The Church of England issued this press release this afternoon.
Addition to General Synod agenda
30 June 2016
Following the result of the EU Referendum on 23 June, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have exercised their powers under the General Synod’s Standing Orders to make some time available at its brief Group of Sessions in July for a debate on a motion endorsing the Archbishops’ recent call for all to unite in the common task of building a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world.
The debate will take place on the afternoon of Friday 8 July.
The wording of the motion will be made available to Synod members early next week.
First there is the St Michael’s House Protocols (not a new document).
Second, there is this new Frequently Asked Questions document. This is copied below the fold.
General Synod Shared Conversation – FAQs
1. What should I bring for the Shared Conversation at General Synod?
It is important that you bring with you the programme for the two days and your copy of the St Michael’s House Protocols. It would also be helpful to bring a Bible, a notebook and a pen.
2. Can I use social media during the Shared Conversation?
The St Michael’s House Protocols (which underpin the Shared Conversation) highlight the importance of creating a private space in which all feel welcome and respected and in which those taking part commit to becoming mutual and interdependent participants for the duration of the process. In order for this to be possible, it is essential that all participants are fully present – physically, mentally and emotionally – in the process. It is also important that only thosen who have committed to working within the guidelines of the St Michael’s House Protocols are part of the Shared Conversation while it is taking place. As such, the Shared Conversation will be private sessions of synod, with no fringe meetings, media presence or live streaming. For the same reason, participants are asked to refrain from using any form of social media throughout the two days and are requested not to communicate information about the Conversation by text, email or phone while the Conversation is going on. Participants are encouraged to take notes of anything you would like to remember from the Shared Conversation, but to do this in writing and not by taking photographs. You are also encouraged to share any learning that you have acquired from the process after it is over. Any reflections on the Shared Conversations after they have finished must, of course, adhere to the St Michael’s House Protocols. In
practical terms, this involves:
3. What should I wear for the Shared Conversations?
All participants are encouraged to wear casual, comfortable clothes. We have found in the Regional Shared Conversations that both clergy and lay participants found it helpful for clergy not to wear clerical dress, if possible.
4. Will I be in the same group for the whole process?
Yes, you will be with the same facilitator and the same group of around 20 participants for the duration of the Shared Conversation. Sometimes you will work in smaller sub-sets within that group.
5. Do I need to go to every session?
Yes. At the heart of the Shared Conversation is a commitment made by each participant to their fellow participants in the process. This implies a commitment to engage fully with all of the sessions. The Shared Conversation has been carefully designed from start to finish and its benefits, for both individuals and the whole of synod, will be greatly reduced if participants miss sessions.
6. Do we get some time off during the Shared Conversation?
The Shared Conversation is, by its very nature, an intense process, so time for rest and reflection is essential. Participants have free time after dinner on both evenings, as well as an extended lunch break of two hours on Monday. There will, of course, also be a tea and coffee break each morning and afternoon.
7. Will I have to talk about my sexuality?
Participants are encouraged to engage with the Shared Conversation as fully as possible but no one will be forced to disclose any personal information of any kind. If talking about human sexuality as part of your personal faith journey is important to you, please do so. But participants should not disclose anything which they feel unsafe to share.
The Evangelical Group of the General Synod, EGGS, has issued this document to its members and friends ahead of the shared conversations scheduled to start on 10 July.
As it says:
This resource is offered to EGGS members and friends in order to help us engage in formal/informal discussions which might arise as part of/around the Shared Conversations in York.
The ideas/opinions/statements expressed (in bold) are amongst those that members might hear articulated and which we believe can (and need) to be responded to. The thoughts/responses offered are a resource from the (elected members of) the Committee to help reflection on the likely issues and questions. They do not necessarily reflect the view of all EGGS members or friends.
The document contains 14 questions and suggested answers. Do read it all carefully.
PS at the present time, the website of EGGS appears to be down.
In 2013 the House of Bishops decided to give eight senior women clergy elected regionally (“regional representatives) the right to attend their meetings. The intention at the time was that this arrangement would last until there were six female members of the House.
The House of Bishops has now decided “to give six female Suffragan Bishops rights of attendance at the House, in addition to the female members of the House, replacing the arrangements for the Regional Representatives.” These new arrangements will come into effect from 1st December 2016. [See paragraph 14 of GS Misc 1144.]
The membership of the House of Bishops is
At present there are two female diocesans (Gloucester and Newcastle), and one of the elected suffragans (Stockport) is a woman. There are a further seven female suffragans.
Updated to add press reports
The Church of England has today announced an independent review into the handling of the George Bell case, as this press release explains.
Independent review into handling of George Bell case
28 June 2016
An independent review of the processes used in the George Bell case has been announced today in accordance with the House of Bishops guidance on all complex cases.
The House of Bishops practice guidance states that once all matters relating to any serious safeguarding situation have been completed, the Core Group should meet again to review the process and to consider what lessons can be learned for the handling of future serious safeguarding situations. A review has always been carried out in any case involving allegations against a bishop.
The review will be commissioned by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, on the recommendation of the Bishop of Chichester, to see what lessons can be learnt from how the case was handled. The case involves the settlement in 2015 of a legal civil claim regarding sexual abuse against George Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929-1958.
