Sunday, 30 April 2017

GAFCON communiqué mentions missionary bishop

Updated again Tuesday evening

This communiqué from the GAFCON primates, meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, has been issued. Here’s an extract:

A Missionary Bishop
During our meeting, we considered how best to respond to the voice of faithful Anglicans in some parts of the Global North who are in need of biblically faithful episcopal leadership. Of immediate concern is the reality that on 8th June 2017 the Scottish Episcopal Church is likely to formalize their rejection of Jesus’ teaching on marriage. If this were to happen, faithful Anglicans in Scotland will need appropriate pastoral care. In addition, within England there are churches that have, for reasons of conscience, been planted outside of the Church of England by the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE). These churches are growing, and are in need of episcopal leadership. Therefore, we have decided to consecrate a missionary bishop who will be tasked with providing episcopal leadership for those who are outside the structures of any Anglican province, especially in Europe.

A Word of Encouragement to Faithful Anglicans within European Provinces
We wish to reassure all faithful Anglicans in European provinces that they also have our prayers and our support. We are aware that some Christians within these provinces who are contending for the faith may at first perceive the news of a missionary bishop as a threat to their hopes for reform from within.

We believe that the complexity of the current situation in Europe does not admit of a single solution. Faithful Christians may be called to different courses of action. We bless those whose context and conscience have led them to remain and contend for the faith within the current structures. If you are successful, you will not need a missionary bishop; if you are not successful, an alternative is at hand. The only true failure would be to waste time through inaction.

We also pray for those who are not yet clear about what faithfulness requires. May God give you the wisdom and courage of the Reformers to stand firm wherever the Lord calls you to stand…

GAFCON UK has issued this statement in response to the [GAFCON] Primates’ Communique. Again, here’s an extract:

… The Primates go on to talk about the challenges in the Global North, “the increasing influence of materialism, secularism, and the loss of moral foundations” which are “spiritually dangerous”. We recognize the need to repent of our participation in a weak version of the Christian faith which has too often failed to point out these dangers or even made accommodation with them.

This accommodation and ‘cultural captivity’ is seen in the failure by many Anglican leaders in the UK to hold to the key principles of Holy Scripture as speaking clearly to God’s will for human flourishing, and of requiring unequivocal obedience whatever the cost. It is shown, for example, in unwillingness to be clear about the uniqueness of Jesus and the authority of the Bible, and rejection of clear biblical teaching God’s gift of sex and marriage, and of celibate singleness.

This has contributed to the increasing concern that many faithful clergy and lay people in the Church of England, the Episcopal Church of Scotland and the Church in Wales feel about the revisionist trajectory of these churches. As the Communique points out clearly, some Anglicans are already outside of these structures and need Episcopal oversight; others may do so soon.

So we warmly welcome the decision of the Primates to consecrate a missionary Bishop who will fulfil this function. We appreciate the way GAFCON has recognized that this intervention is giving global support to one of a number of initiatives being taken by biblically orthodox Anglicans in Britain; others include the work being done to strengthen the Free Church of England. Meanwhile the Primates have generously expressed respect for and continued warm fellowship with those who for the moment are choosing to remain within the official structures and contend for orthodox biblical faith there, while warning that inaction in the face of revisionist pressure is not a faithful option.

We understand that more will be revealed about the plans for the consecration in due course. We commit ourselves to prayer about this and invite all who hold to the historic and trustworthy teaching of our faith to join us.

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, David Chillingworth has responded, as follows:

“In June, the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church will reach the final stage of consideration of changes which would make possible same-sex marriage in our churches. The news that GAFCON intends to send a missionary bishop to Britain is regrettable. The Anglican Communion functions as a global communion on the basis of respect for the territorial integrity of each province. This move is a breach of that understanding.

“The outcome of the synodical process which will take place in June is not a foregone conclusion. The voices of clergy and lay people from across Scotland will be heard both in debate and in the voting process. The Scottish Episcopal Church is working closely with those who find this proposal difficult to accept. Whatever the outcome may be, it is our intention to be and to remain a church which honours diversity.”

The former archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, has been interviewed by Premier Radio. Read about the interview and listen to it in full here: ‘This isn’t an attempt to storm Lambeth Palace’: GAFCON not looking for split in Church.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 30 April 2017 at 9:25am BST | Comments (35) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England | Scottish Episcopal Church

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Opinion - 29 April 2017

Chad Bird Christianity is not about a personal relationship with Jesus

Simon Butler ViaMedia.News Adjectival Insufficiency

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 29 April 2017 at 11:00am BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 27 April 2017

Bishop of Llandaff: June Osborne

Church in Wales press release

New Bishop of Llandaff appointed

One of the most senior and experienced church leaders in the UK will be the next Bishop of Llandaff.

June Osborne, who has served as Dean of Salisbury for the past 13 years, has been chosen as the 72nd Bishop of Llandaff, a diocese which serves most of Cardiff, the South Wales Valleys and the Vale of Glamorgan.

A ground-breaking figure in the Church of England, Dean June was the first female Dean to be appointed to a medieval cathedral, having served as Salisbury Cathedral’s Canon Treasurer for nearly 10 years. She has been active in the national life of the Church of England, serving for many years on General Synod’s Standing Committee, including sitting on the Panel of Chairs.

The announcement was made today (April 27) by the Church in Wales Bishops who became responsible for the Bishop of Llandaff appointment when no candidate nominated at the Electoral College in February secured enough votes for election.

The appointment will be confirmed on July 14 at a meeting of the Sacred Synod of Church in Wales Bishops in Brecon Cathedral where Dean June will be consecrated as Bishop the following day (July 15). She will be enthroned at Llandaff Cathedral on July 22.

Welcoming her appointment, the Church’s Senior Bishop, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies, said, “In June Osborne, both the Church in Wales and the Diocese of Llandaff will find themselves to be richly blessed. June’s track record admirably demonstrates her passion for Christian ministry modelled on the Gospel imperatives of love, justice, inclusivity and openness. All of these are qualities which I and my fellow bishops warmly support and welcome. She is known as a leader with clear vision, a pastoral heart and a strategic mind, all of which commend the Church to the wider community. In this way and through her teaching, her preaching and her leadership, she reveals herself to be someone who I am confident will provide for the Diocese of Llandaff excellence in leadership and oversight. I look forward, with keen anticipation, to her arrival amongst us and to her contributions to the work of the Bench of Bishops.”

Dean June, said, “It is a very great privilege to be nominated as Bishop of Llandaff, an ancient post with many noble predecessors. It will be something of a homecoming for the family, particularly because my husband is from Cardiff and it is a place we know and love.

“Leading a diocese that is so diverse, in an area that is both historic and beautiful, will be challenging but I have an enormous appetite for the task and am deeply honoured to have the opportunity to join a diocesan team which is strong and imaginative. These are turbulent times across the world and the need for faith, and for the confident, distinctive leadership of the Church has never been more important.

“I will, of course, be sad to say goodbye to Salisbury. It has been my home, both spiritually and as a family, for over two decades. I have been surrounded by wonderful colleagues, staff and volunteers, who have made my job a joyful undertaking. It has been a great pleasure to witness how the Cathedral has developed and flourished over the years and to have shared our wonderful Magna Carta 800 celebrations. I am immensely proud of what has been achieved here and wish all at the Cathedral and its diocese well in the years to come.”

The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, described June as an “outstanding Dean”. He said, “June Osborne is one of the Church of England’s leading clerics. For the last 13 years she has been an outstanding Dean of Salisbury. She has made significant contributions to the wider Church of England including helping to organise the Leading Women group which has been massively influential in growing women into positions of leadership in the Church. I am delighted she has been appointed Bishop of Llandaff. The whole of the Diocese of Salisbury will join me in giving thanks for the enormous contribution she has made to this Diocese where she has served for 22 years. We wish her well as Bishop of Llandaff and pray for her and her family as they prepare for all that lies ahead.”

One of the first women to be ordained as a priest in England in 1994, having been a Deaconess since 1980, Dean June’s ministry has been characterised by her passion for equality and diversity and she was a founder of the Church’s Leading Women programme.

