Saturday, 31 May 2014

opinion

Nick Baines has been talking to The Independent: ‘You cannot make women bishops just to have women bishops’.

Ian Paul asks Is baptism enough?

The last of the St Paul’s Cathedral series: What I Want to Say Now: Retired Bishops Speak Out is now available to watch online: The Rt Revd Christopher Herbert. [19 minute video]
There is a transcript of the sermon to read online here.

Giles Fraser writes for The Guardian that In Sweden, human darkness is confronted by the arts not the church.

Laurie Brock of Dirty Sexy Ministry blogs about What Needs to Die in the Church.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 31 May 2014 at 11:00am BST | Comments (24) | TrackBack
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Friday, 30 May 2014

Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue

Updated Friday evening

The Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue has just finished its fifth annual meeting. This was held at Coventry Cathedral. Participants came from nine countries in Africa (including four primates), Canada, and the USA.

The full six-page statement that they issued is here: A Testimony of Our Journey toward Reconciliation

Media reports:

ENS Anglican Bishops in Dialogue issue testimony and also African, North American bishops claim ‘foundational call as reconcilers’

ACNS Anglican Communion bishops in dialogue issue testimony

Anglican Journal Coventry meeting ‘providential’

The Anglican Church of Canada hosts this home page for the consultation: The Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 3:46pm BST | Comments (33) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

General Synod Agenda - July 2014

Updated Monday 2 June The business on Saturday afternoon has been slightly amended, and a revised edition of the timetable issued.

The outline agenda for the July meeting of the Church of England General Synod is now available, and is copied below.

Friday 11 July

3.00 pm – 6.15 pm
Formal business
Brief response on behalf of ecumenical guests
Business Committee Report
Not later than 4.15 pm
Approval of appointments
Legislative Business
    Women in the Episcopate legislation:
    * Report on Article 8 Reference to the Dioceses
    * Final Drafting Stage
    Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and associated Amending Canon – First Consideration

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Questions

Saturday 12 July

9.30 am – 1.00 pm
Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York
49th Report of the Standing Orders Committee (deemed business)
Legislative Business
    Amending Canon No 31 – Enactment
    C of E Pensions (Amendment) Measure – Revision Stage
    Amending Canon No 32 and Amending Rules relating to GS elections etc – Revision Stage
    Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure – Revision Stage
    Adjourned debate on Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution – Final Approval
    Payments to the Churches Conservation Trust Order
    C of E Pensions (Amendment) Measure – Final Drafting (if needed) and Final Approval
    Amending Canon No 32 and Amending Rules relating to GS elections etc – Final Drafting (if needed) and Final Approval
    Cof E (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure – Revision Stage

2.30 pm – 3.15 pm
The Church’s Response to Poverty: Presentation
‘The (Un)Common Good’: Presentation by the Revd Jim Wallis, Author of ‘On God’s Side’

(3.30 pm - 4.45 pm Group Work: The Common Good)

5.05 pm – 6.30 pm
The Common Good: Presentation and Debate

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Private Member’s Motion: Canon B 8

Sunday 13 July

EITHER
(if Article 7 Reference Meetings are not required)
2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report 2013
Liturgical Business
    Additional texts for Holy Baptism – First Consideration
Churches’ Mutual Credit Union (CMCU): Presentation

OR
(if Article 7 Reference Meetings are required)
4.00 pm – 6.15 pm
Liturgical Business
    Additional texts for Holy Baptism – First Consideration
Churches’ Mutual Credit Union (CMCU): Presentation

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm

Financial Business
    Archbishops’ Council’s Budget 2015
Church Commissioners’ Annual Report

Monday 14 July

9.30 am – 1.00 pm
The Armed Forces Covenant and Community Covenants: Presentation and Debate
Not later than 11.15 am
Legislative business
    Women in the Episcopate legislation – Final Approval

2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Legislative business
    Women in the Episcopate legislation – Final Approval (Ctd…)
Diocesan Synod Motion: Magna Carta

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
CHARM: Presentation
Audit Committee Annual Report

Tuesday 15 July

9.30 am – 1.00 pm
Legislative Business
    Any remaining legislative business from Saturday followed by:
    Draft Amending Canon giving effect to the Southwell and Nottingham DSM on the administration of Holy Communion – First Consideration
Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report 2013 (if not taken on the Sunday due to the Article 7 reference)
Not later than 12.30 pm
Farewells
Prorogation

Contingency Business:
Bradford Diocesan Synod Motion: Spare Room Subsidy

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 at 6:30pm BST | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Church Credit Champions Network

The Church Credit Champions Network was launched this evening, as described in this press release from the Church of England: Churches step up fight for better lending.

The first steps towards a national network of churches, communities and credit unions will be unveiled today at a launch, supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Task Group on Responsible Lending.

The Church Credit Champions Network (CCCN) aims to create a network of people who will bring together churches, communities and responsible lenders. The scheme is being piloted in three Church of England Dioceses - Southwark, Liverpool and London. The members will act as advocates for the community finance providers…

The Church Credit Champions Network is a joint project of the Contextual Theology Centre and the Church Urban Fund and is being delivered with the assistance of the Church Urban Fund’s Together network.

Sir Hector Sant gave this speech at the launch: Sir Hector Sant’s speech at launch of Church Credit Union Network.

Early press reports include these:

BBC Financial advice to be available in church

Reuters Former British regulator launches church taskforce on credit unions
[Also available, in edited form, at The Guardian Hector Sants introduces network of credit unions to rival payday lenders]

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 at 11:13pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 24 May 2014

Civil Partnership Review: response from Roman Catholic bishops

The response from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship to “Civil Partnership Review (England and Wales): a consultation” is available to download here.

It is also reproduced by the Catholic Herald in this article: Don’t convert same-sex civil partnerships automatically into marriages, urge bishops.

Archbishop Peter Smith issued this additional comment:

“My recent comment on civil partnerships was solely in response to a specific government consultation on whether to abolish civil partnerships or convert them all into marriages in law. My comment should not be misunderstood. The question at issue is one of individual conscience for those who are in same sex civil partnerships and who do not want to enter into same sex marriage because of their deeply held belief that marriage is between a man and a woman only. In requesting the government to respect their consciences by leaving the existing civil partnership law unchanged, I was dealing solely with this issue of conscience which has now arisen given the current law, and my response should not be misinterpreted as a wider commentary on civil partnerships in general.”

The Cutting Edge Consortium issued this statement:

CUTTING EDGE CONSORTIUM WELCOMES CATHOLIC BISHOPS AFFIRMATION OF CIVIL PARTNERSHIPS

The Cutting Edge Consortium welcomes the response from the Catholic Bishops Conference of England & Wales’ Department of Christian Responsibility & Citizenship to the Government’s recent Civil Partnership Review Consultation.

The Catholic Bishops affirm both the importance of civil partners’ legal rights and that civil partnerships should be retained as a future viable option for same-sex couples.

The Statement is consistent with what a number of individual bishops, including Pope Francis, have said in recent years, that these legal rights contribute to both stability of relationships, and to the common good of society as a whole.

The response also highlights the fact that many people will share protected human rights characteristics, including both faith and sexual orientation, and these rights must be taken into account when respecting people’s choices and courses of action.

The Church of England response was published earlier, and can be found here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 24 May 2014 at 10:47pm BST | Comments (61) | TrackBack
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opinion

Timothy Schenck asks To Pew or Not to Pew?

The third of the St Paul’s Cathedral series: What I Want to Say Now: Retired Bishops Speak Out is now available to watch online: The Rt Revd Tom Butler. [13 minute video]
There is a transcript of the sermon to read online here.

Christopher Howse writes in his Sacred Mysteries column in The Telegraph about Mindfulness and Teresa’s gnats.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 24 May 2014 at 11:00am BST | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Friday, 23 May 2014

Church Commissioners' results 2013

The Church Commissioners have issued their annual report and accounts for 2013, and this accompanying press release.

Church Commissioners announce annual results for 2013
23 May 2014

The Church Commissioners’ total return on its investment in 2013 was 15.9 per cent. This means that the Church Commissioners fund has exceeded its target return of RPI + 5 percentage points over the past one year, three years, ten years and twenty years. It has also has performed better than similar funds over the same periods. Details have been published today in their full Annual Report and Account (link below) for 2013.

The Commissioners’ fund is a closed fund, taking in no new money, and has performed better than its target return of RPI +5.0% p.a. and its comparator group over the past, one, three, 10 and 20 years. The results confirm the fund’s strong long term performance

Andrew Brown, Secretary to the Church Commissioners, said:
“I am delighted to report the very strong investment performance the fund produced. It is from these investments that the Commissioners are able to provide the financial support to the Church. It is particularly pleasing to note that the fund has exceeded our target and performed better than its comparator group over all of the periods measured.

“As our annual report shows, the Commissioners continue to identify and fund the church’s work in areas of need and opportunity throughout England. Working towards the spiritual and numerical growth of the Church includes growing its capacity to serve the whole community.”

The Commissioners manage assets which were valued at £6.1billion at the end of 2013. More than half of their current distributions meet the cost of clergy pensions earned up to the end of 1997. The generous giving of today’s parishioners accounts for around three quarters of the Church’s annual £1.4 billion spending on its ministry and mission.

