Friday, 20 May 2016

Kenya elects Jackson Ole Sapit as Archbishop

ACNS reports: Bishop Jackson Ole Sapit elected as next Archbishop of Kenya:

The Bishop of Kericho, the Rt Revd Jackson Ole Sapit, has today been elected to serve as the sixth Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya and Bishop of the Diocese of All Saints’ Cathedral.

The 52-year-old bishop was baptised in 1977 and confirmed eight years later. His first church role was as evangelist and community motivator in Narok, which he undertook from two years from 1987 before joining the Berea Theological College. He was ordained a deacon in July 1991 and a priest a year later.

He served as vicar of Belgut Parish in the diocese of Nakuru and then as vicar of Kilgoris Parish and project manager at Transmara Rural Development Programme.

Throughout this time he continued his education, gaining a Bachelor of Divinity from St Paul’s University in Nairobi and a Certificate in Research and Consultancy at Nairobi’s Daystar University. In 1997 he studied for an MA in Social Development and Sustainable Livelihoods at the UK’s University of Reading…

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Friday, 6 May 2016

ACC-16 Walking Together: A Clarification

Updated Monday morning

The following statement has been issued by the outgoing members of the ACC standing committee.

Walking Together: A Clarification May 6, 2016

Since the enriching, empowering and constructive meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC16) in Lusaka, 8 - 19 April 2016, a number of statements have appeared with respect to ACC16’s engagement with the outcome of the January 2016 Primates’ Gathering and Meeting.

As outgoing members of the Anglican Consultative Council and of the Standing Committee, we are writing to clarify our understanding of what transpired at ACC16 with respect to the earlier Primates’ gathering.

ACC16 approved a resolution ‘Walking Together’, as follows:

The Anglican Consultative Council

1. receives the formal report of the Archbishop of Canterbury to ACC16 on the Primates’ Gathering and Meeting of January 2016; and

2. affirms the commitment of the Primates of the Anglican Communion to walk together; and

3. commits to continue to seek appropriate ways for the Provinces of the Anglican Communion to walk together with each other and with the Primates the other Instruments of Communion.

In receiving the Archbishop of Canterbury’s formal report of the Primates’ Gathering and Meeting, ACC16 neither endorsed nor affirmed the consequences contained in the Primates’ Communique. There was no plenary discussion or decision with respect to the Primates’ Communiqué. From our perspective there did not seem to be a common mind on the issue, other than the clear commitment to avoid further confrontation and division. ACC16 did welcome the call for the Instruments of Communion and the Provinces to continue to walk together as they discern the way forward. No consequences were imposed by the ACC and neither was the ACC asked to do so.

During the meeting there were many opportunities, both formal and informal, to explore the ACC16 theme of ‘Intentional discipleship in a world of differences’. This was done faithfully and respectfully.

As outgoing members of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Standing Committee, we remain passionate about the ACC’s distinct and independent role as one of the Instruments of Communion. The ACC provides a crucially important space for the sharing of our stories in God’s mission as laity, priests, deacons and bishops from the many and diverse contexts of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion. At ACC16 we truly witnessed the stated commitment to walking together in our life as the Body of Christ.

Helen Biggin, The Church in Wales
Prof Dr Joanildo Burity, Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil
The Rt Revd Ian T. Douglas, The Episcopal Church
The Rt Revd Dr Sarah Macneil, The Anglican Church of Australia
Canon Elizabeth Paver, The Church of England, Outgoing Vice-Chair
The Rt Revd James Tengatenga, The Church of the Province of Central Africa, Outgoing
Chair

Update
The ACNS has issued this statement: Secretary General rejects criticism over Walking Together resolution.

The secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has rejected criticism from six former members of the Anglican Consultative Council’s standing committee of statements made during and after ACC-16. The comments centre on Resolution 16.24 – “Walking Together” – which deals with how the ACC responded to the Primates’ Gathering and Meeting in January.

The critics issued their own statement which they said was to clarify their understanding of that response. In it they say that in receiving a report on the gathering by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the ACC “neither endorsed nor affirmed the consequences contained in the Primates’ communiqué”.

But Archbishop Idowu-Fearon said he took a different view…

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Sunday, 1 May 2016

Archbishop of Canterbury reflects on ACC-16

The Archbishop of Canterbury reflects on the recent Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka: ‘Holding together in diversity’ [also online here].

Tom Ferguson, the Crusty Old Dean responds: Justin Welby’s Doomsday Device: Or, Humpy Dumpty as Archbishop.

…In a desperate attempt to keep spinning what did or didn’t happen at the most recent Anglican Consultative Council. yesterday Archbishop Welby released his own fanciful interpretation, which can be found here, dropped on the Friday of a bank holiday weekend in England, weeks after the conclusion of the meeting itself. Let’s count the problems here…

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Thursday, 28 April 2016

ACC-16 - ACNS reports

Updated

Since the close of this month’s meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council the Anglican Communion News Service has published a number of articles about its work, including these, all by Gavin Drake.

Reformation and unity in ACC’s ecumenical resolutions
Provinces urged to adopt Anglican Communion Sunday
Central Africa applied “embassy” protocol for ACC’s visiting female priests
Anglican Consultative Council adopts 45 resolutions by assent
Men and boys have role in fight for gender justice

Update

Before the ACC meeting, ACNS published this video: Gender justice and the Anglican Communion.

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Friday, 22 April 2016

GAFCON Primates meeting

The Primates Council of GAFCON (the Global Anglican Future Conference) met in Kenya this week and issued this Communiqué. It includes the following appendix referring to the recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.

Appendix: From Canterbury to Lusaka

Last January, we spent time together at the Primates Gathering contending for a restoration of godly order within the Anglican Communion. The sanctions passed at that meeting were not in themselves capable of restoring order, but they were a potential first step.

At that meeting, we acknowledged the reality of the “significant distance” between us and “expressed a desire to walk together” if possible. This distance was created when The Episcopal Church walked away from the Anglican Communion’s doctrine on sexuality and the plain teaching of Scripture.

Within hours of the meeting’s end the public responses from many bishops, clergy, and lay people of The Episcopal Church made it clear that they did not desire to share the same journey. The biblical call to repentance is a call to make a 180 degree turn. It grieves us that many in The Episcopal Church have again rejected this call. While we desire to walk together, until there is true repentance, the reality is that they are deliberately walking away from the Anglican Communion and the authority of Scripture at a distance that continues to increase.

The recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, Zambia has again highlighted the inability of the current instruments to uphold godly order within the Communion. Delegates from the Episcopal Church, by their own admission, voted on matters that pertained to polity and doctrine, in defiance of the Primates. This action has damaged the standing of the Anglican Consultative Council as an instrument of unity, increased levels of distrust, and further torn the fabric of the Communion.

Nonetheless, we give thanks that these events have brought further clarity, and drawn GAFCON closer together in the mission of the Gospel. We are of one mind that the future of the Anglican Communion does not lie with manipulations, compromises, legal loopholes, or the presentation of half-truths; the future of our Communion lies in humble obedience to the truth of the Word of God written. What others have failed to do, GAFCON is doing: enabling global fellowship and godly order, united by biblical faithfulness. This unity has provided us with great energy to continue to work for the renewal of the Anglican Communion.

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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

ACC-16 - It's all over now

Madeleine Davies presents her final report from Lusaka for the Church Times: ACC members depart with stories of unity.

The Anglican Communion website has published a list of the resolutions passed by ACC-16: Resolutions. In this list the earlier temporary numbering of the draft resolutions has been replaced by permanent numbering. In particular Resolution C34 has now become Resolution 16.23.

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Tuesday, 19 April 2016

ACC-16 final day

The Anglican Consultative Council concluded its sixteenth meeting today.

Mary Frances Schjonberg Episcopal News Service ACC-16 concludes in Lusaka on note of unity amid diversity

Video: Bishop James Tengatenga’s sermon at ACC-16 closing Eucharist [includes transcript]

Anglican Communion News Service
Gavin Drake New leaders elected for worldwide Anglican Communion
Bellah Zulu ACC-16 members worship with Lusaka parishes
Anglicans share strategies to retain the youth

From the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website: Archbishop reflects on ACC-16 as it draws to a close

Episcopal News Service
A Letter from Lukasa: Episcopal Church team writes to the church at conclusion of ACC meeting

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Monday, 18 April 2016

ACC-16 - Monday reports

The Episcopal News Service today carries these reports by Mary Frances Schjonberg

Margaret Swinson elected as Anglican Consultative Council vice chair
A summary of Anglican Consultative Council resolutions
Anglican Consultative Council declines to go along with ‘consequences’

and this Video: Archbishop Welby speaks on human sexuality issues at ACC-16.

The Living Church has this article by Mark Michael ACC Picks Diverse Leaders.

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Sunday, 17 April 2016

ACC-16 latest reports

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave his presidential address to ACC-16 on Friday.

The ACC will vote for five places on its standing committee tomorrow. There are eleven candidates: ACC-16: Nominees for membership of the Standing Committee of the ACC.

Update

The Episcopal News Service has tweeted that “CofE lay ACC member Margaret Swinson will be council’s next vice chair. She is only one standing for election.”

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Friday, 15 April 2016

ACC-16 latest reports

Updated Friday afternoon with the result of the election for the chair of the ACC

Madeleine Davies Church Times ACC complies with Primates, in a way
Communion seeks clarity over ‘can’t pay’ and ‘won’t’

Church Times Leader comment Messy Church

Gavin Drake Anglican Communion NewsService (ACNS) Two candidates for chair of Anglican Consultative Council
Adult Sunday Schools suggested in discipleship move
Anglican Communion directors report back on wide range of initiatives

Mary Frances Schjonberg Episcopal New Service Connecticut bishop will not stand for Anglican Consultative Council chair

ACNS has also published these group photographs.

Update

Gavin Drake ACNS Primate of Hong Kong elected as new chair of Anglican Consultative Council

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Tuesday, 12 April 2016

ACC-16 - List of those attending

The Anglican Communion Office has released this List of Attendees at the current meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. It includes the names of members who are absent.

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Monday, 11 April 2016

A Statement from the Anglican Communion’s secretary-general

The following statement was issued by the Anglican Communion Office this afternoon.

The Anglican Communion Office has released this statement in response to recent comments on events leading up to the Anglican Consultative Council meeting, ACC-16.

  1. Statements circulating about a failure to follow up on the decisions of the January 2016 Primates meeting at best give a false impression. The terms of the Primates decision about The Episcopal Church (TEC) have been followed through as far as is possible and legal. To say otherwise is misleading and wrong.
  2. The Archbishop of Canterbury has fulfilled his responsibilities and asked those members of interfaith or ecumenical bodies who are from TEC and whose appointment he controls, to stand down, and they have done so. In addition, as required, he has appointed a Task Group with representatives from across the communion.
  3. Archbishop Justin has refused to engage in any public response to statements and speculation by any party in advance of the ACC, having maintained personal and private contact with the Primates since their meeting. It has always been his intention to speak directly and in person to the ACC members, respecting their role and responsibilities.
  4. A TEC representative whose attendance at the ACC Standing Committee has been commented on as breaching the decision of the Primates, was elected to the Standing Committee several years before the Primates’ meeting. As the Standing Committee is a Trustee body under English law, they cannot be removed without legal cause, and neither the Primates nor the ABC, nor indeed the ACC, can override the law.
  5. Under the Constitution of the ACC, no-one who is a recognised delegate from a member Province can be prevented from being nominated to the Standing Committee. However during their first day in session, Archbishop Justin presented a report to the ACC of the Primates meeting. As promised he requested the ACC to work with the Primates for the welfare of the whole Communion.
  6. He said “As Archbishop of Canterbury (a separate Instrument) I have acted on the Primates’ decision in those areas for which I have responsibility. It is both my and the Primates’ desire, hope and prayer that the Anglican Consultative Council should also share in working through the consequences of our impaired relationships.”
  7. There have also been suggestions of criminal action including forgery and corruption in which the Archbishop of Canterbury and Anglican Communion Office staff have been mentioned.
  8. It is the practice of the ACO to book the flights and cover the costs for all delegates attending ACC meetings, though some choose to cover their own costs. To imply that on this occasion this established practice is corrupt is disingenuous. Tickets were arranged well before any indications of non attendance by a small number of Provinces.
  9. The unsubstantiated public allegations of forgery against the members of the Kenyan delegation are scurrilous and untrue and are made in a manner against all biblical principles of appropriate behaviour.

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon,
The secretary general of the Anglican Communion

Madeleine Davies writes about the statement and its background for the Church Times: Secretary-general defends ACC against its critics.

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ACC-16 opens

The Anglican Consultative Council’s 16th meeting opened in Lusaka on Friday.

Madeleine Davies is in Lusaka for the Church Times and has so far sent these reports.

Discussion of ‘consequences’ as ACC sessions begin in Lusaka
Be united in joy, Welby exhorts his Zambian congregation

The Anglican Communion website has this page devoted to ACC-16. It includes links to ACC-16 Documents and to relevant items from the Anglican Communion News Service.

One such item is Archbishop Welby briefs ACC members on the Primates’ gathering and meeting.
[This is also on the Archbishop’s own website here.]

Mary Frances Schjonberg is reporting from Lusaka for the Episcopal News Service, including this item on yesterday’s Eucharist: ACC gets African Anglican liturgical welcome to Zambia.

There are photographs of the service here.

The ACC standing committee met earlier in the week and issued this report of its meeting. Included is this sentence, “The Standing Committee considered the Communiqué from the Primates and affirmed the relational links between the Instruments of Communion in which each Instrument, including the Anglican Consultative Council, forms its own views and has its own responsibilities.”

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Friday, 1 April 2016

ACC-16 in Lusaka gets closer...

continued from here.

Updated again Wednesday 6 April

Another major report has been issued: Major new report calls Anglicans to Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-Making

The full report is online here.

And the Introduction is available separately here.

There have also been several articles seeking to undermine the meeting from various conservative sources:

  • a six-part series titled Back to Basics by former archbishop Peter Jensen

And the group of conservative American Episcopalians called Communion Partners has issued this: An Easter Report from the Communion Partners of the Episcopal Church.

Meanwhile, ENS reports: Anglicans, Episcopalians head to Zambia for consultative council.

Update 4 April

Mouneer Anis has announced that he is not attending ACC-16 in Lusaka, see the full text of his letter here: Breaking—Bishop Mouneer Anis decides not to attend the 2016 ACC Meeting in Lusaka (h/t Kendall Harmon) And there is a PDF of the original.

Update 6 April

The Primate of Kenya has published this letter: Statement on Anglican Consultative Council 16, Lusaka (h/t George Conger)

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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

More preparations for ACC-16 in Lusaka

A document has been published by the Anglican Inter Faith Network, see this ACNS press release: Theological resources on persecution published for ACC-16.
The report itself is available as a PDF: Out of the Depths – Hope in a time of suffering.

The ACC-16 web page also links to a report on the work of Anglican and Episcopal women at UN Commission on the Status of Women.
Here is the Statement from the Anglican Communion delegation at UN-CSW60.
And there is this report of a related event: Communion women can help change sisters’ fate, says Anglican leader.

Anglican Ink has published the text of two letters:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 23 March 2016 at 3:50pm GMT | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 15 March 2016

ACC-16 in Lusaka: Nigeria will not attend

Updated Wednesday morning

See earlier announcements by Uganda and by Kenya.

A letter from the Primate of Nigeria has now been published: Church of Nigeria Statement on the Lusaka ACC Meeting 15 March 2016

This statement is now also available at the GAFCON site, and the text is copied below the fold (bold emphasis in the original).

Ruth Gledhill reports for Christian Today in Nigeria pleads for ‘special status’ for conservative Anglican Christians over homosexuality.

THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA (ANGLICAN COMMUNION) WILL NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE UPCOMING ACC MEETING

Source: Church of Nigeria

STATEMENT BY THE MOST REV’D NICHOLAS D. OKOH, MA, Fss, Mss, LLD
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria. Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and Deputy Chair of the GAFCON Primates Council

THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA: OUR PERSPECTIVE

The Church of Nigeria was one of the Provinces that protested against the consecration of Gene Robinson (an active homosexual clergyman in New Hampshire), by The Episcopal Church USA, and the promulgation of a liturgy for blessing of same sex union; boycotted the Lambeth Conference 2008, and organized the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON 2008), in Jerusalem. A remarkable legacy of that conference is the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration.

Since then, the theological position of the Church of Nigeria on the human sexuality palaver raging in the Anglican Communion is by no means ambiguous. In pursuance of its position, it has had to amend its constitution to emphasize the basis of our relationship with any other Province or church namely:

The Church of Nigeria shall be in full communion with all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as the Lord has commanded in His holy word and as the same are received as taught in the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal of 1662 and in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.

In other words, the amendment places emphasis on the “Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and The word of God rather than, and instead of, historical institutions. It was intended to save the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) from derailment in the context of challenges engendered by theological ambivalence such as the present human sexuality controversy illustrates.

In further pursuance of that same amendment, the Church of Nigeria resolved to break communion with The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada (not on account of redefinition), but on the practice, promotion and advocacy of homosexuality and its allied practices.

As part of the stance of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), it resolved not to attend any future conference or meeting where the above named two Provinces will sit and participate in discussion.However, the January 2016 Primates meeting in Canterbury was considered an exception. Thus, the GAFCON and Global South resolved to attend.

In spite of the hollow restrictions placed on The Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop of TEC and the Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council have avowed that the Primates had no authority to take that decision. During the Canterbury meeting itself, the way and manner in which those who hold the orthodox view of human sexuality and marriage were spoken of by the authorities, and denounced as “homophobic”, left no one in doubt that we were in the wrong place. In fact, the authorities believe that patience was being exercised to enable the communion to bring up the scripture-believers gradually to embrace the homosexual doctrine. Thus, the Anglican Communion’s journey is very uncertain for the orthodox. They are walking into a well-rehearsed scheme to gradually apply persuasion, subtle blackmail, coercion on any group still standing with the Scriptural Provision as we know it, to join the straight jacket of the revisionists and be politically correct. Somehow, they are succeeding!

At this point we find great wisdom in the attitude of the British Government in relation to the European Union, It has not joined the Euro Zone; it did not join the Schengen conglomerate. Now the British Prime Minister is asking for a “Special Status” in the European Union for the United Kingdom.

The Anglican Communion should begin to think in that direction for those Provinces that may never, for obvious reasons, embrace the sexual culture being promoted by some Provinces of the Church over and against the Bible as we received it. We need a “Special Status”.

In summary, as long as we are now candidates for whom every opportunity in the Anglican Communion should be explored to gradually teach us to embrace the new sex culture, it will be unwise to deliberately walk into a well-prepared camp of recruitment, blackmail, indoctrination and toxic relationship.

Therefore, we regret our inability to attend the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka, Zambia.

We continue to pray for God’s Church to return to the Holy Bible, for its faith and practice.

The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 15 March 2016 at 11:37pm GMT | Comments (63) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 10 March 2016

Programme published for Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka

See this press release from the Anglican Communion Office: Draft programme for Anglican Consultative Council meeting published.

[ACNS] Anglican Bishops, priests and laity from across the world will gather in Lusaka next month for the 16th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-16). Members will discuss a range of issues around the theme “Intentional discipleship in a world of difference” – how Christians can be faithful to the Gospel in all aspects of their lives in the different cultures and situations that Anglicans find themselves in.

The Anglican Communion Office is now inviting applications for media accreditation for journalists who wish to attend ACC-16.

The ACC facilitates the co-operative work of the 38 autonomous but interdependent national and regional Churches and the six extra-provincial churches and dioceses that are in Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Through the ACC, churches of the Anglican Communion exchange information and co-ordinate common action. The ACC also advises on the organisation and structures of the Anglican Communion, and seeks to develop common policies on world mission and ecumenical matters.

There is more information here and the actual draft of the programme is available as a PDF here.

The meeting will be held in Lusaka, Zambia from 8 to 19 April, 2016.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 10 March 2016 at 5:13pm GMT | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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Primate says Kenya will not attend ACC-16 in Lusaka

According to an announcement on the GAFCON website, the Anglican Church of Kenya will not participate in the upcoming Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, in April. The full statement is available here as a PDF - from the official provincial website, and is also copied below the fold.

The Most Rev’d Dr Eliud Wabukala has been the Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council since 2010.

Earlier this year, he issued this statement following the Primates Gathering in Canterbury in January.

And then in February he issued this pastoral letter.

To the Bishops, Clergy and all the Faithful of the Anglican Church of Kenya

from the Most Rev’d Dr Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Bishop, All Saints Cathedral Diocese Nairobi

Statement on Anglican Consultative Council 16, Lusaka

Greetings in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

I am deeply committed to the unity and restoration of our beloved Anglican Communion. It was for this reason that I and brother Primates from GAFCON and other orthodox provinces were willing to accept the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation to a meeting of Primates in Canterbury earlier this year, despite the representation of Provinces with which the Anglican Church of Kenya is in a state of broken communion.

It seemed that this might be an opportunity to restore godly faith and order and, although the resolution agreed by an overwhelming majority of those present was not all we hoped for, it sent a powerful message around the world that the collective mind of the Communion was to remain faithful to the Scriptures and God’s purpose for man and woman in marriage.

In particular, the Episcopal Church in the United States (TEC) was required to withdraw its representatives from groups representing the Anglican Communion ecumenically and it was agreed that TEC should not participate in votes on doctrine and polity in the Communion’s institutions.

However, the Presiding Bishop of TEC has made it clear that his Church will not think again about same sex ‘marriage’ and he expects his Church to play a full part in next month’s Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting in Lusaka. This defiance of the Primates’ moral and spiritual authority has been supported by the Chairman of the ACC, Bishop Tengatenga, who has confirmed that TEC will participate fully.

There can be no true walking together with those who persistently refuse to walk in accordance with God’s Word and the Anglican Church of Kenya will not therefore be participating in the forthcoming meeting of the ACC in Lusaka.

An opportunity has been missed to use the ACC for good and it is increasingly clear that the GAFCON movement must continue to provide a focus for that godly unity so many of us desire.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 10 March 2016 at 4:28pm GMT | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 25 February 2016

Church of Uganda to boycott next ACC meeting

The Archbishop of Uganda yesterday issued a lenten appeal to pray for Uganda and the Anglican Communion. It is almost entirely devoted to the Communion and includes this:

As you know, the Church of Uganda’s Provincial Assembly has resolved that the Church of Uganda will not participate in meetings of the Anglican Communion until godly order is restored, including demonstrating that it is capable of restoring godly order. This has not yet happened. The Church of Uganda, therefore, will not be participating in the upcoming April meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Lusaka.

Ruth Gledhill reports on the letter for Christian Today: Archbishop of Uganda condemns ‘deep betrayal’ of biblical standards in Anglican Communion.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 25 February 2016 at 11:13am GMT | Comments (24) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Southern Africa bishops: Same-sex couples “full members” of church

The bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa have issued this statement. Also available here.

The bishops again discussed and worked over their draft Pastoral Guidelines in response to Civil Unions within the wider contexts of Marriage and Human Sexuality in readiness for decision at Provincial Synod. These reaffirm our assurance that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ. However, they they do not change our current policy, which is that the Province ‘cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions’ (Resolution 1:10 of the Lambeth Conference of 1998).

The Prayer Book affirms ‘that marriage by divine institution is a lifelong and exclusive union partnership between one man and one woman’; therefore the draft guidelines affirm for now that ‘partnership between two persons of the same sex cannot be regarded as a marriage… accordingly our clergy are not permitted to bless such unions… nor are they permitted to enter into such unions while they remain in licensed ministry’…

Additionally the primate of this province, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town has published this pastoral letter. Also available here.

…We have issued a joint statement from the Synod, but I want to report to you in more detail to give you the full context of one of the more challenging matters we discussed. One of the key tasks before us was to fulfil the mandate given to us by Provincial Standing Committee and to finalise pastoral guidelines for couples in South Africa who are in same-sex civil unions. Against the backdrop of the international debate on this issue in the worldwide Anglican Communion, our discussions were frank, open and robust. We sensitively considered our role as the Anglican Church in Southern Africa within the broader family of the Communion, cognisant of the divergent strands of theological thinking within the Province of Southern Africa and of the different pastoral challenges that the different dioceses and the different countries of our Province are facing.

The document we have agreed upon will go to Provincial Synod for adoption in September, and will be published a few months ahead of Synod in the First Agenda Book. I believe that its adoption by Provincial Synod would be an important first step in signalling to the LGBT community that we in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, through our top deliberative and legislative body, see them as welcome members of our body as sisters and brothers in Christ. In the words of the guidelines:

“We reaffirm our assurance to them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ. Many of these are baptised and confirmed members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships.”

In another section, the bishops declared that: “We are of one mind that gay, lesbian and transgendered members of our church share in full membership as baptised members of the Body of Christ…”

This has important implications in parishes where, for example, same-sex couples who are living in civil unions under South African law bring their children for baptism and confirmation. No child brought for baptism should be refused merely because of the sexual orientation of the parents, and particular care should be taken against stigmatising not only parents but their children too.

We also tried at the Synod of Bishops to draw up guidelines for clergy wanting to bless couples in same-sex unions, or who want to enter same-sex unions themselves. We constituted a group of bishops reflecting a cross-section of our views to discuss such guidelines. On this issue, I had to report back to the Synod, the only agreement we reached is that we were not of one mind.

Our differences do not only revolve around the theology of marriage, but are also a result of different pastoral realities in different dioceses. For example, most of our dioceses across Southern Africa are predominantly rural, and for many the urgent priorities of food security, shelter, healthcare and education crowd out debate on the issue of human sexuality. In some rural dioceses, responding to challenges to the Church’s restrictions on polygamous marriages is a much higher pastoral priority.

As a consequence, the Synod of Bishops has agreed that we will continue to regard ourselves bound by the broad consensus in the Anglican Communion, expressed by the Lambeth Conference in 1998, which is that we “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same-sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions”. Having said that, we did address the questions of whether that decision is immutable, whether it has replaced scripture, and when a Province of the Communion, or a diocese within a Province may deviate from it…

This province encompasses St. Helena and Tristan da Cunha, Mozambique (Lebombo and Niassa), the Republic of Namibia, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Kingdom of Swaziland and Angola in addition to the Republic of South Africa itself.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 23 February 2016 at 4:33pm GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Monday, 22 February 2016

New Zealand working group publishes draft rites of blessing

We reported in May 2014 that New Zealand synod acts on same-gender blessings

The Way Forward Working Group has today released its report. It proposes two rites of blessing to be considered by this year’s General Synod.

The Way Forward Working Group was set up in the wake of the 2014 General Synod adopting “Motion 30” (http://www.anglicantaonga.org.nz/Features/Extra/Anga), the resolution that created a pathway towards the blessing of same-gender relationships – while upholding the traditional doctrine of marriage. Motion 30 called for the appointment of a working group to devise “a process and structure” by which this could happen – and a process and structure to ensure that clergy who believe that same sex blessings are contrary to “scripture, doctrine, tikanga or civil law” remain fully free to dissent.

The full text of the report is available here and there is an Executive Summary here.

Update Here is a link to a PDF version of the full report and another link to a PDF version of the archbishops’ covering letter.

Here’s the first part of the press release:

The long-awaited report of the Way Forward Working Group] has been released.
Today’s publication comes almost 18 months since the 13-member group began its work – and it proposes two new liturgies to be considered by May’s General Synod.
These liturgies have been designed to allow for the blessing of couples who have been married in a civil ceremony – according either to New Zealand law, or to the law in the Pacific Island nations which form part of this church. These liturgies also create a pathway for the people in such relationships to become ordained.
Civil marriages between a man and a woman have long been recognised in law in both New Zealand and in those Pacific Island nations. In New Zealand’s case, of course, an amendment to marriage law came into effect in August 2013 – which allows same-sex couples to legally marry.

“A crucial matter for debate”

The Way Forward Working Group (WFWG) report makes a precept-upon-precept case for how such civil marriages could be blessed by the church.
The Anglican Church in this province is governed by a set of documents, the most significant of which are the Church of England Empowering Act of 1928, and Te Pouhere , the Constitution of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, which came into force in 1992.
Te Pouhere in turn specifies a number of “Formularies” (such as a New Zealand Prayer Book/He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa ) which guide the Church in its worship and practice.
The new constitution also spells out a way in which formularies can be changed (or added to) –providing these changes don’t, in the words of the report, “represent any departure from the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ as defined in Te Pouhere’s own Fundamental Provisions.”
The rites of blessing being proposed are being presented as “additional formularies”, rather than doctrinal changes:
“It is the view of the majority of the group,” the report notes, “that the proposed liturgies do not represent a departure from the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ, and are therefore not prohibited by Te Pouhere, however the group also recognises that this will be a crucial matter for debate.”

There is more, go here for the rest of it.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 22 February 2016 at 3:48pm GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Questions on Anglican Covenant and relational consequences

During Questions on Monday evening, the following exchanges occurred.

The Revd Canon Andrew Godsall (Exeter) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:

Q18 Could the House be invited to reflect on the recent Primates’ Meeting and, if so, what undertaking might be given for particular reflection on whether it was appropriate to adopt an approach involving ‘relational consequences’ in relation to a member province of the Anglican Communion in the light of the fact that a majority of the dioceses in the Church of England declined to approve the Anglican Communion Covenant?

The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply as Chair of the House of Bishops:

A The House received a report on the Primates meeting along with members of the College when they met in January. The Primates addressed the impact on relationships within the Anglican Communion when any Province makes a unilateral change in doctrine. They have set out specific consequences in the functioning of the Communion and a task group will be appointed to carry forward the implications of their decision.

Supplementary Questions (transcribed from the audio recording)

Andrew Godsall:

Is there a difference between the specific consequences referred to in the answer and the relational consequences envisaged in section 4.2.7 of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant that the dioceses of the Church of England rejected. And if there is, what is it?

Archbishop of Canterbury:

Thank you, that’s a very interesting question. The Covenant was not considered at all during the Primates Meeting. I don’t… I think it may have been mentioned once in passing. And therefore the way in which the consequences were looked at was not related to the Covenant in any way at all. I think to the best of my knowledge no more than 16, it may have only been 11, provinces have actually signed up to the Covenant. Therefore the vast majority would not consider it relevant in considering this. So there was no link.

Dr Rachel Jepson:

Would the House of Bishops also then take the opportunity to discuss plans to impose similar relational consequences for those provinces that support the criminalisation of homosexuality and in so doing are in breach of the Lambeth resolution.

Archbishop of Canterbury:

Thank you very much. I hope it’s clear that the House of Bishops was not involved in the Primates Meeting. It was the Primates Meeting, and the House of Bishops has not imposed any relational consequences in any way at all. As I hope I made clear earlier, such consequences are those at Communion level, and cannot bind any particular province. Having said that, I think the point you raise is a very, very important one. And if you look at the communiqué, which you will find on the primates meeting website, you will find that there is a very, very clear statement of the longstanding opposition of the Anglican Communion to the criminalisation of LGBTI people. And given that that is a very important part of the thinking of the Anglican Communion in this area, one could anticipate that the primates when they meet, were someone to be advocating such, would need to consider that. If they were to continue to advocate it since the primates meeting we just had. But I am one vote out of 38 and I couldn’t possibly predict or anticipate what the outcome would be. But thank you.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 18 February 2016 at 5:57pm GMT | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 30 January 2016

Primates gathering - another roundup

The Most Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, offers his Perspectives on the Primates’ Meeting.

Colbert I King The Washington Post The Anglican Communion’s un-Christian stance on marriage

The Most Reverend Dr Mouneer Anis A Personal Reflection on the 2016 Primates’ Meeting

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Apology to LGBT community must be followed by action, senior Anglicans warn Archbishop of Canterbury — referring to this press release

Jacob Luther Hymn to the Anglican Communion

Christopher Wells The Living Church Catholicity, apostolicity: Come on down

Jesse Zink Church Times If it doesn’t work, do something new

Ben Irwin The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion, and the real reason we’re having this debate

Charles Hefling Christian Century Has the Episcopal Church been plutoed?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 30 January 2016 at 11:52am GMT | Comments (112) | TrackBack
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Monday, 25 January 2016

A Statement on Archbishop Beach’s Participation at Primates 2016

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) released this statement today: A Statement on Archbishop Beach’s Participation at Primates 2016. Here it is, with my emphasis added in paragraph 4.

The Anglican Church in North America has received numerous questions regarding whether or not Archbishop Beach was “a full voting member of the Primates Meeting.” Archbishop Beach did not consider himself a full voting member of the Primates Meeting, but with the exception of voting on the consequences for the Episcopal Church, Archbishop Beach participated fully in those parts of the meeting that he chose to attend.

Prior to Primates 2016 he was informed that there may be certain times when the Primates would move into a formal meeting, and, as the Anglican Church in North America is not an official member of the Communion’s instruments, he would be asked to step out of the room. However, he was never asked to leave the meeting.

While at the meeting, he addressed the gathering and participated in various balloting measures that set the agenda, ordered the agenda, and sought to discern the way those in the room wanted to proceed. He did not vote on the consequences for The Episcopal Church.

Some have asked whether Archbishop Beach voted to approve the final Communique or the new members of the Standing Committee. Neither he nor a majority of the GAFCON Primates were​ present for these discussions on Friday. Although early in the week he joined the other Primates in affirming his desire to walk together, this desire was necessarily contingent upon The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada giving evidence of returning to Biblical and historical Anglican theology and morality (Amos 3:3). On Thursday ​evening, ​with the absence of repentance, restored order, and true unity, Archbishop Beach felt it necessary to withdraw from the meeting.

Archbishop Beach appreciated the gracious invitation from the Archbishop of Canterbury to attend the meeting, and was thankful to be warmly received as the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America by most of the other primates who were present. While the Anglican Church in North America is recognized and in full communion with provinces who represent the majority of Anglicans in the world, the future place of the Anglican Church in North America in relation to the formal instruments remains an open question. Archbishop Beach was encouraged to see the growing recognition of the Anglican Church in North America as a part of the Communion by many of the Primates and Provinces around the table.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 25 January 2016 at 11:04pm GMT | Comments (64) | TrackBack
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Friday, 22 January 2016

Church Times reports on the Primates meeting

Today’s issue of Church Times carries these three news items by Madeleine Davies.
Reactions pour in to the Primates’ pronouncements
Curry looks to the ACC to respond to the Primates’ ruling
Welby: Fixed Easter ‘in five-ten years’

There is also this piece by unnamed staff reporters: The Canterbury tale.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 22 January 2016 at 12:10pm GMT | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 21 January 2016

Archbishop Justin reflects on the Primates' meeting Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written a reflection on the meeting of Anglican Primates in Canterbury last week. Read it here.

Some other recent comments and reflections on the Primates meeting

Bishop Pierre Whalon writes for Huffington Post: Ain’t it awful ‘bout dem Anglicans?

Inclusive Church has published a Reflection from the Chair of Inclusive Church and a Joint statement from Inclusive Church, Modern Church and Progressive Christianity Network: Responses to the Anglican Primates’ Meeting.

Andrew Lightbown has written An Open Letter to the Primates.

Kelvin Holdworth has written that Outrage is not a mission strategy.

Integrity USA has published An Open Letter by its President, Bruce Garner.

Angus Ritchie ABC Religion and Ethics Scripture, Sin and Same-Sex Relationships after the Gathering of Anglican Primates

Bill Countryman The Archbishops in Secret

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 21 January 2016 at 10:07am GMT | Comments (49) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Primates gathering - Tuesday roundup

Madeleine Davies writes for Church Times that Primates’ ruling is not binding, says canon lawyer.

THE communiqué issued by the Primates in Canterbury last week does not bind anyone, because the Primates’ meeting has no jurisdiction, a canon lawyer said this week. It represented “completely unacceptable interference” with the autonomy of the bodies to whom it had issued requirements.

“I find it utterly extraordinary,” the director of the Centre for Law and Religion at Cardiff University, Professor Norman Doe, said on Tuesday. “No instrument exists conferring upon the Primates’ meeting the jurisdiction to ‘require’ these things… Whatever they require is unenforceable.”…

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has written A Reflection on the Meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in Canterbury, England, January 11-15, 2016
The Anglican Journal [of Canada] reports on this reflection: Hiltz addresses ‘sharp criticism’ over stance on TEC .

Archbishop Philip Freier, the Primate of Australia, has reported that he was elected to the Primates’ Standing Committee at last week’s meeting: Dr Freier in key role. He gives the full list of the five primates elected to the standing committee as:
Archbishop Philip Freier from Australia for the Asia Pacific
Archbishop John Holder from the Caribbean for the Americas
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba from South Africa for Africa
Archbishop Richard Clarke from Ireland for Europe
Archbishop Mouneer Anis from Egypt and the Middle East for Asia.

Andrew Goddard of Fulcrum has drawn up this list of Responses to Primates 2016 from The Episcopal Church (USA).

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition has issued this statement by its Moderator, the Ven Malcolm French, “regarding the primates meeting 2016 and the purported sanctions against The Episcopal Church”.

Marie Alford-Harkey Huffington Post The Real Consequences of the Anglican Primates’ Censure of the Episcopal Church

Jonathan Merritt The Atlantic The Selective Outrage of the Anglican Church

Mark Strange, the Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, writes that All are one in Christ.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 19 January 2016 at 11:16pm GMT | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Monday, 18 January 2016

Primates gathering: Monday news and comment

Archbishop Philip Richardson ‘Walk or stay? We chose to stay’

BBC News Dr Richard Clarke: Church of Ireland primate defends decision on US Episcopal Church

Scottish Episcopal Church Primates Meeting 2016 – radio interviews with Primus

Hudson Kuteesa AllAfrica Rwanda: Canterbury Has Taken Best Decision On Gay - Bishop Rucyahana

Some blog posts from a range of perspectives

Andrew Lightbown A tale of two Primates

Richard Haggis Winsome, Lose some

Giles Goddard The Primates’ Meeting - good or bad?

Bosco Peters Primates Do Not Suspend TEC

Ephraim Radner First Things Reaffirming Communion: an Act of Hope

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 18 January 2016 at 10:57am GMT | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 17 January 2016

Primates gathering: Sunday news and comment

The following statement was published on the Primates 2016 website this morning.

Statement on votes given to Primates at the meeting in Canterbury

17 Jan 2016

On those occasions when the discussion required Primates to privately record a preference or a decision, slips were informally distributed around the tables and then collected. Apart from when the meeting agreed the agenda at the start, it was made clear to Archbishop Foley Beach that it would not be appropriate for him to take part and he was not invited to do so. Given the spirit of the meeting at all times, it is unfortunate that this is misrepresented in recent reports.

Mark Harris We stand corrected: Its CONSEQUENCES not SANCTIONS. Got it? Its part Four of the Anglican Covenant.

Sam Wells To All who Read the Primates’ Statement with Grief and Dismay

Alan Wilson Washington Post [transcript of an interview with Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of Washington DC]

Bishop Budde published this letter on Friday: Walk in Love: A Letter from Bishop Mariann on the Primates Meeting.

BBC News Dr Richard Clarke: Church of Ireland primate defends decision on US Episcopal Church

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 17 January 2016 at 12:44pm GMT | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 16 January 2016

Easter date to be fixed?

At yesterday’s press conference following the meeting of Anglican primates the Archbishop of Canterbury said that the primates had voted to join discussions with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches to set a common, fixed date for Easter.

John Bingham The Telegraph Easter date to be fixed ‘within next five to 10 years’

Ben Quinn The Guardian Christian leaders attempt to fix global date for Easter

BBC News Archbishop Justin Welby hopes for fixed Easter date

Andrew Griffin Independent Easter to be fixed to one date all the time, Archbishop Justin Welby says

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Anglican Primates agree to set fixed, common date for Easter

Wikipedia has a number of articles on the date of Easter.

Reform of the date of Easter
Computus
Easter controversy

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 16 January 2016 at 11:23am GMT | Comments (57) | TrackBack
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Primates gathering: Saturday news and comment

Updated at 5.00 pm

A video of yesterday’s Primates Meeting press conference is available on YouTube.

Anglican Mainstream offers these Notes from Primates Press Conference.

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today The sacrificial grace of Bishop Michael Curry of The Episcopal Church

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry interviewed on BBC Radio 4 Anglican church ban ‘will bring great pain’

Kimberly Winston Huffington Post Episcopal Church Won’t Back Down On Gay Rights Despite Censure

Laurie Goodstein and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura New York Times For Now, Anglicans Avert Schism Over Gay Marriage

Responses from two primates

Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada

[I will be posting a separate article on a fixed Easter later today.]

Update

Anglican Journal (Canada) Censure of US church will weigh on Canada, says Hiltz

Archdruid Eileen Primates 2016 - Your Questions Answered

The President of the US House of Deputies has written to members of the House: On the Primates Meeting: A Letter from President Jennings
Ruth Gledhill writes about the letter for Christian Today: Leading member of US Church pledges to continue Anglican Communion work.

David Allen Episcopal Café Who are TEC’s representatives to Anglican Communion bodies?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 16 January 2016 at 11:03am GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Friday, 15 January 2016

Primates gathering: Friday - more news and comment

Updated several times during the day

Paul Handley Church Times ACNA Primate was given ballot paper to vote on Episcopal Church

Tim Wyatt Church Times Primates issue full communiqué which includes condemnation of homophobia

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry A statement on the Primates Meeting [3 minute video]
[also here with text of the video]

Dean E Wolfe Episcopal News Service Bishop of Kansas responds to primates’ action

Andrew McGowan No, the Episcopal Church has not been suspended from the Anglican Communion

Press Association [in The Guardian] Justin Welby says sorry to LGBTI community for hurt caused by church

Update

BBC News Welby sorry for Anglican ‘hurt’ to LGBT community

Madeleine Davies Church Times Reactions to the Primates: Americans express their sadness, conservatives their doubts
Ugandan Archbishop: why I walked out of the Primates gathering in Canterbury

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Archbishop of Canterbury apologises for ‘hurt and pain’ caused to gay community

Photographs from this afternoon’s press conference

Madeleine Davies Church Times US Episcopalians facing ‘not a sanction, but a consequence’ says Welby

Bruce Garner (President, Integrity USA) Integrity Response to the 2016 Anglican Primate Meeting

Editorial in The Guardian The Guardian view on the Anglican communion: Archbishop Welby’s holy smoke and mirrors

Giles Fraser The Guardian Anglican leaders further marginalise gay people – and Church of England

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Justin Welby says sorry to LGBTI community for hurt and pain caused by Anglican church

Patrick Struckwick BuzzFeed News LGBT Christians React With Fury Over The Anglican Communion Suspending Pro-Gay Church

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 15 January 2016 at 5:06pm GMT | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Communiqué from the Primates

The Communiqué from the Primates meeting has been released and is copied below.

Walking Together in the Service of God in the World

The meeting of Anglican Primates, the senior bishops of the 38 Anglican Provinces, joined by the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of North America, took place in Canterbury between Monday 11 January and Friday 15 January at the invitation of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The first morning was spent in prayer and fasting.

We came knowing that the 2016 Primates’ meeting would be concerned with the differences among us in regard to our teaching on matters of human sexuality. We were also eager to address wider areas of concern.

The meeting started by agreeing the agenda. The first agreed item was to discuss an important point of contention among Anglicans worldwide: the recent change to the doctrine of marriage by The Episcopal Church in the USA.

Over the past week the unanimous decision of the Primates was to walk together, however painful this is, and despite our differences, as a deep expression of our unity in the body of Christ. We looked at what that meant in practical terms.

We received the recommendation of a working group of our members which took up the task of how our Anglican Communion of Churches might walk together and our unity be strengthened. Their work, consistent with previous statements of the Primates’ meetings, addressed what consequences follow for The Episcopal Church in relation to the Anglican Communion following its recent change of marriage doctrine. The recommendations in paragraphs 7 and 8 of the Addendum A below are:

“It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.

“We have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a Task Group to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ.”

These recommendations were adopted by the majority of the Primates present.

We will develop this process so that it can also be applied when any unilateral decisions on matters of doctrine and polity are taken that threaten our unity.

The Primates condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ. The Primates reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.

The Primates recognise that the Christian church and within it the Anglican Communion have often acted in a way towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation that has caused deep hurt. Where this has happened they express their profound sorrow and affirm again that God’s love for every human being is the same, regardless of their sexuality, and that the church should never by its actions give any other impression.

We affirmed the consultation that had taken place in preparation for the meeting by Archbishop Welby and commended his approach for future events within the Communion.

The consideration of the required application for admission to membership of the Communion of the Anglican Church of North America was recognised as properly belonging to the Anglican Consultative Council. The Primates recognise that such an application, were it to come forward, would raise significant questions of polity and jurisdiction.

In the wake of the climate change conference in Paris last month, the meeting heard about a petition of almost two million signatures co-coordinated by the Anglican Environment Network. Reports were made about moves to divest from fossil fuels, the expansion of the African Deserts and the struggle for survival of the peoples of the Pacific as island life is threatened in many places by the rise of sea levels.

The meeting discussed the reality of religiously motivated violence and its impact on people and communities throughout the world. Primates living in places where such violence is a daily reality spoke movingly and passionately about their circumstances and the effect on their members. The Archbishop of Canterbury himself has taken important initiatives in bringing people together from a range of faith communities globally for discussion and mutual accountability. The Anglican Primates repudiated any religiously motivated violence and expressed solidarity with all who suffer from this evil in the world today.

The Primates look forward to the proposal being brought to the Anglican Consultative Council for comprehensive child protection measures to be available throughout all the churches of the Communion.

In a presentation on evangelism, the Primates rejoiced that the Church of Jesus Christ lives to bear witness to the transforming power of the love of God in Jesus Christ. The Primates were energised by the opportunity to share experiences of evangelism and motivated to evangelise with their people.

“The Primates joyfully commit themselves and the Anglican Church, to proclaim throughout the world the person and work of Jesus Christ, unceasingly and authentically, inviting all to embrace the beauty and joy of the Gospel.”

(See Addendum B.)

The Primates supported the Archbishop of Canterbury in his proposal to call a Lambeth Conference in 2020.

Primates discussed tribalism, ethnicity, nationalism and patronage networks, and the deep evil of corruption. They reflected that these issues become inextricably connected to war and violence, and derive from poverty. They agreed to ask the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion to commission a study for the next Primates’ meeting. The Primates agreed to meet again in 2017 and 2019.

The Primates owe a debt of gratitude to the staff of the Anglican Communion Office, and especially the Secretary General, to the staff at Lambeth Palace and at Church House Westminster. The Primates were especially grateful for the warm welcome, generous hospitality and kindness offered by the Dean of Canterbury and all at the Cathedral. Their contribution was very important in setting the mood of the meeting in prayer and mutual listening. Thanks to the Community of St Anselm for their prayer, help and support, Jean Vanier for his inspiring addresses, and the Community of St Gregory for the loan of the crosier head to sit alongside the St Augustine gospels.

The Primates received their time together as a gift from God and experienced many signs of God’s presence amongst us. They appreciated the personal care and humility shown by the Archbishop of Canterbury especially in his chairing of the meeting. We leave our week together enriched by the communion we share and strengthened by the faithful witness of Anglicans across the world. The Primates deeply appreciate the prayers of many throughout the world over our time together.

[The two Addenda are below the fold.]

Addendum A

1.We gathered as Anglican Primates to pray and consider how we may preserve our unity in Christ given the ongoing deep differences that exist among us concerning our understanding of marriage.

2.Recent developments in the Episcopal Church with respect to a change in their Canon on marriage represent a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces on the doctrine of marriage. Possible developments in other Provinces could further exacerbate this situation.

3.All of us acknowledge that these developments have caused further deep pain throughout our Communion.

4.The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.

5.In keeping with the consistent position of previous Primates’ meetings such unilateral actions on a matter of doctrine without Catholic unity is considered by many of us as a departure from the mutual accountability and interdependence implied through being in relationship with each other in the Anglican Communion.

6.Such actions further impair our communion and create a deeper mistrust between us. This results in significant distance between us and places huge strains on the functioning of the Instruments of Communion and the ways in which we express our historic and ongoing relationships.

7.It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years TEC no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.

8.We have asked the ABC to appoint a Task Group to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ.

Addendum B

We, as Anglican Primates, affirm together that the Church of Jesus Christ lives to bear witness to the transforming love of God in the power of the Spirit throughout the world.

It is clear God’s world has never been in greater need of this resurrection love and we long to make it known.

We commit ourselves through evangelism to proclaim the person and work of Jesus Christ, unceasingly and authentically, inviting all to embrace the beauty and joy of the Gospel.

We rely entirely on the power of the Holy Spirit who gives us speech, brings new birth, leads us into the truth revealed in Christ Jesus thus building the church.

All disciples of Jesus Christ, by virtue of our baptism, are witnesses to and of Jesus in faith, hope and love.

We pledge ourselves together to pray, listen, love, suffer and sacrifice that the world may know that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Come Holy Spirit.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 15 January 2016 at 2:56pm GMT | Comments (32) | TrackBack
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Primates gathering: Friday news reports and comment

Updated at 2.00 pm

Paul Handley Church Times Primates distance themselves from the US Episcopal Church in official statement

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Anglican church avoids split over gay rights – but liberals pay price

John Bingham The Telegraph Anglicans step back from brink of schism over homosexuality

Sarah Pulliam Bailey Washington Post Anglican Communion suspends the Episcopal Church after years of gay rights debates

Kimberly Winston Religion News Episcopal Church suspended from full participation in Anglican Communion

Ian Johnston Independent Church of England leaders defy liberals and condemn same-sex marriage

John Martin The Living Church Primates suspend TEC over same sex decisions

Comment

Susan Russell Huffington Post On Becoming Second Class Anglicans for Treating LGBT People as First Class Christians

Anglican Church in North America Primates Meeting 2016 Update from Archbishop Beach

Jake Cunliffe Ekklesia Marriage should be inclusive - a response to the Primates’ rebuke of the Episcopal Church

Ian Paul What does the Primates’ Statement mean?