She is also deeply concerned about global poverty and has worked with the Episcopal Church of the Sudan on health, theological education and advocacy. She continues to play a key role in the Anglican Communion’s commitment to implementing the Millennium Development Goals, and is a member of the Government’s Advisory Panel for the Commemoration of WW1.

Dean June will celebrate her final Sunday at Salisbury Cathedral on July 9.


A graduate in Social Sciences from Manchester University, Dean June trained for ministry at St John’s College, Nottingham and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. She was made a Deaconess in 1980 and served at St Martin-in-the-Bullring in Birmingham before moving to the Old Ford parishes in East London in 1984. Following her ordination as a priest she served as Canon Treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral and was Acting Dean of Salisbury for two years before being appointed Dean in 2004.

In her time at Salisbury, Dean June has overseen the majority of the Cathedral’s 30-year Major Repair Programme of essential work to restore the fabric of the Cathedral and safeguard it for the future. As Canon Treasurer and Dean she was instrumental in the commissioning of Salisbury Cathedral’s much-loved and admired William Pye font. In a Cathedral that has often been pioneering and had already establish the first girls’ choir in an English cathedral, she championed the installation of the girl Chorister Bishop in 2015, another historic first for the Cathedral. She played a significant role in the Magna Carta 800 celebrations two years ago, enjoying the huge range of events delivered by the Cathedral during that year. She has also been a deputy lieutenant of Wiltshire.

Dean June is married to barrister Paul Goulding QC and they have two children, Megan and Tom. Her interests include the arts and football. A lifelong supporter of Manchester City, she is looking forward to adding rugby to her portfolio of interests.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 10:30am BST | Comments (28) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation

Updated Friday afternoon

This situation inside a part of GAFCON may be of some interest to UK readers.

Truro Anglican Church in Northern Virginia is a congregation of the Anglican Church in North America, within the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. The buildings in which it meets are the property of The Episcopal Church.

Truro recently announced the Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation as a joint venture with the local Episcopal diocese.

In this Easter season of rebirth and renewal, Truro Anglican Church is pleased to announce a new ministry of peace making and reconciliation called the Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation. The Institute represents the continued fulfillment of God’s work at Truro over many decades and is consistent with our congregational history and DNA. It is also the culmination of our outreach to and discussions with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia with whom we are joining in this exciting initiative. Years after the costly litigation and sometimes on-going animosity with the EDV, we have arrived at a new era of community building and peacemaking.

This new ministry, formed by Truro Anglican, will have equal representation on its board from EDV and Truro, along with representation from the Dean of Coventry Cathedral and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The following is a quote from Archbishop Justin Welby, regarding this ministry:

“I am deeply moved by the establishment of the Peace Centre at Truro, not least because I have looked more closely at it in the days following the terrorism in Westminster, merely 400 yards from Lambeth Palace. The kingdom of God is proclaimed in practices that develop virtues. The Peace Centre will proclaim that reconciliation is the gospel, with God through Christ, but like the Temple in Ezekiel 47, releasing a flood of water that as a mighty river becomes the place of fruitfulness and healing for the nations. Thank you for your step of faith. We too will work with you as best we can.”

The ministry will work with seminarians and other young people to seed our respective denominations with a new generation of peace makers, by teaching them and letting them live into the challenging work of reconciliation. Just the fact of the joint involvement of EDV and Truro Anglican is a living testament to the work the Institute hopes to accomplish…

The Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, Shannon Johnston, wrote about this here.

…As I noted in my Pastoral Address at January’s Annual Convention, members of the Diocese have spent the past three years building new ties of trust and friendship with the Truro ACNA congregation, which is leasing the Truro campus from the Diocese. Those efforts have helped to give birth to an Institute for Peace and Reconciliation at Truro. The governing board of this Institute will have equal representation from the Diocese and the Truro ACNA congregation.

The final pieces fell into place last week when the 18-member vestry of the Truro ACNA congregation voted unanimously to approve all documents related to the creation of the Institute. Our own Standing Committee already had given its consent to this proposal, subject to the final review of documents by our Chancellor and by me. All of this has now been accomplished.

Our agreement provides for an important three-year period of discernment. You will be hearing a lot more about our activities at Truro during this period, as both the Diocese and the ACNA congregation reflect and pray on whether we have successfully launched this important Institute. If both of us agree at the end of three years that we have succeeded, the congregation will be granted a 50-year lease to the property that the Diocese will continue to own. We in the Diocese will not only participate in the Institute, but also will have continued access to the property for office space, events and services to ensure a long-term Episcopal presence at Truro…

The ACNA diocesan bishop, John Guernsey wrote this letter.

…Truro leaders have made clear to me that the heart of this initiative is evangelistic. They desire to build loving relationships and, through them, to win back to the truth of the Scriptures those who have departed from the historic Christian faith. And they desire to lead to Christ those who do not know Jesus as the Crucified and Risen Lord, the only Savior of the world. I certainly support such goals and pray for even more fruit from Truro’s dynamic evangelism ministries.

At the same time, as I have been made aware of the vision for this Institute, I have repeatedly expressed to the Truro leadership my deep concerns over the possibility of their conducting this ministry in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Because of the false teaching of the Episcopal Church, I asked them not to enter into a joint ministry with the Episcopal Diocese.

The issues that divide us are of first importance and to partner with the Episcopal Church is to give the mistaken impression that these concerns are merely secondary. If I thought that theissues that divide us were secondary, I would never have left the Episcopal Church.

The Truro leadership has chosen to proceed in joint ministry with the Episcopal Diocese in spite of my opposition. I am deeply grieved by this, and I hope Truro will reconsider.

The ACNA archbishop Foley Beach also wrote about it.

I have only recently been made aware of the “Truro Institute,” described as “A School of Peace and Reconciliation” which is proposed to be jointly led by Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax, VA, and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

The idea of a School of Peace and Reconciliation is to be commended. I would welcome the opening of centers with this focus around the Anglican Church in North America if they promote Biblical reconciliation. Unfortunately, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has not been reconciled with the revealed Word of God, and is therefore not an appropriate partner for such a project. Their leadership continues to promote teaching and practice that is contrary to Scripture —teaching that, if followed, would keep people from an eternal inheritance in the Kingdom of God, teaching that has torn the fabric of the Anglican Communion, and teaching that remains a scandal in the Anglican Communion to this day. Therefore, until there is repentance by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, there can be no true Gospel partnership with them.

Bishop Guernsey and I had both made this clear to the leadership of Truro. I have been amazed at the godly counsel, patience, and goodness of Bishop Guernsey in these discussions. I am disappointed that they have not just ignored, but defied our counsel. In doing so they have entered into a legal relationship with the Episcopal Church that makes them unequally yoked. It requires the permission of the Episcopal bishop for me to visit, and it creates an Episcopal Diocese of Virginia center of ministry with a required on-campus presence of one of their bishops. The decision to partner with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in this way is not in harmony with the Bible’s instruction in dealing with false teachers, and it denigrates the costly sacrifice of the many congregations who had their buildings and assets taken by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

It is ironic to begin a “Peace and Reconciliation” center when you are not at peace with your own bishop and archbishop. Truro has been a leader in the renewal of North American Anglicanism, giving a robust defense of the Gospel, and refusing to peddle any counterfeit. It is my hope that they will uphold that heritage, resist counterfeit versions of “reconciliation,” and fulfill their calling among the leading congregations of the Anglican Church in North America.