Writing in the report’s foreword Andreas Whittam Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner, said:
“The year under review was a good one for the Church and for the Commissioners. Indeed, it may prove to have been a turning point, the moment when the Church decisively increased its focus on securing numerical and spiritual growth in church membership.”
He added that at the same time the Commissioners, to assist this process, began to target their charitable distributions much more strategically.

After taking account of expenditure the fund has grown from £2.4 billion at the start of 1994 to £6.1 billion at the end of 2013.

The Commissioners manage their investments within ethical guidelines with advice from the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group.

The fund is held in a broad range of assets. Returns contribute to the ministry of each of the Church’s 44 dioceses by: paying for clergy pensions for service up to the end of 1997; supporting poorer dioceses with the costs of ministry; funding some mission activities; paying for bishops’ ministries and some cathedral costs, paying the clergy and assisting with the legal framework for parish reorganisation.

In 2013, the Church Commissioners continued to provide significant support to encourage the growth of the Church’s existing ministries and new opportunities. Along with the Archbishops’ Council the Commissioners earmarked £12 million (2011-2013) for research and development funding to help understand better which parts of the Church are growing and why, and to seek to develop that growth.

There is also this press release on some the projects funded by the Commissioners.

Transforming lives: Commissioners fund churches in new housing and other development areas
23 May 2014

Pioneer minister to new communities in Leeds shares how 60% of congregation are new to church

The Church Commissioners annual review published today (here), shares stories of support across the country for church growth in new housing and development areas as well as a dedicated stream of funding for work in deprived areas.

In a Church of England interview the Revd James Barnett, pioneer minister to new communities in Leeds, talks about people’s lives being transformed and shares inspirational stories from Riverside. Andrew Brown, Secretary to the Commissioners, also explains more about the funding.

James features on the front cover of the Report with members from Riverside, a new expression of church where 60% of the 70 regular worshippers had not attended any church before.

“Any new church is a work in progress but God’s presence is tangible at Riverside and the Church is also making a difference in the community,” says James.

The Report also features other Commissioners funded projects from around the country:

  • Former hair stylist Rev Ben Norton has an Archdeaconry brief in York Diocese for pioneering work among young people building on earlier work on a major housing estate. He is also volunteering a day a week in the local hairdressing salon.
  • Liverpool Cathedral is committed to offering a variety of styles of worship that are accessible to all. The Zone 2 all-age, café-style service meets every Sunday at the same time as the traditional Choral Eucharist.
  • The Tolladine Mission in Worcester is based in an area with pockets of multiple deprivation. The missioners live in the area and their work includes a garden project for young people with learning and/or behavioural difficulties and work in local schools, along with opportunities to explore the Christian faith
Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 23 May 2014 at 3:25pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Dioceses vote in favour of women bishops

Now that the dioceses have finished on voting on the current draft legislation to enable women to be bishops, the Church of England has issued this press release.

Dioceses vote in favour of women bishops
23 May 2014

The Church of England’s dioceses* have now all voted in favour of the current draft legislation to enable women to be bishops. Manchester was the last diocese to vote and they approved the motion at a meeting of their Synod yesterday. In 2011 both London and Chichester diocesan synods voted against the legislation.

The February 2014 meeting of General Synod referred the current Women in the Episcopate legislation to the dioceses.

Diocesan Synods all voted in favour of the motion: ‘That this Synod approve the proposals embodied in the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure and draft Amending Canon No 33.’

For the motion to be carried the houses of clergy and laity had to each vote, by a simple majority, in favour.

The table attached records the votes in favour and against, and any recorded abstentions in each house. The draft legislation will now go before General Synod in July for a Final Approval vote.

The Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, Chair of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation for Women in the Episcopate said:
“The dioceses have now expressed their view very clearly and the matter now comes back to General Synod in July. I pray that the Synod will continue to approach this decision in a prayerful and generous way as we move towards voting on the proposal that women may be bishops in the Church of England.”

The table of Diocesan Synod results can be found here.

*Due to logistical constraints the Diocese in Europe was unable to convene a meeting in the three month period allowed for this Article 8 reference.

The table linked above showed a few very small differences from mine. On the assumption that Church House have the correct figures, I have amended mine to match.

WATCH has issued this press release.

A clean sweep this time: 100% of Dioceses support Women Bishops legislation
Posted on May 23, 2014

Women and the Church (WATCH) is delighted and hugely encouraged by the overwhelming support given by 100% of diocesan synods for the new Women in the Episcopate legislation. Such a resounding endorsement, including from the dioceses of London and Chichester which voted against last time, gives us significant hope and encouragement for the final vote at General Synod in July.

Chair of WATCH, Hilary Cotton said, ‘This is really, really good news in the lead-up to the Final Approval vote. In most dioceses over 90% of votes were cast in favour: surely General Synod cannot turn their backs on this again?’

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 23 May 2014 at 2:39pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 22 May 2014

Women in the Episcopate - final diocesan synod votes

The final three diocesan synod votes on the legislation to allow women to be bishops in the Church of England took place this week: Chester and Rochester yesterday and Manchester tonight. All three voted in favour.

Apart from Europe, which was unable to arrange a synod meeting before the deadline of midnight on Thursday 22 May 2014, all the dioceses have voted in favour of the draft legislation, which will return to General Synod in July for the debate and vote on final approval.

Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 22 May 2014 at 10:26pm BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

House of Bishops meeting

The House of Bishops met yesterday and today and has issued this summary of its proceedings.

House of Bishops Statement
20 May 2014

The House of Bishops of the Church of England met at Bishopthorpe Palace in York on Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th May 2014.

In a wide ranging agenda the House discussed issues including: the progress of legislation on women in the episcopate, the meeting of the General Synod in July, additional liturgical materials for baptism, closer working with the Methodist church, shared conversations on enabling wider debate of the Pilling report and the place of Bishops in public debate.

On the progression of legislation enabling Women in the Episcopate, the House approved the House of Bishops Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests which sets out arrangements for those parishes who on theological grounds are unable to accept the ministry of women priests or bishops. The House also voted to amend their standing orders so to ensure the Declaration cannot be amended without the majority of two-thirds of each house of the General Synod. The House agreed guidance notes for Bishops and Parishes on the Declaration that will be issued prior to General Synod.

The House of Bishops supported exploring with political parties the possibility of amending existing arrangements for the selection of Lords Spiritual in order that the first women diocesan Bishops will be able to become members of the Bishops’ Bench in the House of Lords more quickly than would otherwise be the case under current arrangements.

In their consideration of the business to be discussed at the July meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England, the House noted proposals for a debate on safeguarding legislation being introduced in Synod on Friday afternoon. The House also noted the desire for a debate on the ‘Common Good’ and the Church of England’s contribution to developing, nurturing and participating in the flourishing of all the people of England.

The House of Bishops received a report from the Liturgical commission on the use of additional texts for use in services of Baptism following the piloting of new materials in parishes. The House heard that the feedback form the parishes to the use of the texts had been largely positive and welcoming. Following a debate and minor amendments to the text the House voted for the new texts to progress to being debated by General Synod.

The House discussed a draft report and note from the Council for Christian Unity on closer working with the Methodist Church and a report from the Joint Implementation Committee which is provisionally due to be presented for discussion by the Methodist conference and the General Synod. The House agreed that the paper should be debated at the next synod after July.

The House also discussed the next steps in the process for conversations around Human Sexuality. In its discussion the House noted that the process of shared conversations needed to demonstrate primarily how the Church of England could model living together with issues of tension, where members took opposing views whilst remaining committed to one another as disciples of Jesus Christ - members of one church in both unity and diversity. The House agreed to a proposed process and timescale for the conversations with regional discussions taking place over the next two years. The House also authorised its Standing Committee to sign off the final arrangements and materials.

The House concluded its meeting with a discussion of the place of the Church of England and its Bishops in public debate. The House heard presentations which emphasised the need for the Church develop its confidence arising from its well-developed and sustained levels of service to communities across the country. The House also heard of the importance of sustaining the place of Bishops and faith based organisations in the public square at a time when confidence in the wider political process was being eroded and the place of faith based values was being challenged. The House heard how the work of Bishops and the wider church in its provision of foodbanks, partnerships with civic society, chairing economic and policy reviews, living wage and credit union work demonstrated the role of the Church of England at both a delivery and strategic level in areas of civic engagement, community cohesion and social justice.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 20 May 2014 at 5:07pm BST | Comments (39) | TrackBack
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Monday, 19 May 2014

Diverse Church makes a film: Christian It Gets Better

Diverse Church has made an impressive film. You can watch it on YouTube here.

Diverse Church is a supportive community of 70 young LGBT+ Christians in UK evangelical churches. We aim to be a pastoral/mission resource for the wider church.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 19 May 2014 at 10:31am BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 18 May 2014

Justin Welby comments on the Nigerian kidnap crisis

The Archbishop of Canterbury has made several media interventions to talk about the abduction of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram.

Lambeth Palace press releases:
Archbishop condemns abduction of Nigerian schoolgirls
Archbishop writes on Boko Haram in the Church Times
Archbishop speaks to Radio 4 about situation in Nigeria.