Update

Jon White Episcopal Café Editorial: Response to the #Primates2016 Statement

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Episcopal Church Primate pledges to stay in the Anglican Communion

BBC News Anglican communion to restrict US Church over gay marriage

Harriet Sherwood and Rowena Mason The Guardian Chris Bryant quits Church of England over its views on homosexuality

Kathryn Snowdon The Huffington Post UK US Episcopal Church Suspended From Anglican Communion Over Gay Marriage

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 15 January 2016 at 10:06am GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 14 January 2016

The Episcopal Church view of the primates statement

ENS reports Majority of primates call for temporary Episcopal Church sanctions.

There is a good deal of additional information in this lengthy article. Worth reading carefully right through. Here is what Michael Curry said:

…Before the Jan. 14 vote, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry told the primates gathering Jan. 11-15 in Canterbury, England, that the statement calling for the sanctions would be painful for many in the Episcopal Church to receive.
“Many of us have committed ourselves and our church to being ‘a house of prayer for all people,’ as the Bible says, when all are truly welcome,” Curry said in remarks he later made available to Episcopal News Service.

“Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all. While I understand that many disagree with us, our decision regarding marriage is based on the belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians are true for the church today: All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ.

“For so many who are committed to following Jesus in the way of love and being a church that lives that love, this decision will bring real pain,” he said. “For fellow disciples of Jesus in our church who are gay or lesbian, this will bring more pain. For many who have felt and been rejected by the church because of who they are, for many who have felt and been rejected by families and communities, our church opening itself in love was a sign of hope. And this will add pain on top of pain.”

Curry told the primates that he was in no sense comparing his own pain to theirs, but “I stand before you as your brother. I stand before you as a descendant of African slaves, stolen from their native land, enslaved in a bitter bondage, and then even after emancipation, segregated and excluded in church and society. And this conjures that up again, and brings pain.

“The pain for many will be real. But God is greater than anything. I love Jesus and I love the church. I am a Christian in the Anglican way. And like you, as we have said in this meeting, I am committed to ‘walking together’ with you as fellow primates in the Anglican family…”

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GAFCON statement on the 2016 primates Gathering

GAFCON statement on the 2016 primates Gathering

currently available only here
Now also available here.

The Anglican Communion is our spiritual home and the GAFCON Primates traveled to England in the hope that godly faith and order could be restored through renewed obedience to the Bible.

We are pleased that Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America has played a full part in the Canterbury meeting of Primates and that sanctions have been applied to the Episcopal Church of the United States, (TEC) recognising the need for mutual accountability on matters of doctrine within the family of the Communion.
However, this action must not be seen as an end, but as a beginning. There is much that causes us concern, especially the failure to recognise the fact that the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) has also rejected the collegial mind of the Communion by unilaterally permitting the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of those in active homosexual relationships. We fear that other provinces will do the same.

Since the beginning of the crisis in the Communion brought about by the actions of both TEC and the ACoC, the Anglican instruments of unity have been unable to guard biblical truth and restore godly order. There must therefore be doubt about the effectiveness of the sanctions that have been agreed.

In particular, it must be recognised that the continuing brokenness of the Communion is not the result simply of failed relationships, but is caused by the persistent rejection of biblical and apostolic faith as set out in Lambeth Resolution 1.10. We are therefore disappointed that the Primates’ statement makes no reference to the need for repentance.

The need for the GAFCON movement is being recognised by an ever increasing number of people and we are encouraged in our conviction that God has called us to work for an Anglican Communion which is a truly global family of Churches. We long to see a united, confident and courageous witness to God who by the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ has given us an unshakeable hope and assures us of his unfailing love.

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Official Statement from Primates 2016

Statement from Primates 2016
14 Jan 2016

Today the Primates agreed how they would walk together in the grace and love of Christ. This agreement acknowledges the significant distance that remains but confirms their unanimous commitment to walk together.

The Primates regret that it appears that this document has been leaked in advance of their communiqué tomorrow. In order to avoid speculation the document is being released in full. This agreement demonstrates the commitment of all the Primates to continue the life of the Communion with neither victor nor vanquished.

Questions and further comments will be responded to at a press conference tomorrow at 1500. Full details are available here.

The full text is as follows:

1. We gathered as Anglican Primates to pray and consider how we may preserve our unity in Christ given the ongoing deep differences that exist among us concerning our understanding of marriage.

2. Recent developments in The Episcopal Church with respect to a change in their Canon on marriage represent a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces on the doctrine of marriage. Possible developments in other Provinces could further exacerbate this situation.

3. All of us acknowledge that these developments have caused further deep pain throughout our Communion.

4. The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.

5. In keeping with the consistent position of previous Primates’ meetings such unilateral actions on a matter of doctrine without Catholic unity is considered by many of us as a departure from the mutual accountability and interdependence implied through being in relationship with each other in the Anglican Communion.

6. Such actions further impair our communion and create a deeper mistrust between us. This results in significant distance between us and places huge strains on the functioning of the Instruments of Communion and the ways in which we express our historic and ongoing relationships.

7. It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.

8. We have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a Task Group to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ.

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Primates gathering: Thursday news reports

Updated again 4.30 pm

Some news has finally emerged…

George Conger Partial sanctions for TEC [revision of earlier article]

Update from Kevin 1:30 Canterbury Time. Several sources have told me and/or confirmed the following. Please know this is the fog of war and that first reports are usually not precise and subject to change.

My Primate sources tell me their cell phones were confiscated before each session.
TEC will be sanctioned for three years. I don’t have any information about what those sanctions are.
Canada is not going to be sanctioned.
The sanctions expire after period of three years and TEC does not need to do anything to be unsanctioned.
The sanctions are not discipline. What?
Based on statements going into this meeting this would be a huge loss for GAFCON.
Based on reaction from TEC loyalist this is a huge loss for them.
In reality this is a huge loss for the un-repaired communion.

I will task George with another full report tonight.

Ruth Gledhill US Episcopal Church could face sanctions for appointing gay bishops

However the use of the word “sanctions” has been questioned by Arun Arora who tweeted:

“Acting within the love&grace of Jesus Not about sanctions but consequences in context of unanimous commitment to walk together”

and ” In context of Primates agreeing to walk together, it’s about consequences not discipline; all governed by love & grace of Jesus.”

The Church of Uganda has issued this: Archbishop Stanley Ntagali’s Update on the Primates Gathering in Canterbury

…On the second day of the gathering, I moved a resolution that asked the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada to voluntarily withdraw from the meeting and other Anglican Communion activities until they repented of their decisions that have torn the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level. They would not agree to this request nor did it appear that the Archbishop of Canterbury and his facilitators would ensure that this matter be substantively addressed in a timely manner.

Sadly, after two long days of discussions, I was concerned that the process set up for this meeting would not permit us to address the unfinished business from the 2007 Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam.

In accordance with the resolution of our Provincial Assembly, it was, therefore, necessary for me to withdraw from the meeting, which I did at the end of the second day. It seemed that I was being manipulated into participating in a long meeting with the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada without the necessary discipline being upheld. My conscience is at peace.

I have left the meeting in Canterbury, but I want to make it clear that we are not leaving the Anglican Communion. Together with our fellow GAFCON Provinces and others in the Global South, we are the Anglican Communion; the future is bright. The door is open for all those who seek communion on the basis of a common confession of our historic, Biblical faith for which the Ugandan Martyrs, Archbishop James Hannington, Archbishop Janani Luwum and many others around the world have died. We are part of a global movement of Anglicans who follow the God who “so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)…

George Conger again: Primates suspend Episcopal Church from full participation in the Anglican Communion

…The primates of the Anglican Communion have suspended the Episcopal Church from full participation in the life and work of the Anglican Communion. On 14 January 2016 a motion was presented to the gathering of archbishops and moderators gathered in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral that called for the Episcopal Church to be suspended for a period of three years.

A copy of the resolution seen by Anglican Ink calls for the Episcopal Church to lose its “vote” in meetings of pan-Anglican institutions and assemblies, but preserves its “voice”, demoting the church to observer status..

The motion asks that representatives of the Episcopal Church not be permitted to represent the Communion in interfaith and ecumenical bodies or dialogue commissions, nor serve on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, nor vote at meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council — whose next meeting is this summer in Lusaka. Unlike the recommendations of the Windsor Report, which called for the “voluntary withdrawal” of the Episcopal Church from the life of the Communion, today’s vote directs the archbishop to discipline the American church.

The Episcopal Church may not take part in the decision making process “on issues of doctrine or polity”, either, agreed the primates.

The motion further asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to “appoint a task group to maintain conversations among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of commonality, and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held in the love and grace of Christ.”

The archbishop’s task group will be tasked with implementing the dialogue and codifying what “this looks like” a source familiar with the deliberations told AI…

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Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Primates gathering: Wednesday reports

Updated again at 11 pm

So far this morning, there are no new news reports since those that appeared yesterday in mainstream UK media.

There is however a report from George Conger: Second day report — deadlock in Canterbury.

I will update this article, as I did with yesterday’s, during the day if new information emerges.

Meanwhile, in the absence of news, here are some more articles reflecting on the prospects for the meeting, from a variety of perspectives:

Jesse Zink On beyond Primates

Neil Dhingra has responded to the previous article in The Primates and the “reality” of the Anglican Communion

Independent Lucy Gorman Queer Christians like me deserve to pray without prejudice – so maybe it’s time for the Anglican Communion to split

Alan Wilson Take Your Protein Packs & Put your Helmets On

Andrew Symes Crisis in the Anglican Communion: recent history and potential outcomes.

And there are more pictures of that Monday Evensong available here.

Evening Update

Ruth Gledhill has written that Anglican Primates should ‘kick back and have fun’ because they’ll never agree on homosexuality, expert says.

John Bingham has written for the Telegraph Archbishops ‘treated like children’ in church gay crisis talks.

Some news comes in this report by Peter Ould of who came to Evensong today.

And there is further speculation on the outcome by George Conger: Handicapping the Primates sweepstake

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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Primates gathering: Tuesday reports

Updated again 11.00 pm

Telegraph Sally Hitchiner The schism in the Anglican Church might be a good thing

Daily Mail Steve Doughty Church split over gays not a disaster, says Welby: Archbishop makes comments ahead of meeting of senior bishops to attempt to secure a compromise

Primates 2016 Photos: Primates gather for Evensong

Vanguard (this is a Nigerian website) Primates 2016: Archbishop of Canterbury’s address

The Living Church John Martin What’s at Stake for Primates?

Christian Today Ruth Gledhill Sin, corruption and Islam: Justin Welby on the threats facing the Anglican Communion

Two letters on the GAFCON website which were published last week:
A Pastoral Message and Call to Prayer from Archbishop Stanley Ntagali
A Letter from Archbishop Beach on the Upcoming Primates Gathering

George Conger reports: First Day report on the 2016 primates gathering in Canterbury and the text of Archbishop Welby’s address linked above, and discussed by Ruth Gledhill, is reproduced here.

Telegraph Ruth Hunt Stonewall CEO: A split in the Anglican Church could be dangerous for LGBT people - religious or not

Church Times Madeleine Davies Our divisions are an obscenity, Welby tells Primates

Guardian Harriet Sherwood Anglican church risks global schism over homosexuality

Telegraph John Bingham Anglican summit: Traditionalists’ anger over Justin Welby’s federal plan

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Monday, 11 January 2016

Primates gathering: various perspectives

Some articles that attempt to analyse what is happening.

Bowman Walton High Stakes, Three Facts

Andrew Goddard The Anglican Communion: Consensus, Conundrum, Consequences, Conversation and Confession

Colin Coward The Primates’ meeting - a busted flush?

Economist Why the Anglicans’ meeting matters

BBC Caroline Wyatt Anglican communion’s ‘bitter divide’ over gay rights

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Sunday, 10 January 2016

Media coverage of the open letter to the archbishops

Updated Monday morning

There is a comprehensive set of links to media coverage of the letter over here.

Earlier items in previous article [scroll down]

BBC Sunday radio programme available here.
‘Last roll of the dice’ for the Anglican communion – item on Good Disagreement book from 18:25, item on Letter from 29:16

Also a short video report by Caroline Wyatt is here: Church ‘should repent’ over treatment of gay Anglicans

And a BBC World Service extended news report [starts about 5 minutes in] including comments from Bishop of Leeds Nick Baines, retired Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, and Jayne Ozanne

Guardian Harriet Sherwood Senior Anglicans call for repentance over sexual discrimination

Telegraph Patrick Foster Church must repent for ‘treating gays like second-class citizens’

Michael Sadgrove Gay Anglicans and the Primates’ Meeting: the open letter

Brother Ivo Why I signed the Letter to the Archbishops

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Open letter to the archbishops of Canterbury and York

An open letter has been sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York, signed by 105 Church of England members including many senior figures.

More information, and the full list of signatories, is at this website including a press release which is also copied below the fold.

The website also provides an opportunity for anybody who wishes to do so to add their signature to the letter.

The full text of the letter is as follows.

The Rt Hon and Most Revd Justin Welby
The Rt Hon and Most Revd Dr John Sentamu

January 7th 2016

Your Graces

We the undersigned ask you, our Archbishops, to take an unequivocal message to your meeting of fellow Primates next week that the time has now come for:

  • Acknowledgement that we, the Church, have failed in our duty of care to LGBTI members of the Body of Christ around the world. We have not loved them as we should, and have treated them as a problem to be solved rather than as brothers and sisters in Christ to be embraced and celebrated. We have made them feel second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God, often abandoned and alone.
  • Repentance for accepting and promoting discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, and for the pain and rejection that this has caused. We, the Church, need to apologise for our part in perpetuating rather than challenging ill-informed beliefs about LGBTI people, such as the slanderous view that homosexuals have a predisposition to prey on the young.

We understand that the Primates come from a variety of contexts with differing ways of interpreting the Scriptures, but we urge you to be prophetic in your action and Christ-like in your love towards our LGBTI sisters and brothers who have been ignored and even vilified for too long.

Please be assured of our prayers for you at this time, and that the world will know by our words and actions that everyone who is baptised into the faith is of equal value in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yours sincerely

PRESS RELEASE – January 10th 2016
SENIOR CHURCH FIGURES URGE CHURCH REPENTANCE FOR ‘SECOND CLASS CITIZENSTREATMENT ON SEXUALITY

Over 100 Senior Anglicans, including the Dean of St Paul’s, have signed an open letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York calling on the Church of England to repent of its ‘second class citizen’ treatment of Christians over issues of sexuality.

The letter, signed by a range of senior church figures including Cathedral Deans, retired bishops and well-known lay figures (including leading parliamentary figures and university academics), has been sent to the Archbishops ahead of a pivotal meeting of worldwide Anglican Leaders which begins in Canterbury on Monday.

In the letter, the 105 signatories call on the Church to acknowledge its failure to care for LGBTI members of the Body of Christ around the world, and to repent of its acceptance and promotion of discrimination - especially its failure to challenge harmful beliefs about sexuality. It goes on to ask the Primates to act in Christ-like love ‘towards those who have been ignored and vilified for too long’.

The signatories include eight retired bishops and a serving bishop, the Rt Revd Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham. Another prominent signatory is the Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd David Ison, who says that, in all the debate, the personal cost has often been forgotten:

‘I believe that it’s imperative for us to remember that whilst we seek to engage honestly, lovingly and respectfully with our differences of context and scriptural interpretation, our discussions are actually about the lives of sisters and brothers who have often been rejected and victimised on the grounds of their sexuality. The Church should be the first place that they feel they can come to, to find love and acceptance rather than judgement.’

The signatories include both clergy and lay people. Prominent gay Christian, Vicky Beeching, who came out in 2014 and faced significant discrimination from Christians across the world, urges the Church to think of its younger members:

‘Social and religious attitudes are shifting among young people. Many cannot morally align themselves with a Church that perpetuates LGBT discrimination. If we want to ensure the future life of our Church this issue needs urgent attention and great pastoral sensitivity. To see the Church repent of damaging attitudes would help many young people feel a reconnection with it.’

The letter, which goes on to assure the Archbishops of prayers for the Canterbury meeting, has been coordinated by Jayne Ozanne, a member of General Synod, who is keen to stress that support has come from a broad range of individuals across the church.

‘The signatories come from across the full breadth of the Anglican traditions, and from right across the country. From the Dean of Truro to the Dean of Carlisle, and from the MP for Exeter to the Master of Trinity Hall at Cambridge University and the Dean of Christ Church at Oxford University. It is so encouraging to see so many senior Anglicans now standing alongside their LGBTI brothers and sisters, recognising their woeful treatment by the Church to date.’

She added that the church had no excuse for its failure to care:

‘In 1998 the worldwide Anglican Church committed itself to minister pastorally and sensitively to all, irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals. Despite this commitment the plight of many LGBTI Christians around the world has got worse. The consequence is that we are now increasingly perceived as irredeemably “anti-gay” by an increasing number of people who simply don’t understand why the church continues to discriminate, nor why it is allowed to do so. Until we repent of our treatment of our LGBTI brothers and sisters, attempts by those within the worldwide Church to conduct meaningful “conversations” will risk appearing hollow and insincere’.

ENDS

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Saturday, 9 January 2016

More coverage of the primates gathering

Updated Saturday evening

See previous articles:
Martyn Percy calls on Archbishop Welby to issue an apology and follow up.
GAFCON prepares for the gathering of Primates
Two more articles about the primates gathering (updated earlier today)

The official website of the meeting is here.

Here is some more coverage that has recently appeared. No doubt there is a lot more to follow…

The Church Times has:

From Canada the Anglican Journal has Hiltz calls for spirit of openness at Primates’ Meeting.

UK national media coverage:

Telegraph
John Bingham
Justin Welby summit to tackle Anglican break up
‘Dire’ split looms as Anglican rivals use separate rooms at summit

Guardian
Harriet Sherwood Church of England fears gay rights talks could end global Anglican communion
and also How issue of gay rights has racked Anglican churches for decades
Andrew Brown The Anglican schism over sexuality marks the end of a global church

Economist
Resurrection?
Rowing, not rowing

Update

Mail on Sunday Jonathan Petre Senior Church liberals pile pressure on Archbishop to stop the ‘vilification’ of gay Christians

Ruth Gledhill Church must repent of “second class” treatment of gays, Anglican leaders warn Primates

For further details of this letter see next article.

And there is this article at Christianity Today written by David Ison Dean of St Paul’s: Anglicans need each other despite deep split over homosexuality.

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Monday, 4 January 2016

Two more articles about the primates gathering

Updated Saturday

First an article at ABC Religion and Ethics by Christopher Craig Brittain:
The Primates’s Dilemma: Game Theory and the Anglican Communion

…For a “Game of Mitres” is unfolding within and among the churches of the Communion. It is a contest over power and influence and over the future course of the international family of churches. It will determine who has the legitimacy to define the very nature of the Anglican tradition.

In essence, this is not a dispute over homosexuality, the authority of Scripture, or the uniqueness of Christ: it has become a power struggle over how the Communion is to be governed….

Second, another article by Martyn Percy:
Sexuality and the citizenship of Heaven

…But the problem we now face, as an Anglican Communion, is the eliding of ‘lazy’ labels that no longer do justice to the complexity of the issues and debates. ‘Inclusive’ has come to mean ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’; ‘exclusive’ has come to mean ‘conservative’ and ‘traditionalist’; and ‘orthodoxy’ now claimed by all. So there is no escaping the need for some serious theological work in moving the Communion forward.

It simply won’t do to try and re-organise the Communion on an ‘Orthodox’ model, in the hope that this will somehow give Anglican Provinces more space to continue to be un-resolved and un-reconciled. Such a proposal may be politically expedient in the short term. But the longer term consequences – planting churches in one another’s Provinces to promote ‘traditionalist’ or ‘progressive’ causes, for example – would spell the end for worldwide Anglicanism in all but name. Episcopal oversight – to be authentically catholic – needs to be local and provincial for the care and cure of souls. We cannot have Archbishops presiding over congregations several continents away, planting at will. It would result in an ecclesial and legal catastrophe.

In some respects, the current proposals being touted – namely loosening our ‘bonds of Communion’ – are a collapse of confidence in the internationalism of Anglicanism. The so-called ‘Orthodox’ model of polity being propositioned for the Communion represents a failure of theological vision, ecclesial comprehension and moral leadership. Adopting the proposed ‘Orthodox’ model would be a disaster of epic proportions for the church.

As such, it is has some equivalence to the Munich Agreement of 1938, where Neville Chamberlain secured an armistice, with his famous piece of paper. But this was a ‘peace at any price’ – and the fee, ultimately, too costly. Chamberlain’s championing of his ‘concord’ transpired to be a weak political fix, born out of fear. It did nothing to challenge the cruelty and coercion that stalked Europe. Chamberlain’s ‘fix’ just gave the oppressors and aggressors further licence to act with impunity…

Updates

There have been several criticisms of Martyn Percy’s writings from conservatives, including

Andrew Symes Martyn Percy on sex and the Anglican Communion: 20 holes in his argument.

Ian Paul Martyn Percy’s non-sense poetry on sexuality

Martin Davie I wouldn’t start from here – a response to Martyn Percy

Martyn has written a response to Martin Davie’s criticisms and you can read that here, below the fold.

I found this an interesting response, Martin. You appear to concede that human sexuality is part of our identity, so a ‘given’ in a person, and not something that is their deliberate conscious choice. That said, I fully agree that the occurrence of ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ phenomena and behaviour in the mammalian genus does not necessarily mean it is ‘good’. Warring species of apes rape and kill each other. As humans, we have a language of sin and criminality for such behaviour. We don’t aspire to copy that. Other species of mammals can conduct internecine violence between themselves, and as you say, this can mean eating your prey (i.e., cannibalism). We don’t accept that either. And to pick up on your footnote 11, above, yes of course we have ages of (sexual) consent [though these vary from culture to culture, as they have across histories], and we have sensible prohibitions on incest.

But the vast majority of developed countries have ceased to criminalize lesbian and gay relationships between consenting adults. They have done so for two simple reasons. First, these relationships are consensual, between adults, and do no harm to the persons involved; they are not regarded as problematic, disordered, damaged or socially damaging. And second, these relationships are regarded as normal and healthy expressions of love and fidelity in society; albeit that such relationships are clearly a small minority across cultures.

Left-handers are a minority too – 10% of the population, anywhere in the world. Both my parents were left-handed. Both were beaten at school – literally, knuckles rapped – for writing left-handed. Now there are over 60 Bible verses that affirm God’s preference for his right handedness, and for ours (see Exodus 15:6; Psalm 118:16). Alas, left-handers don’t do so well in the Bible: see Genesis 48:13-18 and Galatians 2:9. How do we account for left-handers? What can they do to change their orientation or behaviour? Are they equal in God’s eyes, or part of our fallen creation – or just deliberately sinful?

The question on human sexuality is this: why is a negative value (i.e., ‘sinfulness’) still being allotted to what we now know to be normal, natural human behaviours/orientations that occur across the mammalian genus, and do no harm to anyone? The principle of ‘harm’ here is crucial. Incest and rape are harmful. A same-sex relationship of fidelity that has been going for decades harms no-one.

I guess your answer here is that whilst these relationships don’t cause anyone any harm (and they don’t), God has told us he really doesn’t like them. As you know, I don’t find the (Conservative Evangelical) exegesis of biblical distaste for same-sex relationships at all convincing. But even if I did, I have to ask how we are to manage with the reality that God’s not fond of left-handers either, it would seem. And of course, as I have argued elsewhere, this is all going to get very Pelagian if we start telling Lesbian and Gay Christians in faithful loving relationships that they are either not really Christian, must be treated as second class, or are perhaps not even fully human…when the law of this land fully affirms their full and equal rights and citizenship.

Martyn Percy

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Sunday, 3 January 2016

GAFCON prepares for the gathering of Primates

Jonathan Petre reports in the Mail on Sunday: Repent or we quit say bishops in gays feud: Anglican church could split in challenge to Welby’s authority

Church leaders from Africa and Asia are threatening to walk out of a crucial meeting chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury unless American bishops drop their support for gay marriage.
Archbishop Justin Welby last year invited the leaders of the worldwide Anglican Church to the summit in Canterbury next week in a ‘make or break’ effort to avert a permanent split over homosexuality.
The row has torn the Church apart for a decade – with conservatives accusing liberals of abandoning the word of God by backing openly gay bishops and marriages for gay couples – and the Archbishop wants to broker a deal to allow both sides to co-exist peacefully.
But insiders said a hardcore of eight to 12 conservative archbishops from Africa and Asia are preparing to quit the meeting on the first morning unless the liberal Americans ‘repent’ or the Archbishop throws them out…

The GAFCON website has been very active in the past few weeks, see the following links:

And Anglican Mainstream has links to further items at Canterbury Primates’ Meeting – news and commentary

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Monday, 21 December 2015

Martyn Percy interviewed on BBC radio programmes

Updated Thursday

Following the publication last week of his essay – Sex, Sense and Non-Sense for Anglicans – the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, and a Vice President of Modern Church, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme…

For more details of this interview, and another one on BBC Radio Wiltshire, dealing mainly with the case of Canon Jeremy Davies, see Modern Church vice president responds to unchallenged homophobia on Radio 4 Sunday programme.

Thursday Update

Following the Radio 4 broadcast, there were numerous complaints to the BBC about what one of the participants had said, and the failure of the interviewer to challenge him on it. Those who complained have all received the following response from the BBC:

Many thanks for getting in touch with us about an item on BBC Radio 4’s “Sunday” programme on 20 December. Recognising your unhappiness, we have reviewed the programme and have discussed listener feedback personally with the senior editorial team responsible at Radio 4.

To explain, the discussion in question was broadcast in response to an essay written by the Very Revd Prof Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, on the debate within the Anglican Communion about the treatment of LGBT Christians.

“Sunday” is a live programme and, regrettably, this discussion ran out of time before it was possible to clarify some of the views expressed. As a result, some listeners may have gained the impression that Canon Dr Chris Sugden equated homosexual behaviour with child grooming.

We have spoken with Dr Sugden subsequently, and he has assured us that this is not the case and that he was actually conveying what he believes to be one African perspective on the churches’ and the states’ attitudes to homosexual behaviour, based on his conversations with senior religious leaders from different African countries.

We apologise for any offence caused by a lack of clarity on this point during the live broadcast. As was explained in the programme, “Sunday” will be returning to the issue when the leaders of the Anglican Communion meet in January, and exploring it in more detail.

Thanks again for getting in touch and allowing us to clarify.

Kind Regards
BBC Complaints
www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

Another article on Anglican Mainstream from Chris Sugden, published on the same day as the broadcast, also deals with this matter: Background to the Uganda Bill on aggravated homosexuality

It is becoming clear that in the lead up to the Anglican Primates’ gathering, further pressure will be brought to bear on African churches and nations on the subject of their laws on sexuality. Both President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have made direct threats from their positions of enormous power to African states that funds for their education and health budgets will be removed if the laws are not changed. To this call is now being added calls from the Episcopal Church, the Church of Canada, the Dean of Christ Church and lobby groups.
At this Christmas season, where would Jesus be found – in the courts of the rich and powerful intimidating and bullying the poor for whom their families and children are their security in countries with no welfare systems, or in the slums of Kabare in Kenya and Kampala in Uganda? Pope Francis has made clear where he stands.
There are many myths and misunderstandings on this topic to which this article addresses itself…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 21 December 2015 at 10:18pm GMT | Comments (43) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Martyn Percy calls on Archbishop Welby to issue an apology

Modern Church has issued the following press release. To access the essay itself, go to this page, and follow the link provided.

AS THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND faces another scandal this week over same-sex marriage and its treatment of clergy in same sex relationships, a senior Anglican professor has called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to apologise for the Church’s mistakes in its response to homosexuality around the world.

The Very Revd Prof Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and a Vice President of Modern Church, has published an article petitioning Justin Welby in his role as head of the global Anglican Communion.

In an essay called Sex, Sense and Non-Sense for Anglicans, Prof Percy examines the Archbishop’s approach to the Anglican Communion’s tensions over homosexuality and same-sex marriage ahead of the meeting of Anglican Primates he has convened for 11-16 January 2016 in Canterbury. Prof Percy warns that if the Church of England maintains its current course in responding to conflicts around sexuality and same-sex marriage may lead to its disestablishment:

‘For any national church to turn its face away from those who are full and equal citizens, and have their unions and marriages recognised as such, effectively augments a process of de-nationalisation and privatisation. It is a route-march towards a tribal church.’

In the Anglican Communion, which represents an estimated 85 million people in 165 countries, the Archbishop of Canterbury also faces the challenge of how to respond to religious, cultural and legal homophobia. In 41 of the 53 countries of the British Commonwealth, homosexual conduct is still regarded as criminal. Prof Percy calls for the Archbishop to acknowledge that:

‘(the) legal stigmatisation of homosexuality was largely ‘made in England’ in the nineteenth century, and imposed on cultures and emerging countries and that had not been, hitherto, homophobic. This is one of England’s less wholesome exports. The Archbishop of Canterbury could begin the Primates’ meeting by accepting responsibility for the part the Church of England has played in perpetrating this discrimination and the subsequent injustices – and publicly repenting of them.’

Prof Percy critiques Archbishop Welby’s decision to invite Archbishop Foley Beach of the breakaway Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to attend the Primates’ meeting, without consulting the official Episcopal Churches in the USA and Canada, and suggests:

‘So the Archbishop of Canterbury could begin proceedings in January by offering an apology to American and Canadian Anglicans for his intemperate gestures towards ACNA, and his lack of consultation, which has undermined them. He should further apologise for dealing in territories and spheres of authority that are simply not his to meddle with.’

He also warns against using the widespread belief that the Anglican churches of the global south now form the majority and are the only ones growing numerically to cede ‘more moral ground…to African churches…than might be judicious’ in divisive debates over sexual ethics. He calls for greater recognition of inequality and imbalance of power in the current debate:

‘Those needing protection and care are still lesbian, gay and bisexual Christians… Conservatives are not oppressed or criminalised for their opposition to lesbian, gay and bisexual people – ever, anywhere.‘

He recognises that for some Conservative Christians who argue that relationships between the sexes are prescribed and proscribed in the Bible, the issue will continue to be non-negotiable,

‘But if equal rights for lesbian, gay and bisexual people seeking to have faithful and life-long blessing of their relationship recognised and blessed is seen as matter of justice and equality, then we have a different Christian perspective to contemplate.’

Prof Percy advises against affirming dissonant voices from the global south ‘to uphold an oppressive conservative coalition that is determined to denigrate those of a more liberal persuasion’, which has placed the Church of England in alliance with developing nations but out of kilter with the rest of the UK.

He argues that the recent employment tribunal for Jeremy Pemberton – a priest who has married his male partner – which ruled that the Church of England was allowed to discriminate against Pemberton, because the church had exempted itself from UK equality legislation, ‘gave the Church of England the worst kind of Pyrrhic victory.’

This is compounded by the decision to discriminate against those being considered for future high office in the church based on any statements the candidate has previously made on same-sex relations:

‘The Church of England is, in other words, not only enshrining, but also perpetuating its own discrimination, while statistical surveys of churchgoers repeatedly show that there is growing toleration for same-sex unions in congregations and amongst clergy.’

This is not a situation unique to the Church of England, though it is particularly acute for Justin Welby as he tries to hold the Anglican Communion together in its tensions over the issue of sexuality and marriage. Archbishop Justin’s task is to appease conservative voices in the developing south of the Communion, yet at the same time not lose a whole generation of young people to the Church of England:

‘The Primates need to grasp that lesbian, gay and bisexual Christians are now an inescapable part of the Anglican Communion. In many countries across the world, they enjoy full and equal citizenship under the law. So, the Primates need to turn their critical attention to those countries in which they have influence, where this is not yet so.’

Prof Percy believes Archbishop Justin has a real opportunity to succeed where Pope Francis has recently failed in his recent Synod on the Family:

‘Simply put, no matter what his fellow Archbishops think about the right way to talk about homosexuality, there is no case for oppressing lesbian, gay and bisexual people under criminal law. In any country, anywhere.’

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Saturday, 24 October 2015

GAFCON: October pastoral letter

The latest pastoral letter from the Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council can be found here. Part of it reads:

…Speaking at a mission conference in Chicago earlier this month I was delighted by the strength and fruitfulness of the global relationships being formed through GAFCON. We met at the Anglican Church of North America’s (ACNA) Church of the Resurrection, which has bought a huge disused factory and built it into a beautiful church.

Despite many challenges, this congregation is truly a church of the resurrection! It is a wonderful demonstration of the joy, vision and spiritual vitality so typical of the ACNA. I praise God that the ACNA, birthed at our first Jerusalem Conference in 2008, is now recognised as a full Province of the Anglican Communion by Primates representing the majority of the Communion’s active membership.

My experience of this new wineskin in North America brought home to me just how much is at stake when the Primates of the Communion meet in Canterbury at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury next January. I believe this will be an historic meeting unlike anything that has gone before. There is now a shared realisation that the time for dialogue is over and there must be a decision that will settle the future direction of the Communion and free us from being dragged down by controversy and confusion.

Last week it was a joy and privilege to share in a meeting of Global South Primates in Cairo which enabled the GAFCON Primates to consider how to respond to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation. Noting the unique nature of this proposed meeting, we are agreed to go and I am confident that in doing so we will not compromise the biblical principles for which we stand…

(The September letter was linked here. )

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Monday, 19 October 2015

Global South Primates will come to Canterbury

Updated

The Primates of twelve Global South provinces of the Anglican Communion met in Cairo recently and have issued a lengthy communiqué. Key points are:

  • ACNA was welcomed as a partner province
  • They have agreed to attend the gathering of primates which the Archbishop of Canterbury (who was present at the meeting) has called for January 2016 in Canterbury

Full text of the communique is below the fold. It can also be found on the ACNA website..

Update It is now also on the Global South Anglican website.

Also, as noted in the Comments, Nigeria was not represented at this meeting.

1. We, the Primates and representatives of twelve Global South Provinces of the Anglican Communion, met in Cairo between the 14th and 16th of October. We represent the majority of the active membership of the Anglican Communion.

2. While we were disappointed that the general Global South Conference in Tunisia was cancelled at the last minute due to security reasons, we are immensely grateful to God who blessed this rescheduled Primates Meeting in Cairo.

3. We appreciate the support and warm welcome of the Egyptian government, especially in their granting of visas on such short notice. At the same time we are also thankful to the Diocese of Egypt and its staff for all the hard work that made this meeting a fruitful one.

4. We rejoiced to welcome the Anglican Church in North America as a partner province to the Global South, represented by its Archbishop, the Most Reverend Foley Beach.

5. We appreciated the participation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, in our meetings, as he was keen to listen to our concerns and share his own in a collegial atmosphere.

6. We thank God for the wonderful fellowship and times of worship we were able to share together. As we opened the word of God, we reflected on unity (John 17) as well as our responsibility as shepherds and watchmen of God’s flock (Ezekiel 34).

7. We were aware that we were meeting at a critical time in the history of our Communion. A time characterised by impaired and broken relations between Provinces.

8. We began the meetings by reviewing the history of the Global South, which began as a recommendation of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Brisbane, Australia, 1987. We also reviewed the summary of recommendations out of the Global South Meetings in Limuru, Kenya, 1994; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1997; Red Sea, Egypt, 2005; Singapore, 2010; and Bangkok, Thailand, 2012.

9. We, the Global South Anglicans, by God’s Grace, uphold the Biblical, orthodox faith of the Anglican Communion; the faith we received from Jesus Christ through the Apostles. We believe in the communion and unity of the one Holy, Universal, and Apostolic Church.

This unity is based on the truth revealed to us in the scripture; it is a unity on the essentials of faith. We also believe in principled diversity in the non-­‐essentials. “In essentials, unity; in non-­‐essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

10. The nature of the Global South Anglicans movement is this:

• It is ecclesial in the nature of the represented Provinces of the Global South.
• It is geographical as these Provinces are of the Global South.
• It is an integral part of the Anglican Communion.
• It is faithful to the faith received through the Apostles from Jesus Christ.
• It is relational to the See of St. Augustine of Canterbury; we are autonomous, yet interdependent (“autonomy-­‐in-­‐communion”), i.e. we are committed to support, listen, and be faithful to each other.

After much deliberation and discussion we agreed on the following decisions:

1. We discussed the importance of unity among us. We affirmed the importance of blessing and encouraging each other. We are committed to working together for the expansion of God’s Kingdom.

2. We were happy to receive a report from Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina, which receives Primatial oversight from the Global South. We praise the Lord for his faithful stance in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

3. We studied the letter of invitation from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the upcoming Primates meeting. We have agreed to attend the meeting, and welcome the invitation for the Primates to suggest the items of the agenda. We appreciate this very helpful approach, one that gives us a sense of ownership and responsibility to our meeting. We agreed on the agenda items which we will request.

4. We grieved one more time at the unilateral decisions taken by the last General Convention of the Episcopal Church (TEC) in the USA to redefine marriage and to accept same-­‐sex marriages (Resolutions A036 and A054). We see these latest resolutions as a clear departure from not only the accepted traditional teaching of the Anglican Communion, but also from that of the one Holy, Universal, and Apostolic Church, which upholds the scriptural view of marriage between one man and one woman. (Lambeth Resolution 1:10, 1998.)

5. We moved to continue the decade of evangelism, discipleship, and networking that we began three years ago and have decided to continue the activity of the different taskforces we established in Bangkok, 2012. These taskforces are:

• Evangelism, Discipleship, and Mission
• Theological Resources
• Economic Empowerment
• Ecumenical Relations and Interfaith Dialogue
• Youth
6. The Global South Primates re-­‐elected the current chairman, Archbishop Mouneer Anis, as well as the current Steering Committee. These positions will remain in effect until the next Global South Conference. We also gave thanks to Archbishop Bolly Lapok for his contributions as treasurer; he will be retiring in February 2016.

7. We unanimously decided to reschedule the cancelled Global South General Conference in Tunisia to the first week of October 2016. The venue has yet to be decided.

8. As we came to the end of our meeting, we were reminded by the prayer of Jesus that our unity and love witness for Him.

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:22, 23)

Archbishop Mouneer Hanna Anis
Archbishop Ian Ernest
Archbishop Dr. Eliud Wabukala
Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi
Archbishop Bolly Lapok
Archbishop Hector Tito Zavala
Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo representing Archbishop Daniel Deng
Bishop Stephen Kaziimba representing Archbishop Stanley Ntagali
Archbishop Henri Isingoma
Archbishop Foley Beach
Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje
Archbishop Stephen Than
Bishop John Chew, Global South Steering Committee member

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Sunday, 4 October 2015

Communique from the Church of Nigeria

Updated

Although the document has yet to appear on the provincial website, the full text of a communiqué from the September meeting of the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria has been published at Episcopal Cafè and also at Anglican Mainstream. Most of the document deals with local Nigerian matters, but there are two paragraphs which may be of wider interest:

ISSUE OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

The Standing Committee unanimously resolved to continue to maintain the orthodox biblical stand on this matter. It also calls on her members to defend the orthodox biblical teaching on marriage and family. On its part, the Federal Government is further enjoined to continue to resist the foreign pressure to make it rescind its stand on same-sex marriage.

THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION WORLD

While the Anglican Communion continues to be impaired by revisionist theologies of some Anglican Provinces, the Standing Committee calls the leadership of the Anglican Communion to repentance and renewed faith in Christ as expressed in the bible, the articles of religion and the Jerusalem Declaration, and further reaffirms our commitment on these as the basis of our relationship with other parts of the communion.

Update
A photo of the document is available here.

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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Lord Harries: speech in Lords debate on LGBTI Citizens Worldwide

On September 17, the House of Lords debated a motion

That this House takes note of the treatment of LGBTI citizens worldwide.

The record of the entire debate can be found starting here.

Readers may be most interested in the contribution of crossbencher Lord Harries of Pentregarth, the former Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries. His speech starts here. Two extracts follow.

…Some Christians, while not able to accept same-sex marriage as a Christian option, have, however reluctantly—some have been very reluctant indeed—come to accept civil partnerships as a valid option for society as a whole. It is that second kind of change that I believe we have to work to achieve first in relation to conservative religious institutions.
In short, church leaders and institutions in those countries where LGBTI people are criminalised have to be urged to make a distinction between teaching which may be applicable for their own members in their private lives and the basic rights and dignity that need to be accorded to everyone in their society, whatever their religion or belief. Of course, working through secular channels to challenge the laws in those countries is fundamental. But behind those laws is a culture, as the noble Lords, Lord Black and Lord Paddick, mentioned and stressed—very often, as the noble Lord, Lord Black, said, a “toxic” culture. That toxic culture is, sadly, intertwined with religion.
It is no secret that the Anglican Communion has become very frayed at the edges on this issue. That is what I wrote in the first draft of this speech, but from what we read on the front page of some papers today, “frayed” is much too weak a word. The churches in countries such as Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda are taking a very conservative and hard line and see themselves as quite apart from churches in North America. Nor is that the sum of it: the frontier of the culture wars in the USA has moved to Africa, with conservative forces in America lining up with and reinforcing the conservative forces in some African countries, as the noble Lord, Lord Black, quite rightly mentioned. Indeed there is evidence, which the Human Dignity Trust has on film, of some American churches actively proselytising in Uganda with a view to strengthening hard-line attitudes to gay and lesbian people.In those countries, the Christian churches have been and continue to be very strong. In contrast to Europe, they are a major influence in shaping the lives of people. If it is unrealistic to think of changing the minds of those churches on the issue itself in the short term, what can and should be done is to work on getting them to accept the legitimacy of the civil sphere, and, in particular, laws which protect the rights of minorities, not least LGBTI people.
The way that such people are treated in those countries is an affront to any concept of human decency, and the church must be challenged to see that its support for their criminalisation is a direct cause of this. It is an offence against the human person: the unique value and dignity of the individual, whatever their sexuality. It is a violation of everything that the Christian faith is meant to stand for. As a minimum, those states must be urged to act against those who commit acts of violence against LGBTI people…

And this:

…Behind those wider discriminatory attitudes there is a strong religious influence because, as I mentioned, most of those Commonwealth countries still have a strong Christian presence and continuing influence. That has to be addressed. I know that the main focus of diplomatic work is Government to Government, but there are opportunities to relate to wider civic society.
My concern, of which I hope that the Government take account, is that all those involved in setting up diplomatic meetings or organising conferences recognise the key role that Christian leaders play in many of the countries which have the most conservative attitudes, such as Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. If they are not to change their church teaching, they might be encouraged at least to acknowledge, and to help their churches to acknowledge, the validity of the civil sphere in its own right as safeguarding the rights and dignity of all human beings, whatever their sexuality.
I recognise that the main responsibility lies with the Christian churches here to help the churches in those countries to acknowledge the validity of this distinction, but I believe that our Government, through our normal diplomatic channels and intergovernmental agencies, also have opportunities to engage with wider civic society. Here, the Christian leaders, especially in the countries I mentioned, the Anglican archbishops and bishops, have an influential role. They themselves need to be decisively influenced to speak out for the human rights of LGBTI people…

Some extracts from two subsequent speakers in the debate may also be of interest.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab): …I also take up points made by the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, in relation to the Church. I, too, read with great interest the comments attributed to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury in today’s papers about effectively realising that the Anglican communion is probably two or possibly three different churches, and that an attempt to make them all look alike at subjects such as this is an impossible task. I hope that he succeeds in that and does not attempt to follow in the intolerance in parts of the Anglican communion, particularly in Africa, that we heard about from so many speakers, and that he concentrates on the liberal approach adopted in North America.
In the United Kingdom and Church of England, can we please adopt a sensible, non-hypocritical approach to same-sex relationships? We all know that there are very senior priests and probably bishops who are openly gay and yet unable to openly profess that because of the strange, “Don’t ask, don’t tell” rule that applies in the Church of England. The sooner the Church of England comes to terms with this and agrees that the exceptions it was granted when we passed the same-sex law should no longer apply to it, the sooner our own society will be more tolerant and a much happier place.

Baroness Northover (LD): My Lords, like others, I thank my noble friend Lord Scriven for securing this debate and opening it so effectively. We heard some extremely powerful contributions, including the searingly brave personal account from my noble friend Lord Paddick.
I am very glad that we are discussing this subject immediately after our debate on the new sustainable development goals. Key to those goals is to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 while leaving no one behind. We know that those whose sexuality is not accepted in their home countries are particularly likely to be excluded, and in poverty, so those SDGs are absolutely relevant here.
In that debate, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Sheffield made a very effective contribution. I note that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans was down to speak on the dairy industry debate that followed. So I wondered where the Bishops’ Bench was for this debate. I was very glad to hear the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, who just spoke, because I noted that there was nobody sitting on the Bishops’ Bench, even just to listen. How could that be? I assume that the Church of England must surely move on from appointing women bishops to addressing this issue of human rights. I thought that that lay behind the moves quoted today made by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury where he spoke of drawing together the communion and conversation across the whole Anglican communion. I wish them well, even if they are frayed at the edges— as the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, put it…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 2:41pm BST | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Monday, 21 September 2015

More responses to the primates gathering announcement

Updated Tuesday morning

The GAFCON Primates Council Chairman, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya, has published his September Pastoral Letter. The full text is here.

In it he says:

…Real discipleship will be marked by sacrifice and by love for Jesus Christ, and if we truly love Jesus Christ, we will love another and we will work together love the lost. It is therefore very sad that the Archbishop of Canterbury is calling a meeting of Primates to see if the Communion can be saved by making relationships between its Churches more distant rather than closer.

A statement in response to the Archbishop’s invitation can found on the GAFCON website. Let me simply say here that a global Communion embracing widely different cultures should strengthen its member Churches by mutual wisdom to see where adaptation becomes compromise, each Church being submitted to the revelation of Jesus Christ as we have it in Scripture as our final authority in all times and in all places. Instead, it has become clear over the last twenty years that the Communion is becoming a source of weakness as Churches which have rejected the truth as Anglicans have received it spread false teaching, yet continue to enjoy full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Our GAFCON movement believes in a much richer vision. We seek to unite. We recognise and embrace those who sacrifice for the sake of the gospel, not only those who persevere in the face of violent persecution but also those who persevere despite being marginalised and even forced out of their traditional spiritual homes by the rise of false teaching in the Church. To them we say ‘You are not alone’ as we join together to make Christ known…

Fulcrum has published an article by Andrew Goddard From Communion to…..Federation ? Andrew is clearly opposed to any such move.

Episcopal Café has published Editorial: Anglicanism-the muddle way. Andrew Gerns takes quite a different view.

Tuesday updates

Anglican Mainstream has published this article by Andrew Symes The wages of spin: death of truth? After discussing his own recent appearance on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme he concludes with this:

We are seeing a combination of spin, intimidation and hypocrisy as revisionist church leaders join with the secular media in creating distance between (in their narrative) ‘good religion’ of liberal Western Anglicanism, and the ‘bad religion’ of the orthodox version in the developing world. In North America the faithful confessing Anglicans have faced this, taking a public, costly stand, articulating the Bible’s clear teaching about sex, marriage and what it means to be human as part of a fully-orbed presentation of the counter cultural Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have not been ashamed of association with African Christian leaders, warmly welcoming close fellowship and even oversight from them. The Archbishop of Canterbury needs to show at the January meeting that he rejects the revisionist tactics of the BBC/Guardian/Bishop of Manchester (that is, if the GAFCON Primates accept the invitation). Otherwise English evangelical Anglicans and orthodox anglo-Catholics will need to be moving ahead organizationally along the same lines as ACNA.

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Friday, 18 September 2015

Reactions to the announcement of a primates gathering

Updated 4 pm Friday

GAFCON has issued this press release: GAFCON calls for ‘truth on the table’

Media Statement

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for a meeting of Primates in January 2016 shows that he has recognised the deep concerns of faithful church leaders around the world, including those belonging to the GAFCON movement who represent the majority of the global Communion’s membership.

GAFCON began with the first Global Anglican Future Conference in 2008 as an initiative to restore the integrity of Anglican faith and order as the Communion descended into deepening crisis.

We are now a global family standing together to restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion with a strength and unity that comes from our common confession of the Lord Jesus Christ, not merely from historic institutional structures.

It is on this basis that the GAFCON Primates will prayerfully consider their response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter. They recognize that the crisis in the Communion is not primarily a problem of relationships and cultural context, but of false teaching which continues without repentance or discipline.

Consistent with this position, they have previously advised the Archbishop of Canterbury that they would not attend any meeting at which The Episcopal Church of the United States or the Anglican Church of Canada were represented, nor would they attend any meeting from which the Anglican Church in North America was excluded.

It is therefore of some encouragement that the Archbishop of Canterbury has opened the door of this meeting to the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, Archbishop Foley Beach. He has already been recognized as a fellow primate of the Anglican Communion by Primates representing GAFCON and the Anglican Global South at his installation in Atlanta last October and he is a full member of the GAFCON Primates Council.

In the end, our confidence is not in any structural reorganisation, useful though it may be, but in the saving grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and in the abiding truth of the Bible. That is what empowers us and this is the assurance we bring to our broken world.

Editorial in the Guardian The Guardian view on the Anglican communion: catching up with reality

Andrew Brown Dissolving the Anglican communion would simply be a recognition of reality

Andrew Lightbown Thoughts on ‘our’ Anglican communion; Justin’s potential genius.