Truro has published an additional document: Frequently Asked Questions Regarding The Truro Institute. It’s all worth a read, but here is one item:

…5. Was Bishop Guernsey consulted on the Truro Institute?
Over the course of the past year and a half, Truro communicated and consulted with Bishop Guernsey and his standing committee on several occasions regarding the Truro Institute. Our records indicate that representatives of Truro and Bishop Guernsey met at least eight times since late 2015 to brief him on progress and seek his counsel and advice concerning our work on the Truro Institute. The foundational documents went through several drafts and Bishop Guernsey was consulted on key versions of the Mission Statement for the Institute. The Vestry is thankful for his gracious assistance. Most (but not all) of his recommendations were included in these documents. He expressed concern about our entering into a formal relationship with EDV related to the Institute and his counsel caused us to build in several protections (for example, Truro Anglican is the sole owner of the Institute and we will appoint its board of directors). In the end the Vestry felt it necessary to take the risk of moving forward with what we believe strongly is God’s call for a three-year period of discernment. We certainly do not believe that we have defied Bishop Guernsey’s counsel. To the contrary, we have negotiated for an end to two limitations that were initially imposed on our use of the Truro campus. The lease terms were adjusted to grant blanket permission for Bishop Guernsey to officiate services and facilitate meetings on the Truro campus and for other ACNA bishops to do the same following consent of the Bishop of EDV, which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld.

Truro is, and will remain, a committed member of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic (DOMA) within the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and desires to be at peace with both our Bishop and Archbishop whom we love and respect…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 at 4:16pm BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Opinion - 26 April 2017

An interview by Pray Tell Blog with Fr Michael White and Evan Ponton, both of the Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Md, USA Liturgy as Evangelization

Richard Peers Quodcumque Messy is the Mass: my experience of Messy Church

Richard Peers Quodcumque Meeting the risen Jesus at the National Gallery: Michelangelo and Sebastiano

Bosco Peters Liturgy Even Pagans are Losing Their Religion

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 at 8:00am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Religious exemptions in equality law: the role of the Church of England.

Paul Johnson and Robert M Vanderbeck have published a very lengthy article, entitled Sexual Orientation Equality and Religious Exceptionalism in the Law of the United Kingdom: The Role of the Church of England.

Here’s the abstract:

There is a growing literature that addresses the appropriateness and merits of including exceptions in law to accommodate faith-based objections to homosexuality. However, what has rarely been considered and, as a consequence, what is generally not understood, is how such religious exceptions come to exist in law. This article provides a detailed analysis of the contribution of the Church of England to ensuring the inclusion of religious exceptions in United Kingdom legislation designed to promote equality on the grounds of sexual orientation. The article adopts a case study approach that, following the life of one piece of anti-discrimination legislation, shows the approach of the Church of England in seeking to insert and shape religious exceptions in law. The analysis contributes to broader debates about the role of the Church of England in Parliament and the extent to which the United Kingdom, as a liberal democracy, should continue to accommodate the Church’s doctrine on homosexuality in statute law.

The full paper can be downloaded from here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 at 9:43pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Sunday, 23 April 2017

GAFCON threatens to plant a bishop in Britain

Updated again Wednesday morning

Jonathan Petre reports in the Mail on Sunday that African and Asian church leaders threaten to ‘plant’ a bishop in Britain to defy Welby on gay Christians:

Conservative Anglican archbishops from Africa and Asia are plotting to create a new ‘missionary’ bishop to lead traditionalists in the UK – after warning that the Church of England is becoming too liberal on homosexuality.

The rebel archbishops are set to give the green light to the controversial plan at a crucial meeting in Africa this week in defiance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

Insiders said the move was the ‘nuclear option’ as it would represent a highly provocative intervention into the Church of England by foreign archbishops and a direct challenge to the authority of Archbishop Welby, who is nominal head of Anglicans worldwide…

Anglican Mainstream which has close ties to GAFCON reports that:

Anglican Mainstream understands from Gafcon UK that this article is only partially correct, and that Gafcon UK will be issuing a comment later.

We will update this article when the latter occurs.

The Church of Nigeria has this notice of the meeting.


GAFCON UK has issued the following clarification, according to Anglican Ink

“The situation in the UK is not uniform. Within England there is troubling ambiguity from diocese to diocese in their teaching and pastoral practice as it pertains to human sexuality and biblical church order. However, the situation in the Scottish Episcopal Church is of immediate concern. There has been a clear rejection of biblical truth by the Scottish Episcopal Church, and they are expected to finalise this rejection of Anglican teaching and apostolic order in the upcoming June meeting of their Synod. Alternative structures and oversight will need to be in place should that unfortunate reality come to pass. At their meeting this week, the Gafcon Primates will be considering a range of options for how to care for those who remain faithful to Jesus’ teaching on marriage.”

This page from GAFCON UK lists items from the Church of England that are troubling to GAFCON: Radical inclusion after Synod: a briefing (updated).

The Church Times has this report: GAFCON contemplates missionary bishop to support UK malcontents. It includes this quote from GAFCON UK:

…In a response clarifying a report in the Mail on Sunday, GAFCON UK, a conservative Evangelical grouping, said that some of the language in the report was misleading. GAFCON Primates were not “plotting” to create such a bishop: “This implies subterfuge and deceit, and that foreign church leaders plan to impose a solution on British Anglican churches, which is not the case.”

Discussions were taking place “in response to requests from Anglicans in the UK”.

The statement, provided by the Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream, on behalf of GAFCON UK, explained: “The GAFCON Primates recognise the existence in England, Scotland and Wales of faithful Anglicans who are already distanced from their local structures because of revisionist teaching and practice in the Church of England leadership, and they are ready to provide assistance. One option is to consecrate a missionary Bishop to give oversight if necessary.

“That the GAFCON Primates are considering consecrating a bishop with particular responsibility for these Islands is not a secret and should not come as a surprise. . . Many of the world’s senior Anglican leaders, including the Archbishops who lead the GAFCON movement, have for some time been concerned about the Church of England’s drift from orthodox, Biblical Christianity.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 23 April 2017 at 11:11pm BST | Comments (50) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Opinion - 22 April 2017

David Walker ViaMedia.News Why Should the Devil Have All the Best Tunes (and Words)?

Adrian Harris, the Church of England’s head of digital communications, has been talking to Helen Dunne of CorpComms Magazine: How the Church of England is extending its congregation

Madeleine Davies Church Times Exporting the Brompton Way
“An HTB church-plant is now widely expected when a well-situated urban church’s numbers are low.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 22 April 2017 at 11:00am BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Opinion - 19 April 2017

Joanna Ruck The Guardian Easter Sunday around the world – in pictures

Nick Spencer The Telegraph Our politicians are more devout than ever – so it’s time we started taking their faith seriously

Melanie McDonagh The Spectator If you want to save the CofE, then get stuck in (and go to church)

a few Easter sermons

Archbishop of Dublin [There is a link to the full text at the end.]
Archbishop of Canterbury
Bishop of Chichester
Bishop of Durham
Bishop of Jarrow
Bishop of Leeds
Bishop of Lincoln
Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 19 April 2017 at 8:00am BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Church of Scotland report on human sexuality

The following press release from the Church of Scotland has been issued today:

The latest report from the Theological Forum on human sexuality to come before the General Assembly has been published.

The comprehensive document will be considered by Commissioners in Edinburgh next month.

The document has found its way into the public domain ahead of schedule, before all the General Assembly reports are published in the Blue Book on Thursday.

In light of the report appearing in the national press, the Principal Clerk has authorised its immediate publication to allow Commissioners, members of the church and members of the public to understand fully the content and context.

The General Assembly is being asked to consider two key issues.

  • Authorise the Legal Questions Committee to undertake a further study on the legal implications of conducting same-sex marriages and report back to the General Assembly in 2018. *
  • Invite the Church to take stock of its history of discrimination at different levels and in different ways against gay people and to apologise individually and corporately and seek to do better.

In releasing the report the Convener of the Theological Forum, the Very Rev Professor Iain Torrance, said: “The Report addresses what has been a long running argument in all the churches.

“In years past there has been an idea that in time one side in this argument would emerge as the sole victor.

“We don’t think like that now.

“That is why we are arguing for what, last year, the Forum called ‘constrained difference’.

“This is saying that within limits we can make space for more than one approach.

“It is closely similar to what the Archbishop of Canterbury calls ‘mutual flourishing’.

“This is a centrist report, aimed at encouraging mutual flourishing.”

The Principal Clerk, the Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, said: “It is unfortunate that this report has found its way into the public domain before this year’s volume of Assembly Reports has been published.

“However, it is important that people are now able to access the full report.