The Church Times interview is available at Missing schoolgirls: Welby warns over difficulties of negotiation with Boko Haram (scroll down for the interview itself) and there is a leader comment here: Evil of Boko Haram.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 18 May 2014 at 5:14pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 17 May 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 8

Updated Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon

Since I last posted on this, four more dioceses (Chichester, Durham, Exeter and Leicester, all today) have voted, all in favour. 40 dioceses have now voted in favour of the draft legislation, and none against. For a diocese to be in favour, its house of clergy and laity must each vote in favour. The votes of the bishops, although recorded, are ignored.

Chichester was one of the two diocese that voted against in 2011. Today their synod voted (for/against/abstention): Bishops 1-1-1, Clergy 36-22-2, Laity 54-20-0. In 2011 the figures were Bishops 0-2-0, Clergy 30-35-0, Laity 37-41-0.

Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here. Please send any corrections to the email address at the bottom of that table.

Update

I have corrected the Leicester figures, which were completely wrong. Somebody tweeted the 2011 figures as though they were today’s and I believed them!
I have also corrected the figures for abstentions in Exeter.

Update 2
And now I have recorrected the Exeter abstentions back to what they were in the first place.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 5:00pm BST | Comments (35) | TrackBack
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Fleet Street's last religious affairs position axed

William Turvill of the Press Gazette reports that Fleet Street’s last religious affairs position axed as Ruth Gledhill leaves Times after 27 years.

There are also to be changes at the BBC as Wyatt switches from defence to religion.

Nick Baines blogs Religion for the Times.

Michael Sadgrove blogs Farewell to Ruth Gledhill, Fleet Street’s Last Full-Time Religious Affairs Correspondent.

The National Secular Society reports Big changes for religious reporting.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 12:44pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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opinion

Speech of Bishop Paul Colton as Guest of Honour at Launch of Cork LGBT Awareness Week 2014

The second of the St Paul’s Cathedral series: What I Want to Say Now: Retired Bishops Speak Out is now available to watch online: The Rt Revd Peter Price. [15 minute video]

Bob Morris at the Constitution Unit Blog asks Is Britain a Christian country and, whatever the case, what then?
[This is also online at Law & Religion UK.]

Madeleine Bunting interviews Rowan Williams for The Tablet about Life after Lambeth.

Ian Jack writes for The Guardian that It’s hard to better traditional hymns when it comes to remembering the dead.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 11:00am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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homophobic bullying in church schools: more coverage

Updated Sunday afternoon

See the original article on the publication of the report last Monday here.

The Church Times reported on this twice, first on Monday with Welby launches anti-homophobia schools guide and then in the paper edition on Friday with Church schools urged to stamp out anti-gay bullying.

And there is a leader comment (scroll down to second section)

Beware of bullies

THE new church guidelines about homophobic bullying are to be commended, as much for their existence as their content. After years of clumsy official statements (e.g. Resolution 1.10 from Lambeth 1998), it is good to read: “Pupils may justify homophobic bullying because: they think that homosexual people should be bullied because they believe homosexual people are ‘wrong’; they do not think that there is anything wrong in bullying someone because of their sexual orientation; they do not realise that it is bullying. . .” The authors, throughout, seek to separate bullying from the ex­­pression by Christians of a neg­ative view. Bullying is defined tightly: insen­si­tive use of language, direct abuse, and physical harm. But if the definition were widened to in­­clude discrim­inatory be­­haviour, persistent condemnation, and the scape­goating of gay marriage for “under­mining” Christian marriage (unmarried cohabitation, divorce, and serial marriage being a few elephants in this room), surely the Church would find itself in detention. We would not pick out one group of children to hector persist­ently about a sensitive area of life. Why treat adults in this way?

This leader is discussed further by Colin Coward in Church Times nails the challenge to homophobia in the Church.

LGCM welcomed the report with this press release: LGCM warmly welcomes the Cof E guidance to combat homophobic bullying. The last paragraph reads:

This is certainly a step in the right direction but as the document states itself in a quote from a teacher in a CofE school:
‘Whilst welcoming this initiative, the CofE’s own institutional homophobia and the theological/moral confusion behind it is a big problem!’ [report page 26]

John Bingham wrote in the Telegraph Welby tells Church schools to teach respect for gay and lesbian relationships

The Pink News interview is covered in yesterday’s article.

Today, Deborah Orr has written at Cif that The Church of England is homophobic, despite Justin Welby’s trendy-vicar act

…Presumably, he thinks “homophobia” is being personally rude and aggressive to gay people because they are gay, but that asking them to kindly observe the “heterosexuals only” sign is fine, as long as one is polite about it. He is wrong. He and his church discriminate against people because of their sexuality, so the Anglican church is homophobic. Since it’s an established part of the state, the state is homophobic. In part. It’s all a bit of a curate’s egg.

The idea we’re all supposed to accept is that the Church of England is an innocuous purveyor of spiritual pomp and circumstance, unifying state, crown and church with tradition, ceremony, and most importantly, great outfits, accessories and interiors. Otherwise, all the prelates are off helping their communities as well as they can, marking life and death’s big occasions, organising fetes and occasionally mentioning to the government that poverty is miserable. Quite where fighting against the development of a secular morality that seeks to protect the rights of all responsible citizens fits into this is hard to say.

Of course, the Church of England would probably be happy to go with the UK flow, self-preservation having always been its primary concern, were it not for the fact that it wants to preserve its worldwide communion just as much as it wants to preserve its 26 undemocratic places in the House of Lords.

Can it really be right that we have to accept a homophobic established church trying to vote down progressive legislation just because that might upset its really homophobic members overseas? The rest of us have had to come to terms with the fact that the days of empire are over, and also that they might, just might, not have been all they were cracked up to be. Why the Anglican church believes it can and should defy that logic is a mystery that surely can’t endure much longer.

Update

The BBC Sunday programme carried a discussion about the report, featuring The Revd Jan Ainsworth and Bishop Alan Wilson. The item starts at 35 minutes, 45 seconds into the programme. This is worth a listen.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 10:00am BST | Comments (42) | TrackBack
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Puppet on a string

Giving isn’t always entirely what it seems. Giving by governments to developing countries is particularly notorious for being linked to the economic benefit that might be accrue to the donor. Whilst the UK government is probably better than many at resisting that siren call, you can still guarantee that every year or two some prominent politician will advocate linking UK aid to the purchase of UK products. At its worst it stretches all the way to pressing upon recipients products such as military equipment that many of us might feel are well off the top of the shopping list of the neediest people in whichever nation it may be. It’s not really giving, it’s just a crafty way to subsidise our own industries and services.

Churches can give like that too. I remember in my early years as a vicar visiting a parish in a very poor neighbourhood. They were getting considerable financial support from a wealthy parish elsewhere. What became clear very quickly was that the price of this generosity was that the recipient parish would be ‘sound’ on a particular set of theological positions. I’m sure the rich parish justified its stance on the basis that it was paying for Christian mission, and if the poorer one took a different stance then the work it did would no longer be advancing the Kingdom. For my part I prefer the phrase ‘bribery and corruption’.

And if we imagine that such failings lie only with institutional giving, then a recent and particularly stark example at the individual level is what happened to one charity earlier this year when its USA arm announced it would not refuse to employ people in same sex marriages. The recipients of the ‘generosity’ clearly mattered less than the theological presuppositions of some of the donors. That’s not giving, it’s just using our money to advance our own ends.

So what I like about Christian Aid Week is that it encourages us to go back to proper giving. Giving without strings. Giving for no other reason than to improve the lives of others. When I put my money in the envelope, or see my Standing Order go from my bank account, I am trusting a charity with a very wide brief, and that encompasses a huge diversity. I’m trusting it to make its own mind up as to where that money may best be spent. It’s not that I don’t care about the people who will benefit, it’s that I care enough to want to distance the choice of recipients from my own preferences and prejudices. I want to be adamant that there is nothing I expect by way of return.

My prayer is that the act of giving to Christian Aid Week can then help me to recognise where, in other areas of my life, I am claiming a false generosity that disguises (perhaps most of all to my own self) my mixed and muddied motives.

David Walker is Bishop of Manchester

Posted by David Walker on Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 7:00am BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Friday, 16 May 2014

Justin Welby's media comments on same-sex marriage

The Archbishop of Canterbury has given several interviews lately touching on the topic of same-sex marriage.

The Pink News interview is here: Exclusive: Archbishop of Canterbury: It’s ‘great’ that equal marriage is the law of the land. Do read the whole report.

And the endorsement by Nick Clegg is in this article: Exclusive: Nick Clegg: ‘The Archbishop of Canterbury is right to denounce homophobia’.

Lambeth Palace later issued this: Same-sex marriage: Archbishop’s view remains the same.

Andrew Brown at the Guardian reported on the apparent confusion in Archbishop of Canterbury creates a stir with ‘great’ remark to gay magazine. He notes that:

…But the logic of Welby’s own position is moving him away from the certainties of his youth. The more he denounces homophobia, the more difficult it becomes for him to defend discrimination against gay people within the church. He opened this week with a rousing denunciation of homophobic bullying in church schools, but within days his office was explaining that this was simply because he was opposed to all bullying on any grounds.