Mark Langham Too early to call time on the Anglican Communion

Ruth Gledhill How to understand Justin Welby’s vision for Christian unity

Peter Carrell Just In Time: ABC Changes Communion to Federation

Peter Stanford Justin Welby’s last throw of the dice won’t save the church

Irish Times Editorial Anglicanism in crisis: Canterbury’s risky move

Trevor Grundy RNS Proposal to loosen Anglican Communion ties draws mixed responses

Updates

Ian Paul A bluffer’s guide to the Anglican Communion controversy

David Moxon Explaining the Anglican Primates’ Meeting

Tom Ferguson It’s The End of the Anglican Communion As we Know It - And I feel Fine

Martyn Percy Diversity not divorce: Anglicans must aim for a broad church if they can’t agree

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 18 September 2015 at 8:12am BST | Comments (26) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Archbishop of Canterbury calls for Primates' Gathering

Updated again 10 am Thursday

From Lambeth Palace: Archbishop of Canterbury calls for Primates’ Gathering

Wednesday 16th September 2015

The Archbishop of Canterbury today wrote to all 37 Primates inviting them to attend a special Primates’ gathering in Canterbury to reflect and pray together concerning the future of the Communion.

The meeting, to be held in January 2016, would be an opportunity for Primates to discuss key issues face to face, including a review of the structures of the Anglican Communion and to decide together their approach to the next Lambeth Conference.

The agenda will be set by common agreement with all Primates encouraged to send in contributions. It is likely to include the issues of religiously-motivated violence, the protection of children and vulnerable adults, the environment and human sexuality.

Archbishop Justin Welby said: “I have suggested to all Primates’ that we need to consider recent developments but also look afresh at our ways of working as a Communion and especially as Primates, paying proper attention to developments in the past.

“Our way forward must respect the decisions of Lambeth 1998, and of the various Anglican Consultative Council and Primates’ meetings since then. It must also be a way forward, guided by the absolute imperative for the church to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, to make disciples and to worship and live in holiness, and recognising that the way in which proclamation happens and the pressures on us vary greatly between Provinces. We each live in a different context.

“The difference between our societies and cultures, as well as the speed of cultural change in much of the global north, tempts us to divide as Christians: when the command of scripture, the prayer of Jesus, the tradition of the church and our theological understanding urges unity. A 21st-century Anglican family must have space for deep disagreement, and even mutual criticism, so long as we are faithful to the revelation of Jesus Christ, together.

“We have no Anglican Pope. Our authority as a church is dispersed, and is ultimately found in Scripture, properly interpreted. In that light I long for us to meet together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to seek to find a way of enabling ourselves to set a course which permits us to focus on serving and loving each other, and above all on the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ.”

The proposed dates for the meeting are 11-16 January 2016.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will also extend an invitation to Archbishop Foley or his representative to be present for part of the time.

See also Response from the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for a special Primates’ meeting in January 2016

And see this response from ACNA: A Statement from Archbishop Beach on the Proposed Primates Gathering

Initial media coverage:

John Bingham Telegraph Justin Welby launches ‘last throw of the dice’ to avert worldwide Anglican split

Andrew Brown Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury plans breakup of divided Anglican communion headline was quickly changed to Archbishop of Canterbury plans to loosen ties of divided Anglican communion and story then was revised and expanded for front page of newspaper edition. The paper headline is Archbishop in high stakes bet to save church.

Madeleine Davies Church Times Crunch time for the Communion as Welby summons Primates to Canterbury summit

And on the Archbishop Cranmer blog WELBY BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO THE CRUMBLING ANGLICAN COMMUNION

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Archbishop of Canterbury moves to heal Anglican divide

Jessica Elgot Guardian What is the Anglican communion and why is it under threat?

Desmond Busteed Premier Radio Welby calls meeting of world’s Anglican leaders in bid to prevent schism over gay marriage includes audio of interview with Bishop Alan Wilson

BBC Archbishop calls talks over divisions in Anglican communion

Atlantic Monthly The Archbishop of Canterbury: Dissolving the Anglican Church to Save It

New York Times Meeting of Anglican Leaders Could Lead to a Looser Federation

Steve Doughty Daily Mail Welby launches bid to tackle ‘deep divisions’ in the Church after writing to other leaders of world’s Anglican churches to summon them for talks

Ian Johnston Independent Archbishop of Canterbury calls for Anglican Church to ‘abandon idea it has global consensus’

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Sunday, 9 August 2015

Josiah Idowu-Fearon interview on BBC radio

The BBC radio programme Sunday broadcast today contains a feature on the Anglican Communion:

Trevor Barnes reports on the future of the Worldwide Anglican Communion as its new Secretary General Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon takes up his post. William [Crawley] interviews the Archbishop about the challenges ahead and whether the Anglican Communion can continue in its current form.

The programme recording can be found here. This item starts about 11.5 minutes into the programme.

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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Reform and GAFCON respond to Episcopal Church marriage decisions

Updated to add Ugandan statement

Reform has issued this press release: Reform Response to the US Episcopal Church Resolution on Marriage

July 7th, 2015

The Episcopal Church in the USA redefined the definition of marriage and approved liturgy for the blessing of same-sex marriages.

Reform shares the Archbishop of Canterbury’s deep concern about the stress this action will cause the Anglican Communion. We echo his call to respond to the Lord Jesus’ prayer for his followers, that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (John 17.21).

Jesus’ prayer for unity was “for those who will believe in me through [the apostles’] message.” (John 17.20). The unity for which Jesus prays is built on the foundation of the teaching he revealed and entrusted to his apostles, recorded for us in the Scriptures. Jesus is not silent on the definition of marriage. “Haven’t you read,” he said to the religious leaders who sought to redefine marriage in his own day, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19.4-5)

In rejecting this definition of marriage, the bishops of the US Episcopal Church have rejected Jesus’ own teaching. As such, they have denied the faith they profess to teach, forfeiting any right to be regarded as true bishops of the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus warned us to “watch out for false prophets” who come in his name (Matthew 7.15, 22)

Their actions will entrench still further the division in the Anglican Communion. We are grieved at their dishonouring of Jesus’ name. We are distressed by their discouragement of faithful believers, especially those who struggle with same-sex attraction and those who live in cultures where pronouncements from liberal Western church leaders endanger their lives and discredit their witness to Jesus Christ.

We stand with faithful Anglicans in the US and around the world, who continue to pray to Almighty God: “grant, that all they who do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and live in unity, and godly love.” (Book of Common Prayer).

GAFCON has issued this press release: TEC decision ‘a mistake with serious consequences’.

TEC decision ‘a mistake with serious consequences’

A Response to The Episcopal Church of the United States’ (TEC) decision to make ‘Same – Sex Marriage’ official

The recent decision of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, to remove reference to gender in the marriage canon and introduce rites for conducting ‘same-sex marriage’, is a mistake with serious consequences.

The problems for the rest of the Anglican Communion have already been noted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. But the fundamental reason that it is a mistake – and the reason why it is so destabilizing – is that it is a significant departure from Holy Scripture. This is a departure which Christians are not at liberty to make.

With this action, TEC has officially rejected the Anglican Communion’s standard, Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which expresses the Communion’s received and historic understanding of marriage and sexual relationships. TEC has now taken the pattern of behaviour which Lambeth describes as ‘incompatible with Scripture’ and equated it with Holy Matrimony.

It may be claimed that TEC is modelling ‘two integrities’, but the Church of God finds its integrity in teaching and living according to the received Word of God. The determination of TEC to press ahead with changes which ignore the serious concerns of many others in the Communion, in some cases for their physical safety, shows very clearly the inadequacy of initiatives designed to create reconciliation without repentance.

The recent decision of the United States Supreme Court that claims ‘same sex marriage’ is a constitutional right puts pressure on all churches in the United States, but in different ways all of our Provinces face the temptation to compromise with the surrounding culture. It is within this context that we commend the Anglican Church in North America for their willingness to speak with courage, truth, and charity. Being part of a global Communion should always be such a source of mutual encouragement to faithful witness, not a source of hurt to that witness.

The GAFCON movement remains totally committed to the renewal of this global witness and the restoration of its integrity, knowing that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and that all need to hear the good news of God’s redeeming love in Jesus Christ. It welcomes and recognizes Anglicans who through no fault of their own have had to disaffiliate from their original province over serious matters of biblical truth. The struggle and spirit of the remnant church must be kept alive.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop of Kenya and Chairman, The GAFCON Primates Council

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Primate of All Nigeria and Vice Chairman, The GAFCON Primates Council

6th July 2015

Update
The Archbishop of Uganda has also issued a statement: Abp’s Statement on same-sex marriage in TEC and USA. The full text is copied below the fold.

Archbishop of Uganda’s statement

The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States of America to change the definition of marriage is grievous. There is a saying, “When America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold.” As a religious leader in Uganda, I want to assure all Ugandans that we will do everything we can to promote the good moral health of our people and resist such immoral viruses that may try to infiltrate our people.

Likewise, the most recent decision of the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) to change the definition of marriage is even more grievous. At best, it sprang from a desire to extend pastoral care to members of its church who experience same-sex attraction. Pastoral care, however, that is contrary to the Bible’s message is, ultimately, cruel and misleading.

The Church of Uganda broke communion with the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) in 2003 when they unilaterally changed the received Biblical and moral teaching of the Anglican Communion on ordination. The Primates of the Anglican Communion unanimously agreed – including the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church – that, should TEC proceed with the consecration as Bishop of a divorced father of two living in a same-sex relationship, it would tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level, which is exactly what has happened over the past twelve years.

In spite of TEC’s 2006 resolution that expressed their “regret” at “straining” the bonds of affection in the Anglican Communion, they have, nonetheless, continued their march toward dismantling the Christian faith and morals, culminating in their recent decision to change the definition of marriage – something that was “given by God in creation.”

Likewise, Jesus said, “At the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Mark 10.6-9).

The definition and meaning of marriage is not something that can be defined by voting. It is something that is given by God in general revelation and in special revelation, and it is for us as human beings and, especially, the Church, to simply receive and follow. The fact that 2+2 equals 4 cannot be changed by a vote or decree. Neither can the meaning of marriage between a man and a woman be changed by a vote.

What St. Paul wrote to Timothy is as relevant today as it was almost 2,000 years ago. “For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” (2 Timothy 4.3-4)

The Church of Uganda was blessed to play a small role in the creation of the Anglican Church in North America as an alternative and biblically faithful Anglican Church in North America. Through our GAFCON fellowship, a number of Archbishops from Global South Provinces recognized the validity of the Anglican Church in North America, and we support them in their resolution to promote healthy and spiritually strong families and marriages between one man and one woman.

Sadly, the so-called “Instruments of Communion” in the Anglican Communion have not been able to restore godly order to the Communion, nor do they seem to have the will to do so. While we despair at the path TEC has taken and their imperialist commitment to export it to the rest of the Anglican Communion, we do not lose hope. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13.8) “We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Corinthians 4.5)

The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali
Archbishop of Church of Uganda.
7th July 2015

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Thursday, 2 July 2015

More about the Episcopal Church decisions on equal marriage

British mainstream news coverage of this story is slight:

Christian Today has this report by Ruth Gledhill Episcopal Church confirms change in law to allow same-sex marriages. And here is her earlier report on Justin Welby’s earlier statement.

George Conger has the rollcall of the House of Bishops in their voting on the marriage canon.

Criticism of the decision from conservatives has begun to appear:

The Covenant blog of The Living Church carries another very detailed article, this time by Zachary Guiliano titled The substance of the argument. Like the Hylden article before it, this is well worth reading.

On the other side of this debate, there is an article at Huffington Post by Susan Russell ‘We Do!’ — Episcopalians OK Marriage for Same-Sex Couples.

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Friday, 26 June 2015

GAFCON criticism of Scotland, USA, and England

Two recent releases from GAFCON:

A news report of the recent meeting in Northern Ireland: GAFCON: A moment and a movement says that former Sydney archbishop Peter Jensen, GAFCON general secretary, spoke about recent developments in Scotland and the USA:

…“In the last few days, two Anglican Provinces have spoken words of choice. In Scotland, the General Synod of the Episcopal Church has chosen to omit the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman from its canons, thus signalling an acceptance of so-called gay marriage. It is a choice to rewrite the Bible and so the Christian faith. In Ireland, the House of Bishops, following the referendum, has endorsed once more the teaching of the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman for life. The contrast is stark.” he said.

“Of course there are those who argue that the two positions can be held in tension in a denomination with mutual respect, recognising that sincere people will differ over the interpretation of the Bible. But let me offer a very serious warning: the cost of taking such a position is unacceptably high. It is to say that the Biblical testimony is so unclear that it can be read in several ways, whereas in fact the Biblical position is crystal clear. When the testimony of the bible is rendered so murky, the authority of the Bible is fatally compromised. The middle position is a vote for an unacceptable compromise…”

The June Pastoral Letter from the GAFCON Chairman, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya, includes comment on an event in the Church of England:

In contrast, there are too many examples in the Church of weakness in the face of the subtle challenges of cultural and financial pressure. In Africa we are still too dependent in our thinking on outside agencies. This makes us vulnerable to relationships designed to buy influence and damages the integrity of our witness, while in the more economically developed world there is too often a fear of being out of step with secular culture. In this context I cannot avoid mentioning a very disturbing event in England. On Saturday 20th June, a Canon of York Minster blessed a ‘Gay Pride’ march of homosexual activists from the Minster steps, causing a senior clergyman in the Diocese of York to say “York Minster’s leading the way in the Gay Pride march is symbolic of what the Church of England’s leadership is doing generally on this issue – leading people away from the clear teaching of the Bible and the Gospel.”

Houston McKelvey, the former Dean of Belfast, had written about the Northern Ireland meeting before it happened, see Comment - An unhelpful and unnecessary forthcoming event.

The English event mentioned in the second link above was reported here.

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Archbishop of Canterbury responds to Church of Nigeria

In April, we reported the appointment of a new Secretary-General at the Anglican Communion Office. See here, here, here, and also here.

On 30 April the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) published a letter concerning this appointment.

…The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) as a Province is a founding member of GAFCON/FCA, and subscribed to The Jerusalem Declaration, 2008. The Most Rev’d Josiah Idowu-Fearon’s statement: ‘I have never supported the law in Nigeria that criminalizes the gay community and I will never support it,’ clearly indicates that he is not in accord with the theological and doctrinal posture of the Church of Nigeria. His acceptance of the post of ACC General Secretary neither received the approval of the Church of Nigeria, nor does it in any way affect the Church of Nigeria’s theological posture on the issues of homosexuality and gay movement. Thus, the Most Rev’d Josiah Idowu-Fearon represents himself at the ACC, and not the Church of Nigeria.

He has taken an early retirement from his Episcopal responsibilities in the Church of Nigeria with effect from 01 July 2015. We wish him every blessing.

The ACC, the general public and the International Community of the Religious should please note the stand of the Church of Nigeria on the Most Rev’d Idowu-Fearon’s personal acceptance to serve as ACC General Secretary.

Today, the Archbishop of Canterbury has published this Response to the Church of Nigeria on Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon [emphasis added]

…The Archbishop of Canterbury’s attention has been drawn to a statement forwarded to him from the Office of the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, on the above subject. This statement was first posted on the Church of Nigeria website April 30, 2015.

The appointment of the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) is made by the Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) with the approval of the President of the Standing Committee, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

It is an individual appointment which follows a due process of advertising, short listing and interviews. In the advertising process emphasis was placed on giving it the widest possible publicity. For instance, in addition to putting it on the ACO website and the Church Times, the advertisement was sent to all Primates and Provincial Secretaries to encourage their members and others to apply. The latter was done to reach all parts of the Communion.

Thirty-one applications were received, spread through all continents, and included candidates from varied disciplines and backgrounds. Five Bishops from around the Anglican Communion applied. The interview panel was an international mix of laity and clergy, including a Primate. The role of the Archbishop of Canterbury is by regulation limited to approving the name put forward by the panel. In support of this he met with each of the shortlisted candidates.

Archbishop Justin Welby said: “I am delighted that the Most Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon emerged as the clear appointee from this transparent process. This highly competitive process has produced a Secretary General who is an eminent scholar with an international track record of reconciling people, especially of different faiths. It is very good news that he comes from the largest and one of the most vigorous Provinces of the Communion.”

Archbishop Fearon’s view on the criminalisation of people of same gender attraction is fully in line with Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon interviewed

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon has been interviewed in the Nigerian newspaper, The Guardian.

My Job Is To Help Africa Understand Europe And Europe To Understand Africa, Says Idowu-Fearon

H/T to Episcopal Café who reported on this earlier: An interview with Archbishop Idowu-Fearon

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Monday, 20 April 2015

More coverage of the GAFCON primates meeting in London

We previously covered this event here.

Media coverage:

Church Times Madeline Davies GAFCON plans to touch more Anglican lives

Christian Today Ruth Gledhill Conservative Anglicans poised for ‘leap forward’, deny schism

Telegraph John Bingham Bishops back Church of England breakaway congregations

Ekklesia Savi Hensman Breakaway Anglicans’ ‘narrow way’

The Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines has written a critical blog article here: The real Church of England. Please read the whole article, but here is an extract:

…For a long time I have wondered if the Church of England ought not to be a little more robust in countering the misrepresentation and manipulation (of reality) that emanates from Gafcon. I am not alone. But, I have bowed to the wisdom of those who (rightly) assert that we shouldn’t counter bad behaviour with bad behaviour, and that we should trust that one day the truth will out. I am no longer so sure about the efficacy of such an eirenic response. I think we owe it to Anglicans in England and around the Communion to fight the corner and challenge the misrepresentation that is fed to other parts of the Anglican Communion. (I was once asked in Central Africa why one has to be gay to be ordained in the Church of England. I was asked in another country why the Church of England no longer reads the Bible and denies Jesus Christ. I could go on. When asked where this stuff has come from, the answer is that this is what a bishop has told them.)

The Gafcon primates say:

We are uniting faithful Anglicans, growing in momentum, structured for the future, and committed to the Anglican Communion.

Which means what – especially when they claim ‘gospel values’ and speak and behave in ways that do not reflect values of honesty, integrity and humility? And on what basis is the bulk of the Church of England reported (within Gafcon circles) as being unfaithful? And who writes the stuff they put out? Who is directing whom – who is pulling whose strings? And what would be the response if I wrote off as “unfaithful” entire provinces of the Anglican Communion where there was evidence of corruption, love of power, financial unfaithfulness or other sins? Does the ninth Commandment still apply today, or only where convenient? Is sex the only ethical matter that matters, or does breaking the ninth Commandment get a look in?

The Gafcon primates get their information (and money) from somewhere. The ‘take’ on the Church of England reflects simply the perceptions of a few. I bet the wider picture is not represented. They insinuate that some clergy and churches (decidedly congregations and not parishes – and thereby lies another issue) feel marginalised or fearful – treated like ‘pariahs’ according to Gafcon – so cannot be identified. Really? How pathetic.

I was once at a meeting of evangelical bishops in England when three English Gafcon men came to meet us. They had stated that this was the case and that bishops were giving their clergy a hard time. We asked for evidence so we could consider it before we met. Bishop Tom Wright and I were just two who were outraged at the misinformation, misrepresentation and selective re-writing of history presented to us. When we began to challenge this, we were told that we shouldn’t get bogged down in the detail and could we move on. And they got away with it. I am not making this up…

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Friday, 10 April 2015

GAFCON primates to meet in London

Updated Friday

In his Easter Pastoral Letter Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council notes that:

…The GAFCON Primates Council will soon meet in London, from the 13th to the 17th April, and we shall take counsel together so that our movement can grow strongly and be equipped to fulfil the vision of restoring the Anglican Communion’s commitment to biblical truth. It will also give us a special opportunity to meet with leaders of the British and Irish branch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and the Anglican Mission in England. Please uphold us in prayer during this time…

George Conger reports in AMiE on the agenda for London GAFCON primates meeting that the ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach will be among those attending, and he writes:

Next week’s London meeting is expected to discuss the issue of whether to support a parallel Anglican jurisdiction akin to the Anglican Church in North America for England, and how such support should be shown.

In his 23 September 2014 pastoral letter to the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), the group’s leader, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya wrote: “It is becoming clear that we must see the once missionary nations of the West as now themselves mission fields.” He further stated “the focus of the struggle for biblical faithfulness has shifted from North America to England.”

To achieve this end, the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) had been “authorised by the GAFCON Primates to work within and, where necessary, outside the structures of the Church of England as a missionary society”.

Details of the Anglican Mission in England were reported previously, here.

Update
A communiquè has been issued. The full text is available here. The portion relevant to England is reproduced below the fold.

FCA UK & Ireland, formed at our initiative, continues to welcome and provide support for faithful Anglicans in the British Isles. We are particularly concerned about the Church of England and the drift of many from the Biblical faith. We do not regard the recent use of a Church of England building for a Muslim service as a minor aberration. These actions betray the gospel and discourage Christians who live among Muslims, especially those experiencing persecution.

We support Bishop John Ellison in resisting the unjust and uncharitable charges brought against him by the Bishop of Salisbury, and in view of the Great Commission, we note the sad irony that this former missionary bishop to South America now finds it necessary to defend himself for supporting missionary activity in his own country. We continue to encourage and support the efforts of those working to restore the Church of England’s commitment to Biblical truth. Equally, we authenticate and support the work of those Anglicans who are boldly spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and whose circumstances require operating outside the old, institutional structures.

We remain confident in the great good of gospel ministry, and we see what happens when actions impacting the Communion are taken without the priorities of the faith once delivered.

Wherever they are and whatever their circumstances, GAFCON continues to unite faithful Anglicans under a common confession of Christ’s Lordship and a desire to make disciples.

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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Josiah Idowu-Fearon's views on the Anglican Communion

Titusonenine has published a transcript of a lecture given by Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon in Toronto in 2013 titled The Instruments of Unity and the Way Forward.

The original audio recording can be found here, at the website of The Cranmer Institute.

The transcript can be read from this link.

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Saturday, 4 April 2015

More about the new Secretary General at the ACO

Today the Anglican Communion Office has published two further announcements:

Appointment of Anglican Communion Secretary General: Statement from ACC Chair

The full text of this is reproduced below the fold.

Response to misrepresentation of remarks: Statement from the Rt Rev Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon

Statement from the Rt Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon responding to misleading stories concerning a sermon in 2014 and an interview in 2007:

In Benin on Sunday 23rd March, 2014 at St. Mathew’s Cathedral where Knights and their wives were being admitted, I encouraged them to continue to uphold family values in their homes bringing up their children as Christians in order to make a difference in their society. I then went on to challenge the National Assembly, comparing corruption with homosexuality that they had just criminalized. I wished the National Assembly had spent all that time and energy to criminalize corruption rather than homosexuality which is not damaging the Nigerian society as is corruption.

I have never supported the law in Nigeria that criminalizes the gay community and I will never support it. The Church is called to love and protect everyone without discrimination, ‘love the person but hate the sin” whatever the sin may be, corruption, sexual sins of all kinds, misuse of power or anything else.

In this I believe I am affirming the position of the Anglican Communion in Lambeth 1:10.

In a Dallas interview in 2007 the question was about the Bible and culture. I did say by way of explanation that the West brought the Christian Faith to us and our forefathers embraced the faith finding it corroborated our view on marriage. Today, the same West are telling us that the position has changed. To the African, that is confusing, hence the difficulty between the Western church and the African church.

Again, my position is clear. For the majority of African Christians, the Bible judges culture, including African culture. As African Christians we must accept other cultures and the way they also understand the Bible’s relationship with culture. I accept and promote a culture of respect for such differences.

The Rt Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon

Statement from the Rt Revd James Tengatenga, Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, regarding the appointment of the Rt Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon as new Secretary General of the Anglican Communion:

The Panel set up for the appointment of the new Secretary General of the Anglican Communion acted with due diligence and was unanimous in appointing the Rt Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon.

The Communion is in need of leadership at the ACO from the majority world, a situation that is long overdue. Bishop Josiah has demonstrated in his life and in his person the integrity required of the position and the fact that he is African also demonstrates the recognition of the place of Africa in the Communion.

The Communion is called to move on and we consider that Bishop Josiah is a gift to all for facilitating this movement into the fullness of the Communion’s witness in a divided, broken world. There is more than one issue to address and while some may question his suitability, many in the Communion from different convictions on the issues and both sides of the Atlantic Ocean can vouch for his integrity and commitment to reconciliation.

As I said at the announcement of his appointment, it is Bishop Josiah’s experience in this context and commitment to the life of the Anglican Communion that commends this appointment at this challenging time in our life together.

In responding to the appointment of Rt Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon as Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, some have drawn attention to an article in a Nigerian newspaper concerning an address he gave in Benin on Sunday 23 March 2014.

The article misrepresents and distorts his comments in the sermon in which he challenged the National Assembly on the time and energy spent in criminalizing homosexuality and not the corruption that damages Nigerian society. The views attributed in the article to Bishop Josiah do not reflect what is widely known to be his position, both within Nigeria and amongst those who know him.

In a statement today he said:

“I have never supported the law in Nigeria that criminalizes this community and I will never support it. The Church is called to love and protect everyone without discrimination, ‘love the person but hate the sin’, whatever the sin may be, corruption, sexual sins of all kinds, misuse of power or anything else.”

It is well known that Bishop Josiah holds a conservative view on sexual relations outside of traditional marriage and holds to the commitments expressed in Lambeth 1:10. Through his involvement in the Windsor Report and the wider life of the Communion he has sought to be a bridge builder and interpreter between different cultures and views.

This is the context in which an interview in Dallas in 2007 should be read. As someone who seeks to assist understanding he has in his statement affirmed his commitment to this task:

“For the majority of African Christians the Bible judges culture, including African culture. As African Christians we must accept other cultures and the way they also understand the Bible’s relationship with culture. I accept and promote a culture of respect for such differences.”

May the “Way of the Cross” we walked yesterday remind us what the Church is about. May we listen to where the Spirit of our crucified saviour is leading us. Now is a moment of decision.

The Rt Revd James Tengatenga

Chair, Anglican Consultative Council

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 4 April 2015 at 12:19pm BST | Comments (22) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 2 April 2015

New Secretary General at the Anglican Communion Office

The Anglican Communion Office announces: Nigerian bishop to be the Anglican Communion’s next Secretary General.

The Most Revd Dr Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon has been appointed to be the next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.

Dr Idowu-Fearon currently serves as Bishop of Kaduna in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) where he has earned a global reputation in the Church for his expertise in Christian-Muslim relations.

He was selected out of an initial field of applicants from Oceania, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas…

For some background on him, see these two items:

A Discussion with Bishop Josiah Fearon of Kaduna (2010)

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon awarded the Cross of St Augustine (2013)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 2 April 2015 at 9:17am BST | Comments (53) | TrackBack
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Monday, 12 January 2015

Making of Women Bishops in Kenya

Canon Francis Omondi wrote this article which appeared in The Star: Making of Women Bishops in Kenya

…There is a swelling tide in support for women bishops among Christians. Kenyan Anglicans are visibly ready for women bishops. Already the Diocese of Eldoret in its Synod sitting in December 2013 had approved overwhelmingly to elect women bishops. No one epitomises the mood of the support for women bishops than Rev Elijah Yego, an influential clergy of the diocese who was the face of opposition to women becoming priests, was unusually vocal in support for women bishops in this synod, having been won over by what he termed ‘their superior ministry’.

The Diocese of Maseno West, in their August 2014 ordinary synod session, approved unanimously the ordination of women bishops. Justifying the vote the Bishop of Maseno West and Dean of the ACK, the Rt Rev Joseph Wasonga said the Kenyan church understood the ministry to be a functional office; “Ministry belongs to all who are baptised, be they men or women, and as such no one can deny the other an opportunity to serve in whatever capacity,” he said.

But the more significant development was the formal nomination of a woman priest Rev Canon Rosemary Mbogo, the Provincial Secretary of ACK and also chairman of NCCK, to vie for bishopric election in Embu. She was second clergy to be nominated after Rev Dr Lydia Mwaniki for Kirinyaga diocesan. Had she been successful we would have had our first Kenyan woman bishop in 2014 before the CoE…

There has already been comment made about this in an article by Colin Coward headed Making women bishops in Kenya, the impact on GAFCON and implications for human sexuality divisions. He notes:

…The Primate of Kenya, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, although Chairman of the conservative GAFCON Primates’ Council, supports moves to ensure that the path is clear to enable AKC to elect its first woman bishop. Last year he wrote to the bishops of the Anglican Church of Kenya asking that they approve amendments to the language of the church’s constitution erasing any doubts that women priests are eligible for election to the episcopate.

The question of the ordination of women as priests, let alone bishops, is a potential make or break issue for GAFCON. It’s a divisive issue for ACNA and a potent issue of division between the powerful Nigerian Church which opposes the ordination of women and other African Provinces which do ordain women and will remain fully committed to their full inclusion. Some of the Kenyan bishops who support women in the episcopate also support a change in Church attitudes to LGBTI people.

It often looks to those of us campaigning for the full inclusion of LGBTI people that we face an incredibly powerful and intransigent conservative block in GAFCON, a block which repeatedly claims ultimate power because it ‘represents’ the majority in the Anglican Communion. In reality, GACON faces a challenge potentially far more divisive than human sexuality. The place of women in the ministry of the Church affects 51% of the world’s population. Divisions over the ordination of women could be the downfall of GAFCON and change the whole dynamic within the Anglican Communion.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 12 January 2015 at 9:33am GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Understanding international church sexuality conflicts

Savi Hensman has written a research paper, entitled Better understanding of international church conflicts over sexuality. It is published by Ekklesia.

There is an abstract and table of contents here, and the full paper can be downloaded as a PDF file from this link.

Savi has also written a blog post on the topic, see How do we negotiate the global church sexuality conflict?

In various denominations, debates on sexual ethics and treatment of minorities have sparked heated international controversy. This is sometimes seen as a conflict between a ‘liberal’ west and ‘conservative’ south. But the reality is more complicated.

Both acceptance of, and hostility towards, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people can be found across continents and cultures. And, while those most opposed to celebrating, or even allowing, same-sex partnerships sometimes claim to be protecting their people from the influence of the west, their actions serve to reinforce global power imbalances and western domination…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 28 December 2014 at 4:11pm GMT | Comments (22) | TrackBack
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Friday, 19 December 2014

IASCUFO gives advice to Canadians on marriage policy change

The Anglican Journal reports that an Anglican Communion body urges church not to change marriage policy.

The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) has urged the Anglican Church of Canada not to amend its marriage canon (church law) to allow the marriage of same-sex couples, saying such a move would “cause great distress for the Communion as a whole, and for its ecumenical relationships.”

The IASCUFO’s statement came in response to a request from the Canadian church’s Commission on the Marriage Canon for an opinion about proposed changes to Canon 21 that would allow for same-sex marriages. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, decided IASCUFO would be the “most appropriate” body within the Communion to deal with such a question.

The Anglican Church of Canada has the prerogative “to address issues appropriate to its context,” the IASCUFO said, but it noted the ramifications of “a change of this magnitude” for the Communion and its ecumenical partners. In a letter addressed to Canon Robert Falby, chair of the marriage canon commission, IASCUFO members said they were unanimous “in urging you not to move beyond your present policy of ‘local option,’ ” which allows dioceses to choose whether or not they will offer same-sex blessings. They noted that the absence of a General Synod decision about the blessing of same-sex unions or same-sex marriages “has given space for the rebuilding of fragile relationships across the Communion.”

If the 2016 General Synod decides to approve a motion to change the marriage canon, the Anglican Church of Canada will become the first province in the Anglican Communion to allow same-sex marriage. The Episcopal Church, which in 2012 authorized “for trial use” a liturgy for blessing same-sex relationships, has no provision for same-sex marriage…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 19 December 2014 at 11:20pm GMT | Comments (61) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

When will there be another Lambeth Conference?

The website Anglican Ink has published a story which is headlined: Lambeth Conference cancelled. This turns out to be based upon the following item from ENS:

House of Bishops leaving Taiwan with ‘hearts and minds expanded’

…In response to a question from Rochester Bishop Prince Singh about budgeting for the next Lambeth Conference and speculation about when and if the gathering will be held, Jefferts Schori told the bishops that the conference will probably not happen in 2018, which would have fit the conference’s traditional 10-year cycle. No planning or fundraising has taken place for a 2018 meeting, she said. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby “has been very clear that he is not going to call a Lambeth [Conference] until he is reasonably certain that the vast majority of bishops would attend. It needs to be preceded by a primates meeting at which a vast majority of primates are present,” she said. “As he continues his visits around the communion to those primates it’s unlikely that he will call such a meeting at all until at least a year from now or probably 18 months from now. Therefore I think we are looking at 2019, more likely 2020, before a Lambeth Conference.”Whenever the next Lambeth Conference occurs “it will have a rather different format,” she predicted. For intstance, it is likely that spouses will not attend “simply because of scale issues and regional contextual issues. Bishops’ spouses fill very different roles in different parts of the communion and the feedback from the last one was that it did not serve the spouses particularly well,” Jefferts Schori explained…

According to Anglican Ink:

The 2018 Lambeth Conference has been cancelled. The precarious state of the Anglican Communion has led the Archbishop of Canterbury to postpone indefinitely the every ten year meeting of the bishops of the Anglican Communion.
A spokesman for Archbishop Justin Welby told Anglican Ink that as the archbishop had not yet met with each of the primates of the communion, he would not be commenting on the news. Since his installation last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury has travelled extensively and plans on visiting the 37 other provinces of the Anglican Communion within the first 18 months of his term of office…

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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

30 African Theologians & Scholars Back Gay Equality

From Mamba Online:
30 African Theologians & Scholars Back Gay Equality

More than 30 African scholars, theologians, faith leaders, activists and students have issued a powerful declaration in support of LGBT equality on the continent.

The leaders from nine African countries gathered in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, between 28 to 31 August.

They met for an “historic consultation on human sexuality, religion and equality,” wrote Dr Michael Adee, Director of the Global Faith & Justice Project.

The event was organised by Adee, who is also an elder in the US Presbyterian Church, and Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian Anglican priest, from Political Research Associates.

The countries represented included Cameroon, Lesotho, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe…

The full text of the KwaZulu Natal Statement is copied below the fold.

The KwaZulu Natal Declaration

We, African religious leaders, scholars, and members of civil society are highly concerned with the well-being of our beloved continent and with the demonization and criminalization of sexual minorities on the continent,

We, African religious leaders, scholars, and members of civil society met for a consultation in KwaZulu Natal on August 28-31, 2014, in response to the recent contentious debates regarding human sexuality on the continent. Recognizing that we are part of the global community, we met in South Africa, a country with a constitution that recognizes and protects the rights of sexual minorities,

Aware of the traditional leadership roles that academics, religious institutions, and churches in Africa have played in promoting social justice and human dignity,

Troubled by the misuse of religion to further marginalize and exclude sexual minorities from society and faith communities,

Noting the recommendations on human sexuality from the World Council of Churches 10thAssembly to the Central Committee, and the subsequent approval of the Terms of Reference for the Human Sexuality Reference Group to walk together in a pilgrimage of Justice and Peace from 2014-2021,

Observing the resolution on violence and other human rights violations based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity in Africa issued in April 2014 by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights,

Acknowledging the deaths and threats of death, the violence, discrimination, that sexual minorities, women, and children face on the continent,

We call on all religious institutions, especially Christian Churches

  • To care for the least amongst us as Christ has done,
  • To create safe spaces for encounter with the sexual diversity within the body of Christ,
  • To talk openly about sexual diversities and adversities in human sexuality,
  • To break out of the vicious cycle of shame, secrecy, violence, and silence that demeans, demonizes and kills,
  • To openly condemn violence against sexual minorities.

We call on all African scholars and academic institutions

  • To take full responsibility to reflect and produce credible scholarship on human sexuality,
  • To conduct research that gives momentum to African local institutions, the Church, and indigenous knowledge and practices to further the understanding of human sexuality,
  • To incorporate issues regarding human sexuality in the development of knowledge,
    *To guide the public in understanding sexual diversity.

We call on all our governments in Africa

  • To take seriously the mission of the state to protect all citizens, including those with disabilities, and all communities affected by, and living with HIV and AIDS,
  • To seek legislative and social reforms that further the protection of and improvement of the livelihoods of sexual minorities,
  • To dialogue with African local traditional, political and religious institutions to promote human dignity,
  • To eliminate colonial sodomy laws and to oppose attempts to further criminalized sexual minorities.

We call on all Africans on the continent and in the diaspora

  • To respect the human rights of all people including sexual minorities,
  • To oppose and desist from violence directed toward sexual minorities, and to support families and communities of sexual minorities.

We call on the international community and partners

  • To respect while supporting Africa’s journey and processes towards a better understanding of human sexuality and socio-economic, political and religious inclusion of sexual minorities,
  • To denounce all misleading information on issues of human sexuality.
  • To support our commitment to produce and disseminate scholarly and general publications throughout Africa and beyond.

We, African religious leaders, scholars, and members of Civil Society assembled in this KwaZulu Natal consultative gathering commit to uphold these recommendations. We also commit to share this vision with all partners and Africans across the continent and the diaspora and to be inclusive in our journey toward a better understanding and respect of the diversity of human sexuality through research, advocacy, publications and consultations.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 16 September 2014 at 10:58pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Archbishop Herft talks about Multiculturalism

The Archbishop of Perth, the Most Reverend Roger Herft is preaching at Southwark Cathedral on Saturday 13 September at the Anglican Catholic Future national festival Life Abundant.

Here is a talk he gave in July to the Diocese of Melbourne ministry conference, entitled Chutney and Chow mein – making disciples in a multicultural Australia. There is much food for thought here for Anglicans in other countries, including the Church of England.

(Other materials from that conference can be found here.)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 3 September 2014 at 12:09pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Friday, 22 August 2014

South Carolina affiliates with the Global South

This announcement has been made jointly by the Global South Primatial Steering Committee and the Diocese of South Carolina led by Bishop Mark Lawrence.

Diocese of South Carolina: Global South Welcomes Diocese of South Carolina

…As you will recall the 223rd Diocesan Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina meeting at Christ Church in Mt. Pleasant on March 14-15, 2014 unanimously accepted the offer of the Global South Primates Steering Committee for Provisional Primatial Oversight.

Now this morning we receive with gratitude this letter from the Global South Primatial Steering Committee. It is their acceptance of our request for this gracious relationship. I trust you will be heartened as I have been by their welcome of us “… as an active and faithful member within the Global South of the Anglican Communion, until such time as a permanent primatial affiliation can be found.” It is my joy to share it with you…

Letter from Archbishops Anis and Ernest: Announcement regarding the Diocese of South Carolina.
Also available at Global South Anglican.

…The Global South of the Anglican Communion welcomes the unanimous request of The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, XIV Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, and the Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina to “accept the offer of the newly created Global South Primatial Oversight Council for pastoral oversight of our ministry as a diocese during the temporary period of our discernment of our final provincial affiliation.”

The decision of the Diocese of South Carolina was made in response to the meeting of the Global South Primates Steering Committee in Cairo, Egypt from 14-15 February 2014.1 A recommendation from that meeting stated that, “we decided to establish a Primatial Oversight Council, in following-through the recommendations taken at Dar es Salam in 2007, to provide pastoral and primatial oversight to dissenting individuals, parishes, and dioceses in order to keep them within the Communion.”

Recognizing the faithfulness of Bishop Mark Lawrence and the Diocese of South Carolina, and in appreciation for their contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, the Global South welcomes them as an active and faithful member within the Global South of the Anglican Communion, until such time as a permanent primatial affiliation can be found…

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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Archbishop of Uganda says anti-gay law still needed

Last Friday, the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 was declared invalid by a Ugandan constitutional court, because it had been passed by Parliament without a proper quorum.

See reports of this, such as Uganda Anti-Gay Law Struck Down by Court in the New York Times or Uganda anti-gay law declared ‘null and void’ by constitutional court in the Guardian.

There are now reports that Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, Primate of Uganda, has called for its prompt re-introduction:

Religion News Service Uganda’s Anglican leader doubles down on anti-gay law

Uganda’s top Anglican leader criticized the constitutional court for striking down the country’s controversial anti-gay law on a technicality, saying the law is still needed to protect children and families from Western-imported homosexuality…

Episcopal News Service Uganda’s Anglican leader says anti-gay law still needed

…Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali called the decision a disappointment for the Church of Uganda, religious leaders and many Ugandans.

“The ‘court of public opinion’ has clearly indicated its support for the Act, and we urge Parliament to consider voting again on the Bill with the proper quorum in place,” Ntagali said on Aug. 4.

Uganda’s religious leaders had widely supported the law, but opposed an earlier clause threatening the death penalty for some homosexual acts. Most Ugandan church leaders say homosexuality is against God’s order and African cultures. Such a law was needed to protect families, children and youth, the leaders stressed.

“I appeal to all God-fearing people and all Ugandans to remain committed to the support against homosexuality,” said Ntagali, whose church cut ties with the Episcopal Church, the United States-based branch of Anglicanism, after the election of an openly gay bishop in 2003…

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Sunday, 3 August 2014

Bishops call for Iraqi Christians to be given asylum in Britain

The Observer reports: Bishops urge David Cameron to grant asylum to Iraqi Christians

The Church of England has demanded that the British government offers sanctuary to thousands of Christians fleeing jihadists in northern Iraq, warning that ignoring their plight would constitute a “betrayal of Britain’s moral and historical obligations”.

A number of bishops have revealed their frustration over David Cameron’s intransigence on the issue, arguing the UK has a responsibility to grant immediate asylum to Iraqi Christian communities recently forced to flee the northern city of Mosul after militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) threatened them with execution, a religious tax or forced conversion.

On Monday, France responded to the so-called religious cleansing by publicly granting asylum to Christians driven from Mosul. The Anglican Church argues the UK has an even greater responsibility to intervene, citing its central role in the 2003 allied invasion, which experts say triggered the destabilisation and sectarian violence that shaped the context for Isis to seize control of much of northern Iraq.

The bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev David Walker, told the Observer: “We would be failing to fulfil our obligations were we not to offer sanctuary. Having intervened so recently and extensively in Iraq, we have, even more than other countries, a moral duty in the UK.

“Given the vast amounts of money that we spent on the war in Iraq, the tiny cost of bringing some people fleeing for their lives to this country and allowing them to settle – and who, in due course, would be an asset to our society – would seem to be minuscule.”…

The story goes on to quote the bishops of Worcester and West Yorkshire and the Dales as well.

On Wednesday, the Archbishop of Canterbury had requested that his homepage photo be changed to the Arabic letter for “N” in solidarity with persecuted Christians suffering in Iraq. See Stand with the Archbishop in solidarity with Iraq’s Christians.

A list of the Christian organisations in Mosul that have been affected by this persecution can be found here: All 45 Christian Institutions in Mosul Destroyed or Occupied By ISIS.

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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury speaks about Gaza

Lambeth Palace has published this Statement from Archbishop Justin on Gaza.

Archbishop of Canterbury calls on leaders in Israel and Gaza to immediately end the violence, and urges Anglican churches both to pray and offer support to all victims of the conflict.

Following a recent update from staff at the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken publicly (after many private contacts) of his concern for the deteriorating situation in Gaza….

Follow the link above to read the full statement.

At the end, there is also a link to the Emergency appeal from the Diocese of Jerusalem for the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza. This page contains numerous further links including to pages which give details about how to donate.

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Monday, 16 June 2014

Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis meet in Rome

Press releases from Lambeth Palace:

Press release from Vatican: Pope’s address to Archbishop Justin

Reports in The Tablet:

We stand together as disciples sent to heal a wounded world, Pope tells Welby

Welby in Rome challenges Churches to take risks and cast off ‘institutional prestige’

The Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome writes:

Encouraging more sharing and collaboration

On Sunday 15th June the Archbishop of Canterbury will be launching the new IARCCUM (International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission) website, at the Anglican Centre in Rome, as part of his visit to the Pope on Monday 16th. This is a new opportunity for us to know and to encourage much more sharing and collaboration between Anglicans and Roman Catholics around the world: now we will have a portal to refer people to and to receive global updates and information to move us forward.

The IARCCUM website

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Friday, 30 May 2014

Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue

Updated Friday evening

The Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue has just finished its fifth annual meeting. This was held at Coventry Cathedral. Participants came from nine countries in Africa (including four primates), Canada, and the USA.

The full six-page statement that they issued is here: A Testimony of Our Journey toward Reconciliation

Media reports:

ENS Anglican Bishops in Dialogue issue testimony and also African, North American bishops claim ‘foundational call as reconcilers’

ACNS Anglican Communion bishops in dialogue issue testimony

Anglican Journal Coventry meeting ‘providential’

The Anglican Church of Canada hosts this home page for the consultation: The Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue

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Sunday, 27 April 2014

GAFCON criticises Church of England again on same-sex marriage

Updated again Wednesday morning

The GAFCON Primates Council, which met in London this week, has issued a Communiqué, which after dealing with a variety of other issues, contains this passage:

…Meeting shortly after the recognition in English law of same sex marriage, which we cannot recognise as compatible with the law of God, we look to the Church of England to give clear leadership as moral confusion about the status of marriage in this country deepens. The Archbishop of Canterbury has rightly noted that the decisions of the Church of England have a global impact and we urge that as a matter of simple integrity, its historic and biblical teaching should be articulated clearly.

7. We are particularly concerned about the state of lay and clerical discipline. The House of Bishops’ guidance that those in same sex marriages should be admitted to the full sacramental life of the church is an abandonment of pastoral discipline. While we welcome their clear statement that clergy must not enter same sex marriage, it is very concerning that this discipline is, apparently, being openly disregarded. We pray for the recovery of a sense of confidence in the whole of the truth Anglicans are called to proclaim, including that compassionate call for repentance to which we all need to respond in our different ways…

The following names appear at the foot of the statement:

Primates present in London were:
The Most Rev’d Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop, Episcopal Church of Sudan
The Most Rev’d Robert Duncan, Archbishop, Anglican Church in North America
The Most Rev’d Stanley Ntagli, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Uganda
The Most Rev’d Nicholas Okoh, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Nigeria (Vice Chairman)
The Most Rev’d Onesphore Rwaje, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Rwanda
The Most Rev’d Dr Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya (Chairman)
The Most Rev’d Tito Zavala, Presiding Bishop, Province of the Southern Cone

Also present:
The Most Rev’d Dr Peter Jensen, Diocese of Sydney, General Secretary
The Most Rev’d Peter J. Akinola, Church of Nigeria, Trustee
Most Rev’d Emmanuel Kolini, Anglican Church of Rwanda, Trustee
The Most Rev’d Dr Ikechi Nwosu, Anglican Church of Nigeria

The Mail on Sunday has picked this up and reported it as Church of England split fear as African bishops speak out over clergy flouting a ban on same-sex weddings.

Another quote from the communiqué (emphasis added):

…We are equally concerned for the affected communities in Chile from the recent earthquake, terrorist attacks in Kenya, and the backlash from the international community in Uganda from their new legislation

This appears to be confirmation that GAFCON in general, and ACNA in particular, endorses the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014.

Updates

Religion News Service reports Conservative Anglican leaders back Uganda anti-gay law.

WASHINGTON (RNS) Leaders of the conservative wing of the worldwide Anglican Communion equate the experiences of Ugandans who support a new anti-gay law with those of victims of an earthquake or a terror attack.

The Global Anglican Future Conference — made up chiefly of Anglican archbishops in Africa, Asia and Latin America — concluded a two-day meeting in London on Saturday (April 26) with a statement that expressed concern for violence in South Sudan and Northern Nigeria. It then said:

“We are equally concerned for the affected communities in Chile from the recent earthquake, terrorist attacks in Kenya, and the backlash from the international community in Uganda from their new legislation.”

That legislation, signed in February by Ugandan president President Yoweri Museveni, specifies life in prison for some homosexual acts. It also outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and requires citizens to report to the police anyone suspected of being gay.

President Obama has called the bill “odious,” and the U.S. Embassy staff has avoided meetings and events with any Ugandan government agencies since the signing.

But despite the GAFCON statement’s equation with catastrophes, the archbishops’ response seems more concerned with finances than outright support for the Ugandan law. The “backlash” line could be a reference to the loss of $140 million in financial aid and project support from the World Bank, the U.S. and other countries. According to IRIN, which covers humanitarian issues, this included $6.4 million intended for the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, which backed the legislation…

Episcopal Cafè has this: Why won’t ACNA say it is wrong to put gay people in prison?

…The Anglican Church in North America is led by a man who was so deeply offended by the ordination of a gay bishop that he decided to break away from the Episcopal Church and take tens of thousands of other people with him, but who is comfortable with church leaders who have successfully urged their governments to round up LGBT people and their supportive friends, and put them in jail.

For years, breakaway Anglicans have tried to downplay the role that simple anti-gay bigotry has played in their movement. They’d say that they didn’t hate gay people, they just didn’t think they should be able to be ordained or married. Or they’d say that homosexuality was just one symptom of the Episcopal Church’s drift from Biblical truth. Duncan’s unwillingness to say in a simple and straightforward way that he doesn’t think gay people and those who do not inform on them should be put in jail gives the lie to these arguments, as does the obsession with homosexuality evident in statements from the GAFCON primates council.

What we are seeing now is a comfortable white American religious leader who cannot bring himself to say that it is wrong to throw LGBT Africans in jail because he doesn’t want to offend the African archbishops who have been his allies.

