Saturday, 30 July 2016

Opinion - 30 July 2016

Jeremy Pemberton Embodying Love and Hope – The Chaplain’s Calling

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Acclamation, assent and disruption: Further thoughts on objectors to women bishops and how the Church might respond

Giles Fraser The Guardian Father Jacques Hamel died as a priest, doing what priests do
Christopher Howse The Telegraph Sacred Mysteries: Christian martyrdom is not an act of aggression

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes Difference in Christian Thought 2: Order and Chaos

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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Advisor for Reconciliation

Press release from the Archbishop of Canterbury:

Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Advisor for Reconciliation
Wednesday 27th July 2016

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has announced the appointment of Sarah Snyder as his new Advisor for Reconciliation.

She takes over from Canon David Porter who moved into his new role as Chief of Staff and Strategy to the Archbishop at the beginning of May.

Sarah will take up the role in September. She will be part of the senior team at Lambeth Palace while also being based at Coventry Cathedral, where Archbishop Justin’s Reconciliation Ministry has been established since its inception. Her role will have a particular emphasis on supporting the Church in contexts of violent conflict or post-conflict and helping the Church to be an agent of reconciliation and conflict-transformation.

[continued below the fold]

A theologian who specialises in Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations, Sarah brings wide-ranging international experience of peace-building and dialogue. She has worked for many years to promote faith-based reconciliation, most recently as Director of Partnerships with Religions for Peace International, an organisation affiliated to the United Nations. Sarah has also directed the Cambridge International Summer Schools for faith leaders from conflict zones. A trained mediator, she has experience both of working with communities and with senior religious leaders.

Sarah is Founding Director of the Rose Castle Foundation, an international centre of reconciliation, based in the north of England, offering safe space in which to address misunderstanding of the “other”, particularly those of different religious traditions. Located in the beautiful Cumbrian countryside, it is a peaceful haven in which to transform conflict within and between faith communities, and to train up a generation of leaders equipped as faith-based mediators. It is chaired by the Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, and Professor David Ford, and welcomes people of all faith traditions and none.

Sarah also collaborates with St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace in the City of London, supporting individuals and communities to work together despite their differences and divisions. St Ethelburga’s is situated in a church destroyed by a bomb in 1993, and is itself a powerful symbol of hope in the midst of conflict.

Speaking about the appointment, Archbishop Justin said:

“I am delighted that Sarah Snyder will be my Advisor for Reconciliation. Sarah brings a wealth of experience and many gifts to the role which will enrich both her reconciliation work and the senior team at Lambeth Palace. I am also grateful for the continued partnership with Coventry Cathedral where my reconciliation ministry will continue to be based. Events in recent weeks remind us that that reconciliation is more of a priority than ever – this is the hope we offer in the good news of Jesus.”

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Bishops accused of failing to act on safeguarding complaints

Harriet Sherwood in the Guardian has a report concerning safeguarding in the Diocese of Sheffield:

Senior Anglican clergy accused of failing to act on rape allegations

The archbishop of York and four serving bishops have been accused of misconduct by a Church of England priest who claims they failed to act on allegations he was repeatedly raped by another vicar when he was 16.

The priest says none of the five senior clergy properly responded to his disclosures, made verbally and in writing, of the rapes which he alleged took place in 1984.

“Michael” – whose identity is known to the Guardian, but who wishes to remain anonymous – filed the complaints under the C of E’s clergy disciplinary measure (CDM) against John Sentamu, the archbishop of York and second highest-ranking figure in the church; Peter Burrows, the bishop of Doncaster; Steven Croft, a former bishop of Sheffield, and now bishop of Oxford; Martyn Snow, the bishop of Leicester; and Glyn Webster, the bishop of Beverley.

All five have contested the complaints because they were made after the church’s required one-year limit.

Spokespersons for Sentamu and the four bishops said they could not comment on a matter that was the subject of an internal church process and a police investigation…

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Monday, 25 July 2016

Next Bishop of Tewkesbury to be Robert Springett

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Tewkesbury: Robert Wilfrid Springett
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 25 July 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Robert Wilfrid Springett to the Suffragan See of Tewkesbury.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Robert Wilfrid Springett, BTh, MA, Archdeacon of Cheltenham, in the Diocese of Gloucester, to the Suffragan See of Tewkesbury, in the Diocese of Gloucester in succession to the Right Reverend Martyn James Snow, BSc, on his translation to the See of Leicester resignation on the 22 February 2016.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Robert Springett (aged 53), studied at Nottingham University for his BTh, and then at London University for his MA. He trained for the ministry at Lincoln Theological College. He served first as curate at Colchester in Chelmsford diocese from 1989 to 1992 before moving to be curate at Basildon from 1992 to 1994. From 1994 to 2001 he was Priest in Charge at Belhus Park and South Ockendon. He was Rural Dean at Thurrock from 1998 to 2001. From 2001 to 2010 he was Rector at Wanstead in Chelmsford diocese and was Area Dean of Redbridge from 2008 to 2010 and Honorary Canon at Chelmsford Cathedral. Since 2010 he has been Archdeacon of Cheltenham.

