Saturday, 30 November 2013

Changing Attitude responds to the Pilling Report

Changing Attitude England’s initial reaction to the Pilling Report was published this morning.

Some brief extracts

This report does not herald radical change and does not therefore fulfil the expectations of Changing Attitude. There are no practical proposals which will begin to dismantle the present culture of secrecy, denial of reality, suppression of identity and the maintenance of unhealthy attitudes. The group has met people and listened and the unhealthy attitudes remain unchanged as the report demonstrates…

Changing Attitude is disappointed that the Report deals so superficially with transgender (198) and intersex people (197) despite having received a submission from the Sibyls…

4 Homophobia
The most serious failings of the report are to be found here…

The report doesn’t understand that so-called orthodox, traditional teaching, which is literalist and fundamentalist, using the seven texts as proof texts of God’s judgement against homosexuality, underpin and are the source of prejudice against LGB&T people and personal and systemic homophobia in the Church…

Our Christian conviction is clear – homosexuality is not harmful. Christian homophobia and prejudice is deeply harmful and results in anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicide, violence and murder, the result of social prejudice based on false Christian teaching.

The Director of Changing Attitude England has separately published Colin’s reaction to the Pilling Report. [This is an extended version of the text originally linked here.]

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 30 November 2013 at 11:06am GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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opinion

The Archbishop of Canterbury preached in Truro Cathedral earlier this month: ‘Everything changes’: a sermon on the cross.

Church Times Leader A hope of flourishing.

Adrian Alker writes in the Church Times Tell it with meaning.

Justin Welby and Peter Price write in the Church Times about Modern slavery: now you know.

Hilary Cotton, the newly elected chair of WATCH, writes about WATCH’s priorities for the next three years.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 30 November 2013 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Methodists hold consultation on same sex marriage and civil partnership

The Methodist Church in Britain has announced this consultation: Methodist same sex marriage and civil partnership working party - consultation:

Legislation is now in place which will allow people of the same sex to marry each other in England and Wales (and similar legislation is likely in Scotland). The Government has promised that the first same sex marriages will take place before summer 2014.
This is at odds with the Methodist Church’s belief (found in Standing Order 011A, and its marriage services): “The Methodist Church believes that marriage is a gift of God, and that it is God’s intention that a marriage should be a life-long union in body, mind and spirit of one man and one woman.”
There have also been other significant changes in society concerning sex and relationships. Divorced people marry in Methodist Churches as do many who have been co-habiting. The Methodist Conference has established a working party to consult Methodists as to whether the Church’s understanding of marriage should be looked at again.
This consultation is not a poll on the views of homosexuality amongst Methodists, nor is it asking Methodists to decide whether same sex marriages should take place in Methodist churches.
Instead it seeks views about the implications of the new legislation for our church, and whether, as a consequence, we need to revise our understanding of marriage…

See also the Frequently Asked Questions which explains exactly where Methodists currently are on this issue. Question 18 reads as follows:

What is the Methodist Church doing about this now?

The Methodist Conference in July 2013 set up a working group “to consider whether the Methodist Church’s position on marriage needs revising in light of changes in society, undertaking this consideration with reference to scripture, tradition, reason and experience. The terms of reference would be:

a. To consider the implications for the Methodist Church of a change in legislation covering same-sex marriage;

b. To consider whether the Methodist Church’s position on marriage needs revising in the light of changes in society;

c. To undertake the work directed by the reply to Memorial 29(2012) [a Memorial from the Birmingham Synod seeking for a review of the Conference’s ruling that blessing of civil partnerships should not take place on Methodist premises]

d. To make recommendations for any changes in practice or polity.”

The working party is mindful of what was said to the Conference about the relatively limited ambit of the working group’s remit at this stage: “to consider whether the Methodist Church’s position needed reviewing in light of changes in society rather than to make substantive proposal for change. If a revision is thought potentially necessary, it is expected that a further working party would be appointed to examine the substantive issues.”

The working group has therefore identified a range of possible areas for consideration, and intends to test out by wide consultation whether these are indeed the issues about which it should make recommendations to the 2014 Conference that they be explored more fully. Before going out to full consultation however, there will be a short pilot exercise with a small number of selected groups during the next few weeks, designed to clarify how to frame the consultation questions.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 30 November 2013 at 9:56am GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Friday, 29 November 2013

Pilling Report - opinion

Janet Henderson blogs Pilling - Initial Reactions.

Simon Reader writes for the Westminster Faith Debates: A Blessing in Disguise?

Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon, blogs Welcoming Pilling.

Rachel Mann blogs on The Pilling Report and Trans People.

Bishop Alan Wilson offers these Resources for your very own Pilling Report Party.

Dave Young blogs Let’s talk about love not sex: Thoughts on the Pilling Report.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 29 November 2013 at 11:16pm GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Worcestershire tribunal case is remitted for fresh hearing

We reported on the case of Mark Sharpe, the former Rector of the Teme Valley South benefice (near Tenbury Wells) in February 2012: here, and also here.

This week, the Employment Appeal Tribunal finally issued its judgment in the appeal of this case.

The full text of the judgment can be found here (.doc format) or as a webpage here.

In brief, the EAT made no decision on the substantive issues, but remitted the case to a fresh hearing before the ET in accordance with various legal principles set out in the judgment, some of which depend on other recent cases involving ministers of religion, including in particular this one.

The trade union UNITE issued this press release: Unite calls for clergy employment talks after landmark decision.

Media coverage:

Telegraph Rector to sue church over harassment from parishioners

Birmingham Mail Vicar wins appeal in battle to sue church

BBC Church of England ‘harassed vicar’ case to be heard again

Update

Frank Cranmer has published this analysis: Clergy employment: Church of England rector wins appeal on jurisdictional issue

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New statement on Civil Partnerships from the Scottish College of Bishops

Kelvin Holdsworth draws our attention to this statement from the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which was sent to clergy today as part of a regular electronic clergy mailing.

Blessing of Civil Partnerships

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church in 2012 agreed not to adopt the Anglican Covenant. Since then, and within our own context, the College of Bishops has, on a number of occasions, considered how our church should best engage with those underlying questions of human sexuality which had given rise to the original idea of a Covenant. The College looks forward to the Church undertaking discussion of such matters as part of the process currently being designed by a group set up for that purpose by the provincial Mission and Ministry Board. The College in no way intends to pre-empt the outcome of those discussions. At the same time it recognises that the entering into of civil partnerships is a regular occurrence in Scottish society today.

In a previous statement the College indicated that it was the practice of the individual Bishops at that time neither to give official sanction to blessings of civil partnerships, nor to attend them personally. The Church does not give official sanction to informal blessings but each Bishop would nevertheless expect to be consulted by clergy prior to the carrying out of any informal blessing of a civil partnership in his diocese. The College is of the view that a decision as to whether or not to attend such an informal blessing should be a personal decision of the individual Bishop in question.
College of Bishops

November 2013

Kelvin comments on its significance here, and contrasts it with what the Pilling report has to say to the Church of England.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 29 November 2013 at 8:21pm GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Synod Voting on women bishops

The electronic voting results from last weeks meeting of General Synod are now available. They include the vote to proceed with the current proposals to allow women to be bishops (item 11) which was passed by 378 votes to 8 with 25 recorded abstentions.

I have further analysed the votes by house, and added those who were absent and the vacant places on Synod. For this purpose I have used the list of members that was given to members of the press last week.

  For Against Abstain Absent Vacant
Bishops 35 0 1 9 7
Clergy 177 2 5 15 3
Laity 166 6 19 16 5
totals 378 8 25 40 15

Within the category “Absent” it is impossible from the available data to distinguish those who were genuinely absent from Synod at the time of the vote from those who were present but failed to vote or record an abstention.

My raw data is available as a spreadsheet. For each house it lists all members (grouped by diocese etc) and shows how each one voted.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 29 November 2013 at 10:59am GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 28 November 2013

Pilling Report published

Update There is an audio recording of this morning’s press conference by Sir Joseph Pilling here and a video here.

The Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality (the Pilling Report) has been published this morning, and can be downloaded from here. Print copies (ISBN: 978-0715144374) are available from Church House Publishing and other retailers.

There is an accompanying press release.

Pilling Report published
28 November 2013
Publication of the Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have today published the Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality.

In a statement thanking the working group - chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling - for its report, the Archbishops commented that the report “is a substantial document proposing a process of facilitated conversations in the Church of England over a period of perhaps two years. The document offers findings and recommendations to form part of that process of facilitated conversations. It is not a new policy statement from the Church of England.”

Noting that “the issues with which the Report grapples are difficult and divisive” the Archbishops recognise Sir Joseph’s Pilling’s comment that ‘disagreements have been explored in the warmth of a shared faith’. The Archbishops continue “Our prayer is that the process of reflection that will now be needed in the Church of England, shaped by the House of Bishops and the College, will be characterised by a similar spirit.”

Commissioned by the House of Bishops of the Church of England in January 2012, the working group included the bishops of Gloucester, Birkenhead, Fulham and Warwick. The group invited three advisers to join in the work. They were: Professor Robert Song, The Ven Rachel Treweek and the Revd Dr Jessica Martin.

The report considers the rapidly changing context within which the group undertook its work. It examines the available data about the views of the public in our country over time. The report considers homophobia, evidence from science, from scripture and from theologians. During their work, members of the group not only gathered evidence from many experts, groups and individuals but also met a number of gay and lesbian people, often in their homes, to listen to their experiences and insights.

The report offers 18 recommendations. The first recommendation is intended to set the context for the report as a whole. It warmly welcomes and affirms the presence and ministry within the church of gay and lesbian people both lay and ordained.

Three recommendations look at the report’s proposal for ‘facilitated conversations’, across the Church of England and in dialogue with the Anglican Communion and other churches, so that Christians who disagree deeply about the meaning of scripture on questions of sexuality, and on the demands of living in holiness for gay and lesbian people, should understand each other’s concerns more clearly and seek to hear each other as authentic Christian disciples.

Further recommendations call on the church to combat homophobia whenever and wherever it is found, and to repent of the lack of welcome and acceptance extended to homosexual people in the past.