The Church has always recognised Bishop Bell’s principled stand in the Second World War and his contribution to peace but it also has a duty to listen to survivors. The diocese of Chichester continues to be in touch and offer support to the survivor known as Carol, who brought the allegations in this case.
The review will look at the processes surrounding the allegations which were first brought in 1995 to the diocese of Chichester with the same allegations brought again, this time to Lambeth Palace, in 2013. It will also consider the processes, including the commissioning of expert independent reports and archival and other investigations, which were used to inform the decision to settle the case. The settlement was based on the balance of probabilities as criminal proceedings cannot be brought in a case where the alleged perpetrator is dead.
Details of the review including Terms of Reference and name of the independent reviewer will be announced at a later date.
The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner said; “As in any serious safeguarding situation it is always important to learn lessons from the process and this review will ensure this is done.
“I have, however, made it absolutely clear that the survivor in the case be reassured that we will do everything we can to continue to support her as we have done throughout this process. Like her, we recognise gravity of this matter, given its impact on the national and international reputation of Bishop George Bell.
“I hope that the review will provide a constructive way forward for all concerned.
Along with my colleagues in the wider Church, I am committed to ensuring that the past is handled with honesty.”
The George Bell Group recently published this Compendium of Selected Sources covering the period 22 October 2015 - 21 June 2016.
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England orders review into handling of George Bell sex abuse case
Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England aims to agree to disagree over homosexuality
Two of this year’s ordinands reflect on their vocations.
Lucy Savage ‘I remember having an overwhelming feeling that this was going to be me one day’
Chris Sayburn ‘Through it all, I know the call that God has placed upon my life’
Ian Paul asks Are clergy and laity fundamentally different?
Updated Friday evening, Saturday morning, Sunday morning
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued a joint statement.
On Thursday, millions of people from across the United Kingdom voted in the referendum, and a majority expressed a desire that Britain’s future is to be outside the European Union
The outcome of this referendum has been determined by the people of this country. It is now the responsibility of the Government, with the support of Parliament, to take full account of the outcome of the referendum, and, in the light of this, decide upon the next steps. This morning, the Prime Minister David Cameron has offered a framework for when this process might formally begin.
The vote to withdraw from the European Union means that now we must all reimagine both what it means to be the United Kingdom in an interdependent world and what values and virtues should shape and guide our relationships with others.
As citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever our views during the referendum campaign, we must now unite in a common task to build a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world. We must remain hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers. Many of those living among us and alongside us as neighbours, friends and work colleagues come from overseas and some will feel a deep sense of insecurity. We must respond by offering reassurance, by cherishing our wonderfully diverse society, and by affirming the unique contribution of each and every one.
The referendum campaign has been vigorous and at times has caused hurt to those on one side or the other. We must therefore act with humility and courage – being true to the principles that make the very best of our nation. Unity, hope and generosity will enable us to overcome the period of transition that will now happen, and to emerge confident and successful. The opportunities and challenges that face us as a nation and as global citizens are too significant for us to settle for less.
As those who hope and trust in the living God, let us pray for all our leaders, especially for Prime Minister David Cameron in his remaining months in office. We also pray for leaders across Europe, and around the world, as they face this dramatic change. Let us pray especially that we may go forward to build a good United Kingdom that, though relating to the rest of Europe in a new way will play its part amongst the nations in the pursuit of the common good throughout the world.
“The UK referendum campaign has been a bruising one, and I hope very much that there will now be a period of reconciliation and healing between those on different sides of the debate.
“The news that a majority of those in the UK wishes to leave the UK does not lessen the fervent desire of the Church of England Diocese in Europe to work co-operatively with our brother and sister Christians in Europe.
“The vote will, however, have particular implications for some members of our diocese. Of course, the vote itself only signals the intent to launch a long process of negotiations with the European Council. It is only as that process gets underway that we will know exactly how UK citizens living in Europe will be affected. Meanwhile, I want to assure our ecumenical partners in Europe of our heartfelt and continuing commitment to them.”
The Suffragan Bishop in Europe has written: We remain a European Church which serves all people. Let us resolve to be even more faithful to this calling.
As if there wasn’t enough material already, there are two large official documents in addition to the two small ones linked in this article.
There is a Faith and Order Commission report GS Misc 1139 Communion and Disagreement.
The FAOC page says:
…FAOC’s report on Communion and Disagreement was published in June 2016 and circulated to members of General Synod as a GS Misc, to support the process of shared conversations in the Church of England and the discussion and discernment that continue beyond it. It was approved for publication and commended for study by the House of Bishops…
Members of the drafting group for Communion and Disagreement have also made available five supporting ‘dialogue’ papers. As the Chair of FAOC explains in his Preface to the papers, they are being made available ‘for those who might like to follow up particular aspects of it or find out more about some of the background and related issues. Unlike the report, however, the content of these supporting papers has not been approved by the Commission and does not come with its authority.’
So there you have it. GS Misc 1139 is 41 pages long. The supporting papers document is 80 pages.
A report has been published by the Institute for Public Affairs at the London School of Economics: Anglicans and Sexuality: A Way Forward?
