I linked earlier to the Pastoral Letter from the bishops of the Church in Wales opening Holy Communion to all the baptised. At that time the letter was only available on the website of the diocese of St Davids. It has now been published on the provincial website, along with this press release:
Anyone who has been baptised will be able to receive Holy Communion in church, regardless of whether they have also been confirmed, under new guidance coming into effect in November.
The Church in Wales is re-adopting the practice of the early church on admission to Communion – the sharing of bread and wine – in an effort to strengthen ministry to children and young people in particular.
In recent times, people wishing to receive Communion have usually had to have been confirmed first – confirming promises made on their behalf at their baptism as infants. However, from the First Sunday in Advent – November 27 – everyone who has been baptised will be able to receive Holy Communion. The policy will be rolled out across the parishes and ministry areas over the next year…
As well as the pastoral letter itself, there are three other related documents available for download.
These links are to pdfs of the English versions. Welsh versions, and Word documents are also available.
David Pocklington and Frank Cranmer of Law & Religion UK have a helpful summary of the new documents, and of the law about giving alcohol to the under-fives, here.
The Church Times has a leader this week which discusses the Bishops’ Reflection Group on Human Sexuality. This is titled An unenviable task.
Do please read it in full.
The two concluding paragraphs:
…It is always dangerous to underestimate the ability of the C of E to avoid resolving an issue, but it does seem clear that many of the Bishops, and possibly both of the Archbishops, are determined to halt the Church’s endless wrangling about sexuality, on the obvious grounds that it undermines mission, brings the Church into disrepute, and causes real harm to many individuals. The direction of travel is towards liberalisation. The sticking-point is how to accomplish this without compromising the consciences of conservatives or triggering an exodus — or, at least, too much of one. The lesson learnt by most during the Shared Conversations was that it is possible to respect the opinions of another without relinquishing one’s own views. But the growth of what has been, in essence, a greater sense of perspective exposed the few who cannot see sexuality as anything other than a communion-breaking matter.
The remarks from GAFCON after the revelation that the Bishop of Grantham was in a celibate same-sex relationship marked a new low: “We remain opposed to the guidelines for clergy and bishops, permitting them to be in same-sex relationships as long as they publicly declare that the relationship is not sexual. This creates confusion in terms of the Church’s teaching on the nature of sex and marriage, and it is not modelling a helpful way to live.” This has rarely been said so boldly, and conservatives of this stripe cannot expect the bishops to come up with any measures that satisfy them. The C of E is a broad Church with able bishops, but it is beyond their ability to accommodate a view that rejects even the existing compromise.
Ruth Gledhill reports in Christian Today Anglican ‘Church’ For Conservative Christians Launches Mission In England
An Anglican mission to rival the Church of England has set out plans to evangelise the UK.
The mission is already reaching out to evangelical Christians in dioceses that are “closed to conservative evangelicals”.
The plan is to plant hundreds of new evangelical Anglican churches.
The influential Archbishop and Primate of Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh, is backing the plan…
It involves new Anglican churches being independent from the country’s “official” established church.
The Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) sets out its goal of to planting 25 new churches by 2025 and 250 by 2050 in a new video.
The Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh is backing a plan to plant hundreds of new evangelical Anglican churches.
Archbishop Okoh, who leads the conservative Anglican fellowship Gafcon, says: “We are so thrilled that the Anglican Mission in England exists and we are delighted that it is keen to start many new churches in the years to come. AMiE has the full support of the GAFCON movement.”
The video which announces this plan is available here.
The website of Anglican Mission in England explains here:
The Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) is a mission society that seeks to promote gospel growth in areas covered by the Church of England (principally in England, but also in other parts of Europe) by supporting Anglican churches and individuals both within and outside present Church of England structures.
AMiE came into being as a result of GAFCON and is one of a number of agencies that relates to GAFCON through the FCA (Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans) UK and Ireland. You can read more about the history of AMiE by clicking here.
A variety of Anglican churches are part of AMiE. Some churches are outside the structures of the Church of England. Others remain within the denomination but are experiencing tensions, whilst others have joined to support them…
There is a list of participating churches on this page.
The Church Times has a report: The world is our parish, Hull curate says as AMiE agenda is set out
The Church of England should not have a monopoly on Anglicanism in England, the priest set to plant a new church in Scarborough, outside diocesan structures (News, 9 September; Letters, 16 September), says.
“In the business world, monopolies are not encouraged; so I do not see why there should be one Anglican service provider in England,” the Revd Lee McMunn said on Wednesday. “Surely we can allow people the option to choose, whether that is future ministers or future members of congregations…”
There is a further copy of this report on the GAFCON website: AMiE, the UK mission society established by GAFCON, begins ambitious church planting program.
And the website of this new church in Scarborough is here: A New Church in Scarborough.
And the latest GAFCON Chairman’s letter is here. (The chairman of the GAFCON primates is the Archbishop of Nigeria.)
Bosco Peters My Submission on Same-Sex Couples
Andrew Goddard Fulcrum What does “full inclusion” mean?
Revd Nick Bundock shares his church’s journey to being an Inclusive Church, born out of tragic circumstances: Diocese of Manchester Inclusive Church.
Cathedral statistics 2015 show continued growth
23 September 2016
Attendance at cathedral worship continues to increase with mid-week attendance rising and Sunday attendance stable in 2015, according to the latest Cathedral Statistics, published today. The figures confirm the trend of gradual growth in cathedral attendance noted in the report From Anecdote to Evidence published in 2014.
On average, 36,700 people (adults and children) attended services each week at the 42 cathedrals in England during 2015. This is an increase of 18% from 31,200 in 2005. Midweek attendance increased from 12,700 to 18,900, contributing most of the increase. Attendance at Sunday services has remained generally stable, at around 17,900 in 2015. Numbers on community rolls increased by 5% from 15,100 in 2014 to 15,900 in 2015.
Other regular services, such as fresh expressions and schools services conducted at least once a month and not part of the weekly pattern of services, attracted 471,300. More than 1.1 million people attended 5,310 public/civic events held in cathedrals.