Robert has also held a wider role locally and nationally over the past six years. Locally these include being the Chair of the Diocesan Board of Education, a Trustee of All Saints Academy and a member of the Council of the University of Gloucester. Nationally Robert is a Bishop’s Advisor for the Church on the selection of men and women for ordination and a member of the National Archdeacons Forum.

Robert is married to Helen, who is a primary head teacher and they have two daughters, Charlotte aged 22 and Alice aged 17.

His interests include the churches ministry in education and wider relationships within the Anglican community.

Announcement from the Diocese of Gloucester

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Saturday, 23 July 2016

Opinion - 23 July 2016

Nazia Parveen The Guardian ‘This is what I’m meant to be doing’: the vicar welcoming Muslims to church

Graham Kings Mission Theology in the Anglican Communion Sarah the Mother of Mission: An Exposition on Genesis 18 and the painting by Silvia Dimitrova

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Objectors to female bishops
Archdruid Eileen Objection to the Consecration of Female Bishops: A Liturgy

Rachel Obordo and Guardian readers The Guardian ‘I’ve learnt to be compassionate and diplomatic’: what it’s like to be a vicar’s kid
Sam Kinchin-Smith London Review of Books Vicars’ Children

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes Sex in the Anglican Communion 1
Sex in the Anglican Communion 2

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Friday, 22 July 2016

Bishop of Sodor and Man to retire

Robert Paterson, the Bishop of Sodor and Man, has announced that he will retire on 11 November 2016: Bishop Robert announces his retirement.

BBC News Bishop of Sodor and Man Robert Paterson to retire

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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

32 evangelicals lack confidence in shared conversations process

32 members of the General Synod have signed a statement which has been published on the Anglican Mainstream website. The full text of the statement and the list of signatories is copied below the fold.

The matter has been reported in Christian Today by Harry Farley. His story is headlined Divisions deepen in Church of England as conservatives express ‘lack of confidence’ in gay marriage talks.

He notes that Lambeth Palace has declined to comment on the statement.

It was also reported in Anglican Ink by George Conger who noted that the 32 were “members of the 1990 Group on General Synod” and that the statement has been sent in a letter to the College of Bishops. His article is headlined General Synod shared sex conversations place unity above truth, critics charge.

“We, the undersigned members of the General Synod, wish to express our lack of confidence in the process of the Shared Conversations. Whatever their stated purposes, the outcome has not led to a greater confidence that the Church will be guided by the authoritative voice of the Scriptures, and its decisive shaping of traditional Anglican teaching, in any forthcoming discussions.”

Rosemary Lyon – Blackburn
Stephen Boyall – Blackburn
Kathy Playle – Chelmsford
Mary Durlacher – Chelmsford
David Banting – Chelmsford
Debbie Woods – Chester
Jeremy Harris – Chester
Lorna Ashworth – Chichester
Andrea Minichiello Williams – Chichester
Rachel Bell – Derby
Giles Williams – Europe
Helen Lamb – Ely
William Belcher – Gloucester
Chik Kaw Tan – Lichfield
Shaun Morris – Lichfield
Chris Gill – Lichfield
Debbie Buggs – London
Sarah Finch – London
Clive Scowen – London
Charlie Skrine -London
Margaret Parrett – Manchester
Caroline Herbert – Norwich
Graham Caskie – Oxford
Andrew Bell – Oxford
Andrew Presland – Peterborough
Mark Lucas – Peterborough
Ian Dobbie – Rochester
Angus MacLeay – Rochester
Jane Patterson -Sheffield
Brian Wilson – Southwark
Susie Leafe – Truro
Chris Fry – Winchester

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Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Bishop of London to retire

The diocese of London has announced that Dr Richard Chartres is to retire as Bishop of London on Tuesday 28 February 2017. The Bishop writes:

After consultation with the Archbishop I am writing to let you know about the timetable for my retirement. It is business as usual until Christmas, after which I shall hope to clear my desk of more than twenty years’ worth of accumulated debris. The intention is that my last public engagement as Bishop of London will be in the Cathedral at Candlemas, February 2nd 2017, the day when Simeon was granted a vision of Christ in the Temple and prayed “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.” My formal resignation will be dated from the end of the month on Shrove Tuesday.

Her Majesty the Queen has graciously indicated that I should remain as Dean of HM Chapels Royal until the appointment of the 133rd Bishop of London.

Read the press release here.

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Monday, 18 July 2016

Reflections on the Shared Conversations

A number of people have commented on the Shared Conversations that formed part of the July General Synod at York.

Madeleine Davies Church Times Synod members thanked for staying on to talk about differences

Mark Woods Christian Today Shared Conversations: Why the Church of England still has a long way to go on sexuality

Lucy Gorman Shared thoughts from the Shared Conversations.

Andrew Dotchin Thoughts on A Shared Conversation:

Ian Paul Synod’s Shared Conversations

Andrea Williams Christian Concern responds to C of E ‘shared conversation’

Stephen Lynas She said “You don’t understand what I said” *

Gary Waddington SHARED CONVERSATIONS AND THE EVANGELICAL ASCENDANCY: AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS?

Hannah Cleugh Sharing in Conversations

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Saturday, 16 July 2016

Opinion - 16 July 2016

Andrew Brown The Guardian If the Conservative party’s doing God again, what sort of God is it?