The purpose of this study was to consider the role, both historic and current, of the Anglican Communion, and individual provinces and churches that make up the Communion, in efforts to bring about the decriminalisation of same-sex sexual conduct between consenting adults. It asked a simple question: should an independent commission be set up to look at all aspects of criminalisation and seek ways in which Anglicans can come to a better understanding of these issues and how they can engage with governments, legislatures and the public in countries which criminalise same-sex relationships?
The full text of the report is available here.
Some media accounts of it:
Church Times :Give gay decriminalisation priority, Anglicans told
Episcopal News Service: Report urges Anglicans to defeat laws criminalizing same-sex behavior
And Episcopal Café had this: Anglican Communion urged to combat criminalization of homosexuality.
Suffragan Bishop of Bolton: Mark David Ashcroft
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 22 June 2016
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Mark David Ashcroft as Suffragan See of Bolton in the Diocese of Manchester.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Mark David Ashcroft, MA, Archdeacon of Manchester, in the Diocese of Manchester, to the Suffragan See of Bolton, in the Diocese of Manchester in succession to the Right Reverend Christopher Paul Edmondson, MA, on his resignation on the 30 June 2016.
Notes for editors
The Venerable Mark Ashcroft (aged 61), studied at Worcester College, Oxford for his MA, and at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge where he was awarded his BA. He trained for the ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He served as curate at Burnage in Manchester diocese from 1982 to 1985 before moving to be a tutor at St Paul’s School of Divinity Kapsabet in Kenya from 1986 to 1990, and then Principal from 1990 to 1995. He returned to Manchester in 1996 to be Rector of Christ Church, Harpurhey till 2009. He was Area Dean of North Manchester from 2000 to 2006. He was also Honorary Canon at Manchester Cathedral from 2004 to 2009. Since 2009 he has been Archdeacon of Manchester and Residentiary Canon of Manchester Cathedral.
Mark Ashcroft is married to Sally and they have 3 children. His interests include gardening, bird watching and walking the dog. He is a supporter of England teams, whatever the sport.
From the Manchester diocesan website: The new Bishop of Bolton
Darton, Longman and Todd has published a new book: Amazing Love, Theology for Understanding Discipleship, Sexuality and Mission.
Read the publisher’s press release describing the content of the book.
You can also read the preface, written by Mark Russell: available here.
…This book is a resource that will stimulate and encourage us to form questions in a new way so we don’t talk past each other or, worse, shout at each other. You may agree with the book or disagree with it, but it will help you consider how we can help LGBT people to know the Good News of Jesus Christ in their lives. I am grateful to Andrew and his colleagues for this new book and I commend it to you.
The LGBTI Mission has published a press release, Christians called to accept same-sex relationships:
LGBTI Mission, the recently formed Church of England campaign organisation, welcomes a new book, Amazing Love, published by Darton, Longman and Todd. This is the first fruit of the programme we launched in February. A working group met in Cambridge last January to plan this book, which has been edited by Dr Andrew Davison, Starbridge Lecturer in Theology and Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge.
The book shows that there is a clear theological rationale for Christians to accept committed same-sex relationships. It is aimed at readers who may not have any formal theological training.
It does not take a specific view about how the Church should respond to same-sex marriage and thus it is hoped it will win over many of those who are not already irrevocably opposed to same-sex relationships.
Publication is timed to make the book available for the forthcoming sexuality conversations being held at the Church of England’s General Synod in York (10 to 12 July) but it should interest Christians of all denominations in Britain, and is ideal for use in discussion groups by local churches.
Copies are being sent this week to all members of the General Synod, thanks to grants made by three of LBGTI Mission’s partners: Changing Attitude, Inclusive Church, and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.
The formal launch of the book will be at a reception in the State Rooms of the Speaker’s House at the Palace of Westminster on 29 June.
Simon Sarmiento, Chair of the LGBTI Mission said: “Recent events highlight the timeliness of this book. Christians need to consider urgently whether the traditional conservative attitude towards same-sex relationships is still a sustainable view in today’s world. This book shows that it is possible to disagree.”
The book is mentioned in this report from the Church Times New books say that taking a hard line on sexuality will damage mission which also discusses Journeys in Grace and Truth.
…The book includes reflections on science. While emphasising that the sciences “can never provide a ‘trump card’ in ethical discussions,” the authors warn that: “We would lose credibility in mission if we still proclaimed that the world was made in six 24-hour days. We risk looking foolish if we talk about same-sex attraction and relationships without paying full attention to the full range of what there is to know on that score.”
They also draw on previous shifts in the Church’s teaching, including beliefs about slavery (“It took time — far too much time — for Christians to connect their understanding of the good news with their views on slavery.”). A study of key biblical passages concludes that they pose questions that “make it difficult to build a solid case against same-sex relationships”.
The book addresses perceived weaknesses in the arguments of both sides, warning that “many of the loudest voices . . . have been arguing in a one-dimensional way”. While one side has “talked about scripture as if interpretation was not a demanding task”, the other has “too often made experience its one source, and has too often treated scripture as a problem, rather than as the Christian foundation.