Meanwhile, conservatives don’t see anything wrong with homophobia except perhaps the word itself. The churches in Nigeria and Uganda have recently passed laws that criminalise even the advocacy of same-sex relationships. In the case of Uganda, they provide for life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality”. They cling to a resolution passed by a gathering of Anglican bishops from around the world in 1998 that condemned “unjustified discrimination against homosexuals”, but it is difficult to imagine any discrimination that some of them would not now consider justified…

Earlier this week, the archbishop had appeared on a Radio Nottingham programme. This interview has been transcribed in full by Changing Attitude: Archbishop of Canterbury interviewed by BBC Radio Nottingham and Pink News.

Sarah Julian asked him a series of questions based on Canon Jeremy Pemberton’s marriage to Laurence Cunnington to which his answer, repeated several times with minor variations, was “nothing to say.” What happens if you break the rules, was her stance. What happens to Jeremy now, and other priests like him?

Listening to this interview (audio - in the above link - only available this week) it really is very difficult indeed to understand why the archbishop had ever agreed to appear. What other questions did he expect a local Nottingham station would be likely to ask him?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 16 May 2014 at 10:12pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Same-sex marriage: Baptist statements

Recently, a news report appeared at the website of Premier Christian Radio which was headlined: Baptist Union to allow gay marriage ceremonies.

The Baptist Union objected to this interpretation of its actions, and the report was modified. It is now headlined Steve Chalke welcomes Baptist Union gay guideline change

The original statement by the Baptist Union is available here.

At Assembly 2014 an update of our process was shared and the following was offered on behalf of the Baptist Steering Group to express where we are up to on the journey. This will serve as a backdrop to our continuing conversations and the way we will seek to behave.

As a union of churches in covenant together we will respect the differences on this issue which both enrich us and potentially could divide as we seek to live in fellowship under the direction of our Declaration of Principle ‘That our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, is the sole and absolute authority in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and that each church has liberty, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to interpret and administer His Laws.’

Upholding the liberty of a local church to determine its own mind on this matter, in accordance with our Declaration of Principle, we also recognise the freedom of a minister to respond to the wishes of their church, where their conscience permits, without breach of disciplinary guidelines.

We affirm the traditionally accepted Biblical understanding of Christian marriage, as a union between a man and a woman, as the continuing foundation of belief in our Baptist Churches.

A Baptist minister is required to live and work within the guidelines adopted by the Baptist Union of Great Britain regarding sexuality and the ministry that include ‘a sexual relationship outside of Christian marriage (as defined between a man and a woman) is deemed conduct unbecoming for a minister’.

The whole story is analysed in great detail by Adrian Warnock. See The Baptist Union to allow differences on Same Sex Marriage and Interview on Same Sex Marriage with Baptist Union Spokesman Stephen Keyworth.

Meanwhile, the dispute between the Evangelical Alliance and Oasis Trust has been analysed in similar detail by Cranmer in Steve Chalke and the artful Evangelical Alliance defiance.

A lot of words have been (and are still being) poured out on the ‘schism’ in Evangelicalism following the expulsion of the Oasis Trust from the Evangelical Alliance over Oasis founder Steve Chalke’s stance on same-sex relationships, which the EA deem to be inconsistent with the ‘traditional’ Evangelical view. It seems that Evangelicals are only ‘Better Together’ (their mission slogan) when there is compliance and uniformity on the zeitgeist obsession of homosexuality. The EA do not expel members who support abortion; nor do they sever links with those who marry divorcees or accept pre-marital sexual relations as a forerunner of marriage. They do not even expel a member for repudiation of the foundational Evangelical doctrine of substitutionary atonement, which the Rev’d Steve Chalke terms “cosmic child abuse”, as though God casually murdered His Son for the salvation of the world, and penal substitution is barbaric and utterly morally indefensible…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 16 May 2014 at 8:54am BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Do not be afraid

The tag-line for this Christian Aid week, and for these Thinking Anglican reflections, is ‘Fear Less’. We are asked to be part of a movement for change by which those who suffer the immediate horrors of war can live their lives free of fear.

It should be a no-brainer. But then I stopped to think about the society to which this campaign is addressed. How ironic that we are offered this tag-line, asked to make this response, in a culture where fear is one of the great drivers.

How much of the concrete structure of our lives is shaped by fear, fear of those around us, our neighbours? We lock our doors, prime our alarm systems, invest more and more in CCTV, create gated communities, and deny each other the right even to walk up the drive to a front door.

For our children, we fear the random disaster, the wandering lunatic. So they are driven to school, discouraged from playing outside, hedged around by risk assessments and protective clothing. We are even encouraged to fear the home itself: the really, really, good parent, the advertisements assure us, will expunge every lurking germ, every speck of dirt or dust to create a sanitised, frictionless world for the young (though not, interestingly, for the old and vulnerable).

We fear the stranger. So our electoral arguments circle around immigration, and we hide ourselves in our phones, our music, our games, so that we don’t have to engage with that other person on the bus or the underground.

Fears infect the life of our churches. How many conversations are driven by the suspicion that they will not survive as congregations grow older and young people find different ways of expressing faith, if they have any interest in faith at all? In response, we turn inwards, putting all our energies into ever more creative ways of preserving buildings and the patterns of life and worship which they have housed and maintaining the organisational structures as nearly as possible as they have always been.

Some of these fears have substance. But each protective measure, each withdrawal from shared space limits our ability to respond to those whose fear is grounded in the realities of the bomb blast, the shattered limbs, the homes destroyed, the long sentence of the refugee camp. Consumed by our own fears, we have little energy left for empathy, let alone solidarity, with those whose lives hold much greater terrors.

‘Do not be afraid’. The phrase recurs so often in the gospel. It doesn’t mean there is no cause for trepidation. It does require us to have the courage to take risks: to take the small risks of allowing others into our private spaces, of engaging with the messy realities of the created world, of pouring our energies into loving service rather than counting heads; and to take the larger risk of trusting that God’s grace and God’s creation has sufficient for all. And if there is enough for all - then there is enough for a world where men and women and children in places of bitter, bloody conflict may fear less.

Canon Jane Freeman is Team Rector of Wickford and Runwell in the diocese of Chelmsford

Posted by Jane Freeman on Friday, 16 May 2014 at 7:00am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 15 May 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 7

Since I last posted on this, three more dioceses (Coventry on Monday, London and Salisbury tonight) have voted, all in favour. 36 dioceses have now voted in favour of the draft legislation, and none against.

The most significant result is London, which voted against in 2011. Today their synod voted (for/against/abstention): Bishops 3-0-0, Clergy 40-10-7, Laity 43-17-1. In 2011 the figures were Bishops 2-1-0, Clergy 39-41-0, Laity 45-37-0.

Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 8:48pm BST | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Church of Ireland General Synod meeting reports

Updated Monday

The Church of Ireland held its General Synod from 8 to 10 May.

There are several reports of major items on the official church website:

The Archbishop Of Armagh’s Presidential Address At The General Synod 2014

General Synod 2014: Interchangeability Of Ministry Between Church Of Ireland And Methodist Church In Ireland

The Explanatory Memorandum and the full text of the Bill as presented to synod is here.

Synod Hears Interim Report Of Committee On Human Sexuality In The Context Of Christian Belief

This last item was also reported on in the Irish Times Church committee on sexuality needs more time for final report

Update

The Church of Ireland Gazette now has a number of reports available online at this location including those on the new relationship with the Methodist church, and on the progress of the Select Committee on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 7:20am BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 14 May 2014

New Zealand synod acts on same-gender blessings

News report from anglicantaonga: SAME-GENDER BLESSINGS: SYNOD SEES A WAY FORWARD

General Synod today passed a resolution that will create a pathway towards the blessing of same-gender relationships – while upholding the traditional doctrine of marriage.

It will appoint a working group to report to the 2016 General Synod on “a process and structure” that would allow those clergy who wish to bless same-gender relationships – using a yet-to-be developed liturgy – to do so.
The working group will also be charged to develop “a process and structure” to ensure that clergy who believe that same sex blessings are contrary to “scripture, doctrine, tikanga or civil law” to remain fully free to dissent.
The “process and structure” in their case would mean these clergy would not only be exempt from performing these same-sex blessings – but that their “integrity within the church” would be assured, and they would have full protection for their dissent in any relevant human rights legislation.
Synod has therefore upheld the traditional doctrine of marriage – but also moved to find ways to respond to committed relationships between two people, regardless of gender.
In effect, it has also established a four-year timeline for change to take effect: the working group will present its recommendations to the 2016 General Synod, and any constitutional and canonical changes would then have to be reported back to episcopal units before confirmation at the 2018 General Synod.

New liturgy to be developed…
The working group has been asked to propose a liturgy to “bless right-ordered same-gender relationships” – and to develop a process and legislation (whether church or parliamentary) by which such a new liturgy might be adopted.
Synod has also asked the group (which is yet to be formed) to report to the next synod on the impact of its work on the church’s theology of marriage, and of ordination.
The preamble to the resolution adopted by the General Synod also includes an unreserved apology to the LGBT community:
“Over many years,” this reads, “our church has become increasingly aware of the pain of the LGBT community. All too often our church has been complicit in homophobic thinking and actions of society, and has failed to speak out against hatred and violence against those with same-gender attraction.
“We apologise unreservedly and commit ourselves to reconciliation and prophetic witness.”