“It will now be for the Assembly to decide whether it wants to ask the Legal Questions Committee to pursue further research on the matters which would require to be addressed in any new legislation permitting Ministers and Deacons to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies.

“If the General Assembly does move in this direction a further report will be heard in 2018.”

The full text of the report is available here.

The previous report published in 2013 is still available here. As we reported at the time the best analysis of that report was by Law & Religion UK: Men and Women in Marriage, and the Church of Scotland.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 18 April 2017 at 12:25pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Michael Perham

The Diocese of Gloucester has this morning announced that Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester between 2004 and 2014, died on the evening of Monday 17 April.

In the announcement, Bishop Michael’s successor as Bishop of Gloucester, Bishop Rachel Treweek writes:

It is with great sadness that I am writing to inform you that Bishop Michael died peacefully at home on Monday evening, April 17, following a special Easter weekend with all the family.

I last saw Bishop Michael on Tuesday 11 April during Holy Week. Not only was it good to share together in the Eucharist on that occasion but also to preside at the Chrism Eucharist on Maundy Thursday knowing that the Dean would then be taking Bishop Michael bread and wine from our service in Gloucester Cathedral with the love and prayers of the Diocese.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 18 April 2017 at 11:07am BST | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Easter in the office

It was Sunday morning in Jerusalem and the staff at Temple House, administrative headquarters for Religious Affairs, were making their way back to their desks after the short Passover break. They were doing so with some reluctance; last week had been particularly tough across all departments.

It had started in Finance; temple money changers had demanded compensation after someone had been allowed to run amok, overturning their tables. Next, Stewardship had complained that queues of impoverished widows carefully placing single small coins in the treasury were putting off the more prestigious High Value Donors; important men who appreciated neither the wait nor the smell. Around midweek, HR got wind that a man called Lazarus, whose sisters had just claimed welfare payments following his death, was apparently alive and well and walking the streets of Bethany.

Across the corridor, Safeguarding were investigating rumours that an unknown rabbi had been, in the words of a reliable informant, “suffering the little children to come unto him”. There was no documentary evidence of him completing the necessary training. Legal had spent half the week looking into what powers they had to restrict him.

Communications had faced their own problems, when local media published a survey claiming an alarmingly high proportion of Sadducees did not believe in a physical resurrection of the dead. Getting out their rebuttals wasn’t helped by a meltdown in IT. Half the messenger pigeons had come down with bird flu and Maintenance couldn’t promise spares until after the holiday. To top it all, the secretary to the Buildings Committee had spent hours refuting claims that somebody had submitted an application to tear down the Temple and replace it in just three days. “Does nobody realise how many months it takes to approve moving a candlestick, let alone throw up an entire new building, and with unconventional construction techniques?”, she’d exclaimed.

Anyway, today was the start of a new week. Much of the trouble had been traced back to a single maverick preacher. With some help from the Romans, he had been appropriately dealt with. After that the Passover had been fairly quiet.

Actually, like most Passovers they could remember, it had been a bit of a let down. Every year, in the build up to the festival, there was at least a frisson of hope that this would be the time when God would act to save his people. Maybe this Passover would not simply be a remembrance of long ago but the moment when a new deliverance would be accomplished. It never happened, but the annual tinge of post-festival disappointment could not quite be expunged.

And the new week wasn’t shaping up well. Reports coming in suggested unauthorised removal of a body from a grave; was it a matter for Faculty administration? Some witnesses implied there had been violence against the troops guarding the tomb; did this make it a Discipline matter? A woman now claimed to have seen the deceased; perhaps it was a ghost, as he hadn’t allowed her to touch him. Maybe Deliverance were the people to handle it. Still, in every office there’s a place where the complex and difficult problems nobody wants to deal with get dumped, and Religious Affairs was no different. After all, if somebody was wandering around the city carrying a three-day old corpse that had lost its burial wrappings, it just had to be a case for Health and Safety.

David Walker is the Bishop of Manchester.

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Saturday, 15 April 2017

Opinion - 15 April 2017

Two pieces from The Spectator:
Rod Dreher The Benedict option “Believers must find new, more radical ways to practise their faith.”
and in response
Matthew Parris Why I admire the Church of England “Some disapprove of the church’s frequent accommodations with secular society. I do not.”

Paul Bayes ViaMedia.News A Moment in the Tangle

Two pieces from ABC Religion and Ethics:
Stanley Hauerwas Naming God: The Burning Bush, the Cross and the Hiddenness of the Revealed God
Richard B Hays What Is Handed Over: Maundy Thursday, Memory and the Gospel

Peter Ould looks at a recent ComRes poll poll for Psephizo Do Christians really not believe in the Resurrection?

Richard Coles New Statesman Brexiteers and Remainers alike could learn from the life of Jesus

Alison Ray British Library Medieval manuscripts blog A hunt for medieval Easter eggs — including a 15th-century recipe for an imitation egg

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian The modern pilgrims retracing Britain’s ancient routes

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Friday, 14 April 2017

With the devil on your back

“It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back.” So wrote Sydney Carter, in a song which will be sung across the country today. (It’s also the fifth most popular copyrighted song in school assemblies according to CCLI.)

Carter himself called it “pretty far flown, probably heretical and anyway dubiously Christian,” and expected opposition. There’s some truth in his comments — it could be variously labelled as syncretist, universalist, Platonist and several other -ist’s as well — but the numbers tell their own story.

A lot of that is down to the catchy Shaker tune, but the gentle cynicism about the establishment and expansive cosmic vista catch the mood of the times too. What it nearly misses is the agony. “No real people were hurt during the writing of this song.” Nearly — if it wasn’t for the line I began with, where the real struggle shudders through.

And on Good Friday, it must. We’ll sing “Lift High the Cross”, but be careful to balance it with “it causes me to tremble.” We cannot sustain the pretence that Easter has not already happened that the liturgy properly invites; but we dare not pretend that Easter was and is without cost.

For me this Easter some of that cost and contradiction is personal — my father died just a few weeks ago. But it is also ecclesiastical. Strong feelings are swirling around us. Ten bishops out of ten would like to tidy them up. But the lesson of a certain un-noted report was that feelings like these are not to be tidied or managed but lived alongside. We will find God’s good future for us with them, through them, not by burying them and thinking they’re gone. The bench too will have to learn new ways of modelling and leading unity which do not bury its own diversity: something I’ve seen beginning in my days in the House and College, but something we still have to explore further and very tenderly together.

What this mustn’t be, though, is a surrender to the short-cuts of post-truth politics or populist power. If the dance of God is to go on, the choreography of the Kingdom requires all of us to be on the floor, sharing in the exacting task of listening, looking, learning, following, leading — in a pattern that will look very broken if part of it is missing. We will actually need each other to make it work.

As well as doing plenty of personal processing today, then, I’ll also be bringing some very different sorts of friends with me in my mind to the Cross, each of whom has a piece of my heart, acknowledging their hopes and their hurts, sensing the limb-breaking tensions, feeling the weight of the devil on all our backs that would seek to pull us apart: but feeling too the unstoppable rhythm of the dance that will go on.

David Thomson is Bishop of Huntingdon in the diocese of Ely.

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Thursday, 13 April 2017

Living as the Body of Christ

When we offer the elements at the Eucharist, in the person of the priest, Jesus takes, blesses, breaks and shares out his Body. At the same time Jesus accepts and sanctifies our sacrifice of thanks and praise. He takes each of us and blesses us. We are broken, too, as we share his suffering for the sake of the world.

And we are shared out as well. Some of us get caught up in lively debates with people who are vehemently opposed to living a life of faith, sometimes with very good reason after a bad experience of the Church. A person said to me that the Church was full of hypocrites, so I told him there was always room for one more. He came back for more and said, “Do you think you’re Jesus or something”? I told him, “In a sense, yes”. I believe it was Austen Farrar who wrote that as Jesus knew his death was drawing near and that he would be taken out of this world, he took not only bread and wine to be his body and blood; he also took those disciples to embody the continuing power of his Incarnation in the world. For if we, the Body of Christ, empowered by the Spirit of Christ, are not living out what Jesus made us at the Last Supper, the expression of his Incarnation in the world today, who else is it going to be? The world has a desperate need for his presence, in the Gospel, in the Eucharist, and in each of us. Somewhere in the complexity of their lives people are invited to discover the living God in the quality of the hospitality which we both offer and receive. If you will, it is the kind of foot washing to which we are all called. Someone has to embody God alongside everyone so that everyone can open up to the God within and around them. It takes the poor in spirit to touch and heal the poverty of the world’s fear and hopelessness. This is a job for us.