“Similarly, it has often treated reason as almost synonymous with feelings and fallen foul of what C. S. Lewis called ‘chronological snobbery’ in its willingness to elevate itself above the tradition of Christian theology, philosophy and ethics.”
David Ison ViaMedia ‘Do You See This Woman?’
Kelvin Holdsworth Scottish Episcopalians Do It Together
Beth Routledge Into The Light Of Morning
Mike Eastwood, Director of Renewal and Reform at the Church of England A hopeful future
Simon Watkinson The Guardian It’s not every young person’s dream, but I plan to be a vicar
Harry Farley Christian Today Church of England split over gay marriage may be unavoidable, admits Welby’s chief of staff
Madeleine Davies and Hattie Williams Church Times Talk nicely or else, Synod members are counselled ahead of sex talks
John Bingham The Telegraph The ‘sincere’ schism: Church of England’s etiquette guide for gay marriage rows
The Church of England’s usual pre-synod press release has been issued today, and is copied below.
I have listed the online papers here.
Agenda published for the July 2016 General Synod York meeting
17 June 2016
The Agenda for the July meeting of the General Synod is published today. Members will gather in York on Friday 8 July until Saturday 9 July. A key focus during these two days will be how the Church’s vision for a growing, confident and hopeful church can be put into action through the Renewal and Reform Programme.
The Church’s governing body will discuss the vision and narrative for Renewal and Reform and key changes to legislation to make innovation and change easier for those engaged with church life at all levels. The Legislative Reform Measure will make it possible to amend or repeal some Church legislation by means of Orders approved by the Synod. Several other proposed pieces of new legislation will consolidate existing provisions into a more user-friendly form and repeal provisions which are obsolete. There will also be an opportunity for Synod to discuss a report from the Development and Appointments Group updating Synod on the progress of their work on the training and development of senior Church leaders.
The Synod will also discuss a report on “A Church of England Vision for Education” with reference to the establishment of a foundation for education and leadership. The Synod will also examine Annual Reports from both the Church Commissioners and the Archbishops’ Council.
Aside from legislation linked to Renewal and Reform, Synod will also consider legislation which gives effect to two private members’ motions which were previously passed by the Synod. The amending legislation relates to forms of vesture requirements for ministers and providing for those who have taken their own life to be buried in accordance with the normal burial service.
Synod will also be addressed by Bishop Ralf Meister of the German Evangelical Church, who will look ahead to the anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. It will receive a report from the Archbishop of York on his 6 month pilgrimage.
The formal proceedings of the Synod will end on Saturday 9 July.
Following a service on 10 July at York Minster, members of the Synod will take part in Shared Conversations on Scripture, Mission and Human Sexuality - following the regional sessions that concluded earlier this year - until Tuesday.
Updated Friday 24 June to include second circulation papers
Papers in the first circulation All papers for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 8-12 July are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.
GS 2023 - Agenda
GS 2024 - Report by the Business Committee [Friday]
GS 2025 - Appointments to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]
GS 2026 - Nurturing and Discerning Senior Leaders: Report from the Development And Appointments Group of the House of Bishops [Friday]
GS 2038 - A Vision for Renewal and Reform [Saturday]
GS 2039 - A Church of England Vision for Education: a Report from the Education Division [Saturday]
GS 2040 - Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report [Saturday]
GS 2041 - Archbishops’ Council’s Budget [Saturday]
Church Commissioners’ Annual Report [Friday]
GS Misc 1138 - Giving for life Re-ignited
GS Misc 1140 - Draft Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 - Code of Practice as amended
GS Misc 1141 - Clergy Discipline Rules as amended by CDA Rules 2016
GS Misc 1142 - Audit Committee Annual Report
GS Misc 1143 - Clergy Discipline Commission Annual Report
GS Misc 1144 - House of Bishops Summary of Decisions
GS Misc 1145 - Anglican-Methodist Joint Covenant Advocacy and Monitoring Group
GS Misc 1146 - Report of the Archbishops’ Council’s Activities
GS Misc 1147 - Crown Nominations Commission Report
Shared Conversations Material
Timetable - Sunday afternoon - Tuesday lunchtime
Updated Friday morning
A new book of essays, Journeys in Grace and Truth, edited by Jayne Ozanne, is launched this weekend. From the publicity:
Is it possible to hold a positive view of same-sex relationships while being a biblically rooted evangelical? These twelve senior Anglican Evangelicals believe so.
Journeys in Grace and Truth sets out the path each contributor has travelled to reach this point, involving moving encounters, scriptural exegesis and personal revelations. It is offered as a contribution to aid the discussion, and to broker deeper understanding between evangelicals and the wider Church.
Contributors include the Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, and the Bishop of Dorchester, Colin Fletcher, who have both been talking to the press.
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Leading evangelical bishops call for Church to change on gays
… Bishop Fletcher criticises the “immense” damage to “far too many good Christian people” by the Church’s attitude to gay people. Bishop Bayes says: “We need to change the Church – to make room and to extend the table.”…
This article includes a video of an interview with the Bishop of Liverpool, which can also be viewed on YouTube.