“Recognition” now for couples…
In the last part of the resolution, synod says it is “acutely aware of the desire of some clergy to make further response pastorally and prayerfully to LGBT people in their faith communities.”
It therefore says such clergy should be permitted “to recognise in public worship” a same-gender civil union or state marriage of members of their faith community – provided the permission of the licensing bishop is gained, as well as the permission of their vestry.
Such “recognition,” however, “cannot be marriage or a rite of blessing of a same-gender relationship.”
“We recognise that this may cause even further distress,” the resolution says. But noting the commitment of the church to move forward, “we ask the LGBT community to recognise that any process of change within our church takes time.”

Archbishops commend spirit of debate
The Archbishops say that by adopting the resolution, synod has shown its commitment to protecting diversity in the church.
And they have expressed their gratitude for the way synod has debated the issues and come to its resolution.
Archbishop Winston Halapua says synod has shown “it is committed to ongoing talanoa as it considers change” and is following “the mandate of Christ to love one another at all times.”
Archbishop Philip Richardson was equally moved by the way debate flowed:
“We have witnessed across the church,” he says, “a depth of extraordinary trust and respect. There is a unity in Christ in conversations that have enabled us to get to this point.
“There is a hope that this trust we have seen with faith, hope, and love will continue as change is considered.”

Press release from the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is copied in full below the fold.

The full text of General Synod resolution is available here.

The pastoral letter from the archbishops is also published.

Media Release – May 14 2014

The General Synod/te Hinota Whanui of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has decided to explore ways that the blessing of same gender relationships could be part of Church life.

The ruling body of the Church is meeting in Waitangi this week to acknowledge 200 years since the arrival of the Christian missionaries to Aotearoa, New Zealand.

The three Archbishops, reflecting the three tikanga structure of the Church, Archbishops Brown Turei, Philip Richardson, and Winston Halapua, say the Synod upholds the traditional doctrine of marriage. At the same time the Synod wants to develop ways to respond to committed relationships between two people, that tell of the love of Christ, regardless of gender.

The Archbishops say the Synod holds a wide range of views but it has expressed unanimous support for the decision to identify what changes could be recommended. The Synod wants to protect diversity in the Church as a way forward is developed.

Archbishop Winston Halapua says, “The Synod is committed to ongoing talking/talanoa as it considers change and to follow the mandate of Christ to love one another at all times.”

Archbishop Philip Richardson says, “We have witnessed across the Church a depth of extraordinary trust and respect, there is a unity in Christ in conversations that have enabled us to get to this point. There is a hope that this trust we have seen with faith, hope, and love will continue as change is considered.”

The Synod statement has recognised that over many years it has become increasingly aware of the pain to the LGBT community. The Synod has apologized unreservedly for the times actions of the Church have contributed to that pain.

A working party will be appointed to recommend processes and structures that allow people to choose whether they lead, or not lead, same gender blessings. That choice will be dependent on whether each person believes such blessings are contrary to, or in agreement with scripture, doctrine, tikanga or civil law. The Synod was very mindful that there are present legal restrictions in some nations in Polynesia on same gender relationships. The working party would also propose a liturgy to bless right ordered same gender relationships.

A report has also been requested on how such possibilities may impact on future requirements for ordination and the rite of marriage.

The working party will report to the next General Synod in 2016. Any change is likely to take up a minimum of four years as it may require constitutional change for the church as well as parliamentary legislation.

The Synod is mindful of the need to respond to members of the LGBT community in a more immediate time frame. A decision was made that those in a same gender civil union or state marriage can be recognized in public worship with clergy seeking the approval of the local bishop and licensed leadership body. Such recognition cannot be a rite of marriage or a blessing.

Archbishop Brown Turei says it is significant that this conversation about change for the church, that holds differing views, has taken place at Waitangi.

“This is the place where Maori and Pakeha talked and trusted each other and began a new journey 200 years ago. The discussion we will have as change is considered, like those first ones here at Waitangi, will not be easy at all times but may we hold the mana of each of us made in the image of God,” says Archbishop Brown.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 9:09am BST | Comments (45) | TrackBack
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The promise of the mountaintop

It is a commonplace to say that, to climb a mountain you take it one step at a time. This is fine until the mountain looks very high, the steps are painful ones and it may just be possible to opt-out and pretend it is not there.

My early involvement in Christian Aid in the mid-1970s involved comparatively easy steps on this mountain. As Christians, we understood we were duty-bound to help out those less fortunate. Our view of these less fortunate invariably included pictures of women and children eking out a living, tilling a barren and unforgiving soil. We were helping them, and we felt good about doing so.

In the intervening decades, the world has become smaller. We have learned so much more about poverty, particularly in emerging nations. Whereas members of my family, who had worked in Colonial Administration in Africa or India in the 1950s would assure me that poverty was a result of indigenous listlessness and idleness, (based on their incomprehensible unwillingness to knock themselves out doing physical labour in the service of the British Crown), these days we know that the world’s economic systems are inequitable because they serve the interests of the world’s dominant nations who designed them. In discovering that our culture and our standard-of-living is a major factor contributing to emerging world poverty, makes that mountain suddenly appear considerably darker and steeper.

The story continues with the realisation that global climate change is the deferred consequence of the nations who underwent an industrial revolution. The very force which consolidated European colonial dominance in the nineteenth century, and the economic superiority of the developed world, is the very same one which carried the seed of what has become climate-change through greenhouse gases. Our culture is not only responsible for inequitable economic rules, we invented human-made climate-change, whose effects now make for catastrophic shifts in weather which disproportionately imperils the livelihoods of emerging nations.

With each successive Christian Aid campaign focus, in the last thirty years, our own cultural soul has become increasingly laid bare, that mountain has begun to look very dark indeed.

Most recently, as technology has enabled the movement of capital beyond the reach of national laws, so the phenomenon of tax avoidance has become a huge factor in our failure to manage the distribution of wealth. When the growing list of super-rich individuals possessing personal fortunes greater than the Gross Domestic Product of many emerging nations, then the morality of our own culture is laid bare and has nowhere to hide.

That mountain now appears to be immense and almost insurmountable, maybe we cannot climb it at all, so why bother? It was easy when charitable giving was about our own beneficence. These days we are being asked to resource the restoration of humans who suffer as a consequence of our own treasured lifestyle, we are being asked to face a truth too hard to bear.

There are always ways of avoiding the issue. In the United Kingdom, the tabloid press represents a whole industry dedicated to presenting us a world in which, all that is wrong is a result of someone else’s incompetence. Tabloids are popular because they will invariably locate the evils of the world somewhere else. The soul fed by a tabloid narrative need not worry about its complicity in anything dark or evil: there is no mountain, it is someone else’s mountain, or the mountain is an illusion.

Global poverty remains a spiritual issue because it makes us look within. It invites us not to be subject to our whim or our need to be indulged or desire to follow fashion. It raises a question about what needs determine our sense of what we can expect from life. Global poverty invites us to ask if we really are masters of our own destiny, with freedom to choose. Or whether we are part of a larger web of life, where everything connects.

Our affluence is not only a corrosive presence in the lives of the impoverished, it also diminishes our own lives, by reducing us to being spoilt, indulged and trivial, in other words, a good deal less than we could be, if only we took time each week to remember the world and our neighbour as gift; the health of the world and our neighbour as inseparable from our own.

Each successive Christian Aid campaign, in my lifetime, has made me more aware both of what I have to power to do, and what I have the potential to become if I heed its call.

Andrew Spurr is Vicar of Evesham in the diocese of Worcester

Posted by Andrew Spurr on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 7:00am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Dean of Christ Church Oxford to be Martyn Percy

Number 10 has announced that the next Dean of Christ Church, Oxford is to be the Revd Canon Professor Martyn Percy.

Deanery of Christ Church, Oxford: Reverend Canon Professor Martyn Percy

The Queen has approved that the Reverend Canon Professor Martyn William Percy, BA (Hons), MEd, PhD, Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon, be appointed Dean of Christ Church, Oxford in succession to the Very Reverend Christopher Andrew Lewis BA, PhD, on his resignation.

Professor Martyn Percy

Professor Martyn Percy was educated at Bristol University, Sheffield University and at King’s College, London. He trained for the ordained ministry at Durham University. Since 2004, he has been the Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon. The College also incorporates the Oxford Ministry Course, the West of England Ministerial Training Course, and the Oxford Centre for Ecclesiology and Practical Theology (a research and consultancy centre).

Professor Percy is a member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford, Professorial Research Fellow at Heythrop College, London and Visiting Professor of Theological Education at King’s College, London. He is an Honorary Canon of Salisbury Cathedral, and a former Canon Theologian at Sheffield Cathedral. He has served as Curate at St. Andrew’s Bedford, and then as Chaplain and Director of Theology and Religious Studies at Christ’s College, Cambridge. From 1997 to 2004 he was the Director of the Lincoln Theological Institute for the Study of Religion and Society.

