think lay events such as these have helped increase overall attendance at our services and other liturgical events in the Cathedral.”
Truro Cathedral, in line with many other cathedrals, has seen an increase in numbers attending services, particularly at Christmas and Easter. This has been welcomed by the Dean of Truro, the Very Revd Roger Bush, who said, “It is very gratifying to see how well we are maintaining our congregations, especially in the context of overall falling church attendance figures. We are particularly pleased to see a younger profile of visitor attend a number of family events including a Cushion Concert with the Choristers, several Free Family Fun Days and of course the success of our ice skating rink during the winter.” He identified this engagement with a younger profile as critical to the cathedral’s aim of opening up its spaces and facilities to the wider community. He said, “We want to take a positive step out into the community we serve. We want to engage with people across the spectrum and by that engagement bring them into a closer relationship with God. We need to be more outward facing and less inward looking.”
The Dean also pointed to the cathedral’s ongoing ‘Inspire Cornwall’ project as a key instigator in shaping this new vision. He said, “Once we have completed the refurbishment of the Old Cathedral School, it will open as a community music and arts centre, inspiring and developing young people’s skills and talents in the creative sector.”
Graelyn Brashear writes for C-Ville about The rite stuff: What the Episcopal Church’s position on gay marriage can teach us about the middle ground.
Savi Hensman writes for Ekklesia in response to the article by Andrew Goddard that we linked to last week: Church of England: Is error really better than uncertainty?
Kelvin Holdsworth writes for The Herald: I shall express anger and frustration as I march with Pride.
Tiffany Gee Lewis writes for The Guardian about Where the godless don’t go.
Christopher Howse writes in The Telegraph about Onward, Christian Soldiers: Arthur Sullivan’s greatest hit.
Updated again Saturday
The diocesan website has this announcement: Sydney Anglicans have a new Archbishop.
A synod of more than 800 members has overwhelmingly elected Bishop Glenn Davies as the 12th Archbishop of Sydney.
Dr Davies replaced Dr Peter Jensen who held the post for 12 years. For much of Archbishop Jensen’s tenure, Dr Davies served with him as the Bishop of North Sydney.
The other nominee for the post was Canon Rick Smith, the rector of Naremburn/Cammeray, a large church on Sydney’s Lower North Shore.
The final vote came after a complicated process of elimination ballots involving both houses of Synod - clergy and laity (lay people).
During an earlier elimination stage, a mix-up in vote counting made it seem as though Canon Smith had progressed through to the second round of voting. Between the sessions, there was an exhaustive recount which showed he had failed to gain the required majority in both houses.
The election then moved to the final stage and Dr Davies was elected…
A biography of Dr Davies is here.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported the election this way: New Anglican Archbishop of Sydney chosen
Bishop Glenn Davies has been elected as the new Archbishop of Sydney.
Dr Davies was elected on Tuesday afternoon by the church’s synod, the governing body comprised of 800 members from 280 churches around Sydney.
The church described Dr Davies’ election victory as “overwhelming”. But it was only reached after problems with vote tallying forced a recount…
Muriel Porter writes for ABC Religion and Ethics The end of the Jensen ascendancy? What the election of Sydney’s new Archbishop means
…It would be fair to say that more moderate Sydney Anglicans approached the Synod on Monday with trepidation, if not foreboding. Particularly those from the dwindling number of traditional Anglican and Anglo-Catholic Sydney parishes feared the worst. They believed they could trust Davies to treat them with respect, but they had no idea how they might fare under Smith.
But when it came to it, the unthinkable happened. Smith did not get enough votes even to become a formal candidate in the first round of Synod voting. Both clergy and laity supported Davies’s candidature, but neither group gave Smith a majority. So last night, it was all over very quickly, with Davies, the only candidate, elected Archbishop with overwhelming support in the 800-strong Synod.
Davies has a maximum term as Archbishop of seven years. By then, Phillip Jensen and many of Smith’s key backers will no longer be Synod members, having reached retirement age. So suggestions that Rick Smith will now be groomed in readiness for another tilt at the top job seem fanciful. This was his backers’ last chance.
Commentators have been suggesting for a while that the ascendancy of the two Jensen brothers and their cohort had passed its peak, which might explain why they banked so much on such a young and relatively inexperienced candidate. A win for Smith would have tied the diocese to a Jensen-style leadership for a couple of decades, giving time for the next wave of hardliners to cement their influence. That will not now happen.