Giles Fraser The Guardian The agony and ecstasy of Saint Theresa, the vicar’s daughter

Loretta Minghella, CEO of Christian Aid gave the Inclusive Church lecture for 2016 at Liverpool Cathedral this week: Does Poverty have a Woman’s Face?. [48 minute video]
Update: the text of the lecture is also available as a PDF download.

Language about or addressed to God should be derived from human experience, not just from men’s experience, argues Prof Adrian Thatcher, a trustee of Modern Church, in a new booklet Gender-Inclusive Language and Worship. The 36-page booklet can be downloaded or purchased in hard copy from the Modern Church website.

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Thursday, 14 July 2016

Further points on the George Bell case

Updated Thursday evening

We reported in March that the George Bell Group had sent a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and also issued a press statement: George Bell’s naming as a paedophile is challenged today by a group of lawyers, academics, politicians and senior Church figures. The challenge was in a report published here as a web page, and also as a PDF file.

Yesterday, the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, Church of England lead bishop on safeguarding, issued this letter to the George Bell Group: Further points on the George Bell case.

Update

Several questions were asked at General Synod on Friday 8 July relating to the George Bell case. The questions and answers are printed in this booklet, but for convenience they are copied below the fold. In addition I have transcribed the supplementary questions and answers from this recording; they are shown indented.

Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask the Church Commissioners:
Q17 It is understood that the Church Commissioners paid, or contributed to, the £15,000 paid in settlement of a civil claim regarding alleged sexual abuse by the late Bishop George Bell. Will the Church Commissioners please (i) confirm the accuracy of this information and, if others (whether insurers, the Diocese of Chichester or any other accountable Church institution) contributed to the settlement, state the amount(s) of their respective contributions, and (ii) state whether, in addition, the Church Commissioners made any, and if so what, financial contribution to (a) the complainant’s legal costs (including any success fee) and expenses, and/or (b) the costs and expenses (including the fees of experts) of the Diocese of Chichester incurred in relation to the said claim.

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith to reply as First Church Estates Commissioner:
A The Commissioners contributed to the settlement of the claim, but did not pay the whole. The damages paid were £16,800 and the claimant’s legal costs were £15,000. In addition, the Diocese of Chichester’s costs were £18,000. These figures include the costs of a medical expert instructed by the claimant and another instructed by the Diocese of Chichester. The Commissioners paid £29,800 towards the damages and costs, with the balance being funded by a donation from a private individual, not an insurer or another Church institution.

David Lamming: I thank Sir Andreas for his answer and for the additional information given. But in the light of the answer will you say whether insurers were asked to contribute to the settlement and if so whether they declined to do so, who in fact was the putative defendant on whose behalf the settlement was reached with the claimant, and I am assuming that court proceedings were not issued, and will you please state the particular speciality of the medical experts instructed respectively by the claimants and by the diocese of Chichester.

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: Thank you. You are accrediting the Church Commissioners with far more involvement in this case than you might think. We have a discretion to pay bishops’ costs as you will probably know and we make judgments on what costs to bear depending on a variety of factors. In this case the answers are really clear in my answer; I don’t think I can add to them. There are the damages, there are the claimant’s legal costs, and there are the diocese of Chichester’s costs and we paid £29,800 of those and a private individual came forward, not an insurer, and paid the rest. I can’t add to that.

Martin Sewell (Rochester): There’s a very simple question on the table: Did any insurer decline to indemnify?

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: I’ve no idea whether an insurer was involved. We were not told about such a case.

Martin Sewell: Who would know if an insurer …

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: The diocese of Chichester would know.

Martin Sewell: Will that information be made available?

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: I cannot speak for the diocese of Chichester, I’m afraid.

Mr Martin Sewell (Rochester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q32 The Chichester Diocese publishes on its website a comprehensive 54 page report by Dame Elizabeth Butler Sloss into its handling of the cases of sexual predators Roy Cotton and Colin Pritchard; that report balances victim confidentiality with the public interest in having confidence in due and proper process. Given the continuing public concern at the handling of the case of Bishop Bell, will the Church now issue a comprehensive explanation of why transparency can apply in one case but not the other?

Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q33 In answer to a question from Miss Prudence Dailey (Q.13) at the February 2016 Group of Sessions concerning the response of the Church to allegations made against the late Bishop George Bell, the Bishop of Durham stated that it was “legally impermissible for the Church to disclose any evidence used in the settlement [of the claim against the Diocese of Chichester]” and that the law “rightly affords [the complainant] protection to safeguard the confidentiality of their deeply personal information.” In the light of
i. The call by the George Bell Group [1] for a proper review of both the process and the evidence that resulted in the statement issued by the Church of England media centre on 22 October 2015 effectively branding Bishop Bell as a paedophile;
ii. The Opinion by His Honour Alan Pardoe QC and Desmond Browne QC [2] that there are no legal constraints to disclosure of the evidence and documents (suitably redacted to preserve the complainant’s anonymity) that the Church considered before settling the claim; and iii. The fact that Dame Lowell Goddard has stated that “Bell’s guilt or innocence is not a critical aspect of this Inquiry, or of the Anglican investigation, or of the investigation’s case studies,” [3 and 3] so that any reliance by the Church that the Goddard Inquiry will investigate this issue is misplaced;
Will the House of Bishops now commission an independent inquiry as called for by the George Bell Group and, if not, why not?