Martyn has served as a Director and Council member of the Advertising Standards Authority, and as a member of the Independent Complaints Panel for the Portman Group (the self-regulating body for the alcoholic drinks industry). He is currently a Commissioner of the Direct Marketing Authority as well as an Advisor to the British Board of Film Classification. Since 2003 he has co-ordinated the Society for the Study of Anglicanism at the American Academy of Religion. He writes on Christianity and contemporary culture and modern ecclesiology. His recent books include Anglicanism: Confidence, Commitment and Communion (2013) and Thirty-Nine New Articles: An Anglican Landscape of Faith (2013). Professor Percy is 51, and married to the theologian the Revd. Dr. Emma Percy, who is Chaplain and Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford. They have 2 sons.

This is a unique appointment, combining as it does the headship of an Oxford College and the deanship of a cathedral. Christ Church has its own announcement as do the Diocese of Oxford and Ripon College Cuddesdon.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 13 May 2014 at 11:20am BST | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Jesus is at the door

Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ, for he is going to say, “I came as a guest, and you received me”. And to all let due honour be shown, especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims. In the salutation of all guests, whether arriving or departing, let all humility be shown. Let the head be bowed or the whole body prostrated on the ground in adoration of Christ, who indeed is received in their persons.

The monastery to which I go for my retreat has a custom that, when a ‘gentleman of the road’ calls in search of food and drink, the message, ‘Jesus is at the door’ is sent to the brother on kitchen duty. Very much in keeping with the 53rd chapter of the Rule of St Benedict (RB53), quoted above. But on one occasion, brother caterer, somewhat harassed by ‘one of those days’ syndrome, retorted, ‘Well, he’ll just have to wait: I’m busy!’

We are well used to Christian Aid’s moral appeal, to its unanswerable challenge to the way the world operates, and so on and so forth. John Fenton, of blessed memory, once commented on the Matthew 25 passage referenced in RB53, saying that those who point to the passage as the justification for Christian Aid have missed the point — Christian Aid needs no external justification. Its claims are beyond dispute.

However, what about the holiness of inconvenience as these messengers from the world outside our walls arrive at the doors of our organized, measured lives? There is something about the way in which we tend to interpret ‘charity’ which emphasises our control of the world, and our ability to normalise and universalise our world-view. We are (when we respond) the good guys, dispensing of our enlightened largesse to the importunate and the unfortunate before us.

It is so easy to turn Christian Aid (or Jubilee, or any one of dozens of Christian campaigns for social justice) into another 1960s style moral exercise which bolsters up our sense of being worthy, even superior members of the community. But to welcome the unexpected, potentially disturbing knock at the door? To allow ourselves and our outlook to be changed, to undergo the ‘conversio morum’ of the Benedictine tradition? To recognise the prophetic Christ, not just the needy one hidden in the stranger? We might better start to view Christian Aid not simply as a good cause, or a noble ideal, but as a necessary and jarring note from outside our warm Western cocoons.

The religious communities get this, by seeing in the person of the unexpected the presence of Christ knocking at the door, putting routines and default attitudes to the test. RB is particularly good at drawing attention to the prophetic voice of the outsider, the neophyte and the disregarded. The system in the monastery has to be sufficiently open to the promptings of the Spirit to be able not merely to deal with but also to absorb and welcome the new, even the uncomfortable, for in them Christ is received.

‘Well, he’ll just have to wait: I’m busy.’ As the European elections approach, the ‘Don’t bother me, I’m absorbed in myself’ seems to be an ever-more acceptable personal philosophy, and newspapers and politicians readily court the anti-Benedictine spirit. Sobering though it might be to consider how the Matthew 25 passage ends, chapter 53 of the Rule has something important to say to a complacent and narcissistic world as Christian Aid Week stands at the door amid a pile of electioneering leaflets designed to keep the inconvenient Christ at bay.

David Rowett

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Monday, 12 May 2014

Archbishop Launches New Guidance for Tackling Homophobic Bullying in Church of England Schools

The Church of England’s guidance for tackling homophobic bullying in its schools was published this morning. The document Valuing All God’s Children: Guidance for Church of England Schools on Challenging Homophobic Bullying can be found here. The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued this press release.

Archbishop Launches New Guidance for Tackling Homophobic Bullying in Church of England Schools

The Archbishop of Canterbury has today launched a report from the Education Division of the Church of England “Valuing All God’s Children: Guidance for Church of England Schools on Challenging Homophobic Bullying.”

The guidance, which is being sent to all Church of England schools, provides 10 key recommendations which should be adopted by schools in combating homophobic bullying as well as sample policies for primary and secondary Church schools. Published by the Church Of England Archbishop’s Council Education Division, the guidance involved consultation and involvement with a number of Church of England schools with existing good practice.

Speaking at a Church of England Secondary School, at Trinity Lewisham, The Right Reverend Justin Welby said that the publication of the guidance fulfilled a pledge he made last July when addressing the Church of England’s General Synod.

“Less than a year ago I set out my concerns about the terrible impact of homophobic bullying on the lives of young people and I made a public commitment to support our schools in eradicating homophobic stereotyping and bullying.

“Since then an enormous amount of work has gone into producing this guidance so that commitment can be turned into action. I am extremely grateful to all those who have worked so hard to produce it and I particularly want to thank the schools and young people who have contributed.

“Church schools begin from the belief that every child is loved by God. This guidance aims to help schools express God’s love by ensuring that they offer a safe and welcoming place for all God’s children. This is a task we are called to share and I know it is one our schools take immensely seriously. I commend this guidance as a contribution to that work.”

In his address to the Church of England’s General Synod in July 2013, the Archbishop said:

“With nearly a million children educated in our schools we not only must demonstrate a profound commitment to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying; but we must also take action. We are therefore developing a programme for use in our schools, taking the best advice we can find anywhere, that specifically targets such bullying. More than that, we need also to ensure that what we do and say in this Synod, as we debate these issues, demonstrates above all the lavish love of God to all of us.”

The Guidance published today notes that the purpose of schools is to educate and the aim of this guidance is to protect pupils in Church of England schools from having their self-worth diminished and their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their perceived/actual sexual orientation:

“Church schools are places where boundaries should be strong, where any harmful words or actions are known to be unacceptable, and where there are clear strategies for recognising bullying and dealing with it in a framework of forgiveness and restorative justice. Children and young people in Church of England schools should be able to grow freely and to be comfortable and confident within their own skins without fear or prejudice.” (paragraph 19 of Guidance document)

Lambeth Palace issued Archbishop visits CofE school to launch anti-homophobic bullying plans.

William McLennan of The Independent anticipated the publication of the guidance with this report: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby condemns anti-gay bullying in schools.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written this article for i: Tackling homophobia in Church schools: There is room for everyone, but not for behaviours which cause harm

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 11:00am BST | Comments (43) | TrackBack
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Focus on War

It is war that is the focus of this year’s Christian Aid week, that most preventable of disasters. Or rather it is its aftermath. The human misery that follows behind it. The misery that follows, not sometimes but always.

I am in a minority among Christians in being a pacifist. The Hebrew Scriptures have only small inklings that war is not going to solve anything. I think of the reconciliation of Jacob and Esau, and of Esau’s generosity to the brother who wronged him, and Jacob’s remarkable declaration that seeing his brother’s face is like seeing the face of his God. How hard it is to forgive those whom we have wronged. I think, too, of the remarkable little story of Elisha telling the King of Israel not to kill the Syrians who he has delivered into his hands.

It is only when we get to the New Testament that we find a radical demand that we suffer ourselves, rather than attack others, or even defend ourselves. Yet, as with so much that Jesus says, it is ambiguous enough that most Christians in most places have felt justified in ignoring it and making wars.

Embracing peace is a hard thing. I realised fairly young that it was bound to mean suffering in the short term. It was only as I grew older, learned more, thought more, prayed more, that I came think that however dear the short-term cost, the long term benefits were greater. As a girl I chose peace as a blind act of faith. Now I think that violence so inevitably leads to more violence and to greater wrongs, that it is almost never justified. Only in the most exceptional of circumstances is war the lesser evil, and I cannot think of an instance during my life time when it has led to anything but more misery and greater wrong.

Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo are the focus of this year’s Christian Aid appeal. It is tempting to think the disasters are so huge than it is pointless taking action. Action, help, is never pointless. It is not however enough. We have a duty to the world to live peace and to speak peace. Love and forgiveness, however sorely we are tried, have to become our watch words. War is not the solution, whatever the problem. We have to absorb that fact so thoroughly that it becomes part of our immediate reaction.

This must be our reaction not just to international conflicts, but to personal loss and personal challenge. This of course is where it is hardest. We live in a society where a desire for revenge is still seen as right and proper, and it takes a lot of courage and often a lot of presence of mind not to get sucked into that way of thinking and acting. Yet if we are ever to change the world, if we are ever to see the Kingdom, we need to work at it, so that peace always becomes the right and the natural response, despite its high cost.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 7:00am BST | Comments (3)
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Sunday, 11 May 2014

Glad and Generous Hearts

Joe Cassidy, Principal of St Chad’s College, Durham, writes the first of a number of comment pieces we will publish to mark this year’s Christian Aid Week in the UK.

This Sunday’s first reading, Acts 2.42—47, is perennially challenging. Are we to embrace a form of ‘primitive socialism’, holding all things in common, selling our ‘possessions and goods and [distributing] the proceeds to all, as any had need’? The text is particularly challenging during Christian Aid Week, when consciences are perhaps just that bit more sensitive.

The challenge to embrace such communitarian generosity is not uncomplicated. The practice of holding all in common seemed an almost spontaneous reaction to the ‘wonders and signs’ of those heady post-resurrection days. The communal joy experienced by these early Christians was not only thrilling but also transformative, expressed by a concrete commitment to the well-being of the whole community. With the expectation of an imminent second-coming, the need to make personal provision for the future was re-prioritised or relativised, being subordinated not just to the common good out-there-somewhere, but to a communitarian view, where those on the margins, those who had ‘any’ need, were welcomed to break bread at the same table. That said, as wonderful as it all was, the irony was that the common life model was not sustainable without the support of the newer less-communal churches — churches that subordinated their own good to the long-term good of the older community.

The communitarian impulse of Acts 2.44—45 could lead us to follow suit and so give Christian Aid and other charities a huge one-time boost. But that would be it: having sold everything, we would not have the financial wherewithal to give any more. The eschatological edge of such radical generosity sounds both reckless and wonderfully-compelling on one level, but it risks being ineffective, unsustainable and irresponsible. The need for longer-term sustainable models of mutual support points to other equally-radical models of communitarian living that include but potentially go well beyond financial sharing.

I wonder whether Christian Aid needs our one-off charity as much as it needs our ongoing commitment to a more communitarian lifestyle (which includes supporting them). This is arguably the goal of all long-term development work: so long as ‘they’ remain ‘not one of us’, they are potential ‘objects’ of our economic charity, and they are kept at arm’s length. But when barriers are broken by an awareness of being one in our shared humanity, the imperatives move from ‘giving’ to building long-term relationships, trying to shift the balance of wealth and power to make room for more sustainable ways of living together — alternative systems that do not require the economic marginalisation of a huge fraction of humanity not to mention the gradual consumption and destruction of our planet.

The eschatological witness of the early church’s common life (and of the common life still practised in some religious communities) can awaken in us exciting glimpses of new ways of being together. The exhilaration experienced by the early Church did just that. In our time, there are yet-to-be-discovered patterns of economic, ecological, cultural and religious interdependence that are within the grasp of our restless, ultimately communal, hearts. Development organisations such as Christian Aid do need our money, to be sure, but they also need our ‘glad and generous hearts’.

Posted by Joe Cassidy on Sunday, 11 May 2014 at 7:00am BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 10 May 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 6

Since I last posted on this, six more dioceses (Worcester, Gloucester, Newcastle, Derby, Truro and York) have voted, all in favour. 33 dioceses have now voted in favour of the draft legislation, and none against.

Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.

Still to vote (all on dates this month) are Coventry (12th), London and Salisbury (15th), Chichester, Durham, Exeter and Leicester (17th), Chester and Rochester (21st) and Manchester (22nd). Europe will not be voting as the diocese was unable to arrange a synod meeting before the deadline.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 10 May 2014 at 6:49pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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opinion

Archdruid Eileen blogs about The Only Good Pharisee…..?

Matthew Bell has interviewed John Bickersteth for The Spectator: Guns, gays and the Queen - a former bishop reminisces.

Andrew Goddard writes for Fulcrum about Same-sex marriage, clergy and the canons.

Molly Lynch writes for The Yorkshire Post about Fears for Yorkshire’s oldest churches.

The Huffington Post has photos of The Most Stunning Stained Glass Windows In The World.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 10 May 2014 at 11:00am BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Friday, 9 May 2014

Bishop of Grimsby

The next Suffragan Bishop of Grimsby in the diocese of Lincoln is to be Canon David Court.

Press release from Number 10

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon David Eric Court, BSc, PhD, PGCE, BA, Vicar of Cromer, Rural Dean of Repps and Honorary Canon of Norwich Cathedral in the Diocese of Norwich, to the Suffragan See of Grimsby, in the Diocese of Lincoln, in succession to the Right Reverend Douglas James Rossdale, MA, on his resignation on the 5 April 2013…

Press release from the Diocese of Lincoln

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 9 May 2014 at 11:41am BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 8 May 2014

What I Want to Say Now: Bishop John Gladwin

Updated

St Paul’s Cathedral has organised a series of Sunday afternoon sermons at Evensong in May with the general title What I want to Say Now.

During May four retired bishops have been invited to preach at Sunday Choral Evensong under the theme of What I want to say now.

No longer in public office but still part of a world and church undergoing huge challenges and changes, we look forward to hearing the distilled wisdom they believe it is urgent to share at this moment.

The four bishops are:

Sunday 4 May The Right Reverend John Gladwin - Bishop of Chelmsford, 2004-2009
Sunday 11 May The Right Reverend Peter Price - Bishop of Bath and Wells, 2001-2013
Sunday 18 May The Right Reverend Tom Butler - Bishop of Southwark, 1998-2010
Sunday 25 May The Right Reverend Christopher Herbert – Bishop of St Albans, 1996-2009

A video recording of the first of the four, by John Gladwin, is now available, linked from this page. To go directly to the video follow this link.

A full transcript of this lecture is now available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 8 May 2014 at 1:09pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Paul Bayes is to be next Bishop of Liverpool

Downing Street announcement: Diocese of Liverpool: the Right Reverend Paul Bayes

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Paul Bayes, BA, DipTh, Suffragan Bishop of Hertford, for election as Bishop of Liverpool in succession to the Right Reverend James Stuart Jones, Hon DLitt, BA, PGCE, whose resignation took effect on 31 August 2013.

The Right Reverend Paul Bayes

The Right Reverend Paul Bayes (aged 60) studied for the ordained ministry at Queen’s College Birmingham. He served his curacy at St Paul’s Whitley Bay in Newcastle diocese from 1979 to 1982. From 1982 to 1987 he was a University Chaplain in the West London Chaplaincy in the diocese of London. From 1987 to 1990 he served as a Team Vicar at High Wycombe in the diocese of Oxford and then as Team Rector there from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 2004 he was Team Rector of Totton in Winchester diocese, and from 2000 to 2004 he also served as Area Dean of Lyndhurst. From 2004 to 2010 he was a member of the staff of the Archbishops’ Council, working as National Mission and Evangelism Adviser. In 2007 he was appointed an Honorary Canon of Worcester Cathedral. Since 2010 he has been Suffragan Bishop of Hertford in the diocese of St Albans.

Paul Bayes is married to Kate, who is a head of sixth-form and a drama teacher. They have 3 grown-up children.

His particular concern is to find good ways of communicating the Christian faith within England as it actually is. His recreations include walking, reading, laughter and conversation.

Diocesan announcement: The next Bishop of Liverpool is to be the Right Revd Paul Bayes

Downing Street has announced that the next Bishop of Liverpool will be the Rt Revd Paul Bayes. Bishop Paul has been Bishop of Hertford since 2010 and will succeed the Rt Revd James Jones, becoming the 8th Bishop of Liverpool…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 7 May 2014 at 10:15am BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Canon Dr Robert Innes to be next Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe

Update After publication the text of this press release was amended with the struck-out text being replaced by the text shown (by me) in italics.

From the Archbishop of Canterbury

Canon Dr Robert Innes to be next Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe

Tuesday 6th May 2014

The next Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe will be the Revd Canon Dr Robert Innes, currently Senior Chaplain and Chancellor of the Pro-Cathedral of Holy Trinity Brussels.

Canon Inness will succeed the Rt Revd Dr Geoffrey Rowell, who retired in October.

The appointment has been made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Lokoja, representing the Standing Committee of the Primates of the Anglican Communion a representative appointed by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting, in consultation with representatives elected by the diocese and the Central Members of the Crown Nominations Commission.

The appointment has been made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Lokoja, a representative appointed by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting, in consultation with representatives elected by the diocese and the Central Members of the Crown Nominations Commission.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, said: “Robert Innes brings a wealth of invaluable experience and as such will make a fine successor to Geoffrey Rowell, under whose leadership the Diocese in Europe has flourished. The diocese is unique in the Church of England, covering a vast geographical area and serving in a myriad of varied circumstances. I am prayerfully expectant that under Robert’s leadership the diocese will continue to thrive and witness to the Kingdom of God.”

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, said: “I very much look forward to deepening partnership in the gospel with Canon Innes both in Europe and in the House of Bishops and General Synod within the Church of England. His experience of sharing the gospel outside the UK will bring a wider perspective to the discussions of Bishops and Synod and his energy for mission is just right for the diocese at this time.”

Canon Innes was educated at Cambridge University. He worked for Arthur Andersen for a number of years before training for ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham in 1998. He served his title in the Diocese of Durham whilst also working as a lecturer at St John’s College, Durham (1995 to 1999) after which he spent six years as Vicar of St Mary Magdalene, Belmont. He then moved to the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe to become Senior Chaplain and Chancellor of the Pro-Cathedral of Holy Trinity, Brussels in 2005. He was additionally appointed a Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen in 2012.