Make no mistake - Davies will not suddenly support the ordination of women priests or the acceptance of same-sex marriage. He will keep allowing deacons to preside at Holy Communion, even though it flies in the face of the rest of the Anglican Church and a decision of the Church’s highest court. The Sydney Diocese will remain deeply conservative.
But hopefully, the diocese’s relationships with the rest of the Anglican Church of Australia - increasingly strained in recent times - will mirror once more the same level of friendship and respect Davies has built across the country. That is perhaps the most important and far-reaching result from this extraordinary election.
Muriel Porter also writes for the Church Times Sydney elects new Archbishop which contains more detail of the election process.
Julia Baird writes for the Sydney Morning Herald The spirit of unity brings peace to a fractured flock
…Three astonishing things happened.
First, kindness and decency punctured old-style bullying and politicking.
Second, openness and transparency trumped harmful innuendo.
Third, young men pushed powerful old men off their perch; and they did so with forcefully gentle arguments. The old way of doing politics in Sydney - at least that which has ruled for the past 20 years - of number crunching, backroom deals and character assassination - was stomped on by rhetoric and reason.
Those who have long defined the diocese as hardline, insular and in opposition to the world, suddenly found they no longer controlled a majority of the synod; not even their old, reliable clergy voting bloc. The long-dominant factional leader Phillip Jensen had made two unfounded attempts late last week to deride Davies as mediocre and theologically suspect on his blog, but this backfired. He is now widely perceived to have lost his influence.
Stephen Judd , veteran synod member and author of Sydney Anglicans, described it as a “changing of the guard”. Others called it a turning point for the entire diocese…
First of all, there appeared to have been questions raised in the Sikh community. The Telegraph carried a report Religion told to halt weddings over gay rights which included this:
Sikh temples have been advised to halt all civil marriage ceremonies on their premises to protect them from possible legal challenges for refusing to conduct same-sex weddings…
The warning comes in a letter to Sikh places of worship, known as gurdwaras, from Sikhs In England, a specialist advisory body. It urges them to consider deregistering as a venue for civil weddings — which would leave gurdwaras performing wedding rites with no legal force.
Couples would have to attend a separate ceremony in a register office or other venue recognised by their local council. Although the advice is not binding, it is understood that it is being taken seriously.
But Law & Religion UK reports in Sikh Council caution on ending civil marriage ceremonies that The Sikh Council UK (SCUK) – the largest representative body of Sikhs in the UK – has issued a Press Release which is supported by advice and guidance for Gurdwaras, and other material including a letter from Helen Grant, Minister for Women and Equalities, and an email from Melanie Field, Deputy Director, Equal Marriage Team.
All of this material is excellently summarised by David Pocklington.
Second, there have been widespread media reports of a legal challenge to be made by a couple in Essex, see the original news report Gay dads set to sue over church same-sex marriage opt-out.
However, there are no details of how they think they can do this. David Pocklington writes (scroll down):
We note that a same-sex couple Barrie and Tony Drewitt-Barlow have indicated that they are “planning a legal challenge against the Church of England’s refusal to conduct same-sex weddings”: presumably, an application for judicial review of the statutory ban on the Church of England conducting same-sex marriages that was included in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 :see especially s 4(1). Barrie Drewitt-Barlow was reported as saying “‘I am a Christian – a practising Christian. My children have all been brought up as Christians and are part of the local parish church in Danbury”.
It is perhaps useful that such a challenge has come so close to the Royal Assent to the Act; and the courts will have an opportunity to give judicial consideration to the strength of the so-called “quadruple lock”. The Government’s willingness to put its money where its mouth is will be a good indication of whether the approach of Sikhs In England or of the Sikh Council UK is the more prudent.
A challenge was bound to happen, whatever the Government may have thought when the policy was first being formulated. The suspicion must be that if the case ends up in Strasbourg the ECtHR would regard the legislation as within the margin of appreciation of states parties; and the recent decision in Sindicatul Păstorul cel Bun v Romania  ECHR 646 seems to suggest that the Court is reluctant to interfere in the internal affairs of religious organisations. But who knows? – With man it is impossible, but with Strasbourg all things are possible.
The Revd Canon Sue Booys has been elected Chair of the Business Committee of the General Synod of the Church of England, it was announced today. The detailed election results are here.
Canon Booys is team rector of the Dorchester Team of Churches in the diocese of Oxford.
Rachel Held Evans writes for CNN about Why millennials are leaving the church.
John Flowers and Karen Vannoy write for Ministry Matters Why Worship Shouldn’t Feel Like Family.
Some of our readers may find this new blog helpful: The Low Churchman’s Guide to the Solemn High Mass.