The Bishop of Durham to reply as Lead Bishop for Safeguarding:
A I will take Questions 32 and 33 together. I refer both questioners to the statement issued by the Church of England on 28 June in which it was announced that an independent review of the handling of the George Bell case would be launched shortly. 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 learnt to improve safeguarding practice in the future. It will be for the independent reviewer to consider what evidence they deem to be relevant and publish in due course their view of any lessons learned from the Church’s handling of the case.
It should be noted that 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 those who make allegations of abuse.

David Lamming: I thank the Bishop of Durham for his answer and for the announcement, post the date for submitting questions, that there is to be an independent review, not just a review by the Core Group. However the review announced on the 28th June is only into the processes used to inform the decision to settle the claim by the woman know as Carol, but the review will not be credible unless it examines all the evidence, and in the House of Bishops [sic] the 30th June the Bishop of Chelmsford said “The Church remains satisfied of the credibility of Carol’s allegation.” Will the Bishop, and perhaps on behalf of his successor, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, please now acknowledge that the terms of reference of the review must enable the reviewer both to review the process and to look at all the evidence including that that was not looked at by the Core Group.

Bishop of Durham: Thank you for that supplementary. The independent reviewer has yet to be appointed, the terms of reference will have to be agreed with that independent reviewer, and it is that this will be around the process that was followed, and when that reviewer is there then that’s what they will be briefed to do.

Martin Sewell: You’ve answered two questions together. I’m going to have to refer. I refer first of all to Alan Pardoe’s opinion and Desmond Brown’s opinion, there are no legal restraints to disclosure of the evidence and documents suitably redacted to preserve the complainant’s anonymity. I refer back to comparing the Bell case to the Cotton and Pritchard case saying that in the one case that is already out there on the Chichester website it balances victim confidentiality with public interest in having confidence in due and proper process. So I then ask why does it apply to one case and not the other? It’s a very simple question. You tell us that there’s going to be a review. We don’t need to know if the review knows how to do this. We need to know if there is a core competence in the Church’s people to do this sort of thing and to understand the law on confidentiality and how it applies in each and every case. We can’t assume that tht competence is there because we’ve not seen it demonstrated.

Chair: Do you want to put that into a question then please?

Martin Sewell: Yes, it’s very simple. Will you issue a comprehensive explanation of why transparency can apply in one case, that’s Cotton and Pritchard, and not in the other, Bishop Bell. It’s a very simple question.

Bishop of Durham: The simple reality is you may quote two lawyers and I could quote others, which I won’t, who would disagree with that opinion. The review will take place and there is not an exact equivalence between the Butler-Sloss report and how the Bell case was handled and the report that has come out.

Miss Prudence Dailey (Oxford) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q36 In the light of the Bishop Bell case, has any consideration been given to the view that offering pastoral support to the complainant, independently investigating the complaint, dispassionately evaluating the evidence, and simultaneously managing crises whilst protecting the good name of the Church are incompatible objectives; and will consideration now be given to establishing a properly resourced, consistent, professional and independent central complaint handling body, removing the responsibility from dioceses with potentially variable expertise and processes?

The Bishop of Durham to reply as Lead Bishop for Safeguarding:
A Developing a more consistent and professional approach to safeguarding across the dioceses and nationally is one of our key priorities as a church, recognising of course that good safeguarding is fundamentally something that takes place in a parish context. There are a number of key elements to achieving this through national policy and guidance, regulations, training and quality assurance, including the independent audits being conducted across all dioceses during 2016 and 2017. These audits provide an important benchmark and areas for further improvement for dioceses and the national church. The intention to develop a standards based approach will include how we provide pastoral and other support to those who are accused as well as those who make complaints of abuse. Indeed a recent case review conducted by the National Safeguarding Team has highlighted this very issue. The Church of England must remain committed to responding to non-current abuse and abuse in the present day, as well as building a safer church for the future based on prevention.

Prudence Dailey: Has any consideration been given to the potential for conflict of interest in the Church carrying out the various different functions alluded to in my question in relation to the Bishop Bell case?

Bishop of Durham: Quite specifically in all these the history of conflict of interest is always taken into consideration. Every core group has to work at that particular bit on every example that we have.

Simon Butler (Southwark): In view of the fact that many of the allegations are made against clergy, will the bishop, or his successor, consult with the House of Clergy Standing Committee about procedures for putting in place future support and the work around those who have been accused of abuse?

Bishop of Durham: Thank you for that question. One of the areas that has caused some concern is the level of support for clergy when they face allegations and that is firmly on the agenda to seek to make sure that they are given adequate pastoral support when going through such processes because they are deeply painful and difficult.

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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

LGBTI Mission responds to shared conversations

This press release was issued yesterday by LGBTI Mission:

LGBTI Mission calls on Church of England to move forward following completion of Shared Conversations

The LGBTI Mission rejoices that almost all General Synod members were willing and able to engage in conversation and listening about human sexuality. We commend David Porter and his team for their excellent work in bringing this about. It is also clear that very many throughout the Church of England want to see change soon, as a priority for mission.