The recommendations do not propose any change in the church’s teaching on sexual conduct. They do propose that clergy, with the agreement of their Church Council, should be able to offer appropriate services to mark a faithful same sex relationship. The group does not propose an authorised liturgy for this purpose but understands the proposed provision to be a pastoral accommodation which does not entail any change to what the church teaches. No member of the clergy, or parish, would be required to offer such services and it could not extend to solemnising same sex marriages without major changes to the law.

The report notes that the church’s teaching on sexuality is in tension with contemporary social attitudes, not only for gay and lesbian Christians, but for straight Christians too. In relation to candidates for ministry, it recommends that whether someone is married, single or in a civil partnership should have no bearing on the assurances sought from them that they intend to order their lives consistently with the teaching of the Church on sexual conduct.

The report includes a ‘dissenting statement’ from the Bishop of Birkenhead who found himself unable to support all the recommendations made by the group as a whole. The main part of the report is supported and signed by all the other members of the group, including the advisers.

The House of Bishops will discuss the report for the first time in December 2013, and it will be further debated by the College of Bishops in January 2014.

Ends

Note to Editors

The Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality is published today by Church House Publishing in Paperback and Ebook formats (ISBN 978 0 7151 4437 4, 224pp, £16.99) and is also available to view online

http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1891063/pilling_report_gs_1929_web.pdf

http://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/marriage,-family-and-sexuality-issues/human-sexuality/pilling-report.aspx

An audio interview with Sir Joseph Pilling is available on https://soundcloud.com/the-church-of-england/the-pilling-report-on-human.

A video of the news conference with Sir Joseph Pilling is avaiallbe on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oghxqZ1AMc4&feature=youtu.be.

The full text of the statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York can be found below

Earlier this month, the Review Group established in 2011 by the House of Bishops under the chairmanship of Sir Joseph Pilling delivered to us its Report.

This is a substantial document proposing a process of facilitated conversations in the Church of England over a period of perhaps two years. The document offers findings and recommendations to form part of that process of facilitated conversations. It is not a new policy statement from the Church of England.

The House of Bishops will be meeting next month and the College of Bishops the following month to consider the Report and decide how such a process might best be shaped. In view of the interest in the Report we have decided that it should be published now, without delay.

As the chair notes in his foreword, the issues with which the Report grapples are difficult and divisive. We want therefore, on behalf of the House of Bishops, to express our sincere appreciation and gratitude to the members of the group, its advisers and to the staff who supported it, for the investment of time, intellect and emotion that they have made in order to produce such a wide ranging and searching document.

In Sir Joseph’s words their ‘disagreements have been explored in the warmth of a shared faith’. Our prayer is that the process of reflection that will now be needed in the Church of England, shaped by the House of Bishops and the College, will be characterised by a similar spirit.

+Justin Cantuar +Sentamu Eboracensis

28 November 2013

I have copied the Findings and recommendations from the report below the fold.

Findings and recommendations

490. Although the recommendations are often regarded as the only part of a report which really matter, they appear at the end of this report for a good reason. The points which follow have been developed after careful thought and argument, and how they were arrived at is as important as their content. They should not, therefore, be read out of sequence but after reading the whole report.

The foundation of our report

1. We warmly welcome and affirm the presence and ministry within the Church of gay and lesbian people, both lay and ordained. (Paragraphs 73 –6)

On the next steps for the Church of England:

2. The subject of sexuality, with its history of deeply entrenched views, would best be addressed by facilitated conversations or a similar process to which the Church of England needs to commit itself at national and diocesan level. This should continue to involve profound reflection on the interpretation and application of Scripture. (Paragraphs 55–83, 309–19, 361–4)

3. Consultation on this report should be conducted without undue haste but with a sense of urgency, perhaps over a period of two years. (Paragraphs 83, 364–5)

4. The Church of England should address the issue of same sex relationships in close dialogue with the wider Anglican Communion and other Churches, in parallel with its own facilitated conversations and on a similar timescale. (Paragraphs 323–5, 360, 366–8)

On the teaching of the Church and the missiological challenge:

5. Homophobia – that is, hostility to homosexual people – is still as serious a matter as it was and the Church should repent for the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke and should stand firmly against it whenever and wherever it is to be found. (Paragraphs 174–92, 320–8)

6. No one should be accused of homophobia solely for articulating traditional Christian teaching on same sex relationships. (Paragraphs 186–91, 327–8)

7. The Church should continue to pay close attention to the continuing, and as yet inconclusive, scientific work on same sex attraction. (Paragraphs 193–219, 329–35)

8. Since Issues in Human Sexuality was published in 1991 attitudes to same sex attraction, both in English society generally and also among Christians in many parts of the world, have changed markedly. In particular, there is a great deal of evidence that, the younger people are, the more accepting of same sex attraction they are likely to be. That should not of itself determine the Church’s teaching. (Paragraphs 39–51, 156–73, 336–49)

9. The Church should continue to listen to the varied views of people within and outside the church, and should encourage a prayerful process of discernment to help determine the relationship of the gospel to the cultures of the times. (Paragraphs 304–7, 309–11)

10. The Church of England needs to recognize that the way we have lived out our divisions on same sex relationships creates problems for effective mission and evangelism within our culture, and that such problems are shared by some other Churches and in some other parts of the Anglican Communion. The Church of England also needs to recognize that any change to the Church’s stance in one province could have serious consequences for mission in some other provinces of the Communion. (Paragraphs 85–100, 146–7, 325, 346–9)

11. Whilst abiding by the Church’s traditional teaching on human sexuality, we encourage the Church to continue to engage openly and honestly and to reflect theologically on the circumstances in which we find ourselves to discern the mind of Christ and what the Spirit is saying to the Church now. (Paragraphs 313 –6)

12. Through a period of debate and discernment in relation to the gospel message in our culture, it is right that all, including those with teaching authority in the church, should be able to participate openly and honestly in that process. (Paragraphs 122, 350)

On the Church’s pastoral response:

13. The Church needs to find ways of honouring and affirming those Christians who experience same sex attraction who, conscious of the church’s teaching, have embraced a chaste and single lifestyle, and also those who in good conscience have entered partnerships with a firm intention of life-long fidelity. (Paragraphs 131–5, 328, 386–8)

14. The whole Church is called to real repentance for the lack of welcome and acceptance extended to homosexual people in the past, and to demonstrate the unconditional acceptance and love of God in Christ for all people. (Paragraphs 186–92, 320–3)

15. The Church’s present rules impose different disciplines on clergy and laity in relation to sexually active same sex relationships. In the facilitated conversations it will be important to reflect on the extent to which the laity and clergy should continue to observe such different disciplines. (Paragraphs 371–3)

16. We believe that there can be circumstances where a priest, with the agreement of the relevant PCC, should be free to mark the formation of a permanent same sex relationship in a public service but should be under no obligation to do so. Some of us do not believe that this can be extended to same sex marriage. (Paragraphs 120, 380–3)

17. While the Church abides by its traditional teaching such public services would be of the nature of a pastoral accommodation and so the Church of England should not authorize a formal liturgy for use for this purpose. The House of Bishops should consider whether guidance should be issued. (Paragraphs 118, 384–8, 391–3)

18. Whether someone is married, single or in a civil partnership should have no bearing on the nature of the assurances sought from them that they intend to order their lives consistently with the teaching of the Church on sexual conduct. Intrusive questioning should be avoided. (Paragraphs 400–14)

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 28 November 2013 at 12:01pm GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Supreme Court dismisses B&B appeal

Updated 11 December

The case of Bull and another v Hall and another [2013] UKSC 73 was concluded in the Supreme Court this morning.

See earlier reports here, and here.

(See also here, but this other case has not, in the event, gone forward to the Supreme Court.)

Here is the Press Summary.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismisses the appeal. The leading judgment is given by Lady Hale, with supplementary judgments from all other members of the Court. On point (i) direct discrimination, Lady Hale, Lord Kerr and Lord Toulson hold that the Appellants’ policy constituted direct discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. On point (ii) indirect discrimination the Court unanimously holds that if (as Lord Neuberger and Lord Hughes consider) the Appellants’ policy constitutes indirect discrimination, it is
not justified. On point (iii) the ECHR issue, the Court unanimously holds that EASOR engages Article 9 ECHR, but is a justified and proportionate protection of the rights of others. There is therefore no breach of Article 9 ECHR which would require EASOR to be read down in the way the Appellants suggest.

And here is the full Judgment.

Update

UK Human Rights Blog Gay discrimination and Christian belief: Analysis of Bull v. Hall in the Supreme Court

Law and Religion UK Double rooms, gay couples, Christians and the clash of rights

Mark Hill Unlikely Bedfellows? The Supreme Court Considers Christianity and Homosexuality

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 at 11:43am GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Monday, 25 November 2013

House of Lords debates report on Holistic Mission

We reported back in July on the publication of a report by the ResPublica think tank, Holistic Mission: Social action and the Church of England.

This was the subject of a recent debate in the House of Lords, for which the Hansard record can be found starting here. Alternatively ResPublica has published it as a PDF file.

The speakers were not uncritical of the report. The following passage illustrates:

Lord Elton: …Like my noble friend Lady Berridge, who made a very good speech, I attended a meeting recently in the Jerusalem Chamber, where the final version of the authorised version of the bible was agreed, to hear Professor Linda Woodhead of Lancaster University give a PowerPoint presentation. She gave a most illuminating account of the position, outlook and membership of the Church of England. I strongly recommend that account to my episcopal friends and ask them to distribute it as it was a suitable forerunner to the great declamation by George Carey in Shropshire, which nobody has yet had the bad manners to mention, which warned of the end of the church unless something changed. We now have to look at whether what is being proposed is the right change. A good deal of reservation has been expressed about that, not merely because it puts everything in the hands of one church but because of its rather obscurely articulated union with government. The union of government and church is a very dangerous institution, indeed. If the church is seen to co-operate with the Government, de facto it is not co-operating with the Opposition and it is likely to get all the flak that the Government get for things that go wrong which are not the fault of either of them…

The presentation, Telling the Truth about Christian Britain, mentioned in the above quote can be found as a PDF file on this page.

