Lambeth Palace has published this Statement from Archbishop Justin on Gaza.
Archbishop of Canterbury calls on leaders in Israel and Gaza to immediately end the violence, and urges Anglican churches both to pray and offer support to all victims of the conflict.
Following a recent update from staff at the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken publicly (after many private contacts) of his concern for the deteriorating situation in Gaza….
Follow the link above to read the full statement.
At the end, there is also a link to the Emergency appeal from the Diocese of Jerusalem for the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza. This page contains numerous further links including to pages which give details about how to donate.
The BBC reported on a Question that was asked in the House of Lords yesterday as follows: Stop Church sacking gay vicars who marry, says senior Tory.
The Independent has this: Government should stop gay vicars being sacked by Church of England, says Conservative Lord Fowler.
There is a very detailed explanation of what was actually said, and by whom, at Law & Religion UK in Lords probe Church on same-sex marriage clergy. Read this to find out more.
This article also discusses (scroll down) a question that was asked yesterday concerning the conversion of civil partnerships to marriage. An earlier article explained that the regulations for this, which were due to be debated the previous day were instead withdrawn. See Civil partnership conversion to same sex marriage – Update.
The Hansard report of the debate yesterday starts here.
This case was previously reported in January: Court of Appeal rules on London bus adverts case.
Further judgement was given today, here is the full text.
Christian activists have lost a High Court bid for a ruling that London Mayor Boris Johnson was personally responsible for an improper and “politically-motivated” ban on a controversial gay advert on buses. Campaign group Core Issues Trust (CIT) accused him of an abuse of power and imposing the ban for “the nakedly political purpose of currying favour with gay lobby groups” and boosting his re-election campaign in 2012.
The Trust advert that never made it to the sides of buses in the capital read: “Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!” It was meant to be a response to posters promoted by lesbian and gay campaigners Stonewall that said: “Some people are gay. Get over it!”. Those did appear on buses.
But CIT’s judicial review action, brought over Transport for London’s April 2012 decision not to allow the group’s advertisment to appear on the outside of its buses, was dismissed by a judge in London today. Announcing her conclusions, Mrs Justice Lang declared: “Mr Johnson was not motivated by an improper purpose, namely, to advance his Mayoral election campaign.”
Press releases and commentary from the losing side:
Law & Religion UK now has this: ‘Ex-gay’ London bus advert ban not improper use of Mayor’s power
*Updated 9 August
There have been several media reports that Peter Tatchell is again considering “outing” some Church of England bishops who are believed to be partnered homosexuals, this time in connection with the issue of clergy who enter same-sex marriages.
This story began when Kelvin Holdsworth interviewed Peter Tatchell on this topic and reported on his blog: Peter Tatchell on Outing Bishops. (Tatchell had come to St Mary’s Cathedral Glasgow to deliver a lecture on human rights which you can see in full here.)
Media reports have ensued:
Pink News Peter Tatchell: I am considering outing bishops who discipline married gay clergy
Now, Paul Johnson has written a lengthy analysis in answer to the question: Do Church of England ‘gay bishops’ have a human right not to be ‘outed’?
…This subject will no doubt be discussed in detail by those learned folk over at Thinking Anglicans and Law and Religion, but one aspect that caught my attention was Tatchell’s interpretation of the bishops’ ‘right to privacy’:
Peter Tatchell: […] we are amassing the evidence right now. I’m not saying that we will use it, but we are certainly thinking about it – because people have a right to privacy so long as they are not using their own power and authority to harm other people and when other people are being caused harm and suffering we have a duty to try and stop it. If this is the only way, it is certainly not the preferable way, it’s not the first option but as a last resort I think it is morally and ethically justifiable.
This made me think: how would Tatchell’s interpretation of the ‘right to privacy’ stand up in the context of ECHR jurisprudence?
Could Article 8 protect Bishops from the practice of ‘outing’?
And he ends his analysis (which should be read in full) with this:
From the Court’s existing case law it would appear that any complaint to the Court from a Church of England bishop about any failure of the UK to fulfil its positive obligations under Article 8 to prevent discussion of his private life would likely be unsuccessful.
This is because such a discussion would likely be judged to involve a public figure and to be an issue of general debate to which the public had a right to be informed. In short, it would be regarded as necessary in a democratic society to ‘override’ the rights of the individual subject to discussion.
The use of photographic ‘evidence’, however, would raise separate issues and any regulation of it by UK authorities may not be judged to violate Article 10.
As such, aside from its moral or ethical legitimacy, Peter Tatchell’s ‘outing’ of ‘gay bishops’ may be on safe legal grounds in respect of any complaint to the Court by an ‘outed’ bishop under Article 8 of the Convention.
There is a further discussion of the above at Law & Religion UK in “Outing” gay bishops and Article 8 ECHR.
Yasmine Hafiz Huffington Post ‘Bibliotheca’ Bible Project Blows Up On Kickstarter With Chapterless Bible
Jonathan Aigner 15 Reasons Why We Should Still Be Using Hymnals
[Many of these reasons do not apply in the Church of England, where hymnbooks are normally words-only.]
Linda Woodhead OUP blog The vote for women bishops
J John has been interviewing Justin Welby for God & Politics in the UK “I just knew that Jesus was there and I had met him” – interviewing Justin Welby.
On Religion has been speaking to Professor Linda Woodhead about the challenges and opportunities facing religious studies in Higher Education: Expert Interview: Professor Linda Woodhead.
The legislation to allow women to become bishops in the Church of England failed at final approval in 2012 because it did not achieve a two-thirds majority in the House of Laity. A different measure was passed in 2014, primarily because of laity who voted against in 2012, but in favour in 2014.
From these spreadsheets I have calculated that of the laity who voted against the 2012 measure:
45 voted against in 2014
20 voted in favour in 2014
4 abstained in 2014
2 were absent in 2014
3 were no longer members of Synod in 2014
Those who voted against the 2012 measure and in favour of the 2014 measure were:
Glynn Harrison (Bristol)
Anne Williams (Durham)
Peter Bruinvels (Guildford)
Keith Malcouronne (Guildford)
Adrian Vincent (Guildford)
Anne Bloor (Leicester)
Christopher Corbet (Lichfield)
Debra Walker (Liverpool)
Philip Rice (London)
John Barber (Manchester)
Peter Capon (Manchester)
Philip Giddings (Oxford)
John Beal (Ripon & Leeds/West Yorks & the Dales)
Thomas Sutcliffe (Southwark)
Mary Judkins (Wakefield/West Yorks & the Dales)
John Davies (Winchester)
Priscilla Hungerford (Winchester)
David Robilliard (Winchester)
Jennifer Barton (Worcester)
Martin Dales (York)
Those who voted against the 2012 measure and abstained in 2014 were:
Peter Collard (Derby)
Ann Turner (Europe)
Prudence Dailey (Oxford)
Victoria Russell (Oxford)
Nobody who voted for the 2012 measure voted against or abstained in 2014.
The detailed results for the electronic votes at this months’ meeting of General Synod are now available.