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Senior bishop calls for change in C of E attitudes to gay people
A senior bishop associated with the Church of England’s evangelical wing has called for far-reaching change in the church’s attitudes to lesbian and gay people and a meaningful welcome to Christians in same-sex relationships.
Acknowledging that he has been “profoundly changed” by encounters with lesbian and gay Christians, including within his own family, Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, has said: “I have come to believe that we need to change the church.”
LGBT people have been bruised and broken by the church, he said…
John Bingham The Telegraph Two bishops urge clerics to rethink ‘interpretations’ of the Bible which condemn homosexuality
The Diocese of Liverpool has published this article on its webpage: Church ‘must give a hearing to Evangelical Journeys of Acceptance for same-sex relationships’.
The Archbishop of York appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme today, and got into a spat with presenter Piers Morgan about homophobia. There’s a video here: Piers challenges Archbishop of York over gay rights.
[Some extensions to your browser might prevent the video playing.]
Harry Farley Christian Today Archbishop of York clashes with Piers Morgan over gay marriage
The Archbishop of York became embroiled in a live TV argument over same-sex marriage on Wednesday morning as ITV presenter Piers Morgan accused him of homophobia.
Archbishop John Sentamu was appearing on Good Morning Britain when Morgan compared homophobia and racism. Sentamu, who is originally from Uganda, was visibly irritated at Morgan’s suggestions.
“This is the trouble I have with the people who argue that the question of sexuality is equal in terms of argument to the question of slavery.
“No, some of my relations died on the ships. Slavery was a very wrong thing.” …
Antony Bushfield Premier Archbishop: ‘Not supporting gay marriage does not equal homophobia’
Keiligh Baker Mail Online ‘The church ISN’T homophobic – I have lots of gay friends’: Archbishop of York in TV row with Piers Morgan as he is challenged over religious attitudes after Orlando massacre
email received at 1.23 pm Monday
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued the following joint statement in response to the shootings in Orlando:
Monday 13 June 2016
For immediate use
“After Sunday’s attack in Orlando as Christians we must speak out in support of LGBTI people, who have become the latest group to be so brutally targeted by the forces of evil. We must pray, weep with those affected, support the bereaved, and love without qualification. The obligation to object to these acts of persecution, and to support those LGBTI people who are wickedly and cruelly killed and wounded, bereaved and traumatised, whether in Orlando or elsewhere, is an absolute call on our Christian discipleship. It arises from the unshakeable certainty of the gracious love of God for every human being. Now, in this time of heartbreak and grief, is a time for solidarity. May God our Father give grace and comfort to all who mourn, and divine compassion to us all.”
Bishop of Central Florida (whose diocese includes Orlando)
A group named the Scottish Anglican Network has issued a statement Scottish Anglican Network statement on amendment of Scottish Episcopal Church’s marriage canon which is also copied in full below the fold.
The group’s website also has an About Us page which described how the group came into being in 2005 and how it has engaged in dialogue with SEC bishops more recently.
There is also a separate statement issued by Gafcon UK and signed by a number of retired bishops, “on behalf of the Panel of Bishops, Gafcon UK” offering to “provide alternative episcopal oversight, and thereby your recognition as faithful Anglicans by the worldwide Gafcon movement, which represents the majority of Anglicans worldwide.”
Scottish Anglican Network statement on amendment of Scottish Episcopal Church’s marriage canon
June 11, 2016
On 10 June 2016, at the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church General Synod, those Anglican followers of Jesus in Scotland who are biblically orthodox on marriage made the positive case for keeping Canon 31 as it is. This would have maintained marriage as “a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman created by their mutual consent of heart, mind and will thereto, and is a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God.”
At last year’s Synod, we supported a costly compromise solution which would have provided opportunities to support same-sex couples, without changing the wording of the canon. Many of us could have lived with this. Sadly, Synod chose to reject this option, instead going for the most radical choice possible, and in the process, choosing to walk apart and damaging the unity of the Province and the Anglican Communion.
The new wording of the canon means that, for now, clergy consciences are protected and that no-one will have to conduct a same-sex marriage. We participated in the discussions which produced that wording to ensure that those with no other option but to submit to the new regime might have the maximum protection allowed. Graciously, this was accepted. However, it also means that we as a Church believe two different things about marriage and it will, over time lead to an attrition of those who hold to the view that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. This concern is summed up in the axiom of the late Father Richard Neuhaus, “Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed”.
We know that many in our church will be rejoicing in this new direction. There are many others who are in deep pain, including those in our churches who are attracted to the same-sex but who hold an orthodox view of marriage. Some of us will need to consider what future can be had in a church which is abandoning its claim to being part of the one holy Catholic and apostolic church.
We are grateful for the theological, practical and prayer support which we have received from within Scotland and around the world. We now ask for the orthodox leaders of the Anglican Communion to stand with us and pray for us as we discern what the next steps should be.
The Lord sent prophets to call the people back from their disobedience. Their repeated call was to return to the one who loves them. Mercifully, he still makes that call to us today.
“‘Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
Joel 2:12-13, NIVUK
Canon Simon Butler, Prolocutor of Canterbury, looks ahead to the shared conversation at next month’s General Synod — Having a Difficult Conversation.