So the Eucharist which Christ instituted on the night he was betrayed is not just a memorial of the Last Supper celebrated once a year. It is not just the particular sacramental moment of our regular worship. It is the whole of our life lived in thanksgiving to God. And before we start to back out of the deal because we are unworthy, let us remember that Jesus included Judas in the foot washing and the breaking of bread. No one is left out who does not choose to absent themselves. Give thanks to the God who takes us, who loves us now, and who loves us into becoming that beautiful and holy people whom God already sees. Living as the Body of Christ, the Mass of the Last Supper reminds us, is always about being a guest before ever we are the host. That’s an important lesson about how we engage in God’s mission in God’s world.

Stephen Conway is the Bishop of Ely.

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Opinion - 12 April 2017

Louie Crew Clay Episcopal Café Sass and the Gospel

Nick Spencer Theos Looking down the well at the resurrection

Philip Jones Ecclesiastical Law The Easter Offering: Duty and Charity

Jenny Sinclair The Tablet Rebuilding the Broken Body

Kelvin Holdsworth Whither the Chrism Mass?

Anglican Memes Top novelist @fictionfox’s husband’s career change prompts Twitter gold

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Monday, 10 April 2017

Cathedrals Working Group

We reported here on the Bishop of Peterborough’s Visitation Charge to the Cathedral. In his charge the bishop urged “the Archbishops’ Council, the Church Commissioners, and the House of Bishops, to look at whether the current Cathedrals Measure is adequate, and to consider revising it”. In response to the bishop’s request, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have today announced that they have set up a Cathedrals Working Group. Details are in this press release, which is copied below the fold.

Frank Cranmer of Law & Religion UK has posted here: Review of the governance of English Cathedrals.

The announcement was anticipated by Catherine Pepinster in yesterday’s Observer: Anglicans launch rescue bid as England’s finest cathedrals battle a financial crisis.

Ruth Gledhill writes today for Christian Today: Cathedrals in England to be given management overhaul after growing cash crisis problems.

Cathedrals Working Group
10 April 2017

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have set up a Cathedrals Working Group, CWG, in response to a request made by the Bishop of Peterborough in his January 2017 Visitation Charge on Peterborough Cathedral for a revision to be carried out of the adequacy of the current Cathedrals Measure.

The CWG will review aspects of cathedral management and governance and produce recommendations for the Archbishops on the implications of these responsibilities with regards to the current Cathedrals Measure. It will be chaired by the Bishop of Stepney, Adrian Newman, the former Dean of Rochester Cathedral, and the Dean of York, Vivienne Faull, will be the vice chair.

The Working Group will look at a number of different areas of Cathedral governance, including training and development for cathedral deans and chapters, financial management issues, the procedure for Visitations, safeguarding matters, buildings and heritage and the role of Cathedrals in contributing to evangelism within their dioceses.

The Bishop of Stepney and the Dean of York said:

“Cathedrals contribute uniquely to the ecology of the Church of England, and we are a healthier, stronger church when they flourish. We are pleased to have this opportunity to review the structures that support their ministry, in order to enhance their role in church and society Cathedrals are one of the success stories of the Church of England, with rising numbers of worshippers. They are a vital part of our heritage and make an incalculable contribution to the life of the communities that they serve. This is an exciting opportunity for the Working Group to look at the different aspects of how Cathedrals work, and to ensure that the legislation and procedures they use are fit for purpose for their mission in the 21st century.”

The Group will report back initially to the Archbishops’ Council, Church Commissioners and House of Bishops in December 2017. Full membership and terms of reference for the Working Group may be found below.

Notes to Editors

Information about the current Cathedrals Measure, passed in 1999 and specifying how Cathedrals are governed, can be found here.

Terms of Reference

The Cathedrals Working Group has been established by the Archbishops in response to the request from the Bishop of Peterborough in his Visitation Charge “to look at whether the current Cathedrals Measure is adequate, and to consider revising it”.

The Working Group will therefore review the sufficiency of the Cathedrals Measure in relation to governance structures in cathedrals, with particular reference to:

Financial management
Major buildings projects
Accountability, oversight and scrutiny

The Working Group will also review:

Leadership capacity, including training and development needs for Deans and Chapters
The relationship of cathedral governance structures to other key partners, especially the Diocesan Bishop, Diocese and Church Commissioners
The planning, execution, communication and implementation of Cathedral Visitations

The Working Group will report back initially to the Archbishops’ Council, Church Commissioners and House of Bishops in December 2017, with any recommendations for the revision of the Cathedrals Measure and any other relevant findings.


Chair: Rt Revd Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney

Vice-Chair: Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of York

Mrs Julie Dziegel, member of General Synod (Oxford) and of the Archbishops’ Council Finance Committee
Andrew Holroyd OBE, Executive Chairman, Jackson Canter Solicitors, Lay Canon of Liverpool Cathedral
Carl Hughes, Global Leader, Energy & Resources, Deloitte Consulting
Richard Oldfield, Chairman, Oldfield Partners
Baroness Maeve Sherlock OBE
Jennie Page CBE, Former Vice Chair of the Cathedral Fabrics Commission for England, Vice Chair, Church Buildings Council
Dr Fiona Spiers, former Regional Director for Yorkshire and Humber, Heritage Lottery Fund
Rt Hon Jack Straw MP
Rt Revd Tim Stevens, former Bishop of Leicester

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 10 April 2017 at 2:40pm BST | Comments (32) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 8 April 2017

Next Bishop of Sheffield - news and reactions

Catherine Fox Close Encounters The Leaving of Liverpool

Tim Wyatt Church Times Dean of Liverpool named as the next Bishop of Sheffield

Robert Cumber The Star Sheffield’s next bishop vows to restore unity following row over women priests

… Dr Wilcox said: “I will be ordaining with great joy and delight both women and men as priests in the diocese but I will also be hugely supportive of Bishop Glyn (who opposes the ordination of women priests) and respect the traditional Catholic position.” …

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian No 10 names new bishop of Sheffield after row over previous appointee

Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph New Bishop of Sheffield: It’s an ‘enormous privilege’ to proof-read my wife’s raunchy Church novels
[Fifty Shades of Purple is not, as the above article might suggest, a book, but a two-part blog: chapter one chapter two.]

Harry Farley Christian Today New Bishop of Sheffield announced after ‘highly individualised attacks’ forced Philip North to stand down

Glyn Webster Bishop of Beverley Bishop of Sheffield: Peter Wilcox

Archbishop Cranmer Sheffield gets its second best bishop – Pete Wilcox, Dean of Liverpool

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 8 April 2017 at 9:36pm BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Opinion - 8 April 2017

J Barrett Lee Hopping Hadrian’s Wall Altar Calls: Discussing Liturgical Worship with Evangelicals

Nick Baines Diocese of Leeds Bishop Nick speaks on working with the media

N T Wright ABC Religion and Ethic Palm Sunday: Jesus Rides into the Perfect Storm

Kelvin Holdsworth Thurible Trolleys are for Supermarkets (and not for funerals).

Roger Bolton Church Times The BBC and religion: bad decisions, badly timed
“The Corporation lacks a strategy, and is dangerously out of touch with faith communities.”

Madeleine Davies Church Times Why big churches aren’t led by women
“Care for their families is a key reason hardly any women are incumbents of the Church’s largest churches, a new research paper from Ministry Division has concluded.”
The paper is here: Vocational pathways: Clergy leading large churches.