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Saturday, 23 November 2013

Bishop of Winchester issues update on Jersey safeguarding

The Diocese of Winchester has issued this press release:

22nd November 2013: The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Tim Dakin has today issued the following statement, providing an update on the ongoing Jersey safeguarding inquiries:

“Earlier this the year I commissioned an Investigation into a safeguarding complaint in the Deanery of Jersey, conducted by former High Court Judge Dame Heather Steel. The purpose of the Investigation was to advise me if there was any reason for disciplinary action to be taken against any member of the clergy.

“Dame Heather has informed me that she is finalising her investigation report. However, I have received legal representations from an interested party requiring me to undertake not to release the report to any person. On legal advice I have agreed to comply with the request and this means that I am currently unable to publish the report or provide further information about the representations that have been made.

“What I can state at this point, based on Dame Heather’s findings to date, is that I will not be taking disciplinary action against any member of the clergy in relation to the handling of the safeguarding complaint in question or the subsequent review process.

“The purpose of launching the inquiries in March was to understand fully the handling of the original complaint and to learn lessons for the future. I am all too conscious that questions remain about safeguarding best practice as well as the effect that this issue has had on Jersey’s relationship with the rest of the Diocese. I believe Bishop John Gladwin’s Visitation will help in the long-term, but in practice I feel that more immediate steps must now be taken in order to achieve progress.

“Given the current circumstances, and in order to move us forward, I have sought the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury to initiate a pastoral visit to the Channel Islands, so that a fresh perspective can be taken on safeguarding. The visit will be conducted next month jointly by the Rt Rev Nigel Stock, Bishop at Lambeth, and the Rt Rev Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover, and has the Archbishop of Canterbury’s full support. Bishop Trevor is a former Bishop of Basingstoke and so I feel his previous knowledge of the Channel Islands will be of significant benefit. On the visit, the Bishops will meet with local church leaders and Island authorities from both Deaneries, in order to help understand how the current situation may be progressed. Their visit will enable further conversations to be held which I am sure will benefit the Islands and the wider diocese. They will report back to me by the end of the year.

“I am informing the Dean and Lt Governor of Guernsey of this as well. Although some of what has led to this proposal has more directly arisen on Jersey, the Islands will be bound to have many common interests in both the process and the outcome, and I wish them to be fully engaged in the relevant actions and interactions.

“In all of this, the victim at the heart of the original complaint should not be forgotten. As a Church, we are called to reach out to the least, the last and the lost, even though at times they may reject the help we offer. In HG’s case, that rejection has been entirely understandable, given how she sees her experience of the Church of England. A number of people across the Diocese have been working hard to find a way of helping that could be acceptable to her. Having sought expert advice from health professionals and specialist charities, we have made provisions to help support HG, through a third party. We pray that she will be able to accept what is being offered.

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News from the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda

See our report of September 2010 about the formation of this organisation.

The organisation now has a redesigned website.

The front page says:

The Society is an ecclesial body, led by a Council of Bishops. The purposes of the Society are:

  • to promote and maintain catholic teaching and practice within the Church of England
  • to provide episcopal oversight to which churches, institutions and individuals will freely submit themselves
  • to guarantee a ministry in the historic apostolic succession in which they can have confidence

The Society is supported by Forward in Faith and administered by its Director.

A letter has been sent to all its supporters, which can be read as a pdf here. The full text is copied below the fold.

The Rt Revd Tony Robinson
Chairman of the Council of Bishops
18 November 2013

Dear Supporter,

This letter comes to you because you have sent in a form or an email to express your support for the Society. To those who did so quite some time ago I apologise that this will be the first communication that you have received.

The Society is intended to address a situation that does not yet exist and, following the failure of the Women Bishops Measure last November, will not exist for two or three years at least. This has given us more time to make preparations, and has made the announcement of detailed plans somewhat less urgent. It also means that the precise context for the Society’s life, and therefore the precise shape that it will need to take, are not yet clear.

The last three years have been years of change and growth. We are delighted that in some dioceses and regions the Society has come to life locally and given a new identity to those are committed to the catholic faith and catholic order as the Church of England received them. The increase in the number of ordination candidates from our tradition is a heartening sign. The consecration of the present Bishops of Richborough, Fulham, Beverley and Ebbsfleet in 2011 and 2013 has also given encouragement – not least to their fellow bishops.

We have been meeting regularly as the Council of Bishops of the Society, consulting with leading representatives of the Catholic Group in General Synod and the Catholic Societies, as well as with our retired brother bishops, and laying plans for the future. I write now to share some of these plans with you. Further news will appear in due course on our re-designed website: www.sswsh.com

The Council of Bishops is working closely with the Catholic Societies. We look to the Additional Curates Society, for example, to take a lead in vocations work and support for parishes, and to the Church Union to develop resources for education and catechesis.

On the original website we explained that the Society would not itself be ‘yet one more Catholic society’. Instead, the vision was and is that it will become ‘an Ecclesial Body’. We said that, because it costs nothing to join the Church, there would be no subscription fee, but that we would invite those who could afford it to make a small financial contribution to administrative costs.

This would have required the creation of a new organization with charitable status, and a new administrative structure to support it. We have concluded that this is not necessary. Forward in Faith already exists as a charity whose Constitution gives it ‘power to seek an ecclesial structure which will continue the orders of bishop and priest as the Church has received them and which can guarantee a true sacramental life’. The Society will be that ecclesial structure, and once women have been ordained to the episcopate in the Church of England, Forward in Faith’s main purpose will be to support it. Already, the new Director of Forward in Faith, Dr Colin Podmore, is acting as Secretary to the Council of Bishops, and necessary costs (such as the cost of developing the new website) are met by Forward in Faith.

So there is a distinct contrast between Forward in Faith, as a membership organisation, and the Society, which is an ecclesial body. Membership of the Society is not gained by subscription but through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist, and the consequent practice of Christian discipleship. This discipleship is lived out in the conscious decision to identify oneself with the teaching and practice of the bishops of the Society and the priests and people who look to them for sacramental and pastoral provision.

We envisage the Society and Forward in Faith as two sides of the same coin: the same people – structured as an ecclesial body led by bishops for the sake of mission, sacramental ministry and pastoral care; structured also as a democratically-run charitable organization, offering advice, support, advocacy and, where necessary, defence.

When he commissioned Dr Podmore for his new role back in April, the Bishop of Fulham described Forward in Faith as ‘the Marmite among ecclesiastical organisations, loved and loathed in equal measure’. Like the catholic movement as a whole, it too has undergone significant changes. Its Chairman (the Bishop of Fulham), Vice-Chairman (Dr Lindsay Newcombe), Secretary (Fr Ross Northing) and Director have all taken up office in the last three years.

Many of the recipients of this letter have long been members of Forward in Faith – some since its inception. Others have, in the past, stood back from joining what has necessarily been a campaigning organization. The same is true of the members of the Council of Bishops. Some have been members of Forward in Faith for a very long time, while others have joined only in recent months.

All of the bishops of the Society are now members of Forward in Faith, and we encourage all those who see the Society as the context for their future life in the Church of England to help build up and finance the necessary support structure by joining Forward in Faith. A membership form is enclosed with this letter and we would encourage you to consider joining so that we can continue to resource the important work of our part of the Church and make a positive contribution to the Church of England.

Our other immediate request is for your prayers. Please pray for us, your bishops, as we seek to discern the future that God wills for us as a Society within the Church of England. As a focus for your prayers, a prayer card is also enclosed with this letter.

The Rt Revd Tony Robinson
Bishop of Pontefract
Chairman of the Council of Bishops
+ GLYN BEVERLEY + JOHN BURNLEY + MARTIN CICESTR:
+ JONATHAN EBBSFLEET + PETER EDMONTON + JONATHAN FULHAM
+ MARK HORSHAM + NORMAN RICHBOROUGH + LINDSAY URWIN
+ ROGER JUPP

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 23 November 2013 at 11:20am GMT | Comments (52) | TrackBack
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opinion

Pierre Whalon writes for Anglicans Online about Finding Faith?

Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian: The Church of England: a church that’s sick of itself. “If the CofE is doomed, as former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey insists, it’s down to the damage he did in office.”

Ed West writes in The Spectator The CofE doomed? Only because it’s surrendered to phony soullessness.

The Guardian published these Church congregations – readers’ pictures.

Benny Hazlehurst blogged on Law and Order.

Janet Henderson writes about Urban Ministry; Not the End of an Era.

Church Times leader: Not so privileged

Jon Kuhrt blogs Women Bishops? I think the jury is still out on male bishops…

Giles Fraser asks in The Guardian Why does Doctor Who escape modern scepticism in a way the Bible doesn’t?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 23 November 2013 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Friday, 22 November 2013

Homophobic bullying in the CofE: responses

Anglican Mainstream has published a lengthy statement, apparently in response to information about what the Church of England is doing to combat homophobic bullying:

All bullying is wrong but C of E and Church Schools “should not promote Stonewall”

It is right that the Church of England should address issues of bullying and make schools ‘safe’ places for all children and young people. However, we are astonished that Stonewall has been chosen to deliver this service…

Changing Attitude has responded to Anglican Mainstream:

Anglican Mainstream’s homophobia

Anglican Mainstream has issued a statement criticizing the Church of England for working with Stonewall to target homophobic bullying in Church Schools.

The statement is a prime example of the homophobia that is institutionally present in the Church of England. Homophobia is personal or institutional prejudice against lesbian, gay and bisexual people rooted in a conscious or unconscious irrational fear of, aversion to, dislike of or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals (see dictionary definitions at the end)…

Read both articles in full to comprehend them.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 22 November 2013 at 11:17pm GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Homophobic bullying in the Church of England

Questions about this were asked on Monday evening. This topic had also come up last July, and indeed the preceding November.

This time it went like this:

Question 57
Dr Rachel Jepson: Which resources does the Board of Education recommend to be used with both staff and students in all Church of England schools to address LGBT bullying?

Bishop of Oxford: The Board does not generally recommend resources to schools except those produced by itself. In this case the Board is overseeing a project to produce materials for Church schools to help them to combat homophobic bullying within the framework of Christian values and belief. The project consultant is currently writing materials prior to their being piloted in schools over next term.