“These figures are extremely encouraging,” said the Very Reverend Dr Pete Wilcox, Dean of Liverpool. “They show that, up and down the country, cathedrals are sustaining the growth that has been reported for a number of years. Clearly, something about cathedral worship is meeting a need and contributing significantly to the spiritual life of the nation.”
Easter and Christmas
Easter 2015, services saw 54,000 attending worship, 2% more than in 2014. There were 28,200 Easter communicants, the highest figure since 2009. Attendance during Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Good Friday, was 92,500.
Christmas attendance was 125,200 in 2015, the highest figure since 2011. There were 33,100 communicants at Christmas in 2015. Services during Advent, the period leading up to Christmas, attracted an attendance of 824,300 in 2015, the highest figure for the past decade. All events and services from the beginning of Advent to 23 December are captured in the Advent total.
Baptisms, Marriages and Thanksgivings
In 2015, 760 baptisms and 12 thanksgivings were conducted in cathedrals, a number almost unchanged since 2010. Since 2011, the number of infant baptisms in cathedrals has been falling steadily, while the number of baptisms of people over a year of age has steadily increased since 2005.
In the year, 270 marriages and 30 blessings were conducted in cathedrals. The number of funerals has remained stable over the last ten years at 370 with a further 120 memorial services conducted by cathedral clergy; 70 funerals were conducted at crematoria on behalf of cathedrals.
Children and Young People
The number of children and young people attending organised educational events in cathedrals increased by 14% from 280,900 in 2005 to 320,000 in 2015; a further 13,100 children visited Westminster Abbey. More than half of these visits were by children under 11 years old. Cathedral schools or schools formally associated with cathedrals had 12,440 children on their rolls in 2015. Attendance at graduation ceremonies was 264,700 and at other public events such as concerts was 842,400 in 2015.
Cathedral choirs included 1,490 child choristers and 550 lay clerks and choral scholars in 2015. A further 600 children and 1,410 adults were involved in voluntary choirs. The cathedrals have, between them, 40 male, 30 female and 80 mixed cathedral choirs: 790 visiting choirs sang in one service or a week of services and more than 1,140 regular and 620 occasional musicians were involved in services in 2015.
The number of people volunteering at cathedrals rose by 13% from 13,300 in 2005 to 15,000 in 2015. There were 9.4 million visitors to cathedrals in 2015; a further 1 million people visited Westminster Abbey.
Cathedral Statistics 2015 can be read in full here.
The report From Anecdote to Evidence can be read here.
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Changing Attitude have issued a joint statement:
Statement from Changing Attitude and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement on the Bishops’ Reflection Group on Human Sexuality.
Welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Changing Attitude have welcomed the establishment of a Reflection Group under the leadership of Right Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich. Whilst expressing disappointment that a group tasked with reflecting on issues of human sexuality does not appear to include any openly gay people, we recognise that this simply reflects the reality within the church’s leadership - that LGBT people are invisible, our voices often silenced, and our experiences unheard. We welcome the opportunities which have arisen as part of the Shared Conversations to included the lived experience, deep conviction and prophetic witness of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, and we recognise the enormously costly nature of the contribution many people have made to that process.
The Reflection Group must now consider the Church’s steps into the future. In doing so, they will be called to listen carefully to all they have heard during the Shared Conversations. We call upon them to lead the House of Bishops towards a future that celebrates the gifts of all God’s people including the LGBTI members of the Church of England and embodies the radical equality to which we are called in Christ.
Our prayer is that, strengthened by the Spirit, the members of the group will be enabled to listen, reflect and discern, and that as they undertake their work they will be granted moral courage and prophetic vision. For we are all alike called to be not only hearers of the Word, but doers too; our actions must match our words in seeking God’s justice, compassion and truth.
We continue to look forward to a future where LGBT people are no longer seen as a problem to be solved, but as gifted members of the Body of Christ, equal partners in prayer, service and mission. Anything less than that falls short of the Good News that God’s abundant love is for all humankind and that although LGBT people may struggle to find their place inside the church at the moment, God will travel with them when they choose the path of life, wherever that takes them.
GAFCON UK has issued this statement:
GAFCON UK Statement following the appointment of a ‘Bishops’ Reflection Group’ on homosexuality
18th September 2016
GAFCON UK is puzzled as to why the Church of England needs a ‘Bishops’ Reflection Group’ on homosexuality. Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference is clear, and the Bible is universally clear. We stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are same-sex attracted, and faithfully living according to God’s revealed plan for human flourishing. As pastors, teachers, friends, and neighbours we can have no other response. The Church of England needs to have the courage of its foundational convictions, return to them, and move on to its mission of calling the nation to turn to Christ as the only Saviour and Lord.
Comments from various people have been reported in the media:
Updated to add press reports
The Church of England has released two related reports on clergy numbers today, one looking back at the actual numbers from 1949 to 2014, and one looking at projections of numbers up to 2035. There is this cover note to the two reports:
Cover note: Ordained Vocations Statistics report and Ministry Statistics in focus: Stipendiary clergy projections
and a press release.
Increase in ministry numbers is necessary and achievable, report shows
Dioceses have responded to the call to work towards a 50% increase in candidates for ordination with new posts and new procedures. A review of numbers in ordained ministry over the last 67 years shows that the 50% increase in candidates for ministry by 2020 agreed by the General Synod in February, 2015, is needed to stabilise and increase the numbers ministering in parishes, chaplaincies and new forms of church.
The Church of England is seeking to increase by half the numbers training for ordained ministry and to sustain those numbers for a decade: an increase from about 500 to 750 by 2020. At the same time, the Church is also seeking greater diversity among those training for ministry. This will better reflect the communities where the Church is working, in terms of age, gender and ethnic and social background. The 50% increase is an aspiration and not a limit if more candidates come forward and dioceses require more new clergy…
The full press release is copied below the fold.
The cover note includes links to the two reports, but for convenience here they are.
The cover note also includes links to a report for each of the 42 dioceses. In each case it comprises the Ordained Vocations Statistics report with diocesan data at the end.