Thinking Afresh About Welfare — A discussion paper by the Revd Canon Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of the Mission and Public Affairs Division of Archbishops’ Council, and endorsed by the House of Bishops
Church Times has a series of extracts from the paper, ‘Uprooting people severs support networks’, and Paul Handley writes Welfare paper for Bishops identifies ‘enemy Isolation’.
Jeremy Pemberton explains why he will not be taking a wedding service today — Wedding days.
Alex Walker talks to George Westhaver, the Principal of Pusey House, about students, fellowship and faith — Unheard Oxford: The Rev’d Dr George Westhaver.
Updated during the day
The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has today passed a first reading of a change to its Canon on marriage (Canon 31). The change is to remove from the Canon the doctrinal statement regarding marriage that marriage is to be understood as a union “of one man and one woman.”
At this stage a simple majority in each house was required for the motion to be passed. At second reading in 2017 a two thirds majority in each house will be required, and it will be noted that today’s motion received such majorities.
There is an official summary of the whole of Friday’s business here.
Scroll down for press reports.
The Scottish Episcopal Church has issued this statement.
Statement following the passing of Motion 14
The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has today passed a first reading of a change to its Canon on marriage (Canon 31). The change is to remove from the Canon the doctrinal statement regarding marriage that marriage is to be understood as a union “of one man and one woman.”
A first reading of the change is the first step in a process and does not represent a final decision. The proposed change now passes from the General Synod to the Church’s seven dioceses for discussion and comment in their Diocesan Synods in the coming year. The opinions from the dioceses will then be relayed back to the General Synod which will be invited to give a second reading of the Canon in June 2017. At that stage, for a second reading to be passed, it must achieve a majority of two thirds in the “houses” of bishops, clergy and laity within the General Synod. The change to the canon would include a conscience clause ensuring that clergy opposed to the change are not required to marry people of the same sex.
Commenting on the first reading today, the Rt Rev Dr Gregor Duncan, Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway and Acting Convener of the Church’s Faith and Order Board, said:
“General Synod last year engaged in extensive debate in relation to possible changes to our Canon on marriage. It asked the Board to bring forward canonical legislation this year to remove from the Canon any doctrinal statement regarding marriage. That would pave the way for clergy of the Church who wish to be able to solemnise weddings between people of the same sex. Synod has this year accepted the proposals brought forward by the Board by giving a first reading to the canonical change. The process will now continue and not be completed until General Synod 2017. If second reading is agreed at that stage, the change to the Canon will take effect.
The Synod’s decision this year is important because it represents the beginning of a formal process of canonical change. The Church has been engaged in recent years in a series of discussions at all levels. The current process will enable the Church come to a formal decision on the matter. Views within the Church are, of course, wide and diverse. The passing of the first reading today will bring great joy to some; for others it will be matter of great difficulty. The wording of the proposed change recognises that there are differing views of marriage within our Church and we have attempted, and will continue to attempt, to sustain our unity in the midst of our diversity.”
Results of ballot
|Number||% of votes cast||Number||% of votes cast|
* This figure was originally misprinted on the SEC website as 69.
Andrew Page KaleidoScot Scottish Episcopal Church takes step towards approving same-sex marriages
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Scottish Episcopal church leaps towards allowing gay marriage
Harry Farley Christian Today Scottish Episcopal Church votes in favour of same-sex marriage
Anglican Communion News Service Scottish Episcopal Church takes first step towards same sex marriage
John Bingham The Telegraph Scottish Anglicans take first step towards gay marriage
The 2016 meeting of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church opened today, and there is an official summary of the day’s business here.
In addition there are the texts of the Primus Charge and the Primus’s report from January’s Primates’ Meeting. The latter includes this passage, with reference to the ‘consequences’ which that meeting decided to impose on The Episcopal Church of the United States,
Two weeks ago, I went to London and met with Archbishop Justin specifically to ask the question, ‘Will this also apply to us if we complete the process of Canonical change in 2017?’ The answer is that it will. Most directly, I will be removed from the role of Anglican Co-Chair of the International Anglican-Reformed Dialogue. But other effects are limited. Our bishops will be present and fully involved in the Lambeth Conference planned for 2020. We shall continue to be actively involved in our network of Diocesan Companionships and in the Anglican Networks.
I believe that the Primates Meeting has acted beyond its powers.
but do read it all.
Comment by Kelvin Holdsworth On Being Threatened
and by Beth Routledge Speaking Truth To Power – Sanctions Threatened Against Scottish Episcopal Church
The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church is meeting in Edinburgh later this week from 9-11 June. There are papers and other information here. In particular the agenda and papers are all in this document.
The SEC press office has released this very helpful summary of the business before the Synod. As it states there:
What is likely to attract most attention at this year’s General Synod is the first reading of a proposed alteration to the Church’s Canon on Marriage. This proposal would remove the doctrinal clause which states that marriage is between a man and a woman and would add a conscience clause for those who would want to exercise their right not to conduct a same-sex marriage. If the proposal is approved in 2016 there will be a further debate in 2017 when a two thirds majority in each ‘House’ of Bishops, Clergy and Laity would be required.