Duncan is in a bind. On one hand, the bogus claim that the Anglican Church in North America is part of the Anglican Communion depends entirely on its relationships with Anglican provinces led by archbishops who support anti-gay legislation. On the other hand, ACNA’s leaders in this country know that their church won’t survive if its homophobic roots and willingness to countenance human rights violations that advance its institutional interests become widely known. His strategy at the moment seems to be to sign on to homophobic documents that circulate widely within the Anglican Communion while hoping that the U. S. media and the wider public doesn’t notice…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 27 April 2014 at 2:45pm BST | Comments (62) | TrackBack
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Monday, 14 April 2014

Same-Sex Marriage: Anglican Mainstream takes a position

The Trustees of Anglican Mainstream, whose names are listed here, have issued this: The Ministry Continues: A Position Statement from the Trustees of Anglican Mainstream.

The following extract is only part of a much longer statement:

…6. We well understand that an appeal to the Bible will not in itself carry the day in our contemporary secular society. We will therefore continue to deploy four additional arguments which demonstrate why the 2013 Act is a serious mistake in public policy which needs to be reversed.

  • Marriage – between a man and a woman – is good for human flourishing, an aspect of God’s common grace for the whole of humanity irrespective of people’s faith position. Public policy should be directed towards supporting marriage, not undermining it.
  • Homes centred upon such marriages provide the best context for the bringing up of children, so that they can know the love and support of a mother and a father. Public policy should be directed towards supporting such homes for the benefit of children, whose needs should have priority.
  • There is well-founded evidence of the physical and emotional harm which can be a consequence of sexual relations between persons of the same sex. Footnote 1
  • Scientific enquiry into sexuality has shown that, rather than being a given, it is fluid, the product of a combination of factors including particularly nurture and experience Footnote 2 [and see also] J Michael Bailey. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 78 (3), March 2000, pages 524-536; M Frisch, A Hviid. ‘Childhood Correlates of Heterosexual and Homosexual Marriages: A National Cohort Study of Two Million Danes’, Archives of Sexual Behaviour 35 (5), October 2006, pages 533-547; The Social Organization of Sexuality, University of Chicago Press, 1994, pages 307, 309; Female Bisexuality From Adolescence to Adulthood: Results From a 10-Year Longitudinal Study Developmental Psychology 2008, Vol. 44, No. 1, 5–14
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 14 April 2014 at 6:19pm BST | Comments (28) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 12 April 2014

Further discussion of the LBC radio phone-in controversy

Updated Sunday morning (scroll down for new item)

Kelvin Holdsworth Understanding the Justin Welby Radio Phone-In Controversy. One extract:

…It looks as though the Archbishop is trying to set up a “reconciliation process” when he has already decided that the best outcome would be for the church to adopt a policy of blessing gay couples in Civil Partnerships but not affirming anything to do with same-sex couples and marriage. The trouble with this is that it won’t do for those who have come to the view that gay people and straight people should be dealt with equally because they are fundamentally equal in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of God.

The suspicion is that the Archbishop of Canterbury and many others with him, is trying to address this question on the presumption that gay people are in some way disabled (or worse, dysfunctional) straight people. Does he believe that gay people just can’t help themselves and so something must be done for them? It may be to misjudge him terribly, but it feels very much like it.

The reality is that those who have campaigned long and hard for marriage to be opened up to same-sex couples have drunk deeply at the Civil Rights well of justice. They (we!) believe gay people and straight people should be treated equally because of a fundamental existential equality between gay people and straight people.

Any hope that the church could have satisfied people by blessing civil partnerships but refusing to affirm marriages contracted by gay and lesbian couples is 10 years out of date. Had the churches affirmed Civil Partnerships in the first place then they might be in a better place to affirm them now. The argument can be endlessly made that Civil Partnerships and Marriage confer the same rights. The trouble is, most people now accept that Rosa Parks was right. Even if the bus does get you to the same destination, travelling at the front of the bus and travelling at the back of the bus are not the same thing…

Jim Naughton reports on the North American trip: Welby’s assertion on massacre follows him “far, far away in America” and then offers this analysis:

…The grave in Bor [South Sudan] does not seem to be the mass grave that the archbishop was referring to in the radio broadcast in the United Kingdom last week when he initially stated that the victims had been murdered due to events “far, far away in America.” Indeed, the ENS story carries a “correction” that reads: “a correction was made to this article to remove reference to the location of the mass grave where Welby said he had been told Christians were murdered out fear that they might become homosexual because of Western influence.”

Welby had previously said that he would not reveal the site of the mass grave he spoke of on the radio to protect the community. His refusal to give further details on the massacre also means that his claims cannot be independently evaluated, and that his analysis of why the massacre in question occurred cannot be challenged.

Meanwhile, The Church Times has published a story in which it says that Sudanese bishops “confirmed … that Christians in their country face a violent reaction if the Church of England permits same-sex marriage and blessings.”

However, one of the three Sudanese bishops interviewed disputes this assertion and the quotation used in the headline of the story is not spoken by any of the bishops whom the Church Times interviewed.

Additionally, one of the bishops is said to have “verified” Welby’s experience at a mass grave that Welby has not said was in Sudan, and which at least one British religion reporter has placed in Nigeria.

One can appreciate Welby’s concern for the safety of Christians in Africa, and some readers may even be persuaded that it is necessary to discriminate against LGBT people in the West to save lives in Africa, but Welby cannot be given a pass for introducing 12-15 year -old right wing talking point into the debate over LGBT equality as though it were a proven fact, and then refusing to provide the details that would allow for a critical examination of his claim. (Secular human rights groups have documented many massacres in Sudan and Nigeria, and attributed none to the actions of gay-friendly churches.)

In his radio interview last week, the archbishop said: “It’s about the fact that I’ve stood by a graveside in Africa of a group of Christians who’d been attacked because of something that had happened far, far away in America.”

Nothing he has said since then indicates that he doesn’t believe this to be the case. But everything he has said indicates he is unwilling to actually defend this assertion. That’s dirty pool.

Mark Oakley wrote a letter to the editor of the Guardian How the Church of England can tackle anti-gay violence

Archbishop Welby is right to understand that what is said by the Church of England transmits messages (Welby links killings in Africa to gay marriage, 5 April). The prejudice that kills Christians thought to be gay-friendly is the same as that which kills LGBT people themselves in increasing global homophobic crimes from Russia to Nigeria. Whether failing to support gay marriage here because of the risk it places African Christians under is shrewd or simply handing power to the oppressor can be debated. I am convinced that if such support isn’t forthcoming, those who commit acts of anti-Christian violence are likely to find other reasons to do so. However, one urgent move is now essential – to speak out in support of decriminalising homosexuality across the Commonwealth and wider world. To do this in a joint statement with Pope Francis would be a powerful communication of the church’s non-negotiable belief in God-given human dignity and underline the clear distinction between morality and criminality – just as Archbishop Ramsey recognised when he supported decriminalisation in this country. It would also help reduce the abuse and murder of LGBT folk that criminalisation is perceived to legitimate. As Alice Walker wrote, “no person is your friend who demands your silence”.

Canon Mark Oakley
London

Update

Bishop Gene Robinson writes What the Archbishop of Canterbury Should Have Said About Gay Rights

…So how might the Archbishop have responded differently? Perhaps something like this: “Look, the church must consider many things in discerning whether a change is warranted in our consideration of blessing the marriages of same-sex couples: what scriptures says, how the church’s historical understanding has developed, and our own experience of gay couples’ relationships. We are in the midst of that discernment right now. In addition, we must always be aware that our decisions here in England are being watched by the world’s 80 million Anglicans and their enemies; sometimes being used as an irrational and unwarranted excuse by those enemies for violence against Christians. I have seen the graves of those who have suffered because of these unjust and irrational connections between LGBT people and murder, and it breaks my heart.

Even so, we cannot give in to the violent acts of bullies and must discern and then pursue God’s will for all of God’s children. Violence and murder of Christians is deplorable, but so is violence against and murder of LGBT people. And as the spiritual leader of the world’s Anglicans, permit me to point out, it is not helpful for some of our own Anglican archbishops, bishops and clergy to join in support of anti-gay legislation and rhetoric in their own countries, thereby fueling the hatred and violence against innocent LGBT people, who are being criminalized and murdered for who they are. These are complicated issues, and with God’s guidance, we will discern what is right to say and do.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 12 April 2014 at 4:00pm BST | Comments (118) | TrackBack
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Friday, 11 April 2014

Church Times on the links with South Sudan

The Church Times has a news report by Madeleine Davies ‘We face attacks if C of E marriage policy changes’

BISHOPS in South Sudan have confirmed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s warning that Christians in their country face a violent reaction if the Church of England permits same-sex marriage and blessings…

On Tuesday, the Bishop of Maridi, the Rt Revd Justin Badi Arama, verified this report. “Gay relationships in the Church of England would mean the people of South Sudan going back to their traditional religions which do not take them to same-sex practice,” said. “Secondly, there would be continued violence against Christians [in the fear] that they would bring bad and shameful behaviour or homosexual practice, and spread it in the communities.”

Any change would lead to a rift, the Bishop of Wau, the Rt Revd Moses Deng Bol, warned on Wednesday. “The Church of England blessing gay marriages will be dangerous for the Church in South Sudan, because people here, like many African countries, strongly oppose gay marriages. And so they would want the Church here to break relationship with the Church of England.

“As a Church, we need to remain united as a body of Christ. We must be mindful of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world when taking decisions, because what affects one part of the body affects the whole body as well.”

Bishop Arama concurred: “As South Sudanese, we very much value the partnership, and all the efforts of the Church of England to support the Church in Sudan during all the difficult moments in our history. Same-sex practice would distort this long history, because light and darkness cannot stay together.

“It is our prayer that the Church of England should not follow the world into darkness, but lead the world into light.”

But the online version of this story has been updated since the paper edition went to press, with this additional passage, expressing a slightly different view:

On Thursday, the Bishop of Cueibet, the Rt Revd Elijah Matueny Awet, said that, if the Church of England blessed gay relationships, Christians in South Sudan would “go back and worship their traditional beliefs and Gods [rather] than worshipping the true God. . . Islam will grow rapidly in South Sudan because of the pagan believing on same-sex marriage.”

He argued, however, that it would not lead to reprisals in South Sudan, which would take a different path to that pursued in the West.

“We have been described by English people and American that we are a rude community . . . The question now, is who is rude now? Is it the one who is claiming his or her right? The one who is forcing people to accept his behavior?”

The leader column, which is behind the paywall, includes the following comment:

…But gay people are victims, too, and Archbishop Welby’s comments on LBC (News) involved the Church of England in their plight. It is unfair to accuse him, as some have, of allowing the C of E’s policy on same-sex marriage to be dictated by evil men. The nearest parallel is with hostage-takers. You do nothing to upset them, all the while resisting the desire to appease them. It is an agonising situation, felt keenly by the Archbishop, despite his ambivalence, to put it no more strongly, on the subject of same-sex relationships.

For all that, it is unlikely that the Church of England’s restraint will be matched by the murderous militias in Sudan, the DRC, and elsewhere. It assumes an unlikely degree of patience and sophistication on the part of the gunmen to suppose that they might understand the nature of the Church’s relationship with the state, its tolerance of principled dissent among its clergy, and the lack of a juridical bond between the different provinces of the Communion. The assumption that Christianity and Western decadence are cut from the same cloth has long plagued the Church’s relationships with its neighbours in Africa, the Middle East, and countries such as China…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 11 April 2014 at 7:34am BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 10 April 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury visits Canada and USA

Updated Thursday evening

The Archbishop of Canterbury is this week visiting Canada and the USA.

See Lambeth Palace press release: Archbishop of Canterbury visits Anglicans in Canada and the USA

From Canada, the Anglican Journal reports: Welby explains gays and violence in Africa remarks. An extract:

…Q: Were you in fact blaming the death of Christians in parts of Africa on the acceptance of gay marriage in America?

A: I was careful not to be too specific because that would pin down where that happened and that would put the community back at risk. I wouldn’t use the word “blame”— that’s a misuse of words in the context. One of the things that’s most depressing about the response to that interview is that almost nobody listened to what I said; they mostly imagined what they thought I said…It was not only imagination, it was a million miles away from what I said.

Q: So what exactly were you saying?

A: What I was saying is that when we take actions in one part of the church, particularly actions that are controversial, that they are heard and felt not only in that part of the church but around the world…And, this is not mere consequentialism; I’m not saying that because there will be consequences to taking action, that we shouldn’t take action. What I’m saying is that love for our neighbour, love for one another, compels us to consider carefully how that love is expressed, both in our own context and globally. We never speak the essential point that, as a church, we never speak only in our local situation. Our voice carries around the world. Now that will be more true in some places than in others. It depends on your links. We need to learn to live as a global church in a local context and never to imagine that we’re just a local church. There is no such thing…

The Anglican Journal also reports Welby & Hiltz discuss issues of sexuality, reconciliation

When Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby met with the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, he was “very interested” in the work of the Anglican Church of Canada’s commission on the marriage canon because of the reality that the Church of England will have to wrestle with the issue of same-sex marriage following its legislation in the U.K.

“Notwithstanding the declared position of the Church of England at this moment, he [Welby] is very conscious, of course, that there’s going to be a fair amount of pressure from within the Church of England to at least have some discussion around that [same-sex marriage],” said Hiltz in an interview with the Anglican Journal. “He hoped that we would stay in touch over the work of the commission, [because] inside the Church of England, they will need to have the same conversation.”

Welby was also very interested in the issue of reconciliation as it relates to the history of the Canadian church’s relations with indigenous people and its involvement in the Indian Residential School System. “As he said now, in the Church of England, things are coming to light in terms of abuse in church schools…they’re kind of at that early stage,” and Welby wanted to know how the Canadian church responded. “They’re compelled [to respond] and they will not stand in anyone’s way,” said Hiltz, adding that Welby was interested in the church’s 1993 apology to former residential school students for the harm and pain inflicted through the schools.

On the issue of the marriage canon, Hiltz said Welby was “very appreciative” that the commission will conduct a broad consultation across the Anglican Communion and with its ecumenical partners on the matter of changing the Canadian Anglican church’s marriage canon (church law) to allow same-sex marriage…

The archbishop then moved to Oklahoma, where he delivered this speech: Archbishop Justin’s speech at the Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace conference, Oklahoma, USA

ENS reports:

Archbishop says church must ‘join its enemies on their knees’

VIDEO: Archbishop explains comments made to LBC radio

…During the news conference, Welby noted that he had made similar comments in the past and that he was trying to say that “at its heart is the issue that we’re a global church.”

“The Anglican Communion is a global church. And that wherever we speak, whether it’s here or in Africa, or in Asia or in any of the 143 countries in which we are operating, in which there are Anglicans, we never speak exclusively to ourselves but we speak in a way that is heard widely around the world,” he said. “And so the point I was making, because the question was essentially about why don’t we just go ahead and do gay marriages, we have a profound disagreement within the Church of England about the right thing to do, whether to perform gay marriages or have blessing of same sex marriages where the marriage has taken place in the civil system.”

Same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales on March 29. Parliament by a comfortable majority passed The Marriage (Same-sex Couples Act) in July 2013.
The Church of England is “starting two years of facilitated conversation about this and we are not going simply to jump to a conclusion, to preempt that conversation in any direction at all but we need to spend time listening to each other, listening to the voices around the communion,” Welby said.

The example he gave during the call-in program of his experience at the site of the mass grave “was of a particular example some years back which had had a great impact on my own thinking,” he said during the news conference…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 9:12am BST | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 6 April 2014

other reactions to the LBC radio phone-in

Updated Monday evening

Here are two articles which are supportive of the line taken by Archbishop Justin Welby on Friday:

Ian Paul has written What did Justin Welby say about gays and violence in Africa?

Andrew Goddard has written a long article The Archbishop, Gay Marriage and Violence: What are the issues?

The latter goes on to consider in some detail how the issues raised in the interview should be considered in the event that the Church of England, as a result of the “post-Pilling conversations” does eventually decide to make some change in its present official positions.

Update

Here are two more articles:

Cranmer Archbishop Justin gets handbagged by Ann Widdecombe

Phil Groom Epitaph for an Archbishop? For fear of sailing over the edge of the world, he never put out to sea

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Saturday, 5 April 2014

bloggers react to the LBC radio phone-in

Updated again Sunday 6 pm

Andrew Brown has written at CiF belief Welby’s argument against gay marriage has strength. But we can’t yield to moral blackmail

…Archbishops are not supposed to be Peter Singer-style utilitarians. And it seems to me that there are two things wrong with the Welby position from the point of view of Christian ethics. The first is surely that, while we have the right to make our own decisions about whether or not to yield to moral blackmail, we have no right to make them for other adults.

You might object that an archbishop is there to make decisions for other people, so different rules apply. But he is also there to set an example. And this leads to the second Christian objection to this kind of blackmail. Christians are called on to do what is right, and to trust that God will bring good out of it even if evil immediately follows. Failing to do what you believe is right is, in some lights, a kind of blasphemy.

Welby does not, in fact, believe in gay marriage, so he’s off that particular hook. And he has already said enough in favour of gay people to disgust the Ugandan and Nigerian churches. I don’t think you can accuse him of cowardice on this issue, even if he’s wrong…

Rachel Mann Justin Welby, Homosexuality and Unintended Consequences

…I do not doubt Justin Welby’s experience. As noted in a previous blog post I have lived in a country which criminalizes homosexuality. Changing Attitude and other organizations have consistently flagged up how very dangerous it is to be gay in the majority world.

In this blog post I want to examine the underlying logic of the Archbishop’s claims and question and problematize them. I apologize if my reasoning seems blunt and crude. I am currently fasting as part of EndHungerFast and my mind is not working at full tilt. Equally, I am very open to comments which help sharpen up my thinking in this area…

Symon Hill Welby, homophobia and the lives that are at risk

Savi Hensman Archbishop of Canterbury, equal marriage and safety of Africans

Gillan Scott Justin Welby’s debut radio phone-in was a breath of fresh air

Caroline Hall Archbishop of Canterbury Links Attacks on African Christians to Pro-LGBT Churches

Susan Russell Archbishop of Canterbury chooses pathetic over prophetic

Updates

Claire George has an article which in addition to her comments includes a transcript of part of the broadcast: [Opinion] What did Justin Welby say about Africa and Gay people?

The Bishop of California, Marc Andrus wrote A word on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statements

Kelvin Holdsworth You condemn it, Archbishop

This article is by the person who asked the archbishop the question that generated so much coverage of the programme: Rebel Rev lives up to her name

…I managed to get out just in time and asked the Archbishop the last question of the show. In a nutshell I was asking why, as priests, we couldn’t bless same sex couples and use our own conscience like happened when the remarriage of divorcees came about in church. This could be the case while we waited for a synodical process to go through that could change the rules to allow equal marriage in church.

I was shocked and saddened by Justin’s response. Much has been publicised and blogged about Justin’s answer by theologians and people far and wide in the Anglican Communion. As the person who asked the question and a bog standard priest in the Church of England I feel extremely let down by my institution and the Archbishop. He said that we couldn’t move forward with a more liberal agenda in the UK without it having a devastating effect on people in Africa. He told a story about standing at a mass grave and had been told the people were killed because of the liberal changes in America. That’s like wondering why a woman in a violent relationship who is murdered didn’t leave, instead of asking the murderer why he killed her. Violence always needs to be condemned. The Archbishop didn’t do this. Murder and homophobia are the issues, not liberalism in the UK. Can you imagine what would have happened if Gandhi had given in to the violence and not challenged the marginalisation and oppression at the salt mines? How different would the world be if Wilberforce wasn’t listened to because the slaves might have been further abused? What would have happened if the civil rights movement hadn’t progressed because people were scared of the violence of the KKK? Women are killed and maimed today because they are being educated. Just ask Malala. Does that mean we shouldn’t educate girls? Apartheid was atrocious in its outpouring of violence. Should we not have campaigned because more black people would have been killed? What Justin said put the power in the hands of the oppressors and those who wield violence.

Let’s be clear, it’s not only Africa that kills people because of homophobia. I live in London, a very cosmopolitan city, yet my neighbour was killed in a homophobic attack. I had a friend who took his own life because he couldn’t cope with coming to terms with his sexuality in the face of homophobia from his family, friends and church. There are many people hurt and trapped by homophobia and a lack of acceptance in the UK…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 5 April 2014 at 12:02pm BST | Comments (74) | TrackBack
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Friday, 4 April 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury answers questions on radio phone-in

Updated Sunday morning

A full transcript of the broadcast is now available: ARCHBISHOP’S PHONE-IN ON LBC RADIO: TRANSCRIPT.

Lambeth Palace press release: Archbishop answers questions on LBC radio phone-in

Archbishop Justin spent an hour answering questions on LBC’s radio phone-in this morning, tackling topics ranging from same-sex marriage to the nature of God.

Listen again to the full programme here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGdBTMx1Vgo.

LBC Radio has this: Archbishop: Gay Marriage Could Mean Murder Of Christians. Embedded in that page is a six-minute clip of the part of the interview that is attracting the most media attention.

And also this: Archbishop Confronted by Angry Ann Widdecombe.

Media coverage:

Guardian Andrew Brown African Christians will be killed if C of E accepts gay marriage, says Justin Welby

Tablet Liz Dodd Christians in Africa would die if CofE accepted gay marriage, Welby warns

BBC Welby: backing gay marriage could be ‘catastrophic’ for Christians elsewhere

Church Times Madeleine Davies Welby links gay marriage with African killings

Anglican Communion News Service Abp Welby: Anglican Communion sexuality decisions can mean African Christians suffer

Pink News Archbishop of Canterbury: Africans could be killed if the Church of England backs same-sex marriage

And Archbishop of Canterbury defends Anglican position on gays from Ann Widdecombe attack

Mail Online Steve Doughty Gay marriage puts the world’s Christians at risk of violent revenge attacks: Archbishop’s warning over spread of liberal views in CofE

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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

South Carolina: Anglican developments

The Diocese of South Carolina led by Bishop Mark Lawrence has issued this press release: Diocese Formalizes Worldwide Anglican Ties

The Diocese of South Carolina has been formally recognized as a member in good standing of the Global Anglican Communion.

On Saturday, March 15, the Diocese’s 223rd Annual Convention unanimously accepted an invitation to join the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA) and temporarily enter into a formal ecclesiastical relationship known as provisional primatial oversight from bishops in the Global South.

The convention’s nearly 400 participants supported clergy and delegates as they voted to create a task force to explore more permanent affiliation options for the diocese. The task force will offer recommendations at the next Convention, which will be held next March.

Local critics of the Diocese’s 2012 separation from The Episcopal Church had said the disassociation would isolate the Diocese from the Global Anglican Communion. While the Diocese has maintained many informal relationships with organizations that are part of the communion, this formal primatial oversight arrangement makes clear that the Diocese is officially part of the greater Anglican Church.

“There’s an African proverb that wisely states ‘If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together,’ said the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, 14th Bishop of the Diocese, in his address to the Convention. “This will give us gracious oversight from one of the largest Ecclesial entities within in the Communion; one which includes Anglicans from a diverse body of believers from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America, the Indian Ocean and many, many others.”…

The Charleston Post-Courier reported this: Diocese of South Carolina accepts provisional oversight from Global South primates.

Another press release says: SC Court of Appeals Denies TEC Appeal

SOUTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS DENIES TEC APPEAL, BLOCKS DENOMINATION’S STALLING TACTICS

Justices prevent TEC from using legal maneuver to delay court proceedings

CHARLESTON, SC, March 18, 2014 – The South Carolina Court of Appeals today rejected an appeal that would have delayed a trial in the Diocese of South Carolina lawsuit to protect diocesan and parish property from seizure by The Episcopal Church (TEC) and its local group, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC).

The Court decided that TEC and TECSC could not appeal a lower court ruling on the process to be used in discovery.

The Court of Appeals effectively said it will not tolerate legal shenanigans to delay a trial to decide whether the denomination may seize South Carolina property, including churches and the diocesan symbols. In asking the Court of Appeals to dismiss the action, the Diocese of South Carolina argued that TECSC is appealing a court order that is “unappealable”.

South Carolina’s Court of Appeals justices agreed…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 at 3:13pm GMT | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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Monday, 3 March 2014

Anglican reactions to Nigerian and Ugandan legislation

Updated Monday lunchtime

Update According to the Daily Monitor Church ready to split from England on homosexuals

The Archbishop of Church of Uganda (CoU) has responded to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, saying Uganda is ready to break away from the Church of England if its views on homosexuality are not respected.

Addressing Christians at St Andrews Church, Bukoto yesterday, Archbishop Stanley Ntangali said the Ugandan-born Archbishop of York John Sentamu recently wrote to him, saying the Church of England was concerned about the CoU’s anti-homosexuality stand.

“I have written back to Archbishop Sentamu. I told him it does not matter even if we do not work with them because the Church of England is a product of repentance and USA is founded on Christian values but they seem to have become spiritually blind,” Bishop Ntangali said…

And AFP reports, via the Telegraph Uganda church warns of Anglican split over gay law

“The issue here is respect for our views on homosexuality, same sex marriage as a country and church. If they are not willing to listen to us. We shall consider being on our own,” Uganda’s top Anglican, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, told AFP.

“Homosexual practice is incompatible with scripture, and no one in the leadership of the church can say legitimise same sex unions or homosexuality,” he said, urging the “governing bodies of the Church of England to not take the path advocated by the West”.

“If they do we shall have no choice but to be on our own,” he said.

[Original article started here]

The most recently published statement by the Church of Uganda on the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality legislation appears to be in this statement dated 30 January:

The Church of Uganda is encouraged by the work of Uganda’s Parliament in amending the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to remove the death penalty, to reduce sentencing guidelines through a principle of proportionality, and to remove the clause on reporting homosexual behaviour, as we had recommended in our 2010 position statement on the Bill. This frees our clergy and church leaders to fulfill the 2008 resolution of our House of Bishops to “offer counseling, healing and prayer for people with homosexual disorientation, especially in our schools and other institutions of learning. The Church is a safe place for individuals, who are confused about their sexuality or struggling with sexual brokenness, to seek help and healing.”

The Church of Nigeria has recently published this letter sent to the Church of Uganda, commending it for its position on homosexuality.

And there is this news story from Nigeria itself in the Daily Post: Anglican Church in Nigeria subjects members to oath denouncing homosexuality

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has introduced a clause in its constitution subjecting members, who intend to hold positions in church, to take an oath of allegiance to God denouncing homosexuality.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the public denunciation took place in Abuja on Sunday at St. Matthews, Maitama, during the swearing-in of new members of the Parish Church Council (PCC).

The Vicar of the church, Ven. Ben Idume, who administered the oath to members of the PCC, said the church recognised that those with such sexual orientation needed help and counselling.

“But they would not be allowed to hold any position in church,’’ he said.

The legislation is significant because it applies to members of the laity, clergy and house of bishops of the church.

It also banned bisexuals from holding any church office.

The text of the vow reads: “I declare before God and his Church that I have never been a homosexual/bisexual or (have repented from being homosexual/bisexual) and I vow that I will not indulge in the practise of homosexuality/bisexuality.

“If after this oath I am involved, found to be, or profess to be a homosexual/bisexual against the teachings of the Holy Scriptures as contained in the Bible.

“I bring upon myself the full wrath of God and subject myself willingly to canonical discipline as enshrined in the constitution of the Church of Nigeria, so help me God.’’

The Archbishop of Kenya is reported by The Star via allAfrica.com to have said this: (original report here)

KENYA does not need a new law on gay relationships as the constitution clearly outlaws homosexuality, Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Eliud Wabukala said yesterday.

Wabukala was responding to journalists’ questions on the sidelines of the Anglican Development Service meeting at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi.

He said whereas Uganda’s Parliament and President Yoweri Museveni accepted a law that penalised lesbian gay bisexual transgender relationships, “Kenya’s constitution clearly outlaws” them.

“As the Anglican church in Kenya we are very clear when it comes to matters of relationship which should be between two opposite sexes,” Wabukala said.

He said the church will not accept anything that is not allowed in scripture.

Wabukala faulted those who support the human right of LGBTs. He said human rights are not the same as rights.

“Human rights and rights are different. Human rights have no values while rights have values.”

“Just like Uganda has been guided by the constitution, Kenya has a more clear constitution on the relationship.”

On the other hand, the archbishops of New Zealand have published this: Archbishops: Pray for Uganda.

…Dear Friends and Colleagues in Christ,

Anglicans throughout Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia continue to wrestle with divergent views on many aspects of human sexuality, and on a Christian response to the marriage or blessing of same gender couples in particular. However, we believe that all Anglicans are united in condemning homophobic attitudes or the persecution of people on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Many of us will have seen reports this week (eg: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-26320102 ) that Uganda’s President has signed into law a bill that toughens penalties for gay people.

This new law includes the provision of life sentences for certain of these new ‘crimes’, and the legislation appears to have been passed with the encouragement of Uganda’s Joint Christian Council – which includes the country’s Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican bishops.

We recall Resolution 1:10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference, which encouraged Anglicans throughout our Communion “to minister pastorally and sensitively to all, irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals…”

We note with dismay these developments in Uganda, and encourage you to remember that country, those placed further at risk by these laws, and those who lead the Church and the state in Uganda, in your prayers…

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Thursday, 27 February 2014

GAFCON chairman criticises CofE bishops for support of same-sex marriages

The Primate of Kenya, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, writes in his capacity as Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council to the “Faithful of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and friends”. The letter includes the following passage:

…After the praise that greeted the news that Oxford University is to honour the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States with an honorary Doctorate in Divinity, it was helpful to be reminded of the sober facts in the Statement issued by the Global South Primates Steering Committee last week. It was recognized that ‘the fabric of the Communion was torn at its deepest level as a result of the actions taken by The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church in Canada since 2003’ and the Communion’s London based institutions were described as ‘dysfunctional’.

The breadth of the wide gate can be dangerously appealing as an easy choice, avoiding the need for theological discernment and church discipline. This is why I have already written a response (http://gafcon.org/news/a-response-to-the-statement-by-the-archbishops-of-canterbury-and-york) earlier this month to the Statement of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York about pastoral care for people who engage in same sex relationships.

Sadly, the lack of clarity in that statement about the biblical understanding of such relationships has been repeated in the pastoral guidance issued subsequently by the Church of England’s House of Bishops as same sex ‘marriage’ becomes legal in England and Wales next month. While the Church’s official teaching on marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman is affirmed, it is effectively contradicted by the permission given for prayers to be said for those entering same sex ’marriages’…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 27 February 2014 at 10:27am GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 20 February 2014

Statement from some Global South Primates

Statement from the Global South Primates Steering Committee, Cairo, Egypt 14-15 February 2014

The Nigerian representative at the meeting abstained from signing, I have no idea why. The main body of the statement is copied in full below. Emphasis as in original.

Go to the original and scroll down to read an FAQ – The Global South of the Anglican Communion.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3).

1. The Global South Primates Steering Committee met at All Saints Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt from 14-15 February 2014. We were delighted to have The Most Rev. & Rt. Hon. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi, the Chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA), and Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation, as guests joining this important meeting in which we discussed the way ahead for the Anglican Communion and other matters. The Most Rev. Dr. Eliud Wabukala, the Primate of Kenya, and The Most Rev. Henri Isingoma, the Primate of Congo, apologized for not being able to attend.

2. We thank God for the times of fellowship, Bible study and prayer together. We also appreciated the frank discussion, open sharing, and spirit of unity among us. We are also encouraged by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s emphases on renewal, mission and evangelism within the Church of England and the rest of the Anglican Communion.

3. As we reviewed the current situation, we recognized that the fabric of the Communion was torn at its deepest level as a result of the actions taken by The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church in Canada since 2003. As a result, our Anglican Communion is currently suffering from broken relations, a lack of trust, and dysfunctional “instruments of unity.”

4. However, we trust in God’s promise that the “gates of hades will not overcome” the church. Holding unto this promise, we believe that we have to make every effort in order to restore our beloved Communion. Therefore we took the following decisions:

a) We request and will support the Archbishop of Canterbury to call for a Primates Meeting in 2015 in order to address the increasingly deteriorating situation facing the Anglican Communion. It is important that the agenda of this Primates Meeting be discussed and agreed upon by the Primates beforehand in order to ensure an effective meeting.

b) We decided to establish a Primatial Oversight Council, in following-through the recommendations taken at Dromantine in 2005 and Dar es Salam in 2007, to provide pastoral and primatial oversight to dissenting individuals, parishes, and dioceses in order to keep them within the Communion.

c) We realize that the time has come to address the ecclesial deficit, the mutual accountability and re-shaping the instruments of unity by following through the recommendations mentioned in the Windsor Report (2004), the Primates Meetings in Dromantine (2005) and Dar es Salam (2007), and the Windsor Continuation Group report.

5. We appreciate the costly decision of the House of Bishops of the Church of England, as well as the pastoral letter and pastoral guidance of The Archbishop of Canterbury and The Archbishop of York, in regard to the decision of the Westminster Parliament for same-gender marriage. The faithfulness of the Church of England in this regard is a great encouragement to our Provinces, and indeed the rest of the Communion, especially those facing hardships and wars.

6. We stand in solidarity with The Most Rev. Dr. Daniel Deng Bul and the people of South Sudan and Sudan, calling for the cessation of fighting, an end to violence, and for a process for peace and reconciliation. We call upon the international community to give every help and support to those displaced as a result of fighting. We commit ourselves to pray for the people of Sudan.

7. We were encouraged to learn about the new constitution of Egypt and how the interim government is achieving the roadmap that was decided by its people on the 3 July 2013. We support the people of Egypt in their efforts to combat violence and terrorism.

8. We decided to activate the Task Forces established at the 4th Encounter of the Global South, which are: Economic Empowerment (coordinated by Archbishop Eliud Wabukala), Theological Resourcing (coordinated by Archbishop Bolly Lapok), Emerging Servant Leaders (coordinated by Archbishop Ian Ernest), and Inter-faith Relations (coordinated by Archbishop Nicholas Okoh).

9. We decided to hold the 5th Encounter of the Global South in 2015 and also organize a seminar for Global South leaders on “How Africa shaped Anglicanism”.

This statement is approved by:

The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis, Bishop of Egypt and Chairman of Global South
The Most Rev. Ian Ernest, Primate of the Indian Ocean and General Secretary of Global South The Most Rev. Stephen Than Myint Oo, Primate of Myanmar
The Most Rev. Hector “Tito” Zavala, Primate of the Southern Cone
The Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi, Primate of Burundi and the Chairman of CAPA
The Rt. Rev. John Chew, representing the Primate of South East Asia
The Rt. Rev. Francis Loyo, representing the Primate of All Sudan

This statement was abstained by:
The Most Rev. Nkechi Nwosu, representing the Primate of All Nigeria

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 20 February 2014 at 3:44pm GMT | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 6 February 2014

Oxford University to award honorary degree to Presiding Bishop

Updated Friday

Press release from Oxford University:

Six leading figures from the worlds of science, the arts and religion are set to receive honorary degrees from the University of Oxford this year, subject to approval by Congregation.

The degrees will be awarded at Encaenia, the University’s annual honorary degree ceremony, on Wednesday 25 June 2014.

Degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa:

The Most Reverend Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, PhD, is Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America and 16 other nations. Over the course of her nine-year term, Bishop Jefferts Schori is responsible for initiating and developing policy for the Episcopal Church and speaks on behalf of the church regarding the policies, strategies and programmes authorised by General Convention. Bishop Jefferts Schori’s studies for the priesthood, to which she was ordained in 1994, were preceded by her career as an oceanographer. She holds a BSc in biology from Stanford University, an MSc and PhD in oceanography from Oregon State University, an MDiv from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and several honorary doctoral degrees…

Update Lambeth Palace has issued this:
Archbishop congratulates Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on honorary Oxford degree

Friday 7th February 2014

Archbishop Justin has welcomed news that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, is to be awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity by the University of Oxford

Archbishop Justin said: “I am delighted by the news that the Most Revd Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori is to receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity from the University of Oxford. This award, richly deserved, reaffirms Bishop Katharine’s remarkable gifts of intellect and compassion, which she has dedicated to the service of Christ.

“Prior to becoming ordained, Bishop Katharine pursued a career in oceanography, and her enduring deep commitment to the environment has evolved into a profound dedication to stewardship of our planet and humankind, especially in relieving poverty and extending the love and hospitality of Christ to those on the edges of society. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said of Bishop Katharine, ‘In her version of reality, everything is sacred except sin.’

“It must be noted, too, that Bishop Katharine’s achievements serve – and will continue to serve – as a powerful model for women seeking to pursue their vocations in the church.”

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Friday, 31 January 2014

Archbishops' letter to primates: GAFCON responds

From the GAFCON website:
A response to the statement by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York

A response to the statement by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York of 29th January 2014

This week, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York sought to remind the leadership of the Anglican Communion and the Presidents of Nigeria and Uganda of the importance of friendship and care for homosexual people.

Christians should always show particular care for those who are vulnerable, but this cannot be separated from the whole fabric of biblical moral teaching in which the nature of marriage and family occupy a central place.

The Dromantine Communiqué from which the Archbishops quote also affirmed (Clause 17) the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 which states that ‘homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture’ and that the conference ‘cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions’.

Yet earlier this week, the English College of Bishops accepted the recommendation of the Pilling Report for two years of ‘facilitated conversation’ because at least some of the bishops could not accept the historic teaching of the Church as reaffirmed in the Lambeth resolution.

Indeed, in making the case for such a debate, the Pilling Report observes ‘In the House of Lords debate on same sex marriage, the Archbishop of York commended that the Church needed to think about the anomalies in a situation where it is willing to bless a tree or a sheep, but not a faithful human relationship.’ The anomaly only exists of course if it really is the case that a committed homosexual union can also be Christian.

The good advice of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York would carry much more weight if they were able to affirm that they hold, personally, as well as in virtue of their office, to the collegial mind of the Anglican Communion. At the moment I fear that we cannot be sure.

Regrettably, their intervention has served to encourage those who want to normalize homosexual lifestyles in Africa and has fuelled prejudice against African Anglicans. We are committed to biblical sexual morality and to biblical pastoral care, so we wholeheartedly stand by the assurance given in the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution that those who experience same sex attraction are ‘loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.’

May God in his mercy grant that we may hold to the fullness of his truth and the fullness of his grace.

The Most Rev’d Dr Eliud Wabukala
Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya and Chairman, GAFCON Primates Council.
30th January 2014

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Thursday, 30 January 2014

College of Bishops statement: GAFCON responds

From GAFCON website

There is urgency about the gospel

To the Faithful of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and friends
from Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council

29th January 2014

‘…by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God’ 2 Corinthians 4:2

My dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

I write this first message of 2014 with great hope and confidence for the year ahead. GAFCON 2013 renewed our vision for the Anglican Communion as a global fellowship faithful to the Scriptures and confirmed what many of us had already sensed, that our movement is emerging as the only real answer to the Communion’s problems of fragmentation and confusion.

In the year ahead we must resolve to devote ourselves to the great biblical mandate to make disciples of all nations which was the focus of our gathering in Nairobi. There is urgency about the gospel and it must be proclaimed in word and deed, in season and out of season and it is the same gospel, whether in strife torn nations such as South Sudan or in the affluent but morally disorientated nations of the developed world.

We cannot therefore allow our time and energy to be sapped by debating that which God has already clearly revealed in the Scriptures. Earlier this week, the English College of Bishops met to reflect upon the ‘Pilling Report’, commissioned to reflect on how the Church of England should respond to the question of same sex relationships. Its key recommendations were that informal blessings of such unions should be allowed in parish churches and that a two year process of ‘facilitated conversation’ should be set up to address strongly held differences within the Church on this issue.

While we should be thankful that the College of Bishops did not adopt the idea of services for blessing that which God calls sin, it did unanimously approve the conversation process and this is deeply troubling. There has been intensive debate within the Anglican Communion on the subject of homosexuality since at least the 1998 Lambeth Conference and it is difficult to believe that the bishop’s indecision at this stage is due to lack of information or biblical reflection. The underlying problem is whether or not there is a willingness to accept the bible for what it really is, the Word of God.

At Lambeth 1998, the bishops of the Anglican Communion, by an overwhelming majority, affirmed in Resolution 1.10 that homosexual relationships were not compatible with Scripture, in line with the Church’s universal teaching through the ages, but the Pilling Report effectively sets this aside. The conversations it proposes are not to commend biblical teaching on marriage and family, but are based on the assumption that we cannot be sure about what the bible says.

I cannot therefore commend the proposal by the College of Bishops that these ‘facilitated conversations ‘ should be introduced across the Communion. This is to project the particular problems of the Church of England onto the Communion as a whole. As with ‘Continuing Indaba’, without a clear understanding of biblical authority and interpretation, such dialogue only spreads confusion and opens the door to a false gospel because the Scriptures no longer function in any meaningful way as a test of what is true and false.

Faced with these challenges, I am reminded of the importance of the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration. It places our fellowship under the written word of God, which ‘is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading’. Here we have a solid foundation for the responsible reading of the Bible which preserves its transformative power. As John the Evangelist writes ‘these things are written so that you may believe…..and that by believing you may have life’ (John 20:31).

Plans are already taking shape following GAFCON 2013 to provide our global fellowship with the organisation and communications it needs if the Anglican Communion is to recover its unity by listening to and obeying the Word of God. Using modern communications it is possible for us to experience the connectedness of being a global communion in a way that our predecessors could never have imagined. Each one of us can play a part and so may I conclude by inviting you, if you have not yet done so, to join the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans at http://fca.net. My pastoral messages and other communications can then be sent direct to you by email and together we can serve the cause of the gospel at this critical time.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 30 January 2014 at 8:29am GMT | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Archbishops write to all Primates & to presidents of Nigeria, Uganda

Lambeth Palace press release (also on Bishopthorpe site)

Archbishops recall commitment to pastoral care and friendship for all, regardless of sexual orientation

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have today written to all Primates of the Anglican Communion, and to the Presidents of Nigeria and Uganda, recalling the commitment made by the Primates of the Anglican Communion to the pastoral support and care of everyone worldwide, regardless of sexual orientation.

In their letter, the Archbishops recalled the words of the communiqué issued in 2005 after a meeting of Primates from across the Communion in Dromantine.

The text of the joint letter is as follows:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

In recent days, questions have been asked about the Church of England’s attitude to new legislation in several countries that penalises people with same-sex attraction. In answer to these questions, we have recalled the common mind of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, as expressed in the Dromantine Communiqué of 2005.

The Communiqué said;

‘….we wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people.

The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by Him and deserving the best we can give - pastoral care and friendship.’

We hope that the pastoral care and friendship that the Communiqué described is accepted and acted upon in the name of the Lord Jesus.

We call upon the leaders of churches in such places to demonstrate the love of Christ and the affirmation of which the Dromantine communiqué speaks.

Yours in Christ

+Justin Cantuar +Sentamu Eboracensis

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 at 5:40pm GMT | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Anglican homophobia: two reports and one response

There are two news reports (so far) of the latest remarks by the Primate of Nigeria The Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh on the Nigerian anti-gay legislation:

Nigerian Tribune Those practising same-sex marriage are heading for destruction —Okoh

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), The Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, on Monday, warned those practising same sex marriage to desist from the act, saying they were heading for destruction…

…Okoh explained that the act was an attempt by people to question God’s authority.
He said: “The same thing is happening today in the issue of human sexuality. It is not about whether a man should marry a man or a woman should marry a woman, the question in the garden (of Eden) has come back again.

“And as in the former time, disaster followed when man dethroned God. So, again it shall happen that if man decided to stick to the principle of dethroning God, He will face nothing but disaster.

“Man will come to nothing but extinction. For this road leads to nowhere. It is a dead end and it is not in the interest of humanity.

“We want to thank God, the National Assembly and the President. He (Jonathan) has articulated the views of Nigerians.”

Channels God’s Punishment Awaits Those Against Anti-Gay Law- Okoh

…He however commended President Goodluck Jonathan for his courage in signing the anti-gay bill into law which has continued to generate reactions in some quarters in Nigeria and beyond.

According to him, those not in support of the bill are like the biblical duo, Adam and Eve who questioned God for asking them not to eat the fruits from the Garden of Eden.

His words: “Many people do not realise that what is referred to as the homosexual trouble is not the homosexual or lesbian trouble but people’s refusal to accept the scripture for what it is, authority for life and practice following God.

He added: “in the beginning, man questioned the authority of God in the garden by saying did God actually say that you should not eat the forbidden fruit. That challenge to God’s authority dethroned God’s power and enthroned man’s power.

“”So they concluded that God has no right to tell man what to do and that they were the people who knew what to do. So man set God aside and took over the command. Consequently, disaster followed”.

There has been one response to all this, from the President of the House of Deputies of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, The Reverend Gay Clark Jennings, writing at Religion News Service : COMMENTARY: The church’s role in, and against, homophobia across Africa

…The Anglican primates of Uganda and Nigeria enthusiastically support anti-gay legislation in their countries. I, like them, am a member of the Anglican Communion, a worldwide body of more than 80 million Christians. I am troubled and saddened that fellow Anglicans could support legislation that fails to recognize that every human being is created in the image of God.

Western Christians cannot ignore the homophobia of these church officials or the peril in which they place Ugandan and Nigerian LGBT people. The legacy of colonial-era Christian missionaries and infusions of cash from modern-day American conservatives have helped to create it.

Twice in the last three years, I have traveled to Africa to meet with biblical scholars, grass-roots activists and church officials at consultations about the Bible and sexuality. These brave leaders have taught me that there is no getting around the Bible when searching for the origins of the homophobia that is rampant in many African cultures. What’s more, Europeans and North Americans bear much of the historical responsibility for this sad state of affairs. As Zimbabwean biblical scholar Masiiwa Ragies Gunda has written, it is “far-fetched to look beyond the activities of Western missionaries” when considering the role of the Bible in Africa…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 at 3:29pm GMT | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Archbishop of West Africa dies

The Most Rev Tilewa Johnson, the Primate of The Church of the Province of West Africa, died suddenly yesterday (Tuesday).

Jan Butter and Bellah Zulu report for the Anglican Communion News Service reports with tributes and an obituary: Anglican Communion shocked by West Africa Primate’s sudden death.

Other online tributes and news reports include:

The Archbishop of Canterbury Archbishop mourns ‘gifted’ leader of the Church of the Province of West Africa

George Conger Anglican Ink Archbishop of West Africa dead

PK Jarju JollofNews (Gambia and Senegal) Gambians Pay Tribute To Bishop Johnson

World Council of Churches Condolence message on death of Tilewa Johnson

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 9:36pm GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Friday, 17 January 2014

update on anti-gay legislation in Uganda and Nigeria

The situation in Uganda has become even less clear than before. Jim Burroway reports in this article: Status of Uganda’s Anti-Homosesexuality Bill Is Completely Up in the Air … Including, Possibly, Its Death Penalty.

… Earlier this morning Kampala time, Daily Monitor reported that President Yoweri Museveni had “blocked” the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which had been passed in Parliament in December with an apparent lack of quorum. (The pro-government New Vision makes no mention of Museveni’s letter, at least not on its online edition. The Uganda Media Centre, the government’s official press office, is similarly silent this morning.) Most other major media outlets reporting on this development are citing the Daily Monitor story.

Museveni’s letter to Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga criticizing Parliament’s vote on December 20 was dated December 28 but only made public today. All of this leaves up in the air the bill’s precise status. Does Museveni’s letter represent a formal rejection of the legislation under the Constitution’s Article 91 (3) (b)? That seems to be the assumption most media outlets are making. It’s certainly what the Daily Monitor story implies, although it doesn’t say so explicitly…

The original Daily Monitor article is here: Museveni blocks Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

This development has also been picked up by the BBC: Uganda President Yoweri Museveni blocks anti-gay law.

Meanwhile, in relation to the similar legislation in Nigeria, there is this report explaining The Simple Reason Nigeria Just Banned Gay Marriage And Gay Meetings.

Also, Ekklesia has this commentary by Savi Hensman Nigeria’s anti-gay law: persecuting minorities, forsaking Christ.

And today, a petition has been launched, directed at the Archbishops of Canterbury and York: please speak out against human rights abuses in Nigeria.

Dear Archbishops Justin and John,

As you will know, Nigeria has just enacted some of the most extreme anti-gay laws on the planet. The Church of Nigeria, in particular retired Archbishop Akinola, has been supporting the bill for many years, and only last year the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese, Asaba, Justus Mogekwu, appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to assent to the anti-gay marriage bill. As Anglicans [and fellow Christians of other traditions], we call on both of you to oppose these laws, publicly and privately, in word and deed.

The new Nigerian laws include the following draconian provisions:

  • Up to 14 years in jail for people in same-sex relationships
  • Up to 10 years for anyone who ‘directly or indirectly’ shows same-sex affection in public.
  • Up to 10 years in jail for anyone who participates in an organisation which works to protect gay rights, including straight allies. This could criminalise human rights defenders and even two people just meeting for a coffee if they are known to be gay or bisexual.

The situation is urgent. Sweeping arrests of gay people are already taking place in some parts of the country. A man in Bauchi has already endured 20 lashes, ordered by a court, for ‘homosexual offences’.

Anglicans have different points of view on whether it is morally acceptable to enter a sexual relationship with somebody of the same gender. But surely we can all agree that nobody should be locked up because of who they love and nobody should be locked up for organising against an unjust law?

Even the hardline Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference committed the Anglican Communion to opposing ‘irrational fear of homosexuals’. It is time for that opposition to take the form of concrete action.

In the Gospels, Christ tells us that whatever we do for the least of His brothers and sisters, we do for Him. He also says that whatever we ask the Father in His name will be granted. We believe that your influence can limit the degree to which these laws are implemented and can help prevent their spread to other parts of Africa.