We call on the House of Bishops to bring forward bold proposals that enable the Church of England to move towards LGBTI equality, of course with proper safeguards for those who cannot, in conscience, accept any such changes.

Same-sex marriage is only one item on the table. There are other important issues, which could be resolved sooner and more easily. Some do not need synodical approval. We urge the bishops to review urgently all the areas listed in our LGBTI Mission launch document.

We also ask bishops to consult fully with their own LGBTI laity and clergy who are directly and personally affected by current discriminatory policies.

Simon Sarmiento, Chair of the LGBTI Mission said: “Now is the time to move forward and take action. Church leaders and LGBTI church members, of all convictions, need to work together to devise answers to these problems. We now have an opportunity to change the way that LGBTI people are treated in the Church. A good start would be to have a staff member funded to co-ordinate work in this area and show that the national Church is serious about change.”

Two specific examples of other urgent issues are:

There is a Blackburn Diocesan Synod Motion (see text below) awaiting General Synod debate, which asks the Church to improve its welcome to Transgender people and for the House of Bishops to recommend suitable rites and prayers to mark their transition journeys. Debate on this was recently deferred a second time. We urge the bishops to endorse that motion and to ensure it is debated without further delay.

An issue not requiring synodical action is the current ban on clergy entering same-sex civil marriage, contained in paragraph 27 of the House’s February 2014 Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage. The widely inconsistent application of this has brought the Church into serious disrepute. It must be reconsidered urgently.

Media reports suggest the bishops may revive the 2013 Pilling Report recommendation (see Recommendations 16 and 17 on page 118) to allow clergy who wish to do so to “mark the formation of a permanent same-sex relationship in a public service” but only as a “pastoral accommodation” without authorizing any formal liturgy. This would be welcome as an interim step towards the long-term goal of enabling same-sex marriages in the Church of England. But the addition of approved liturgical forms would improve clarity and give clergy protection against unwanted disciplinary complaints.

ENDS

The Blackburn Diocesan Synod motion is as follows:

WELCOMING TRANSGENDER PEOPLE

…to move on behalf of the Blackburn Diocesan Synod:

‘That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.’

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 13 July 2016 at 7:45am BST | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Statement following conclusion of Shared Conversations Process

Press release from the Church of England:

Statement following conclusion of Shared Conversations Process
12 July 2016

Over the last 2 days members of General Synod have met in an informal setting in which they have listened and been heard as they have reflected together on scripture and a changing culture in relation to their understanding of human sexuality.

Throughout these conversations, deep convictions have been shared and profound differences better understood. The Shared Conversations over the last two years now come to a conclusion with over 1300 members of the church directly involved. It is our hope that what has been learned through the relationships developed will inform the way the church conducts whatever further formal discussions may be necessary in the future. It is our prayer that the manner in which we express our different views and deep disagreements will bear witness to Jesus who calls us to love as he has loved us.

In comments to members of Synod at the end of the Shared Conversations the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“At the heart of it is to come back to the fact that together we seek to serve the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead and in whom there is never despair, there is never defeat; there is always hope, there is always overcoming; there is always eventual triumph, holiness, goodness and grace.

That is for me what I always come back to when it all seems overwhelming.

Thank you so much for your participation. Let us go in confidence. Confident in the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 12 July 2016 at 6:38pm BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Canadian church vote on changing marriage canon

Updated Tuesday evening

Hiltz: Poll shows in fact we did have 2/3 majority among clergy, laity and bishops, and the same-sex marriage motion is carried #GS2016

CBC News BREAKING Anglicans to allow same-sex marriage after recount

A statement from The Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, General Secretary

Associated Press via the Guardian Anglican church of Canada backs same-sex marriage, a day after rejecting it

———

The Anglican Journal reports: Canadian Anglicans reject same-sex marriage by one vote:

A resolution to change the marriage canon (church law) to allow for the solemnization of marriages of same-sex couples failed to pass by a fraction of a percentage point at the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod July 11.

The vote, which required a two-thirds majority in each of the orders of laity, clergy and bishops, received 72.22% support from the laity and 68.42% in the order of bishops, but only 66.23% percent in the order of clergy—0.43% shy of the 66.66% needed.

There is another report: Relief, despair as same-sex marriage motion fails.

Subsequently, several dioceses made their own anouncements: Niagara, Ottawa to offer same-sex marriages; Toronto to consider:

Within hours of the defeat of a motion to amend the marriage canon of the Anglican Church of Canada, at least two dioceses had announced plans to go ahead with same-sex marriages, with a third saying it would consider this course of action.

In a prepared statement, Niagara Bishop Michael Bird cited General Synod Chancellor David Jones, who announced in synod Monday, July 11, that the marriage canon in its present form does not explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage.

In Jones’s words, the statement said, the canon “does not contain either a definition of marriage or a specific prohibition against solemnizing same-sex marriage.” It’s also clear, it continued, that Anglican conventions allow bishops to authorize “liturgies to respond to pastoral needs within their dioceses, in the absence of any actions by this General Synod to address these realities.