This business is scheduled for Friday morning. For readers’ convenience I have copied the current text of Canon 31 (the marriage canon) and the proposed amendments below the fold.
OF THE SOLEMNISATION OF HOLY MATRIMONY
The current text of Canon 31 and Appendix 26 is set out below for information. The text to be added is shown in italics and the text to be deleted is scored through.
1. The Doctrine of this Church is that Marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman created by their mutual consent of heart, mind and will thereto, and is a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God. 2. No cleric of this Church shall solemnise Matrimony except in accordance with the civil law of Scotland for the time being in force in relation to civil marriages and unless satisfied that compliance has been made with such preliminaries as are therein required for the Solemnising of Religious Marriages.
1. In the light of the fact that there are differing understandings of the nature of marriage in this Church, no cleric of this Church shall be obliged to conduct any marriage against their conscience. Any marriage which is to be conducted by a cleric shall be solemnised strictly in accordance with the civil law of Scotland for the time being in force and provided said cleric is satisfied, after appropriate enquiries, that the parties have complied with the necessary preliminaries as set forth in the civil law. No cleric shall perform the Marriage Service, nor permit it to be performed in Church, for parties who are within the forbidden degrees as specified in Appendix 26. No cleric shall solemnise a marriage between persons of the same sex unless said cleric shall have been nominated on behalf of the Church to the Registrar General for Scotland.
32. No cleric shall perform the Marriage Service, nor permit it to be performed in Church, for parties who are within the forbidden degrees, as specified in Appendix No.26. No cleric shall perform the Marriage Service, nor permit it to be performed in Church for parties, for one or both of whom a decree of Nullity of Marriage Ab Initio has been pronounced by a Civil Court, nor for parties, either of whom has had a previous marriage dissolved quoad civilia in a Civil Court, so long as the other spouse in the marriage so dissolved remains alive, unless that cleric shall have been given a Certificate of Authorisation on the grounds that there is no ecclesiastical impediment to the marriage in terms of Section 43. 43. In cases where a decree of Nullity of Marriage Ab Initio has been pronounced by a Civil Court, or in any case where either or both parties to a proposed marriage has, or have had, a previous marriage dissolved quoad civilia in a Civil Court, but the other spouse to that marriage remains alive, any cleric to whom an approach is made by or on behalf of either party with a view to the solemnising of such proposed marriage shall refer the matter to the Diocesan Bishop. Upon receiving such reference, the Diocesan Bishop shall make such enquiries into the circumstances of the case, and take such pastoral and legal advice, as shall seem appropriate, and thereafter may issue, or decline to issue, to an officiating cleric, a Certificate of Authorisation in terms of Appendix No.27 authorising and approving that cleric’s officiating at the Solemnisation of Holy Matrimony of the parties concerned according to the Rites and Ceremonies and Canons of the Scottish Episcopal Church. No Bishop shall entertain an application which has already been before another Diocesan Bishop of the Scottish Episcopal Church without the agreement of the Bishop of that other Diocese and the Episcopal Synod. 54. A cleric may use the form of Benediction provided in the Scottish Book of Common Prayer (1929) to meet the case of those who ask for the benediction of the Church after an irregular marriage has been contracted or after a civil marriage has been legally entered into, provided only that the cleric be satisfied that the marriage is not contrary to Sections 3 and 4 2 and 3 of this Canon. 65. The solemnisation of Marriage shall take place in Church except with the written sanction of the Bishop.
If the above alteration receives a second reading in 2017, it would be proposed that the text of Appendix 26 be amended as set out below:-
APPENDIX No. 26
A TABLE OF KINDRED AND AFFINITY, WHEREIN WHOSOEVER ARE RELATED ARE FORBIDDEN BY OUR ECCLESIASTICAL LAWS TO MARRY TOGETHER
Delete all current text and replace by
1. Relationships by consanguinity
Aunt or uncle
Niece or nephew
2. Relationships by affinity
Child of former spouse
Child of former civil partner
Former spouse of parent
Former civil partner of parent
Former spouse of grandparent
Grandchild of former spouse
Grandchild of former civil partner
3. Relationships by adoption
Adoptive parent or former adoptive parent
Adopted child or former adopted child
We linked in the previous article to a statement The Diocese of Liverpool and the Anglican Communion from Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool. He wrote:
…Over a year ago, as part of this walking together, I asked the Suffragan bishop of Virginia, the Rt Revd Susan Goff, whether she would become one of our honorary assistant bishops (or “assisting bishops” as they call this sort of arrangement in TEC). She kindly accepted this invitation and, again last year, we secured the necessary permissions for her to minister here. As +Susan is an overseas bishop, these permissions do not extend to the conducting of ordinations. I remain delighted that our ministry here will be enriched by what +Susan will bring to us as a teacher, pastor and disciple. She will also be able to hear and to engage with the wide range of views in our Diocese on the way the Gospel is understood in these days.
It seems that this invitation has caused the Diocese of Akure, Nigeria, which has been another of our link dioceses, to issue a statement indicating that they no longer wish to be in a link-relationship with Liverpool. I regret this. I would prefer to walk together with Akure as well as with Virginia, within the one Communion whose life we share.
I have not yet received formal notification directly from the Bishop of Akure, but as and when I do I shall write to him expressing this regret. If our partners choose to close this door, this is a matter of sorrow for us but of course we respect their decision as free partners in a free relationship.
At one time this link was three-way and provided wonderful opportunities for sharing and mutual learning, though my colleagues tell me that five years ago, in 2011, the then Bishop of Akure formally indicated that his Diocese did not feel able to remain in such a three-way relationship…
Ruth Gledhill has now published an article Nigeria diocese severs link with Liverpool over same-sex blessings bishop.
This in turn links to a statement from the Bishop of Akure, Simeon Borokini. In which he says:
…Peace of the Lord be with you and all yours in Jesus name. I received a message from our Primate in Nigeria, who is currently the Chairman of GAFCON today about a partnership that is in the Western news. That there is a three way Diocesan partnership between the Diocese of Liverpool, England, the Diocese of Akure, Nigeria and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in the United States.
Also, that recently, the Diocese of Liverpool made the assisting Bishop of Virginia, Susan Goff, an assisting Bishop in Liverpool. Susan Goff is in favour of blessing same sex unions and this has been a part of the litigation against the orthodox in Virginia.
Therefore, in view of the above and being aware of the fact that Nigeria does not support same sex marriage, we in Akure Diocese cannot have any link with Liverpool Diocese…
There is also a letter from the GAFCON Chairman, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, in which he writes:
…In the beginning, the focus of our concern was North America and we thank God that he has raised up the Anglican Church North America as a new wineskin in that continent. Now our concern is increasingly with the British Isles. A line has been crossed in the Church of England itself with the appointment of Bishop Susan Goff, of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, as an Assisting Bishop of Liverpool. The false teaching of the American Episcopal Church has been normalised in England and this divisive act has meant that the Church of Nigeria’s Akure Diocese has had no alternative but to end its partnership link with Liverpool Diocese.
At our recent Primates Council meeting in Nairobi we reaffirmed our solidarity with the leaders of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in the UK and the Anglican Mission in England at this testing time…
Mike Stuchbery The Bartholomew Declaration — a manifesto on why more churches need to open as places of education.
Bosco Peters Giving Holy Communion to Infants
Theo Hobson The Spectator Church attendance isn’t everything. It’s authenticity that counts
Philip Jones Ecclesiastical Law What did the Ornaments Rubric Mean?
Updated Sunday morning
The Church of England has today released new Ministry Statistics giving trends in ministry over the period between 2012 and 2015: Ministry Statistics 2012-2015. There is also a short commentary provided by the Venerable Julian Hubbard, Director of Ministry, and detailed Diocesan tables in a separate excel file. There is also a press release, copied below.
Press coverage includes:
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian C of E in ageing clergy crisis with 25% of ministers aged over 60
Aaron James Premier Church of England: We need to Rev up clergy numbers
Rose Hudson-Wilkin and Peter Ould were interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning (starting at 1hr 21min).
Ian Paul and Peter Ould write about the figures here: Do we have enough vicars?
Jeremy Fletcher has written The Church of England’s Middle Aged Spread.
David Keen has written The Leading of the 5,000 part 2 - vocations and canaries.
Church of England press release
Church of England releases new Ministry Statistics
The Church of England has released new Ministry Statistics giving trends in ministry over the period between 2012 and 2015.
The statistics show that total ordained ministry over the last 4 years has remained stable, with over 20,000 ordained people serving the church in various roles.
The number of stipendiary clergy has fallen from 8,300 to 8,000 between 2012 and 2015.
The proportion of stipendiary clergy who are women increased from 24% in 2012 to 27% in 2015. And 19% of senior staff in 2015 were women, up from 12% in 2012.
Nationally, 13% of parish clergy are aged under 40, while a quarter are 60 and over.
There was an increase in stipendiary clergy from Black and Minority Ethnic communities from 3% in 2012 to 3.4% in 2015.
In his commentary, the Church of England Director of Ministry, Julian Hubbard, writes: “While the number of stipendiary ordinations showed a welcome increase between 2012 and 2015, this is not sufficient to redress the gathering effect of clergy retirements predicted over the next ten years.”
“The statistics on the age and ethnicity of clergy show that we still have some way to go to ensure that the whole cohort fully reflects the demographics of the wider community.”
“The good news is that there is a growing readiness to meet these challenges.”
Mike Eastwood, Director of Renewal and Reform, the Church of England’s major response to falling church attendance, said: “These figures support what we have been saying about the need for renewal and reform in the Church of England.”
“Renewal and Reform is about a message of hope, through changed lives and transformed communities, as people discover their vocation to love God and serve others.
“Renewal and Reform is not a top-down project to fix the church, but a narrative of local hope in God shared throughout the church.”
“As part of Renewal and Reform, we are currently consulting on how we better release the gifts of all Christian leaders in church and wider society, whether ordained or not.”
Notes for editors
The last Ministry Statistics paper was published by the Church of England in 2012. The implementation of a new clergy payroll system in 2012 initially made it more difficult to extract data for ministry statistics.
The Ministry Statistics paper and Commentary are available here.
The Church of England’s Renewal and Reform Facebook page is here.