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England seeks more black and minority ethnic clergy
Gavin Drake Anglican Communion News Service Church of England needs 50 per cent increase in ordinands
Hannah Tooley Premier Church pledges to increase numbers of vicar training places by half
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today CofE desperate for more young women and ethnic minorities to hear the call of God
John Bingham The Telegraph Race to save a much-loved British endangered species (the local vicar)
Increase in ministry numbers is necessary and achievable, report shows
20 September 2016
Dioceses have responded to the call to work towards a 50% increase in candidates for ordination with new posts and new procedures. A review of numbers in ordained ministry over the last 67 years shows that the 50% increase in candidates for ministry by 2020 agreed by the General Synod in February, 2015, is needed to stabilise and increase the numbers ministering in parishes, chaplaincies and new forms of church.
The Church of England is seeking to increase by half the numbers training for ordained ministry and to sustain those numbers for a decade: an increase from about 500 to 750 by 2020. At the same time, the Church is also seeking greater diversity among those training for ministry. This will better reflect the communities where the Church is working, in terms of age, gender and ethnic and social background. The 50% increase is an aspiration and not a limit if more candidates come forward and dioceses require more new clergy.
The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Rev Andrew Watson, chair of the Ordained Vocations Working Group said, “The aspiration to increase the number of new clergy by 50% is part of a wider vision to release and develop the gifts of the whole people of God.
“It’s encouraging to see most of the dioceses really rising to this challenge, as they reshape their vocations teams and put new and more proactive vocations strategies in place. We are picking up a fresh commitment to ‘pray to the Lord of the Harvest’, along with early reports of an increase in the number of enquiries from potential candidates.”
Encouraging more young men and, especially, young women, as well as more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) worshippers to consider ordination will help the Church of England hit its aspiration of an extra 50% new clergy each year, according to a report on ordained vocations statistics published today. The Church is not just looking for an increase in numbers but also a growth in diversity. Dioceses have said that ministry in the future needs to embody the diversity in the Church and the nation to realise the hopeful future at the heart of Renewal and Reform.
The statistical review to help dioceses plan for the future shows that, while similar numbers of men and women are being recommended for ordination training each year, women are testing their vocations at a later age and tend to retire sooner than the men. Currently, women recommended for training are, on average, significantly older than the men recommended. The majority of younger paid clergy are men, while, among older clergy, more are women. The Church is encouraging women to test their vocations younger.
Hitting the extra 50% aspiration is not just a matter of recommending more people for training. The Church is looking for more people with the right gifts who have a vocation to ordained ministry. It is calling on all worshippers to consider what God is calling them to in the expectation that additional people will step forward to a variety of lay and ordained vocations.
The figures also show that the proportion of BAME candidates recommended for training is lower than the BAME proportion in the population. As part of the push for more candidates for ordination, the Church will be aiming for a greater diversity among its clergy, in terms of ethnic and social background, to reflect the communities where it looks to grow God’s church.
An accompanying projections report shows the effect of changes that will flow from increased numbers. The age profile of the clergy would become much flatter as numbers increase, reducing the risk associated with large numbers approaching retirement.
The projections (Figure 10 and Table 4) illustrate a steady decline in the total pool of clergy if the current trends in ordinations and retirements continue (status quo scenario). Clergy delaying retirement by a year (retirements 1 year later scenario) would help slow the rate of decline in numbers but cannot prevent it. Reaching the aspiration of a 50% increase in ordinations (ordinations 50% increase levels sustained scenario), would provide a stable pool of around 7,600 FTE clergy. If the rise is only a temporary peak and ordinations fall again to current levels gradually after 2023 then the pattern of decline will return (ordinations rise and fall scenario).
Alongside these reports, each diocese will receive a parallel report of its own statistics. Dioceses will then use these to plan their own strategy for increasing vocations to the priesthood, in the full knowledge of where they are doing well and where they are doing less well. As dioceses develop their own plans, the national aims will develop accordingly.
Currently, around 500 candidates for ordained ministry are recommended for training each year. By 2020, it is hoped to increase this number to around 750, including a substantial increase in the numbers of young candidates and in the diversity of their backgrounds.
As well as the overall numerical increase the Church is seeking to:
Increase the proportion of younger ordinands so that half of those recommended for stipendiary ministry are under 32
Increase the proportion of women among the ordinands under 32 to about half of the total
Increase the percentage of ordinands who identify as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic towards the same proportion as in the general population in England (15%).
Progress in these areas will be monitored and reported annually, along with a review of the Church of England’s deployment needs.
Other priority areas will be developed in response to the needs of the dioceses and national deployment. There are four current areas for such additional priorities. They are:
An increase in the number of pioneer ministers
An increase in lay ministers to serve alongside ordained ministers
The encouragement of the vocations of all people, including how people live out their faith in daily life
The encouragement of vocations in religious life.
The Ordained Vocations Statistics Report and the Ministry Statistics in focus projections report can be read in full via the links in the cover note here.
Read the blog here.
The Bench of Bishops of the Church in Wales has announced that, with effect from Advent Sunday, everyone who has been baptised can participate fully in Holy Communion, regardless of their age or whether they have been confirmed.
The website of the diocese of St Davids states that “The news came in a Pastoral Letter handed out to members of the Governing Body at their meeting in Lampeter [15 September 2016] and was warmly and widely welcomed. Copies of the letter, together with guidance notes and practical advice for clergy and congregations, are being sent to all parishes.”
David Pocklington writes about this here for Law & Religion UK The comments there look at the potential implications for the Church of England whose Canon B15A states that:
1. There shall be admitted to the Holy Communion:
(b) baptized persons who are communicant members of other Churches which subscribe to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and who are in good standing in their own Church.
A Pastoral Letter from the Bishops of the Church in Wales to all the faithful concerning Admission to Holy Communion
The Church, as the Body of Christ, has both Word and Sacrament to nourish and sustain its members. Down through the centuries, the Church has been called to the faithful preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments as part of God’s mission and witness to his Kingdom.