Canon Innes will be commissioned and consecrated on the 20th July 2014 at Canterbury Cathedral. He will be based in Brussels and work closely with the Diocesan Office in London.

Watch the new Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe speaking at St Pancras International station, London, on Thursday 1 May 2014.

The diocesan website has its own announcement: New Diocesan Bishop Appointed.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 6 May 2014 at 12:07pm BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 4 May 2014

20 years of women priests

Updated Sunday evening, Monday evening, Tuesday evening

Yesterday there was a procession from Westminster Abbey and a celebratory service at St Paul’s Cathedral to mark the 20th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Church of England. Every woman ordained in 1994 was invited to take part in the events.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Justin Welby, preached this sermon: Archbishop Justin’s sermon at service to mark 20 years of women priests

Press reports include these:

Edward Malnick The Telegraph Female priests have suffered, says Justin Welby

BBC March though London to mark 20 years of women priests

Huffington Post UK Justin Welby Says Church Of England ‘Has Long Way To Go’ Over Ordaining Women

Getty Images has this marvellous photograph: Women Priests Gather To Celebrate Twentieth Anniversary Of Ordination Of Women Priests

Update

Madeleine Davies Church Times Sunshine celebration for 20 years of women’s priesthood

Kate Boardman was there: Rejoice!

WATCH have issued a press release (copied below the fold). They also have some photographs of Ordinations at St Paul’s 20 years ago.

Press Release Tuesday 6 May 2014

Women and the Church (WATCH)

20th Anniversary Celebration of the Priesting of Women

On Saturday 3rd May 2014 the Church of England at last said ‘Yes!’ to women. Yes, we are glad that you are here; yes, we are thankful for your witness and care as priests; yes, we rejoice at your calling. Large numbers of people both ordained and lay, women and men, came together to give thanks and celebrate the ministry and vocation of our ordained women. It was particularly poignant and moving that the congregation in a packed St Paul’s stood and gave a prolonged ovation as the “women of 94” entered the Cathedral. We give thanks for the Archbishop of Canterbury who acted as deacon to the presidency of Canon Philippa Boardman at the Eucharist, and WATCH along with many others were moved by his sermon. Archbishop Justin spoke of the Church, “Male or female, it matters not, so long as in our beings, through our clay, in a willingness to risk everything and stop at nothing, we offer ourselves to Christ and for Christ”. His words felt both sensitive and appropriate and signalled the beginning of the healing process for so many in the Church.

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH commented, “Saturday was a day of joy and affirmation for all women and all that they offer to the Church in the service of Christ. Those called to ordination were rightly the focus of celebration as their call from God was unheard by the Church for so long. WATCH recognises that there is still more to do and we are ready, as ever, to join in the Spirit’s dance of transformation. Alleluia.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 4 May 2014 at 12:01pm BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 3 May 2014

Bishop of Gloucester on Church's attitude to homosexual people

At the Gloucester Diocesan Synod this week, the bishop, The Right Reverend Michael Perham, delivered his presidential address. In this he reflected on the House of Bishops’ Statement in January on Same-sex Marriage and on the Pilling Report, the report of the Working Party on human sexuality, for which he was a member.

The diocesan press release contains a major part of what he said: Bishop Michael addresses the Church’s attitude to homosexual people.

The full text of the address is available on the diocesan website, but only in WP format; however it is also reproduced as a web page at the Inclusive Church site.

I strongly recommend reading the full text of the address before commenting on it.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 May 2014 at 3:00pm BST | Comments (49) | TrackBack
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opinion

Cole Moreton has interviewed Rowan Williams for The Telegraph I didn’t really want to be Archbishop.

David Meldrum is blogging a series of Lessons On The Way. The latest is 6: Nothing’s that important.

Stanley Hauerwas writes for Together for the Common Good about How to Remember the Poor.

Gareth Hughes offers a spotter’s guide to Anglican dress-up.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 3 May 2014 at 11:00am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Thinking Liturgy

Today we are launching a new blog in the Thinking Anglicans family. Called Thinking Liturgy, it will focus on the link between the way that we worship and the social justice that we proclaim. Here on the main TA blog we have focussed largely, though not exclusively, on issues of social justice, and that will continue.

Thinking Liturgy will cover a range of liturgical topics and news, not confined to any particular theological or doctrinal stance or ‘churchmanship’, though it will be largely Anglican and English. It will promote good liturgical practice and understanding — not for its own sake, but looking at the impact liturgy makes on working for the kingdom.

We hope that many of you will read this new blog, and contribute to a lively liturgical discussion. Read more at Thinking Liturgy.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Saturday, 3 May 2014 at 8:02am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Friday, 2 May 2014

Four new suffragan bishops announced

Church press release:

Downing Street has announced today four new Suffragan bishops in the Dioceses of York and Chelmsford. John Thomson (Selby), Paul Ferguson (Whitby), Roger Morris (Colchester), and Peter Hill (Barking), have been confirmed to become Suffragan bishops after their nomination was approved by the Queen.

Downing Street announcements:

Suffragan Bishop of Selby: John Bromilow Thomson

Suffragan Bishop of Whitby: Paul John Ferguson

Suffragan Bishop of Colchester: Roger Anthony Brett Morris

Suffragan Bishop of Barking: Peter Hill

Diocese of York announcement: New Bishops of Selby and Whitby

Diocese of Chelmsford announcement: New Bishops – Exciting times for a diocese on the move with God

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 2 May 2014 at 10:38am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 1 May 2014

Bath & Wells: Church Commissioners lose their case

Updated again Tuesday morning

Press releases from Church House, Westminster:

New Bishop of Bath and Wells to live in cathedral city

Archbishops’ Council committee upholds objection to moving residence of Bishop of Bath and Wells

The Committee appointed by the Archbishops’ Council to hear an objection to a Church Commissioners’ decision to move the residence of the diocesan bishop of Bath and Wells has upheld this objection from the Bishop’s Council. This means that the the exchange of residence from the Palace in Wells to The Old Rectory in Croscombe will not now go ahead.

The committee, which met in Wells from 28-29 April, issued its ruling today, having considered the grounds of objection, and all relevant circumstances, to the Church Commissioners’ decision to move the residence.

It was for the Commissioners to satisfy the committee that the objection should not be upheld and the ruling today stated that the Commissioners failed to do so. “The Old Rectory cannot be considered as providing accommodation which is reasonably suitable as a residence for the Bishop, even on a temporary basis.”

But in its determination the Committee stated it did not accept that the relevant legislation required a presumption to be made in favour of the status quo - living in the Palace. It simply stressed that the overwhelming weight of evidence showed that it is necessary for the Bishop to live in the City of Wells in order to exercise his ministry effectively…

Joint statement on the housing of the Bishop of Bath and Wells and this can also be found here with the title: Bishop of Bath & Wells to live at the Bishop’s Palace

The Church Commissioners for England and the Diocese of Bath and Wells have today issued a joint statement following the publication of the decision of the committee of the Archbishops’ Council…

The full determination with reasons can be found here.

Updates

The Bishop’s Palace website had this:

An historical day; Church Commissioners’ decision to re-house Bishops of Bath & Wells overturned

The Palace Trust, who manage The Bishop’s Palace, is delighted with today’s news that the Archbishops’ Council have overturned the Church Commissioners’ decision to house the next Bishop of Bath & Wells outside of the Palace.

The decision made by the Church Commissioners in December 2013, was met with immediate public outcry and the subsequent development of Diocese opposition reaching question time in the House of Commons.

“The decision delivered today to allow the next Bishop of Bath & Wells to reside on site is very welcome” says Rosie Martin, Chief Executive of The Bishop’s Palace.

“This reversal of such a major decision is unheard of, it’s a first, and there is a palpable sense of excitement this afternoon at The Bishop’s Palace. We can now plan a very warm and very genuine welcome to Bishop Peter Hancock and his wife, Jane when they arrive in June at their new home; The Bishop’s Palace. We sincerely look forward to our on-going and future relationship with the Church Commissioners”…

The Telegraph has this report: Bishop restored to palace after downsizing debacle

Church of England officials are facing humiliation after controversial plans to stop a bishop living in the medieval palace occupied by his predecessors for centuries were overturned…

The Church Times has this: Joy in Wells as decision to move bishop is reversed

Law & Religion UK has Accommodating bishops and the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure 2009

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 1 May 2014 at 5:36pm BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Modern Believing explores same-sex partnerships and marriage

Announcement from Modern Church:

Leading theology journal challenges church leaders on same-sex partnerships and marriage

One of the most respected scholarly journals in the religious world is presenting a positive case for gay marriages and same-sex partnerships.

Amid controversy in church and society, marriage equality is taking effect not only in Britain but in many parts of the world. The latest [April] issue of Modern Believing offers an in-depth exploration of the theological questions raised. This issue is guest-edited by Savitri Hensman, an Ekklesia associate, and contains six articles by theologians presenting a positive response to the growing public acceptance of same-sex partnerships.

There will be a launch event to publicise this, details are over here.

The contents of the issue can all be found on the website of the Liverpool University Press.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 1 May 2014 at 5:16pm BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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