“Accordingly, and in concert with several other bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, it is my intention to immediately exercise this authority to respond to the sacramental needs of the LGBTQ2 community in the Diocese of Niagara,” said Bird…

Statement by the Bishop of Niagara

Statement by the Bishop of Toronto

Statement by the Bishop of Ottawa

Statement by the Bishops of Huron

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Monday, 11 July 2016

Sexuality news and comment

While the General Synod conversations are proceeding behind closed doors, a chance to catch up on various recent items of news and comment…

Harry Farley ChristianToday No compromise: Die-hard conservatives walk out of Anglican talks on gay relationships

Harriet Sherwood reported in the Guardian that C of E hardliners to boycott synod talks on same-sex relationships.

Andrew Lightbown Julian Henderson and ‘the case for a conservative approach.’
The Church Times article being critiqued is here, but behind the paywall. However, there is another article in the comment section this week which is available: ‘I’d love the consensus to change, but it’s a dream’.

Lucy Gorman just retired as chair of Changing Attitude wrote Going anywhere nice?

Tracey Byrne of LGCM has published URC Assembly and General Synod - thanksgiving and hope.

Andrew Nunn published Prorogued but not ended.

Meanwhile, over at the Canadian General Synod (and yes, we will report on this later) the Secretary-General has been speaking: Sexuality not just an issue in the West, says Idowu-Fearon
The full text of his address is here.

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Saturday, 9 July 2016

URC to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in its churches

The United Reformed Church has this afternoon voted to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in its churches. This press release has been issued:

The United Reformed Church votes to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in its churches

This afternoon, Saturday 9 July 2016, the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church (URC) voted in favour of allowing its local churches to conduct and register marriages for same-sex couples. This means that the URC is now the largest UK denomination to freely permit the celebration and registration of marriages of same-sex couple in its churches.

A two-thirds majority was needed to allow the proposal to be confirmed as the denomination’s final decision – Assembly voted in favour of the resolution by 240 votes to 21 votes. United Reformed churches in England and Wales wishing to register their buildings for the marriage of same-sex couples are now able to start that process immediately. (In Scotland the legal framework is rather different, but the effects of the Church’s decision will be broadly similar.)

The process which culminated in today’s vote has been a lengthy one. The General Assembly has considered the proposal twice before – in 2014, and again in a special, single issue Assembly, which met in June 2015. It has long been clear that the denomination cannot express a single view on the issue of same-sex marriage and, at the 2015 Assembly it was ruled that that the decision on whether an individual United Reformed Church congregation can host marriages of same-sex couples lies wholly with each local church. This is the policy that was confirmed today as the Church’s decision.

Speaking of the process and today’s vote, the Revd John Proctor, General Secretary of the URC said: ‘Today the URC has made an important decision – at which some will rejoice and with which others will be uncomfortable. Those of our churches who now wish to offer full marriage services to same-sex couples are free to do just that – and those churches who do not wish to are not compelled to. All are part of this denomination. This has been a sensitive issue for many in our churches. It has been important to take our time over the decision process, and to listen as carefully as we can to one another along the way.’

Press reports

Mark Woods Christian Today United Reformed Church to allow same-sex marriages

Callum May BBC News United Reformed Church approves gay marriage services

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 9 July 2016 at 8:52pm BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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General Synod - Saturday's business

Updated Sunday

The July 2016 meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England continued today.

The order paper for the morning and afternoon is here Order paper II. Not included is item 10 (Nurturing and Discerning Senior Leaders) that was not taken on Friday because of lack of time but for which time became available at the end of the afternoon.
Order paper for the evening session: Order Paper III

The morning, and part of the afternoon, was devoted to legislation.

One later item in the afternoon was about education, and was followed by this official press release: Bold vision for education launched at General Synod.

Official brief summary of the day’s business: General Synod July 2016 sessions: Saturday

Update

Jonathan Petre Mail on Sunday Green light for vicars in jeans as Synod decides clergy’s robes are surplice to requirements

Stephen Lynas reviews the day’s business: Handbags and gladrags.

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England is bidding to open scores of free schools

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England plans to open 125 faith schools using Government’s free schools programme in next four years

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WATCH calls for Gender Justice in the Church of England

Press Release from WATCH

WATCH Launches “A Gender Justice Policy for the Church of England” at General Synod

Women and the Church (WATCH) launched “A Gender Justice Policy for the Church of England” at a joint fringe event at the July General Synod including 10 specific commitments.

Synod members heard from Christian Aid, USPG and the Mothers’ Union how gender justice has come to form a crucial element of their international development work. They also heard that the Anglican Communion has now signed up to the global ‘Side by Side’ movement for gender justice. So that this can be put into action locally, WATCH has prepared a ‘Gender Justice Policy for the Church of England’ which it will be asking the church to adopt.

Speaking at the launch, Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH said, “whilst some progress had been made in gender justice in recent years, most notably Women Bishops, now is the time for the Church of England to embody and promote gender justice both in its internal structures and in its external engagement with the world”.