Remaining silent means turning a blind eye as some of the most vulnerable people on the planet are imprisoned or flogged. It also risks destroying the credibility of Christianity in England and many other parts of the world where homophobia is considered scandalous.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 17 January 2014 at 6:15pm GMT | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 12 December 2013

Still more comments on the Pilling report

Updated Thursday evening

The Council of Bishops of the Society of Saint Wilfred and Saint Hilda have issued this statement:

The Pilling Report: Statement by the Council of Bishops of the Society

The Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality (the Pilling Report) is an important piece of work which deserves careful consideration. We encourage our clergy and people to read it and reflect upon it prayerfully.

We note that the Report proposes no change in the doctrine of the Church of England and that its practical recommendations remain, at this stage, recommendations to the House of Bishops.

Those of us who are members of the Church of England’s College of Bishops will be discussing it with other members of the College in January, and we shall also be discussing it at our own meeting in February. We plan to comment more fully after those discussions.

On behalf of the Council
+ TONY PONTEFRACT
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson Chairman

Andrew Symes, Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream published The Pilling Report: quick Q and A. The full text is copied below the fold.

Update
The Global South of the Anglican Communion has issued this quite long Statement in response to the Pilling Report.

We are writing to express our serious concerns in regard to the Pilling Report. We know that the House of Bishops of the Church of England will be discussing this and we would like to assure them of our prayers so that the Holy Spirit would guide them to the right decisions.

First, we would like to say that we believe that the church of Christ should not in any way be homophobic or have any kind of phobia. We should follow in the steps of Jesus Christ who embraced all the marginalized of his society; having said that, we must say that we did not read of any homophobic statement from any bishop or clergy in the Church of England. It is sad that anyone who does not support the ministry of gay and lesbians, as well as same-sex marriages, is considered homophobic. Obviously there is a big difference between those who refuse to recognize the presence of homosexuals in the church, i.e. homophobic, and those who do support Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 and do not support the ministry and ordination of non-celibate gay and lesbians, as well as same-sex marriages.

The Pilling Report raises an important question which requires an answer: will the Church of England conform to its context, i.e. will the Church of England allow the society to shape its faith and practice in such a way in order to be acceptable by the society, or will the Church of England recognize that its distinctive mission is to transform the society? …

Anglican Mainstream The Pilling Report: quick Q and A

What is the main conclusion of the Pilling Report?

The legalization of gay marriage has brought an urgency to the question of pastoral care for same sex couples. The church has to be seen to be providing unconditional welcome and affirmation for LGBT people, without officially changing its doctrine. So the Report recommends an informal approach, not reflected in new liturgy, whereby a “pastoral accommodation” allows clergy to pray informally with a couple, asking for God’s blessing. This may be an “act of worship to mark the formation of a same sex relationship” (paragraph 399). The decision to do this should be left to individual clergy in consultation with their PCC.

How will this be viewed in the Church as a whole?

Many Anglicans cannot understand what all the fuss is about, and that of course there should be blessings for gay couples – in fact why not gay marriage as well? But a considerable number of committed faithful Christians in the C of E and in other denominations will be bewildered by the headlines about the report’s conclusions and not understand how fellow believers could warmly welcome and bless something which the Bible says is sin and which the church has never approved of.

How did Pilling come to this conclusion?

Firstly, the report accepts a liberal view of Scripture. All members of the Commission agreed that Scriptural texts about homosexual practice are uniformly negative. The disagreements came over how to interpret this. Standard liberal positions are articulated in the report: either that we’ve interpreted the Bible wrong, or that it is not authoritative, but an optional resource in our ethical decision making. The traditional understanding of how Scripture views sex is given space, but the report insists that this is only one understanding out of many which are equally valid in the Anglican tradition.

Secondly, the report confuses the Gospel imperative to offer hospitality to people and include all in the invitation to come to Christ, with the offering of God’s blessing to ideas and actions which are contrary to the clear teaching of the Bible. The experience and demands of individuals in a particular social context has trumped eternal principles of theology and ethics. This is justified by the liberal argument that all our ideas are provisional and ethereal, but people are real. To paraphrase the famous song: “Don’t know much philosophy, but I do know that I love you…”.

How will the change be brought into effect?

As there is so much controversy and disagreement about homosexuality, the report says we can only move forward with mutual respect by a listening process. This is specifically not a series of debates, but relationship building through “facilitated conversation”, with no predetermined outcome. There is an assumption that this process will be entirely fair, where those who want the church to bless same sex couples and those who feel Scripture and church tradition cannot allow this, can meet and listen to each other in an unthreatening environment. The report does not seem to recognize that the playing field is not level in this process. While the conversation is going on, facts will be created on the ground as same sex relationships are openly “blessed” by clergy according to the report’s own recommendations. Society’s strongly libertarian majority view is heavily endorsing one side of the “conversation”. The choice of facilitators will be determined centrally and are unlikely to be neutral on the issue. Because of this bias and potential for manipulation of the discussion process, it is likely that many orthodox confessing Anglicans will simply refuse to take part.

Why is the church so keen to change its core teachings in this area?

The report believes that by cautiously advocating blessing of faithful permanent same sex relationships, the church can avoid accusations of “homophobia”, and present itself as in touch with the majority view, especially of young people. By asking people with different views in the church to spend time thinking and discussing seriously about sex and the best boundaries to set for it, this might be a form of witness to a culture which wants to rush headlong into an unrestrained “anything goes” sexual ethic.

However commission member Bishop Keith Sinclair’s dissenting statement points out that the church permitting same gender sexual relationships would be an example of “cultural captivity” – trying to appease society, and especially the “politically correct”, powerful secular humanist view of sex and relationships. The report draws a boundary that gay relationships should be “permanent, faithful, stable” but since it has reached a conclusion that Scripture cannot be trusted, there is no explanation of why this boundary should be in place, and why further ground will not be conceded in a short space of time.

The way forward

If the Bishops adopt the report, with its incoherent thinking as outlined above, it will confirm the image of the church to outsiders not as relevant and compassionate, but as wishy washy, unable to proclaim its message to the nation with courage, conviction and clarity. Within the church there will be only increased division and the serious threat of schism. Much better to quietly shelve the report, reaffirm past resolutions on heterosexual marriage as the proper place for sexual relationships, and confidently share the Gospel vision for human flourishing. We will soon hear what has been decided.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 12 December 2013 at 6:09pm GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Friday, 1 November 2013

more about GAFCON 2

Updated

In my earlier article, I linked in the comments to a number of additional articles about this topic.

Here are few more items:

Andrew Atherstone Reflections on GAFCON 2 published at Fulcrum.

Church Society Lee Gatiss The Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) in Nairobi

Church Times George Conger GAFCON to be ‘an Anglican province’ in all but name

Anglican TV Interview with Dr Gavin Ashenden

Update

Two more articles, by Peter Carrell GAFCON’s gaffe (1) and GAFCON’s gaffe (2) - misunderstanding gospel and culture

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 1 November 2013 at 9:13am GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 26 October 2013

GAFCON 2 concludes with Communique and Commitment

Here is the full text of the document issued at the end of the conference in Nairobi. There is also a PDF version here.

There was an earlier press release containing the text of a resolution agreed by an unspecified number of GAFCON bishops: GAFCON votes to expand.

Much other material is available from this page. English readers may be particularly interested in the following contributions:

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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Archbishop’s message to GAFCON 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury sent a video message to GAFCON 2013 and this is now available online: Archbishop’s message to GAFCON 2013: seek holiness and unity. The link also includes a transcript of the archbishop’s message and this summary:

Archbishop Justin sent a video greeting to the Second Global Anglican Future (GAFCON) Conference, which is taking place in Nairobi this week. He told them that it was his prayer that they would ‘meet Jesus afresh with elation and joy’.

The Archbishop was unable to attend the GAFCON meeting because of previous commitments, including the baptism of Prince George on Wednesday.

In his message, Archbishop Justin affirms the recent call by the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, who chairs the GAFCON Primates Council, for the Church to proclaim the gospel confidently.

To do this, Archbishop Justin says, ‘we need to be a Church that is holy’. That is a ‘massive challenge’ to churches in different contexts around the world, but is ‘absolutely critical to our proclamation of the gospel’.

To proclaim the gospel effectively, the Church must also be ‘in unity’, the Archbishop says. ‘It doesn’t mean being unanimous, all saying exactly the same thing in exactly the same way. It means that, as Jesus prays in John 17, that we demonstrate by our love for one another that Jesus is the Son of God and therefore people are drawn to believe in him. We’ve got to find ways of doing that and I don’t underestimate the challenge that is to all of us.’

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 23 October 2013 at 11:03am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Monday, 21 October 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury preaches in Nairobi

Updated

The full sermon is available as a video, here (27 minutes).

The context of this event is explained here.

Updates:

Lambeth Palace has issued this press release: Archbishop Justin visits Nairobi.

The Church Times carries this news report by Madeleine Davies New structures needed, Welby tells GAFCON Primates and this additional commentary Archbishop and Gafcon Leaders size each other up by George Conger.

There is also this report by George Conger Welby backs GAFCON vision for a renewed Church which says there were some changes made to the sermon at its second delivery.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 21 October 2013 at 3:59pm BST | Comments (31) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Tributes to former Archbishop David Gitari

Updated

ACNS reported on 30 September: Archbishop David Gitari, former Kenya Primate dies.

ACNS has republished this obituary of the archbishop by Bishop Graham Kings: Archbishop David Gitari 1937-2013: Evangelist, Prophet, Liturgist and Bridge-Builder.

An earlier article is Archbishop David Gitari: Biblical Interpretation in Action in Kenya.

Bishop Stephen Cottrell has written this: Tribute to the late David Gitari.

The Archbishop of Canterbury published this tribute.

Update ACNS has England’s Bishop of Sherborne Dr Graham Kings speaks to BBC World Service about the late Archbishop David Gitari of the Anglican Church of Kenya.

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Monday, 7 October 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury to visit Kenya

Lambeth Palace has issued this press release:

Archbishop to visit Kenya to offer solidarity
Monday 7th October 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury will visit Nairobi on 19 and 20 October as a guest of the Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Revd Eliud Wabukala.

The purpose of the visit, which has been arranged at short notice, is to be in solidarity with the Kenyan people following the attack on the Westgate shopping mall last month.

The programme of the visit is not yet confirmed.

The Archbishop was invited to speak at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which takes place between 21 October and 26 October in Nairobi.

He was unable to attend because of long-standing diary commitments, including the baptism of Prince George. He will, however, record a video greeting, which will be broadcast to delegates at the start of the conference.

The Archbishop is also continuing to hold in prayer the people of Peshawar, Syria, and all those in troubled parts of the world.

Earlier today GAFCON had issued this press release:

GAFCON and the Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury will visit GAFCON primates just before the opening of GAFCON 2013 in Nairobi.

GAFCON Primates are holding a two day meeting, then 1200 leaders and lay people from the UK, Asia, Africa, the Pacific and South America will fly in to Nairobi for the Global Anglican Future Conference starting on Monday, October 21st.

GAFCON Chairman Eliud Wabukala invited Archbishop Justin Welby to send greetings to the conference and he indicated he was unable to do so in person because of commitments during the week. His office has since confirmed he will make a flying visit to speak with the Primates.

The general secretary of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Dr Peter Jensen, says “The Archbishop’s decision to come to the Primates meeting is a recognition of the importance of such a large and significant gathering of Anglicans from around the world and he will be made very welcome.”

Posted October 7, 2013

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Saturday, 5 October 2013

Anglican Church of Southern Africa considers Pastoral Response to Civil Unions

The Republic of South Africa passed its Civil Union Act in 2006. This permits same-sex relationships to be registered as either civil partnerships or as marriages.

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (a province which encompasses Angola, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and the island of St Helena) issued this press release (among others) on Friday: Anglican Church of Southern Africa considers Pastoral Response to Civil Unions

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has urged its bishops to provide guidelines for giving pastoral care to same-sex couples who have entered civil unions under South African law.

The Church’s ruling Provincial Synod, currently meeting in Benoni, South Africa, on Friday adopted a resolution urging its Synod of Bishops to finalise guidelines “as soon as possible”.

The Church neither marries same-sex couples, nor ordains or licenses priests or deacons who live in same-sex unions. This is in line with the practice of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

However, in the words of the Right Revd Martin Breytenbach, Bishop of St Mark the Evangelist, during a debate at the Synod, “civil unions are a reality, whether we like it or not.”

Proposing the resolution, Bishop Breytenbach acknowledged he was on the “conservative” side of the debate. But, he continued, all God’s people needed pastoral care and “we have people in our church who are same-gender couples who regard themselves as married, even though I find it difficult to accept.”

The Right Revd Garth Counsell of Table Bay – from the diocese of Cape Town, which is seen as more open to recognising same-sex marriage – said the resolution was “not talking about same sex- marriage or whether we will do that or not.” It was rather about “confronting legal reality”…

The full text of the resolution is included in the release and is copied below the fold.

This Synod

1 Noting

1The progress that has been made by the Synod of Bishops and various Dioceses in developing guidelines for pastoral ministry in response to Civil Unions, and to those who experience themselves as homosexual;

2 That we have accepted Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998 as the basis for our engagement with the issues of human sexuality

3 That we are still not of one mind on these matters.

2 Affirms:

1 That God calls us to love and minister to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, while at the same time upholding God’s standards of holiness;

2 That this is a highly complex and emotive area which affects many people deeply and has a far reaching impact on the mission of the Church.

3 Commits the Anglican Church of Southern Africa:

1 To journey together in humility and mutual respect as we seek God’s mind on the difficult issues of human sexuality;

2 To continue to engage in a process of listening to the whole variety of experiences and viewpoints so as to increase our understanding of these issues;

4 Resolves to

1 Respectfully request the Synod of Bishops to work towards finalising the Guidelines for pastoral ministry in response to Civil Unions as soon as possible.

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Friday, 4 October 2013

Anglican Church of Southern Africa completes Adoption of Anglican Covenant

The Anglican Communion News Service has announced today that Anglican Church of Southern Africa completes Adoption of Anglican Covenant.

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) has adopted the Anglican Communion Covenant.

Its Provincial Synod today unanimously voted to ratify the decision taken at its previous meeting in 2010 to adopt the Covenant. This completes the legal process.

The Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, proposed the motion. Addressing the Synod, meeting this week in Benoni, Johannesburg, he emphasised ACSA’s commitment to being at the heart of Anglican life, often acting as a bridge-builder, and drawing on its own experiences of living with considerable diversity and wrestling with difference.

Seconding the motion, the Dean of the Province, Bishop Rubin Philip of Natal, quoted from the Introduction to the Covenant:

6. To covenant together is not intended to change the character of this Anglican expression of Christian faith. Rather, we recognise the importance of renewing in a solemn way our commitment to one another, and to the common understanding of faith and order we have received, so that the bonds of affection which hold us together may be re-affirmed and intensified. We do this in order to reflect, in our relations with one another, God’s own faithfulness and promises towards us in Christ (2 Cor 1.20-22).

With debate only addressing a minor wording amendment, the motion was passed without dissent.

The text of the motion is given below.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town

This Synod

1. Notes ­the adoption of the Anglican Covenant at the Provincial Synod of 2010;

2. Recommits the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to playing the fullest possible role at the heart of the Anglican Communion, working to promote its unity in diversity and strengthening of bonds of affection, in a life of mutuality and interdependence, shared between autonomous churches, acting each as we are called in our own particular contexts and according to our own ordering, in response to this common gift and calling we have received in our Lord Jesus Christ;

3. Reaffirms its belief that this ordering of shared Communion life may be furthered as set out in the Preamble to the Covenant:

We, as Churches of the Anglican Communion, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, solemnly covenant together in these following affirmations and commitments. As people of God, drawn from “every nation, tribe, people and language” (Rev 7.9), we do this in order to proclaim more effectively in our different contexts the grace of God revealed in the gospel, to offer God’s love in responding to the needs of the world, to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and together with all God’s people to attain the full stature of Christ (Eph 4.3,13).

4. Resolves to confirm its adoption of the Anglican Covenant.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 4 October 2013 at 1:19pm BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 3 October 2013

GAFCON 2013 goes ahead in Nairobi

Despite the recent violence in Nairobi, the second GAFCON conference is going ahead there, see GAFCON II is a go.

Anglican Mainstream has published the following: Why GAFCON 2013 and What is FCA? Full text copied below the fold.

Some other articles related to this:

Vinay Samuel An Overview of the Anglican Communion Today – From communion to coalition.

Bob Bettson ANALYSIS: Anglican Communion faces troubled waters

Sue Careless Reviving Communion

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala Chairman’s September Pastoral Letter

And for a different perspective, see Bosco Peters GAFCON.

Our previous reports on GAFCON related items were:

from Anglican Mainstream:

For information for those who have been asking what the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans is, and why the Gafcon 2013 conference is taking place this month in Nairobi

Statement from the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (UK & Ireland, including the Diocese of Europe)

WHY GAFCON 2013? A conference in Nairobi, 21-26 October 2013, of FCA leaders, lay and ordained from across the world, representing the majority of Anglicans in the Communion. We will

  • Address current challenges to the faith (persecution and poverty, militant Islamism, aggressive secularism);
  • Listen to each other and support the most vulnerable among us (physically that’s the Africans, spiritually that’s us);
  • Make plans and decisions together, praise and mourn together, pray and resolve together;
  • Return to our churches stimulated, encouraged and resourced for mission.

WHAT IS FCA? A global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans who believe the Anglican Communion is worth preserving. The challenges to today’s church are huge, the stakes are high, but our resolve is determined – and the Communion’s best days could still be in the future. FCA will be at the heart of them. We are committed to

  • Serve the Anglican Communion with its wonderful history and its self-governing provinces, held together by a common Christian faith and deep bonds of spiritual fellowship, shared mission and exchange of ministry across the world;
  • Offer the strongest, some would say the only, effective remaining glue that holds this precious unity intact, now that the structural four instruments no longer do the job;
  • Promote a dynamic mission, and counter inauthentic expressions that depart from a biblically ordered faith.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 3 October 2013 at 8:44am BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Update on Peshawar casualties

Titus Presler has published this Peshawar All Saints’ update: bomb casualty toll; funds appeal; other bombings.

In a conversation from Peshawar today, Bishop Humphrey Sarfaraz Peters of the Diocese of Peshawar said that the confirmed death toll from the bombing at All Saints’ Church on Sept. 22 in the old section of the city stands at 127, with 170 injured.

“It has been just devastating,” he said. “Quite a few children are paralyzed, and others are orphaned. This is a terrible time for the Christian community.” Financial assistance is urgently needed to support the families of the dead and injured, he said.

Government officials, including the Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkwa, the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and federal ministers, have visited in order to express concern and condolence. The bishop has met with them either at All Saints’, where he has been based over the week, or at his home on the grounds of St. John’s Cathedral.

Yesterday’s car bomb in Qissa Khawani bazaar was detonated nearby while the All Saints’ congregation was again at worship on the first week’s anniversary of the Sept. 22 bomb. “People were in a panic, and there was such a rush,” Bp. Humphrey said, “but after about 25 minutes we were able to get them settled and resume the service.” The bomb killed 40 people and was reported to have exploded about 300 yards from All Saints’, near a mosque and a police station. On Friday, 19 people died when a bomb planted on a bus carrying government employees exploded in the outskirts of Peshawar.

Today’s confirmed count of 127 dead and 170 wounded from the Sept. 22 bomb is lower than the initial reports of 150 dead and 200 wounded, but it is considerably higher than the figure of 85 dead that is being circulated by global news media. Peshawar’s overall death toll from bomb blasts for the week is 176…

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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury speaks about Peshawar

Yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 World at One lunchtime news programme.

You can hear the interview with Martha Kearney here.

Subsequent media coverage:

BBC Pakistan church bombing victims ‘martyrs’, archbishop says

Telegraph Christians now suffering mass martyrdom, says Archbishop of Canterbury

Express “Christians are being attacked just because of their faith”, says Archbishop of Canterbury

Star Archbishop of Canterbury says pray for Kenya mall killers

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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Church of South India elects first woman bishop

From the Anglican Communion News Service:

Church of South India elects first woman bishop

The Church of South India has today appointed its first woman bishop.

The Revd Eggoni Pushpalalitha was ordained in 1983 and has most recently been a priest in the Diocese of Nadyal in Andhra Pradesh.

Her appointment comes only days after the Church of Ireland elected its first woman bishop, the Revd Pat (Patricia) Storey as the new Bishop of Meath and Kildare.

Provincial Secretary of the Church of South India, Mani M. Philip confirmed that Miss Pushpalalitha had been appointed by the Synod Selection Board this afternoon.

“We have been ordaining women since 1976,” he told ACNS, adding that in its constitution, the province mandates that at least 25 per cent of all statutory bodies should be women.

Bishop-designate Pushpalalitha is expected to be installed on Monday 30 September.

One of the 38 Member Churches of the Anglican Communion, the Church of South India is a ‘united’ Church—the result of the union of churches of varying traditions Anglican, Methodist, Congregational, Presbyterian, and Reformed. It was inaugurated in September 1947.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 25 September 2013 at 2:30pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Women bishops and the recognition of Orders

The recent decision of the Church in Wales to allow women to be consecrated as bishops, and the election of a woman bishop in the Church of Ireland have prompted an article, Women bishops and the recognition of Orders, by Will Adam, editor of the Ecclesiastical Law Journal, in Law and Religion UK about the implications for the Church of England.

… This is bound to bring up again the question of the recognition in a Church which does not permit the ordination of women as bishop of episcopal acts performed by a bishop who is a woman …

However, the consecration of a woman as a bishop in the Church of Ireland changes the situation. Deacons, priests and bishops of the Church of Ireland, Church in Wales and Scottish Episcopal Church are not considered as “overseas” clergy by the law applying to the Church of England. This is significant, because the permission of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York is not required for such ministers to be invited to exercise the ministry of their orders in England …

The article refers to this 2004 opinion from the Legal Advisory Commission of the Church of England: The Effect of Acts by women Bishops of Churches in Communion with the Church of England.

Kelvin Holdswoth writes about the same topic in Taint. He concludes with

What I’m interested in is that with respect of our current bishops in Scotland, all of them have either had a female co-consecrator present at their consecration, joined in consecrating someone with a female co-consecrator present or have been consecrated by someone who has had a female co-consecrator present at their own consecration.

What I wonder is whether those who apply the theology of taint believe that anyone at all (bishops, priests or deacons) now ordained in Scotland is legit.

Oh, and by the way an English bishop was present and joining in when this situation began. I was there – I saw it with my own eyes.

Where does this leave the Scottish Episcopal Church in relation to those who would deny the legitimacy of women to act as bishops? …

Do we, or do we not, remain in full communion with [all of] the Church of England?

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 25 September 2013 at 2:22pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 24 September 2013

more media coverage of the attack on Christians in Peshawar

Updated Tuesday evening

BBC has Pakistan blasts: Burials amid anger after Peshawar church attack and Pakistanis react with ‘shock and anger’ at latest attack and also Who are Pakistan’s Christians?

Guardian Pakistani Christians mourn 85 killed in suicide bombings at Peshawar church and Peshawar church bombings show the deadly outcome of religious intolerance

Telegraph Peshawar church attack: Nawaz Sharif warns that Taliban talks could be scrapped

Independent Pakistan church blast: Christians in angry protest against attacks which killed 85 in Peshawar

Karachi News Muavia-led Punjabi Taliban behind church bombing and World leaders condemn Peshawar church attack and also Global prejudice against Christians

Update

Church Times Death toll rises after attack on Pakistan church

On Monday, the Bishop of Pontefract, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, who chairs the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pakistan Focus Group, said: “I think this is the worst case that we have had of an attack on a church, although for many years now this has been part of a pattern of attacks on Christians, both at worship and in their homes. We hope that the Pakistani government will try to protect Christians in that country, who are trying to live peaceful lives in that context.”

He said that it was “very difficult for the government in Pakistan to protect every church”; but the rise of terror groups “may mean they need to be more proactive than they have been”.

Anglican Communion Office Secretary General to Anglican Communion: “Please pray for Pakistan”

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion has asked for Communion-wide prayer following the suicide attack on a church in Pakistan that left than 78 dead and more than 100 injured.

In a letter to the Anglican Communion’s Primates—its most senior bishops—Canon Kenneth Kearon wrote, “Messages of condolences have been coming in from around the Communion, and I write to ask you to consider requesting your parishes and dioceses to remember in prayer those who died or were bereaved and those who were injured or live in fear because of the tragedy…”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 at 8:08am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Monday, 23 September 2013

Anglican church in Peshawar is attacked by terrorists

Updated twice Monday

All Saints Church, Peshawar which was attacked yesterday by suicide bombers, is a church in the Diocese of Peshawar in the Church of Pakistan.

The diocesan website has information about the tragedy here.

Information about the historic building is here.

The Church of Pakistan is a United Church within the Anglican Communion. More information about its formation on this page. (scroll down).

And there is a blog post by an American priest who knows the church: Peshawar church bombing a condensation of horror and loss. More from Titus Presler via the Living Church here includes After church bombing Edwardes closes for 3 days and empathy abounds and College closes for 3 days in solidarity as church institution after All Saints bombing.

Media reports of the attack:

Karachi News: Twin suicide attacks in Peshawar church claim 81 lives and Peshawar church attack: Probe committee constituted, 81 dead buried. Also Nationwide protests against Peshawar church bombing and Peshawar bombing: Initial report says a warning was already issued.

Guardian: Taliban suicide attack on Pakistani church leaves dozens dead

Telegraph: Suicide bombers kill 60 Christians outside Pakistan church

Independent: Taliban claims responsibility for Peshawar church bombs that killed 78 and Pakistan’s beleaguered Christians fear Peshawar bombing will not be the last such attack

New York Times: Scores Are Killed by Suicide Bomb Attack at Historic Church in Pakistan

Reuters: Suicide bombers kill 78 Christians outside Pakistani church

Updates

Anglican Communion News Service Anglicans worldwide expresses shock, sadness over Pakistan bombings and also Sorrow over church bombings in Pakistan.

Lambeth Palace Archbishop ‘appalled’ by Pakistan church bombings

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 23 September 2013 at 7:49am BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Defending Bishop Tengatenga

Updated Thursday morning

Bishop James Tengatenga has been in the news recently because Dartmouth College reneged on a job offer they made to him, after he had already resigned his previous position as Bishop of Southern Malawi. See for example this ENS report by Matthew Davies Dartmouth withdraws Tengatenga’s appointment as foundation dean:

Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, has withdrawn the appointment of former Southern Malawi Bishop James Tengatenga as dean of its Tucker Foundation saying that his past comments about homosexuality “have compromised his ability to serve effectively.”

Meanwhile, some North American church leaders are surprised and saddened by the decision, saying that they know Tengatenga as a bridge-builder and reconciler who has a deep understanding of the complex issues concerning human sexuality.

Tengatenga, a long-standing member and current chair of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), the Anglican Communion’s main policy-making body, announced in mid-July that after 15 years as bishop of Southern Malawi he was tendering his resignation to become the Virginia Rice Kelsey Dean of the William Jewett Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth College from Jan. 1, 2014…

Today the Living Church has published a letter signed by a number of notable people, which criticises Dartmouth College. See Defending Bishop Tengatenga:

Dartmouth’s folly and the struggle for LGBTQ rights in Africa

Earlier this summer an offer was made to the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga, Anglican Bishop of Southern Malawi, to become the next Virginia Rice Kelsey ’61s Dean of the William Jewett Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth College, an organization charged with educating students and the Dartmouth community into “lives of purpose and ethical leadership, rooted in service, spirituality, and social justice.” Tengatenga accepted, announced his resignation as Bishop of Southern Malawi, made plans to come to Dartmouth in early 2014, and news of the appointment was made public on July 16. With a swiftness that hardly seemed possible, even in this age of electronic communication, messages started to circulate on blogs and over email, as were letters of protest sent to the College’s top administrators, charging the Bishop with homophobia. On July 22 the Dartmouth College Chapter of the NAACP sent a letter protesting the appointment to the president, provost, and members of the search committee…

Much of this communication was vague. Some of it, however, was quite specific, citing comments made by Tengatenga on matters related to human sexuality within the context of the Anglican Communion. Despite issuing a statement declaring his unequivocal support for marriage equality and the sanctity of human rights for all individuals appearing on the official “Dartmouth Now” site, Tengatenga continued to be criticized. One month after his appointment was announced, the President of the College, Philip J. Hanlon, released a statement saying that the appointment had been rescinded.

The President’s decision brought applause from some in the Dartmouth community. Others were appalled, as are we. The action represents a gross injustice to an individual who would have made an ideal person to provide moral and ethical leadership at the College. It casts serious doubts on what is being learned in American universities when members of those communities fail to distinguish between public positions of institutions and the views of individuals who participate in those institutions. It reflects badly on western human rights advocates who consciously or unconsciously engage in forms of cultural imperialism that undermine their own success and credibility by demanding proofs identical to their own kind and, in this instance, by also ignoring the voices of Africans and church leaders who have known and worked with Tengatenga in some cases for decades….

Do read the entire letter.

Update
A response to this letter by Joseph Asch has been published at Dartblog A Public Letter for Tengatenga. This response contains numerous links to earlier discussions on the same site.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 4 September 2013 at 7:00pm BST | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Monday, 26 August 2013

follow-ups to the Archbishop's sermon in Mexico

We reported some time ago that the Archbishop of Canterbury visited Mexico (along with Guatemala and Barbados) and that he preached this sermon in Monterrey. It includes this passage:

…It is a dangerous place, a narrow path we walk as Anglicans at present. On one side is the steep fall into an absence of any core beliefs, a chasm where we lose touch with God, and thus we rely only on ourselves and our own message. On the other side there is a vast fall into a ravine of intolerance and cruel exclusion. It is for those who claim all truth, and exclude any who question. When we fall into this place, we lose touch with human beings and create a small church, or rather many small churches – divided, ineffective in serving the poor, the hungry and the suffering, incapable of living with each other, and incomprehensible to those outside the church…

This passage is directly referenced in a statement issued today by the American group Communion Partners which continues:

..It is our vocation as Communion Partners to navigate this narrow path between two dangerous extremes as we pursue the mission of the Church “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” To that end, six Communion Partner bishops (Greg Brewer, Paul Lambert, Ed Little, Dan Martins, Ed Salmon and Michael Smith) made a visit to Archbishop Justin Welby at his residence in Canterbury, England last week.

There we prayed together and discussed a range of issues concerning the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church. Also present was the Archbishop’s Director of Reconciliation, Canon David Porter. We believe the opportunity to build relationships and discuss the ministry of reconciliation we share will bear fruit in this season of our common life. We are encouraged by our experience of the Archbishop as a man of faith and prayer, committed to the reevangelization of increasingly secularized Western cultures. Please keep Archbishop Justin in your prayers and remember us before God “who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.”

It’s also the subject of criticism in this article by Kelvin Holdsworth: The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Mexico Sermon.

..It is deeply unhelpful of the Archbishop to use language which appears to suggest that the risk that those who wish to affirm gay people present is one of a lack or loss of core beliefs. That just isn’t true and is a nasty slur against fellow Anglicans. The US and Canadian churches are not places where God is absent and if the Archbishop needs to find that out, he needs to go there and meet them, something that his predecessor seemed to find impossible to do.

People will read the sermon in the US and Canadian churches and take immediate offence. (I find it offensive here in Scotland, but there it will appear to be a judgement on their national churches). Those who wish to affirm the place of LGBT people do so because of their core beliefs as Christians and as Anglicans, not because of any lack of belief or loss of God…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 26 August 2013 at 6:35pm BST | Comments (27) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Archbishop of Uganda holds a press conference

The Archbishop of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali held a press conference recently. Here are some reports from it:

From the GAFCON website: Ugandan primate calls for GAFCON support

The primate of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali has likened GAFCON/FCA (Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans) to the East African Revival and called for believers to back the Nairobi conference to be held in October.

In a major statement in Kampala, Archbishop Ntagali referred to the fact that exactly ten years ago an active homosexual, who was a divorced father of two children, was elected a Bishop in the Episcopal Church in America. “This unbiblical decision on the part of a church threw the entire global Anglican Communion into chaos” he said.

The chaos, the Archbishop said, shows no sign of improving.

“We have a new Archbishop of Canterbury who is born again and has a testimony. I have personally met him and I like him very much. But, the problems in the Communion are still there, and they don’t change just because there is a new global leader. In fact, ten years later, the crisis has deepened.”

From the Daily Monitor:

Homosexuality is tearing fabric of Anglican union, says Ntagali

Gay clergy don’t belong in Anglican church, archbishop says

…The archbishop said the Anglican Church is built on the doctrines of Biblical teaching which only recognize hetero-sexual relationships.

The Ugandan Anglican community takes exception of the decision by the England House of Bishops to allow gay bishops as part of the Anglican clergy, he said, and thus will have a Global Anglican Future Conference in Nairobi, Kenya this October to resolve the issues.

The Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) will be the second of its kind that brings together Archbishops around the world who oppose gay bishops. In 2008, the anti-gay Anglican Church leaders gathered in Jerusalem, Israel to reflect on the future of the church.

Archbishop Ntagali, with these remarks, is picking off from where his predecessor left off: Henry Luke Orombi was one of the main organizers of Gafcon 2008, and also made several pastoral trips to several countries to preach against gay clergy and gay marriage.

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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury visits Barbados, Guatemala and Mexico

The Archbishop of Canterbury is engaged in a week-long trip to locations in three Anglican provinces.

Lambeth Palace has issued a series of press releases:

Archbishop Justin visits Anglicans in Barbados

‘Building communities of hope’: Archbishop preaches in Bardados

Archbishop Justin visits Guatemala

Reconciliation is our ‘gift to the world’: Archbishop preaches in Guatemala

Archbishop Justin praises Mexican Anglicans for helping ‘those most marginalised’ by poverty

‘Walk in the light with each other’: Archbishop Justin’s sermon in Mexico

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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Brazilian court rules against Recife breakaway diocese

The News Service of the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil reports:

Court Orders Return of Churches to the Anglican Diocese of Recife / Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil”

After a long judicial battle that lasted for a decade, a Brazilian judge has this month finally decided that the actions taken by Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti in creating of the Diocese of Recife – DR, flagrantly violated Brazilian law as well as Canon law, the Doctrine & Discipline of the Episcopal Anglican Church in Brazil (IEAB), resulting in the suspension/demotion, and eventual dismissal of Bishop Robinson from his episcopal authority & legal legitimacy for such actions.

With the sentence, it was decreed that all the actions taken by Bishop Robinson were nullified, and all would be returned to the Anglican Diocese of Recife (DAR), including property, administration & all goods and rights which were illegally usurped, including amongst them five churches with all of their belongings. From now on, all of these parishes are under the direction and supervision of Diocesan Bishop Sebastião Armando…

For some background to this, a Thinking Anglicans report from 2005 may be helpful: Recife: a clarification.

Many of the links from that report are now broken, but the article from the Living Church is still available from the web archive Southern Cone Primate Annexes Brazilian Diocese.

There is also this 2005 report from the Church Times Venables takes Brazilian diocese under his wing. The current issue also has a news report, but this is only available to subscribers.

Anglican Ink has this report by George Conger: Recife loses court battle over church property to the IEAB.

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Friday, 19 July 2013

Women in the episcopate around the Anglican Communion

YES 2 Women Bishops has published this useful Infographic: women bishops in the Anglican Communion showing the status of women in the episcopate around the Anglican Communion.

They have also published a summary of what General Synod did last week, Synod’s resolve, and these thoughts on where we are now.

So where does this all leave us? A few thoughts:

1. It seems premature for anyone to try to decide whether this form of legislation is acceptable or not. Whilst on the face of it, the proposal seems to be closer to what supporters of women bishops wanted and further from what opponents wanted, the reality of how this works will be in the Act of Synod or House of Bishops declaration which will set out the provisions for those opposed. There is a bit of a phoney war already underway with opponents of women bishops claiming that only provisions set out in the face of the legislation are adequate. In truth they already operate very happily under an Act of Synod which is detested by women clergy. This would imply that this form of provision is perfectly acceptable in other areas for those who cannot accept women bishops. It is perfectly possible, therefore, that any new Act of Synod provides precisely the provisions that opponents are looking for and is problematic for supporters of women bishops, so we really don’t yet know what the final package will look like. There is still a lot of work to do.

2. The synodical arithmetic has clearly not changed in any significant way - opponents remain opposed and supporters remain supportive. If it were put to another final vote today, requiring a two thirds majority in each house, it looks like it would still fail. For this reason, the legislative timetable is intriguing. In theory the final vote could come in the last sitting of the current synod, before elections are held and a new synod is formed. It seems implausible that a final vote will be held in the current synod session if it looks like the blocking minority remains opposed to the legislation in the run up to the final vote. Instead, the final vote will be shunted into the next Synod session when a new group have been elected, in the hope that the blocking minority is removed. Such a tactic is high risk, as there is no guarantee that this would be the outcome of synod elections. This means that unless some hearts and minds are won over in the next 12-18 months, synod elections will be dominated by this issue as each “side” seeks to get more of their number into general synod.

3. We’re back on our way. We must remain hopeful that Synod will succeed this time. The resolution passed last week is strong and positive, and so must we be. We must give thanks to those who have worked to make this happen, and resolve to pray and support them in the months and years ahead until we finally see the day when Christian women are able to fulfill their divine calling and serve as bishops.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 19 July 2013 at 3:32pm BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Monday, 15 July 2013

Nigerian Anglican Primate supports capital punishment

As background to the following news reports, here is an Opinion article from the Nigerian website Leadership entitled Much Ado About The Return Of Death Penalty.

The return of death penalty in the country after a seven-year moratorium has been on the front burner of public discussion, while the trend has been heavily criticised by organisations in defence of human rights, many people believe it is a step in the right direction. Uche Uduma samples the opinions of Nigerians on the issue.

In a bid to tackle the problem of prison congestion in the country, President Goodluck Jonathan recently called on the 36 state governors to sign death warrants to facilitate the immediate execution of the over 900 death row inmates in prisons spread across the country.

Following the directive by the President, the Edo state Governor Adams Oshomole, signed the death warrants of four convicted prisoners in the state prison. The recent execution of four convicts in Benin put an end to a seven-year moratorium on death penalty in the country. The execution of a fifth condemned inmate, who was to be executed by firing squad was not carried out because the prison where the convict was incarcerated does not have facilities to carry out such execution.

Since 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted four resolutions calling on States to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to abolishing it. In line with this, about 150 of the UN’s 193 Member States have either abolished the death penalty or no longer practice it. The return of death penalty in Nigeria has obviously put a strain on the campaign by United Nations to eliminate death penalty as a form of punishment. However, other states in Nigeria are making steps to hand down more death penalties.

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, at the official opening of the 5th World Conference against the death penalty last week implored political leaders in countries that still have such laws in their justice systems across the world to abolish it. He pointed that the campaign to eliminate the death penalty as a form of punishment has mainly faced resistance from political leaders…

Now here are several reports about the Anglican Primate’s contribution to this debate.

Capital Punishment: Primate berates Amnesty International

ABUJA PRIMATE, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh has berated Amnesty International (AI) for condemning Edo State government over the recent execution of death sentence on four inmates in Benin.

The primate who urged the Federal Government not to allow itself to be gagged by anybody, also called for the imposition of capital punishment on perpetrators of crimes, including rape and killing.

In June, after their death warrants were signed by the Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, the inmates — Osaremwinda Aigbuohian and Daniel Nsofor — whose lawyers have been struggling to obtain a stay of execution on the death sentence; and two other convicts whose identities are yet to be ascertained were hanged in Benin, the action that generated criticism by both local and international bodies…

The Daily Post reports Capital punishment: Those who rape and kill must be killed – Primate of Anglican Church.

Primate of the Church of Nigeria,Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, has joined in the bashing of those opposed to capital punishment in the country, saying they are ill-informed.

The Influential religious leader was reacting to the objection of foreign countries and international bodies on the recent execution of four inmates in Benin, Edo state.

The United Nations, Amnesty International and European Union, among others had opposed the action of the state government…

This Day via allAfrica.com Nigeria: Capital Punishment - Don’t Be Gagged, Anglican Primate Tells FG

The Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Tuesday, decried the condemnations that trailed the execution of four condemned prisoners in Benin City by the Edo State Government, urging the federal government not to allow itself to be gagged by anybody.

Reacting to questions at a press conference in Abuja, the Primate noted that Amnesty International had no justification to criticise the government’s action, as they were neither directly nor indirectly affected by the action of the inmates.

He warned that the federal government should not allow anybody or organisation to teach it what morality is all about, insisting that, “the law on capital punishment for those who rightly deserve it should be enforced…”

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Thursday, 4 July 2013

Another GAFCON condemnation of Church of England

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya, has published a July message, in preparation for the forthcoming second GAFCON conference in Nairobi in October. The message includes the following:

While we give thanks for much that has been achieved, especially in the emergence of the Anglican Church of North America and our Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, we are painfully aware that the Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada continue to promote a false gospel and yet both are still received as in good standing by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Furthermore, the Church of England itself, the historic mother church of the Communion, seems to be advancing along the same path. While defending marriage, both the Archbishops of York and Canterbury appeared at the same time to approve of same-sex Civil Partnerships during parliamentary debates on the UK’s ‘gay marriage’ legislation, in contradiction to the historic biblical teaching on human sexuality reaffirmed by the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

An earlier attack from Archbishop Wabukala, also related to Civil Partnerships, was here.

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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Hong Kong Anglican Church adopts the Covenant

The Anglican Communion News Service reports today that

Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, the Hong Kong Anglican Church, has adopted the Anglican Communion Covenant.

The Province’s General Secretary, the Revd Peter Koon, wrote to the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Canon Kenneth Kearon informing him of the decision by HKSKH’s Sixth General Synod held from 2 to 5 June.

Hong Kong is the seventh Province to adopt the Covenant, the others are La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico, The Church of the Province of Myanmar, the Church in the Province of the West Indies, Church of the Province of South East Asia (with their own preamble), the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea, and La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America.

The Church of Ireland has subscribed it, and the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has adopted it subject to a ratification at its next Provincial Synod.

The Scottish Episcopal Church’s General Synod defeated a resolution to agree in principle to adopt the Covenant in June 2012.

The Anglican Communion Covenant, a document that outlines the common life and values of the Communion, was described by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams as “Something that helps us know where we stand together and also helps us to intensify our fellowship and our trust.” It includes a section that proposes how to address significant disagreements within the Anglican Communion.

The idea of a Covenant was first raised in 2004 and member churches are currently reviewing the latest and final version.

For more on the Covenant visit http://aco.org/commission/covenant/index.cfm.

Readers will notice that there is still no mention of the fact that the proposal to adopt the Covenant in the Church of England was defeated when a majority of diocesan synods voted against.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 20 June 2013 at 4:52pm BST | Comments (28) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 13 June 2013

New website for Anglican Communion News Service

From the new website

New website for Anglican Communion News Service
Posted on: June 13, 2013 1:53 PM

By ACNS staff

The news service of the Anglican Communion has today launched its first ever purpose-built news website AnglicanNews.org

The site comes almost 20 years after the electronic news service was first launched. Since then subscribers around the world have received thousands of news articles via email.

“This site brings the Anglican Communion’s ability to share its stories of life and mission to a whole new level,” said Jan Butter who is the Director for Communication at the Anglican Communion Office.

“Until now we’ve been restricted to sending news stories to people’s email inboxes. Anglicans and Episcopalians around the world can visit the new site for, not just news, but also comment, feature stories, podcasts, videos and photos. We hope that the diverse content helps to reflect the richness and variety found across our Anglican Communion.”

Mr Butter added, “Existing subscribers will still receive email alerts, but just one a day summarising the newest content on the site.”

In a comment piece written exclusively for the new website, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby highlighted the importance of effective, grace-filled communication between Anglicans, saying it was part of the gift of the Anglican Communion.

“If the Communion is a gift, then communication between us is part of that gift. This means sharing insights into what God is calling us to do, wherever we are. It means sharing our witness and our inspiration.”

He added, “There have been times [members of the Anglican Communion] have used communication as a tool to hurt each another. But we must remember that above all we are called to share the love of Christ with the world. That means nothing less than communicating in a way that reflects Christ – a way that is loving and generous, patient and forgiving.”

Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Kenneth Kearon said he was excited about what this site would mean for the Churches of the Anglican Communion.

“It has been suggested that the theology of Web 2.0 is Body of Christ theology,” he said. “If so, then good communications is the lifeblood that allows that body to work together to fulfil God’s mission.

“I am delighted that we are able to offer this resource to the people of the Anglican Communion and I invite them to contribute content that they think will be of interest to their brothers and sisters around the world.”

The site was made possible thanks to funding from The Compass Rose Society and the Church Mission Publishing Company, and to support and guidance from members of Anglican Communion worldwide. It was built by Zebedee Creations Ltd.

It is part of a broader communications strategy that includes the relaunched Anglican World magazine (available at http://shop.anglicancommunion.org) and a new website for the Anglican Communion due in 2014.

Visit the new website at http://www.anglicannews.org.

Read Archbishop Welby’s article in the comment section.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 13 June 2013 at 5:25pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 11 May 2013

A Testimony of Hope

The Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue is “a fluid group of bishops from Canada, the U.S., and various African countries. Together they seek to build common understanding and respect among parts of the Communion that have been in conflict.”

The latest report from the Consultation is now available: A Testimony of Hope.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 11 May 2013 at 11:43am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

West Indies bishops issue statement on same-sex unions

The House of Bishops and the Standing Committee of the Province of the West Indies have issued a Provincial Statement on Same-Sex Unions.

The full text of this statement is copied below the fold. The Diocese of Jamaica has this press statement:

The House of Bishops and the Standing Committee of the Church in the Province of the West Indies (CPWI) have stated that the idea of same-sex unions is totally unacceptable on theological and cultural grounds. And they have urged leaders of government, civil society, and the people of the English-speaking Caribbean “to resist any attempt to compromise our cultural and religious principles regarding these matters.”

In a statement issued on April 25 from their meeting at the Provincial Secretariat at Bamford House in Barbados, the Bishops and Standing Committee noted trends in developed nations and the international forums in which these nations exercise control “in which matters related to human sexuality have been elevated to the level of human rights and are being promulgated as positions which must be accepted globally.” The statement further noted that frequently, failure by developing nations to conform, results in the threat of various sanctions, including the withholding of economic aid.

However the Bishops and Standing Committee cautioned that “the dangling of a carrot of economic assistance to faltering economies should be seen for what it is worth and should be resisted by people and government alike.”

While acknowledging the diversity of family patterns within the Caribbean region, they noted that these have been understood by Caribbean people to be between a man and a woman. The Bishops and Standing Committee argued that if human rights are being invoked as the basis for same-sex unions, that same principle should be applied to allow Caribbean people the right to affirm their cultural and religious convictions regarding their definitions of marriage.

The House of Bishops includes some 23 Bishops (in service and retired) from the eight Dioceses in the English-speaking Caribbean, who meet twice a year to reflect on issues concerning the mission of the Anglican Church in the Region. The Standing Committee comprises clergy and laity elected to represent their Dioceses at the Provincial Synod which meets every three years. The last Provincial Synod was hosted by the Diocese of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands in November 2012.

The eight Dioceses in the CPWI are: The Diocese of Barbados, the Diocese of Belize, the Diocese of Guyana, the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the Diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Diocese of the North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba, the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago and the Diocese of the Windward Islands.

Provincial Statement on Same-Sex Unions
April 25, 2013

The House of Bishops and Standing Committee of the Church in the Province of the West Indies meeting at Bamford House in Barbados extend greetings to the faithful of the Province and the leaders of our nations charged with responsibility for governance.

In the course of our deliberations we have taken note of the fact that our nations are facing serious economic and social challenges which are currently taxing the human and material resourcefulness of our peoples, a situation complicated by developments in the global economy.

We have taken note also of trends within countries of the developing world and international forums, and in which these countries exercise a controlling interest, in which matters related to human sexuality have been elevated to the level of human rights and are being promulgated as positions which must be accepted globally. Frequently, failure to conform by developing nations like our own, results in the threat of various sanctions, including the withholding of economic aid.

More specifically, there is a re-definition of gender to accommodate gay, lesbian and transgendered people, and the creation of a plurality of definitions which leaves the issue of gender to self-definition, thereby dismissing traditional definition of male and female. Additionally, there is the passage of legislation among a number of metropolitan nations whereby marriage is defined as a human right in which any two persons may be joined, inclusive of persons of the same sex. The “marriage” of persons of the same sex is justified as a human right on the basis of marital equality with heterosexual unions.

While we acknowledge that there is a diversity of family patterns within our Caribbean region, these have been understood by our people to be between a man and a woman, whether defined in terms of the natural order of creation or on the basis of religious beliefs which see these grounded in the purpose of God.

We reaffirm marriage as “a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of His grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, is central to the stability and health of human society. It continues to provide the best context for the raising of children”. (1) Characteristic of our patterns of cohabitation and family life is the notion that such unions are based on a relationship between a man and a woman. The idea of such unions being constituted by persons of the same sex is, therefore, totally unacceptable on theological and cultural grounds.

While we recognize that the role of the Church and the State are not the same, the Church’s task being distinctly different from the State, the Church’s mandate is informed by pastoral and doctrinal concerns and in drawing the attention of the faithful to the source and purpose of marriage, and in solemnizing such unions. The governments have the responsibility of providing the kind of legal framework for protecting, but not defining, this most basic social institution on which the stability of society and the socialization of its members rest, as well as protecting the members of such unions against abuse and injustice.

We are conscious of the fact that our political leaders within our Caribbean region are being subjected to pressures from nations and institutions from outside of our region. Frequently they are pressured to conform to the changes being undertaken in their redefinition of human sexuality and same-sex unions, under threat of economic sanctions and the loss of humanitarian aid. We urge our leaders of government and of civil society, as well as the people of our nations, to resist any attempt to compromise our cultural and religious principles regarding these matters. The dangling of a carrot of economic assistance to faltering economies should be seen for what it is worth and should be resisted by people and government alike.

The threat and use of economic sanctions are not new experiences for us, neither is the claim to a superior morality convincing for peoples who have known the experience of chattel slavery in our past. While claiming to invoke human rights as the basis for such imposition, we submit that the same principle must allow us the right to affirm our cultural and religious convictions regarding our definitions of that most basic of social institutions, marriage.

Footnote
1. Civil Partnerships: A Pastoral Statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England, 2005, para 2.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 8:22am BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 6 April 2013

Desmond Tutu awarded Templeton Prize

The Church Times reports: Tutu wins £1.1m Templeton Prize.

ARCHBISHOP Desmond Tutu was awarded the Templeton Prize on Thursday for “advancing spiritual principles such as love and forgiveness”.

The award, which is now worth £1.1 million, was established 40 years ago by the late global investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton, to reward a person “who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works”.

Dr Tutu will receive the prize at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London on 21 May. A celebration will be held next Thursday at St George’s Cathedral, Capetown…

The full text of the press release from the Templeton Foundation is currently here. Other background information is also available.

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News items from around the Anglican Communion

The Anglican Communion Office has published three reports of the business recently transacted by the Standing Committee, which met in late March. In case you’ve forgotten, the committee’s structure is explained here.

The reports of the 2013 meeting:

There have been several reports of the recent election of a primate for the Anglican Church of Tanzania.

First there was this announcement: New Archbishop elected by Anglican Church of Tanzania.

Then there was a follow-up item Tanzania bishops welcome Archbishop-elect Jacob Chimeledya.

And most recently there was this: Tanzania’s General Secretary clarifies Archbishop election.

…The Special Electoral synod of the Anglican Church of Tanzania met on 21st February 2013 in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Dodoma to elect the sixth Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Tanzania. Since then some unfounded accusations of corruption, bribery and tribalism surrounding the election of our new Archbishop have been made on the internet.
The internet can be used to develop relationships, but it can also be used to spread gossip and destabilize the church. None of those writing these false stories sought to confirm them with us. It is very sad that someone who did not attend the election would spoil what was confirmed by all our bishops as a fair and transparent election…

To understand what this refers to, see other earlier reports: here, here, and here. And then also here, and here.

And there is news from Uruguay via Anglican Journal: Pollesel election in Uruguay ratified.

The Anglican Province of the Southern Cone has reconsidered the diocese of Uruguay’s appeal and has voted to ratify the election of Archdeacon Michael Pollesel as co-adjutor bishop.

The decision came 10 months after the province’s house of bishops rejected Pollesel’s election. The Uruguayan diocesan synod had appealed the decision, but “for technical canonical reasons the form of the original appeal was not valid” and had to be presented again, said Southern Cone Presiding Bishop Hector Zavala in a press release.

The Southern Cone house of bishops and provincial executive council, “with joy and thankfulness to God,” ratified Pollesel’s election after new consideration of the appeal and the presentation of new background material, Zavala said…

Again, in case you had forgotten, here is the Anglican Journal earlier report on his rejection, and our own much earlier report about that diocese’s discomfort with the Southern Cone province.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 6 April 2013 at 7:56am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 4 April 2013

Women Bishops in Wales

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales will be meeting on 10 and 11 April 2013. The agenda includes group discussion on women bishops, as this extract from a press release describes.

The ordination of women as bishops will be discussed by clergy and lay people from all over Wales at a key Church meeting next week.

Theological arguments for and against women bishops will be presented to members of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body during its two-day meeting at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, in Lampeter, on April 10-11.

The 144 members will be put into seven groups, each facilitated by a bishop, to consider two papers – one outlining the case for the ordination of women and one setting out the case against.

The discussions are being held ahead of the introduction of a two-stage Bill to the Governing Body in September to ordain women as bishops. That legislation, however, will not be addressed by the groups next week.

The Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, says, “It is now five years since the last time that Governing Body considered the question of the ordination of women to the episcopate, and many of its members will have changed. The bishops feel it is important that Governing Body has the opportunity to explore the theological questions behind these issues, and understand the conscientious reasons why those opposed to the ordination of women to the episcopate would not be able to accept the sacramental ministry of a woman bishop as well as the theological reasons why those in favour believe that the time is right for such as a step.”

The discussions will take place on Thursday morning from 9.30am.

The full agenda is available online.

The Governing Body previously considered a bill to allow women to be bishops in April 2008. It was defeated then as it failed to achieve a two-thirds majority in the House of Clergy.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 4 April 2013 at 2:36pm BST | Comments (81) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Anglican Communion leaders welcome new Pope

Updated again Friday noon

ACNS has issued this press release: Communion leaders welcome new Pope.

Lambeth Palace issued: ‘May the love of Christ unite us’: Archbishop’s statement on the election of Pope Francis.

ACNS has also issued this: “The Church universal needs Anglicans” - Pope Francis

The new Pope has reportedly said the Church universal needs Anglicans and that the Ordinariate is “quite unnecessary”.

In a note released after the election of the first ever pontiff from Latin America, the Anglican Bishop of Argentina and former Primate of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, the Rt Revd Greg Venables said Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was “an inspired choice”.

“Many are asking me what is really like. He is much more of a Christian, Christ centered and Spirit filled, than a mere churchman. He believes the Bible as it is written.

“I have been with him on many occasions and he always makes me sit next to him and invariably makes me take part and often do what he as Cardinal should have done. He is consistently humble and wise, outstandingly gifted yet a common man. He is no fool and speaks out very quietly yet clearly when necessary.”

Bp Venables added that in a conversation with Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, the latter made it clear that he values the place of Anglicans in the Church universal.

“He called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the Church needs us as Anglicans.

The former Primate of the Anglican Communion’s Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America added, “I consider this to be an inspired appointment not because he is a close and personal friend, but because of who he is In Christ. Pray for him.”

Statements from:
Ireland
Wales
Scotland

Archbishop of York

The Bishop of Guildford has issued this statement as Chairman of the Council for Christian Unity and a member of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission: POPE FRANCIS 1st.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 at 11:40pm GMT | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 12 January 2013

Civil partnerships and bishops: Global South Anglican statement

A statement has been issued from the Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion:

We, Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion, are deeply concerned and worried by the recent decision of the Church of England’s House of Bishops which approves that clergy livingin civil partnerships can be candidates to the episcopate.There is already an ambiguity regarding civil partnerships per se. We learnt that most civil partnerships, according to the Office for National Statistics in the UK, take place among the most sexually active age group. In addition dissolutions of civil partnerships are now increasing especially in the last few years. This puts into question the motives behind this civil partnership and adds to our confusion in the Global South.

When the Church of England allowed civil partnerships in 2005, they said that “The House of Bishops does not regard entering into a civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with holy orders, provided the person concerned is willing to give assurances to his or her bishop that therelationship is consistent with the standards for the clergy set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.” Now, with allowing candidates for episcopacy to do the same, to whom should they give assurances? Clarification on this point is needed.

Sadly, both the decision to permit clergy to enter civil partnerships and this latest decision which some call it a “local option,” are wrong and were taken without prior consultation or consensus with the rest of the Anglican Communion at a time when the Communion is still facing major challenges of disunity. It is contrary to “the inter-dependence” which we try to affirm betweenchurches within the Communion. Moreover, it does not only widen the gap between the Church of England and Anglicans in the Global South, it also widens the gap between the Anglican Communion and our ecumenical partners. Further, it jeopardizes the relationship between us Anglicans living in the Global South and followers of other faiths, and gives opportunities to exploit such departure of moral standards that this type of decision may provide.

The Church, more than any time before, needs to stand firm for the faith once received from Jesus Christ through the Apostles and not yield to the pressures of the society! In other words, the Church needs to be “salt” and “light” and to present a distinctive message from that of the secular world around us.

We strongly urge the Church of England to reconsider this divisive decision.

+ Mouneer Egypt
The Most Revd Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis
Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
Chairman, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Nicholas Abuja
The Most Revd Nicholas Okoh
Primate of All Nigeria Bishop of Abuja
Vice-Chairman, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++ Ian Maritius
The Most Revd Ian Ernest
Primate of the Indian Ocean Bishop of Mauritius
Hon. General Secretary, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Bolly Kuching
The Most Revd Datuk Bolly Lapok
Primate of South East Asia Bishop of Kuching
Hon. General Treasurer, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++ Stephen Yangon
The Most Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo
Primate of Myanmar Bishop of Yangon
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Eluid Nairobi
The Most Revd Dr. Eluid Wabukala
Primate of Kenya Bishop of Nairobi
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Bernard Matana
The Most Revd Bernard Nhatori
Primate of Burundi Bishop of Matana
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Hector Chile
The Most Revd Hector “Tito” Zavala
Primate of the Southern Cone Bishop of Chile
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Henri Kinshasa
The Most Revd Kahwa Henri Isingoma
Primate of Congo Bishop of Kinshasa
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

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Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Archbishop's Advent letter to Anglican Primates

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has sent an Advent letter to the Primates of the Anglican Communion and Moderators of the United Churches.

The full text can be read either on the Lambeth Palace website, or on the Anglican Commmunion Office website.

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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Uganda anti-gay legislation: latest news and comment

Updated Friday afternoon

I last reported on the situation in Uganda a few weeks ago, in Uganda anti-gay bill requested by Christians. And before that in June Bishops support Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I have seen no more recent statement from the Anglican bishops in Uganda.

Meanwhile, the proposed legislation moves nearer to enactment. Here are a few recent comment articles:

Some news reports:

A detailed clause by clause analysis of the bill starts here, and ends here.

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Sunday, 18 November 2012

Anglican Covenant: report made to ACC-15

On Monday the General Synod is due to hear a presentation on the Anglican Consultative Council meeting held recently in New Zealand. A great many documents from that meeting are now available online here.

Of particular interest for the other agenda item tomorrow, concerning the Anglican Covenant, is this report on Provincial Reception of the Anglican Covenant (PDF).

This paper contains three kinds of information.

The first (Category A) is from member churches which have taken action in their governing body with respect to the Covenant, and which have communicated their decision to the Anglican Communion Office. The second (Category B) is from member churches which have taken action along the way to a decision, but which have not yet made a formal decision. The third (Category C) is from member churches whose actions have not been communicated to the ACO, but about which there is information through the media or on their own websites.

Wherever possible the exact wording of resolutions as adopted or defeated is given…

At the time this document was discussed at the ACC, Mary Frances Schjonberg of ENS filed this report: Council considers status of Anglican Covenant in small groups.

The Anglican Consultative Council spent an hour in private conversation on Oct. 31 (local time) considering the status of the Anglican Covenant but took no action.

Those reflection group conversations, preceded by a short plenary session open to the public, has been the pattern of this 15th meeting of the ACC.

Before the Oct. 31 reflection conversations began, New Zealand Diocese of Christchurch Bishop Victoria Matthews asked the members to consider “why [the covenant] is a cause of fear and why is it a sign of hope for others?”

The results of the reflection conversations were to be given to the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) and the Anglican Communion Standing Committee “as they discern the ways to take the matter forward,” according to a handout on the process…

And the previous day, in this digest report (scroll down for item) she had reported that Members get covenant status update.

While the ACC is not due to discuss the current status of the Anglican Covenant until Oct. 31, a document handed out today shows that nine provinces have made a final decision on the covenant with one rejecting the covenant, six accepting it as is and two making modifications as part of their acceptance.

Those in the so-called Category A that have approved the convent are Ireland, Mexico, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Southern Cone of America, and the West Indies. In addition, according to the document, South East Asia adopted the covenant with an added preamble of its own and the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has subscribed to the covenant’s first three sections but said it cannot adopt section 4, which outlines a process for resolving disputes.

And, also in Category A, is the Scottish Episcopal Church, which has refused to adopt the covenant.

The U.S.-based Episcopal Church is one of eight provinces sorted into Category B, which is described as including provinces that have made “partial decisions” about the covenant…

The Church of Ireland Gazette also reported on all this, and interviewed Malcolm French of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition. The full text of the Gazette report is available below the fold.

Church of Ireland Gazette report, 9 November
A tale of two Anglican Covenants - one in the mind, another on paper, Bishop Victoria Matthews tells ACC-15

The Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand, the Rt Revd Victoria Matthews, last week told delegates at the 15th Anglican Consultative Council meeting (ACC -15), being held in Auckland, that she thought there were two Anglican Communion Covenants: “One is the document that people have in their mind and the other is the Anglican Communion Covenant on paper.”

For that reason, she said, she wanted people “to read the Covenant and be focused on that” because often, when people start talking about the Covenant “ what they describe in their mind as the Covenant is unrecognisable”.

Bishop Matthews, as a member of the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCU FO), was introducing an ACC -15 session on the history and progress of the Covenant.

She observed that the questions behind the Covenant were: ‘What is the best way?’, ‘Is there a way that will keep us together safely?’, ‘What is our deepest fear when we consider decision-making processes?’.

“I believe that in the original idea of the Anglican Covenant, there was a desire to allow the Anglican Communion to be a safe place for conversation and the sharing of new ideas,” she said. “The actual document of the Anglican Covenant does not achieve that for all the Churches of the Anglican Communion, and that is why some Churches have declined to adopt it.”

Bishop Matthews added: “There are those who say [the Covenant] is punitive, and those who say it has no teeth. Both [these comments] tell me that it is not yet perceived, let alone received, as a truly safe way in which to encounter one another.”

While stressing that it was not the work of IASCU FO to promote the Covenant, but rather to monitor its reception, she asked delegates - in advance of a video shown to them on the history and detail of the Covenant - to reflect on “what there is in the Covenant that offers a possible way for us to talk to each other”.

“Remember most of the Covenant reminds us who we are in Christ,” she added.

NO ANGLICAN COVENANT COALITION RESPONSE

The Moderator of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition, the Revd Malcolm French, of the Anglican Church of Canada, has told the Gazette that he agrees with Bishop Matthews that there is a ‘disconnect’ between the Anglican Covenant that is on paper and the Anglican Covenant that some people are discussing.

However, he added that, when the body of literature on the Covenant, on both sides of the debate about it, is examined, “it is far more often the Covenant’s critics who examine the text of the document itself”.

Mr French added that “most of the material written in support of the Anglican Covenant avoids any serious engagement with the text, reducing the Covenant to a notional construct, an empty vessel into which its advocates may pour whatever pretty rhetoric they believe will appeal to whichever audience is being addressed”.

The NACC Moderator told us that he also agreed with Bishop Matthews that IASCUFO’s mandate is not to promote the Covenant, but rather to monitor the process of its reception, but asked why a body mandated to monitor reception of the Covenant felt it was appropriate “to produce a series of videos clearly designed to promote its adoption”.

Mr French concluded: “Whatever the intent of its authors, it is clear the Anglican Covenant has become a cause of division rather than a means of unity. Scotland has said no. New Zealand has said no. The Philippines has said no. Despite the spin, England has said no.

“Despite the growing chorus of noes, the Communion continues to muddle along, showing once and for all that we are bound together by grace, not by law.”

  • Member-Churches of the Anglican Communion were invited to adopt the Anglican Covenant. However, at the General Synod of 2011, the Church of Ireland used a different term, agreeing to ‘subscribe’ the document.
    Proposing the motion, the Bishop of Cashel and Ossory made it clear that the term ‘subscribe’ was being used because it was understood to be less binding than ‘adoption’.
    The Bishop of Down and Dromore, seconding, concurred with Bishop Burrows’ understanding of the wording.
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Friday, 16 November 2012

African challenges for the new archbishop

The Voice of America published this article about the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Tough Path Ahead for New Anglican Leader.

…The archbishop also comes from the church’s evangelical wing, which analysts say should stand him well in Africa. Pityana said that building a bridge between the two sides, however, will not be easy.

“Clearly any archbishop has got to be a master diplomat, has got to be somebody who can really balance out a variety of interests and pushes and pulls in the Anglican community. In this time, I would imagine there is a schism in all but name,” said Pityana.

Pityana said what is needed is an archbishop who can open dialogue, and he thinks Welby may have what it takes.

The incoming archbishop has worked as a crisis negotiator in Africa, working with separatists in the Niger Delta and negotiating with Islamists in northern Nigeria. His experience in Africa is important, Pityana said, especially in Nigeria, host to the world’s largest Anglican community.

“Bishop Justin has worked in Nigeria and one assumes that he has got fraternal relations with the leadership or the emerging leadership of the church in Nigeria. And so he would be able, at the very least, to be persuasive enough to open real genuine dialogue, which clearly under Archbishop Rowan Williams just did not happen,” said Pityana…

But speaking on the BBC, Nigerian Anglican leader Nicholas Okoh made it clear how he views the road ahead.

“The homosexual agenda that is being promoted here and there in the church, and by different governments here and there, if that is the agenda he is coming to promote, of course we will not be part of it,” said Okoh.

Leeds University African-religious studies expert Kevin Ward also is an Anglican priest. He said he thinks Welby has the qualities needed to make better headway toward dialogue within the Communion.

“I think that Justin Welby is going to work hard. He has this strong background of reconciliation, of working with divided people, bringing people together. And I think he will use those skills very well, not least in working with African church leaders,” said Ward.

Agence France-Presse reports: Nigerian lawmakers move ahead on anti-gay bill.
Also published by the Kenyan Daily Nation .

ABUJA — Nigerian lawmakers moved a step closer Tuesday to approving a bill that would harshly crack down on gay rights, including banning same-sex marriage and public displays of affection between homosexual couples.

The bill which has already been approved by the Senate passed a second reading in the House of Representatives with an unanimous vote and will now see a clause-by-clause review in the chamber at an undetermined date.

“It is alien to our society and culture and it must not be imported,” House majority leader Mulikat Adeola-Akande said during debate, referring to same-sex marriage. “Religion abhors it and our culture has no place for it,” she added.

House minority leader Femi Gbajabiamila said the bill represents “convergence of both law and morality.” He said that same-sex marriage “is both illegal and immoral.”

Nigeria’s senate in November 2011 approved the bill that would make same-sex marriages punishable by up to 14 years for the couple and 10 for anyone abetting such unions.

It also set out a 10-year sentence for “any person who … directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationships”.

Gay organisations would also be made illegal, leading some to raise concerns over whether funding channeled through non-governmental organisations in Nigeria for AIDS treatment would be put in jeopardy…

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Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Uganda anti-gay bill requested by Christians

The Associated Press reports: Official: Uganda’s anti-gay bill to be passed by end of year despite criticism abroad.
Also published in the Washington Post.

Uganda’s anti-gay bill will be passed before the end of 2012 despite international criticism of the draft legislation, the speaker of the country’s parliament said Monday, insisting it is what most Ugandans want.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told The Associated Press that the bill, which originally mandated death for some gay acts, will become law this year.

Ugandans “are demanding it,” she said, reiterating a promise she made before a meeting on Friday of anti-gay activists who spoke of “the serious threat” posed by homosexuals to Uganda’s children. Some Christian clerics at the meeting in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, asked the speaker to pass the law as “a Christmas gift.”

See this video from NTV Uganda via Allafrica.com: Anti-Gay Bill: Speaker Kadaga Promises to Speed Up Law in Uganda.

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Monday, 5 November 2012

Archbishop of Canterbury's Final Presidential Address to ACC-15

ACNS has published this press release: Archbishop of Canterbury: “Beware the danger of becoming less than we aspire to be as a Communion”.

The full audio recording is available to download here.

The full text of the address is now also available here.

In his final Presidential address, the Archbishop of Canterbury this evening told the Anglican Communion not to accept second best, but to seek a balance between corrective authority and enabling authority while still doing God’s work.

Speaking in St Mary’s Church, Archbishop Williams said the fellowship of Anglican churches worldwide needed to “be aware of the danger of becoming less than we aspire to be as a Communion.”

“I think that we do aspire to be a consensual catholic and orthodox family,” he told the members of the Anglican Consultative Council gathered for evening prayer. “I believe we do aspire to be a family that lives in mutual respect and recognition. And to step back from that simply into a federal model…doesn’t seem to me to be the best and the greatest that God is asking from us as an Anglican family.”

Archbishop Rowan said he believed Anglicans have a message to give the Christian world about how they can be “both catholic and orthodox and consensual, working in freedom, mutual respect and mutual restraint; without jeopardising the important local autonomy of our churches.”

He stressed that the Anglican Communion needed to work on the convergence of the different schemes and systems present across the Member Churches, and find “a legal spirit, an ethos that they share by consent and exploration and discovery rather than by kicking the whole issue upstairs to some higher legal authority.”

Authority was a theme to which he returned time and again. He suggested that the Instruments of Communion should not only have reactive or corrective authority, but also enabling authority…

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Thursday, 1 November 2012

Bishop of Leicester opposes religious homophobia

The Bishop of Leicester, The Right Reverend Tim Stevens, spoke in the House of Lords on 25 October in a debate on homosexuality in the developing world.

The full text of his speech can be found here in Hansard.

An edited version was published at Cif belief under the headline There is no place for homophobia in the church, anywhere in the world.

…Others in this debate have rehearsed the ways in which laws criminalising same-sex sexual activity between adults have been repeatedly found in international law to violate fundamental human rights, and this debate serves also to highlight effectively the way in which criminalisation gives rise to persecution. I want, however, to concentrate on the way in which discriminatory interference in the private sexual conduct of consenting adults is an affront to the fundamental Christian values of human dignity, tolerance and equality.

It is of course no secret, as others have made clear, that on the ethics of homosexual practice the churches in general and the Anglican communion bishops in particular are deeply divided, but that cannot and must not be any basis for equivocating on the central issue of equality before the law of all human beings whether heterosexual or homosexual. Further, many of us who are bishops in this country value and treasure our links with particular dioceses around the Anglican communion. We respect and appreciate the different, and often sharply divided, theological approaches which lead to different stances on the ethical issues. But, as the Lambeth conference of 1998 made clear, there is not and cannot be any place for homophobia in the church, and all are to be welcomed regardless of sexual orientation…

And he continued:

…Many people the world over are now asking the churches to put their position beyond all doubt, by saying simply and clearly that criminalisation is wrong. I will put my position beyond all doubt by stating it in as clear terms as I can. If criminalisation leads, as it evidently does, to gay people concealing their own identity, that must be wrong; if criminalisation leads to many living in fear, that must be wrong; if criminalisation leads to the prospect of persecution, arrest, detention and death, that must be wrong; and if criminalisation means that LGBT people dare not turn to the state when facing hate crimes and violence, that must be wrong too.

It is within the adult lifetime of most of us in this House that the law was changed in this country to decriminalise homosexual acts. However, for our children’s generation, such a state of affairs must feel like ancient history – as appropriate to the moral climate of today’s society in this country as the burning of witches. We must all urgently pursue this journey to a completely new climate in those many countries of the world where same-sex relations are criminal offences…

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Sunday, 28 October 2012

Good news for Zimbabwe Anglicans

USPG reports Zimbabwe court has good news for Anglicans.

Anglicans in Zimbabwe are celebrating a favourable court ruling that will give back the legal ownership of church properties.

Ex-communicated bishop Dr Nolbert Kunonga and his colleagues have taken control of Anglican properties in the Dioceses of Harare and Manicaland, forcing Anglican congregations to worship in the open air or in borrowed or rented buildings.

But, today, Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court ruled that properties in Manicaland should be returned to the Anglican Church. And a decision on Harare will be made in three months…

And Bishop Chad Gandiya sent the following message:

Warm greetings from very hot Harare! I want to thank you all very much for your prayers.
Our Supreme Court hearing took place this morning (from 9.30am to close to 13pm), and finished all the matters.
Most of the Kunonga appeals including that of Manicaland [claims on Anglican property in the Diocese of Manicaland], were thrown out. So, for Manicaland, we go back to Justice Bhunu’s judgement, which was in our favour (congratulations to Bishop Julius Makoni of Manicaland!).
The Harare matter was heard and the judges reserved judgement. They will notify us in due course (within three months I am told).
I am very pleased that it’s over so quickly. It went very well and we are happy the way it went.
This does not mean for you stop praying. Please continue to pray as the judges write down their judgement.
The end is in sight now. Praise God!’

Other news reports:

ZimEye History as Bishop Kunonga loses multiple High Court cases

SW Radio Africa via AllAfrica Zimbabwe: Court Rejects Kunonga Appeals in Anglican Property Row

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Saturday, 27 October 2012

Anglican Consultative Council opens in Auckland

Updated 30 October

The Anglican Consultative Council is currently meeting in Auckland, New Zealand. That link leads to all the official press releases, podcasts, videos, and photographs from the Anglican Communion News Service.

ACC welcome: Once in a lifetime event

More material is available here.

Episcopal News Service also has extensive coverage: for example Consultative Council gets challenging welcome from New Zealanders.

Earlier the Standing Committee met, and issued this bulletin.

Updates
The agenda for the meeting can be found as a PDF here.

Audio of the press conference held on 29 October is here.

Opening speech by the Secretary General is reported here. There is some discussion in that of who is attending and the full list of members (and alternates where attending) is over here.

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Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Archbishop of Canterbury speaks to Roman Catholic Synod of Bishops

Updated Sunday

The Archbishop of Canterbury addressed the “Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith”.

The full text of his remarks can be found here.

For some helpful information on the event, see this blog by the Bishop of Sheffield, Steven Croft, who is also attending the synod. His first entry is Preparing for the Synod of Bishops.

Further background material can be found here.

Update
There is also this transcript of a Vatican Radio interview.

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Anglican Covenant - reference to dioceses

updated Thursday

The Business Committee of the General Synod is required to report on the reference of the Anglican Communion Covenant to the dioceses. Their report GS 1878 is now available for download and will be debated at Synod on 19 November 2012.

The report includes the detailed voting figures from each diocese, and some analysis of these figures such as the following two paragraphs.

9. It will be seen … that the majorities within individual dioceses varied greatly. In some, the draft Act of Synod adopting the Covenant was either approved or rejected by substantial majorities. In others the voting in the House of Laity or House of Clergy or both of the houses was very close. Thus, in eleven dioceses which did not approve the Act of Synod, it would have been approved if between two and eight individuals had voted in favour rather than against. Conversely, in fifteen dioceses which did approve the Act of Synod, it would not have been approved if between one and eight individuals had voted against rather than in favour.

10. The point can be illustrated in another way by noting that, if a total of just seventeen individuals spread across five particular dioceses had voted to support the Covenant rather than oppose it, a bare majority of dioceses would have approved the Covenant, whereas, if a total of just ten across five other dioceses had voted against instead of in favour, the diocesan voting against the Covenant would have been much greater at 31-13.

The report also includes the recorded opinions of the Archbishop of York and the Bishops of Chester and Sodor & Man, and a list of the following motions that were debated in several dioceses.

Update This report was originally published in June along with the papers for the July meeting of Synod. It received little attention at the time as the focus for July was wholly on the topic of women bishops. At the time we made reference to it here, here and here. The current link to the report is on this page, which will eventually list all the papers for the November Synod.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 at 6:32pm BST | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Two Anglican provinces elect new primates

The Province of West Africa made this announcement a few days ago: New Primate elected for the Church of the Province of West Africa.

CHURCH OF THE PROVINCE OF WEST AFRICA (Anglican Communion)

ELECTION OF THE NINTH PRIMATE OF CPWA

Upon the approval of the amendments to the constitution to create two internal provinces in the Church of the Province of West Africa (CPWA) namely, the province of Ghana to comprise all the dioceses in Ghana and the province of West Africa to comprise the dioceses in Bo, Cameroon, Freetown, Gambia, Guinea and Liberia; each to be headed by an Archbishop:

The province of Ghana elected Rt. Revd. Dr. Daniel Yinka Sarfo, Bishop of Kumasi as the Archbishop-elect and the province of West Africa, Rt. Revd. Dr. S. Tilewa Johnson, Bishop of Gambia as the Archbishop-elect.

Archbishop-elect S. Tilewa Johnson was then elected as the Ninth Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa for a term of five (5) years.

Dated this 29th day of September, 2012 at Cuttington University, Suacoco, Liberia
(signed) +AlbertDG Gomez
RT. REVD. ALBERT D. G. GOMEZ
DEAN OF THE CHURCH OF PROVINCE OF WEST AFRICA (CPWA)

Today, the Church of Ireland made this announcement: The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke Elected As Archbishop Of Armagh And Primate Of All Ireland

The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, Bishop of Meath and Kildare, has been elected Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland by the House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland, following the retirement of Archbishop Alan Harper on 30 September…

…The House of Bishops also decided that his election would take effect from 15 December 2012 which will be the date of the bishop’s translation and enthronement in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh. In the meantime, The Venerable Raymond Hoey, Archdeacon of Armagh, will carry the diocesan responsibilities for the Diocese of Armagh. The Provincial responsibilities are carried by the Archbishop of Dublin, The Most Reverend Dr Michael Jackson until this date.

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Saturday, 8 September 2012

Hurd Report: the 2001 review of the See of Canterbury

In commenting on today’s interview given by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Telegraph reference has been made to the Hurd report.

See these ACNS press releases from September 2001:

But the full text of the report which was previously published on the websites of both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion Office is no longer available at either place (both sites have undergone several major rebuilds since 2001, so that is not altogether surprising).

I have therefore made the full text of the report available here.

Information on Lord Hurd of Westwell is available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 8 September 2012 at 5:15pm BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Telegraph interviews Rowan Williams

Update (Saturday 9.15 am) The Anglican Communion Office has responded with this Correction to The Telegraph article.

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion has responded to an article in today’s The Telegraph newspaper that inaccurately stated: “The Anglican Church is drawing up plans… that would see the introduction of a ‘presidential’ figure to take over some of the global role of the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

“The opening paragraph of this article is mischievous,” said Canon Kenneth Kearon. “There are no such plans. The Archbishop of Canterbury simply said in the interview that he could see that in the future there might be some reflection on how the administrative load associated with the Anglican Communion might be better shared.

“The Anglican Communion has several decision-making bodies, one of which is meeting in a few months’ time. Nothing like what this newspaper has suggested is on the agenda.”

The Telegraph today has a major interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

John Bingham and Benedict Brogan My job is too big for one man, says Archbishop of Canterbury

The outgoing leader of the world’s 77 million Anglicans suggested a form of job share after admitting that he had failed to do enough to prevent a split over homosexuality.

Dr Williams said a new role should be created to oversee the day to day running of the global Anglican communion, leaving future Archbishops of Canterbury free to focus on spiritual leadership and leading the Church of England…

Benedict Brogan Archbishop of Canterbury interview: I don’t think I cracked it

…Does it worry him that, of the three main party leaders, two are atheists, and the third - David Cameron - says his faith comes and goes like “Magic FM in the Chilterns”? Doesn’t it make them unreliable allies against those secularising forces? “It does give me some concern. That means we have, as people of faith, to encourage our own folk to be a bit more willing to go into politics, and get their hands dirty.”

Nothing illustrates better the insensitivity to minorities than Mr Cameron’s wish to legalise gay marriage. Dr Williams is critical of the “embarrassment” the Prime Minister has caused the Church. A “very inadequate” consultation overlooked the legal position of the Churches and marriage. By opposing the change, however, the Church attracted accusations of homophobia, and for good reason, he thinks. It has been too – he says “lily mouthed” before correcting himself: “We’ve not exactly been on the forefront of pressing for civic equality for homosexual people, and we were wrong about that.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams: Church ‘wrong’ not to promote homosexual equality (audio recording)

In his last major interview before he steps down later his year, the Archbishop reaffirmed the Church’s opposition to same sex marriage and warned it would lead to a legal “tangle”.

But he added that the Church had been “wrong” in the past in its approach to homosexuality.

“We’ve not exactly been on the forefront of pressing for civic equality for homosexual people, and we were wrong about that,” he said.

Dr Williams was speaking as Faith in the Public Square, a collection of his lectures dealing with subjects as diverse as human rights, secularism and multiculturalism, is published…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 8 September 2012 at 7:12am BST | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 9 August 2012

Continuing Indaba welcomes CofE policy change

At the Church of England General Synod sessions in July, this motion was passed:

‘That this Synod, recognizing the Church of England’s historic and continuing participation in world mission as essential to our identity as members of the universal Church

(a) welcome the report entitled World-Shaped Mission and commend it to the dioceses, deaneries and parishes of the Church of England for further study;

(b) affirm the ongoing role of the Mission Agencies in resourcing the mission of the Church of England at home and overseas;

(c) affirm the continuing growth, whether through the Diocesan Companion Links, initiatives by parishes or otherwise in the relationships between the Church of England, the Provinces of the Anglican Communion and the world church

(d) encourage the building of continuing partnership between all involved in Church of England world mission and development relationships.

The ACNS has now published Continuing Indaba team welcomes “biggest change to mission policy in 50 years”.

The Church of England’s recent decision to move its model of mission from one of dependency to mutuality has been warmly welcomed by the Anglican Communion’s Continuing Indaba team.

The resolution passed at the York synod was not only a major step for Church of England, but also a boost for everyone involved with the Anglican Communion’s efforts to encourage dialogue across difference.

“This vision of a new way of doing mission has far reaching consequences for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion,” said Continuing Indaba’s Canon Phil Groves. “The World-Shaped Mission report endorsed at the Synod asks dioceses to commit to principles of partnership that encourage the continuation of a journey from former patterns of dependency towards mutuality.

“That means a move away from a model where Anglicans in the North are simply giving resources to those global South, to one where members of the Communion are genuinely giving and receiving to one another.”

What’s more, the report also contains commitments to partnership through listening and learning, listening across cultures through Indaba, and using Continuing Indaba and similar processes….

The Continuing Indaba website is here. It contains lots of resource materials.

Some earlier ACNS press releases:

Hope for ‘Continuing Indaba’

Continuing Indaba is celebrated as “a wonderful gift to the Communion”

And there was this ENS report: Continuing Indaba enables ‘gospel-shaped conversation’ which includes some videos.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 9 August 2012 at 8:58am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 29 July 2012

Global South Primates' letter to the Crown Nominations Commission

In their communiqué a week ago the Global South Primates wrote that they had written to the Crown Nominations Commission about the appointment of the next Archbishop of Canterbury. Episcopal Café has now seen a copy of this letter and published it in full: Global South Primates: next ABC must ‘address the ecclesial deficit’ of Communion.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 29 July 2012 at 7:24pm BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Monday, 23 July 2012

Global South Conference issues a (separate) Communiqué

In addition to the document issued by the GS primates, there is now also this: A Communiqué from the Global South Conference on the Decade of Mission and Networking, July 16 - 21, 2012 at Bangkok, Thailand.

1. This Conference is a response to the call at the 4th Global South to South Encounter in Singapore April 2010 to gather leaders from Provinces of the Global South and other mission partners, which are unequivocally committed to the apostolic-historic faith for the Global South Conference on Decade of Mission and Networking.

2. We received with thanks a note of greeting from Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who affirmed his support for the work of the Conference.

3. Similarly, we also received with thanks a note of greeting from Elder Fu Xianwei, Chairman of the National Committee of Three Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches of China. He affirmed his friendship with the Global South Anglican Churches and continual desire for further dialogue and partnership in ministry.

4. More than 100 delegates from provinces in the Global South (comprising Africa, Asia, the Pacific and South America) gathered together in prayer, fellowship and listening to the teaching of the Word. We were also joined by a number of our mission partners from other parts of the Communion and various Mission agencies…

Jim Naughton has already commented on this statement at Episcopal Café in The Global South Anglicans and what they didn’t say:

…Followers of Communion politics will note that the statement contains no mention of The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada or the Church of England’s politics and practices regarding the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The statement comes on the heels of a relatively mild statement from the “Global South Primates”, a smaller group that often meets in conjunction with larger Global South gatherings, but in the past has taken a harder rhetorical line against more gay-friendly churches.

While the communique does identify the members of this particular fellowship as “unequivocally committed to the apostolic-historic faith” (hence the usual absence of the leaders of numerous southern Anglican provinces who define that term differently than the organizers of this meeting) that phrase is perhaps the only example of the kabuki boilerplate that previously studded the statements of all parties in the Anglican struggles over sexuality…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 23 July 2012 at 4:12pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 22 July 2012

Global South Primates issue a Communiqué from Bangkok

The full text of the document: Communiqué of the Global South Primates Bangkok, Thailand, 20 July 2012

It starts out:

1. We, the Primates and representatives of 17 Global South Provinces, met in Bangkok, Thailand, from 18-20 July 2012, in conjunction with the Global South Conference on the Decade of Mission and Networking.

2. The theme of Conference called the Church to “Be Transformed by the Renewing of the mind to Obedience of Faith for Holistic Mission in a Radically Changing Global Landscape”, offering our sanctified bodies and renewed minds as living sacrifices for our Lord’s glory.

And it includes this passage:

6. We note with great sadness the passing of Resolution A049 at the 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church which authorized a liturgy for blessing same-sex unions. This action confirms our disappointment that The Episcopal Church has no regard for the concerns and convictions of the vast majority of Anglicans worldwide.

7. We stand in solidarity with our brethren in the Communion Partners who have dissented from this action. We uphold them in prayer and support them in fellowship as they continue in their commitment to the evangelical faith and catholic order of the Church, as expressed in their Minority Report known as The Indianapolis Statement.

8. We also appreciate and support all the faithful in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as well as those in the Anglican Church in Canada who remain true to our biblical and historic faith.

9. We deeply respect and appreciate our historical and spiritual relationship with the See of Canterbury. We have written to the Crown Nominations Commission with concerns from the Global South and important principles for consideration as it nominates candidates for the appointment of a new Archbishop of Canterbury.

Those present are listed:

Primates Present or Represented:

The Most Rev Dr Mouneer Anis, Primate of Jerusalem & the Middle East
The Most Rev Nicholas Okoh, Primate of Nigeria
The Most Rev Ian Ernest, Primate of the Indian Ocean
The Most Rev Bolly Lapok, Primate of South East Asia
The Most Rev Dr Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya
The Most Rev Stephen Tan, Primate of Myanmar
The Most Rev Henri Isingoma, Primate of Congo
The Most Rev Daniel Deng, Primate of Sudan
The Most Rev Bernard Ntahoturi, Primate of Burundi
The Most Rev Onesphore Rwaje, Primate of Rwanda
The Most Rev Valentino Mokiwa, Primate of Tanzania
The Most Rev David Vunagi, Primate of Melanesia
The Most Rev Joseph Kopapa, Primate of Papua New Guinea
The Right Rev Dr Johannes Seoka representing Southern Africa
The Right Rev Matthias Medadues-Badohu representing West Africa
The Right Rev Dr Chad Gandiya representing Central Africa
The Right Rev Peter Bartlett representing the Southern Cone

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 22 July 2012 at 1:03pm BST | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 11 July 2012

General Convention declines to take a position on the Anglican Covenant

ENS reports Convention ‘declines to take a position’ on Anglican Covenant.

The House of Bishops concurred with the deputies July 10 to affirm their commitment to building relationships across the Anglican Communion, especially through the Continuing Indaba program, and to decline to take a position on the Anglican Covenant.

After considering eight resolutions, the General Convention’s committee on world mission recommended adoption of two resolutions on Anglican Communion relationships and the Anglican Covenant, a document that initially had been intended as a way to bind Anglicans globally across cultural and theological differences.

Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, chair of the world mission committee, told ENS following the vote that the resolutions are “a genuine pastoral response because we are not of one mind, and to push a decision at this time would cause hurt and alienation in our church on both sides and instead we chose to stay in the conversation.”

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition issued this statement:

The wind has clearly gone out of the sails of the Anglican Covenant. There was not even a single dissenting vote when the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia declared itself unable to adopt the Covenant. While our Coalition would have preferred a clearer “no” from the Episcopal Church, the resolution passed in Indianapolis is scarcely more than an abstention – and the commitment to “monitor the ongoing developments” rings hollow when we consider that the same General Convention phased out funding for the Episcopal Church staff position for Anglican Communion affairs. Perhaps they will monitor the situation by following #noanglicancovenant on Twitter.

The next major step in the Covenant process will be at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, this fall. We understand that there will be an attempt to introduce a ratification threshold and a sunset date to the Covenant process. Depending on the details, our Coalition is likely to be broadly supportive of both initiatives.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 10:47pm BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Monday, 9 July 2012

New Zealand "Unable to adopt" covenant

The General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia today (Monday 9 July 2012) voted that it “Is unable to adopt the proposed Anglican Covenant due to concerns about aspects of Section 4, but subscribes to Sections 1, 2, and 3 as currently drafted to be a useful starting point for consideration of our Anglican understanding of the church.”

Anglican Taonga (the communications arm of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia) reports this as “Unable to adopt” covenant.

As expected, the General Synod said a final: ‘No’ to the proposed Anglican covenant today.

But it did so quietly, and the original motion was amended to stress this church’s desire to remain tightly knit with the Communion.

And to suggest that the early parts of the covenant – the non contentious bits about “Our Inheritance in Faith” etc – “are a useful starting point” for future Anglican thinking about their church…

Also available is the full text of the resolution as passed by the Synod.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 9 July 2012 at 11:06am BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 28 June 2012

Anglican Covenant: some updates

First, a report from Australia Brisbane defers the Covenant. The motion they passed in diocesan synod was this:

That this Synod recommends to the General Synod that it:

  • Affirm the commitment of the Anglican Church of Australia to the Anglican Communion.
  • Affirm its readiness to engage with any ongoing process of consideration of the Anglican Communion Covenant
  • Request clarification from the 15th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council as to the status and direction of the Covenant Process in the light of the position of the Church of England.
  • Urge upon the Instruments of Communion a course of action which continues to see reconciliation and the preservation of the Communion as a family of interdependent but autonomous Churches.

Second, Paul Bagshaw has two further articles discussing the recent meeting of the “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion” which we reported here.

In both these articles, he suggests that there may be conflicts between English charity law (which is what governs the ACC in its constitution) and the interpretations of the Anglican Covenant which the Standing Committee has adopted.

In the first article he also comments on the recent GS1878: report by the Business Committee on the reference [of the Covenant] to the dioceses.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 28 June 2012 at 9:16am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Anglican Covenant: Church of England's current status

The press release for the forthcoming General Synod group of sessions includes this statement:

One item not on the Agenda for July is the Anglican Communion Covenant. The Business Committee publishes today its report on the voting in the diocesan synods on the draft Act of Synod adopting the Covenant. 18 diocesan synods voted in favour and 26 against, so this draft Act of Synod cannot be presented to the General Synod for final approval. As the report shows, the voting was quite close. The majority of Houses of Clergy (26) voted against, but the majority of Houses of Laity (23) voted in favour. Overall, of the 1516 members of houses of clergy who voted, 732 (48%) voted in favour and 784 (52%) voted against, whereas, of the 1813 members of houses of laity who voted, 960 (53%) voted in favour and 853 (47%) voted against. The Business Committee believes that it would be helpful for members of the Synod to have time to reflect on the position before the Synod debates the report and the Diocesan Synod Motions about the Covenant that have been passed by nine diocesan synods. These will therefore be debated not in July but at the next group of sessions after July.

GS 1878 Anglican Communion Covenant: Draft Act of Synod - Report by the Business Committee on the reference to the dioceses has been published, although at this writing it is linked only here, and not over here.

Paragraph 6 may be of particular interest:.

The draft Act of Synod was approved in eighteen dioceses and not approved in twenty-six dioceses. Thus the draft Act of Synod was not approved by a majority of the dioceses and it therefore cannot be presented to the General Synod for Final Approval. For the record, there is nothing in the Synod’s Constitution or Standing Orders that would preclude the process being started over again, whether in the lifetime of this Synod or subsequently, by another draft Instrument to the same effect being brought forward for consideration by the General Synod before being referred to the dioceses under Article 8. The Business Committee is not, however, aware of a proposal to re-start the process in this way.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 19 June 2012 at 4:50pm BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 14 June 2012

Bishops support Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill

From the Daily Monitor in Kampala: Bishops want shelved anti-gay Bill dusted

Top religious leaders from across the country have asked Parliament to speed-up the process of enacting the Anti-Homosexuality law to prevent what they called “an attack on the Bible and the institution of marriage”.

Speaking after their recent annual conference organised by the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC), an ecumenical body which brings together the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox churches, the bishops resolved that the parliamentary committee on Gender should be tasked to engage the House on the Bill which is now at committee level.

“We also ask the Education committee to engage the Ministry of Education on the issue of incorporating a topic on human sexuality in the curricula of our schools and institutions of learning,” the resolutions signed by archbishops Henry Luke Orombi, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga and Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga, indicated.

The clerics also appealed to all the churches in the country “to remain steadfast in opposing the phenomena of homosexuality, lesbianism and same-sex union”.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was proposed by Ndorwa West PM David Bahati and has become a subject of international discussion with most Western powers describing the Bill as barbaric…

Care2.com has Ugandan Catholics Want “Kill the Gays” Bill Revived

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill (AHB) was effectively shelved last year by the government, following sustained pressure from international donor countries. Despite repeated claims to the contrary, including some unfortunate mainstream reporting, the last version of the bill contained the death penalty in some circumstances.

The Catholic Church had previously been the sole major religion in Uganda in opposition to the bill. But according to the Daily Monitor, at the annual conference of the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC), an ecumenical body which brings together the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox churches, the Bishops resolved that it should be retrieved from the long grass.

The UJCC said that the bill was needed to prevent what they called “an attack on the Bible and the institution of marriage.”

The Vatican came out strongly and publicly against the bill and, Wikileaks revealed, even lobbied against it. Uganda watchers say that the change by the Ugandan Catholic church is “very serious” and that the UJCC resolution was pushed by an Anglican Bishop…

Religion Dispatches has Ugandan Bishops Push Notorious Anti-Gay Bill

… The reported support for the bill from the Uganda Joint Christian Council is especially noteworthy since Roman Catholic Bishop of Uganda Cyprian Lwanga previously denounced the bill’s death penalty and imprisonment provisions as contrary to “a Christian caring approach to this issue,” though he also said “We, the Catholic Bishops of Uganda, appreciate and applaud the Government’s effort to protect the traditional family and its values.”

And The Africa Report has Uganda: Religious leaders seek return of anti-gay bill.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 14 June 2012 at 7:57am BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 9 June 2012

Canadian, African, and American Bishops in Dialogue

A Sacrament of Love: Our Continuing Testimony of Grace

This statement was released by the Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue after their third meeting June 4 to 7 in Toronto, Ont.

The statement is also available as a PDF file.

The list of participants is at the end of the statement.

The Anglican Journal reports: Anglican communion ‘a gift from God’

This week, the Anglican Church of Canada hosted the third Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue. And judging by the bishops’ comments, the future looks bright for the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Growing out of Lambeth 2008, which uncovered divisions and disagreements between African and other Anglicans on the issue of human sexuality and same-sex relationships, the dialogue held its first meeting in London in 2010 and it second last year in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. The group was originally organized by Archbishop Colin Johnson of the diocese of Toronto, who is also metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario.

After their meeting at the Manresa Retreat Centre, a Jesuit facility east of Toronto, almost 20 African, American and Canadian prelates and their associates attended a Communion service at Church House, the national office of the Anglican Church of Canada in Toronto…

And the Anglican Church of Canada website has this: Canadian, African bishops affirm common mission.

On one level, the first wedding held at the Anglican Church of Canada’s national offices will resemble many other weddings, with finery, music, and celebration. But it is a moment of Anglican Communion harmony that might not have happened 10 years ago: the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, will conduct the marriage service for the Primate of Central Africa, Archbishop Albert Chama, and his childhood friend Ashella Ndhlovu, a resident of Toronto.

The June 8 event is a happy postscript symbolizing the deepening friendships emerging from the Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue. The bishops held their third meeting at the Manresa Jesuit Spiritual Retreat Centre in Pickering, Ont., June 4 to 7.

Seventeen bishops from Africa, Canada, and U.S. met for prayer and discussion of two topics: mission and the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 9 June 2012 at 5:39pm BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Friday, 8 June 2012

Anglican Covenant rejected in Scotland

The official notice from the SEC website: General Synod votes against adoption of the Anglican Covenant.

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church today voted against the adoption of the Anglican Covenant. Following a variety of views expressed by members of General Synod, the Motion that Synod agree in principle to adopt the Anglican Covenant was put to vote - 112 votes against; 6 votes in favour; 13 abstentions. The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane then presented a resolution on the Anglican Communionin support of Motion 27, saying “The Anglican Communion matters deeply to us in the Scottish Episcopal Church. We invoke the history of Samuel Seabury, consecrated in 1784 by the Scottish bishops as the first bishop of the church in the United States of America. We want to be part of the re-founding - the bringing to birth of a new phase of Communion life.”

The Primus’ full speech on the Anglican Communion is available below as a PDF document.

Primus address on Anglican Communion (PDF)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 8 June 2012 at 6:01pm BST | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Friday, 1 June 2012

Anglican Communion: Standing Committee meeting

The Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ meeting met for three days this week. The Anglican Communion News Service has issued these bulletins summarising the committee’s proceedings.

2012 Standing Committee Bulletin - Day 1
2012 Standing Committee Bulletin - Day 2
2012 Standing Committee Bulletin - Day 3

The Anglican Communion Covenant was discussed on Wednesday (day 1):

The Standing Committee received an update on the progress of the Anglican Communion Covenant. It was noted that eight Provinces had endorsed the Covenant to date, in some cases with a degree of qualification. They were the only responses received so far by the Secretary General…

There was general agreement that no timeframe should yet be introduced for the process of adoption of the Covenant by Provinces. The Standing Committee will return to this question following ACC-15.