Dr Rachel Jepson: What is the timescale for the project to which you referred and who is the project consultant who is writing the materials and what is their relevant expertise, please?

Bishop of Oxford: We have gone to someone who has been deeply involved in producing material in a particular diocese, so we do know we’ve got someone of expertise there, she has that previous track record. Precisely what timescale is, and indeed the name of the person, has escaped me, but I’ll make sure that you know.

Mr Robin Hall: In his July presidential address, the Archbishop of Canterbury pledged to use - and I quote - the best advice we can find anywhere. As Stonewall is the leading charity committed to tackling homophobia, is the consultant working closely with Stonewall, to make the most of their experience and expertise?

Bishop of Oxford: Stonewall is indeed involved, as one of the consultants, and other organisations too, with a good track record in this field. We are committed to having the very best consultants and experience that we can get.

Question 58
Mr Robin Hall: Given the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call in July for a “a commitment to stamp out” homophobic bullying in Church of England schools, what work has been undertaken to log or track the number of incidents of homophobic bullying in our schools?

Bishop of Oxford: There is no national collection of statistics regarding bullying in schools and the Board of Education doesn’t have the capacity at this time to engage in such a survey. The Board’s approach is rather to resource teachers and governors to create a strong anti-bullying culture with a specific focus on homophobic bullying.

Mr Robin Hall: As you know, schools are already obliged to report the number and type of bullying incidents each term, so this data I believe is readily available. If we don’t understand the scale of the problem, how will the Archbishop’s campaign to tackle homophobic bullying be targeted, and how will we know if it has been a success?

Bishop of Oxford: This will I hope come out of the work that’s being done by the group that’s looking into this, and if there is further action that the Board needs to take then obviously we’ll be ready to take it.

Mr John Ward: Would the Board take into account the useful debates in this place in February 2007, including the motion passed, proposed by The Reverend Mary Gilbert, which affirms that gay and lesbian Christians are full members of this church without reservation, and would the Board think that might be useful in its reflections on how we tackle homophobic bullying?

Bishop of Oxford: The Board is indeed fully committed to there being no homophobic bullying in any of our church schools. This is a very clear commitment that we have made, and we are not going to renege on it.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 22 November 2013 at 10:29pm GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Women in the episcopate – next steps

David Pocklington has published an extremely useful article on the Law & Religion UK blog: Women in the episcopate – next steps. He writes, in the context of Wednesday’s vote, that “In the shadow of the vote, it is easy to forget exactly where one is in the legislative process of the new Measure and revised Canon”, and goes on to explain that Wednesday was just the first of several stages in this process.

He also writes about Women bishops in the House of Lords, and the Bishopric of Manchester Act 1847 and the Bishoprics Act 1878,

Do read it all.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 22 November 2013 at 11:40am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Church Commissioners' Questions - Women Bishops

The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry, answered questions in the House of Commons yesterday on Women Bishops, Recruitment of Clergy, Credit Unions, and Metal Crime.

Here is the exchange on women bishops.

The hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—

Women Bishops

2. Andrew Stephenson (Pendle) (Con): What progress has been made by the General Synod of the Church of England on legislating to enable women to enter the episcopate.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): Yesterday, the General Synod voted by 378 votes to eight, with 25 abstentions, to approve a new package of proposals that will enable women to become bishops in the Church of England.

Andrew Stephenson: This is obviously very welcome news. Can my hon. Friend give us an idea of the likely time scale for the introduction of the change?

Sir Tony Baldry: My hon. Friend is right; this is very welcome news. As a result of the vote yesterday, I am confident that this House will have an opportunity to pass the necessary legislation in the lifetime of this Parliament.

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): While I of course welcome the progress that has been made, may I point out that if the same arrangements were put in place for a black bishop’s leadership to be challenged and for the case to be taken to an ombudsman, there would rightly be outrage?

Sir Tony Baldry: I am not entirely sure what point the hon. Lady is trying to make. The proposals put forward by the General Synod have had overwhelming support. If she looks at the figures, she will see that they have complete support throughout practically the whole of the Church. Perhaps she would like to discuss her concern with me outside, because I do not really understand the point she is trying to make.

Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): I, too, welcome the fact that the Church has at long last made progress on the matter of women bishops. I know that my hon. Friend has seen the report by Professor Linda Woodhead entitled “Telling the truth about Christian Britain”, which makes rather depressing reading for those of us who are members of the Church. Is he confident that the Church can now move on from these endless internal debates and start preaching the gospel and working for the good of society?

Sir Tony Baldry: My hon. Friend makes a good point. The sooner we can resolve the issue and have women deacons, priests and bishops in the Church of England, the sooner the Church will be able to move forward and fulfil its broader national ministry.

Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab): After the disappointment of last year, this is indeed welcome news. Perhaps those members of the clergy who still have reservations—I hope that they are few in number—should come to the House of Commons and see the exhibition in the Admission Order corridor showing the struggle that women had to get the vote and the right to be elected to the House. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, now that the Church of England is taking this welcome step, other religions and faiths that discriminate against women—I could list them, but I will not—should follow the same path?

Sir Tony Baldry: May I gently say to the hon. Gentleman that it is slightly more complex than he suggests? Some of those who are opposed to women bishops are themselves women. They are conservatives and evangelicals who have theological objections because they believe in male headship. I do not think that we can necessarily castigate people who are against women bishops as being against women. The good news is that we now have a way forward that will enable us to have women bishops—I hope by the end of this Parliament.

John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead) (Lab): The congregation of the Church of England has been in headlong decline for a long time, and that is continuing. How likely is it that that trend would be reversed were the Church of England by some chance to pursue its existing policy of barring women from being bishops, which most people think is redolent of a past era?

Sir Tony Baldry: I am glad to say that a large number of parishes are growing. The Archbishop of Canterbury has made it clear that his primary mission is growth. We want to see the Church of England grow. Hopefully, now that we have resolved the issue of women bishops, everyone in the Church of England and everyone who supports it can focus their intention on that growth.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 22 November 2013 at 11:05am GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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New book on Same-Sex Marriage published: Legally Married

Edinburgh University Press is about to publish a book which examines Same-Sex Marriage from a political and historical viewpoint: Legally Married.

This is available now in the UK, and in the USA is distributed by Oxford University Press.

Here is some information from the press release:

Legally Married: New Book Separates Fact from Fiction to Examine Arguments from Both Sides of Same-Sex Marriage Debate

In their compelling new book, Scot Peterson and Iain McLean look at same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom and United States in the context of the history of marriage law. Picking through the emotion and rhetoric to give readers a vital insight into the numerous assumptions and arguments surrounding same-sex marriage, the book is poised to resonate with readers on both sides of the Atlantic.

United Kingdom – While the institution of marriage is a common global bond, the laws surrounding who can marry and how they can do it are rarely consistent from one country or one generation to the next. With the debate on same-sex marriage gripping twenty-first century society and its media, arguments from both sides work tirelessly to make their points heard.

However, same-sex marriage is rarely examined in its historical context, leading two UK authors to collaborate on a unique literary project – the first book to examine same-sex marriage in the context of the history of marriage law.

Synopsis of Legally Married: Love and Law in the UK and the US by Scot Peterson and Iain McLean

From English teenagers eloping to Gretna Green to tie the knot without their parents’ permission, to whether a wife can own property, it’s clear that marriage law is different depending on where you live and when. Now, the main debate centres on whether the law should be changed so that same-sex couples can marry.

The Scottish and UK governments, plus a number of US states, are to legislate to allow same-sex marriage, prompting both celebration and outrage. Some argue against it on religious or cultural grounds, others support it on grounds of equality and human rights, and still others disagree with the institution of marriage altogether. But amongst all the assumptions, there are few facts, and the debates about same-sex marriage in the UK and the US are taking place in an informational vacuum filled with emotion and rhetoric.

Legally Married combines insights from history and law from the UK and Scotland with international examples of how marriage law has developed. Scot Peterson and Iain McLean show how many assumptions about marriage are contestable on a number of grounds, separate fact from fiction and explain the claims made on both sides of the argument over same-sex marriage in terms of their historical context.

As one of the authors explains, unravelling the same-sex marriage debate has never been timelier.

‘Marriage matters to people. That’s why states in the US have been approving same-sex marriage at an increasing rate in the past decade. This summer same-sex marriage became available in four states in the US (California, Delaware, Rhode Island and Minnesota); last week, same-sex couples in New Jersey became the latest group to join the club, so that 33% of the US population now lives in a jurisdiction that permits same-sex marriage. And the issue is a live one in other states like Illinois, Hawaii, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The UK Parliament also voted this summer to permit same-sex couples to marry in England and Wales. Scotland will be considering it next,’ says Peterson.

Continuing, ‘Yet the debates about same-sex marriage have often lacked a sound basis in theory or fact. And important interests are involved once it is allowed, including religious freedom and human rights. This debate needs to recognise that both sides, those who oppose and those who support same-sex marriage, have important contributions to make.’

About the Authors

Scot Peterson is the Bingham Research Fellow in Constitutional Studies at Balliol and in the Department of Politics and International Relations, Oxford University. A former attorney, he practiced law in the United States before coming to Oxford, where he earned a doctorate in politics in 2009. He teaches British politics, comparative government and US politics at Oxford, where he specializes in constitutional theory and history. He has written extensively on church-state relations in the US and the UK.

Iain McLean is Official Fellow in Politics, Nuffield College, Oxford and Professor of Politics, University of Oxford. He is the author of more than 100 papers and 15 books. He is a Fellow of both the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Iain McLean is co-author of Scotland’s Choices: The Referendum and What Happens Afterwards, which gained review and feature coverage in the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Scottish Review of Books and more.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 22 November 2013 at 8:47am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 21 November 2013

Prime Minister's Questions - women bishops

The Prime Minister was asked about women bishops at Question Time in the House of Commons yesterday.