As a next step following the pattern of our sister churches, the Church in Wales (2008) and the Scottish Episcopal Church (2009), WATCH recommends that the following Synod motion be proposed:

That this Synod, affirming its commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, invites the undertaking of a Gender Audit at every level of the Church of England in time to report back to the General Synod in 2019

More information is contained in this document: A Gender Justice Policy for the Church of England.

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Opinion - 9 July 2016

Simon Oliver writes on Priestly ministry and the Church of England in response to this article by Ian Paul that we linked to here.

Claire Jones looks back at her “year in God’s time”: No longer a nun: the conclusion.

Sam Wells A Future that’s Bigger than the Past: Renewal & Reform in the Church of England [also available a pdf file]
Madeleine Davies writes about Dr Wells’ paper for Church Times: Renewal and Reform is subjected to theological scrutiny.

Edward Wickham The Guardian Girls on song: how the male-dominated English church choir is changing

Archdruid Eileen God Created the Earth

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes Difference, Diversity, Deviance and Hierarchy

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Friday, 8 July 2016

General Synod - Friday's business

Updated Saturday morning to add more press reports, and on Sunday

The July 2016 meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England has opened.

There is a live video stream here.

The agenda and other papers are available here.

Order Paper I listing all the day’s business. Synod agreed to vary the order of business after item 6 to that on page 4.

Scroll down for press reports.

As announced last week, the Archbishops have added a motion on the EU Referendum, which will be debated this afternoon. The text of the motion is:

The Archbishop of Canterbury to move:

That this Synod, recognising the result of the recent referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union, welcome the Archbishops’ call for all to unite in the common task of building a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world, and encourage all members of the Church of England to play their part actively in partnership with everyone in Civil Society in pursuit of this task.

One amendement to the motion was carried so that it became:

That this Synod, recognising the result of the recent referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union:
a) welcome the Archbishops’ call for all to unite in the common task of building a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world, and encourage all members of the Church of England to play their part actively in partnership with everyone in Civil Society in pursuit of this task; and
b) commend the work already carried out by the Church in bringing communities together and recommend that as a minimum every bishop identify a champion in their diocese to assess what more the Church could do and to make recommendations for creating stronger and more constructive links between local communities as a basis for achieving this common task.

in which form it was clearly carried on a show of hands.

There’s an official press release: Synod approves motion to build a ‘generous and forward looking country’ in the aftermath of the EU Referendum, and texts of the speeches by the two archbishops: Canterbury and York.

Questions were taken after dinner. The booklet of questions and answers, issued in advance, is here. The Synod session only dealt with supplementary questions and answers.

Audio recordings of the day’s debates are made available here, and (the questions session) here.

There is a brief official summary of the day’s business: General Synod July 2016 sessions: Friday

Press reports

Madeleine Davies and Hattie Williams and Tim Wyatt Church Times Look forward with generosity, Synod urges a divided nation

Gavin Drake Anglican Communion News Service Christians urged to “build generous forward looking country”

Harry Farley Christian Today General Synod: Church of England opts to ‘recognise’ EU referendum result despite opposition

John Bingham The Telegraph
Church of England vicar says Brexit vote is not just a cry of ‘incoherent rage’

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian ‘Lasses’ jobs’ replacing industry led to Brexit vote, says clergyman

Tom Richmond Yorkshire Post Archbishop of York calls upon post-Brexit Britain to evoke spirit of Nelson Mandela

Sunday update

Stephen Lynas reviews the day’s business: Time is tight.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 8 July 2016 at 2:53pm BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 7 July 2016

UK Methodists review marriage understanding

The Methodist Church in Britain has taken a further step towards changing its understanding of marriage. This press release has been issued:

Methodist Church to review its understanding of marriage and relationships

A task group established to consider whether the Methodist Church’s understanding of marriage and relationships should be revisited has reported back to this year’s Methodist Conference.

Following a decision at the Conference in 2014, people from across the Methodist Connexion have been considering marriage and relationships as part of a process overseen by the task group. The discussions show that there is a broad range of opinions held by Methodists on these matters.

The Church is to reconsider how its understanding of marriage should be expressed. This does not necessarily mean that there will be a change of definition, but that the Church wishes to re-examine the definition through a period of theological and scriptural reflection.

The task group prepared guidance and other resources to help members of the Methodist Church in their discussions on marriage and relationships.

The task group was established at the Methodist Conference in 2014 to consider whether or not the Methodist Church should revisit its definition of marriage and its understanding of family life, marriage and the single person. Its report, received by the Methodist Conference earlier today, 5 July 2016, is the result of two years consideration by the task group, along with reflection and conversation within the Methodist Church. So far, at least 8,000 members have taken the opportunity to participate in conversations across the Methodist Church, where a wide range of views were expressed.

The Church’s definition of marriage was one of those subjects discussed. The task group considered the existing 1992 “Statement on Christian Understanding of Family Life, The Single Person and Marriage”. In the Statement the Methodist Church reiterates its view that marriage is “the lifelong union of one man and one woman”. However, whilst many Methodists support this definition as it stands, there is a range of reasons to revisit it. For example, some people feel the Church’s definition should be extended to include the marriage of same sex couples. Some people feel that the definition only describes the status of marriage, not its purpose and responsibilities and revisiting the definition is important part of the process even if it remains unchanged. The Conference directed that a new Statement on marriage and relationships should now be prepared and that, as part of that process, the definition of marriage should be revisited….