An implication of the first paragraph is that the Church of England has not yet notified the Secretary General that the covenant was defeated in the dioceses.

Note: ACC-15 is the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council to be held in New Zealand from 27 October to 7 November 2012.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 1 June 2012 at 10:10pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 3 May 2012

Tom Sutcliffe: Lost in the Wilderness

Updated Thursday

Tom Sutcliffe has provided us with an improved version of his article about Archbishop Rowan Williams which we have published as a web page here.

Readers may like to know that an earlier, much shorter version of this article originally appeared here.
———-
Tom Sutcliffe has written a very perceptive article about Rowan Williams which has been published by Anglican Ink.

The title is Lost in the wilderness: Rowan Williams’s via crucis as Archbishop of Canterbury, and the future without him.

This is well worth the time to read in full, even though it is over 6000 words.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 3 May 2012 at 7:32am BST | Comments (39) | TrackBack
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Monday, 30 April 2012

Two views of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans

The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme had an excellent segment on the recent conference, by Gavin Drake. Available as a podcast from this page. The segment starts about 4 minutes into the programme.

Here’s the BBC blurb:

The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, meeting in London, say they’ll offer alternative spiritual leadership to dissaffected members of the Church of England. They also want an alternative to the Archbishop of Canterbury as chairman of the Anglican primates meeting. Is this a way of keeping the Anglican communion together or splitting it asunder?

Paul Bagshaw has written an analysis on his blog, at Reading the FoCA tea leaves. He concludes the article thus:

…Therefore there will be no schism in the sense of one organization separating itself out from another on a certain day, followed immediately by either or both bodies setting up new structures and legal identities.

Instead there will be a steady continued tearing of the fabric as distinct ecclesial units (parishes, dioceses and provinces as well as individuals) align themselves explicitly with the FoCA. The legalities will depend on the law of each country (property and pensions being governed by secular law) and on the ecclesiastical structure of each Church.

I anticipate that the FoCA churches will thrive, purposeful and enthusiastic for at least the medium-term foreseeable future. It will thus be self-legitimating.

On the other hand I guess the remaining churches will flounder for a while before accepting the reality that there will be no accommodation between the two Anglican entities. Then they too will revise their own relationships, structures and communications and will settle into the new geography of Anglicanism where, in most places, there will be one dominant Anglican Church and a minority owing allegiance to its mirror image.

I don’t think who is appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury will make much difference to this process - except, perhaps, to the timing.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 30 April 2012 at 7:11pm BST | Comments (112) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Bishop Mark Lawrence & Bishop John Guernsey

From Titusonenine:

A Crucial Apr. 25 Presentation—Bishop Mark Lawrence, S. Carolina, and ACNA Bishop John Guernsey

The Guildford Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship invite you to an An evening with Bishop Mark Lawrence (TEC Bishop of South Carolina) and Bishop John Guernsey (ACNA Bishop of Mid-Atlantic) On 25th April 2012 at 8 pm At Holy Trinity Claygate, Church Road, Claygate, Surrey, KT10 0JP

We are delighted that Bishop Mark Lawrence, the Episcopal Church Bishop for the Diocese of South Carolina, and Bishop John Guernsey, the Anglican Church in North America Bishop for the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, have agreed

  • to bring us up to date with developments amongst Anglicans in North America;
  • to tell us why some orthodox Anglicans have considered it appropriate to work within TEC whilst others have considered it appropriate to work within ACNA; and
  • to explain to us how people within the two organisations who hold similar views are generally able to continue to support each other in spreading the Gospel.

Kendall Harmon adds:

Please note this is is a long evening of some 1 hour and 40 minutes. During the introduction the following people are mentioned—it is opened by Philip Plyming, vicar of Holy Trinity, Claygate, and then chairman, Stephen Hofmeyr, QC. There is then a message from Bishop Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford given by the Ven. Julian Henderson, Archdeacon of Dorking. Both Mark Lawrence (who goes first) and John Guernsey then give presentations of some twenty minutes which takes you to approximately one hour. After that there are questions from those present to the two bishops about the matters at hand. Archdeacon Julian Henderson then offers brief concluding remarks.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 29 April 2012 at 6:21pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 28 April 2012

Anglican Covenant: final two diocesan synods

Updated with final diocesan synod vote (Newcastle)

This Saturday the final two English diocesan synods voted on the Anglican Covenant motion: Newcastle and York.

Newcastle: covenant rejected

Bishops: 2 for / 0 against
Clergy: 8 for / 18 against
Laity: 14 for / 15 against

York: covenant accepted

Bishops: 4 for / 0 against
Clergy: 26 for / 5 against
Laity: 38 for / 5 against / 1 abstention

The final tally of Church of England votes is that 26 diocesan synods voted against the covenant and 18 in favour.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 28 April 2012 at 11:49am BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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"Stay Together" says Bishop Greg Venables

The Church of Ireland Gazette has an audio interview this week with Bishop Greg Venables of Argentina.

The 22 minute interview can be heard via this page.

There is a major article based on this interview in this week’s Gazette, headlined Church of Ireland must stay together, Bishop Greg Venables tells Gazette. This is subscriber-only but here is an excerpt:

The Bishop of Argentina and former Primate of the Southern Cone, the Rt Revd Greg Venables, a leading theological conservative in global Anglicanism, told the Gazette last week that, should the General Synod adopt a liberal approach to the issue of same-sex relationships, those of a more conservative view should stand together but remain within the Church of Ireland, because their position was “the original Anglicanism – Prayer Book, Bible, original 39 Articles Anglicanism”.

Bishop Venables, who, along with Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, was visiting Ireland to address a ‘First Things’ evangelical conference held last Saturday (21st April) at the Jethro Centre in Lurgan, Co. Armagh, was speaking to the Gazette editor before the conference.

Bishop Venables said in the interview that if the forthcoming General Synod, which it is widely expected will address the issue of same-sex relationships, were to take a less strict approach to the subject, then “those that don’t agree have to review their position and ask themselves how they are going to respond to that situation, but do it in a collegial, consultative, gracious, united way”.

However, he also stressed the need, in such circumstances, for dialogue with those of different views on the subject.

Bishop Venables said that, in the context of the current controversy in the Church of Ireland over samesex relationships, “there must be discipline, there must be consequences, and there must also be a way for things to be put right … That implies repentance, that implies recognizing that something is wrong and repenting of what is wrong and putting things right in that way.”

He also spoke about the need for the Church generally to focus on fundamental issues, especially because of cultural shifts that had taken place in recent times, and commented on current Anglican Communion affairs, in particular in relation to the proposed Anglican Covenant.

The Bishop noted how two distinct ways of being Anglican had now emerged. The first held to scriptural authority and the second saw Christianity as “an ongoing development which is related to the Scriptures, but which isn’t founded on the Scriptures”, he said.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 28 April 2012 at 8:40am BST | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Friday, 27 April 2012

Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Leaders Conference Statement

The GAFCON conference at Battersea has concluded by issuing this press release: The movement begins its mission and this Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Leaders Conference Statement and Commitment (PDF).

From the press release:

…In a plenary address, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali concluded that the Anglican “Instruments of Unity” have failed dramatically and that the FCA is called to model an alternative way for the churches of the Anglican Communion to gather and relate to one another in such a way as to carry out the Great Commission in the coming decades.

In their final conference ‘Commitment’, the leaders resolved to work together in an ever-strengthening partnership, to stand by each other and to engage in a battle of ideas on behalf of the Biblical Gospel.

The next Global Anglican Future Conference was also announced. The event, with invitees including clergy and lay people, as well as bishops, is scheduled for May 2013.

From the Statement:

…We received from Anglican leaders accounts of terrorism leading to death and destruction in Nigeria, and of persecution and ostracism of believers in Islamic and Hindu societies; we heard from a Christian prolife and pro-marriage advocate who has been maligned by the secular media in England, with precious little support from the Church establishment. We heard numerous accounts from Anglican leaders around the world who have been harassed by their own bishops and fellow clergy for their Gospel witness, yet have been grateful for the stance of the FCA. We note that The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada are proceeding post-haste to approve same-sex blessing rites with total disregard for the conscience of their own members, for the moratoria mandated by the official Instruments of the Anglican Communion, and for the broken state of communion where more than half the world’s Anglicans are represented by the FCA…

And this:

…In a plenary address on “Jesus, the Lord of the Church and his Mission,” Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali noted that St Paul presents the church as an exalted communion known to God, the Jerusalem above (Gal 4:26), and also as an earthly community of believers gathered together for the preaching of God’s Word, the sacraments duly administered, and effective church discipline (Article XIX; Second Book of Homilies). Applying this pattern to the current Anglican situation, Bishop Nazir-Ali concluded that the Anglican “Instruments of Unity” have failed dramatically and that the FCA is called to model a biblical way for the churches of the Anglican Communion to gather and relate to one another so as to carry out the Great Commission in the coming decades. This way needs to address different forms of missional leadership, gathering the church with traditional episcopal leaders as well as leaders exercising oversight in parochial and non-parochial ministries. The Primates’ Council will have responsibility for planning, directing and driving this agenda…

And this:

…Archbishop Jensen, the FCA General Secretary, challenged participants to agree on a “statement in the form of a commitment.” In affirming this statement, we commit ourselves to the following:

  • to reaffirm the Jerusalem Declaration and Statement
  • to commend the Jerusalem Declaration to others as the basis for resolving the spiritual crisis currently besetting the Anglican Communion
  • to invite Anglicans around the world to join FCA in order to serve Christ and his mission
  • to promote and fund the networks in their various aims to strengthen the Church
  • to create a network for ministry among young people
  • to pray for the work and ministry of FCA and for each other.

At the conclusion of the Leaders Conference, it was announced that a second Anglican Future Conference will be held in May 2013. This Conference will further the work of the FCA to renew and reform the Anglican Communion. This leads to a further specific commitment from leaders and their churches:

  • to gather for GAFCON 2 in May 2013
  • to obtain funding and resourcing for GAFCON 2.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 27 April 2012 at 6:13pm BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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More about GAFCON and AMiE

The Church Times has this report by Ed Thornton We should elect our chair, say Primates (and scroll down for sidebar on Archbishop Wabukala’s keynote address).

…The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, who was chairing the press briefing, sought to clarify that the Primates were suggesting the election of a chairman of the Primates’ Meeting, not “some sort of super-leader of the Anglican Communion. . . We’re not talking about a chairman of the Anglican Com­munion, but a chairman of the Primates’ Council, and one therefore able to gather the Primates.”

Asked if any Primate, such as the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the US, would be eligible to stand as chairman, Dr Wabukala said that the position should be open to “those who subscribe to what the Anglican Communion stands for”.

Asked to elaborate further, he said that the Jerusalem Declaration, which was drawn up at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in 2008 (News, 4 July 2008), “captures exactly what almost every­body is looking for”. When asked about Primates who would not endorse the Declara­tion, Dr Wabukala said: “That means self-exclusion. It’s not a covenant to sign to ex­clude you, but it is the faith that people pro­fess to which you may not be comfortable.” He went on: “Of course, the fact that one [chair­man] is elected, that means he is ac­cepted by all of us.”

Spokespeople for Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office both declined to comment on the idea suggested by the two Primates.

Amaris Cole reported for the Church of England Newspaper Conference: ‘It’s time for us to elect the chairman of the Primates’

…The FCA asserts this leader will not replace the traditional role Archbishops such as Dr Rowan Williams have played, a figure who will still be ‘respected’. Speaking before the conference, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said: “He will not be an Anglican Pope.” Instead they hope this figure, whom Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Chairman of GAFCON, said would have tenure of four to five years and be elected by the Primates themselves, will be the next step of the ‘forward-looking’ movement. “The Commonwealth has changed and they now elect somebody to lead without prejudice to Her Majesty the Queen and so it is the same thing,” Archbishop Okoh said. “The Church of the independent countries are no longer in the British Empire – we must make some changes.”

The Archbishops hesitated when asked what would happen if the elected chairman were to be a member of the American Episcopal Church, but it was decided as this figure would be elected by all the Primates, it’s unlikely such a chair would be selected. The conference was also used to announce that the FCA is calling for GAFCON II in May next year, although the location is unknown. This meeting has been called ‘in the face of revisionist attempts to change basic doctrines and turn Christianity merely into a movement for social betterment.’ The Archbishops did not deny that these ‘revisionist attempts’ were partly because of the handling of homosexuality, but said: “the Bible is very clear.” The FCA hopes to bring the Communion back to its primary calling – to preach the Gospel, with social action being secondary to this. The Archbishops again argued they are in Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The GAFCON website has some audio, videos and photos of the event all linked from here.

This Statement at the Celebration of the Anglican Communion at Emmanuel Centre, Westminster was issued by the Anglican Mission in England yesterday. The full text is copied below the fold.

According to this report LONDON: FCA Leaders will not break with Canterbury

Fellowship of Confessing Anglican leaders meeting at St. Mark’s Battersea heard Bishop Michael Nazir Ali say that the intention of the FCA is not to break with the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Anglican Communion but they will continue to support orthodox dioceses and parishes in liberal and revisionist provinces like the US and Canada.

Despite a media blackout, VOL has learned that the 200 global Anglican leaders including archbishops from Australia, (Peter Jensen) Nigeria, (Nicholas Okoh) Kenya, (Eliud Wabukala), the US (ACNA Archbishop Robert Duncan) Latin America (Hector “Tito” Zavala), Congo, (Henri Isingoma), and (Onesphorus Rwaje) Rwanda and a slew of bishops from the US, Canada and the Global South, FCA’s goal is to ensure that orthodoxy prevails and those who are suffering as a result will be supported and given spiritual and ecclesial aid even though the days of cross border “violations” has ended.

Some of the US bishops included Mark Lawrence of South Carolina and Keith Ackerman formerly of Quincy. The largest contingent is from Nigeria.

While it has not been publicly raised, the intention is that the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) will, in time, be recognized as a legitimate province of the Anglican Communion…

And this:

…Asked what the group thought of the possibility of the 62-year old Dr. John Sentamu, Archbishop of York becoming the next Archbishop of Canterbury the reviews were mixed.

Sentamu is seen as a black evangelical twin of Dr. Rowan Williams, that is, he is evangelical and orthodox as well as socially conscious but he is an institutionalist at heart and he won’t rock the boat. “I don’t see him disciplining the American or Canadian Anglican provinces for their heretical acts. He will not come down on them; he will continue to support them for the sake of maintaining Anglican unity. The FCA will provide the needed support in the ongoing realignment and they will continue to support the faithful.”

Writing at Changing Attitude Colin Coward comments on the parish venue for the conference:

The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Leaders Conference is meeting from 23 to 27 April at St Mark’s Battersea Rise, South London.

St Mark’s is the next parish to St Barnabas Clapham Common where the Revd David Page was the Vicar for 17 years. David was the first chair of Changing Attitude trustees and Changing Attitude’s first office was in St Barnabas vicarage.

The congregation of St Mark’s Battersea Rise know little about the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans or the GAFCON movement. The Vicar, the Revd Paul Perkin, chooses not to inform the congregation of his key involvement with these groups. St Mark’s is a congregation which includes a number of lesbian and gay people, including couples in civil partnerships. Paul Perkin is fully aware of their presence. They worship there because at the grass roots, they experience St Mark’s congregation as being open and welcoming.

The Church is the people. The people are defining the nature of Christian ethos and witness in each parish, not the clergy (though this is a great fantasy for clergy). The people, not the hierarchy, are building in each place a church of the people and for the people, inspired by the Spirit of God working in the heart of each person…

AMiE Statement from here:

The next few months will increasingly reveal the direction being taken by the Church of England regarding two matters:

  • its position regarding issues of marriage and sexuality, especially in the light of the church’s response to the government consultation and recent letters from a small group of mainly retired bishops,
  • and secondly the provision or not for the inclusion of those who hold to traditional understandings of the bible on matters of ministry.

We have established, and this week confirmed the principle that orthodox Anglicans who despite repeated efforts cannot receive oversight in the Church of England can continue to belong together with other orthodox Anglicans and minister with recognition within the global Anglican communion.

The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in this region is a fellowship of those anywhere in the UK and Ireland, including the Diocese of Europe, who can affirm the Jerusalem Declaration. Within it the Anglican Mission in England is not an institution, but a framework that is taking shape as it responds to those needing to receive help in their own dioceses. AMiE has two particular features:

  • It is a registered Mission Society dedicated to support growing and planting churches, and providing ministers and oversight for those churches, and secondly
  • It has a Panel of Bishops authorised by the FCA Primates Council to provide that oversight

The Primates of the FCA have assured us that, through instruments now available in this country, including the panel of bishops of the Anglican Mission in England and the FCA UK, those who might otherwise have been under pressure to leave the Church of England can remain within the family of global Anglicanism and be recognized by that body as faithful to the Church of England itself.

At the FCA Leadership Conference this Monday, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala reported in his Chairman’s keynote address: ‘Last year, it became clear that provision needs to be made for England too. The Anglican Mission in England was formed last June after four years of discussion with senior Anglican leaders in England had failed to find a way in which those genuinely in need of effective orthodox oversight in the Church of England could receive it’.

The AMiE has already acted to provide oversight to churches, including arranging the ordination of some ministers. For the future it is ready to extend this ministry, and to expand its panel of bishops accordingly. Parish Incumbents who affirm the Jerusalem Declaration are invited to meet on Wednesday 27th June to pray and make progress together.

So we pledge our support for all those who are orthodox in faith, who are experiencing pressure, and who wish to continue as Anglicans with international affirmation from the worldwide Anglican church. You have a clear identity as Anglicans through our common commitment to the faith contained in the Jerusalem Declaration.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 27 April 2012 at 9:48am BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

GAFCON proposes to reorganise the Anglican Communion

Ed Malnick set out the background to this event a week ago in the Sunday Telegraph Traditionalist Anglican leaders to meet over homosexual bishops ‘crisis’.

This weekend, the BBC Sunday radio programme interviewed the Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen (go here for a podcast the interview starts about 10 minutes into the programme).

And the BBC reported Leaders of a dissident Anglican movement meet in UK.

The meeting opened yesterday. There is a press release, and the full text of the keynote address:

John Bingham explains in the Telegraph: Archbishop of Canterbury to lose worldwide Anglican role under traditionalist plans.

A coalition of bishops and leaders from Africa, the Americas and Australasia said it was time for a “radical shift” in how the church is structured away from models of the “British Empire”.

They criticised what they called “revisionist attempts” to abandon basic doctrines on issues such as homosexuality and “turn Christianity merely into a movement for social betterment” during Dr Williams’s tenure.

And they said it was now clear that the leadership in England had failed to hold the 77 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion together, leaving it in “crisis”.

They spoke out as 200 clergy and laity from 30 countries gathered in London to discuss what they called the “present crisis moment” in the church…

And this:

…They also outlined plans for an overhaul of church structures, replacing the Archbishop of Canterbury as chairman of the worldwide Anglican primates with an elected chair.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, leader of Kenya’s 13 million Anglicans, said there needed to be a “radical shift” in how the church is run.

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, the leader of 23 million Anglicans in Nigeria, said that while the historic position of the Archbishop of Canterbury would always be respected he should be seen as “one of” many primates.

Likening the overhaul to the way in which the Commonwealth now elects its leadership, he said: “It is the same thing, the church of independent countries – no longer the British Empire – must make some changes.”

He went on: “It is not something that should remain permanent that the Archbishop of Canterbury – whether he understands the dynamics in Africa or not – remains the chair and whatever he says, whether it works or not, is an order.

“No I think if we are to move forward we have to reconsider that position.”

He added: “At the moment it seems that the Church in England isn’t carrying along everybody in the Communion and that is why of course you can see that there is a crisis, so if we must solve the problem we must change our system.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 24 April 2012 at 9:13am BST | Comments (38) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 21 April 2012

Anglican Covenant: two more diocesan synods

This Saturday two more diocesan synods voted on the Anglican Covenant motion: Chichester, and Southwell & Nottingham.

Chichester: covenant accepted

Bishops: 2 for / 0 against / 0 abstentions
Clergy: 29 for / 9 against / 1 abstention
Laity: 39 for / 25 against / 1 abstention

Southwell & Nottingham: covenant accepted

Bishops: 2 for / 0 against / 0 abstentions
Clergy 15 for / 5 against / 0 abstentions
Laity: 31 for / 6 against / 1 abstention

25 diocesan synods have now voted against the covenant, and 17 in favour. The remaining two dioceses, Newcastle and York, will vote next Saturday (28 April).

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 12:59pm BST | Comments (22) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Church in Wales gives “amber light” to Anglican Covenant

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales debated the Anglican Communion Covenant this morning and has now issued this Press Release.

Church gives “amber light” to Anglican Covenant
April 18 2012

A plan to protect the unity of the worldwide Anglican Communion was given an amber light, rather than a green light, by the Church in Wales today (April 18).

Members of its Governing Body voted to affirm their commitment to the Communion and the Covenant process, but asked questions of the Anglican Consultative Council which meets in October. They feared the recent rejection of the Covenant by the Church of England jeopardised its future and clarifications about that were now needed before a decision could be made.

The Bishop of St Asaph, Dr Gregory Cameron, who proposed a motion which was amended in the light of the Church of England decision, said, “We have given the Covenant an amber light rather than a green light but in doing so we are being honest about where the Church is today. However, I think we need to reaffirm our strong commitment to each other through the saving power of Christ revealed in the Gospels. That is what I believe the Covenant ultimately calls us to do and I hope one day the Church in Wales will be able to vote for it.”

The amended motion, which was carried overwhelmingly, was that the GB:

i) affirm the commitment of the Church in Wales to the life of the Anglican Communion;
ii) Affirm its readiness to engage with any ongoing process of consideration of the Anglican Communion Covenant;
iii) Request clarification from the 15th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council as to the status and direction of the Covenant process in the light of the position of the Church of England;
iv) Urge upon the Instruments of Communion a course of action which continues to see reconciliation and the preservation of the Communion as a family of interdependent but autonomous Churches.

The published agenda gave this text for the original unamended motion:

That the Governing Body:

i) affirm the commitment of the Church in Wales to the life of the Anglican Communion, and subscribe to the Anglican Communion Covenant;
ii) invite the Standing Committee to monitor the Church in Wales’s participation in the Covenant on an annual basis.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 at 5:11pm BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 8 April 2012

Easter Sermons and Messages

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter Sermon is available here: Archbishop’s Easter Sermon 2012 - God raised Jesus to life.

The Archbishop of York has three video messages. See Archbishop’s Easter Video Messages. And he wrote this column for the Sun: Archbishop’s Easter Joy.

The Anglican Communion News Service has published a roundup of several other Easter messages, including one from the Archbishop of Uganda.

We will add more when we find them.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 8 April 2012 at 12:04pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Commission to Communion: "Tell us your views on next Archbishop of Canterbury's ministry"

Updated to add clarification

A press release from the Anglican Communion Office states:

Members of the Anglican Communion around the world are, for the first time in history, being invited to share their views on the ministry of the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Crown Nominations Commission of the Church of England—the body that nominates the next Archbishop of Canterbury—traditionally asks for the views of all Primates and Provincial Secretaries of the 38 Provinces of the Anglican Communion.

On this occasion, however, not only has a Primate been invited to join the Commission, but a letter has also been sent to Provinces to be read in Anglican Communion churches inviting everyone to share their thoughts about the ministry of the next Archbishop.

The letter, sent by the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion* Canon Kenneth Kearon on behalf of the Commission, states: “The Archbishop of Canterbury exercises many roles—he is Bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury, Primate of the Church of England, and Focus of Unity for the Anglican Communion.
“The process of seeking the next Archbishop is led by the Crown Nominations Commission of the Church of England and extensive consultations within the U.K. have begun with various representatives of the Church of England, other Christian denominations, other faiths and wider church life. Members of the Church of England are also invited to share in this process.

“The Commission wishes to offer the same opportunity to other members of the Anglican Communion. It is seeking your views on the priorities for the ministry of the next Archbishop to enable the members of the Commission to have as rich a picture as possible as they begin their work.”

The hope is that clergy will receive the letter (translated in several languages) from their Primate or bishop and read it out in church so Anglicans and Episcopalians around the world know of and can respond to the Commission’s request.

Anglican Communion members will be able to contact the Commission via both electronic and traditional means before 30th April. All views that are received will be collated and included in a report to the Commission.

Notes to Editors

*The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion is a non-voting member of the Commission

For more information about the procedures for appointing a new Archbishop of Canterbury visit: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/2403/outline-of-procedures-for-appointing-a-new-archbishop-of-canterbury

The Anglican Communion Primate who joins the Commission is elected by the Standing Committee. As the Standing Committee is not scheduled to meet in person until May, the whole procedure, both nomination and election, occurs by email.

The Anglican Communion comprises around 85 million members in 38 regional and national member churches around the globe in more than 165 countries. http://www.anglicancommunion.org/

Update

Episcopal Café reports receiving the following:

UPDATE: Clarification from The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office:
The letter from the Secretary General to members of the Anglican Communion seeks opinions on the priorities for the ministry of the next Archbishop. The responses to that will be available to the members of the Crown Nominations Commission. This is the first time this has been done.
In a separate letter to all Primates and Provincial Secretaries the same question about the priorities for the ministry of the next Archbishop is asked, together with a request for nominations, as on previous occasions.

Sincerely,

Kenneth.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 3 April 2012 at 12:45pm BST | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 31 March 2012

Anglican Covenant: Manchester Diocesan Synod

Updated Saturday afternoon to add numbers of abstentions
Updated Sunday to correct date of Southwell & Nottingham synod

Manchester diocesan synod voted on the Anglican Covenant motion this morning.

The motion in favour of the covenant was defeated in all three houses.

Bishops: 1 for / 2 against / 0 abstentions
Clergy: 15 for / 25 against / 0 abstentions
Laity: 12 for / 23 against / 7 abstentions

With this result the current figures are 25 diocesan synods against and 15 in favour of the Covenant.

The remaining four dioceses will vote after Easter: Southwell & Nottingham (21 April), Chichester (21 April), Newcastle (28 April) and York (28 April).

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 31 March 2012 at 11:31am BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Friday, 30 March 2012

Comments on an archbishop's resignation

Much has been written about the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury and his acceptance of the Mastership of Magdalene College Cambridge. Much of this has not been worth reading, but here are some of the better articles.

Benjamin Myers in Times Higher Education: An inclusive mission

Stephen Crittenden in The Global Mail: The Philosopher Priest

Giles Fraser in The Guardian: Rowan Williams was brilliant, but failed to bridge chasm of divided church

George Conger in the Church of England Newspaper: The Rowan Williams years and Overseas reactions to Dr. Williams’ resignation

The Tablet has this editorial: Wanted: Superhuman Anglican.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 30 March 2012 at 9:23pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Church press on the Anglican Covenant defeat in England

The Church of Ireland Gazette has this editorial opinion: Anglican Covenant, Anglicanism and The Church of Ireland.

It might well be said that the unthinkable happened last weekend, with the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant coming to grief in the Church of England of all places (report, page 1). Yet, that is precisely what happened, and it will surely go down in the annals of Anglican history. The Covenant had been intended as an agreement with procedures that would help keep the Anglican Communion in one piece when facing contentious issues. Undoubtedly, it arose as a result of the inter-Anglican same-sex relationships controversy that has now seen its own fraught manifestation in the Church of Ireland playing out since last autumn and occasioning, earlier this month, a unique Bishops’ Conference on the topic for General Synod members.

One aspect of the Church of England débâcle that no doubt will be the subject of careful consideration in the relevant quarters is the fact that in some of the diocesan synods the voting was very close. In theory, following reflection at the English General Synod on what has transpired, the Covenant could be put back on the table in the Church of England after a lapse of three years, but there are at least two reasons why this is unlikely: first, as the No Anglican Covenant Coalition has pointed out, the Covenant is facing difficulties in some other parts of the Communion and, second, in any case, the passage of time and considerable disagreements about it have left the Covenant unable really to deal with the differences in the Communion over same-sex relationships. Other divisive issues could, of course, arise, but it is difficult to see all the requisite superabundance of energy actually now being summoned to recover and progress the Covenant (perhaps).

The moral of the story has at least two dimensions. First, from a practical perspective, when faced with a divisive crisis, setting up a bureaucratic procedure that is going to take years to get anywhere, if it is to get anywhere at all, is hardly a good idea. If anyone thought that ‘buying time’ would allow the same-sex relationships imbroglio to subside, that was a very mistaken notion, and we in the Church of Ireland do need to take note of that as we face our own difficulties over the issue.

Second, from a more conceptual perspective, we now know, as surely as we can know, that Anglicanism is set to remain a Communion of wholly autonomous Churches, bound together by ‘bonds of affection’. It should be added, however, that such mutual affection is far from a weak ideal; it is, in fact, a considerable calling and it is surely true that at times we do have to work at loving one another. There has been talk about being in communion implying ‘interdependence’ and thus justifying central regulation, however light, but that interdependence argument is actually quite vague because everything in the world is interdependent and, from an ecclesiological perspective, all Christians of whatever denomination, in communion or out of communion, are interdependent. Thus, as Anglicans, we are all, across the globe, now challenged to ponder our affection for one another and, where it is waning, to seek to nurture it carefully and prayerfully….

The Church Times has this leader: After the Covenant.

ANYONE offered a welcoming doughnut and a seat near the projector on arrival at church on Sunday would probably have guessed that it was one of the growing number of Messy Church services. But even if things looked normal, they weren’t. After the diocesan votes on the previous day, it is all Messy Church. The Anglican Covenant — an attempt to introduce order to the Communion — was tipped into oblivion, at least as far as the Church of England goes.

Without the Covenant, it was argued, national Churches had no formal obligation to consider the “relational consequences” (a coinage of the Covenant text) of their actions on other Churches in the Communion. Dr Williams warned that, without the Covenant, he found it “hard at present to see another way forward that would avoid further disintegration”. One of the troubling aspect of the Covenant debates — such as they have been — is the impression given by critics that they can not only live with disintegration but positively welcome it, if it means not having to relate to people with whom they disagree fundamentally.
In the end, Anglicans have discovered what another ecclesial body might have told them from the start: in the present age, a text cannot hold Churches together in the way that a person can. Given that no text will be perfect, a degree of affection is needed to persuade people to subscribe. An individual can earn that affection; a text (poetry excepted), never — especially a text monitored by a standing committee that few understand and none recognise. Time and again in the General Synod, affection for Dr Williams carried members along; but he was absent in the diocesan synods, and the link was broken…

Giles Fraser writes Covenant is dead. Long live unity.

I WILL not disguise my joy at the death of the Anglican Covenant. And death it is — despite the fact that some people will inevitably try to give its corpse the kiss of life. The idea that the Church of England has given it so emphatic a thumbs-down, especially in the face of huge episcopal and archiepiscopal lobby­ing, is evidence of how un­popular the idea is in the pews.

Here, the majority of bishops have shown themselves to be completely out of touch with the centre of gravity of the Church of England. It is not that we do not care about our brothers and sisters in other parts of the Communion. It is simply that we want our Christian solidarity to be expressed through our Anglican heritage, our common baptism, and the development of friendships — and not through a treaty that can be haggled over by church politicians, the purpose of which was always to isolate those Churches that had a different view of sexual ethics…

And there is a news report by Ed Thornton Challenges remain, Primate warns, after dioceses block Anglican Covenant.

…Speaking on Monday, Dr Williams said: “This is, of course, a disap­pointing outcome for many of us in the Church of England and many more in the Communion. Unfor­tunately, the challenges the Covenant was meant to address will not go away just because people vote against it.

“We shall still have to work at vehicles for consultation and manag­ing disagreement. And nothing should lessen the priority of sus­taining relationships, especially with some of those smaller and vulner­able Churches for whom strong international links are so crucial.”

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, a patron of the Yes to the Covenant Coalition, said on Tuesday that he was “disappointed”; but “we have to trust the mind of the Church. I simply hope that the Anglican Communion can flourish a different way, without what I thought was its best hope.”
The Bishop of Buckingham, Dr Alan Wilson, who voted against the Covenant in Oxford diocesan synod, said that its defeat in the C of E was an “opportunity to grow up, to take stock, and to get real. It’s very sad that a large number of bishops were out of touch on this one.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 30 March 2012 at 8:12am BST | Comments (31) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 29 March 2012

Anglican Covenant: London Diocesan Synod

London diocesan synod voted on the Anglican Covenant motion this evening.

The motion in favour of the covenant was lost, being defeated in both the houses of laity and clergy.

Bishops: 2 for / 1 against / 0 abstentions
Clergy: 17 for / 32 against / 1 abstention
Laity: 26 for / 33 against / 2 abstentions

These are the confirmed figures taken from the diocesan website, please ignore earlier incorrect results taken from a garbled tweet.

With this result the current figures are 24 diocesan synods against and 15 in favour of the Covenant.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 29 March 2012 at 8:01pm BST | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Anglican Covenant: further reactions to its English rejection

Bishop Alan Wilson has written Boot and Reboot?

The boot goes into the Anglican Covenant. Time to reboot?

We could try to defibrillate the whole thing hoping that somehow this process that has just split the Church of England down the middle will somehow transmute into a great Focus of Unity. That way madness lies — stupidity that repeats the same mistake over again, hoping for a different result. Another very English option is to pretend nothing really happened, sit on our hands going “ho-hum” whilst, as Covenant supporters sometimes prognosticated, the sky falls in, or not.

Wouldn’t it be healthier to acknowledge reality? Take this as an invitation to look at the painful image in the mirror. Bishops were largely out of touch. In spite of, nay, because of our infantilised “Daddy knows best” culture, Daddy got it wrong. The troops did not buy a well-intentioned attempt to lick us into denominational shape. Much heavy covenant sell failed to persuade. It did not explain why or how bureaucratic accountability would improve on a free relationship of equals. Always start with “why?”

Bishop Graham Kings has written Communion Connections:Web of Mutuality or Fragmentation?

…It seems to me that there are three options for the future shape of the Anglican Communion. First, the ‘web of mutuality’ manifested in the Covenant, which provides autonomy and interdependence with accountability. This is the broad centre ground of those who vote for the Covenant, and includes the leaders of the Communion-minded Global South Anglican movement, based in Singapore.

Second, ‘confessionalism’, gathered around the Jerusalem Declaration of the conservative Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), the follow up group to the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON). Based currently in Nairobi, FCA hosts a conference in London from 23-27 April, at which some members of the Global South Anglican Movement will also attend.

Third, ‘independent autonomy’, following the radically liberal current leaders of The Episcopal Church, in the USA, (TEC).

Following further likely controversial decisions of TEC’s General Convention in July, there may well be more fragmentation between the first two and the third options. These decisions, together with the English vote, may lead to the Anglican Communion declining into a Federation or Association…

Benjamin Guyer has written Defending the Bishops which is a reply to Diarmaid MacCulloch’s article in the Guardian linked here previously.

…MacCulloch’s arguments are weak at best. But there is something more going on here than poor reasoning, for MacCulloch is advancing an idiosyncratic argument in favor of populism. On the one hand, vox populi non vox Dei est (the voice of the people is not the voice of God). The bishops are not now, never have been, and never will be under any obligation simply to follow the laity. The Church of England is the whole ecclesiastical body. To borrow from St. Paul, the body is “made up of many parts” (1 Cor. 12:12). There is no theological reason why one ecclesiastical office should be collapsed into another. Curiously, and in an oversimplification bordering upon historical falsehood, MacCulloch asserts that once upon a time the British episcopal churches “wanted to monopolise every form of religious expression.” But by demanding that the bishops sacrifice their voice, it is MacCulloch and his supporters who desire such monopoly. MacCulloch’s anti-authoritarianism thinly veils his own longing for domination and control.

Since at least the British civil wars of the 1640s, marginal groups with revolutionary intentions have claimed that they alone speak for “the people.” But such totalizing declarations should be met with considerable skepticism. Claiming to speak for the people may be both an act of deception and an act of manipulation. Of course, the Anglican Covenant is about the Anglican Communion, not about sexuality. This is why sexuality is not discussed in the Covenant at all. Only a grand conspiracy theory can hold otherwise. Such theories may appeal to some of the now-aged children of the 1960s, but we live in the 21st century. And today MacCulloch’s writing has been shown — yet again — to be selective, speculative, tendentious and agenda-ridden.

Benny Hazlehurst has written Anglican Covenant - Rest in Peace.

…The fact that so many clergy and lay people voted against their Bishops showed that when they really looked beneath the surface of the proposed Covenant, they found it wanting. And in doing so time and time again, they defeated the platform. And where Bishops had the courage of their convictions and voted against, they found themselves at one with their flock, rather than trying to drag them along in humble submission.

There are those who are still trying to pretend that the Covenant is still alive, desperately trying to breathe life into its limp body, while claiming still to feel the faintest pulse. They are mistaken.

What is needed now is to recognise the will of the Synodical process, and express deep and sincere thanks to those who genuinely tried to find a way forward for the Anglican Communion in the form of a Covenant – and to let it now Rest in Peace.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 28 March 2012 at 8:00am BST | Comments (38) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 27 March 2012

more reactions to the Anglican Covenant's rejection in England

Yes to the Covenant has issued this press release (not yet on its website):

ANGLICAN COVENANT SUPPORTERS EXPRESS ‘DEEEP REGRET

Supporters of the Anglican Communion Covenant have expressed their deep regret at the decision by the majority of Church of England Dioceses not to support the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant. Although in total more people in Diocesan Synods voted for the Covenant than against it, the rules required a majority of both clergy and laity in favour in each Diocese in order for it to go through. The decisions means that the Covenant has now been officially rejected by the Church of England, and will not be going forward for ratification by the General Synod later in the year.

Prudence Dailey, a member of General Synod and co-founder of the ‘Yes to the Covenant’ campaign, said: ‘I deeply regret what I believe to be a profoundly mistaken decision, especially when the General Synod had previously given the Covenant such overwhelming support. Many in the worldwide Anglican Communion were pinning their hopes on the Covenant as the only way forward, and I cannot help wondering what they—and especially those Provinces that have already ratified the Covenant—will make of us in the Church of England’.

She indicated that she hoped those dioceses yet to vote would still take the voting seriously to enable the mind of the whole Church of England to be reflected, and that many of them would vote in favour. Although this would not affect the outcome, it would be symbolically significant, she explained.

‘At the same time’, she said, ‘it is now necessary to look forwards rather than back. Many Provinces have already ratified the Covenant, and others may well do so; and its provisions will remain in force for those who have signed up to it. The new Archbishop of Canterbury has now potentially been left with an even more difficult and challenging task than his predecessor, but I hope and pray that a way can still be found to keep Anglicans together in a meaningful and coherent sense’. It remained to be seen whether or not it would still be possible for the Church of England to remain in any sense at the heart of the Anglican Communion, she added.

Andrew Brown has written at Cif belief about The Anglican schism. The international Anglican communion was always a rather ridiculous notion, but liberals may not like what replaces it

Historians know it is difficult to date a schism, just as it’s difficult to point to the precise row when a marriage breaks down. But in his article for the Guardian, Diarmaid MacCulloch might, I think, have pointed out that the end of the covenant also marks the end of the Anglican communion, which was always a slightly ridiculous conception, and more of an idea than an administrative reality. I still think that the single most perfectly comic line that George Carey ever delivered in his previous role as archbishop of Canterbury, was his statement to the UN general assembly that “The Anglican communion, with 80m members, is well placed to be a major player”.

Carey’s grandiosity can be put in proportion by remembering that 30 million of the Anglicans he purported to lead when he said that, were in England, most of them quite unaware of his existence.

But that doesn’t mean the communion was nothing but a comedy act, nor that its end is an entirely good thing. Christians ought to be able to agree without discipline, and for many years it appeared that the Anglican communion might offer a model for how they could do so across huge cultural and national boundaries. What, after all, did the church in New Zealand have in common with that in Nigeria, except for the accident that both descended from British colonies? For nearly 150 years, the idea of the Anglican communion seemed to supply some kind of answer: they cared about each other, and cared to some extent for each other. Once every ten years, their bishops would come to Canterbury to demonstrate this, at a shindig called the Lambeth conference…

The Anglican Communion Institute has published The Communion After Williams.

…Given the current state of the Instruments of Communion – Canterbury, Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting and the ACC – it is likely that many African and Asian churches will simply choose not to participate in these councils and relationships. The Covenant, precisely in its likely rejection by the Church of England and other Western churches, can now provide an alternative means of Anglican witness for non-Western churches that is nonetheless able to maintain its links with ongoing Communion structures. Saying “No” to the Covenant is something the Covenant itself acknowledges as possible, and churches like England’s are exercising that choice. But no one can say “No” in such a way as to co-opt the choice of others to say “Yes”, and it is for those who embrace the Covenant now to chart its common usefulness, which remains one of rich possibility. In general, the key to the Covenant’s dynamic adaptation to the needs of its adopting members lies in the fact that its ongoing shape and application is under the exclusive governance of those who have adopted it. And key to its potential unifying role in the future are its origins, content, and intrinsic interest in the older structures and membership of the Communion itself.

Three elements now place a wedge between any future covenanting Anglican churches and not only the Church of England, but the current Instruments of Communion themselves. First, the Covenant itself grants a functional role to the Archbishop of Canterbury within the Instruments of Communion (3.1.4); second, after its recent legal reorganization, the ACC is now an English company, whose membership for purposes of English law is the Standing Committee, of which the Archbishop of Canterbury is an ex officio member; third, Paragraph 4.2.8 of the Covenant limits participation in the Instruments for purposes of the Covenant to “those members of the Instruments of Communion who are representatives of those churches who have adopted the Covenant, or who are still in the process of adoption.” It is difficult to see, then, how the current Instruments can function for the Covenant, without the Church of England, in the absence of substantial clarification of the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury as a “representative” of the Church of England. The problem with the current Instruments is only magnified by the near certainty that other western churches, who collectively exercise disproportionate influence over the Instruments, will refuse the Covenant as well.

Fortunately, the Covenant already lays out the procedural means for resolving these difficulties through its amendment provision. Paragraph 4.4.2 provides that any “covenanting Church” (or Instrument) can propose an amendment, which will take effect when ratified by three quarters of the covenanting Churches. A proposed amendment is to be submitted “through” the Standing Committee, which solicits advice and makes recommendations; but the Standing Committee’s role is mandatory not discretionary. It has no discretion to refrain from sending the proposal to the covenanting Churches for ratification. If for any reason the Standing Committee failed to send the proposed amendment out as required in dereliction of its duty, the covenanting Churches could simply deem that procedural step waived. And it must be emphasized that neither the Instruments nor the non-covenanting Churches have any ability either to amend the Covenant or to interfere in the decision of the covenanting Churches to amend. The Covenant now lies outside their control. The Covenant offers a way out of the impasse Williams’ resignation has now exposed. And it does so in a fashion that is continuous with the Communion’s own movement and spirit of counsel – it is, in other words, ecclesially legitimate…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 8:17am BST | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Monday, 26 March 2012

Anglican Covenant rejection in England: various reactions

Updated

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition issued this press release.

The Guardian has published this article by Diarmaid MacCulloch The Anglican church can start afresh. The recent vote against the Anglican covenant is hugely significant. But are the bishops ready to listen?

…So now Anglicanism needs to move forward and forget this sorry diversion, into which many perfectly well-meaning people poured a huge amount of energy over a decade when they might have been doing something useful. Woe betide any attempt to revive it, though I notice that the secretary general of the Anglican communion (now there’s an office that sounds ripe for culling) is clearly determined to keep it alive. To judge by a press statement he issued after the votes, he simply hasn’t understood the scale of the catastrophe the covenant has suffered at the hands of ordinary English Anglicans.

Anglicanism has the chance to rediscover painful lessons from its chequered past. After the 16th century Reformation, Scotland, Ireland and England all had churches with bishops. All three churches wanted to monopolise every form of religious expression throughout the realm. All failed.

In the end, episcopal churches were disestablished in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, but even the established Church of England learned that it could not boss around an entire nation, and had to accept that it ministered within a country of many faiths and none. That is a precious lesson to teach its many sister churches worldwide. Try and lay down the law in that delicate, nuanced thing that is religious belief, and you end up damaging or hurting a great many people.

Anglicanism could be seen as a family: in families, you don’t expect everyone to think in exactly the same way. You listen, you shout, cry, talk, compromise. You do not show the door to one member of the family, just because you don’t agree with them. Now Anglicans can start listening afresh. The present archbishop of Canterbury has their warm good wishes, as he prepares to use his many talents and graces in a different setting. They should ask the next man or woman in the job to reconnect with the church and the nation.

Fulcrum has published this article by Andrew Goddard The Anglican Communion Covenant and the Church of England: Ramifications.

Executive Summary

  • The Church of England cannot reconsider the covenant until 2015.
  • Although diocesan votes are quite strongly against, actual votes cast remain marginally for the covenant and English supporters need to continue advocating for the covenant and its vision.
  • The covenant will continue to be considered around the Communion – eight provinces have embraced it and ACC in November will take stock but cannot end the process. * Other provinces should be encouraged to adopt the covenant despite the English decision.
  • The Church of England remains a full member of the Communion.
  • Although the CofE’s representatives cannot now participate in decision-making about the covenant within the Instruments of Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, as an Instrument rather than a provincial representative, may be able to do so.
  • There continue to be 3 visions of communion within the Communion – (1) the covenant vision of autonomy and interdependence with accountability, (2) the confessional GAFCON vision and (3) the TEC autonomy-as-independence vision. Only the first vision is likely to get the support of most provinces as, though different, it is compatible with the second but not the third vision.
  • The Communion now must choose between two main paths of significant reconfiguration – (A) A covenant-focussed Communion but with the Church of England outside the covenant, (B) A looser, more incoherent Communion with various networks within or possibly separate from it.
  • Archbishop Rowan’s via media approach of holding the Communion together by enabling conversation within the framework of upholding the Windsor Report, Lambeth I.10 and the covenant now needs major restructuring if it is to survive.
  • Neither the Communion nor the Church of England can remain unchanged by this development which makes it harder for Anglicanism’s distinctive historic tradition and global communion of churches to “survive with all its aspects intact”.

Anglican Mainstream has published Anglican Communion Covenant will not be debated by CofE General Synod.

…Bishop Michael Nazir Ali said that “I am disappointed that the Anglican Communion Covenant, even in its watered down version,has failed to gain the support of the Church of England. This now means that the Jerusalem Statement (2008) is now ‘The only game in town.’”

In which connection, there is this announcement of a GAFCON meeting in London in April.

Update

Here are two more analyses:

Pluralist Analysis of the Anglican Futures

In terms of the Anglican Communion, the balkanisation that was taking place will now obviously continue. There will be those Anglicans who do use the Covenant, which will be like a declaration to each other of being relatively conservative. There will be those Anglicans of the Jerusalem Declaration (who may and may not also Covenant - see below why probably not) who are producing a strongly doctrinal Protestant version of Anglicanism. Then there will be those leaving open a more flexible future outside any Covenant.

Whatever happens, Anglicans of the confessional and doctrinal type are going to be competitive. I can’t see the Covenant as a process being sufficient for them, but then they have additional statements. The real issue for them is how they try on international oversight via their own Primates’ Council and attempt to compete using fellowship structures. Churches ‘taken on’ by them will have to force the GAFCON/ FCA into independence, possibly then forming an Anglican Church of Northern Europe (or similar title) to parallel ACNA (or have one ACN).

The fact is that if an Anglican congregation decides to ignore the diocesan bishop and seek fellowship structures and international oversight instead, the congregation will lose its church building and the parish restored. Those seeking other oversight will have to leave and be self-sufficient, and this is the means by which ‘entryism’ if practised becomes separation. There aren’t the property issues as in North America but there are issues of dioceses and structures.

The Church of England will have competition within from outside as one faction but it will also have those who dream of Covenanting. These hopefuls (of reintroducing legislation) will include diocesan bishops who can behave as if they are Covenanting. They might even declare themselves ‘Windsor Compliant bishops’, but some would do so knowing they didn’t carry their own dioceses with them. But dioceses cannot join the Covenant, and it was invasive of Rowan Williams to suggest that some American bishops could escape their own province. Only by being competitive, can they: canon law is by Church, not Communion or Covenant. One could only see such an outcome of ‘Windsor Compliants’ popping up within the Church of England if the Conservative Evangelicals were invasive in terms of competition and nothing much was being done about them…

Paul Bagshaw A personal postmortem

…The Church of England

  • The defeat will echo round the CofE’s structures of governance for some time to come.
  • It puts a question mark against the relationship of bishop to diocese (or, at least, to diocesan synod). Some will draw the lesson that new ways must be found to reduce opposition to the leadership; others, that better - more open, more 2-way communication - working relations between leadership and the rest of the diocese is needed.
  • Synodical government itself came under great strain. Win or lose, the tactics used by some bishops, and the Covenant’s inherent overweaning character, was designed to marginalise voters and thus, to diminish the whole system of synodical government.
  • This was possible because it had been steadily weakened over years. The normal tone of deference, the occasional note of ‘fear’ of opposing the bishops, the appeal to loyalty as a motive to vote, all undermine rational and prayerful decision making.
  • The premium placed on the univocal character of the House of Bishops in recent times may either be reinforced or called into question.
  • Will liberals feel emboldened again (after 20 years of Evangelicals making the running)?
  • If so, will an increasingly liberal Church of England move further away from the churches of the Global South, schism or no schism?
  • Establishment will be untouched by this - though it might have been had the Covenant been implemented…

Peter Carrell The Anglican Association and the Anglican Communion

Ideas have their time and some ideas find their time does not come according to their supporters timetable. The Anglican Covenant may prove to be such an idea as a proposal for the Anglican Communion. (It has clearly proved in the last few days to be an idea whose time has not yet come for the Church of England). As the Living Church editorial I pointed to yesterday says, we can look back to 1963 and the Toronto Congress to see that the notion of mutual responsibility and interdependence has charted the evolution of the Communion for nearly fifty years:

“The [No Anglican Covenant] coalition’s opposition to the Covenant has principally centered on a sustained disinterest in global Communion structures, funded by an unhappy amnesia (at best, ignorance at worst) regarding the modern evolution of the Anglican Communion. Among other things, prescribed reading for all members of the NACC, and those tempted to follow them, would include the report from the 1963 Anglican Congress in Toronto, Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ, which charted the course for inter-Anglican conversation of the last half century in a visionary, missionary mode.”

Will future historians look back and see that the Anglican Covenant’s rejection by sufficient member churches to prevent its effective implementation was just a hiccup on the way to fulfilment of the Toronto vision? Were that to be so then the next period of Communion life will likely show signs of the situation being a hiccup rather than a dead end. Here is how our global life might play out over the next few decades…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 26 March 2012 at 8:51am BST | Comments (31) | TrackBack
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Anglican Covenant rejection in England: various reactions

Updated

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition issued this press release.

The Guardian has published this article by Diarmaid MacCulloch The Anglican church can start afresh. The recent vote against the Anglican covenant is hugely significant. But are the bishops ready to listen?

…So now Anglicanism needs to move forward and forget this sorry diversion, into which many perfectly well-meaning people poured a huge amount of energy over a decade when they might have been doing something useful. Woe betide any attempt to revive it, though I notice that the secretary general of the Anglican communion (now there’s an office that sounds ripe for culling) is clearly determined to keep it alive. To judge by a press statement he issued after the votes, he simply hasn’t understood the scale of the catastrophe the covenant has suffered at the hands of ordinary English Anglicans.

Anglicanism has the chance to rediscover painful lessons from its chequered past. After the 16th century Reformation, Scotland, Ireland and England all had churches with bishops. All three churches wanted to monopolise every form of religious expression throughout the realm. All failed.

In the end, episcopal churches were disestablished in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, but even the established Church of England learned that it could not boss around an entire nation, and had to accept that it ministered within a country of many faiths and none. That is a precious lesson to teach its many sister churches worldwide. Try and lay down the law in that delicate, nuanced thing that is religious belief, and you end up damaging or hurting a great many people.

Anglicanism could be seen as a family: in families, you don’t expect everyone to think in exactly the same way. You listen, you shout, cry, talk, compromise. You do not show the door to one member of the family, just because you don’t agree with them. Now Anglicans can start listening afresh. The present archbishop of Canterbury has their warm good wishes, as he prepares to use his many talents and graces in a different setting. They should ask the next man or woman in the job to reconnect with the church and the nation.

Fulcrum has published this article by Andrew Goddard The Anglican Communion Covenant and the Church of England: Ramifications.

Executive Summary

  • The Church of England cannot reconsider the covenant until 2015.
  • Although diocesan votes are quite strongly against, actual votes cast remain marginally for the covenant and English supporters need to continue advocating for the covenant and its vision.
  • The covenant will continue to be considered around the Communion – eight provinces have embraced it and ACC in November will take stock but cannot end the process. * Other provinces should be encouraged to adopt the covenant despite the English decision.
  • The Church of England remains a full member of the Communion.
  • Although the CofE’s representatives cannot now participate in decision-making about the covenant within the Instruments of Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, as an Instrument rather than a provincial representative, may be able to do so.
  • There continue to be 3 visions of communion within the Communion – (1) the covenant vision of autonomy and interdependence with accountability, (2) the confessional GAFCON vision and (3) the TEC autonomy-as-independence vision. Only the first vision is likely to get the support of most provinces as, though different, it is compatible with the second but not the third vision.
  • The Communion now must choose between two main paths of significant reconfiguration – (A) A covenant-focussed Communion but with the Church of England outside the covenant, (B) A looser, more incoherent Communion with various networks within or possibly separate from it.
  • Archbishop Rowan’s via media approach of holding the Communion together by enabling conversation within the framework of upholding the Windsor Report, Lambeth I.10 and the covenant now needs major restructuring if it is to survive.
  • Neither the Communion nor the Church of England can remain unchanged by this development which makes it harder for Anglicanism’s distinctive historic tradition and global communion of churches to “survive with all its aspects intact”.

Anglican Mainstream has published Anglican Communion Covenant will not be debated by CofE General Synod.

…Bishop Michael Nazir Ali said that “I am disappointed that the Anglican Communion Covenant, even in its watered down version,has failed to gain the support of the Church of England. This now means that the Jerusalem Statement (2008) is now ‘The only game in town.’”

In which connection, there is this announcement of a GAFCON meeting in London in April.

Update

Here are two more analyses:

Pluralist Analysis of the Anglican Futures

In terms of the Anglican Communion, the balkanisation that was taking place will now obviously continue. There will be those Anglicans who do use the Covenant, which will be like a declaration to each other of being relatively conservative. There will be those Anglicans of the Jerusalem Declaration (who may and may not also Covenant - see below why probably not) who are producing a strongly doctrinal Protestant version of Anglicanism. Then there will be those leaving open a more flexible future outside any Covenant.

Whatever happens, Anglicans of the confessional and doctrinal type are going to be competitive. I can’t see the Covenant as a process being sufficient for them, but then they have additional statements. The real issue for them is how they try on international oversight via their own Primates’ Council and attempt to compete using fellowship structures. Churches ‘taken on’ by them will have to force the GAFCON/ FCA into independence, possibly then forming an Anglican Church of Northern Europe (or similar title) to parallel ACNA (or have one ACN).

The fact is that if an Anglican congregation decides to ignore the diocesan bishop and seek fellowship structures and international oversight instead, the congregation will lose its church building and the parish restored. Those seeking other oversight will have to leave and be self-sufficient, and this is the means by which ‘entryism’ if practised becomes separation. There aren’t the property issues as in North America but there are issues of dioceses and structures.

The Church of England will have competition within from outside as one faction but it will also have those who dream of Covenanting. These hopefuls (of reintroducing legislation) will include diocesan bishops who can behave as if they are Covenanting. They might even declare themselves ‘Windsor Compliant bishops’, but some would do so knowing they didn’t carry their own dioceses with them. But dioceses cannot join the Covenant, and it was invasive of Rowan Williams to suggest that some American bishops could escape their own province. Only by being competitive, can they: canon law is by Church, not Communion or Covenant. One could only see such an outcome of ‘Windsor Compliants’ popping up within the Church of England if the Conservative Evangelicals were invasive in terms of competition and nothing much was being done about them…

Paul Bagshaw A personal postmortem

…The Church of England

  • The defeat will echo round the CofE’s structures of governance for some time to come.
  • It puts a question mark against the relationship of bishop to diocese (or, at least, to diocesan synod). Some will draw the lesson that new ways must be found to reduce opposition to the leadership; others, that better - more open, more 2-way communication - working relations between leadership and the rest of the diocese is needed.
  • Synodical government itself came under great strain. Win or lose, the tactics used by some bishops, and the Covenant’s inherent overweaning character, was designed to marginalise voters and thus, to diminish the whole system of synodical government.
  • This was possible because it had been steadily weakened over years. The normal tone of deference, the occasional note of ‘fear’ of opposing the bishops, the appeal to loyalty as a motive to vote, all undermine rational and prayerful decision making.
  • The premium placed on the univocal character of the House of Bishops in recent times may either be reinforced or called into question.
  • Will liberals feel emboldened again (after 20 years of Evangelicals making the running)?
  • If so, will an increasingly liberal Church of England move further away from the churches of the Global South, schism or no schism?
  • Establishment will be untouched by this - though it might have been had the Covenant been implemented…

Peter Carrell The Anglican Association and the Anglican Communion

Ideas have their time and some ideas find their time does not come according to their supporters timetable. The Anglican Covenant may prove to be such an idea as a proposal for the Anglican Communion. (It has clearly proved in the last few days to be an idea whose time has not yet come for the Church of England). As the Living Church editorial I pointed to yesterday says, we can look back to 1963 and the Toronto Congress to see that the notion of mutual responsibility and interdependence has charted the evolution of the Communion for nearly fifty years:

“The [No Anglican Covenant] coalition’s opposition to the Covenant has principally centered on a sustained disinterest in global Communion structures, funded by an unhappy amnesia (at best, ignorance at worst) regarding the modern evolution of the Anglican Communion. Among other things, prescribed reading for all members of the NACC, and those tempted to follow them, would include the report from the 1963 Anglican Congress in Toronto, Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ, which charted the course for inter-Anglican conversation of the last half century in a visionary, missionary mode.”

Will future historians look back and see that the Anglican Covenant’s rejection by sufficient member churches to prevent its effective implementation was just a hiccup on the way to fulfilment of the Toronto vision? Were that to be so then the next period of Communion life will likely show signs of the situation being a hiccup rather than a dead end. Here is how our global life might play out over the next few decades…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 26 March 2012 at 8:51am BST | Comments (31) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Have eight provinces adopted the Covenant?

The Secretary General writes: “I have received notifications from eight Provinces…” but this is not the whole story.

The promoters of the document have insisted that it has to be adopted exactly as it stands, and that adopting it only in part, or with amendments to the text, is not an option.

Item: he lists Southern Africa, which has not yet completed its process.

Item: he lists Ireland, which insisted that it had “subscribed” and evidently thought that it was important not to have used the word “adopted”. This may be an Irish subtlety too far for the rest of us to understand.

Item: he lists South East Asia which can only be said to have adopted the existing text by the application of Humpty Dumpty logic. Here is the link to the full text of their Preamble to the Letter of Accession.

So I would say that at the present time the number of adopters is really only six (including Ireland).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 3:16pm GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

English Covenant votes - press reports

A few reports have already appeared in the press about the rejection of the Anglican Communion Covenant by a majority of Church of England diocesan synods.

Avril Ormsby for Reuters English church votes down pact to unite Anglicans

BBC Half of the Church of England’s dioceses reject unity covenant including Analysis by Robert Pigott

The Independent CoE votes against covenant on divisive issues

And there is a mention towards the end of this article by Cole Moreton and Edward Malnick in The Telegraph Twitter users invited to help choose the new Archbishop of Canterbury.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 25 March 2012 at 11:27am GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 24 March 2012

The Secretary General on the Anglican Communion Covenant

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion has just issued this press release.

The Secretary General on the Anglican Communion Covenant
Posted On : March 24, 2012 3:58 PM | Posted By : Admin ACO
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In the light of today’s news about the decisions of the dioceses of the Church of England about the Covenant I wanted to clarify the current situation across the Anglican Communion.

In December 2009, as requested by the Standing Committee, I sent the text of The Anglican Communion Covenant to all the Member Churches of the Anglican Communion asking that they consider it for adoption according to their own internal procedures.

I have received notifications from eight Provinces that they have approved, or subscribed, the Covenant or, in the case of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, have approved pending ratification at the next synod which is usual procedure in that Province.

These Provinces are:
The Church of Ireland
The Anglican Church of Mexico
The Church of the Province of Myanmar
The Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea
The Church of the Province of South East Asia
The Anglican Church of Southern Africa
The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America
The Church in the Province of the West Indies

What next steps are taken by the Church of England is up to that Province. Consideration of the Covenant continues across the Anglican Communion and this was always expected to be a lengthy process. I look forward to all the reports of progress to date at the ACC-15 in New Zealand in November.

Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Canon Kenneth Kearon

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 24 March 2012 at 4:39pm GMT | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 18 March 2012

Church of Nigeria reacts to Archbishop of Canterbury's Resignation

from the website of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).

Church of Nigeria reacts to Archbishop of Canterbury’s Resignation

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt. Hon. Dr. Rowan Williams took over the leadership of the Anglican Communion in 2002 when it was a happy family. Unfortunately, he is leaving behind a Communion in tatters: highly polarized, bitterly factionalized, with issues of revisionist interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and human sexuality as stumbling blocks to oneness, evangelism and mission all around the Anglican world.

It might not have been entirely his own making, but certainly “crucified under Pontius Pilate”. The lowest ebb of this degeneration came in 2008, when there were, so to say, two “Lambeth” Conferences one in the UK, and an alternative one, GAFCON in Jerusalem. The trend continued recently when many Global South Primates decided not to attend the last Primates’ meeting in Dublin, Ireland.

Since Dr. Rowan Williams did not resign in 2008, over the split Lambeth Conference, one would have expected him to stay on in office, and work assiduously to ‘mend the net’ or repair the breach, before bowing out of office. The only attempt, the covenant proposal, was doomed to fail from the start, as “two cannot walk together unless they have agreed”.

For us, the announcement does not present any opportunity for excitement. It is not good news here, until whoever comes as the next leader pulls back the Communion from the edge of total destruction. To this end, we commit our Church, the Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion) to serious fasting and prayers that God will do “a new thing”, in the Communion.

Nevertheless, we join others to continue in prayer for Dr. Rowan Williams and his family for a more fruitful endeavour in their post – Canterbury life.

+Nicholas D. Okoh
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 18 March 2012 at 3:58pm GMT | Comments (60) | TrackBack
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Bishop of Liverpool on the Anglican Covenant

Updated

The Diocese of Liverpool voted yesterday to reject the Anglican Covenant. The presidential address to the diocesan synod by the Right Reverend James Jones can be found in full as a PDF file here.

Update the full address can now be seen on video here.

A press release about it from the diocese: The Anglican Covenant will undermine not save the Communion.

In his Presidential Address to the synod of the Diocese of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones readdresses his longstanding concerns about the creation of the Covenant. The Bishop will tell synod “far from being the salvation of the Communion the Anglican Covenant would undermine it”.

Bishop James set out six key concerns over the Covenant.

  • That in a litigious world where the religious dimension makes this more fraught the Covenant with “its explicit threats of ‘relational consequences’ will be making our Communion more vulnerable to those forces that propel people forward in litigation.”
  • That the Communion will become increasingly absorbed by internal order which will take time money and energy – he will state “my heartache here is that those precious gifts of time, money and energy should be directed to the mission of God”.
  • That the church “has been born for mission” and the Covenant can introduce a dynamic the makes the communion resistant to change. As he says “instead of setting us free to engage with a changing world it freezes us at a given point in our formation, holding us back and making us nervous about going beyond the boundaries and reaching out into God’s world.” The Bishop argues that the “church must be free to go into all the world and to engage with new cultures enabling us all to learn Christ”.
  • Pointing to the Diocese of Liverpool’s relationship with the Diocese of Akure and the Diocese of Virginia he will say “the beauty of the Communion is that it allows for such ad hoc partnerships to spring up all over the world” and that “we learn most about the Gospel form those who differ from us”. The quasi legal nature of the Covenant will threaten that dynamic.
  • That through the Bible, the Creeds, the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, the 39 Articles and Book of Common Prayer we have sufficient credentials for our common life.
  • Bishop James also talked about the act of grace that it is to be in Christ stating “when we are in Christ, we are in Christ with everybody else who is in Christ, whether we like it or not- or them or not…”

The Bishop’s address continues his long stated contribution around how we should relate to those with whom we have differing theological or political viewpoints. From “Making space for truth and grace” to his speeches on the environment; relationships with other faiths and on the Ordination of women to the Episcopate the Bishop has urged a greater understanding of the opinions of those with whom we disagree. This is an approach the Bishop himself has taken within the Diocese of Liverpool as the diocese works together to pursue the mission of God in our region.

As Bishop James concludes “The Church of England and the Anglican Communion have over the centuries developed a generous embrace allowing seekers to taste and see the goodness of God. Within our borders there is a generous orthodoxy. There is space for the seeker to breathe, to enquire, to ask questions, to doubt and to grope towards faith and to find God. That I believe is a space within the Body of Christ worth preserving.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 18 March 2012 at 2:05pm GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Friday, 16 March 2012

Rowan Williams announces his retirement

Lambeth Palace press release: Archbishop of Canterbury to be Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge

Archbishop Rowan Williams has today announced his acceptance of the position of Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge with effect from January 2013. He will therefore be stepping down from the office of Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of December 2012.

Dr Williams’ intentions have been conveyed to The Queen, who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England and who formally appoints the Archbishop of Canterbury…

Bishopthorpe Palace press release: Statement Regarding Archbishop of Canterbury Stepping Down

Following the announcement this morning that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will be stepping down from his present office at the end of December, The Archbishop of York has released the following statement:

“It is with great sadness that I received the news that the Archbishop of Canterbury will be stepping down at the end of this year.

Our partnership in the gospel over the past six years has been the most creative period of my ministry. It has been life-giving to have led missions together, gone on retreats and prayed together. In his company I have drunk deeply from the wells of God’s mercy and love and it has all been joyful. He is a real brother to me in Christ…

General Synod members have been sent a copy of a note from the Secretary General (GS Misc 1019) to which is attached “Outline Of Procedures For The Appointment Of An Archbishop Of Canterbury”. We have made this available as a web page. Most of this GS Misc paper is also available here.

The Anglican Communion Office issued this press release: Archbishop of Canterbury announces he is stepping down at the end of the year.

Magdalene College Cambridge has issued this press release.

10 Downing Street issued PM Statement on resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Lambeth Palace Archbishop’s interview with Press Association

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 16 March 2012 at 10:39am GMT | Comments (61) | TrackBack
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Monday, 12 March 2012

Archbishop prays with the Pope

Anglican Communion News Service reports: Roman vespers unite Pope, Archbishop of Canterbury in prayer.

Anglicans and Roman Catholics share a somewhat turbulent history, but differences were brushed aside March 10 when Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI prayed together during an ecumenical vespers service at San Gregorio Magna al Celio in Rome.

The service marked the 1000th anniversary of the founding of Italy’s Camaldoli monastic community, which includes a presence at San Gregorio, a site of major significance to the origins of the Church of England.

Both Christian leaders, who held a private meeting earlier in the day to discuss human rights issues and concerns for the Holy Land, delivered a homily during the vespers and lit candles together in the chapel of St. Gregory…

Lambeth Palace has these texts:

Archbishop’s homily at Papal Vespers, San Gregorio Magno al Celio

Monastic Virtues and Ecumenical Hopes - Archbishop’s address at San Gregorio Magno

Archbishop’s sermon at St Paul’s Within the Walls, Rome

Monks and Mission: a perspective from England address at the Abbey of Monte Cassino

Episcopal News Service has Video: Archbishop of Canterbury preaches at Rome’s Episcopal church

Vatican Radio has these:

Full text: Pope Benedict XVI at ecumenical Vespers

Pope and Archbishop Williams discuss human rights, evangelisation and Middle East

And there is a transcript of the Vatican Radio interview here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 12 March 2012 at 6:12pm GMT | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 11 March 2012

Anglican Covenant: today's Sunday programme interview

On today’s BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme, there was a short item about the Anglican Covenant. Edward Stourton interviewed Diarmaid MacCulloch and Graham Kings.

The Diocese of Salisbury website carries a complete transcript of it: Transcript BBC Radio 4 Sunday Programme 11 Mar 12. Discussion on the Anglican Communion

The BBC page for that programme is here. The audio is available as a podcast, as well as on iPlayer. The relevant section is also available here.

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Saturday, 10 March 2012

Further critiques of the Anglican Covenant

Updated Monday

Paul Bagshaw has analysed the text of the video made on Monday of this week by the Archbishop of Canterbury. His article is titled Archbishop, I beg to differ.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is clearly anxious that the Covenant project is endangered in England. There is still a long way to go and neither side can be confident of victory for a few more weeks.

So, to shore up support, Rowan Williams has had to put out an appeal on YouTube. He has also sent it to those Dioceses which have yet to vote on the Covenant and asked diocesan officers to circulate it…

Andrew Davison has revised his earlier article to include some comments arising from the video, and the revised version is available here.

…In a statement on the Anglican Covenant of 5 March 2012, the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote that the legal, fourth part of the Covenant does not erect a disciplinary system to force anyone to do anything. That is accurate, unfortunately, only in the most technical sense. The law of England does not force me not to steal or murder. However, it would impose punishments if I did, and that would be quite a disincentive, were I so tempted. Similarly, the Covenant does not force any Province to act one way or another, in that technical sense. It is, all the same, coercive and punitive: it is difficult to understand the exclusion of Provinces from full membership of the Communion as anything but a threat and a punishment…

And Malcolm French has written this: There was no YouTube in 1867.

…At the end of the day, only 76 of 144 bishops attended the first Lambeth Conference. Archbishop Longley’s assurance that the conference would neither have nor claim the status of a Pan-Anglican synod failed to reassure either Archbishop Thomson or Dean Stanley. Thomson and most of the bishops from the northern province refused to attend. Stanley refused to allow Westminster Abbey to be used for any part of the event. Bishop John Colenso of Natal, prefiguring the eventual unpersoning of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson in 2007, was simply not invited.

Of course, Longley won the immediate skirmish. The conference did not claim any synodical authority, and its resolutions were not binding on Anglicans at home or abroad.

But here’s what didn’t happen.

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury didn’t put out a YouTube video essentially calling Archbishop Thomson’s and Dean Stanley’s views “completely misleading and false” - and not only because there was no YouTube in 1867.
  • The Bishop of St. Asaph didn’t bleat on to The Times that critics of the conference idea were fascists - and not only because the term “fascist” hadn’t been invented yet.
  • The Bishop of Sherborne didn’t wander about the country claiming that anyone who didn’t support the conference idea was being disloyal to Archbishop Longley - and not only because the bishopric of Sherborne didn’t exist…

Update
Alan Perry has published Of Archbishops and Videos.

…But the biggest problem, as the Archbishop sees it, is not any quibbles obscure Canadians like me might have with sections 1-3. No, there is apparently some false propaganda circulating. As the Archbishop puts it:

one of the greatest misunderstandings around concerning the Covenant is that it’s some sort of centralising proposal creating an absolute authority which has the right to punish people for stepping out of line. I have to say I think this is completely misleading and false.

I would be more convinced if he were to demonstrate, citing the actual Covenant text of course, precisely why these concerns are “misleading and false.” Without doing so, he engages in unsupported assertions and even verges on ad hominem attacks.

The fact is, as I have already demonstrated, that the so-called dispute-settling process in section 4 of the proposed Covenant is vague, arbitrary and intrinsically unfair by design. And it is designed to determine winners and losers. Either an action by a Church is compatible or incompatible with the Covenant. And the decision is final, with no mechanism for further discussion or appeal.

Oh, says the Archbishop, “what the Covenant proposes is not a set of punishments, but a way of thinking through what the consequences are of decisions people freely and in good conscience make.” Given the vagueness of the process, it’s not much of a way of thinking through anything. We don’t even know how to start the process. It’s that unclear. I challenge the Archbishop to demonstrate where the Covenant text says how a question is to be raised, as it quaintly puts what elsewhere would be called lodging a complaint. It’s simply not there in the text…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 10 March 2012 at 3:23pm GMT | Comments (55) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

more from opponents of the Anglican Covenant

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition has issued a press release, available as a PDF here:

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition has added three new Patrons to its special group of eminent Anglicans opposing the proposed Anglican Covenant. The new Patrons are

  • The Rt. Revd. James White, Assistant Bishop of Auckland, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
  • Dr. Muriel Porter, OAM, journalist and author, Anglican Church of Australia
  • The Revd. Canon Dr. Sarah Coakley, Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, Cambridge University, Church of England.

…“The disturbing theological vacuity of the Covenant document nonetheless comes with a hidden iron fist: do not be misled by its rhetoric of friendly collaboration between national churches,” writes Prof Coakley. “The Covenant bespeaks a quite different ecclesiology from that of Cranmer’s ‘blessed company of all faithful people,’ and profoundly alters what it means to be Anglican. The deepest theological challenges of our day cannot be answered by hapless bureaucratic manipulations of our theological tradition.”

Diarmaid MacCulloch has recorded a video in which he opposes the Covenant: see Diarmaid MacCulloch Adds To The Video Debate.

And, he also written a covering note Historical Problems with the Anglican Covenant for a learned paper The Anglican Covenant and the Experience of The Scottish Episcopal Church: Rewriting History for Expediencies Sake.

I would like to recommend most highly this historical article by the Ven. Edward Simonton, Archdeacon of Saint Andrews in the Diocese of Montreal. It is a marvelously clear, learned and well-informed introduction to the history and significance of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, which reveals just how shoddy and ill-informed are the historical arguments which have been used to promote the introduction of a so-called ‘Anglican Covenant’. Simonton guides his reader through the history of a Church in Scotland which is a complete contrast to that of the Church of England, yet which is just as ancient in its episcopate. This is particularly important because one of the planks of the ‘Covenant’ is that the Anglican identity, on which its attempt at universal discipline is based, looks to the Thirty-Nine Articles and the 1662 Prayer Book. This is simply not so in the case of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which one has to remember was up to 1707 a Church in an independent kingdom, Scotland…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 7 March 2012 at 9:21am GMT | Comments (26) | TrackBack
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Monday, 5 March 2012

more support for the Anglican Covenant

Updated

The Archbishop of Canterbury recorded this video at lunchtime today, according to a comment here earlier. There is a transcript as well.
Archbishop: why the Covenant matters.

Mark Chapman has published at Living Church an article titled Spatial Catholicity.

Fulcrum has published several articles:
Anglicans and Covenants: A Very Brief History by Benjamin M. Guyer
The Anglican Communion Covenant: Fighting to preserve and enhance something deeply valuable by Stephen Kuhrt
Are we Anglicans or Baptists? by John Watson

Update
Five Reasons FOR the Covenant by Gregory Cameron

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 5 March 2012 at 9:45pm GMT | Comments (64) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 4 March 2012

Anglican Covenant: two bishops defend it

This week’s Church Times carries a letter from the Bishops of Bristol and Oxford, which is behind the paywall this week, but is freely available from the Diocese of Bristol’s website at Bishops of Bristol and Oxford’s Anglican Covenant letter.

With a large number of dioceses soon to debate the Anglican Communion Covenant, and with there being in some quarters suspicion or even hostility towards it, we would urge pause for reflection as to what is at stake, both for the Anglican Communion as a whole and for our own Church of England.

The Covenant process has been developed with the full participation of all the churches of the Anglican Communion. It is likely the most consulted-over document the Communion has ever known. At heart, it offers a way for the churches to renew their commitment to each other and to express their common Anglican identity and mission. It’s something our own church has been at the centre of shaping and developing…

And it concludes with this:

The Anglican Communion Covenant is currently under consideration in all the churches of the Communion, according to their own processes for adoption. Already nine have decided to adopt it . A luke-warm response, or worse, rejection, of the Covenant in the Church of England would meet with bewilderment in the wider Communion. Some would ask with the prophet Isaiah, “Can a mother forget her children?”

But it would also impoverish the Church of England. Our church life and mission is infinitely the richer for the relationships we share around the Communion. The Covenant offers us a precious opportunity to consolidate those relationships and to demonstrate our commitment to one another as churches. Let’s not miss this opportunity offered to us in our time.

A detailed and comprehensive response to this letter has been published by Paul Bagshaw and can be read at What is not being said about the Covenant? It needs to be read in full, but here is an extract:

I choose to believe that many, perhaps the majority, of the English bishops are personally committed to the Covenant - but always and only in broad generalisations.

In essence we are told: the Covenant is A Good Thing, it doesn’t change anything but is vital to keeping the Communion together, and the consequences of not passing it are horrendous.

But this advocacy never seems to address what any critical reader of the Covenant text might ask:

  • The bishops’ say there are no new powers or structures; but what does the text actually contain?
  • And if there are no new powers or structures then how can choosing or rejecting it possibly make so much difference?
  • In particular, if the Covenant leaves provincial autonomy just where it was then how can it have any effect on future decisions a province might contemplate?
  • In sum: what’s so wrong with the Communion that we currently have that it will fall apart without the Covenant, but which the Covenant - by merely restating what we already know and practice - can possibly resolve?

I struggle to see the logic.

But I do see something missing. The ultimate power of Section 4 of the Covenant is to exclude an offending province by recommending to every other province that they turn their backs on it. All lesser powers of exclusion and demotion stem from this central power…

Alan Perry has compiled aggregate voting statistics here. It would be very interesting to compare the voting totals in each diocese with the corresponding totals for the recent parallel voting on women bishops, to see what the comparative levels of attendance were.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 8:39pm GMT | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 3 March 2012

Anglican Covenant: two more diocesan rejections, one in favour

Today the dioceses of Bradford, Chelmsford and Hereford voted on the Anglican Covenant. Chelmsford and Hereford rejected the proposal, Bradford voted in favour.

The running totals are therefore 13 against, and 8 for.

In Chelmsford the voting was (Corrected):

Bishops: 2 for, 1 against, 1 abstention
Clergy: 27 for, 29 against, 7 abstentions
Laity: 31 for, 30 against, 3 abstentions

In Hereford the voting was:

Bishops: 2 for, 0 against
Clergy: 15 for, 15 against, 1 abstention
Laity 21 for, 23 against, 1 abstention

In Bradford the voting was:

Bishop: 1 for, 0 against
Clergy: 15 for, 9 against, 2 abstentions
Laity: 16 for, 15 against, 3 abstentions

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 March 2012 at 6:50pm GMT | Comments (27) | TrackBack
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Friday, 2 March 2012

Anglican commission consultants reinstated as full members

The Anglican Communion News Service reports: Consultants reinstated as full members on IASCUFO

Two consultants of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) have been reinstated as full members at the request of the Commission’s chairman.

The redesignation of Dr Katherine Grieb and Archbishop Tito Zavala as consultants took place as a result of the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams’ Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion issued in May 2010.

This latest decision follows a request by IASCUFO chairman Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi that Archbishop Williams reconsider the application of the letter to IASCUFO so that the consultants can be reinstated as full members for the sake of the work of the Commission.

Acknowledging that members of IASCUFO are present in virtue of skills relevant to the work of the Commission and are not present as representatives of their Provinces, Archbishop Williams has requested that the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Canon Kenneth Kearon reinstate Archbishop Zavala and Dr Grieb.

ENS reported this as Consultants reinstated as full members on ecumenical commission

…Williams’ request concerning Grieb came in May 2010 following the consecration of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary Douglas Glasspool, who is openly gay, and his decision about Zavala was made in October 2010 because the Southern Cone had failed to clarify whether it was still involved in cross-border incursions into other provinces.

Grieb is an Episcopal priest and professor of New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary. Zavala was bishop of Chile at the time but has since been elected as archbishop of the Southern Cone province.

The request to reinstate the members fully was made by IASCUFO chairman Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of the Anglican Church of Burundi.

Williams, according to an article from the Anglican Communion News Service, has asked the secretary general of the Anglican Communion to reinstate Grieb and Zavala “acknowledging that members of IASCUFO are present in virtue of skills relevant to the work of the commission and are not present as representatives of their provinces.” Yet when the sanctions were imposed, Williams cited developments and actions taken by the individuals’ provinces.

The May 2010 sanctions impacted other Episcopalians serving on ecumenical bodies. Two were asked to leave the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue and one member each stepped down from the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission and the Anglican-Lutheran International Commission.

One Episcopal Church member serving on the Anglican-Old Catholic International Coordinating Council was initially removed but later reinstated as a consultant after it was agreed that that body is not an ecumenical dialogue but the coordination of work by full communion partners.

At the time, no mention was made about ecumenical commission members from other provinces — such as Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda – that had been involved in cross-border interventions in the United States.

An annotated version of the full IASCUFO membership list was published here, in October 2010.

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Anglican Covenant: another result and some comment

The Diocese of Sodor and Man voted yesterday against the Anglican Covenant. The voting was as follows:

Bishops: 1 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions

Clergy: 5 for, 12 against, 0 abstentions

Laity: 21 for, 15 against, 1 abstention

This means that 11 dioceses (25%) have now voted against the covenant, and 7 dioceses (16%) have voted in favour of it.

The letter in last week’s Church Times from Diarmaid MacCulloch is now available to non-subscribers, see The Anglican Covenant: worse than schism?. The original version of this letter is copied below the fold.

Liam Beadle has written an essay titled The Anglican Communion Covenant: A Church of England Objection from an Evangelical Perspective which is also available as a PDF file.

It would be interesting to conduct a survey of what it is that English Anglicans most value about their Church. It might be its worship; it might be its restraint; it might even – particularly if we are asking a group of evangelicals – be its formularies, namely the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons. It should therefore be startling to Anglicans that we are being asked to agree to a covenant which ignores our liturgical tradition, responds to a presenting issue, and adds to our formularies. Several dioceses in the Church of England have already voted against the proposed Covenant, and in this short paper I seek to explain my own reasons for rejecting it…

Original version of the letter to the Church Times

Anglican Covenant: where next?

Twenty years into the reign of that good and pious monarch George III, in 1780, John Dunning MP tabled a motion in the House of Commons that ‘The influence of the Crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished’. It was passed, despite much fury from the government of the day (which had just inadvertently created the United States of America by its stupidity). Dunning’s Motion did not end the efforts of the executive to accrue power and centralise; those efforts are with us still. Nevertheless, to use a phrase which Dunning would not have recognised, but would have relished, it was a reality check: it reminded royalty and the executive to preserve a delicate balance amid parliamentary politics and not try undue self-assertion. Although George III was pretty cross at the time, his successor still sits on her throne, while the descendants of many monarchs contemporary with King George look back on the guillotine, the firing-squad or ignominous exile.

A triumphalist whiggish anecdote from British history, yes, but on the weekend of 18 February, a very whiggish event happened in England. Four Anglican diocesan synods were asked to vote in favour of the Anglican Covenant, with every pressure from the executive (that is, the vast majority of the Bench of Bishops), and all four synods declined to do so. It was a sign that the incoherence of the arguments in favour of the Covenant was beginning to become clear. We have been assured that the Covenant is vital for the future of the Anglican Communion, and so not to approve it will lead to break-up and theological incoherence. Equally, we have been assured that the Covenant has been watered down so much that it won’t change very much really, so it is perfectly safe to vote for it. Above all, not to vote for it will be very upsetting for the Archbishop of Canterbury, who supports the Covenant. This argument, widely if a little surreptitiously canvassed, irresistibly reminds me of a MacCulloch family anecdote: my grandfather was taking morning worship in St Columba’s Episcopal Church, Portree, around 1900. It was a hot day; a party had come to church from one of the great houses on the Isle of Skye, and one of the young ladies said to her hostess in a stage whisper, ‘Oh, I think I’m going to faint’. The matriarch majestically retorted ‘You will do no such thing. It would be disrespectful to Almighty God, and distressing for Canon MacCulloch.’ Although the admonition was on that occasion successful, that is no way to do theology. The future of Anglicanism can’t be decided on whether a momentous theological decision will hurt any one person’s feelings.

The Anglican Covenant is bad theology for many reasons: the most important of which is that it gives to central bodies the authority to decide who is fully an Anglican, in a way that offends every canon of Anglican history. It also makes an elementary mistake about discipline in our tradition. There is no question but that the Covenant originated in a wish on the part of certain primates of the Communion to put the Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada in the Naughty Corner. If anyone tries to deny that, let she or he read a collection of essays from 2002, To mend the net, co-edited by Archbishop Drexel W. Gomez of the West Indies (Chairman of the Covenant Design Group, no less) and by Archbishop Maurice W. Sinclair of the Southern Cone. Now it is obvious that every body with a common purpose needs rules which may amount to discipline; but discipline in our Church is exercised against erring individuals, not against entire ecclesial bodies which have in prayer and careful thought about real pastoral situations, have come to their own decision about what is right for their own situation in a God-given place. It is a nonsense to try to spank an entire Church, although authoritarian-minded folk have often tried it over the centuries of Christian history. On 18 February, four Anglican dioceses made that point. So far, ten dioceses in England have voted down the Covenant, and only five have voted for it. Now, perhaps, those bishops who back this ill-thought-out and potentially disastrous measure should get the message, and let the Covenant quietly subside into the swamp of bad ideas in Anglican history.

Diarmaid MacCulloch is Professor of the History of the Church, University of Oxford.

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Monday, 27 February 2012

Anglican Covenant passes in two more English dioceses

Last Saturday two more dioceses considered the proposal to approve the Anglican Covenant, and the motion passed in both cases.

In Sheffield the voting was:

Bishops: 2 for, 0 against
Clergy: 16 for, 6 against, 1 abstention
Laity: 31 for, 9 against, 0 abstentions

In Winchester the voting was:

Bishops: 3 for, 0 against
Clergy: 22 for, 11 against, 4 abstentions
Laity: 38 for, 10 against, 2 abstentions

Subsequently, the Yes to the Covenant campaign issued this press release:

Immediate release

BISHOPS RALLY TO SUPPORT ANGLICAN COVENANT CAMPAIGN AS TIDE TURNS

Supporters of the Anglican Communion Covenant expressed optimism this weekend, after Diocesan Synods in the Winchester and Sheffield dioceses voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Covenant. This represents a significant turnaround from only a week ago, when four dioceses voted against the Covenant.

The shift follows the establishment of the new grassroots campaign, ‘Yes to the Covenant’, whose Patrons are the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, and the Bishop of Sherborne, the Rt Revd Graham Kings. A number of other Bishops have also expressed their support, including the bishops of Peterborough, Southwell & Nottingham and Brixworth. Other high-profile supporters include eminent theologians Professor N T Wright (formerly Bishop of Durham) and Professor Oliver O’Donovan.

Prudence Dailey, co-founder of ‘Yes to the Covenant’, said the campaign had clearly succeeded in presenting a more balanced view, against a background of determined negative campaigning by a small group of detractors. Diocesan Synod members now stood a better chance of being fully informed before casting their votes, she said.

Voting now stands at 7 dioceses in favour and 10 against. If the Covenant is approved by a majority of the Church of England’s 44 dioceses, it will then go forward to the General Synod to decide whether to adopt it formally.

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

The Anglican Communion Covenant is being promoted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to foster greater unity among Anglicans worldwide. The need for a Covenant was initially recognised as a result of divisions originating following the consecration of the actively gay Gene Robinson as a bishop in the USA. All Anglican Provinces are being encouraged to adopt the Covenant, as a way of establishing general mutual accountability by agreement.

The initial press release from this group which was only received at TA today, is dated 21 February.

NEW PRO-ANGLICAN COVENANT CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED

The Church of England is in danger of sleepwalking into a terrible mistake, according to a new campaign group launched today.

‘Yes to the Covenant’ is urging the Church of England to sign up to the Anglican Communion Covenant. The Covenant is being promoted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to foster greater unity among Anglicans worldwide, amid deepening divisions which originated following the consecration of the actively gay Gene Robinson as a bishop in the USA.

Campaigners warn that Anglicanism—the third largest church in the world after Roman Catholicism and the Orthodox church—is on the verge of collapse as a coherent global entity, and that local Synods are in danger of unwittingly aiding its disintegration. The Covenant has to be approved in a majority the 44 Church of England Dioceses before it can go forward to the General Synod for a final vote; but it has been rejected by a majority of the Diocesan Synods which have voted to date.

According to Prudence Dailey, co-founder of the ‘Yes’ campaign and a lay member of General Synod, preoccupation with issues such as women bishops has resulted in a failure to take the Anglian Covenant sufficiently seriously. ‘Many Diocesan Synod members are turning up to vote with very little idea of what the Covenant is or why it matters, and many are not turning up at all—if you compare the totals of those present and voting with the recent Diocesan vote on women bishops, for instance, the figures are significantly lower.’

At the same time, there had been an orchestrated campaign against the Covenant, with opponents spreading ill-founded fears that it was somehow ‘un-Anglican’, without providing any realistic alternative, she said. Whenever the Covenant had been discussed previously in the General Synod, it had received overwhelming support, and might reasonably have been expected to be adopted comfortably, until a vocal minority began sowing doubts about it.

A number of other Anglican Provinces—mostly in poorer parts of the world—have already signed up, and regard the Covenant as of great symbolic importance in reinforcing their identity as part of a worldwide community of fellow Anglicans. ‘The Anglican Covenant is about mutual accountability, mutual trust. For the Church of England to walk away from it now would be interpreted as us saying to the poor and marginalised, “we don’t trust you, and we don’t need you”. That might not be what was meant, but it is undoubtedly what would be heard—and we would all be the poorer for that’, said Miss Dailey.

A website, www.yestothecovenant.org, has been set up, with information about the Covenant and reasons for supporting it.

ENDS

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 3:20pm GMT | Comments (34) | TrackBack
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Friday, 24 February 2012

Anglican Covenant: reports and reactions

Updated 9 March

The Church Times reports this week on the progress of voting in English dioceses on the Anglican Covenant: Covenant tastes defeat in diocesan voting.

ALMOST a quarter of C of E dioceses have now voted against the Anglican Covenant.

It was debated last weekend by the diocesan synods of Leicester, Portsmouth, Salisbury, and Rochester, and rejected by all of them — in some cases, despite impassioned pleas from bishops.

Just five of 15 English dioceses have so far approved the Covenant, which must be debated by diocesan synods by the end of March.
Approval by 23 diocesan synods is required for the Covenant to return to the General Synod. Rejection by 22 dioceses would effectively derail approval of the Covenant by the Church of England…

And there is this:

in a letter in the Church Times today, the patron of the coalition, the Revd Dr Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church in the University of Oxford, writes: “Those bishops who back this ill-thought-out and poten­tially disastrous measure should get the message, and let the Covenant quietly subside into the swamp of bad ideas in Anglican history.”

The letters page is subscriber-only for another week but I expect this text will appear elsewhere shortly.

A splendid speech given last Saturday to Leicester diocesan synod by David Jennings is available here.

The Diocese of Norwich held an ‘Anglican Covenant Listening Seminar’. By far the best of these papers is the one by Andrew Davison available here (PDF).

Update That paper has since been revised to add some comments in response to the recent video from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the new version is here (PDF).

There have been several comments about the new website:

And there have been several comments about the new videos published by the ACO:

And, from Scotland Kelvin Holdsworth has written Remember the Anglican Covenant?

…In Scotland it is quite hard to find anyone arguing in favour of the Covenant. At last year’s General Synod we had pseudo-Indaba groups which reported pretty negatively on the whole business and it was difficult to find anyone from any of the groups who had encountered anyone at all who thought well of the proposal. The message which I’ve consistently heard since then from around the church is people saying that the Anglican Communion is very important to us but that the kind of communion that the Covenant proposes is not the kind of communion that we see as being desirable. Indeed, the strong message seems to be pro the Communion but against the kind of setup that would be a consequence of accepting the Covenant. The presumption that there would be widespread disagreement about the Covenant in Scotland doesn’t really seem at this stage to be holding up. So far as I can see, there isn’t a great deal of disagreement at all about it…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 24 February 2012 at 11:28pm GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Anglican Covenant has supporters and critics

Updated Wednesday evening

Update Anglican Communion Faith and Order body issues videos on the Covenant

Members of the Anglican Communion with Internet access can now watch three videos produced by the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO) in which its members speak about the Covenant.

In one, members from Provinces including England, the West Indies, Central Africa and Southern Africa explain why they consider the Covenant important for the Communion.

In another the Church of Ceylon’s Rt Revd Kumara Ilangasinghe, recently retired Bishop of Kurunagala, shares his thoughts on the value of accountability.

In the third, members share their thoughts about the sections of the Covenant.

A group named Yes To The Covenant has been formed, and has a website. As explained here, this is the initiative of two members of the Church of England in the Diocese of Oxford.

The speech given in support of the Covenant at the Salisbury diocesan synod on Saturday by Bishop Graham Kings is available here, or here.

It has attracted several responses, including this detailed criticism from Tobias Haller, Should Anglicans Be Grapes Or Marbles? from LayAnglicana and In praise of Arranged Marriage… from Satirical Christian.

Jin Naughton has raised some more fundamental questions about the Covenant at Episcopal Café in Anglican Covenant: Due process and the lack thereof. He refers to an essay by Sally Johnson which he quotes in part:

In essence, the Standing Committee receives a question, receives assistance from unspecified “committees or commissions” mandated by unspecified authority, takes advice from any body or anybody it deems appropriate and decides whether to refer the question to the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting. The Standing Committee then decides whether to request a Church to “defer” a decision or action and what relational consequences should result if it does not. It 
then moves on to a determination of whether or not a Church’s action or decision is or would be “incompatible with the Covenant.” The Standing Committee does this “on the basis of advice received from the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting,” not on the basis of a process or procedure in which the Church whose action is in question participates in any way, other than to the extent it has representatives on the ACC (from which it could already be barred) and a primate at the Primates’ Meeting (from which its primate could have been excluded). …

Agreeing to an undefined, unspecified process in which the decision-making bodies have full discretion to act in any manner they deem best–not only as to the process but as to the standard and burden of proof, information considered, and all other aspects of the dispute resolution system–is what the covenant contemplates. In the words of the rule of law, there is no procedural due process and no substantive due process guaranteed by the covenant. The outcome is to be trusted and respected based on the persons/bodies making the decisions rather than a system based on how the decision is made. (italics added.)

Tobias Haller in another article, titled No[t This] Anglican Covenant repeats the argument he has made before, that there is an alternative.

…I am well-set in my mind against the current draft PAC, but I do not in the long run think the idea of a set of rules for the conduct of inter-provincial affairs in the Anglican Communion is in itself “un-Anglican.” We have, I think, a sufficient such arrangement in the by-laws of the ACC, but I am not averse, nor do I think it contrary to good sense or our traditions, to exploring other ways of working together across the Communion. But the current document is not it. As I’ve said in the past, I think the IASCOME Covenant for Mission or the Continuing Indaba and Mutual Listening Process much more helpful towards edification; in particular as the PAC explicitly calls for de-edification (i.e., “relational consequences” that will decouple or lessen the “bonds of affection”).

And, Bosco Peters has written CofE Covenant vote 10-5 against. He questions the ecclesiology behind the Covenant:

…The ecclesiology of the Tony Blair-chosen Archbishop of Canterbury has come in for some battering in the women bishops debate. Although no one apparently has yet translated his latest speech into English, Rowan Williams appears unwilling to throw himself fully into the fullness of the catholic church being present in each diocese. The ecclesiology which hankers after an international “universal church” (a sort of international super-church, rather than a communion of dioceses) undergirds the “Anglican Covenant”. It’s a perfectly fine alternative ecclesiology, and has a perfectly fine exemplar in Roman Catholicism…

Finally, Cranmer writes about The death of the Anglican Covenant.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 at 9:35pm GMT | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Anglican Covenant debate: a shift in momentum

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition has issued a news release: Momentum Shifting in Anglican Covenant Debate. (Full PDF version is over here.)

With one-third of English dioceses now having voted on the proposed Anglican Covenant, leaders of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition are detecting a significant shift in momentum. With last weekend’s clean sweep in Leicester, Portsmouth, Salisbury and Rochester, ten dioceses have rejected the Covenant while only five have approved it.

“When we launched the No Anglican Covenant Coalition just 16 months ago, it seemed like we were facing impossible odds,” said the Coalition’s Moderator, the Revd Dr Lesley Crawley. “But now the tide appears to be turning. The more church members learn about the Covenant, the less they like it.”

“I’m glad to see how perceptive the diocesan synods have been once well-rounded arguments are put to them,” said Coalition Patron and Oxford University Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch. “There were two Covenants in the Church of England’s seventeenth-century history, and in combination, they destroyed episcopacy until wiser counsels prevailed. It appears the dioceses are not interested in helping present-day bishops making it a hat trick.”

“It is heartening to see the dioceses rising up to their responsibilities instead of delegating their discernment to the House of Bishops and the archbishops,” according to former Oxford Professor and General Synod member Marilyn McCord Adams, who now teaches at the University of North Carolina. “Churches come to better decisions when parties feel free to disagree.” Professor McCord Adams is also a Patron of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition.

To date, the proposed Anglican Covenant has been approved by five dioceses of the Church of England (Lichfield; Durham; Europe; Bristol; Canterbury) and rejected by ten (Wakefield; St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich; Truro; Birmingham; Derby; Gloucester; Portsmouth; Rochester; Salisbury; Leicester). Approval by 23 diocesan synods is required for the Covenant to return to General Synod. Rejection by 22 dioceses would effectively derail approval of the Covenant by the Church of England.

Some historical background to the coalition can be found in this post by Malcolm French We happy few.

The current state of voting in the 44 Church of England dioceses is being tracked weekly by Modern Church at this page.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 at 8:59am GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 18 February 2012

Anglican Covenant rejected in more English dioceses

Four dioceses in the Church of England voted today on the proposal to adopt the draft Anglican Covenant. Earlier results are reported here.

In Leicester the voting was:

Bishops: 2 for 0 against
Clergy: 15 for, 21 against, 3 abstentions
Laity: 21 for, 14 against, 4 abstentions

It appears that there was confusion at the synod in the interpretation of this outcome, but we believe that the defeat in the House of Clergy means that the motion is defeated, and that this will be confirmed in due course.

In Salisbury the voting was:

Bishops: 1 for, 1 against
Clergy: 11 for, 20 against, 2 abstentions
Laity: 19 for, 27 against, 0 abstentions

In Portsmouth the voting was:

Bishop: 1 for, 0 against
Clergy: 12 for, 17 against, 0 abstentions
Laity: 13 for, 17 against, 2 abstentions

In Rochester the voting was:

Bishop: 1 for, 0 against
Clergy: 8 for, 30 against, 3 abstentions
Laity: 14 for, 26 against, 7 abstentions

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 18 February 2012 at 6:57pm GMT |