Q3. [901147] Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): General Synod is meeting today and hopefully will find a way to enable women as soon as possible to be consecrated as bishops in the Church of England. If this is successful, will my right hon. Friend and the Government support amendments to the Bishops Act to ensure that women bishops can be admitted to the House of Lords as soon as possible rather than new women bishops having to queue up behind every existing diocesan bishop before we can see women bishops in Parliament?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend follows these matters closely and asks an extremely important question. I strongly support women bishops and hope the Church of England takes this key step to ensure its place as a modern Church in touch with our society. On the problem he raises—there is, of course, a seniority rule for bishops entering the House of Lords—the Government are ready to work with the Church to see how we can get women bishops into the House of Lords as soon as possible.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 21 November 2013 at 11:49am GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Statements following Synod vote on women bishops

Updated

Catholic Group in General Synod

Statement from the Catholic Group in General Synod following the Debate on Women Bishops

The Catholic Group welcomes the new atmosphere of trust and reconciliation, together with the clear recognition that our theological convictions will continue to be within the spectrum of Anglican teaching, and the commitment to provide appropriate bishops and priests for our parishes.

We urge all involved to take steps to build up further the atmosphere of trust, which is why many of us have voted for the new legislative process to continue.

Issued by Martin Dales on behalf of the Catholic Group.

WATCH

A year on; Synod November 2013 much more positive
Posted on November 20, 2013

The new Women in the Episcopate legislation passed in General Synod today with those in favour 378, those against, 8 and with 25 abstentions.

The Revd Charles Read a Vice Chair of WATCH said, “This is very good news for the full inclusion of women alongside men at all levels in our Church. We eagerly look forward to the consecration of several women as bishops as soon the legislation has completed its passage”.

WATCH was very encouraged by the tone of the debate and the result of the vote which was overwhelmingly positive. Although there is still some way to go before final legislation is passed, WATCH remains fully committed and engaged with the process which will finally enable women to become bishops.

The Revd Anne Stevens, a Vice Chair of WATCH commented, “What a difference a year makes. For the last 12 months people on all sides of the debate have worked closely together on the new provisions, and we saw the fruits of that in today’s very positive and good-humoured debate. I hope that that spirit of co-operation will continue to grow as the legislation goes through the approval process.”

There is also this statement released by Reform on Monday which is still relevant.

Pre-Synod Statement: Rod Thomas explains his thinking going in to the Nov. 2013 General Synod
Posted on 18 November 2013

The approach taken by the Legislative Steering Group was to tie its discussions fairly tightly to the terms of last July’s General Synod motion. This meant that some issues which have always been regarded as important by those arguing for better ‘provision’ were not covered (eg issues of jurisdiction). Nevertheless, within those confines, members of the Group were listening to each other carefully and seeking to respond positively. The end result was a balanced package of proposals which show more sensitivity to the needs of those who cannot accept the ministry of women bishops than those in the previous draft Measure. However, key issues remain unresolved. These include the issue of jurisdiction, the rights of individuals, difficulties over enforcement, and the nature of the oath of canonical obedience. While we are prepared to see the proposals going forward for further Synodical consideration, as the most practicable way forward in our present circumstances, it is important to be clear that if major concerns remain at final approval, we will not support them. We will continue to engage positively in Synodical discussions in order to achieve an outcome that is fair to all.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 21 November 2013 at 11:26am GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

General Synod - Wednesday

This page will be updated during the day

General Synod has started its debate on the latest proposals to allow women to be bishops on Wednesday. I linked to all the papers here.

Order paper for the morning’s business

Sam Jones has previewed the debate for The Guardian Women bishops debate resumes at Church of England synod.

Speech by the Bishop of Rochester introducing the debate: Bishop of Rochester introduces Women Bishops debate

At the end of the debate Synod passed the motion before it:

That this Synod, welcoming the package of proposals in GS 1924 and the statement of principles endorsed by the House of Bishops at paragraph 12 of GS 1886, invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consultation in February a draft declaration and proposals for a mandatory disputes resolution procedure which build on the agreement reached by the Steering Committee as a result of its facilitated discussions.

There were 378 votes in favour and 8 against. 25 members recorded an abstention.

Official summary of the morning’s business: General Synod - Wednesday AM

After lunch Synod voted to revise the draft measure and canon in full Synod, rather than in a revision committee.

The CofE issued this press release: Synod votes to approve next steps for women bishops.

The Archbishop of Canterbury issued this statement: Female bishops: Archbishop Justin’s statement

Official summary of the afternoon’s business: General Synod - Wednesday PM

Press reports and comment on the morning debate

Sam Jones The Guardian Church of England approves female bishops plan
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England votes overwhelmingly for women bishops
Liz Dodds The Tablet Revitalised CofE Synod clears major hurdle in passing women bishops legislation
BBC News Church of England synod vote ‘paves way’ for female bishops
Madeleine Davies and Gavin Drake Church Times Synod endorses new women-bishops package
Adam Withnall The Independent Breakthrough? Church of England moves step closer to women bishops as General Synod backs new proposals
Andrew Brown The Guardian Synod’s vote for female bishops allows resistance to flourish another day
Jemima Thackray The Telegraph Women bishops: Today I’m proud to be a member of the Church of England

There is also this in The Telegraph by John Bingham Church’s General Synod - what is it for?

——————

Church Society issued this press release on Tuesday: Church Society prays for a mutually respectful way forward on women bishops. This is copied below the fold. We have previously published comments from Affirming Catholicism, Forward in Faith, and Catholic Group, FiF and WATCH

Church Society prays for a mutually respectful way forward on women bishops

Church Society is dedicated to promoting and strengthening the evangelical and reformed foundations of our Anglican faith within the Church of England. We remain convinced that the best way forward on the issue of women bishops is one where those who are not persuaded from scripture of the necessity of the proposed changes continue to be able to flourish in the Church. We are therefore delighted that the new legislative proposals before General Synod this week do acknowledge that this view is “within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion” and that for those who hold to the classic and historic view, “the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures.”

There are various issues that need to be ironed out in the new proposed legislation for this to be a truly credible and reliable statement, and for the gospel to flourish within the Church of England. Some helpful, positive steps have been taken, not least in developing a mandatory grievance procedure, though significant worries remain for those who are not content to acknowledge the spiritual oversight of women bishops in good conscience. Many also find it difficult to believe that their ministry is valued or encouraged when, unfortunately, there are currently no serving evangelical bishops who hold to the classic and historic teaching on this subject. We are also concerned that any new bishops should be orthodox and faithful to our Anglican formularies such as the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, which officially and legally function as our doctrinal foundation and guide in ministry, and that trustworthiness here should be given a higher priority in selection criteria. Just as Her Majesty the Queen promised 60 years at her coronation to maintain and defend “the true profession of the gospel… the Protestant Reformed religion”, so also, we believe, should all our bishops.

We are committed to praying for the current process and for those (including many members of Church Society) who have been involved in the synodical debates on this issue for many years now. Our earnest prayer is that a way may be found for us to go forward together with integrity and transparency, for the sake of our witness to the truth of the gospel and the good of our nation. If it is true that the Church of England is in danger of dying out within a generation, then it is urgent that we do not lose, hinder, or discourage the evangelistic dynamism of conservative evangelical clergy or children’s and youth workers, who do so much to reach the peoples of Britain for Christ.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

General Synod - Tuesday

This page will be updated during the day

Overnight news and comment

Editorial in The Guardian Church of England: Mission impossible
Graeme Paton Telegraph Anglican schools ‘not dominated by middle-class pupils’
John McManus BBC News Church and Stonewall to target homophobic bullying
Nick Baines Approach to Synod

Order paper for Tuesday

Live video

Official summary of Tuesday morning’s business: General Synod - Tuesday AM

The contingency business (not in the order paper) was taken before lunch, and this motion was passed.

That this Synod call on the Archbishops’ Council to introduce legislation to enable dioceses of the Church of England to be named by reference either to a city or substantial town or to a geographical area

After lunch the Archbishop of York gave his presidential address.

This was followed by a debate on church schools. This was opened by the Bishop of Oxford with this speech.
Press release on this debate: Synod affirms CofE’s crucial involvement with schools

The final item of business was a motion from the diocese of London calling for a review of the workings of synod: Review on workings of synod rejected.

Official summary of the afternoon’s business: General Synod - Tuesday PM

Nick Baines comments on today’s business: Prophetic imagination.

There are these two report of the Archbishop of York’s address:

Sam Jones The Guardian Church of England must end internal arguments, says archbishop of York
Gavin Drake Church Times Take action to help the ‘new poor’, says Sentamu

Audio recordings of the sessions are available here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 at 12:45pm GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Guildford diocese: interim guidelines about prayers after same-sex marriage

Some time ago, the Diocese of Guildford published material on its website in the section on diocesan marriage regulations, concerning Civil Partnerships, Requests for Prayer.

This month, the diocese has published an addendum to that page (scroll down on link above), which is titled Interim Update on Civil Partnership and Same Sex Marriage. The text of this addendum is reproduced below the fold.

This update has already provoked criticism from Andrew Goddard, see A Pastoral Response to Same-sex Civil Marriage?

Interim Update on Civil Partnership and Same Sex Marriage

What is said in the current Regulations about Civil Partnerships remains the case. Government is committed to a consultation on the future of Civil Partnerships in the light of the Same Sex Marriage Act, but they remain on the statute book for the time being and may so remain. The House of Bishops and the General Synod will discuss the Pilling Report on Civil Partnerships in 2014. This is bound to take account of the Same Sex Marriage Act. For the time being however, until this wider debate takes place and unless policy then changes, what is said in the Regulations covering Civil Partnerships still holds.

However, from the time when the Same Sex Act [sic] comes into force (expected Summer 2014), clergy may well be approached for prayers after a civil marriage of persons of the same sex. The Bishops of the Church of England will be discussing this, informed by the Pilling Debate, during 2014. In the interim, the Bishop of Guildford and the Suffragan Bishop of Dorking consider that the same principles should apply as to similar requests after Civil Partnerships, noting that civil same sex marriage cannot actually take place until after the Act comes into force (as above).

In the current Regulations, it is noted that there is a distinction between marriage as the Church understands it (heterosexual) and civil partnerships. So clergy may pray pastorally with, and for, a same sex couple after a Civil Partnership if they consider it to be an authentic Christian relationship. Nevertheless, this should not purport to be marriage or to use the language of the Marriage Services.