Media reports on this:

Christian Today Mark Woods Britain’s Methodist Church to consider same-sex marriage

Premier Alex Williams Methodist Conference votes to re-examine definition of marriage

Ekklesia Savi Hensman Methodists welcome LGBT people and review understanding of marriage

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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Pre-Synod comment and news

Updated

Comment and news looking ahead to this weekend’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod

Philip Jones Ecclesiastical Law The Burden of Legislative Reform

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK General Synod: Burial of suicides, vesture

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Battle looms in Church of England over ‘blessings’ for gay marriage

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England bans mankinis in the pulpit

Updates

Harry Farley Christian Today Shared Conversations: Can the Church of England prevent a split over gay marriage?

David Walker ViaMedia.News Bishop’s Packing Essentials for General Synod

Harry Farley Christian Today Apart from a big fight over homosexuality, what else is happening at General Synod?

Archbishop Cranmer Synod ‘No Confidence’ motion looms in secret trial of Bishop George Bell (RIP)

Stephen Lynas The weekend starts here

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Saturday, 2 July 2016

Opinion - 2 July 2016

Archdeacon Archdruid Eileen Church-Seeking: Some Advice

Andy Walton Christian Today Time for a revolution: Why women should be leading at least half our big churches

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Friday, 1 July 2016

Reflecting on the outcome of the EU Referendum

Updated again Monday afternoon

Following the initial flurry of statements from bishops, there have been several more reflective articles published by various people writing from a Christian perspective.

Anna Rowlands wrote The Fragility of Goodness: Brexit Viewed from the North East.

Nick Holtam wrote this on the Referendum Result.

Luke Bretherton wrote Brexit as Theodicy and Idolatry.

Angus Ritchie had Brexit: How can we reflect and respond?

Philip North has this in today’s Church Times: Northern foodbank Britain finds its voice

There is a lot more material in this week’s Church Times but it is behind the paywall. However, Andrew Lightbown discusses some of the points raised in his blog, entitled Bishop David Walker or Richard Lewis? Who is correct?

Michael Sadgrove has Brexit: An Open Letter to the Archbishops of the Church of England.

Earlier he had also written Brexit: how to go positively into exile and On Saying Farewell to the EU: the morning after.

Brian Castle wrote Brexit - Now is not the time for Reconciliation.

Updates

Martyn Percy has written a major essay which is summarised here: After Brexit - Can we find a broad and middle way? Senior cleric calls for new social-progressive political party and the full essay can be read by following that link.

Tanya Marlow has written Brexit, hate crime, fear: what’s the Christian response?

Bishops of the Lincoln diocese The EU Referendum: responding to the vote to leave

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 1 July 2016 at 11:53pm BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Crown Nominations Commission - a Report for General Synod

The central members of the Crown Nominations Commission have prepared this report on their work: GS Misc 1147. Amongst the topics covered are

  • interviews, which the members find to be “essential to their work”,
  • legal issues, ie the CNC is bound by the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests, and
  • training, which will now be extended from the central members to the diocesan representatives.

One thing that is not mentioned in the report is the use of substitutes when central members are unable to attend, and the effect this has on the work of the CNC. A question was asked about this in November 2014 (reproduced below the fold) and the answer revealed that substitutes are quite common. What it does not say is that several substitutes can be used for a particular vacancy. For instance it appears from Annex A to the question that at the CNC for St Edmundsbury and Ipswich in 2014 there were substitutes for four of the six central members. It is also common for one of the archbishops to send a substitute, as did the Archbishop of York in this case.

Question at General Synod 17 November 2014

2. Mr Adrian Greenwood (Southwark) asked the Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission:
(a) What procedures are followed when one or more of the ‘central six’ members (elected by General Synod) of the CNC are not able to attend meetings concerning a particular vacancy;
(b) how are ‘substitutes’ identified and who chooses them;
(c) since the start of the current quinquennium, on how many occasions have individual members of the ‘central six’ not been able to be present and have therefore been replaced by a ‘substitute’; and
(d) are attendance records kept and can they be published?

The Archbishop of York replied: When one of the six central members cannot be present, Standing Order SO122 provides for the Chair of the House concerned to nominate a member of the same House as a deputy at the meetings of the Commission for the particular vacancy. I understand that they endeavour to replace the absent member on a ‘like for like’ basis as far as it is possible. Since November 2010 the Commission has considered 18 vacancies (including Southwell and Nottingham) of which nine have had substitutes for one or more central members. Records are kept for the membership of the Commission and I will arrange for these to be put up on the notice board. (See Annex A at the end of this document). It may be that you need to make reference to this document. We have been particularly busy at the moment. Again, we are really trying to work hard and get through because a lot of vacancies appear at one time and the timetable sometimes makes it very difficult for the central members to be there at all the Crown Nomination Commission meetings that the Standing Order allows for substitutes. But the list is going to be put on the notice board so that you can see who has actually been attending those meetings.

[Annex A can be found on pages 147-153 of this document.]

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 1 July 2016 at 11:16am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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