The two relating to the ordination and consecration of women are:
These are pdf files arranged by house, by vote (for, against, abstain) and then by name. I have rearranged them by house and then by synod number, so that members from the same diocese are grouped together. I have also added the names of the absentees. These results are in this spreadsheet.
A very small number of lay and clergy members voted differently for the measure and the canon.
1 voted against the measure and abstained on the canon.
2 abstained on the measure and voted for the canon.
2 voted against the measure and for the canon.
3 voted against the measure and abstained on the canon.
1 voted for the measure but was absent for the vote on the canon.
Update Wednesday morning
Frank Field MP tweeted at 6.02 pm on Tuesday that “Ecclesiastical Committee, of which I am a Member, has just unanimously approved the women bishops measure. Hurrah!”
Update Wednesday afternoon
The agenda of yesterday’s meeting of the Ecclesiastical Committee, originally linked below, is no longer available.
A transcript of the Archbishop’s opening speech to the Committee is here.
The Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament met today (Tuesday) to consider the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure. There is a recording of the public part of their meeting here [1 hour 16 minutes].
John Bingham of The Telegraph reports on the meeting: Church of England to use positive discrimination to boost women bishops.
Linda Woodhead The Conversation Yes vote for women bishops challenges the Church of England to embed equality
WATCH Synod Voted Yes!
The Ordinariate in England and Wales: Statement from the Ordinary - Women Bishops
David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Women in the episcopate: legislation and its adoption
The Primate of Uganda Church of Uganda applauds CoE women bishops vote
Moses Talemwa The Observer (Uganda) Uganda Hails Vote On Women Bishops
Ian Paul asks What are (women) bishops for?
This roundup has been somewhat delayed due to the distractions of General Synod, but here it is now. Our previous report was on 9 July, and is here.
Madeleine Davies wrote in the Church Times on 11 July: Chaplain is blocked from new post after same-sex marriage. She included this:
…Canon Pemberton said that he had mentioned his application for the new job during his meeting with Bishop Inwood on 29 May, and that he was “not surprised, but disappointed”, to learn that the Bishop had subsequently refused to issue a licence.
“The unequal position that I find myself in is that I have a licence now, and am working in a trust in Lincolnshire; so I am a suitable person to work in the NHS; but if I attempt to move 30 miles away, I become unemployable, apparently.”
He went on: “It needs to be considered that the NHS is bound by the Equality Act 2010, and it does seem odd that, if this offer is withdrawn, it is because the Church has obliged the NHS to act in an unequal way. Is that proper or legal?
“My action has exposed a faultline here with an NHS that acts strictly under the rules of equality according to the law, and a Church that does not.”
Chaplains are appointed by NHS trusts. The UK Board of Healthcare Chaplaincy, with whom Canon Pemberton is registered, states that: “It is usual for job descriptions and person specifications for chaplaincy posts that include a religious function to specify that a chaplain will have the endorsement of their faith community, often referred to as ‘being in good standing’.”
It continues: “The situation may arise that the standing of a chaplain in relation to her or his faith community or belief group changes during the term of employment. Whilst this may affect the official status of the chaplain as a ‘minister of religion’ or ‘office holder’ of a belief group, it may have no consequences in relation to their terms of employment so long as they continue to practise ethically and professionally.”
NHS Employers was contacted but was unable to comment at the time of going to press.
On Wednesday, the Revd Justin Gau, a barrister specialising in both employment and ecclesiastical law, and Chancellor of the diocese of Bristol, said that the removal of Canon Pemberton’s licence was, in his opinion, “unlawful, as there has been no breach of canon law”.
And Hugh Muir in the Guardian had this tidbit:
Battle lines are drawn in the Church of England after the first gay British clergyman to marry a same-sex partner was blocked from taking up a promotion within the NHS. Canon Jeremy Pemberton works as a chaplain for an NHS trust in Lincolnshire. The Right Rev Richard Inwood, acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, said he is “unable” to issue a licence for Pemberton to work for the NHS in Nottinghamshire “in light of the pastoral guidance and for reasons of consistency”. A number of people have expressed outrage. Add to their number Prof Diarmaid MacCulloch, the Oxford historian of the church. “I trust that you realise what an appalling impression of pastoral insensitivity you and your fellow bishops are providing to the nation,” he tells the acting bishop. “None of you seem to understand the widespread contempt that your stance provokes, particularly among the young.” They can’t even claim to have history on side.
Changing Attitude has had several articles relating to this action:
At the press conference in York on the evening of 14 July, after the vote on women in the episcopate, the journalists Rachel Younger for Sky News and David Sanderson for The Times both asked the archbishops how soon there would also be bishops who were in same-sex marriages. Needless to say the answers predicted no timescale for this. There is an audio recording of this press conference available here. The Sky News questions come at the very beginning of the conference, and The Times questions come at the very end (about 24 minutes in). A transcript of part of the latter is included here, below the fold.
The Archbishop of York, replying to a question from The Times said:
… All I know is, that we need to find probably a language of conversation just like the Church in New Zealand, which talks about same-gender relationships, which is bigger than purely sex, that language is a more creative language. And if you have read Issues in Human Sexuality the Church of England is very clear that sexual orientation really, and that is what you are talking about has never been a bar to ministry or to anything else. Now a new thing has arrived, called same-sex marriage. That poses in terms of the doctrine of marriage, a problem for the Church of England but I still hope even when that happens, people will still be treated as made in God’s image and likeness and as children of God. And though you may feel that they don’t quite fulfil the exemplifying nature of Christ and His Church, nevertheless they mustn’t be diminished, they mustn’t be treated in a way that doesn’t give love and grace and care. And I actually think our two years conversation could give us a language of talking, so that people don’t automatically just cause all kinds of…. And the other worry that I have got, if for example you have got single people, we live in a society in which immediately, they assume if you happen to be a single unmarried bishop this must be xyz, and those kind of things worry me. And people casting aspersions and assuming people’s behaviour and life when actually if you dig deep deep, that is not actually what they are standing for. So I want to find a new way of speaking, a new way of understanding…
Peter Wheatley, the area bishop of Edmonton in the diocese of London has announced that he will retire at the end of the year.
There is nothing about this as yet on the London diocesan website, but we have seen a copy of the letter sent by the bishop to clergy in the Edmonton Area announcing his retirement.
Update 23 July
An announcement of the bishop’s retirement was posted on the diocesan website today: The Bishop of Edmonton announces his retirement.
Madeleine Davies Church Times Synod delivers a confident vote for women bishops
Church Times leader comment The morning after
Nick Baines Bishops
David Keen Women Bishops: The Morning After
Janet Henderson Women Bishops, Malala and Mary Robinson
Archbishop of Canterbury Archbishop writes to ecumenical partners about women bishops
Methodist Church in Britain welcomes ‘yes’ vote on women bishops
The United Reformed Church welcomes women bishops
The Baptist Times Baptist welcome for General Synod vote
Statement from the Russian Orthodox Church
Ephraim Radner What Women Bishops Mean For Christian Unity
Sir Tony Baldry, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, was asked a question about women bishops in the House of Commons on Thursday. The answer is copied below the fold. He indicated that the Measure was likely to complete its passage through Parliament by early October, so that General Synod could promulge the Canon in November.