On the same principle, while noting that Church and State have now diverged in the understanding of marriage, it would be appropriate for clergy who conscientiously judge a same sex Civil Marriage to be an authentic Christian relationship to similarly pray with, and for, such a couple. Because the teaching of the Church remains that this is not marriage, the texts of the Marriage Services should not be used. An additional reason for avoiding Marriage Service language in this instance, is that in law a Civil Marriage has in fact taken place and the Church should do nothing to put in question the legal position of the couple as married according to Civil Law, which could be inferred by supplemental material from the Church of England Marriage Services, which are themselves also ‘legal’ texts.

In agreeing to a request for pastoral prayer, the clergy person concerned will need to make the Church’s position clear in terms of its teaching about marriage, as the Church has historically understood marriage. But this does not imply a grudging or negative view of the couple: the clergy person should respect the positive values of fidelity expressed in the vows the couple have made in a Civil Marriage, even if the Church believes this is, in reality, a distinct and different relationship from Christian Marriage as traditionally understood.

Nevertheless, there is no legal or canonical obligation for any clergy person to agree to requests for pastoral prayer, should any clergy person feel constrained in conscience to abstain, or if they judge the relationship not to be appropriate.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 at 8:30am GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Monday, 18 November 2013

General Synod - Questions about the Pilling report

Updated
The supplementary questions and answers have now been transcribed from the audio recording.

All the Questions can be read in this file.
Answers were given to all these (except some that were for Written Reply only) during the Monday evening session.

Several questions were asked about the Pilling report, to which the Archbishop of Canterbury made replies.

The Very Revd Andrew Nunn (Southwark) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q39. When will the report of the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling be published?

Answer: Soon.

Dean of Southwark: And I appreciate the economy of that answer. But given that the report is potentially so important for the life and mission of the church, how soon?

Archbishop of Canterbury: I can confirm that the Pilling group has completed its work as you say in the… as we all know. Synod members may be reassured that “soon” means “not very long” or “fairly imminently”, but not “very soon”.

Mr Gerald O’Brien (Rochester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q40. Will the House of Bishops give Synod an assurance that when the Pilling Report is published, it will carry a suitably prominent statement to the effect that any proposals or recommendations the report contains are not the official position of the Church of England unless and until they are endorsed by a vote of the General Synod?

The Revd John Cook (Oxford) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q41. Can the Synod be assured that, if the House of Bishops having considered the Pilling Report are minded to make any changes to the Church of England‟s position on human sexuality, it will ensure Synod is given an opportunity to debate these matters before any changes are brought into effect?

The Revd Jonathan Frais (Chichester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q42. Given General Synod’s resolution of 1987 saying that adultery, fornication and homosexual acts are to be met with “a call to repentance”, what steps will be taken to make clear that the Pilling Report, when it is published, has not replaced this stance unless and until the General Synod itself so resolves?

Answer to questions 40. 41, and 42:

I can confirm that the Pilling Report will be a document which will offer findings and recommendations from the members of the group for the Church of England to consider. It will not be a new policy statement from the Church of England. That will be made quite clear when the Report is published.

It is premature at this stage to speculate about any decision making process at the end of the period of discussion and reflection initiated by the report’s publication. Who has the authority nationally to determine any particular issue in the Church of England always depends on the nature of the decision. Clearly if there were any question of looking again at the motion passed by the Synod in 1987 that would be a matter for the Synod.

Mr John Ward: Given our useful discussions on Saturday in York last July, before any vote by the General Synod on Pilling, would the House encourage the Business Committee to find time for facilitated discussions on this subject?

Archbishop of Canterbury: Thank you Mr O’Brien [sic] that’s a very helpful suggestion, and I am sure the House will consider it.

WRITTEN REPLY
Mrs Penelope Allen (Lichfield) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q43. Is the House considering tasking the Liturgical Commission with the preparation of suitable liturgy for the blessing of civil partnerships in church?

Answer: No.

WRITTEN REPLY
Mrs Penelope Allen (Lichfield) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q44. What progress has been made by the group established by the House to advise it on human sexuality in producing its report and, when it is produced, is it intended that it should be the subject of debate at the same time as the private member’s motions on the Public Doctrine of Christian Marriage and Registration of Civil Partnerships?

Answer: The Pilling Group has now completed its work. Its report will be published soon. It will be for the House of Bishops and the Business Committee to consider how best the report might be handled synodically given the motions already awaiting debate. Both bodies meet next month.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 18 November 2013 at 9:54pm GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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General Synod - Monday business

Order paper 1

Questions order paper

Archbishop Justin’s presentation to the General Synod

Press Release: Archbishops address Synod on first day of November sitting

After a debate on Intentional Evangelism this motion was passed.

That this Synod in the light of the priority of evangelism and making new disciples:
(a) support the formation of an Archbishops’ Task Group on Evangelism with the terms of reference and timetable as set
out in GS 1917 and urge that its membership include:
(i) staff of Anglican home mission agencies with expertise in helping local churches engage in effective evangelism and disciple-making, and
(ii) those with a proven record in those disciplines at local level;
(b) call upon the Task Group to make its first priority a new call to prayer;
(c) commend to the Task Group an initial programme for its work around the seven disciplines of evangelisation as set
out in the same paper;
(d) call upon every diocesan and deanery synod and every PCC to spend the bulk of one meeting annually and some
part of every meeting focusing on sharing experiences and initiatives for making new disciples; and
(e) urge every local church in 2014 prayerfully to try at least one new way, appropriate to their local context, of seeking to make new disciples of Jesus Christ.

Press release on the debate on this motion: Synod approves motion to support an Archbishops’ Task Group on Evangelism

Text of presentation: Women in the Episcopate Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod- Monday PM

Live video stream

For official twitter coverage of General Synod follow @CofEGenSyn.

All Synod papers are linked here.

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Bishop of Rochester to be next Bishop to Prisons

The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced that the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, is to be the next Bishop to Her Majesty’s Prisons, the senior church advocate for Christian values in the criminal justice system in England and Wales

Bishop of Rochester to be next Bishop to Prisons
Monday 18th November 2013

The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, is to be the next Bishop to Her Majesty’s Prisons, the senior church advocate for Christian values in the criminal justice system in England and Wales. He will succeed the Rt Revd James Jones, who retired as Bishop of Liverpool in August.

The church makes a major contribution to public debate on criminal justice and the Bishop to Prisons speaks on criminal justice issues in the House of Lords.

As Bishop to Prisons, Bishop James will support the practical work of the Chaplain- General to the Prison Service, Canon Michael Kavanagh and the network of 300 Prison Service Chaplains who share in the front-line care of prisoners. The Bishop to Prisons also develops church links with other agencies concerned with the reform and improvement of prisons. In addition the churches provide the largest single pool of voluntary support and assistance to the criminal justice system.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, said: ‘James Jones has been an excellent Bishop to Prisons, supporting chaplains on the ground and acting as an extremely effective spokesman for the Church on criminal justice. I am delighted that James Langstaff has agreed to take on this vitally important role. Prison chaplains engage in front-line gospel work, providing pastoral care and bringing the good news of God’s love to thousands of men and women in prison.’

Bishop James Langstaff said: ‘I am excited to have been asked to be Bishop for Prisons. Criminal justice issues have a high profile within our society and with others I will be seeking to offer a Christian perspective within those discussions. I am also a huge admirer of the work of prison chaplains and look forward to working with the Chaplain-General and ecumenical colleagues to support that work. The treatment of prisoners has been a Christian concern for centuries – it is clearly expressed in the biblical prophets – and it is important that we continue to engage clearly with these issues.’

The appointment covers the prison estate in England and Wales and is agreed by the Archbishops of Canterbury, York and Wales.

Bishop James Langstaff will take on the role of Bishop to Prisons in addition to his duties as Bishop of Rochester.

Prisons Week, which is endorsed by the Church of England, takes place from 17-23 November. Its organisers are encouraging more volunteers to support schemes run in their local prisons and to support the families of prisoners. www.prisonsweek.org

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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Pre-Synod press reports

Updated Monday morning

The press has been looking ahead to this week’s General Synod.

Madeleine Davies Church Times FiF backs women-bishops deal
John Bingham Telegraph Church of England discusses overhaul of ‘rude and unchristian’ Synod
Edward Malnick Telegraph Church of England on brink of women bishops resolution
Sam Jones The Guardian Female bishops could become reality as Church of England synod meets
The BBC Radio4 Sunday programme starts with an interview with Pat Storey, soon to become the first women bishop in the Church of Ireland. About 18 minutes in Anne Stevens of WATCH is interviewed; an opponent of women bishops was due to appear but “he got lost”.

There are also some blog posts.

YES 2 Women Bishops has published The new proposals explained and Looking ahead to the November General Synod session.
Pete Broadbent has blogged Twenty quick hits to change the CofE.
David Keen blogs The Church of England, the Gospel, and the Future: my prayer for General Synod.

And the CofE has published these Prayers for November General Synod.

Update

BBC Church of England synod due to debate women bishops

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Grafton elects Sarah Macneil as diocesan bishop

Although there is as yet no announcement on the website of the Diocese of Grafton, in New South Wales, Australia, there are now several newspaper reports that The Reverend Dr Sarah Macneil has been chosen as the next diocesan bishop for Grafton. She will be the first woman to become a diocesan, as opposed to an assistant, bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia. The newspaper headlines below are misleading in this respect.

Canberra Times Canberra’s Sarah Macneil to become Australia’s first female Anglican bishop

9NewsNational Anglicans elect first woman bishop

Sydney Telegraph Anglicans elect Reverend Dr Sarah Macneil first woman bishop in Australia

Update
Finally, an accurate headline from:
ABC Canberra priest Sarah Macneil to be Australia’s first woman to lead Anglican diocese

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Saturday, 16 November 2013

opinion

Giles Fraser explains in The Guardian Why the writing could be on the wall for the Church of England in the inner city.

Ian Paul writes on his blog about adverts for leaders in church organizations: Searching for Superman.

Paul Vallely asks in the Church Times: Is tweeting in church bad manners?

Richard Chartres writes for the Anglican Communion News Service that In the beginning was communication.