From about the fifth century, it became common in the western Church to separate the Sacrament of Baptism (in which a person is joined to the Body of Christ, and sacramentally with Christ’s death and resurrection) from the ceremony of Confirmation, when the bishop, as chief pastor, welcomes the newly baptised, and lays hands upon them praying for the strengthening of the Holy Spirit. From the thirteenth century, it became customary also not to admit anyone to the Sacrament of Holy Communion unless or until they had received the sacramental act of Confirmation.
Thus three ceremonies which the early Church had held together were separated, and the pattern was established with which Anglicans are familiar (of Baptism in infancy, of Confirmation at puberty, and Communion thereafter). These developments seemed expedient at the time that they were implemented, but in so doing, a great truth was obscured: the Sacrament of Baptism, commanded by Our Lord, is in fact the whole ceremony, entire and complete in itself, by which a person is incorporated into Christ, and recognised as a Christian.
In the Church today, there are many who believe that the witness of the Church to Jesus Christ, and the process of nurturing children and young people in the Christian faith, would be immeasurably strengthened by recovering this earliest symbolism. Baptism alone should be seen as the gateway into participation in the life of the Church, including admission to the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
In conjunction with advice from the Doctrinal Commission of the Church in Wales, and from the Governing Body, the Bench of Bishops wishes now to re-adopt the practice of the early Church with respect to admission to Holy Communion. It is our conviction that all the baptised, by virtue of their Baptism alone, are full members of the Body of Christ and qualified to receive Holy Communion.
We have taken note of the existing rubrics and the teaching found in the Catechism of the Book of Common Prayer of the Church in Wales. We have also taken advice from the Legal Sub-Committee of the Governing Body and have been given the assurance that such a step does not require any change in the present Canon Law or Constitution of the Church in Wales. We have also received advice from them of civil law implications in taking this step.
With all this in mind, as of the First Sunday of Advent this year, 27th November 2016, we are giving permission for all those who are baptised in water and in the name of the Holy Trinity, to receive Holy Communion at the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist within our dioceses and jurisdictions. None is required so to receive, but no barrier should be erected to prevent all the baptised from making their Communion, other than that which is required by civil law.
Of course, this decision raises important questions for the life of the Church. We have asked for assistance in preparing materials which can be used in our parishes and Ministry and Mission Areas to instruct the faithful on the meaning and significance of this change.
Since we remain, as a Church, committed to the Baptism of Infants, even the youngest of children would be entitled to receive Holy Communion under these provisions. However, while this will be permitted by the theology of the Church, it will not always be appropriate to administer Communion in both kinds. The civil law does not permit the administration of alcohol to children under the age of five, and even thereafter parental permission is required before a child may receive Communion from the chalice. It will be important for parishes and clergy to establish good practice by ensuring that clear records are kept of what permissions are given, and Communion in all other cases would have to be in the one kind (the bread).
In lifting the customary barriers to Communion, we are mindful that this opens out as well a new and strengthened understanding of the Rite of Confirmation. It will be no longer the gateway to Communion, but take its proper place in the sacramental acts of the Church as a channel of God’s grace, affirming disciples of their place in the fellowship of the Church and commissioning them for service in the Church and world. We have asked the Standing Liturgical Advisory Commission to prepare work on a new Rite of Confirmation that will reflect more clearly this understanding.
We entrust the Church in Wales to God’s good care and grace, and pray that, as we acknowledge the place of all the baptised at the Eucharist, he may renew our life in him and the commission we receive to his service, so that we might all grow in grace, and bear witness to his love in the world.
The Bench of Bishops September 2016
Lawrence Moore Windermere Centre What Does Your Church Coffee Say About Your Hospitality?
Theo Hobson The Spectator Why CofE schools must resist becoming more religious
Andrew Lightbown Goodwill: R&R’s most important asset?
Richard Beck Experimental Theology Memento Mori
The following press release has been issued:
Bishops’ Reflection Group on Human Sexuality
Following the statement from the College of Bishops issued on 15 September 2016, the Church of England has published the terms of reference of the Bishops’ Reflection Group on Human Sexuality and the membership of the group.
Terms of Reference
To assist the Bishops of the Church of England in their reflection on issues relating to human sexuality, in the light of theological, biblical, ecumenical, Anglican Communion, pastoral, missiological, historical and societal considerations bearing on these issues, and following experiences of the shared conversations held around the Church between 2014 and 2016.
To assist the House of Bishops in identifying questions in relation to human sexuality, with particular reference to same sex relationships. It will also develop possible answers to those questions for the House to consider, as a contribution to the leadership which the House provides to the Church on such issues.
To provide material to assist the House of Bishops in its reflections in November 2016, and subsequently as requested, and to assist the House in its development of any statements on these matters which it may provide to the wider Church.
To consider any matter which the Archbishops request that the group should have on its agenda.
Membership of Group:
Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich (Chair)
Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden (Vice-Chair)
Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford
Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall, Bishop of Ebbsfleet
Rt Revd Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn
Rt Revd Libby Lane, Bishop of Stockport
Rt Revd Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of Crediton
Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich
Rt Revd Rod Thomas, Bishop of Maidstone
Rt Revd Jo Bailey Wells, Bishop of Dorking
Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, Director Mission & Public Affairs Division
Jonathan Neil-Smith, Central Secretariat (Secretary)
William Nye LVO, Secretary General
Canon David Porter, Chief of Staff and Strategy to the Archbishop of Canterbury
Revd Dr Jeremy Worthen, Theological Secretary and Secretary to the Council for Christian Unity
Statement from the College of Bishops
15 September 2016
The College of Bishops of the Church of England met in Oxford from 12-15 September 2016.
As is the usual pattern of meetings of the College every third year the College of Bishops are joined for part of their meeting by bishops from the Scottish Episcopal Church, Church of Ireland and Church in Wales. Representatives from each of the sister churches made presentations to the college and engaged fully in discussions during the first days of the meeting.
A wide ranging agenda included presentations and discussions on Safeguarding, the Renewal and Reform programme, the post-Brexit political landscape, clergywomen in leadership, clergy wellbeing and issues of sexuality.
Discussions on issues of sexuality took place as part of a new process of episcopal discernment which will continue during the meetings of the House of Bishops in November and December of this year and in January next year at the next meeting of the College of Bishops. These discussions were undertaken by the College of Bishops alone.
Whilst the process of episcopal discernment is in the public domain the Bishops agreed that the contents of their discussion should not be shared in public during the process so as to enable those discussions to be conducted freely and in a spirit of full collegiality. Consequently the contents of the conversations will remain private and participants have agreed not to comment on the contents of the discussions beyond their own views.
Following the conclusion of the shared conversations process the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have invited some bishops to take forward work on sexuality to assist the episcopal discernment process. The Bishops’ Reflection Group on Sexuality will be chaired by Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich. The full membership of the group and its terms of reference will be published in due course.
Archbishop Barry Morgan addressed the Governing Body of the Church in Wales today.
Press Release from the Church in Wales:
Studying the Bible in its full context can lead to a very different view of same-sex relationships than that traditionally held by the Church, the Archbishop of Wales said today (SEPT 14).
In his final address to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, responded to claims that he and his fellow bishops had been “swayed by the liberal culture of our age” and “ignored Holy Scripture” in issuing prayers earlier this year that could be said with same-sex couples following their civil partnership or marriage.
He showed how the Bible had more than one view on homosexuality, as well as other important issues, as the authors of its books developed and changed their opinions. To understand God’s will, he suggested, meant seeing the different views in the context of the Bible as a whole, and, in particular, the ministry of Jesus.
Dr Morgan, who will retire in January, said, “It absolutely will not do to quote texts from parts of the Bible in a simplistic way without reference to their contexts. One has to treat the Bible as a whole and discern, often through stories, the direction in which it is leading. Holy Scripture, in other words, contains not just ethical injunctions but stories, and stories convey truth about peoples’ understanding of God. After all, Jesus spent most of His life telling stories to get people to understand the nature and character of God.”
He compared biblical interpretations of same-sex relationships with those of slavery – a practice once defended by the Church. As opinions on that changed, he suggested, so may the Church’s view on same-sex relationships.
“In spite of all the passages in favour of slavery, when you examine the Scriptures as a whole and the ministry of Jesus in particular, you realise it is about freedom from all that diminishes and dehumanises people. No Christian I hope would today argue that slavery is good, but for nineteen centuries the Church accepted it and defended it. God through His Holy Spirit has led us into the truth of seeing things in a totally different way today and we are rightly horrified when we read about people who have been kept as slaves by others.
“What all this amounts to is that one cannot argue that there is one accepted traditional way of interpreting Scripture that is true and orthodox and all else is modern revisionism, culturally conditioned. Scripture itself is diverse and theological views held in some biblical books are reshaped in the light of experience by other writers….
“So taking the Bible as a whole and taking what it says very seriously may lead us into a very different view of same-sex relationships than the one traditionally upheld by the Church…..
“Given that each of the passages purported to be about homosexuality can be interpreted in more than one way, we come to the fundamental question as to whether taking the Bible as a whole, we can come to the same conclusions about committed, faithful, loving, same-sex relationships as we did about slavery.
“We are not thereby abandoning the Bible but trying to interpret it in a way that is consistent with the main thrust of the ministry of Jesus, who went out of His way to minister to those who were excluded, marginalised, and abandoned by His society because they were regarded as impure and unholy by the religious leaders of His day, either because of their gender, age, morality or sexuality. Taking Holy Scripture seriously means paying attention to Jesus’ ministry of inclusivity.”
The Archbishop concluded his address by quoting from a book edited by Andrew Davison, called Amazing Love:
“We are most truly ourselves when we live for others and we gain life not by clutching to it but by giving it away. Living for others underlines the truest meaning of sexuality. Christians have discovered that most people flourish best when this living for others finds its focus in a commitment to one other person: when a couple make a lifelong commitment within which sex properly belongs.”
He said, “Those of us who were or are married have found that to be the case. Why would we want to deny such a possibility for those who are attracted to their own gender?”
The full text of the address is available here.
Andrew Brown The Guardian David Jenkins: the bishop who didn’t believe in the Bible
Archdruid Eileen How to Shorten a Church Meeting
David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, ViaMedia.News Welcoming Signs
Justin Welby Church Times Prayer changes everything
Claire Jones Dear… the next LGBT St Anselmer
Australian Associated Press reports Anglicans ‘can accept gay marriage vote’
Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier has written to the country’s Anglican bishops insisting the church can preserve its view on “holy matrimony” while accepting the will of the people.
“Should the vote be in favour of same-sex marriage, as suggested by opinion polls, the church must accept that this is now part of the landscape,” the Australian primate states.
Dr Freier’s letter notes that the doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer - that marriage is between a man and a woman “under God” - would remain unchanged.
“I do not believe the Anglican Church in Australia is likely to revise its doctrine of marriage,” he writes.
“But … the church also understands the desire of two people to express their commitment of love and self-sacrifice and Christians have not always shown the respect or perspective they should.”
The head of the Anglican church in Australia has said it “must accept” a change in the civil definition of marriage if the plebiscite approves marriage equality, but it is unlikely the church’s doctrine will change.
In a letter to the nation’s Anglican bishops, the Melbourne archbishop Philip Freier also threw his weight behind a plebiscite, saying the government had a mandate for the policy and it would make the social reform easier to accept.
On Friday, Freier wrote that he personally “welcomes the plebiscite, though with strong reservations that we must guard the tenor of the debate, and keep it positive”.
The full text of the letter written by Archbishop Philip Freier of Melbourne to his fellow Australian bishops is published here: Conscience rules on marriage.
Parish finances show record level of giving
The generosity of churchgoers from across the country is highlighted in the latest parish finance statistics. The figures – covering the year 2014 – demonstrate a record level of giving with total planned giving up £6 million at £329 million and total direct giving up £71 million at £481 million.
The figures also show that Church of England parishes donated £46 million to supporting other charities working around the world, from foodbanks and local children’s charities to international aid appeals.
Parishes raised these important funds from a combination of regular and one-off donations as well as investments and legacies. Total parish income from giving, investments and other income sources was £989 million – an increase of £36 million on the previous year. Expenditure levels also rose by £28 million to £948 million in 2014, leaving the 12,000 parishes a surplus of £41 million over expenditure.
Dr John Preston, the Church of England’s national stewardship adviser, said:
“These financial statistics reveal an underlying financial health in the church which is encouraging. As a result of the commitment and generosity of hundreds of thousands of churchgoers, we have seen record levels of giving - with the average weekly gift from all planned givers exceeding £11 for the first time, and the average gift from those able to give through Gift Aid exceeding £15 including the tax recovered. Parishes were able to claim record levels of Gift Aid, with a significant part of this increase arising from use of the Gift Aid Small Donations scheme. It is also pleasing to note that legacy giving was the highest yet.”
Average weekly giving per tax-efficient givers has continued to rise year on year with members giving on average £12.01 in 2014. Average weekly giving per electoral roll member rose to £8.85 in 2014, an increase of £1.60 a week and the highest level recorded. Total planned giving rose by slightly less than inflation, while total income grew by more than inflation.
Time Wyatt reports for Church Times that Parishioners give more — but not enough to cancel out costs.
The following press release has been issued. The letter to which it refers is copied below the fold.
For the full list of signatures follow this link.
GENERAL SYNOD MEMBERS URGE BISHOPS TO SEND A POSITIVE MESSAGE TO LGBTI CHRISTIANS.
Over 130 lay and clergy members of Synod from across the Church of England’s traditions have signed an open letter to the College of Bishops urging that the Church is “unequivocal in its acknowledgement” that LGBTI Christians are essential to the health and future of our Church.
The letter has been made public just before the Church of England’s meeting of the College of Bishops following the completion of the Shared Conversations process in July. It comes after an earlier letter from 72 conservatives expressing concern over the discussion of any new proposals, which they stated would lead to a fracture within the Church of England.
Organised by four influential Synod members – Jayne Ozanne, the Revd Canon Giles Goddard, the Very Revd Dr David Ison and Tim Hind – the letter has succeeded in uniting members from across the various Church traditions and from 38 of the 42 dioceses within the Church of England.
Echoing sentiments made by many signatories, long standing synod member John Mason said:
“I am not normally enthusiastic about letters of this type, but I am in complete agreement with publication of this one. I wholeheartedly approve of it both because of the need for a response (to the conservatives’ letter) and because of its particularly inclusive and affirming content.”
The letter recognises the importance of the Shared Conversations, and its role in helping people understand “the common reverence we (synod members) hold for the Word of God as well as the differing ways in which we have come to understand and interpret it. We believe this has formed deeper understanding, trust and respect between those with whom we have differing views.”
Importantly it called for a new “relational approach” to how the Synod engages in such difficult topics, and urged the Bishops to move forward “with the sense of urgency and sensitivity that so many of us expressed within Synod”. This will be aided by the fact that there is now one openly gay and partnered member of the College of Bishops, the Rt Revd Nicholas Chamberlain.
Jayne Ozanne said the level of support was very encouraging, and an important signal to the bishops of the broad support that exists amongst Synod members:
“The response to the letter has been overwhelming, - it definitely seems that the tide is now finally turning. From conversations I have had it would appear that many synod members were deeply challenged and moved by the discussions in July, and it seems that there is a growing consensus for the Church to take active steps towards ensuring it is welcoming and inclusive of all.”
The Revd Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of the Human Sexuality Group in Synod and the other lead co-ordinator, said that the breadth of support was important:
“The broad consensus across the church traditions is extremely encouraging. We hope it will help the C of E to find ways to heal the deep level of pain felt by many of us within the LGBTI community, by becoming genuinely welcoming and affirming.”
The Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd Dr David Ison, was clear that the status quo is not an option:
“I believe that there’s a growing consciousness across the Church that our response to lay and ordained LGBTI Christians cannot stay as it is. We need far greater honesty and transparency with one another, and to ensure that all LGBTI people are welcomed and affirmed by a Church called to share the redeeming love of Christ with all.”
Other synod members who would like to sign the letter are being encouraged to do so in retrospect by adding their signature at www.synodletter.wordpress.com.
For more information please contact Jayne Ozanne at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. The 131 signatories include:
- 69 members of the House of Clergy – including 3 Deans and 8 Archdeacons
- 62 members of the House of Laity
- 70 women
- 61 men
- Representatives from 38 of the 42 dioceses
2. A further 7 synod members indicated that they would have liked to have signed the letter but felt unable to do so as they had not participated in any of the Shared Conversations.
3. 72 conservatives sent an open letter to the College of Bishops on August 11th 2016.
4. A full list of Synod members is available here.
To All Members of the College of Bishops
We write as Members from across the full breadth of General Synod to thank and congratulate you for what we feel were a significant few days within the life of the Synod last July. Whilst the Shared Conversations were difficult, and at times very painful, we are grateful for the care and thought that had gone into creating as safe a space as possible for differing views to be aired, and experiences listened to.
We are particularly grateful for the way that we were encouraged to engage in Scripture together. This enabled us to appreciate the common reverence we hold for the Word of God as well as the differing ways in which we have come to understand and interpret it. We believe this has formed deeper understanding, trust and respect between those with whom we have differing views.
We now look to you and your colleagues within the College of Bishops to help lead us forward.
We hope that this will be with the sense of urgency and sensitivity that so many of us expressed within Synod. In particular, we pray it will continue to develop the new “relational approach” that has enabled us to bridge our sometimes unhelpful “tribal divides”.
Whilst not wishing to pre-empt the work of the College of Bishops, we would ask that the steps that are proposed create greater clarity and consistency in our approach to this complex issue. In particular, we are keen that the College of Bishops is unequivocal in its acknowledgement that all, including those who identify as LGBTI, are essential to the health and future of our church and mission to the wider world.