A letter from Rod Thomas to Reform members: Rod writes in response to the York General Synod
The right hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—
Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): What the next steps are on the women bishops measure following the General Synod.
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): The next step is for the Ecclesiastical Committee to meet on Tuesday, when I hope it will pass the measure that was agreed by General Synod on Monday. That will at last enable women to become bishops in the Church of England.
Helen Goodman: I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that answer. It is the answer that we have been waiting for the past 20 years to hear. It is very good news for the country and for the Church. I congratulate everybody who secured the result in Synod. When does he think women bishops might be installed, and when does he think they might be introduced into the other place?
Sir Tony Baldry: The answer I feel like giving to the hon. Lady is, “Hallelujah, sister! At last!” After so many years of waiting, the Church of England is going to have women bishops, which will enable it to fulfil its mission as a Church for the whole nation and allow every part of the Church to flourish.
If the Ecclesiastical Committee approves the measure on Tuesday, subject to the agreement of the Leader of the House I hope to bring the measure to this House in September. I think that the other House hopes to deal with the measure early in October. That would enable General Synod to meet formally in November to do the final approval and promulging of the canon. That would enable the Church of England to appoint the first women bishops this year or early next year.
Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): I join my right hon. Friend in welcoming the move towards women bishops. However, for the moment, it is a male preserve. Will he join me in congratulating the Rev. David Court, the new Bishop of Grimsby, who will be consecrated at St Paul’s next week, and wish him well in his work in the Lincoln diocese?
Sir Tony Baldry: Of course. Every bishop in the Church of England is a focus of unity in their own diocese and all bishops undertake incredibly important work. One of the great things about General Synod was that we were able to get agreement for there to be women bishops with no one in the Church feeling hurt or aggrieved. We were therefore able, under the leadership of Archbishop Justin and Archbishop John, to move forward as a united Church.
Yasmine Hafiz in The Huffington Post presents 23 photographs of The Most Breathtaking Church Ceilings In The World.
Peter Stanford The Telegraph The women who helped shape Christianity
Lucinda Borkett-Jones Christian Today What about women who don’t want to be bishops?
The House of Lords is today debating Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill.
Today’s Guardian carries these three articles
John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, My wife knew she was dying – but she chose life
Andrew Brown Legalising assisted dying will put too much pressure on people, says bishop
editorial The Guardian view on assisted dying: safeguard life
But not all clergy oppose the bill.
John Bingham The Telegraph Bishop: uphold sanctity of life by allowing assisted dying
Patrick Sawer The Telegraph Anglican leadership accused of “scaremongering” over assisted dying
Muriel Porter reports in the Brisbane Times that Conservative Anglicans have women priests in their sights.
…Australian Anglicans need not be complacent, however. The stark reality is that if votes even for women priests were now required in the Anglican Church here, let alone for women bishops, it is highly likely they would not succeed.
That was the take home message from our own General Synod held earlier this month in Adelaide. Mercifully, votes for women were not on the agenda at that meeting.
Over the 22 years since women priests were approved in Australia, the dominance of the conservative Diocese of Sydney has grown exponentially. And it has become even more conservative…
So could we see the unthinkable happen in this country, the legislation for women priests repealed? It happened in the Presbyterian Church. Could it happen here, even though there are now close to 500 women priests in Australia? It is believed some conservatives have a repeal in their sights…
Twenty four British faith leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, have today called for Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill not to be enacted.
From the Archbishop’s website
Assisted Dying Bill: Archbishop signs faith leaders’ statement
Wednesday 16th July 2014
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby today joins over 20 British faith leaders calling for Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill not to be enacted.
In a joint statement ahead of the House of Lords debate on Friday, the faith leaders said that if passed the bill would have “a serious detrimental effect on the wellbeing of individuals and on the nature and shape of our society.”
This is followed by the full text of the statement and a list of all the signatories.
Press reports on opinions about the bill include:
John Bingham The Telegraph Religious leaders unite to condemn assisted dying law
Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England split over assisted dying as debate looms
Denis Campbell and Dominic Smith The Guardian Assisted dying: leading doctors call on Lords to back legalisation
We reported earlier on the views of George Carey and Justin Welby.
John Bingham The Telegraph Women bishops: I’m glad we waited until now, says Archbishop of York
The Telegraph editorial The Church of England has found unity on its own terms
The Telegraph letters Women bishops will meet opposition within the C of E laity
The Guardian letters Female bishops a birthday present for Emmeline Pankhurst
John Spence’s speech to Synod (on YouTube)
Transcript of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech to Synod
GRAS (the Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) have sent us a press release which is copied below the fold.
Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod
Press briefing for immediate release 14th July 2014
20 years after General Synod legislated to enable women to be priests in the Church of England it has today voted by a clear majority a legislative package enabling women to be bishops. The intention is to complete the process in November. The 1993 legislation included an Act of Synod that many in the church criticised because it appeared to be rushed through to ameliorate those who were opposed to the ordination of women as priests, but who had not expected the legislation to be passed.
The Act made extra provision for those who opposed women’s ordination, and legislated for discrimination in the church. It enabled parishes to vote not to have a bishop who supported women priests, with the implication that a bishop’s hands would be tainted by ordaining a woman. It ensured that no role in the Church of England would be closed to those who opposed women’s ordination, even roles which involved working closely with, or being responsible for, significant numbers of women clergy.
Chair of GRAS - Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod - Ruth McCurry said “We are overjoyed that we have finally seen the last of this Act. But we haven’t seen the end of discrimination against women in the Church of England. There is lots of work still to be done before women and men can truly flourish alongside each other in the church.”
NOTE TO EDITORS:
GRAS - The Group for the Rescinding of the Act of Synod and the promotion of Women as Bishops - was founded with the primary objective of campaigning to eradicate the 1993 Act of Synod.
Under the new legislation some of the provisions contained in the defunct Act of Synod are reborn in the Bishops’ Declaration, which sets out much of the detail of how the new women bishops Measure will be put into practice. Although its legal status is different, this Declaration will still restrict how women - and those who support them - will be able to minister in the church.
It was announced this morning that the next Bishop of Hereford is to be Richard Frith, currently the suffragan Bishop of Hull in the diocese of York.
Announcement on the Hereford diocesan website: New Bishop named for Diocese of Hereford
Announcement on the York diocesan website: Richard Frith to be Bishop of Hereford
Press release from Number 10:
Diocese of Hereford: Right Reverend Richard Frith
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
History: Published 16 July 2014
Part of: Community and society
The Right Reverend Richard Michael Cokayne Frith is approved for election as Bishop of Hereford.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Richard Michael Cokayne Frith, MA, Bishop of Hull, for election as Bishop of Hereford in succession to the Right Reverend Anthony Martin Priddis, MA, whose resignation took effect on 24 September 2013.
The Right Reverend Richard Frith
The Right Reverend Richard Frith (aged 65) studied at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and trained for the ordained ministry at St John’s College Nottingham. He served his curacy at Mortlake with East Sheen in Southwark diocese from 1974 to 1978. From 1978 to 1983 he was a Team Vicar at Thamesmead and from 1983 to 1992 Team Rector at Keynsham, Bath and Wells diocese. From 1991 to 1998 he was Prebendary at Wells Cathedral, for 6 of those years being Archdeacon of Taunton. Since 1998 he has been Suffragan Bishop of Hull.
He is married to Kay and has 4 children and 4 step children. His interests include the theatre and sport, with a particular passion for cricket.
General Synod completed its York meeting this morning.
Madeleine Davies, Tim Wyatt and Gavin Drake Church Times Women bishops legislation wins Synod’s final approval
John Bingham The Telegraph First women bishops in months after Synod vote
Jemima Thackray The Telegraph Women bishops: delaying this historic vote was a blessing in disguise
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today There will be women bishops… General Synod passes legislation
Ruth Gledhill The Guardian Joy and relief at display of unity for vote on ordination of female bishops
Claer Barrett and Mark Odell Financial Times Church of England synod votes for women bishops
Matthew Engel Financial Times Victory for women bishops but no triumphalism
Andrew Brown The Guardian Jubilation as Church of England’s synod votes to allow female bishops
Andreas Whittam Smith The Independent Women bishops: Church of England still divided but now prepared to trust each other
Stephen Castle The New York Times Church of England Votes to Allow Women as Bishops
Gillan Scott God & Politics in the UK Good news at last, but the women bishops vote was ultimately never about women bishops
Colin Coward for Changing Attitude Women bishops – finally
WATCH issued a press release which is copied below the fold.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued this statement: Women Bishops - Church of England.
Women and the Church
14 July 2014
“there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.28)
Today we are overjoyed that the General Synod has finally passed the legislation that will enable women to become bishops. This marks a new beginning for the church that can now begin to be fully affirming of both the women and men in it.
Much of the tone and mood of the debate today was notably different to that of November 2012 and WATCH gives thanks to all those who have worked tirelessly, supported wholeheartedly and prayed deeply for this wonderful day. Thanks be to God!
Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH said
What a historic day. Relief and then joy and then excitement. Yes to women at last.
Archbishop of Canterbury Church of England approves women bishops
Archbishop of Canterbury “delighted” at result but stresses this is not “winner takes all” but “in love a time for the family to move on together.”
Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England General Synod approves female bishops
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England General Synod votes for women bishops
and Women bishops: a century of campaigning
Anglican Communion News Service Church of England says yes to women bishops
Lizzie Dearden The Independent Women bishops approved: Cheers as Church of England General Synod votes for historic change
The Council of Bishops of The Society under the patronage of S. Wilfrid and S. Hilda has issued this statement, the Catholic Group in General Synod this statement, and Forward in Faith this statement.
Church of England to have women bishops
14th July 2014
The General Synod of the Church of England has today given its final approval for women to become bishops in the Church of England.
The vote in the General Synod on the measure was carried by the required two-thirds majority in the three constituent parts of the Synod: the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity.
The voting results were as follows:
House of Bishops: Yes 37 No 2 Abstentions 1
House of Clergy: Yes 162 No 25 Abstentions 4
House of Laity: Yes 152 No 45 Abstentions 5
This means the first woman bishop could potentially be appointed by the end of the year.
Today’s vote comes 18 months after the proposal was last voted upon in November 2012 when the proposal failed to achieve the required two thirds majority in the House of Laity.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:
“Today is the completion of what was begun over 20 years with the ordination of women as priests. I am delighted with today’s result. Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing.
The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds. Very few institutions achieve this, but if we manage this we will be living our more fully the call of Jesus Christ to love one another. As delighted as I am for the outcome of this vote I am also mindful of those within the Church for whom the result will be difficult and a cause of sorrow.
My aim, and I believe the aim of the whole church, should be to be able to offer a place of welcome and growth for all. Today is a time of blessing and gift from God and thus of generosity. It is not winner take all, but in love a time for the family to move on together.“
The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, said:
“This is a momentous day. Generations of women have served the Lord faithfully in the Church of England for centuries. It is a moment of joy today: the office of Bishop is open to them.
To those who ask “what took you so long?” my answer is that every decision has a cost and there will be those within our body who will be hurting as a result of this decision. Our answer to the hurting should not be “get over it” but rather “we will not let go until you have blessed us.”
We move slowly because we move together. But in moving together we achieve not only what is just but also model what is right. As the African Proverb says: “Whoever walks fast, travels alone. Whoever walks far, walks in the company of others.”
The legislation approved today includes a House of Bishops declaration, underpinned by five guiding principles and a disputes resolution procedure. Following the vote on the measure which enables women to become Bishops, the Synod voted on enabling legislation (Canon) and also rescinded existing legislation (Act of Synod) as part of a package of measures being proposed.
Following today’s vote the measure moves to the Legislative Committee of General Synod and then to the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Houses of Parliament where the legislation will be considered. Subject to Parliamentary approval the measure will return to the General Synod in November of this year where it will come into force after its promulgation (legal formal announcement).
Today’s vote follows a process which began at the 2013 July Synod which created a steering committee on women bishops, chaired by the Bishop of Rochester James Langstaff, with a mandate to draw up a package of new proposals. Bishop James opened the debate on behalf of the steering committee and responded to the debate urging synod members to vote for the proposals.
All portions of the legislative package to allow women to be bishops in the Church of England were approved by General Synod this afternoon.
1) Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (GS 1925B)
On the motion
That the Measure entitled “Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure” be finally approved
Bishops 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 recorded abstention
Clergy 162 in favour, 25 against, 4 recorded abstentions
Laity 152 in favour, 45 against, 5 recorded abstentions
and the motion was carried with the necessary two-thirds majorities in all three houses.
2) Draft Amending Canon No. 33 (GS 1926B)
On the motion
That the Canon entitled “Amending Canon No 33” be finally approved
Bishops 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 recorded abstention
Clergy 164 in favour, 24 against, 3 recorded abstentions
Laity 153 in favour, 40 against, 8 recorded abstentions
and the motion was carried with the necessary two-thirds majorities in all three houses.
3) The motion
That the petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence (GS 1926C) be adopted
was carried on a show of hands.
4) Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 (GS 1934A)
That the draft Act of Synod rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 be approved
was carried on a show of hands.
5) The motion
That the Act of Synod rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 be solemnly affirmed and proclaimed an Act of Synod
was carried on a show of hands
to be updated during the day
The day’s business started with a debate on the Armed Forces Covenant. The following motion was cared by 393 votes in favour to two against, with three recorded abstentions.
That this Synod, believing that the commitment of those that serve in the Armed Forces demands a reciprocal obligation from the Nation to ensure that they and their families are not disadvantaged:
(a) ask dioceses to reflection the Armed Forces Covenant and to consider signing Community Covenants, where not already signed, and Corporate Covenants setting out how they can both meet the pastoral and spiritual needs of the Armed Forces Community including serving personnel, regulars and reservists, veterans and military families located in their own diocesan area;
(b) invite the Archbishops’ Council to sign a Corporate Armed Forces Covenant setting out how it will provide pastoral and spiritual support for the Armed Forces Community including serving personnel, regulars and reservists, veterans and military families; and
(c) ask the Archbishops’ Council to report to Synod in the next Quinquennium on the implementation of the recommendations set out in The Church and the Armed Forces Covenant (GS 1960).
The debates on the legislation to allow women to be bishops started at 11.15 am. There is a package of four items, which are being separately debated.
1) Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (GS 1925B) – Draft Measure for Final Approval
2) Draft Amending Canon No. 33 (GS 1926B) – Draft Amending Canon for Final Approval
3) Draft Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence (GS 1926C) – Draft Petition for Adoption
4) Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 (GS 1934A) - Draft Act of Synod for Final Approval and Affirmation and Proclamation as an Act of Synod
The first two of these (the measure and the canon) require two-thirds majorities in all three houses (bishops, clergy and laity) to receive final approval. Motions for the closure of these first two debates are not allowed, so they will continue for as long as there are members wanting to speak. However the chair of the debate (today it will be the Archbishop of York) may at his discretion reduce the speech limit, and chairs have been know to reduce it to almost nothing to encourage people to stop talking.
The other items require no special majority.
At the beginning of the first debate the Archbishop reminded members of this standing order.
17. Breach of Order
The Chairman shall call a member to order for failure to address the Chair, irrelevance, tedious repetition either of his own arguments or of arguments already well rehearsed by other members, unbecoming language, disregard of the authority of the Chairman, or any other breach of order, and may direct him to stop speaking.
Claire Phipps of The Guardian is reporting live on the debate: Church of England General Synod votes on female bishops.
The Synod adjourned for lunch and reconvened at 2.30 pm.
This business was concluded shortly before 5.00 pm with all items passed with the necessary majorities. Details of the votes here.
Synod was then adjourned until 5.15 pm.
The remainder of the day’s business is included in the official summaries above.
Andrew Brown and Nicholas Watt The Guardian Church of England General Synod expected to approve female bishops
Andrew Brown The Guardian Liberalism increases as power shifts to the laity in the Church of England
The Guardian editorial The Guardian view on the female bishops’ vote: One more heave
John Bingham The Telegraph Welby ‘can’t force’ women bishops on Church
Dan Grimmer Norfolk Eastern Daily Press No vote on women bishops will destroy church’s credibility, says Archdeacon of Norwich
The Telegraph editorial Time to settle the vexed issue of women bishops
Dan Clough Burnley and Pendle Citizen I’ll oppose ordination of female bishops, says John Goddard
Madeleine Davies Church Times Welby expects the women-bishops legislation to pass
Press Association (in the Mail Online) Baptism Services May Omit ‘Devil’
Peter Stanford The Telegraph Will Jane Hedges be the C of E’s first woman bishop?
to be updated during the day
Much of the morning’s business was taken up with the composition of and electorate for the universities constituency in General Synod. A proposal to abolish it was defeated in a vote by houses. The voting figures, which are not given in the summary, were
House of Bishops voted: 5 for, 17 against
House of Clergy voted: 53 for, 69 against
House of Laity voted: 67 for, 65 against
The numbers of abstentions were not stated.
A substantial change was made when Synod voted to extend the constituency to include theological education institutions as well as universities. Again there was a vote by houses.
House of Bishops voted: 12 for, 10 against, 0 abstentions
House of Clergy voted: 71 for, 64 against, 3 abstentions
House of Laity voted: 76 for, 61 against, 2 abstentions
The theological education institutes to be included are those “recognised by the House of Bishops as an institution for training candidates for ordination as ministers of the Church of England”.
These, and other non-contentious changes to the universities constituency, are subject to final approval, which is scheduled for debate on Tuesday.
The New Statesman has a series of articles by Rowan Williams, Melvyn Bragg, Lucy Winkett, Robin Ince, Vicky Beeching and Julian Baggini under the heading After God: how to fill the faith-shaped hole in modern life.
Michael Binyon writes for Diplomat Magazine about Church Diplomacy.
The Guardian has a video: A vicar’s wedding: ‘He loves God and he loves Stephen’.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has written for The Times on why he believes the Assisted Dying Bill, which will be debated in the House of Lords next week, is “both mistaken and dangerous”. His article can be read here: Archbishop Justin writes for The Times on the Assisted Dying Bill.
Meanwhile, former archbishop George Carey has said that he supports a change in the law on assisted suicide. He has explained his views in this article written for the Daily Mail: Why I’ve changed my mind on assisted dying says a former Archbishop of Canterbury.
Press reports include:
James Chapman Mail Online Carey: I’ve changed my mind on right to die: On eve of Lords debate, ex-Archbishop dramatically backs assisted death law
John Bingham The Telegraph Lord Carey: I support assisted dying
Nicholas Watt The Guardian Former archbishop lends his support to campaign to legalise right to die
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Former Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘Why I support assisted suicide’
The Telegraph Archbishop Welby: Assisted dying is ‘sword of Damocles’ over vulnerable
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England calls for review on assisted dying
Nicholas Watt, Shane Hickey and agencies The Guardian Church of England seeks inquiry over bill to legalise assisted dying
to be updated during the day
The first day’s business is listed in Order paper 1.
Despite some initial confusion during the debate on the report of the reference to the dioceses of the women bishops legislation, Sue Booys, the chair of the Business Committee, confirmed that two-thirds majorities in each house will be required for final approval of both the draft measure and the amending canon when they are debated on Monday.
It was also made clear that abstentions (whether recorded or not) do not count in the calculation of the size of any majority.
The final drafting of the draft measure and amending canon were agreed; the only drafting amendments were to some of the numbering in the canon.
The Church Urban Fund and Theos yesterday published a report Good Neighbours: How Churches Help Communities Flourish. From the press release:
10 million rely on church community, new research shows
New research conducted for Church Urban Fund, shows that 10 million adults a year use community services provided by churches and church-run organisations. This is more than half of all those who access these services. The wide range of support includes food banks, luncheon clubs and night shelters along with relationship courses, financial advice and access to computers and the internet.
In a foreword to the Church Urban Fund/Theos report Good Neighbours: How Churches Help Communities Flourish, launched yesterday in the House of Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said: “This report demonstrates the scale and nature of that love for neighbour in practical action. It shows that relationships are at the heart of every community, and that churches are at the heart of local communities. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the Church is part of the solution for building community blessing at every level.”
The full report and an executive summary can be downloaded from the Church Urban Fund website here.
In this new piece of research, Church Urban Fund and Theos set out to understand the impact of local churches in deprived communities in England. We sought to explore what churches do to support people in their communities, and also how and why they do it.
This research project is a ‘critical appreciation’ of what churches offer their communities – it argues that church-based activities offer both breadth of national reach and depth. It shows that:
Updated Friday afternoon, Saturday morning
The Church of England General Synod meets in York from this afternoon until Tuesday.
Some pre-synod press:
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England General Synod: women bishops campaigners praying for a breakthrough
The Church of England General Synod - a rough guide
Women bishops: what are the issues?
Press Association General Synod Vote on Women Bishops [on the Mail Online website]
Ruth Gledhill Chrisitian Today General Synod: Will women bishops happen this time?
Savi Hensman Ekklesia Church, worldly values, the ‘common good’ and war
You can follow the proceedings at this Live video stream.
The Agenda and papers are here.
Church Times leader The vote on Monday
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England edges towards historic breakthrough on women bishops
Updated Friday afternoon
The Church Commissioners issued this press release this evening.
Church Commissioners confirm Wonga exit
10 July 2014
The Church Commissioners for England are pleased to announce that their indirect investment exposure to Wonga in their venture capital portfolio has been removed. The Church Commissioners no longer have any financial or any other interest in Wonga.
The terms ensure that the Church Commissioners have not made any profit from their investment exposure to Wonga.
At no time have the Commissioners invested directly in Wonga or in other pay day lenders. The indirect exposure of the Commissioners through pooled funds represented considerably less than 0.01% of the value of Wonga.
The Church Commissioners estimate that if they had had to sell their entire venture capital holdings they might have lost £3-9m to remove the exposure to Wonga, which was worth less than £100,000. The Commissioners are pleased that another way forward has been agreed given their fiduciary duties to clergy pensioners and to all the parts of the Church they support financially.
The Commissioners believe venture capital to be a good and useful instrument with significant potential to serve the common good. It gets new businesses up and running and supports the economy and jobs.
The Commissioners have made a number of ethical investment changes. They have tightened their investment restrictions for direct investments, will announce new controls on indirect investments later in the year and have created a new responsible investment position in their investment team to lead the implementation of the Commissioners’ ethical investment policies and responsible investment commitments, supporting the work of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group.
The Commissioners’ focus remains the mission they share with the Archbishop of Canterbury - supporting the ministry and growth of the Church of England.
The Commissioners will also continue to seek ways, consistent with their fiduciary duties, to support the Church’s priority of promoting responsible credit and savings. In 2013 they provided £200,000 of start-up capital to the credit union the Church itself is establishing, the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union. As active stewards of their investments the Commissioners will continue to engage with financial services companies to encourage responsible credit and savings practice.
Update - press reports
Chris Johnston The Guardian Church of England finally severs financial links with Wonga
Paul Handley Church Times The Church of England pulls its cash out of Wonga
Ian Johnston Independent Church of England severs its links with payday lender Wonga
Sharlene Goff Financial Times Church of England sells indirect stake in Wonga
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England finally casts out Wonga
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced on Monday that there will be an inquiry into allegations of child sex abuse in Establishment circles in the 1970s and 80s.
Patrick Wintour The Guardian Theresa May promises child abuse inquiry with ‘maximum transparency’
David Barrett, James Kirkup and Georgia Graham The Telegraph Theresa May launches major new inquiry into child sex abuse allegations
It was later announced that the inquiry was to be headed by Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former president of the Family Division of the High Court. There has been criticism of this choice.
BBC Ex-senior judge Butler-Sloss to head child sex abuse inquiry
Nicholas Watt The Guardian Lady Butler-Sloss to lead child abuse inquiry
Nicholas Watt The Guardian ‘Conflict of interest’ raised over Butler-Sloss role in child abuse inquiry
David Barrett and Matthew Holehouse The Telegraph Baroness Butler-Sloss criticised over previous ‘flawed’ paedophile report
Andrew Brown reports in The Guardian: Church of England women bishops: archbishops will overrule synod.
The archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is preparing to drive through legislation to allow women bishops even if it is rejected by the church’s governing body, the General Synod.
The synod is poised to vote again on the vexed plan next week but senior sources have told the Guardian that should the move be blocked again, there are now options being considered to force the change on the church.
Options under consideration include an immediate dissolution of the synod so that fresh elections could produce a sufficient majority by November, or even a move by the bishops in the House of Lords to introduce the legislation without synodical approval…
Updated Thursday morning
Guardian Chaplain accuses Church of England of homophobia
The first British clergyman to enter a gay marriage has accused the Church of England of homophobia and said that he is considering legal action after it blocked his attempt to take up a new post in a move he says is intended to stop others following in his footsteps…
…You will all, no doubt, be aware from recent press and internet coverage that Jeremy Pemberton has had his ‘Permission to Officiate’ (PTO) in Southwell & Nottingham Diocese removed by the acting Bishop, following consultation with the Archbishop of York. Distressing as this was, there has now been a further significant and much more serious development.
Jeremy currently works as a Chaplain in an NHS Trust in Lincolnshire and retains his general licence from the Bishop of Lincoln. Jeremy received a written rebuke from this Bishop for contracting his marriage with me but this had no impact on his employment.
However, he has recently been successful in his application for a promotion within the NHS to become the Head of Chaplaincy & Bereavement Services in a large hospital closer to home. This hospital is located within the geographical area covered by the Church’s Southwell & Nottingham Diocese. For those of you who are unaware, NHS chaplains are funded in full by the NHS and not by the Church of England.
The NHS has requested the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham to issue Jeremy with a licence in order that he may take up his new job. This is standard procedure. The Bishop has refused to issue any form of licence to Jeremy as, by his marriage to me, and for no other reason, he does not, according to the Bishop ‘model the Church’s teaching’ in his life. Leaving aside the insulting nature of this phrase, the effect of this refusal is that Jeremy will be denied the opportunity to take up his new position and develop his ministry further. There was no disciplinary process, no hearing and there is no right of appeal against this decision.
I realise that, as Jeremy’s husband, I am far from impartial but those of you who know him well will recognise my description of him as a fine man of integrity and exceptional abilities and whose ministry in this Diocese would be a tremendous asset to those he serves. I am appalled, to put it mildly, that he is to be denied this opportunity solely because of his marital status. It is worth pointing out that Paul Butler (now Bishop of Durham) and the current Bishop of Lincoln issued Jeremy with his PTO and licence respectively in the past in the full knowledge that he is gay and living in a relationship with me. All that has changed is that we have got married. Nearly 100 of you were there on that day and will recall the commitment we made to each other with our vows. For this to result in the ruining of Jeremy’s employment prospects is outrageous and is, in my opinion, homophobic bullying.
What I am asking
Some of you may think what Jeremy has done is wrong and that he is paying the penalty for that. You are entitled to your opinion and I ask you to do nothing. Those of you who agree with me, I would ask that you consider doing one or more of the following in order to show support and perhaps result in the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham changing his mind and issuing Jeremy with some form of a licence. When writing, it may carry more weight if you mention that you are a Christian/member of the Church of England if you are.
You could write, expressing your views to:
The Right Revd Richard Inwood
Acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham
I am not clear whether this latest decision was as a result of consultation with the Archbishop of York but, in any event, I would ask that you copy your correspondence to him at:
The Most Revd & Right Hon Dr John Sentamu
Archbishop of York
The Acting Dean of Southwell Minster, Nigel Coates, is extremely supportive, for which Jeremy and I are most grateful. You may also wish to contact him to express your support at:
The Revd Canon Nigel Coates
Acting Dean of Southwell Minster
The Archbishop of York and the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham will be attending the grand re-opening of the Archbishop’s Palace and Great Hall complex at Southwell Minster on 7th October. You might wish to consider attending this event and taking the opportunity to bring your opinion of their treatment of Jeremy to their attention…
Last week the Church Times reported that Swing voters say they will now back women bishops.
THE pivotal votes of a small number of members of the General Synod who helped to defeat the women-bishops Measure in November 2012 have swung to the Yes camp.
The earlier Measure was lost by six votes in the House of Laity. Instrumental to the defeat were a handful of members who, despite being in favour of the consecration of women as bishops, voted against the Measure, prompted by a concern that it did not offer enough provision for those who were opposed on principle.
Five of these members told the Church Times this week that they now planned to vote in favour…
Today, Forward in Faith has published this press release: The July 2014 Sessions of the General Synod
The Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod, Canon Simon Killwick, has issued the following statement:
“Following the failure of the previous legislation in November 2012, the Catholic Group immediately called for round-table talks to agree on a new package which could be fast-tracked through the Synod. These talks have been amazingly fruitful in that they have generated a new package which provides a way forward for everyone in the Church of England and the package is being fast-tracked through the Synod with the added bonus in the creation of a much more positive atmosphere of trust, generosity and mutual respect. We look forward to this new atmosphere pervading the debates at the forthcoming Synod and beyond, so that we can all move forward as one.”
Please pray for the members of the General Synod, which meets in York from Friday 10 July to Tuesday 15 July:
The United Reformed Church has issued this statement concerning its deliberations on same-sex marriage:
General Assembly has just passed the following resolution by agreement:
A clear majority of members of Assembly expressed the view that local congregations should be permitted to offer same-sex marriage to those who seek that opportunity. However, because our decision-making process is based on the seeking of full consensus, Assembly was unable to reach agreement.
Assembly therefore resolves to pursue this discussion in the most constructive and consultative way that it can, as follows:
(1) to invite synods and local congregations (a) to reflect on the report of the Facilitation Group, (b) to discuss whether they would wish a future meeting of the Assembly to authorise local church meetings to offer same-sex marriage services, and (c) to report their views to the General Secretary by 31st March 2015.
(2) to authorise the officers of Assembly to furnish these discussions with appropriate resources, including an offer of the support of facilitators.
Media reports of this:
South Wales Evening Post No decision on gay weddings for United Reformed Church
Updated Sunday afternoon
We reported previously on the Bishop of Norwich’s “blacklist” (note the quotation marks). This terminology was a direct quotation from a Guardian news report, originally linked in an earlier article. That Guardian report was subsequently amended.
David Pocklington has recently provided a very detailed account of the background to all this in an article at Law & Religion UK entitled Clergy blacklists, blue files and the Archbishops’ List. This explains in great detail exactly what the current procedures are, what lists do exist, and how a name can get onto a list.
And now Colin Coward has published Bishop of Norwich clarifies purpose of monitoring and reference group. The bishop wrote:
“It was a surprise to read that I was apparently keeping a blacklist of clergy who had entered same sex marriages or was charged with acting against them. Such assertions are a very long way from the truth.
“What I have agreed to do at the request of the Archbishops is to be available to other diocesan bishops for consultation as and when they have to decide what to do if clergy in their dioceses marry a same sex partner. There may well be courses of action or ways of responding which they have not considered, and I hope the reference group will ensure cases are not dealt with erratically.
“I am not charged with taking any initiative, nor would I do so (it is up to diocesan bishops to contact me) but I hope that in this matter, as in all things, there is still the possibility for some pastoral wisdom.”
Changing Attitude has also published this: Same sex marriage guidance for clergy.
Andrew Goddard at Fulcrum asks Can we pray for the dead?
Giles Fraser writes in The Guardian that Assisted dying is the final triumph of market capitalism.
Jenny McCartney writes for The Spectator about The terminal confusion of Dignity in Dying.
Malcolm Brown (the Director of Mission and Public Affairs for the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England) asks Is the choice to be killed the same as choosing a car ?
Justin Welby preached this sermon last Sunday: ‘Thanksgiving and repentance’ - Archbishop on the first black Anglican bishop.
A question was asked in the House of Lords yesterday about the appointment of the next Bishop of Guildford. A short debate followed about the length of time between the announcement of a vacancy for a diocesan bishop and the meetings of the Crown Nominations Commission to nominate a successor. The full text of the debate (which did at times stray off topic) is copied below the fold.
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer comments on
The sluggish delinquency of the Crown Nominations Commission.
Bishop of Guildford: Appointment
Tabled by Lord Trefgarne
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Prime Minister is yet in a position to make a recommendation to Her Majesty the Queen in respect of a new Bishop for Guildford.
Baroness Harris of Richmond (LD): My Lords, on behalf of the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, and at his request, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in his name on the Order Paper.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): My Lords, the Crown Nominations Commission had its first meeting in early June and will have its second meeting on 21 and 22 July. The Prime Minister awaits the nomination from the Crown Nominations Commission and will then make a recommendation to Her Majesty the Queen, with the hope of an announcement in September.
Baroness Harris of Richmond: I thank my noble friend for his reply, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, will. I mention my having just completed the lengthy but very successful process of choosing a new dean for Ripon Cathedral, in a new and vast super-diocese. Will my noble friend consider sitting down with the Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments and the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary, both of whom do a magnificent job with very few resources, and perhaps with others who have been through this long and involved process, to review and come back with some proposals to streamline that process? Alternatively, should the church be free to appoint its own bishops? I declare an interest as high steward of Ripon Cathedral.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, because of the age profile of the current House of Bishops, I understand that a number of vacancies and some retirements are coming along. I know that the most reverend Primate is conscious of this. The last time this was considered in 2008, the previous Government brought forward some changes to the appointments process. This Government do not have any proposals to change any further but I am sure that these matters ought to be borne in mind.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab): My Lords, perhaps I may ask the Minister a slightly broader question about public appointments which have been held up.
Is he aware that since last Monday, the Science Museum Group—I declare an interest as a trustee—has been without a chairman, even though the process to reappoint the excellent Dr Douglas Gurr started as long ago as last summer? Numerous other appointments are awaiting decisions from the Cabinet Office or 10 Downing Street, of which the Science Museum is perhaps the most blatant example at the moment.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, I very much take the noble Lord’s point. Leadership in all institutions and bodies is very important and I will take that back. Again, I am very mindful of the point that the noble Lord is making.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, would the Minister find it helpful if the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury was made aware of the concern of the House about there being sufficient meetings of the Crown Nominations Commission, so that when there is a pile-up of episcopal vacancies, as it were, there are sufficient meetings to address that? Is the Minister also aware that we very much hope to have legislation by the end of this year so that women can become bishops?
Noble Lords: Hear, hear!
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: They would therefore be eligible, and much overdue, to come into this House.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, what the right reverend Prelate said last is of great importance not only in this House but to the nation as a whole. I wish the deliberations of the General Synod extremely well. I know that when we had a previous exchange the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury was going to be made aware of some of the concerns, and it would be extremely helpful if a record of our discussions today were made known to him.
Lord Howell of Guildford (Con): I shall ask a slightly narrower question than the Question on the Order Paper. Is the Minister aware that Guildford is a lovely place and that the cathedral at the centre is superbly sited, although it is in need of funds for repairs? Does he agree that there ought to be a whole raft of people eager to serve in this great role as bishop of Guildford? I hope there is an excellent range of candidates, one of whom will soon be appointed.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I agree with my noble friend. I hope the appointment will be made soon. It is very important that dioceses have bishops at the helm. I am aware that Guildford is in a very beautiful county, the most wooded county in the country. It is a fine place.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab): My Lords, is Guildford a suitable place for fracking?
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I am sure that when the new bishop arrives he—or perhaps, if it is some time, she—will consider these things. The important thing is that we need an energy mix in this country. Fracking could well provide that. Clearly it needs to be done carefully and sensitively, but we should not pass this opportunity.
Baroness Berridge (Con): My Lords, I expect that the winds of change will blow through the Anglican Church later this month. Will the Minister outline whether the Government will take this opportunity to look at the selection process for appointments in slightly more detail? Previously, I lived in the north-west of England for nine years. Liverpool, Manchester, Warrington, Bolton, Blackburn, Burnley, Preston and Lancashire are not currently on the Benches of the Lords spiritual but, as of right, Winchester is. That diocese includes the Channel Islands, which are not in the United Kingdom. Is it not time that we had a system of appointment that saw our metropolitan cities represented as of right?
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, I can safely say that much of this is a matter for the church. There is legislation going back to the 19th century on these matters. At some point perhaps that might be looked at.
Lord Morgan (Lab): My Lords, would it not be desirable if the Prime Minister made no suggestion about appointing the Bishop of Guildford, as would be the case with the disestablished Church in Wales? Would that not greatly liberate the church as an independent body free from the trammels of state interference?
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I am not sure that I am inclined to that view. Obviously the Church in Wales and the Church of England have taken different paths. That is a matter for the Church of England.
Lord Deben (Con): My Lords, we should be careful because the Church of Rome appoints its own bishops and takes a great deal longer than the Church of England, which is itself very dilatory. Changes do not necessarily speed up the system.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I am a great believer that if one does not want too much change, one should have some change.
Lord West of Spithead (Lab): My Lords, the House is not sitting tomorrow. There was mention of Her Majesty. Tomorrow, Her Majesty is naming the first fleet carrier to have been built since the Second World War. It is the work of 10,000 men and women around our country—a masterpiece of engineering. Would the Minister like to acknowledge and welcome this marvellous event tomorrow?
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, the whole nation is extremely fortunate to have a head of state who works so hard on our behalf.
Updated Friday evening
The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church recently visited St Albans and Oxford.
At St Albans she preached at the Alban Pilgrimage.
At Oxford, she preached at the University Church and received an honorary degree from Oxford University.
The citation for the degree can be seen here.
The Church Times carries this interview with her, conducted by Paul Handley ‘A long process of liberation’.
Lucy Davis of WATCH has written Wonderful, inspiring day in St Albans with Bishop Katharine.
The Methodist Church in Great Britain has issued the following press release: [emphasis added]
Methodist Conference receives report on same-sex marriage
The Methodist Church has committed to a two year period of listening, reflecting and discernment following the legislation of same-sex marriage in England, Wales and Scotland earlier this year. A report exploring the issues around same-sex marriage was brought by a working party to the Methodist Conference meeting today in Birmingham.
The Methodist Church, in line with scripture and traditional teaching, believes that marriage is a gift of God and that it is God’s intention that a marriage should be a life-long union in body, mind and spirit of one man and one woman. The Methodist Conference did not vote on changing this understanding, or ‘opting in’ so as to permit Methodist Church buildings to be registered for same-sex marriage ceremonies or Methodist ministers to be authorised to conduct them.
The Conference resolved that its previous ruling that there was no reason per se to prevent anyone within the Church, ordained or lay, from entering into or remaining within a civil partnership, should also extend to those entering into legally contracted same-sex marriages.
The Conference agreed revised guidelines that will allow local churches and ministers to consider the appropriate pastoral response to requests for prayers and blessings of same-sex couples.
The Conference directed the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee to work on the production and dissemination of clear guidance on what is to be regarded as homophobia.
Susan Howdle, chair of the Church’s working party on same-sex marriage and civil partnerships, said: “We are very grateful to all those people who have contributed to our work as we have explored together issues which have deep significance for the personal lives of so many people and for the life and mission of the church. We appreciate too the spirit in which the Conference has now dealt with our report, and trust that the Methodist people will respond similarly to the call to engage with each other honestly, prayerfully and graciously about these matters.”
A new working party was appointed today by the Methodist Conference to oversee the two-year period of reflection concerning relationships and living with difference, and to report to the Conference in 2016.
The full text of the report can be found here.
The revised guidelines are copied in full below the fold.
From page 478-9 of the report:
“The Methodist Church recognises that its members hold contradictory convictions regarding issues of human sexuality and the forms of relationship intended by God. The demands of the Gospel commit us to making pilgrimage together grounded in mutual respect and a spirit of understanding and love. In all this we continue to affirm our need of grace and our willingness to admit our limitations.
In providing guidelines the Conference acknowledges the help required by Local Churches and individual ministers and lay persons to respond well to enquiries and requests for prayers or services from same sex couples, including those whose relationship has been recognised in a civil ceremony. The pastoral conversation with the couple resulting from such an enquiry should be conducted in an atmosphere of welcome and with care and sensitivity. Any conversation about the current understanding of the Methodist Church with regard to marriage and relationships should be based on the previous decisions of the Conference in order that the pastoral response offered is consonant with these understandings. Knowledge is therefore presumed of the following Methodist Conference documents and decisions:
- The relevant Standing Orders, principally SO 011A
- The 1992 Conference Statement on A Christian Understanding of the Family, the Single Person and Marriage
- The 1993 Conference Resolutions on Human Sexuality (CPD Book VII, part 11)
- The Pilgrimage of Faith Reports 2005 and 2006
- Christian Preparation for Marriage: Methodist Church Policy and Guidelines (CPD Book VII, Part 8)
- Guidelines for Interfaith Marriages (CPD Book VII, Part 9)
These documents and decisions together govern the practice of the Methodist Church and no decision of local church bodies or officers, ministers or lay persons regarding relationships or sexuality should contravene them. It is the responsibility of each presbyter, in conjunction with the Church Council, to ensure that this discipline is upheld in the life of the Local Church in order to preserve and advance its mission and unity.
Whilst it is expected that any response be respectful and welcoming, no local church body, minister or lay person is required to act in any way contrary to the demands of conscience. The Conference trusts that at all times all those responsible will seek to act together with integrity and in good faith.
Given the sensitivities of these matters, these guidelines are offered in a spirit of support and mutual care. They are intended to reduce the possibility of hurt or distress that may be caused by rejection or misunderstanding, and to preserve the unity of the Local Church, in order that the Church may remain faithful to the Gospel mission to which it is called.”