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We have a king who rides a donkey

Anglicans of a certain age may remember the ‘Pink Book’, a collection of traditional hymns set to new melodies. I have it on moderately unreliable information that some of the perpetrators never seriously intended their forced marriage of the words of ‘Vexilla Regis’ to the tune of ‘Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington’ to have any currency beyond an intimate, if misguided, circle, but, as they say, the rest is history. Nevertheless, they would welcome into their circle whoever it was who decided that a jolly good wheeze for Palm Sunday would be to set a rhyme about the Triumphal Entry to the tune of ‘What shall we do with the drunken sailor’. But my unease about Palm Sunday’s proliferation of donkeys goes beyond the æsthetic.

Two aspects of the donkey ritual in particular strike me. First, is it not curious that, although we willingly cast people as Christ in various forms of Passion play up and down the land, the Palm Sunday donkey is usually unburdened. What are we looking at? And, perhaps more to the point for those for whom the Palm-Sunday-with-a-donkey is a profound act of witness, what is the onlooker supposed to see? Something’s missing.

And my second concern starts in a conversation some years ago when the Palm Sunday liturgy started once more to incorporate the reading of the Passion. An indignant parishioner demanded to know why we were spoiling Palm Sunday with a long Passion reading? Did it not detract from the Triumphal Entry, and also make the service far too long? Should not the Passion reading be left for Good Friday, so we could therefore enjoy the Palm Sunday story unclouded? And, as it happened, they never attended the Holy Week services, so they would bound effortlessly from the cries of ‘Hosanna’ to those of ‘He is risen’.

A riderless donkey and a sanitised liturgy conspire to bypass the messy reality of the Gospel. Attention falls not on the Christ, riding to his doom, but on the anonymous animal, for there is no human figure there to cause us to ask, ‘And what happens next?’ The band of enthusiastic, palm-waving followers may well find unpalatable a fifteen minute reading of the Passion in all its darkness. What bystanders there may be at 09.30 on Sunday will look on with a mixture of bewilderment, amusement and even a little ridicule at this peculiar spectacle.

Yet somehow, in this there is a faithful encounter with the Gospel narrative. Between the lines of the Palm Sunday story we see the enraptured followers, all shouting ‘Hosanna’ and preferring not to think about where this might all be leading. We hear the crowd, puzzled, uncomprehending, asking what all the fuss is about. The donkey in the Gospels might just as well be riderless for all the serious attention being paid to its rider and what he might signify by the locals, by the tourists, and even by the disciples themselves, still reluctant to take to heart Jesus’ dark warnings of what must be. And in Sunday morning’s damp and half-deserted streets there is a genuine echo of Jerusalem’s confused, ambivalent mosaic.

‘We have a king who rides a donkey’ these days might well produce the response, ‘So? The house of Windsor has ridden elephants.’ But the very incoherence of this much-loved Palm Sunday spectacle brings us closer than we could expect to the real Triumphal Entry. In all this tangle of uncomprehending denial, with its over-optimistic disciples, its uncomprehending crowd and its all-but-invisible rider journeying towards a cross about which no-one really wants to think, we find our participant selves.

David Rowett is a priest in the diocese of Lincoln

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Friday, 7 April 2017

Bishop of Sheffield: Peter Wilcox

Press release for Number 10

Bishop of Sheffield: Peter Wilcox

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 7 April 2017

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend Peter Jonathan Wilcox, Dean of Liverpool, for election as Bishop of Sheffield.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend Peter Jonathan Wilcox, MA, DPhil, Dean of Liverpool, in the diocese of Liverpool, for election as Bishop of Sheffield in succession to the Right Reverend Steven John Lindsey Croft, MA, PhD, on his translation to the See of Oxford on 6 July 2016.


The Very Reverend Dr Pete Wilcox, aged 55, studied history at Saint John’s College, Durham.

He trained for the ordained ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge and served his title at Preston-on-Tees, in the diocese of Durham from 1987 to 1990.

From 1990 to 1993, while completing a doctorate at St John’s College, Oxford, he was Non-Stipendiary Minister at Saint Margaret with Saint Philip and Saint James, with Saint Giles in the Diocese of Oxford. From 1993 to 1998 he was Team Vicar in the Parish of Gateshead, in the diocese of Durham, and Director of the Cranmer Hall Urban Mission Centre. From 1998 to 2006 he was Priest-in-Charge at Saint Paul’s at the Crossing, Walsall in the diocese of Lichfield and then Canon Residentiary at Lichfield Cathedral between 2006 and 2012. Since 2012 he has been Dean of Liverpool.

Pete is married to the novelist Catherine Fox, who lectures in creative writing at the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University. They have 2 adult sons: Jon, who is married to Izzy, and Tom, who is engaged to Rosa.

He has a mildly obsessive interest in all ball sports, especially (as a fan of Newcastle United) football. He is the author of 3 books, including ‘Living the Dream: Joseph for Today’ (Paternoster, 2007).

The Sheffield diocesan website has Bishop of Sheffield Announced.

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Thursday, 6 April 2017

Gay clergyman passed over seven times for promotion to bishop

Harriet Sherwood has this report in the Guardian Gay clergyman passed over seven times for promotion to bishop

Jeffrey John, a gay senior Anglican churchman, has been passed over for promotion to a bishopric for a seventh time since the Church of England rescinded his appointment as bishop of Reading in 2003 amid homophobic protests.

John, dean of St Albans Cathedral, was put forward for the post of bishop of Sodor and Man in February, but failed to make it on to the shortlist despite positive feedback. The rejection came shortly before he was passed over for appointment as bishop of Llandaff after objections to his sexuality allegedly were raised.

In the diocese of Sodor and Man, which covers the Isle of Man and surrounding islets, John’s name was considered by the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC), an appointment body of 14 people chaired by the archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and including representatives of the General Synod and from the diocese of Sodor and Man. An open vote confirmed that the panel had no objection to John’s sexuality and long-term civil partnership with Anglican priest Grant Holmes.

But in subsequent secret ballots, John’s name failed to win enough support to ensure a place on a shortlist for interview. Although some members of the CNC were believed to be unhappy with the shortlisting process, an appointment has been made and is expected to be announced in the coming weeks…

…A spokesperson for the C of E said: “We do not comment on Crown Nominations Commission business. We would resist strongly any suggestion that selections for senior appointments are influenced by the sexuality of candidates.”

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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Opinion - 5 April 2017

Updated Thursday evening, Friday morning

Patrick Cox Public Radio International ‘What a total God shot!’ Understand that? Then you speak Christianese.

The Guardian The Guardian view on funding heritage: save buildings if not beliefs
“The ancient churches and cathedrals of Britain are real national treasures, shared with unbelievers. They must be paid for.”

Nick Baines Diocese of Leeds Bishop Nick speaks on working with the media

Liz Graveling Ministry Development Larger Churches: Who leads them and where are all the women?
[Update: This article has been temporarily removed and will be reposted after Easter.]

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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Bishop Tim Thornton announced as new Bishop at Lambeth

Press release from the Archbishop of Canterbury

Bishop Tim Thornton announced as new Bishop at Lambeth

Tuesday 4th April 2017

Bishop Tim will take up the post in September, replacing Bishop Nigel Stock, who is retiring.

Lambeth Palace is pleased to announce the appointment of Rt Revd Tim Thornton, the current Bishop of Truro, as the new Bishop at Lambeth.

Bishop Tim will take up this post in September, replacing Rt Revd Nigel Stock, who is retiring.

His duties at Lambeth will include supporting the Archbishop of Canterbury’s work in the House of Bishops, General Synod and the Archbishop’s Council.

He will also be heavily involved in the Lambeth Conference 2020, and take on the role of Bishop to the Forces.

Bishop Tim became Bishop of Truro in 2009. During his time as bishop he co-chaired an inquiry into foodbanks which led to the report Feeding Britain, and was President of the Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association. He is chair of the Development and Appointments Group which oversees the leadership development work among senior clergy.

Bishop Tim said: “It has been a privilege to serve as bishop in this very special part of the country. I have especially enjoyed being part of the wider life of the county and community, as well as working with wonderful colleagues to implement a strategy for discovering God’s kingdom and growing the church.