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Thursday, 14 November 2013

Welby and church school admissions policies

Update Church Times and Guardian articles added (Thursday afternoon)

The Times today carries, behind its paywall, an interview that the Archbishop of Canterbury gave to Ruth Gledhill. She has written about this on her blog, and included a transcript of the interview.

The Archbishop’s comments on the admissions polices of church schools have attracted a lot of attention, and I copy them below from Gledhill’s blog.

Education
Church schools of the future - stats on faith schools are to be released at General Synod on Monday.

“It’s a hugely important document -
What you are seeing in the Church schools is a deeper and deeper commitment to the common good. There’s a steady move away from faith-based entry tests. They are not selective in terms of education. And they are focusing, particularly the new church academies - and you can see that in diocese after diocese - are focusing on the areas of highest deprivation where the Church school adds the most enormous value.
(in actual Church Urban Fund speech he said: ‘It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the Church is part of the solution for building community blessing at local level - although I suspect that it might be questioned by some. But the Church has been an integral part of delivering education in this country since before the state ever agreed to get involved.’)
Interview cont.
“So in Durham where we created new academies we deliberately targeted the really difficult areas. All our five children went through the local state schools all their way through education. So we have a really long personal experience of what it is to educate children in the state system wherever you happen to be and some of the areas weren’t the most flourishing. So our experience is that - it is a very complex problem what we do about education. What is absolutely clear is home and family is essential. Really good school leadership is absolutely critical. It is not necessary to select to get a really good school. There are unbelievably brilliant schools that are entirely open to all applicants without selection criteria apart from residence, where you live, and which produce staggeringly good results. It’s a question of - and you can point to them all over the place - it’s a question of outstanding leadership.”

Said he did not agree that abolition of grammar schools had broken down social mobility. “I think you can get there by other routes which are much more effective.” However he agreed that “certainly measured social mobility has decreased according to the sociologists. We have seen that as far as I can see over the last few years.”

Lambeth Palace issued this press statement late last night.

Church school statement from Lambeth Palace
13 November 2013

In the course of a wide ranging interview for The Times on the subject of tackling poverty, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was asked about the role of schools. He praised the work of church schools especially in areas of highest deprivation, and stressed the importance of home, family and excellent school leadership.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following statement regarding selection criteria for church schools:-

“I fully support the current policy for schools to set their own admissions criteria, including the criterion of faith. Nothing in my wider comments to The Times on this subject should be seen as “revealing” any changes nor dissenting from current policy.”

Arun Arora, the CofE’s Director of Communications, published Church Schools Fact and Fiction this morning.

The (erroneous) story in today’s Times Newspaper claiming that the Church of England ‘moving away’ from selecting school pupils based on religion was a creative piece of writing. So creative in fact that the Lambeth Palace issued a statement correcting the story which reads: “In the course of a wide ranging interview for The Times today on the subject of tackling poverty, the Archbishop of Canterbury was asked about the role of schools. He praised the work of church schools especially in areas of highest deprivation, and stressed the importance of home, family and excellent school leadership.” The Archbishop himself douses the story in the Times with cold water by saying:

“I fully support the current policy for schools to set their own admissions criteria, including the criterion of faith. Nothing in my wider comments to The Times on this subject should be seen as “revealing” any changes nor dissenting from current policy.’

So in the midst of this contested space it’s worth stating some of the facts on Church of England Schools…

He continues with an explanation of the difference between voluntary controlled schools (whose admission policies are set by the local authority) and voluntary aided schools (which are their own admissions authority, but are bound by the Schools Admission Code produced by the Department of Education).

Alice Philipson published this on The Telegraph website this morning: Church ‘moving away’ from selecting school pupils based on religion

Online comment includes:

The Accord Coalition Praise for inclusivity at Church of England schools by the Archbishop of Canterbury must now be followed with clear leadership
Andrew Copson Archbishop of Canterbury in 24 hour recantation
Fair Admissions Campaign response to Justin Welby’s comments on admissions

General Synod will be debating GS 1920 - The Church School of the Future on Tuesday of next week.

Update

Tim Wyatt in the Church Times Welby denies change in policy on church school admissions

Fiona Millar in The Guardian Justin Welby is right – faith should not affect a child’s education

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Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Women in the Episcopate: Affirming Catholicism comments

Response to GS 1924: Report of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate

Affirming Catholicism welcomes the publication of the Report of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate (GS 1924) and the proposals to admit women to the episcopate of the Church of England. In particular, we applaud the use of a simple measure with associated guidelines for provisions for dissenting parishes, and dispute procedure. We especially value the recognition that provisions for alternative ministry will be overseen by the diocesan bishop, and that oaths of canonical obedience will continue to be made to the diocesan bishop.

The proposals have been admirably summarised by Will Adam (http://www.lawandreligionuk.com/2013/10/28/women-bishops-what-you-see-and-what-you-dont/). They comprise:

1. The draft Measure – essentially a single-clause Measure – contains a principal clause making it legal for the Synod to legislate by canon to enable women to be ordained as bishops and priests. There is an additional clause stating beyond doubt that the office of bishop is not a “public office” under the terms of the Equality Act 2010 and there are a number of consequential amendments to other legislation.

2. The Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993 is repealed and along with it Resolutions A and B.

3. An amending Canon, which
a) adjusts the Canons of the Church of England to put those canons about the ordination and ministry of deacons, priests and bishops on the same footing for men and for women.

b) proposes a new Canon C 29 which places a new duty on the House of Bishops to make Regulations (to be approved by a two-thirds majority of each House of General Synod) for “the resolution of disputes arising from the arrangements for which the House of Bishops’ declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests makes provision”. This assumes that the House of Bishops will have made such a declaration.

4. a draft declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests that the House of Bishops could make; and

5. a set of draft regulations for a system for resolving disputes, introducing an “Independent Reviewer” whose function is similar to that of an ombudsman.

The Report thus presents all (or nearly all) the different elements of the package for discussion by General Synod, allowing a much clearer sense to be gained of how this process will work. In particular, and centrally, the introduction of a process for dispute resolution is integral to the package. Affirming Catholicism also welcomes the use of small groups and facilitated conversations in the drafting of these proposals.

However, we continue to have some concerns:

a) The proposals imply that the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 will be rescinded (§41) but this is nowhere explicitly stated. The proposals affirm that “the sees [of the current PEVs] will continue to exist, and the post holders continue to remain in office,” but do not clarify the status of these sees.
Affirming Catholicism would welcome clarity on these points, and in particular about the status of the “sees”: are they to become effectively suffragans of Canterbury and York?

b) The provisions to be made for dissenting parishes to issue letters of request (or to rescind such a request) will be made at the request of a PCC passed (apparently: again, this is not stated explicitly) by simple majority at a meeting of which at least four weeks’ notice of the meeting has been given; either 2/3 of the PCC members must be present at this meeting, or the motion must be passed by a majority of all the PCC members (Annexe A, §§19-20). If two thirds of the PCC are present and the request is passed by a simple majority, then it can potentially be passed by one third of the PCC plus one person. This is contrary to the provision made in §54 that there will be “a resolution-making procedure so as to ascertain that the decision has the support of the majority of the PCC.
Affirming Catholicism continues to believe that a question of such import for a parish should be decided by a meeting of all those on the electoral roll, and that a two-thirds majority of those present and voting should be required. We note that a two-thirds majority in all three houses of General Synod will be required to change any of these proposals, and believe that it would be consistent to expect a similar level of agreement for the issuing of Letters of Request by PCCs.
Failing that, we would recommend that it can only be passed if two-thirds of the PCC are present and voting and with a two-thirds majority of those voting. This would at least ensure that a majority of the whole PCC is required.
We would also welcome the incorporation of a requirement that a motion to issue Letters of Request can only be put forward after a documented process of widespread consultation, either at the parish level or at least within the congregation, and that and after any decision, the formal Request must be publicised in the church, like faculty notices.

c) The provisions also introduce a commitment to the continuing “presence in the College of Bishops of at least one bishop who takes the Conservative Evangelical view on headship” (§30), which is seen as “important for sustaining the necessary climate of trust.”
Although we recognise that the constitution of the College of Bishops needs to reflect something of the diversity of the Church of England, as recommended by the Pilling Report, we would not wish this to be operated along the lines of a quota system for the College of Bishops. This comes close to viewing individual Bishops as representatives of the views of particular groups rather than as a focus for unity in their Dioceses and the Church as a whole. It is important that those selecting bishops – which in the case of the diocesan appointments is the Crown Nomination Commission – are free to identify the best person for a particular situation and context. We note again the need to clarify the canonical position of the sees formerly designated for the PEVs.

d) For the purposes of the Equalities Act, the legislation has found it necessary to define a diocesan bishop as being not a public office, in that the appointment of bishops is not “on the recommendation of, or subject to the approval of, a member of the executive” (§21).
Affirming Catholicism views with considerable concern the suggestion that bishops do not hold a public office. Although we recognise that the report does note that “The definition of ‘public office’ is solely for the purpose of the Equality Act and has no implications for the public role of bishops more generally,” we believe that this is an unfortunate concession.

Affirming Catholicism would also observe that continuing relationships with the Methodist Church and other ecumenical partners are in some cases predicated on the expectation that the Church of England will admit women and men to leadership positions at all levels. It is not clear to us whether this legislation, with its explicit concessions to allow the Church of England to avoid the requirements of the Equalities Act, will be held by our ecumenical partners to fulfil that requirement.

A PDF version of this document is available here.

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Monday, 11 November 2013

more rumours about Pilling

Jonathan Petre has a report in the Mail on Sunday which directly contradicts the previous rumours.

See ‘Don’t make gay vicars promise not to have sex’: Church of England bishops say civil partners should not be treated any differently than other clerics

A panel of bishops is set to spark a fresh row over homosexuality by paving the way for the Church of England to relax its stance on gay clergy.

Sources said the group will recommend that clerics wanting to enter civil partnerships should no longer have to promise their bishops that they will abstain from sex.

Four bishops have been examining the Church’s teaching on sexuality as part of an official commission and will hand over their conclusions in a report to the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby next month.

They will argue that gay clergy should not be treated any differently than other clerics who do not face intrusive questioning about their sex lives - and that they should be able to follow Church teachings without having to make a solemn vow…

Comments about this have been made by Peter Ould and by Colin Coward.