We wish you to be assured of our prayers, and know that we are fully committed to the process of encouraging greater inclusion across the Church of England for all.
Please let us know how we might best support you in this important work,
Yours in Christ
There has been a lot of media coverage of the news about the Bishop of Grantham, first reported here.
This news report by Madeleine Davies in the Church Times incorporates many of the responses to the news from other people or groups: Bishop of Grantham: ‘I hope to be a standard-bearer as a gay man’.
The full text of the letter from the Bishop of Lincoln to his parishes can be found here.
The full text of the GAFCON statement can be found here.
Anglican Mainstream has a convenient compendium of links to responses from a variety of perspectives.
Some other viewpoints from the blogosphere:
Beth Routledge The Church of England, and The Sex In Sexuality
Kelvin Holdsworth Sexuality, Celibacy and Bishops
The following letter has been published today by the Sunday Times
To All Members of the House of Bishops
We are writing to you as married lesbian and gay members of the Church of England. Some of us are clergy; some of us are members of the laity. We are just a few of the many gay and lesbian people in this country who have in the past two years been able to celebrate with families, friends, and in our cases often our local Church community, the enriching and life enhancing love we have found in our wives and husbands.
We would like you to know that we will be praying for you as you meet in September as a College of Bishops.
Now that the Shared Conversations are at an end it is time for the Church of England to move forward and make clear the commitment to ‘good disagreement’ that was at their heart. We fully appreciate that the time may not yet be right for a change in the Church’s official understanding of marriage. But many in our parishes have already made that move and it is time to respect that a diversity of theology within the Church now exists and that there is more than one understanding of what a faithful Christian may believe on these issues.
As you meet to discuss we seek from you a clear lead that offers a way forward to greater inclusion that will enable those parishes that wish to do so to celebrate the love that we have found in our wives and husbands. We hope for an outcome that will enable those who wish to do so to publicly celebrate where we see God at work in the lives of our congregations without fear and in openness.
We encourage you to be bold, and to be honest about what many of you already believe from your own experience, and to what you know to be increasingly the direction of travel, not just in our Church but in many Churches in this country.
We will always want to see the full inclusion of LGBTI people in the Church, and we will continue to work towards it. We look forward to welcoming a first step in that process and a move away from the harm and hurt that has so often been done in the name of the Church.
Yours in Christ
1. The Revd Andrew Foreshew-Cain and Stephen Foreshew-Cain
2. The Revd Richard Harris and Ricardo Goncalves.
3. The Revd Garry Lawson and Timothy H. Wane
4. The Revd Clive Larson and John Markham
5. The Revd Paul Collier and Mr Collier
6. The Revd Canon Jeremy Davis and Simon McEnery
7. The Revd Geoffrey Thompson and Tony Steeles
8. The Revd Prof Mark Cobb and Keith Arrowsmith
9. Jeremy Timm & Mike Brown
10. Ruth Wilde & Ellie Wilde
11. Jack Semple and Ross Griffiths
12. Paul Jellings and Andrew Carter
13. Erica Baker and Susan Strong
14. Karen and Samantha Bregazzi-Jones
15. Keith Barber and Tim Mills
16. Simon Dawson and David Mooney
In addition a further seven clergy couples and Readers have indicated their support for this letter whilst wishing to remain anonymous in order to protect themselves, and often their Bishops, from attack.
The LGBTI Mission has issued this statement:
LGBTI Mission: Statement about the Bishop of Grantham
The LGBTI Mission welcomes the openness that Bishop Nicholas Chamberlain has shown in revealing personal information about himself, while we deplore the media threat which has led to the need for this to happen. We assure him of our love and prayers, extending to his partner, his colleagues, and his wider family.
We are pleased that the forthcoming College of Bishops meeting will now have at least one openly LGBTI voice in their discussion of what next steps the Church of England should take in regard to same-sex relationships. We hope this will lead to increased openness among bishops so that burden does not long remain on the Bishop of Grantham alone.
The Guardian reports that Bishop Nicholas himself has said:
“I will speak [at the meeting], and this part of me will be known. I hope I’ll be able to be a standard-bearer for all people as a gay man. And I really hope that I’ll be able to help us move on beyond matters of sexuality,”
And, asked whether other bishops might follow his lead in openly declaring their sexuality, he said: “I really can only speak for myself. If I’m an encouragement to others, that would be great.”
We are also pleased that both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Lincoln have expressed their unequivocal support for him, and confirmed that they made his appointment with full knowledge of his circumstances. But we regret that when announcing senior appointments the Church still adheres to a discriminatory policy of purposeful concealment. It is this policy which has lead directly to the discomfort which Bishop Nicholas is now experiencing.
The need to review the absurd and cruel double standard still applied in relation to sexual conduct of the clergy remains an urgent task for the Church.
Andrew Lightbown Aidan: the patron saint of R&R?
Simon Butler ViaMedia.News “See How These Christians Love One Another…”
Angus Ritchie Church Times Church growth is mainly about attitude: Many different approaches are winning new disciples: you don’t have to be Evangelical.
Updated Saturday afternoon
Harriet Sherwood in the Guardian has reported this:
Bishop of Grantham first C of E bishop to declare he is in gay relationship
The bishop of Grantham has become the first Church of England bishop to publicly declare that he is gay and in a relationship. In a move that will be embraced by campaigners for equality but is likely to alarm conservatives who fear the church is moving away from traditional teachings, Nicholas Chamberlain said there had been no secret about his long-term – albeit celibate – relationship with his partner.
But a threat by a Sunday newspaper to reveal Chamberlain’s sexuality had pushed him to speak publicly. He acknowledged that the revelation would cause “ripples” within the church. “It was not my decision to make a big thing about coming out,” he told the Guardian in an exclusive interview. “People know I’m gay, but it’s not the first thing I’d say to anyone. Sexuality is part of who I am, but it’s my ministry that I want to focus on.”
The Guardian also has this comment article by Andrew Brown ‘Double standard’ in C of E on homosexuality is less defensible today.