“It will of course be a real sadness to leave Cornwall. However I am very much looking forward to working with the staff at Lambeth, and thinking about how we continue to embed Archbishop Justin’s priorities of prayer, evangelism and reconciliation into the life of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

“I am particularly interested in the Archbishop’s emphasis on spirituality and prayer, and seeing how the incredible work of Thy Kingdom Come continues to flourish.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“I am delighted to be welcoming Bishop Tim to Lambeth Palace. He brings a wealth of experience to the role. He already has extensive knowledge and understanding of the College and House of Bishops, and a heart for those on the margins of society, who are often overlooked. His work on Feeding Britain demonstrates his range of ability and skill in bringing people together.”

Bishop Tim is married to Sian and they have two children and three grandchildren.

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Monday, 3 April 2017

Sheffield and the Five Guiding Principles

Martyn Percy has written another article on this topic.

The press release is here: Not a matter of opinion: Discernment, difference and discrimination. The text is copied below the fold.

To read the full article follow the link in the press release.

The Oxford theologian who called for the conservative bishop nominated as the next leader of the Diocese of Sheffield to clarify his position on women’s ministry or decline the nomination has called for ‘a thorough and wholesale review’ of gender-based discrimination in the Church of England.

The Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, has published a follow-up essay in response to criticism of his stance in an article published on the website of Modern Church, a society promoting breadth and depth in Christian theology, of which Prof Percy is a Vice President.

In Not a Matter of Opinion: Discernment, Difference and Discrimination, Professor Percy argues that:

The Sheffield debacle began to unravel some time before I published my original essay on the issue. At the consultation stage of the process to select a new bishop, the women clergy of the diocese were asked, informally, if they would welcome a woman bishop. In what can only be described as an act of gracious magnanimity, they said ‘no’, indicating that the diocese was not ready for this yet… The women at no stage were asked if they would accept a bishop who did not ordain women.

Since no-one consulted on whether the Diocese of Sheffield would welcome a bishop who would not ordain women, he continues:

What happened next was inevitable: the views which should have been gathered by the drafting group could only be voiced once Philip North had been selected. Parishes and clergy duly registered their concerns, in large numbers. The postbag was enormous, and grew daily. This was no organised campaign. It was ordinary people, concerned about the impact of gender-based discrimination in their local parishes. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Percy contrasts research showing that companies where women are strongly represented at board level in the FTSE 100 Index tend to out-perform their male-dominated competitors with the Church of England’s idea of ‘balance’: evening up the number of ‘traditionalist’ bishops with women bishops:

The Church of England consistently sends out mixed signals. It is good to have women clergy, apparently. But please, don’t let us celebrate this too much for fear of upsetting those who still want to engage in gender-based discrimination.

He argues that the Church of England needs ‘a thorough and wholesale review’ of the Five Guiding Principles which the House of Bishops adopted in 2014 as a concession to conservatives who opposed the ordination of women as bishops, since it cannot deliver the the ‘mutual flourishing’ it promises. But he would want to see the review go much further:

Not just of the ‘Five Guiding Principles’, and the question of whether or not a ‘traditionalist’ can ever be a diocesan bishop. These are mere symptoms of the deeper malaise. What the Church of England now needs to review is just one thing: discrimination.

Percy calls the Five Guiding Principles

merely a ‘cease fire’ in the Church of England’s long saga of ‘Gender Wars’. Or a truce, at best. But these ‘Principles’ cannot bring peace. Because a temporary political solution cannot resolve our deep theological divisions. Only deeper theology will bring us lasting peace. Such theology will be founded on equality and inclusion, not dubious ‘equal-but-different’ discriminatory reasoning.

He does not wish to see groups that oppose the ordination of women, whether Anglo-Catholic or Evangelical, cease to be part of the Church of England, as

They are part of the body of Christ and more unites us than divides us.

But he challenges the wisdom of resourcing them to extend their influence in the wider national church while they still believe in and practise gender-based discrimination.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 3 April 2017 at 6:30pm BST | Comments (33) | TrackBack
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Stephen Bates writes about Justin Welby

This article first appeared in The Tablet on 16 March. It is reproduced here with permission.


by Stephen Bates

A week after the election of Pope Francis four years ago, the Anglicans installed Justin Welby as their new spiritual leader. His crisp, business-like approach contrasted with that of his predecessor, Rowan Williams, but recent events suggest there may be limits to its effectiveness

Four years ago this month, both the Catholic and Anglican churches put into office leaders very different in style and character from their predecessors. In Pope Francis, the conclave of cardinals got more than they bargained for: a zealous, humane figure seemingly bent on giving Catholicism a thorough shake. But what of Justin Welby, enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury a week after Francis’ election – a managerial, evangelical figure chosen to replace the deeply spiritual, intellectual Rowan Williams?

Under Welby there seems to have been a distinct tightening up of the CofE’s traditionally meandering managerial style. Where Williams agonisingly sought compromise and delay, Welby seeks decisions. (It somehow seems appropriate that while everyone called Rowan by his first name, many use the current archbishop’s surname.) The decisiveness is not always welcome, but it is a change.

As is well known, Welby, 61, had a career before ordination. The first Etonian to become Archbishop of Canterbury for 150 years, he read history and law at Cambridge and was an executive in the oil industry until becoming ordained in his mid-thirties. He had only two years’ experience as a bishop before being elevated to Canterbury, though he had previously served as dean of Liverpool.

The crisp business style is notable, according to those who have observed him at close hand. Christina Rees was a lay member of the Archbishops’ Council – the Church’s executive – working with four archbishops until she stepped down last year. “I think of him as Action Man,” she says. “He is very brisk, businesslike and a quick study. At his first meeting, someone was rambling on in traditional Anglican style and the archbishop started looking at his watch. When the man finished, he just said: ‘That was six minutes, let’s keep comments down to 90 seconds.’ I’d never seen an archbishop calling someone out for waffling before. It was quite brutal.”

The brusqueness can verge into bad temper, others say. One bishop remarked: “I haven’t been spoken to like that since I was at school.” He is impatient of challenge or contradiction and can be short with those who do not keep up or amuse him intellectually.

Welby’s strengths include public relations savviness – never shown to better advantage than when it was revealed last year that his father was not the man who had brought him up but a diplomat with whom his mother had had a brief affair. His assured handling turned a potential embarrassment into a story of personal redemptive faith, and strengthened his reputation. “He has done a world of good for the Church’s public image,” says Rod Thomas, the Bishop of Maidstone, whose pugnacious brand of conservative evangelicalism was often a thorn in the flesh of Williams. “He is joyful in the faith and a reconciling presence.”

Welby is impressive speaking in small groups, showing genuine interest and empathy, though his preaching style is bland and often mundane, rather than inspirational and challenging. One vicar told me how he had gone to a Lenten talk and heard the old trope about a crucifix ornament “with a little man on it”: “We’ve all used that one, but not pretended it had happened to us personally. I thought it was weird and dishonest.”

The businesslike approach was seen early in the way the consecration of women bishops was hustled through shortly after Welby’s elevation: a decision that had caused anguished debate for years was finally accomplished and followed by something close to a rush by dioceses to be among the first to make the move. Welby, unlike some evangelicals, is comfortable with women’s ordination – a fact of Anglican life almost since he was ordained priest in 1993 – and his two chaplains at Lambeth have both been women.

But what had appeared to be a done deal, universally accepted, was called into question by the appointment of Philip North, from the Church’s High Anglo-Catholic wing, to be diocesan bishop of Sheffield. North, although widely respected, is a council member of the quaintly named Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, a title commonly shortened to “The Society”, composed of clergy and parishes that do not accept women’s ordination. It has even taken to issuing membership cards to indicate their freedom from the taint of female clergy’s touch.

North would have inherited a diocese where nearly a third of the clergy are women and following a welter of criticism he decided last week to stand down, prompting a new outburst of internecine squabbling. This has left the question unresolved whether a bishop who will not ordain women whose orders are accepted by the rest of the Church can fulfil the traditional episcopal purpose of being a focus for diocesan unity. Thirteen years ago Rowan Williams retreated – disastrously for his reputation – from the appointment of Jeffrey John, an avowedly gay cleric, as Bishop of Reading in the face of evangelical protests on precisely the grounds that he could not be a focus for unity.