Stanley Hauerwas asks Does Anglicanism have a future? The priority of the local and the inevitability of conflict at ABC Religion and Ethics.
Benny Hazlehurst writes for the Church of England Newspaper about Demythologising Pride.
Linda Woodhead writes for the OUP blog that Wonga-bashing won’t save the Church of England.
Giles Fraser argues in The Guardian that Far from confining itself to matters spiritual, the church has a duty to get involved in politics.
Andrew Goddard writes for Fulcrum about Sexual Revolution: Responding Reasonably and Faithfully.
10 Downing Street has announced:
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Martyn James Snow, BSc, BTh, MA, Archdeacon of Sheffield and Rotherham in the diocese of Sheffield to the Suffragan See of Tewkesbury, in the Diocese of Gloucester, in succession to the Right Reverend John Stewart Went, MA, on his resignation on 16 April 2013…
The Diocese of Gloucester has The New Bishop of Tewkesbury has been announced.
The Diocese of Sheffield has Archdeacon Martyn Snow appointed as The New Bishop of Tewkesbury.
10 Downing Street has announced:
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Jonathan Michael Goodall, BMus, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Personal Chaplain and Ecumenical Secretary at Lambeth Palace, to the Suffragan See of Ebbsfleet in the Diocese of Canterbury, in succession to the Right Reverend Jonathan Mark Richard Baker, BA, MPhil, on his translation to the Suffragan See of Fulham on 13 June 2013…
Lambeth Palace has New Bishop of Ebbsfleet announced.
Forward in Faith has this welcome:
Forward in Faith welcomes the appointment of Canon Jonathan Goodall SSC as Bishop of Ebbsfleet.
In addition to his gifts as a priest and pastor, Fr Jonathan brings with him significant diocesan and national experience. As a former bishop’s chaplain, as a staff member at Lambeth Palace, and as a key participant in ecumenical relationships and dialogue nationally and internationally, he is well equipped for his new role as bishop, counsellor, spokesman and advocate. His expertise will complement that of the other Provincial Episcopal Visitors, the Bishop of Fulham, and the other bishops of the Society, with whom he will work closely.
We wish to express our gratitude to the Archbishop of Canterbury. In making this appointment, he has given a clear signal about the continuance of appropriate episcopal care for our parishes and people.
We look forward to welcoming Fr Jonathan to membership of Forward in Faith and of its Council and National Assembly.
And there is this: Society Bishops welcome appointment of Jonathan Goodall as Bishop of Ebbsfleet.
The Ebbsfleet website has: We have a bishop! (scroll down for a message from the new bishop).
British Religion in Numbers reported back in June on this:
…Church attendance in Greater London grew by 16% between 2005 and 2012, from 620,000 to 720,000, representing 9% of the capital’s population at the latter date, and thereby bucking the downward trend in most national religious indicators. The number of places of worship in London also rose during these seven years, by 17% from 4,100 to 4,800. Growth was especially to be found among black majority and immigrant churches, which together accounted for 27% of all Christian places of worship in London in 2012 and 24% of churchgoers. Black people were far more likely to attend services than whites (19% against 8%), and in Inner London 48% of worshippers were black.
This reliance upon ethnicity and migration also explains other facts revealed by the census, such as that 14% of all churches use a language other than English or that 52% of attenders are in evangelical churches (reflecting the evangelical proclivities of black Christians). By contrast, many traditional, smaller places of worship (with congregations under 200) are still contracting; they represent 50% of churches but just 22% of churchgoers. Overall, Anglicans are declining and Catholics only just growing. Moreover, the net increase of 100,000 worshippers from 2005 to 2012 disproportionately comprised women (82%), although the female majority in congregations as a whole was much lower (56%). The mean age of attenders was 41 years, ranging from 33 in the Pentecostal and New Churches to 56 for the Methodist and United Reformed Churches…
More recently Crossing London reported:
…The first findings from The London Church Census, commissioned by London City Mission and undertaken by the Brierley Consultancy in October 2012, indicate that 720,000 people in London attend church, nearly 100,000 more than the last time churchgoing was counted seven years ago. That’s an increase of 16% between 2005 and 2012.
“We are very encouraged to see from this census that many hundreds of thousands of people still consider ‘churchgoing’ as an important part of their lives,” said Andy Frost, Mission Director of Crossing London…
…A summary of the findings of the 2012 London Church Census can be found at http://www.brierleyconsultancy.com/images/londonchurches.pdf…
There are several interesting charts and tables in that last document.