The Church of England has been confused and dishonest about homosexuality for most of the last 50 years, as it struggled to come to terms with feminism and the sexual revolution. The official line is that all sex outside marriage is wrong, and that gay people can’t marry in church. However, the definition of marriage is flexible for straight people: the church accepts that divorce and remarriage can be regrettable necessities for heterosexuals, even when they are priests or (occasionally) bishops. Meanwhile, gay churchgoers are often welcomed and are frequently married or partnered. Congregations vary widely in their attitudes but are, for the most part, no more illiberal than the society around them.
In effect, there is one standard for the laity – which is to conform to the liberal norms of society – and a double standard for the clergy who are supposed to be celibate, even when they live with same sex partners, if not heterosexually married. It is perfectly in order for clergy and even bishops to be civilly partnered…
The Diocese of Lincoln has today (Saturday) published a letter sent out yesterday from the Bishop of Lincoln:
A MESSAGE TO THE PARISHES OF THE DIOCESE FROM THE BISHOP OF LINCOLN
2 September 2016
Last year, Nicholas Chamberlain accepted the invitation to become the twelfth Bishop of Grantham. I was delighted that we were able to appoint a priest of his faithfulness, energy, wisdom and experience to this senior role at such an important time in the life of our diocese.
Bishop Nicholas has brought to the diocese many excellent gifts that are serving us very well as we seek to build the life of the church in greater Lincolnshire in faith, confidence and joy. It was for those many gifts that he was appointed. It was clear to me, and to those who assisted me with the appointment, that Nicholas would be an excellent bishop, and this has been borne out by the tremendous benefit we are already enjoying as a result of his ministry among us during the past year.
Bishop Nicholas’ appointment was made following the recommended and established procedures for suffragan posts, and was approved by the Archbishop of Canterbury (as metropolitan of the Province of Canterbury). The archbishop, and the members of the advisory panel, were in full possession of the facts of the appointment and unanimous in their support.
A story has been published on the Guardian website this evening about sexuality and the church. The same story will appear in the newspaper tomorrow, and it includes an interview with Bishop Nicholas in which he is open about the fact that he is gay. Bishop Nicholas gave this interview willingly and after much careful thought and prayer, and he did so with the express intention of acting in the best interests of the Diocese of Lincoln and of the Church of England.
I am satisfied now, as I was at the time of his appointment, that Bishop Nicholas fully understands, and lives by, the House of Bishops’ guidance on Issues in Human Sexuality. For me, and for those who assisted in his appointment, the fact that Bishop Nicholas is gay is not, and has never been, a determining factor.
I understand that in some parts of the church – locally, nationally and internationally – this news will be challenging. My prayer for the church is that we will continue to seek to work together to understand difference with respect and dignity; to embrace and nurture our diverse gifts as disciples of Jesus Christ and in the service of God and neighbour; and to enrich and enable fulfillment in the lives of all God’s people, whatever their background, race, faith, gender or sexuality.
With my thoughts and prayers,
The Right Reverend Christopher Lowson
Bishop of Lincoln
Dean of Winchester: Catherine Ogle
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 2 September 2016
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend Catherine Ogle to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church, Winchester.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend Catherine Ogle, MA, MPhil, DLitt, Dean of Birmingham, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity and Saint Peter, Saint Paul, and of Saint Swithun in Winchester, on the resignation of the Very Reverend James Edgar Atwell, MA, BD, ThM on 14 July 2016.
Notes for editors
The Very Reverend Catherine Ogle, (aged 55) studied at Leeds University, and then at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. She studied for ordination at Westcott House, Cambridge 1985 to 1988. Her first curacy was at St Mary, Middleton in Ripon diocese from 1988 to 1991. From 1991 to 1995 she was Religious Programmes Editor at BBC Radio Leeds and attached to St Margaret of Antioch, in inner city Leeds.
In 1994 she was among the first women to be ordained priest in the Church of England and served her first incumbency from 1995 to 2001 as Priest in Charge of Woolley with West Bretton in Wakefield Diocese. From 2001 to 2010 she was Vicar of St Peter’s, Huddersfield Parish Church, also in the diocese of Wakefield. From 2003 to 2006 she was Chaplain at the University of Huddersfield. From 2008 to 2010 she was Honorary Canon at Wakefield Cathedral and Rural Dean of Huddersfield. Since 2010 she has been Dean of Birmingham.
The Very Reverend Catherine Ogle is married to Robin Goater, an accountant currently Finance Director of a local mental health charity. They have 1 son, Thomas, who is studying to be a teacher.
Her interests include the arts, broadcasting, hospitality and walking.
The Winchester diocesan website has A new Dean for Winchester Cathedral.
Suffragan Bishop of Berwick: Mark Tanner
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published : 1 September 2016
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Mark Simon Austin Tanner to the Suffragan See of Berwick.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Mark Simon Austin Tanner, MA, BA MTh, Vice Principal of St John’s College, Durham and Warden Cramer Hall in the diocese of Durham, to the Suffragan See of Berwick in the diocese of Newcastle which has been in abeyance since 1572.
Notes for editors
Canon Mark Tanner was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, then at St John’s College Durham and then at Liverpool University. He trained for the ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham. He served his title at Upton in Chester diocese from 1998 to 2001.
From 2001 to 2007 he was Vicar at Doncaster in Sheffield diocese before moving on to be Vicar at Ripon in the diocese of Ripon and Leeds from 2007 to 2011, and was also Area Dean of Ripon from 2009 to 2011. From 2009 to 2011 he was OCM with 21 Engineering Regiment, and with 101 Royal Artillery from 2011 to 2013.
Since 2011 he has been Warden of Cranmer Hall in the diocese of Durham and Vice Principal of St John’s College, Durham, and from 2015 he has been Honorary Canon of Durham Cathedral.
Canon Mark Tanner is married and has 2 children.
His interests include walking, running and motorcycles.
The Newcastle diocesan website has Canon Mark Tanner announced as new Suffragan Bishop of Berwick.