The North appointment was not Welby’s decision but that of the Crown Nominations Commission. But on the still divisive gay issue Welby is “on a journey”, as they say, and that is what caused his first setback last month. At the General Synod, a bishops’ report that both Welby and Archbishop John Sentamu of York had strongly supported advocating no change in the Church’s stance on the blessing of gay partnerships or the conducting of gay marriages, was narrowly rejected. Although the report was almost unanimously backed by the bishops, and less decisively by the laity, it narrowly failed by seven votes to obtain the assent of the synod’s clergy members.

The report itself was the Church’s latest attempt to reconcile deeply divergent and antagonistic views on gays, and a number of bishops have claimed privately that they were coerced by Welby into supporting it despite their reservations. “His style is a transactional relationship: you support this and I’ll give you something else,” said one.

Canon Chris Chivers, principal of Westcott House theological college in Cambridge, says: “I think the bishops now realise they were played. It is his first major rebuff: he miscalculated – you can herd the bishops into line, but the clergy are less easily controlled.”

After the vote, Welby and Sentamu issued a statement promising a rethink producing “radical inclusion” but, essentially, same-sex marriage has been kicked into touch at least until after the 2020 Lambeth Conference of the world’s Anglican bishops. For now, Welby has managed to keep the worldwide communion show on the road and to head off any boycott of the conference, but it is an uneasy truce, achieved by bland words and sleight of hand – and Third World conservatives are suspicious. Welby has extensive experience of Africa, where some of the most intransigent bishops come from, but mutterings remain. His whistlestop consultation tour before a primates’ meeting last year did not go down particularly well, being regarded as an exercise in neo-colonialism by those determined to look for slights.

At home, other critics suggest Welby has shown a lack of interest in grassroots, rural Anglicanism, coming as he does from the suburban evangelical strand popularised by Holy Trinity Brompton, originator of the Alpha course. Professor Linda Woodhead of Lancaster University, the leading sociologist of religion, says: “Rural parishes are among the most successful but he has neglected them in favour of the city churches. The average church attender is an older woman and yet the initiatives have all been towards recruiting and encouraging younger, urban people and Alpha-type churches.”

Others suggest that the problem is a lack of theological depth at the heart of the Church’s episcopacy. “They are like a bench of Labradors,” one suffragan told me. “Perfectly nice, gentle creatures but you want a bit of variety in the breed.”

Martyn Percy, dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, has emerged as one of Welby’s critics. He accuses the archbishop of short-term pragmatism and not being reflective enough. Welby himself admits that he is not a professional theologian and some suggest that it shows in his recently published first book Dethroning Mammon: Making Money Serve Grace, a series of Lenten reflections. Percy says: “He has got an instinctive grasp of what needs to be done but pragmatic fixes have their limits. If you don’t do the theology you can’t move forward, you just go round in circles.”

On the other hand, Chivers says: “There is something very middle-England about him which appeals to the core constituency of Anglicans. They don’t do theology much either. That makes him ideal.”

Stephen Bates is a former religious affairs correspondent of The Guardian.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 3 April 2017 at 2:47pm BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Opinion - 1 April 2017

Bosco Peters Liturgy Pope Francis to make Martin Luther a Saint on October 31

ABC Religion and Ethics published this piece by Michael Collett God and the problem of sincere disbelief followed by this reply from Michael Jensen Sincerity is not enough: the problem with the problem of sincere disbelief.

Archbishop Cranmer Women bishops: the desperate and disingenuous distinction in the Five Guiding Principles

Rhian Taylor pcn britain It’s a Man’s Church

Sam Charles Norton Elizaphanian Let my people go

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Oxford, Sheffield, Llandaff etc

Mark Hart Church Times The C of E’s unsung success story

David Ison ViaMedia.News The Power of Feeling over Thinking

James Jones The Yorkshire Post House of God opens a door to the divine

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love How do we come into the presence of God?
and Prayer and the body

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 1 April 2017 at 11:00am BST | Comments (35) | TrackBack
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Honey and Oranges

Forgiveness takes some making sense of. For a long time I really saw forgiveness as something I was called upon to do. And I did do it, to the best of my ability. Then the long slow agony of my marriage ground to its death, and I was left with a burden of guilt, although it was not I alone who was responsible for its sad withering, nor I who dealt the wretched remnants their coup de grace.

Ten years later, and in a totally unexpected way, I found I was in the flowering of a new relationship. As I moved towards the second marriage I had never expected, I realised I was experiencing being forgiven. Not so much intellectually as practically and spiritually. It was as sweet in my mouth as honey and as refreshing as oranges. It was dawn. It was birth.

I have been trying to make sense of the link between death and forgiveness. The gospels sense it, that is for sure. Jesus forgives, and he heals. People are glad of the healing, shocked at the forgiveness. ‘Which is easier to say?’ he asks the crowd around the paralysed, ‘You are forgiven, or get up and walk?’ He can prove he can do one. But while they can believe a man has the right to heal, only God can forgive. And in John, finally, Jesus forgives Lazarus out of the tomb. And in gratitude for that forgiveness, his sister anoints Jesus’ feet and wipes them with her unbound hair. An act the synoptics keep for a whore, who (they feel) has been forgiven more.

So Jesus, in all four gospels, shocks the authorities into coming after him. By claiming authority which can never really belong to a mere human. (Though, to be fair, he does other things as well in the synoptics to show he arrogates an authority nobody on earth gives him.)

Forgiveness is shocking. It is shocking because of the magnitude of hurt it sets behind itself. Here, I think, lies its inextricable link with death. The burdens of guilt we carry are real, or are usually real. We have done terrible things. People starve because of unfair trade. People die from ‘benefit sanctions’. Girls in British schools bleed into sports socks because nobody can afford sanitary towels or tampons for them. We scream at those we love. We look at our phones and not our children.

These things are bitter and cruel, and they spring out of damage and create more damage. Even when they do not end in an actual death, they all create dark. Even in saying that, we fool ourselves, because often enough real people die. This is less than a tithe of the damage we do, which we are asked to see, and to repent of.

We never see (on this earth anyhow) the full extent of the damage we do. Our repentance is, I think, only capable of being truly fulfilled in the assurance offered by love. It is in the arms of God that we are best able to see the harm we do, and repent of it. To seek a new mind and therefore a new life.

This is, in a way, really unfair, for we are asked to forgive at a higher cost than that at which we receive forgiveness. We are asked to forgive others, who are apparently heedless of the hurt they cause, and who do not repent. It is a hard demand.

We, ourselves, are asked to take a gulp, and it is that same gulp which Jesus took. We are asked to swallow pain and grief. To take our part in the forgiving of things. To offer honey and oranges to those who have really truly hurt us. To let ourselves forget, and where we cannot forget, to let the pain be, to occupy no more of our lives than it has to claim. And where the hurt is new or especially grievous, we cannot forget. There, I believe, the command is to let the wrong be ringed by other, and good, things. To accept death, the death of hopes, and joys, and peace, and to recognise what is left, and what is still good in life, and so not be bound by the evil, but instead to look to a new birth.

That much I knew, but what I have learned is this: in return Forgiveness offers us the same. ‘The past is buried for me,’ she says, ‘Move ahead. Fill your mouth with honey and oranges. Lift your eyes, see the dawn. There is a wholly new, clean birth for you.’ I have come to believe that only when we see our own dawn can we learn how to offer that dawn to others. I think we can have a benign circle, a circle of grace to enjoy as we rise towards joy instead of a spiral into death.

These are, I know, Easter words, unseasonable. But forgiving and forgiven are inextricably linked. The Lenten command to forgive, and the Easter command to be forgiven. This is the very enormity of the offer, which we take with us into Passiontide.

Rosemary Hannah is a historian and author. She lives in Scotland.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah on Saturday, 1 April 2017 at 9:01am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: just thinking