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Women in the Episcopate: Forward in Faith comments further

Forward in Faith has today issued the following statement:

Women in the Episcopate: Further Comment

The new draft legislation on Women in the Episcopate and the associated proposals in the Steering Committee’s report represent a very significant improvement on the former draft legislation which failed in November 2012. Key differences include the following.

  • Instead of exposing lay representatives to the risk of legal challenge when they veto candidates, the proposals would require the bishop to take responsibility for ensuring that appointments that conflict with PCC resolutions are not made.
  • The previous legislation would have left it to individuals to determine whether they had ‘cogent reasons’ for contravening the Code of Practice, and those decisions could only have been challenged by way of judicial review in the High Court (litigation which would have been costly for those concerned and damaging for the Church’s reputation). The new proposals would impose clear responsibilities; crucially, they make provision for the resolution of disputes through recourse to an Independent Reviewer with paid administrative support.
  • The previous legislation left the terms of the Code of Practice, and of the separate diocesan schemes that would have had to be drafted in each diocese, to be finalized after the Measure had received Royal Assent. Under the new proposals, the relevant documents will have been finalized before the legislation receives Final Approval.
  • Under the previous legislation, the Code of Practice could have been amended by simple majorities in each House of the Synod. Amendment of the new proposals will require two-thirds majorities in each House.

We also welcome the inclusion in the draft House of Bishops’ Declaration of the five ‘guiding principles’ in paragraph 5. These recognize our position as one of theological conviction which continues to be within the spectrum of Anglican teaching and tradition and make a commitment to provision, both pastoral and sacramental, without limit of time.

Though these proposals are still far from what we have long said would be ideal, we believe that they may have the potential to provide workable arrangements for the future, which will ensure that our people, clergy and parishes have continued access to a ministry that will enable us to flourish within the structures of the Church of England and make our full contribution to its life and mission. They hold out the possibility of bringing to a conclusion a process that for too long has been a distraction from the Church’s mission. Much will depend on the continuance of the atmosphere of trust that has at last begun to be fostered by the process that produced these proposals.

We therefore encourage the General Synod to send the legislation for revision in full Synod, so that the process may continue as expeditiously as possible. We encourage our members to study the whole package carefully over the coming months: http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1872454/gs%201924%20-%20report%20of%20the%20steering%20committee%20for%20the%20draft%20legislation%20on%20women%20in%20the%20episcopate.pdf
We set out below some matters that still need to be addressed.

As a matter of conscience, those who, with Forward in Faith, are opposed on theological grounds to ordaining women to the episcopate will not be able to vote at the final approval stage in favour of legislation whose purpose is to permit this. What attitude is taken to the possibility of principled abstention will depend on whether the proposals survive intact. Any weakening of the proposals would require them to be opposed vigorously.

On behalf of the Executive

+ JONATHAN FULHAM
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham
Chairman
11 November 2013

Matters to be addressed

1. We agree with the Steering Committee’s comment in para. 28 of its report (GS 1924) that all the elements of an overall, balanced package need to be agreed before the Measure and Canon are brought to final approval. Para. 42 of the report envisages an agreed way of proceeding with regard to issues in relation to consecration services for Traditional Catholic bishops (including the further and sharper issues that will arise in due course when there is a woman archbishop). It is in everyone’s interest that this agreed way of proceeding should have been identified before the legislation receives final approval.

2. A situation in which hundreds of parishes are obliged to pass new resolutions immediately after the new legislation comes into force would place a heavy burden not only on PCCs but also on the bishops who would need to respond to the resolutions. The package will therefore need to include provisions that ensure a seamless transition. These too will need to be known in advance of final approval.

3. Para. 40 of the draft House of Bishops Declaration says that the House will not proceed with proposals for changing it unless they command two-thirds majorities in all three Houses of the General Synod. However, this statement would merely be an undertaking on the part of the present members of the House. The new Canon C 29 would require two-thirds majorities for amendment of the House’s Regulations for the dispute resolution procedure. In order to provide a similar level of assurance, the Canon should similarly require two-thirds majorities in each House for proposals to amend the Declaration. This would then bind future members of the House of Bishops.

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Saturday, 9 November 2013

opinion

Eilis O’Hanlon writes in the [Irish] Sunday Independent about Switchers’ schism a divine Irish mystery.

Peter Ormerod writes for The Guardian that Leftwing Christians need to have a louder voice.

The BBC World Service programme More or Less asks “Have 100,000 Christians died [per year for the last decade] as martyrs?” Listen online or download a podcast.

Craig A Satterlee asks Why Do You Sit Where You Do? at Alban.

Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian that Judges can sidestep religion, but they can’t avoid morality.

Gillan Scott of God & Politics in the UK asks Is a muscular defence of our national Judaeo-Christian heritage needed?

Jonathan Clatworthy gave this talk at St Bride’s in Liverpool this week: Honest to God: 50 years on, has the Church still got its head in the sand? He has also written briefly for Modern Church.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 9 November 2013 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Friday, 8 November 2013

Developments in West Yorkshire and The Dales

The Church Times has a news story, New diocese sets out job spec. for Bishop of Leeds.

HE WILL be a “resilient leader” with “enough confidence and inner strength to use conflict creatively”. He will tackle “dented morale” among lay people, and chair a diocesan synod of more than 300 members. He will relish the possibility of a “huge change programme” in the most populous diocese in the Church of England.

The statement of need for the diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales, published last Friday, makes clear the extent of the challenge facing its first Bishop…

The full Statement of Needs can be read from here, as a PDF.

In other reports, Bradford has the news that Former Bishop of Southwark to be ‘Mentor Bishop’

Until a Diocesan Bishop is appointed for the new Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales, the Archbishop of York has appointed the Rt Revd Tom Butler as ‘Mentor Bishop’ to give episcopal advice to Programme Director John Tuckett.

Bishop Tom, who’s well known for his Thoughts for the Day on Radio 4, is the former Bishop of Southwark and, having retired in 2010, now lives in Wakefield. He knows the area well: he gained his doctorate in electronics from Leeds University and trained for ordination at the College of the Resurrection in Mirfield.

John Tuckett says, “Bishop Tom has a wealth of expertise and experience, and it will be hugely valuable for me to have someone to go to for independent advice, not least because, as the former Bishop of Southwark, he understands how a diocese with an area model works.”

The archbishop is also to appoint Bishop Tom as the Chair of the Shadow Board of Finance for the new Diocese. And Bradford Diocesan Synod has given its consent for Bishop Tom to become Acting Diocesan Bishop during Bishop Nick Baines’s sabbatical, from February to April…

From Wakefield we learn that the Bishop of Wakefield will return to his roots after diocese dissolved

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, has just announced the appointment of The Rt Revd Stephen Platten as the new Rector of St Michael’s Cornhill church and an honorary assistant Bishop in the Diocese of London.

Stephen will take up the position at St Michael’s in July 2014. This is in addition to his new position as chair of the Hymns Ancient and Modern charitable trust which he will assume at the end of January…

This is also reported by London.

And the Yorkshire Evening Post has John Packer: Bishop of Ripon and Leeds looks back as he bows out.

…To clarify, it is officially retirement, but the bishop cheerfully admits it is redundancy in a way since he is going earlier than the mandatory 70 years of age because his patch is disappearing. There will be no more bishops of Ripon and Leeds.

Two other bishops are meeting the same fate as the Church of England massively restructures the area. The big new job will be as Bishop of Leeds and it has already been advertised, calling for “an experienced, inspiring leader with a heart for the people.”

Bishop John is completely in favour of the change: “Our boundaries do not make sense.and the changes will help us to focus our ministry more effectively,” he says…

Further information about the progress of the new diocese can be found at a new website, designed specifically for the Transformation Programme for the Diocese of West Yorkshire and The Dales. One to keep an eye on.

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Thursday, 7 November 2013

Archbishop of Perth dissents from synod motion on human sexuality

From the diocesan website:

Archbishop Roger Herft AM has today written to all Members of Synod indicating that he remains unable to assent to the motion on human sexuality re-presented to Synod this year.

A Special Meeting of the Provincial Council will be called to determine the matter as required by the Constitution Act of the Diocese of Perth.

The full text of his letter is available here as a PDF.

He also wrote for a local newspaper: Archbishop’s opinion piece from The Weekend West.

Other press reports:

ABC The Anglican Archbishop of Perth rejects formal recognition of same-sex relationships and earlier Perth Anglicans vote to recognise same-sex relationships

The Australian Archbishop rejects same-sex recognition

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 7 November 2013 at 4:29pm GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Church of Australia

Saturday, 2 November 2013

opinion

Readers may find this useful: A prayer before connecting to the internet by Fr John Zuhlsdorf. Translations into about 40 languages are provided.

Gavin Ashenden has written on his blog about Hate, homophobia and holiness.
In response Colin Coward has written The Christian neurosis.

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, gave this speech this week: Law, Morality and Religion in the Family Courts.
Sir James’s speech, and the reaction to it, has prompted Frank Cranmer of Law & Religion UK to write: The President of the Family Division on family law, morality and religion.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 2 November 2013 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (38) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 1 November 2013

Women bishops latest

Madeleine Davies writes for the Church Times: Women-bishops proposals: ombudsman in new package.

The Church Times also has this leader: No light task.

Andrew Grey writes for On Religion: Women Bishops in Wales: Just Conforming to Culture?

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes blogs: Women Bishops: Take Two…

Will Adam writes for Law & Religion UK Women bishops – what you see and what you don’t.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 1 November 2013 at 9:49am GMT | Comments (28) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

more about GAFCON 2

Updated

In my earlier article, I linked in the comments to a number of additional articles about this topic.

Here are few more items:

Andrew Atherstone Reflections on GAFCON 2 published at Fulcrum.

Church Society Lee Gatiss The Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) in Nairobi

Church Times George Conger GAFCON to be ‘an Anglican province’ in all but name

Anglican TV Interview with Dr Gavin Ashenden

Update

Two more articles, by Peter Carrell GAFCON’s gaffe (1) and GAFCON’s gaffe (2) - misunderstanding gospel and culture

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 1 November 2013 at 9:13am GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion