The outline timetable for the February 2015 sessions of the General Synod of the Church of England is now available to download as a pdf file, and is copied below.
GENERAL SYNOD: FEBRUARY 2015 GROUP OF SESSIONS
Tuesday 10 February
1.00 pm – 7.15 pm
1.00 pm Worship
Short address by Ecumenical Guest
Report by the Business Committee
Report by the Business Committee on the Allocation of Seats in the 2015 General Elections
Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury
Report on Immersion Experience in India by Regional Representatives of House of Bishops
4.15 pm Questions
5.40 pm Presentation on the Task Groups and Discipleship Report
7.00–7.15 pm Evening worship
Wednesday 11 February
(9.15 am – 11.15 am Worship followed by Group Work on Discipleship)
(11.20 am – 1.00 pm Discussion in Four Larger Groups on Task Groups)
2.30 pm – 7.15 pm
2.30 pm Discipleship:
Debate on a Motion from the Ministry Council
Resourcing the Future and Resourcing Ministerial Education
Debate on a Motion from the Archbishops’ Council
Debate on a Motion
Debate on Inter-generational Equity
Debate on a Motion from the Church Commissioners
7.00–7.15 pm Evening worship
Thursday 12 February
9.15 am – 1.00 pm
9.15 am Holy Communion in the Assembly Hall
10.30 Legislative Business
Standing Orders Debate
Private Member’s Motion - Canon B38
2.30 pm – 5.00 pm
2.30 pm Liturgical Business
Alternative Baptism Texts – Revision Stage
Mission and Growth in Rural Multi-Parish Benefices
Take Note Debate from the Mission and Public Affairs Council
4.45 p.m Farewells
Diocesan Synod Motion - Nature And Structure Of The Church Of England: National Debate
Debate on a motion on a Report from the World Council of Churches: ‘The Church: Towards a Common Vision’
Updated again Sunday evening
Today’s Church Times has a large number of letters commenting on the Green report, and you can read them all on this page: Responses to the Green report on senior appointments in the C of E.
Some further blog articles:
Lay Anglicana Training For Leadership In The Church Of England
In addition to the letters, there is a news article: C of E leaders respond to ‘turbulence’ over Green report.
Stephen Cherry has written The Green Report and the Hymnbook Test.
Updated again Saturday
The following ministerial statement has been issued by a government minister, Mr Sam Gyimah:
Publication of Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill
Today the Government is introducing the Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill to the House of Commons, with explanatory notes.
The Bill follows the legislation permitting women to be ordained bishops. That was completed by the General Synod of the Church of England on 17 November. With the way clear for the first women to be appointed, it is right that those women should be amongst the Bishops who occupy seats in the House of Lords (known as Lords Spiritual). This Bill is intended to allow that to happen sooner than it would under the existing rules.
Currently, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of Durham, London and Winchester automatically take seats in the House of Lords. The remaining 21 seats are occupied by Bishops in order of seniority (length of service). Under the current system, it would be many years before women bishops were represented in the Lords.
The Government’s Bill, which is supported by the Church of England, proposes a modification of this rule for the next ten years, so that if a female bishop is available when a Lords Spiritual seat becomes vacant, they will automatically be appointed to the House of Lords. If no female bishop is available, the vacancy would be filled by the next most senior male bishop, as currently happens…
Update The following press release has been issued from Church House, Westminster:
Church of England welcomes publication of Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill
The Church of England has welcomed a Bill published today by the Government aimed at speeding up the introduction of the first women diocesan bishops into the House of Lords.
Bishop Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester and convenor of the bishops in the House of Lords, welcoming the Bill, said the presence of women diocesan bishops would “enrich and strengthen” the voice of the bishops in the House of Lords.
He said: “We know that women bishops will enrich and strengthen the leadership of the Church of England and we are very confident that they will also enrich and strengthen our voice in the House of Lords.
“We have reason to suppose that this is supported from all sides of both Houses and we are grateful to the business managers for making time to get this minor amendment to the law in place as soon as possible.”
The Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner, said: “There was very widespread support across Parliament for the consecration of women bishops in the Church of England and I think there will be a widespread welcome to legislation that will enable women who are diocesan bishops to become Lords Spiritual at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Under current rules, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester are entitled to sit in the House of Lords from the start of their appointments.
The Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill makes provision for vacancies among the remaining 21 places, which are normally filled according to length of service, to be filled as they arise by eligible female diocesan bishops. The provision would remain in place for 10 years, equivalent to two fixed term Parliaments.
The proposed legislation would not prevent male bishops from entering the House of Lords during this period as vacancies would be filled, as is currently the case, by the longest serving male diocesan bishop if there is no eligible female diocesan bishop in line at that time.
After the end of the 10-year period, the provision made by the Bill would come to an end and the current arrangements under the Bishoprics Act 1878 for determining which bishops are to fill vacancies in the House of Lords would be restored.
There is a detailed discussion of this legislation at Law & Religion UK Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill – analysis.
More news reports in addition to those I linked to yesterday
Isabel Hardman The Spectator Meet Libby Lane – the first interview with the first woman bishop
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Rev Libby Lane will be first woman bishop for Church of England
Emily Dugan The Independent Manchester vicar Rev Libby Lane will be Church of England’s first woman bishop
Edward Malnick The Telegraph First woman bishop: profile of parish priest Libby Lane
Caroline Crampton New Statesman Meet Libby Lane, the Church of England’s first woman bishop
Megan Gibson Time Meet the Church of England’s First Ever Female Bishop
A welcome from the Archbishop of Canterbury
And a few comments from campaigning organisations
Madeleine Davies Church Times C of E names its first woman bishop
Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England’s first female bishop named as Libby Lane
Haroon Siddique The Guardian Libby Lane: profile of the Church of England’s first female bishop
John Bingham The Telegraph First woman bishop: parish priest Libby Lane is surprise choice
and First woman bishop Libby Lane: a century of campaigning
and First woman bishop is perfect Christmas gift from a battered Church
Heather Saul The Independent First female bishop announced as Rev Libby Lane by Church of England
Paul Harrison Manchester Evening News History is made as Church of England appoints first woman bishop to Stockport
From the Church of England website
The Revd Libby Lane Announced as Bishop of Stockport
17 December 2014
Downing Street have today announced that the new Bishop of Stockport - and the first woman bishop in the Church of England - will be the Revd Libby Lane, currently Vicar of St Peter’s, Hale, and St Elizabeth’s, Ashley.
As Bishop of Stockport she will serve as a suffragan (assistant) bishop in the Diocese of Chester. She will be consecrated as the 8th Bishop of Stockport at a ceremony at York Minister on Monday 26 January 2015.
Libby Lane was ordained as a priest in 1994 and has served a number of parish and chaplaincy roles in the North of England in the Dioceses of Blackburn, York and Chester. For the past 8 years she has served as Vicar of St. Peter’s Hale and St. Elizabeth’s Ashley.
She is one of eight clergy women from the Church of England elected as Participant Observers in the House of Bishops, as the representative from the dioceses of the North West
Speaking at Stockport town hall where she was announced as the new Bihsop of Stockport Libby Lane said: “I am grateful for, though somewhat daunted by, the confidence placed in me by the Diocese of Chester. This is unexpected and very exciting. On this historic day as the Church of England announces the first woman nominated to be Bishop, I am very conscious of all those who have gone before me, women and men, who for decades have looked forward to this moment. But most of all I am thankful to God.
“The church faces wonderful opportunities, to proclaim afresh, in this generation, the Good News of Jesus and to build His Kingdom. The Church of England is called to serve all the people of this country, and being present in every community, we communicate our faith best when our lives build up the lives of others, especially the most vulnerable. I am excited by the possibilities and challenges ahead.”
Responding to news of the announcement the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Dr John Sentamu, said: “It is with great joy that on January 26, 2015 - the feast of Timothy and Titus, companions of Paul - I will be in York Minster, presiding over the consecration of the Revd Libby Lane as Bishop Suffragan of Stockport. Libby brings a wealth of experience in parish ministry, in hospital and FE chaplaincy, in vocations work and the nurture of ordinands. I am delighted that she will exercise her episcopal ministry with joy, prayerfulness, and trust in God.
“When the General Synod rejected the previous proposals in November 2012, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, wrote to ‘pour some balm on (my) wounded heart’. That year, he encouraged me, his province was finally celebrating the election of two women bishops. ‘Be comforted’, he said, ‘it will come.’
“When I wrote to him last weekend to offer my prayers for his battle with prostate cancer, he replied with these words: ‘Wonderful that you over there will soon have women bishops. Yippee! I know you have pushed for this for a long time. Yippee again!’
“Praise be to God in the highest heaven, and peace to all in England!”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, said: “”I am absolutely delighted that Libby has been appointed to succeed Bishop Robert Atwell as Bishop of Stockport. Her Christ-centred life, calmness and clear determination to serve the church and the community make her a wonderful choice.
“She will be bishop in a diocese that has been outstanding in its development of people, and she will make a major contribution. She and her family will be in my prayers during the initial excitement, and the pressures of moving”.
The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster, said: “Libby has had a varied and distinguished ministry, and is currently a first-rate parish priest. She has already demonstrated her ability to contribute nationally through her representative role in the House of Bishops, on behalf of the north-west England dioceses.
“As the first woman bishop in the Church of England she will face many challenges as well as enjoying many opportunities to be an ambassador for Jesus Christ. I have no doubt that she has the gifts and determination to be an outstanding bishop.
“I am delighted at her designation as Bishop of Stockport after a lengthy process of discernment across the Church of England and beyond.”
The nomination of Libby as the new Bishop of Stockport was approved by the Queen and announced today (Wednesday 17 December 2014). Libby succeeds the Rt Revd Robert Atwell, who is now the Bishop of Exeter.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
Libby Lane has been the Vicar of St Peter’s Hale and St Elizabeth’s Ashley, in the Diocese of Chester, since April 2007, and from January 2010 has also been Dean of Women in Ministry for the diocese. After school in Manchester and University at Oxford, she trained for ministry at Cranmer Hall in Durham. She was ordained a deacon in 1993 and a priest in 1994, serving her curacy in Blackburn, Lancashire.
Prior to moving to Hale, Libby was Team Vicar in the Stockport South West Team, and Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands in the Diocese of Chester, advising and supporting those considering a vocation to ministry in the church. She continues to be a Bishop’s Selection Advisor.
Libby has served in the Diocese of York, as Chaplain in hospital and further education, and as Family Life Officer for the Committee for Social Responsibility in the Diocese of Chester.
She is one of eight clergy women from the Church of England elected as Participant Observers in the House of Bishops, as the representative from the dioceses of the North West.
Her husband, George, is also a priest; they were one of the first married couples in the Church of England to be ordained together. George is Coordinating Chaplain at Manchester Airport, licensed in the Diocese of Manchester. They have two grown up children in higher education.
Her interests include being a school governor, encouraging social action initiatives, learning to play the saxophone, supporting Manchester United, reading and doing cryptic crosswords.
An audio interview with The Revd Libby Lane on today’s announcement is available as part of a Church of England podcast here.
A photostream from today’s announcement including photos of The Revd Libby lane are available here.
Announcement on the Chester diocesan website England’s first woman bishop to be Libby Lane
Announcement from Number 10 Suffragan See of Stockport: Elizabeth Jane Holden Lane nomination approved
The Society under the patronage of St Wilfred and St Hilda has announced a process whereby priests in sympathy with the society can register. This is explained by Colin Podmore in this article, which also appears in the Advent newsletter. The following is taken from the website of the Bishop of Beverley:
Priests of The Society
Colin Podmore encourages priests to sign up and make the Society Declaration.
Catholics believe that both women and men are called to different ministries in the Church. But for theological reasons, we are unable to receive the sacramental ministry of women as priests (presiding at the Eucharist) or bishops (ordaining priests to preside at the Eucharist).
So when the Church of England has women bishops, how can we know that a priest has been ordained by a bishop whose sacramental ministry of ordination we do recognise? How can we be confident that when he celebrates the Eucharist, we really do receive the sacrament of Our Lord’s Body and Blood?
The need to offer an easy answer to that question of ‘sacramental assurance’ is one of the reasons why our bishops have formed The Society. As it says on the Society website, the Society provides ‘ministry, sacraments and oversight which we can receive with confidence’.
Priests are now invited to make a Declaration which says that they:
- believe and teach the catholic faith
- are currently entitled to minister as a priest in the Church of England*
- have been ordained by a male bishop in the apostolic succession of bishops at whose ordination male bishops presided
- will themselves not receive or join in the sacramental ministry of women priests and bishops or those whom they have ordained
- will place themselves personally under the oversight of a Bishop of The Society (although they will remain under the legal jurisdiction of their diocesan bishop).
When the relevant Bishop of the Society receives a Declaration from a priest, he will welcome him as a Priest of The Society. The Welcome Letter will serve as proof that the priest is someone whose sacramental ministry we can receive with confidence.
Of course, there will still be validly ordained priests who are not Priests of The Society. Clergy (and, during vacancies, churchwardens) will need to ask some delicate questions about their orders before inviting them to say mass. With Priests of The Society, that research will not be necessary.
Catholic parishes naturally want as their priest someone who is in full communion not only with his bishop, but with all the priests whom that bishop has ordained, and who will support the resolutions passed by the PCC. When advertising for, or interviewing, potential new parish priests, asking them whether they are Priests of The Society will be an easy way of finding out where they stand.
Being a Priest of The Society costs nothing, although the bishops hope that priests and people of The Society will join Forward in Faith, because it is the membership organization which administers The Society on their behalf, and helps to pay for it. Being a priest of The Society involves only the basic obligations of relating to one of our bishops, and looking to him for sacramental ministry we can no longer find elsewhere.
So if a priest has not made the Declaration and become a Priest of The Society, why not?
There is further information on this page, which is copied below the fold.
Priests of The Society
One of the most important purposes of The Society is to guarantee a ministry in the historic apostolic succession in which our people can have confidence - in other words, to offer ‘sacramental assurance’. Registering priests as Priests of The Society is the mechanism for doing this.
Priests are not being registered as ‘members of The Society’ (The Society is not a membership organization), but as priests whose ministry can be commended because they are male priests ordained by a bishop in the male historic succession. Registration is about sacramental assurance - not membership.
The ministry of priests who are not entitled to minister in the Church of England (because they hold no office and have no licence or permission to officiate) cannot be commended to or received by our parishes, so they cannot be registered as Priests of The Society. If a Priest of The Society ceases to be entitled to minister in the Church of England, the Declaration that he has signed obliges him to inform the relevant member of the Council of Bishops of The Society immediately.
In order to become a Priest of The Society, a priest makes a Declaration and sends it to the relevant member of the Council of Bishops. In response, the bishop sends him a Welcome Letter. In the letter, the bishop tells the priest to retain the letter and show it to anyone who wants confirmation of his status as a Priest of The Society. (This might be an incumbent or priest in charge who needs priestly assistance, a churchwarden during a vacancy, or someone involved in making a parochial appointment.)
The Declaration contains no rule of life and nothing about priestly fellowship or mission. The Society is not a priestly society, and it does not fulfil the functions of societies like the Society of the Holy Cross or the Company of Mission Priests. Registration as a Priest of The Society is not about membership, fellowship, holiness or mission. It is simply a way of identifying priests who can minister in parishes that are affiliated to The Society without the need for research about the nature of the priest’s Orders.
Updated again Sunday evening
The Church of England has now published the “Green report” on its own website, here.
together with A Note from the Bishop of Ely on “The Green Report”. He is described at the end of that note as:
Chair of the Development and Appointments Group (DAG) - a sub-committee of the House of Bishops with oversight of the development for senior clerical posts as well as the appointments processes to them.
Several recruitment advertisements have appeared:
The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued The Green Report: A Response.
The Dean of Liverpool has written Lord Green’s Report: A reflection [f]rom a member of the Group.
Andrew Lightbown has responded to the above in this article: An open letter to advocates of the Green Report.
Al Barrett has written On ‘talent pools’ and floods…
And Oliver Coss has something to say about this in his post on another topic, see The Suffragan See of Stockport.
Archdruid Eileen offers us The Church of England / Business Translator.
The Financial Times has a news report: Church of England management courses overlook God, say critics registration required
Mark Clavier has written It shall not be among you.
Several commentators have written about these proposals for business school style training programmes for selected clergy. Here are some links, and I will add more as I discover them (or as readers report them to me).
Andrew Lightbown An open letter to Lord Green et al
Michael Sadgrove The Next Generation of Church Leaders: thoughts on the Green Report
“Archbishop Cranmer” Church of England to spend £2m on “new approach” to leadership
“Archdruid Eileen” Infecting the Church with Mangerialism
The Church Times today carries several articles about the recommendations made in a report which is titled Talent Management for Future Leaders and Leadership Development for Bishops and Deans: A New Approach.
Paul Handley has written a news report: Plan to groom ‘talent’ for high office in C of E Report of the Lord Green Steering Group.
Martyn Percy has written a highly critical review of the report: Are these the leaders that we really want? Here are two extracts:
…In terms of process, there is a problem about the composition of the group who produced the report. Not one ordained woman was on the review group - and at a time when the Church is about to welcome women bishops. This is breathtaking. Nor was there a recognised theologian, or an academic specialising in continuing professional or vocational education. And, despite the fact that the report raises secular “MBA-style” programmes to a level of apotheosis, no recognised scholar with expertise in management or leadership from the academic world formed part of the core working party.
In the actual text of the Green report, there are a couple of serious issues to wrestle with. First, it has no point of origination in theological or spiritual wisdom. Instead, on offer is a dish of basic contemporary approaches to executive management, with a little theological garnish. A total absence of ecclesiology flows from this. The report has little depth or immersion in educational literature.
A more notable absence is any self-awareness in the report: unaware of critiques of management, executive authority, and leadership which abound in academic literature, it is steeped in its own uncritical use of executive management-speak…
…Ultimately, the report is coy about the problem it is actually trying to solve: ecclesiastical preferment. No definition of leadership is ever advanced in the text. The report shows no evidence of having solicited the views of the led. Or of former church leaders. The executive managers already know what they are looking for in preferment - folk like themselves.
There is no critique offered of the expectations placed on church leaders. The text focuses on training people for management tasks that the review group take as givens. No different models of leadership are discussed, such as servanthood, collaborative ministry, or pastoral care.
Although executive managers are patently not the leaders of the Church, they none the less aspire to be in charge. If this report is put into practice, they will be. A few administrative offices either side of the Thames, based in Church House, Westminster, or at the Wash House at Lambeth Palace - secretariats that once served the Church - will become sovereign.
THIS work on leadership in the Church really needs to begin in a different place with different people, starting with deep spiritual, intellectual, and theological interlocutors. They would produce something less presumptuous, with a clearer methodology and a cogent argument rather than a set of assertions…
And there is a Church Times leader column: A pooling of talents.
…there are other models of management and leadership: ones that require a humility that is unlikely to be engendered by an invitation to join an elite leadership pool. Had Lord Green’s steering group looked at the Church’s systems rather than its individuals, they might have concluded that a pool of talent exists already in the Church, and that it is not necessary to train individual leaders to hold every skill. When diocesan bishops, say, function as part of a diocesan team, they will draw on any expertise that they lack: finance, human resources, and so on. In such a system, the concept of leadership runs counter to the alpha-male model depicted in the Green report. Here the bishop is an enabler, challenger, or encourager. It is probably notable that, while the word “leader” occurs 171 times in the report, the word “pastor” or “pastoral” does not appear once.
There is clear value in a checklist for ministerial training. It is wise stewardship to ensure that the right skills are nurtured, and that people are encouraged to apply for the right posts. The present ad hoc system, which relies too heavily on being noticed or finding favour, is inadequate. It is wise, too, to borrow best practice from secular institutions; but it needs to be applicable to an institution that, uniquely, follows a founder whose evidence-based record of leadership involved abandonment and death.
The report itself is already in quite wide circulation, although it is not yet on the CofE website, and there seems to be no page there dealing with the Development and Appointments Group, which appears to be a subcommittee of the House of Bishops.
Thinking Anglicans was shown it several weeks ago. Readers may judge the full report for themselves here.
Curiously, another document has also just appeared, which though closely related in subject matter is of a quite different character. It is from the CofE Faith and Order Commission, and entitled Senior Church Leadership A Resource for Reflection. Sadly very little of its thinking seems to have permeated the Green report. It is available here.
The fifth and final debate of the current Oxford series took place last Thursday. Audio recordings of the entire event are now available on this page.
Those who have been attending regularly seemed to agree that this debate was the best of the series. Do listen to it all if you can.
Links to the opening statements:
Link to the ensuing discussion.
Lorraine Cavanagh has written about the event here: What does the Church of England offer the next generation?
Update Video highlights are also now available here.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on food poverty released its report Feeding Britain today. The Group was chaired by the Bishop of Truro, Tim Thornton, and Frank Field MP.
There was much media anticipation of the report overnight.
Patrick Wintour and Patrick Butler The Guardian Tories seek to avert rift with Church of England over food bank report
and Nick Clegg calls for rethink on benefits sanctions to help tackle food poverty
Andy McSmith The Independent Food banks: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby urges politicians to face up to Britain’s hunger
Matthew Holehouse The Telegraph Families go hungry as supermarkets send millions of tonnes of food for landfill
ITV News ‘Stop food waste and speed up benefits payments to end UK hunger,’ say MPs and church in foodbank report
Hannah Richardson BBC News ‘Pay benefits faster’ to reduce hunger, MPs urge
And more since publication
Graham Riches The Guardian Food banks don’t solve food poverty. The UK must not institutionalise them
Rose Troup Buchanan The Independent Almost 50% of referrals to food banks in the UK are due to ‘issues with the welfare system’
Frank Field and John Glen New Statesman Food banks: why can’t people afford to eat in the world’s sixth richest country?
Lucinda Borkett-Jones Christian Today Britain’s hunger crisis: Bishop of Truro says benefits system doesn’t work
Keith Hebden Ekklesia Feeding Britain: A start, but much more emphasis on justice needed
Yesterday I published details of the forthcoming Appointment of a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship. There are already many comments on that article.
Tim Wyatt has written this for the Church Times Ground is laid for a conservative Evangelical bishop.
Kelvin Holdsworth has posed 10 questions arising from the misogyny of a “headship” bishop.
WATCH have issued this response:
WATCH Response to ‘Headship’ Bishop
WATCH is disappointed to read that the Church of England is set to appoint a Bishop based predominantly on a narrow theology of ‘Headship’ (ie. a Conservative Evangelical who believes only men should be in positions of overall leadership).
Evangelicalism has long been a much broader tradition than one defined by its position on the ordination and consecration of women. We believe that to choose a bishop based on one specific view, held by only a small group, can only serve to be divisive. It is likely to lead to the separation of parishes from one another within a local area and diocese, when the whole thrust of the legislative package for women to be bishops was that we would remain together in our work and mission.
In a separate development, we are keen to know whether the Archbishop of York will consecrate the newly appointed Bishop of Burnley, Rev Philip North, who opposes the ordination of women. It would seem to us bizarre if a suffragan bishop declined to be consecrated by his own archbishop and even his own diocesan bishop, because he did not recognise them as bishops.
Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH says: ‘We have never accepted the appointment of any bishop on the grounds of a particular minority belief: this is distinctly un-Anglican and unorthodox. This goes far beyond disagreement about the ordination of women: it is about bishops recognising each other as bishops. If we lose that, what kind of unity are we demonstrating as a national church?’
Church Society have sent us this:
Church Society statement on the announcement regarding the appointment of a headship evangelical bishop of Maidstone
Church Society welcomes the news that a man who upholds the complementarian view of headship will soon be appointed to the vacant See of Maidstone.
The measure – recently ratified by Synod – allowing women to be appointed to the episcopate, was passed partly on the basis of five guiding principles. These principles enshrine within the legislation a commitment to the flourishing within the Church of those who hold to what we believe is the biblical view of men and women having complementary roles in church leadership, a view held by many throughout the Anglican Communion and by many other churches also.
The imminent appointment of a bishop with this conviction is an important step in realising that commitment and rebuilding trust in the family of the Church. We are particularly encouraged by the recognition that the evangelical complementarian perspective should be represented in the College of Bishops after several years without a spokesman.
We wish to stress that this is but a first step: for flourishing, rather than mere toleration and tokenism, more surely needs to be done. For example, if soon a complementarian suffragan were to be appointed in the province of York also, that would be a further positive expression of the Church’s intent that complementarians can flourish within the structures and life of the Church. There are many excellent and able conservative evangelical ministers who are willing and able to serve in Diocesan and suffragan roles for the health of the whole church. We pray that they will not be discriminated against in any future appointments process if some may be tempted to say “we will soon have one complementarian evangelical and should not have any others.” The large number of lay people in the Church with complementarian convictions evidences the appropriateness of having several more bishops to pastor, lead, and represent them in the House of Bishops.
Despite this and other remaining concerns, we wish sincerely to thank the Archbishop of Canterbury and his colleagues for keeping his promise, and for seeking to serve us in accordance with our conscience in this matter. We would welcome any opportunity to discuss with him how the arrangements regarding the Bishop of Maidstone could work, and how he can further help complementarian evangelicals to flourish within the Church of England.
Rev Dr Lee Gatiss
Director of Church Society
Revd Paul Darlington
Chairman of Church Society Council
The arrangements to allow the appointment of a Church of England bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship have just been announced in this press release:
Suffragan See of Maidstone
At its meeting on 4 December the Dioceses Commission unanimously agreed with a proposal received from the Archbishop of Canterbury to fill the vacant see of Maidstone. The see, which had been vacant since 2009, had been identified by the Archbishop as one that should be filled by a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship.
This flows from the public commitment given by the Archbishops and the House of Bishops, in the run up to the final approval by the General Synod of the legislation to allow women to be admitted to the episcopate in July 2014 (see paragraph 30 of House of Bishops Declaration and the Archbishops’ note of June 2013 — GS Misc 1079).
In agreeing with the proposal to fill the see the Commission was conscious of the needs of the national church for a member of the College of Bishops to be able to act as an advocate for those who hold a conservative position on headship.
It made its decision on the understanding that the bishop would foster vocations from those taking this position; that he would undertake episcopal ministry (with the agreement of the relevant diocesan bishop) in dioceses in both Provinces where PCCs have passed the requisite resolution under the House of Bishops’ declaration; and that he would be available to act (again by invitation) as an assistant bishop in a number of dioceses.
While available to take his place in the Foundation of Canterbury Cathedral, the Commission understood that — given his potentially wide geographical remit — the bishop would not otherwise be expected to participate in the life of the Diocese of Canterbury.
The necessary steps to make the appointment will now begin.
Notes for Editors
Part of the normal statutory process for filling suffragan sees is for the Dioceses Commission to consider, on behalf of the national church, whether to agree to a proposal from a diocesan bishop to fill such a see.
Suffragan sees are normally filled within a short time frame but the See of Maidstone was left vacant following a diocesan decision to appoint an additional archdeacon.
This conservative evangelical view on headship is summarised on pp 149-151 of Women Bishops in the Church of England? The Report of the House of Bishops’ Working Party on Women In the Episcopate 2004: [GS 1557].
The House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests of 19 May 2014 [GS Misc 1076], which includes the five guiding principles can be read in full at GS Misc 1076.
Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office
Suffragan Bishop of Plymouth: Nicholas McKinnel
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 2 December 2014
Part of: Community and society
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Nicholas Howard Paul McKinnel to the Suffragan See of Plymouth.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Nicholas Howard Paul McKinnel, MA, Suffragan Bishop of Crediton, in the Diocese of Exeter, to the Suffragan See of Plymouth, in the Diocese of Exeter, in succession to the Right Reverend John Frank Ford, MA, on his resignation on 18 November 2013.
Notes for editors
The Right Reverend Nicholas McKinnel (aged 60), was educated at Queens’ College, Cambridge and trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his curacy at Fulham Saint Mary North End in London Diocese from 1980 to 1983.
From 1983 to 1987 he was Chaplain at Liverpool University. From 1987 to 1988 he was Priest-in-Charge at Hatherleigh in Exeter Diocese. From 1988 to 1994 he was Rector at Hatherleigh, Meeth, Exbourne and Jacobstowe. From 1994 to 1995 he was Priest-in-Charge at Plymouth Saint Andrew with Saint Paul and Saint George. From 1995 to 2012 he was Team Rector of Plymouth Saint Andrew and St Paul, Stonehouse in the Diocese of Exeter, and from 2002 to 2012 he was Prebendary of Exeter Cathedral. Since 2012 he has been Suffragan Bishop of Crediton.
Prebendary Nicholas McKinnel is married and has 4 children. His interests include sport, the arts and the countryside.
From the Exeter diocesan website: New Bishop of Plymouth to be Rt Revd Nick McKinnell
Debate 3 was reported here.
The debate took place on 20 November and the full audio recordings are now available here.
Several who were there have blogged about it:
The arrangements under which Church of England parishes can now, on grounds of theological conviction, seek the priestly or episcopal ministry of men are contained in the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests which was made by the House of Bishops in May 2014. There is also a grievance procedure if PCCs are not satisfied with the arrangements offered. This procedure could only be officially put in place after the new Canon allowing women to become bishops was promulged at General Synod on Monday 17 November, and the House of Bishops did this that evening.
The Declaration, together with a guidance note, and the Grievance Procedure are available online.
Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (GS Misc 1076)
Guidance Note (GS Misc 1077)
Grievance Procedure: Regulations made by the House of Bishops under Canon C 29 (GS Misc 1087)
It should be noted that drafts of the Declaration and Grievance Procedure (GS 1932) were presented to, and “welcomed” by General Synod in February 2014, so none of this was new this month.
it was also announced before the November meeting of Synod that Sir Philip Mawer would be the first Independent Reviewer for the grievance procedure (GS Misc 1090).
This is all available on the Church of England website, along with a summary of how to bring a grievance: Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests.
Cathedrals offer place of peace and prayer in busy lives, reveal new stats
24 November 2014
The number of people attending midweek services at cathedrals has doubled in the past 10 years, show new figures published today from the Church of England’s Research and Statistics department. One of the factors attributed is the need for a place of peace in increasingly busy lives.
Midweek attendance at cathedrals was 7,500 in 2003 rising to 15,000 in 2013 (compared to 12,400 in 2012). In a Church of England podcast published today the Dean of Lichfield, Adrian Dorber, said he has seen the need for people wanting a short snatch of peace midweek in what are now very pressurised lifestyles. “At the weekend you’ve got commitments with children doing sport, shopping, household maintenance - life’s run at the double these days and weekends are very pressurised and committed. Taking out half an hour or an hour every week is much more negotiable.”
Anecdote to Evidence research published earlier this year showed that that the highest motivating factors for Cathedral attendance were peace and contemplation, worship and music and friendly atmosphere.
The Dean of York Minster, Vivienne Faull, commented: “We do have the opportunity of allowing people to come in from the edges. If I take a eucharist at 12.30 in the middle of the week in the nave of York Minster there’ll be a lot of people who just slide in from the side. It’s not so much about anonymity, there’s the feeling there’s a journey you can travel which doesn’t require huge steps - it just requires one little step.”
Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester Cathedral, said: “Patterns of church attendance are different now. Cathedrals are uniquely placed to be providing greater opportunities for worship and that includes during the week.”
The Stats also show that attendance at Christmas cathedral services had increased rising from 117,200 in 2012 to 124,300 in 2013 with many cathedrals putting on new services.
The following questions were put to the Archbishop of Canterbury during Questions at General Synod on Monday evening by Dr Jo Spreadbury (St Albans).
Has the Commission considered why one name consistently appears in the media as having been under consideration by it and whether, when such reports appear, the Commission might in the interests of fairness release the names of all those who were in fact on the shortlist for the appointment concerned?
The Archbishop, speaking as Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission, replied:
Those who take part in Crown Nominations Commissions or who are involved in the process for selecting suffragan bishops are bound by requirements of confidentiality, something that we repeat at each CNC at the beginning of the process. There are strong arguments both for transparency and for confidentiality. It is a question which is discussed from time to time, and the Archbishop of York and I keep it under review, as he has already said.
It is, however, precisely because selection processes are meant to be confidential - in the interests of all concerned - that it is so damaging when reports appear in the press purporting to give inside information and naming an individual. The harm is done whether these are true, false or wholly speculative. It is unkind, hurtful and unjust to the person concerned and simply should not happen.
Given the damaging reports that you refer to, what steps will be taken to revise the CNC process, both to call to account members who breach the declaration of confidentiality they make, and to prevent undue influence in the process, even say by the Archbishop of Canterbury, even say in the interests of the Anglican Communion.
The Archbishop replied:
We will continue to keep the way that we operate under close review, and to ensure that it is carried out in line with the Equality Act, wherever that applies.
During the debate on the Business Committee report, Mr Tim Allen (St Edmundsbury and Ipswich) made a speech in which, while requesting further action from the archbishops in relation to the selection of women for episcopal appointments, he mentioned specifically:
…their formidable powers of process control, leadership, and forceful persuasion to ensure (I am putting it very politely) that the CNC moves boldly with all speed and determination to the appointment of as many as possible of the best of the Church of England’s excellent senior women as diocesan bishops, preferably with seats in the House of Lords…
He later continued:
…And there is a closely related matter, on which I hope Archbishop Justin will also respond. For it is not only women who were excluded in a discriminatory and prejudiced way from the House of Bishops. So too were, and still are, those gay men who do not hide their sexuality in the closet. Those who are honest and frank enough to live openly in a civil partnership while behaving in the chaste way required by church law are it seems, from all the evidence de facto excluded from the House of Bishops, even when they are eminently qualified to be a bishop.
To make bishops of women required today’s change in the law of the church. But it is not law, it is simply prejudice which keeps out of the House of Bishops these men who are gay, chaste and honest. Such prejudice and discrimination is wrong, even when it is dressed up as a necessary tribute to certain homophobic elements of the Anglican Communion. Such prejudice and discrimination will increasingly be seen to be wrong by much of the nation which the Church of England seeks to serve, especially the younger people, who have shown for example by their sympathy for Alan Turing the gay wartime codebreaker [to] utterly reject the persecution of homosexual people.
Updated on Sunday to add the two supplementary questions
The Questions on Monday evening at General Synod included this question and answer:
The Revd Rosalind Rutherford (Winchester) asked the Secretary General:
Q What steps need to be taken to ensure that all the components of the legislative package for Women in the Episcopate will apply fully in the Isle of Man and in all the Channel Islands; and can you confirm that these steps have been taken so that the legislation can come into force on the same day as that on which it is expected to come into force in England (17th Nov 2014)?
Mr William Fittall replied:
A The legislation that has come into force today in England cannot come into force in the Crown Dependencies until the usual processes involving the civil authorities of those distinct jurisdictions have been completed. In the case of the Isle of Man a draft Measure has been prepared, for consideration by the diocesan synod at the earliest possible opportunity on 13 January, and will then need to be submitted to Tynwald. In the case of the Channel Islands a scheme needs to be drawn up in consultation with the deanery synods of the Islands, communicated to the States General for comment, approved by the General Synod and then confirmed by Order in Council. I understand that process is about to begin but it is a little too soon to predict the timescale.
Rosalind Rutherford asked a supplementary question:
Q I think many members will think it’s regrettable it’s not possible to give a specific date for the Channel Islands, but could you assure Synod that active and practical encouragement will be given to those responsible for the process to ensure that it will take significantly less time than the extra six years it took the 1992 Measure to be applied in the Islands.
Mr Fittall replied:
A Well we have just broken the land speed record in getting the legislation through the Ecclesiastical Committee in about eight days and through the two Houses of Parliament very speedily after the recess. In relation to the civil authorities in the Channel Islands it would be very good if we could similarly create a new record, but I am afraid I cannot guarantee because that is not ultimately in my hands or indeed in the hands of the General Synod.
The Bishop of Dover asked:
Q Would the Secretary General find it helpful to know that letters have gone to the deaneries of Jersey and Guernsey to actually start the process already?
Mr Fittall replied:
A That is very encouraging.
Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office
Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich: Martin Alan Seeley
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 20 November 2014
Part of: Arts and culture
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Martin Alan Seeley for election as Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Martin Alan Seeley, MA, STM, Principal of Westcott House, Cambridge in the Diocese of Ely, for election as Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich in succession to the Right Reverend William Nigel Stock, BA, on his translation as Bishop at Lambeth on 13 November 2013.
Notes for editors
Martin Seeley is 60, and read geography and then theology at Jesus College, Cambridge, before a year at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. He was awarded the English Fellowship at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and continued his ministerial training there. He served his title at the parish of Bottesford with Ashby, Scunthorpe in Lincoln Diocese from 1978 to 1980. He then returned to New York City where he served as curate at the Church of the Epiphany and Assistant Director of Trinity Institute, Trinity Wall Street, from 1980 to 1985. From 1985 to 1990 he was Executive Director of the Thompson Center, an ecumenical lay and clergy education programme in St Louis, Missouri. He returned to England in 1990 and until 1996 was a Selection Secretary at the Advisory Board of Ministry and Secretary for Continuing Ministerial Education. From 1996 to 2006 he was Vicar of the Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, in the Diocese of London. Since 2006 he has been Principal of Westcott House, Cambridge and also from 2008 Honorary Canon at Ely Cathedral. He has also served as President of the Cambridge Theological Federation for the past 2 years.
He is married to the Reverend Jutta Brueck, Priest in Charge of St James’, Cambridge and they have two children, Anna, 14 and Luke, 11. He is a keen and able cook, and a keen, but less able saxophonist.
The diocesan website has more details: Next Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.
Press Release from Westminster Faith Debates
In his presidential address to General Synod this week, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of divisions within the Anglican Communion, and of the prize of being able to develop unity in diversity. Closer to home, he is supporting ‘facilitated conversations’ in the CofE as a way of healing rifts over the issue of gay marriage. What’s the chance of success?
A recent survey of CofE clergy by YouGov, commissioned by the Westminster Faith Debates, reveals a major obstacle in the way of the Archbishop’s goal of ‘disagreeing well’: a relatively small group of the most evangelical male clergy.
When asked where they fall on spectrum from evangelical to catholic, roughly a third of all clergy say they are at the evangelical end, a third at the catholic end, and a third in the middle. The third at the evangelical end hold some distinctive and pronounced views.
For instance, a full 88% of these evangelicals say that same-sex marriage is wrong, compared with just over a third of the rest of the clergy. Similarly, 31% of evangelical clergy would ban abortion altogether, a figure which falls to 16% among Anglican clergy overall.
These differences are not a block to unity – if those who hold them are happy to tolerate different views within the Church. But here comes the rub.
Evangelical men beg to differ
The survey of 1,500 Anglican clergy asked about the most appropriate approach to unity in the Anglican Communion. While the majority of clergy support the aim of ‘maintaining unity by being more tolerant of diverse views,’ two thirds of the evangelical clergy disagree, contending either that the Church should seek greater uniformity of views or else that it should not be afraid of separating amicably along doctrinal and ethical lines.
What the survey also finds, however, is that it is evangelical men not evangelical women who are opposed to the Archbishop’s goal of ‘disagreeing well.’ Most evangelical women clergy (61%) agree with the majority of clergy who support greater toleration. But 68% of evangelical male clergy disagree.
The typical view of evangelical male clergy is both to oppose gay marriage and not to wish the Church to embrace diverse views. Overall this combination of views is held by about 25% of clergy, the majority of whom are male evangelicals. These are a major block to the Archbishop’s dream of unity in the CofE—- clergy who don’t think it a goal worth pursuing—-especially because so many of them belong to the same clergy “tribe”.
The good news for Justin Welby is that he doesn’t have to worry about the majority of clergy. They support his goal. The bad news is that his opponents are not likely to change their minds. His success depends on finding a solution – something which eluded his predecessor Rowan Williams.
Professor Linda Woodhead comments:
These findings are both good and bad news for the Archbishop – good in that his battle is won with most of the clergy and almost certainly an overwhelming majority of lay Anglicans. Bad, in that there is a significant group of male clergy who do not share his vision for the CofE and the Anglican Communion.
Future of the Church Debate
This Thursday the next in the current series of national debates on the Future of the Church of England delves into this issue, asking what kind of unity is appropriate for the Church and how Archbishop Justin’s goal of unity in diversity can be achieved.
Speakers at this public debate in Oxford include Canon David Porter, the Archbishop’s Director of Reconciliation, Bishop of Buckingham Alan Wilson, Andrew Symes of Anglican Mainstream, the Very Revd June Osborne and Rt Revd Dr Trevor Mwamba.
Updated Wednesday and Thursday
Official summaries of the day’s business
Press reports and comment:
John Bingham The Telegraph Welby warns offering asylum to Christians could ‘drain’ Middle East of 2,000-year-old communities
Fuad Nahdi The Guardian Christians and Muslims have co-existed peacefully before and must do so again
Press Association (in The Guardian) British Muslims feel paralysed by Iraq and Syria conflicts, activist tells synod
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Muslim address to Synod: ‘Muslims and Christians must learn more about each other’
Archbishop of York General Synod Farewell to the Bishop of Newcastle
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today UK Methodists might accept bishops as CofE covenant (slowly) progresses
Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, announced today that he will retire on 11 July 2015.
From the diocesan website: Bishop Tim announces retirement
Ripon College Cuddesdon announced today that Humphrey Southern, suffragan Bishop of Repton in the Diocese of Derby, has been appointed its principal, with effect from 1 April 2015.
From the college website: Appointment of new Principal
The Questions yesterday evening at General Synod included this question and answer:
Mrs Christina Rees (St Albans) asked the Secretary General:
Q Is there any longer a bar on a man or woman who, having been ordained to the priesthood by a bishop who is a woman in another province of the Anglican Communion or in another Church with which the Church of England is in communion, being given to permission to officiate under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967, so as to make them then to be as a priest in the Church of England, given a Licence or Permission to Officiate?
Mr William Fittall replied:
A The decision taken by the Synod this afternoon means that it is now lawful for women to be consecrated as bishops in England. The rationale for the bar which the Archbishops have operated up to now under the 1967 Measure has therefore disappeared. The gender of the consecrating bishop will be no longer relevant when applications for permission to officiate are considered.
More news and comment on yesterday’s final decision to allow women to be bishops in the Church of England
Giles Fraser The Guardian Hallelujah, the long wait for female bishops is over at last
Telegraph leader Women bishops: a new chapter for the Church of England
Caroline Wyatt BBC Female bishops: Anglicans preparing for first appointment
There was other business at General Synod yesterday:
Official Summary of Monday’s business: General Synod: Monday PM
Press release: Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy
Early press reports:
Tim Wyatt Church Times From today, women can be bishops in the Church of England
Caroline Wyatt BBC Church of England formally approves plans for women bishops
Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England clears way for female bishops
John Bingham and agency The Telegraph Church of England approves historic change in law to allow women bishops
Kashmira Gander The Independent Church of England shatters ‘stained-glass ceiling’ by allowing female bishops
Carey Lodge Christian Today Final approval given to women bishops at General Synod
… and from the Archbishop of Canterbury Women bishops: Archbishop hails “new way of being the church”
From the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website.
Archbishop Justin’s presidential address to the General Synod
Monday 17th November 2014
In his presidential address to the General Synod today, Archbishop Justin spoke about the issues faced by the Anglican Communion and possible ways forward.
Read the full text of the address below:
During the last eighteen months or so I have had the opportunity to visit thirty-six other Primates of the Anglican Communion at various points. This has involved a total of 14 trips lasting 96 days in all. I incidentally calculated that it involves more than eleven days actually sitting in aeroplanes. This seemed to be a good moment therefore to speak a little about the state of the Communion and to look honestly at some of the issues that are faced and the possible ways forward…
The full text is here.
Madeleine Davies reports on the address for the Church Times Anglican Communion ‘flourishing’, and attached to Canterbury, Welby reports
The Archbishop of York signs the Instrument of Enanactment.
Press release from Church House
Legislation on Women Bishops Becomes Law at General Synod
17 November 2014
The General Synod has today enacted the measure enabling women to be ordained as Bishops in the Church of England.
The formal enactment of the legislation - Amending Canon 33 - followed the vote on final approval by the Synod at its meeting in July of this year. Since that time the legislation has been approved in Parliament and received Royal Assent.
The final legislative requirements took place during a session chaired by the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, on the first day of the Synod’s meeting in London.
With the Instrument of Enactment having been read to Synod the motion was put without debate, with only a simple majority required for approval. Following the item being passed the legislation was signed into law by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York before the whole Synod.
Following the vote Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said:
“Today we can begin to embrace a new way of being the church and moving forward together. We will also continue to seek the flourishing of the church of those who disagree.”
The text of the amending canon and instrument of enactment can be seen here
The following dioceses are currently vacant and are waiting to appoint a diocesan bishop:
Southwell & Nottingham
The Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich were the last diocese to select a Bishop under the former rules.
The following suffragan (assistant) bishop posts are currently Vacant and are awaiting appointment:
Any of the above vacant posts may now be filled by a male or female priest.
After the vote the Archbishop of Canterbury confirmed that the CNC for Southwell & Nottingham (which has had its first, but not second meeting) had been allowed to consider women.
The General Synod of the Church of England has today, by clear show of hands, passed a motion enacting Amending Canon No 33. The effect of the amendment is to enact that:
A man or a woman may be consecrated to the office of Bishop.
The Oxford Faith Debates are continuing every fortnight and there are two more to go. Full details of the programme are here.
Debate 3 titled People – how can Anglicans of all kinds be engaged in the Church of the future? included contributions from four panelists and another four “provocateurs” including one of the editors of this website. Recordings of the entire proceedings are available here. (My bit is close to the end at minute 41 of the discussion.)
Lorraine Cavanagh another of the Provocateurs last week has written this article: The Church of England must remain credible as well as viable also available over here.
Both she and I will be returning for Debate 4 this coming Thursday when the subject is Diversity - what kind of unity is appropriate nationally and internationally, how can diversity become a strength?
New statistics for 2013 show average of one million people attend services each week
10 November 2014
New Church of England statistics for 2013 published today show that an average of one million people attend services each week, down about 1% on the previous year.
The one million figure relates to regular weekly parish and cathedral services and does not include other core services carried out by the Church of England on a regular basis. With some 2,000 baptisms, 1,000 weddings and 3,000 funerals conducted every week it is estimated that a further half a million people attend a service conducted by a Church of England minister every week. In addition the count (which takes place in October) does not include the many carol and nativity services during Advent and many other regular services responding to community need. The services carried out by the Church of England’s chaplains in hospitals, prisons, schools, universities and military bases are also excluded from the attendance totals. Figures for Christmas attendance show a stable trend, with 2.4 million people attending services on Christmas Eve and Day - where figures have hovered around the 2.5 million mark over the past decade.
Speaking on the publication of the statistics, the Bishop of Sheffield, The Rt. Revd. Steven Croft, said:
“These figures show the Church of England continues to serve the nation with a core of 1 million activist members who worship faithfully each week.
“At a time when membership of political parties is at an historic low and in a society which feels increasingly time squeezed, it is conspicuous that the Church of England’s committed weekly base of parish worshippers remains a million strong with the last Census showing many millions more identifying with the Church.
“In addition to the regular worshipping core the Church continues to serve all those who look to us to mark the most important events of their life journey through weddings, baptisms and funerals. Through these services alone we estimate that a further half a million people attend Church every week of the year, many of whom will be only fringe or occasional visitors.”
A new part of the 2013 research reveal that nearly half of the 67,000 new joiners to churches are coming for the first time rather than from another church. This was the first time a split was introduced in the joiners and leavers section to measure those moving to or from other local churches.
There was also new research on attendance at advent services including nativity and carol services - outside of usual Sunday services. Although not every church gave figures, attendance at special services during advent is estimated to be around 5 million.
A change in baptism trends shows that adult baptisms are on the increase over the past decade - from 8,000 per year to 11,000 per year, an increase of 32% over the last 10 years.
The statistics are available at:
Earlier statistics are available here.
It has been announced from 10 Downing Street this morning that the Revd Philip North is to be the next Bishop of Burnley in the diocese of Blackburn:
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Philip John North, MA, Team Rector of the Parish of Old Saint Pancras, in the Diocese of London, to the Suffragan See of Burnley, in the Diocese of Blackburn, in succession to the Right Reverend John William Goddard, BA, on his resignation on 31 August 2014.
A press release from Forwad in Faith comments:
Forward in Faith is delighted at the news that Fr Philip North is to be the next Bishop of Burnley, in succession to Bishop John Goddard.
Fr North is well known for his pastoral gifts, his zeal for mission and evangelization, and his commitment to the proclamation of the Gospel, especially amongst the poor.
We are proud to welcome a new episcopal member of Forward in Faith, and we pray for Fr North as he prepares for his move, and for the whole people of God in the Diocese of Blackburn.
Update (Friday afternoon)
Blackburn diocese is now also carrying this news: next Bishop of Burnley to be the Reverend Philip North and quoting the bishop-designate:
“Some of you might be aware that I withdrew from an appointment as Bishop of Whitby. The fact that I have been invited and have agreed to serve as a Bishop again is testimony to the very different mood across the Church of England since the understandable disappointment that followed the failure in 2012 of the legislation to enable women to be bishops.
“The Church has stated afresh its commitment to enabling all traditions to flourish within its life and structures, and I hope that my appointment will be seen as evidence of that pledge.”
And the Bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, is quoted:
“I want to make it clear that I see Philip’s appointment as a clear sign the Anglican Church in Lancashire is living out these five guiding principles.
“I wanted to have an episcopal colleague who is from the traditionalist catholic constituency and Philip fulfils that role well. He comes to serve the whole Diocese. He will also have particular care for those people who cannot accept the ministry of women as Bishops and Priests in the Church — and he will have my wholehearted support in carrying out this important work.”
David Pocklington has written for Law & Religion UK about the Future composition of the Lords Spiritual.
The announcement to both Houses of the Royal Assent to the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure completed the parliamentary stages of the legislation and brought to the fore the issue of “fast tracking” women in the episcopate to the Lords Spiritual…
The issues that remain, therefore, are: how this is to be accomplished; and what form this fast-tracking/positive discrimination will take…
He goes on to explain why this will require an Act of Parliament rather than a Church Measure. He then looks at what might replace the present “Buggins’ turn” method of appointing the most senior diocesan bishops and allow women more quickly to join the Lords Spiritual.
David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK wrote this last month: CofE to axe seal of confessional? Today he published this update: Seal of confessional: its future in the CofE. Together these clearly describe the current position.
Do read both articles, but I draw attention to part of what the Archbishop of York said in his statement on the Waddington Enquiry:
… one of those who reported abuse to the Inquiry has since asked me specifically to raise the question of The Confessional. His view is that disclosures made in the context of a formal Confession which give rise to safeguarding concerns should not enjoy absolute confidentiality.
I have every sympathy with this view, and therefore welcome the fact that the Archbishops’ Council has decided to commission theological and legal work with a view to exploring whether the current position in relation to admissions of abuse in the context of a formal Confession should be changed. That work and any recommendations arising from it will need to be discussed with the House of Bishops before any proposals for change are brought before the General Synod.
This matter will undoubtedly be raised during a take-note debate on draft revised Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy (GS 1970) at General Synod next month. There is an accompanying paper specifically on the ministry of absolution (GS Misc 1085) which confirms the Archbishop’s statement that the Archbishops’ Council is to commission a review of the seal of the confessional.
The Archbishop of Canterbury gave this speech at the annual Parliamentary Press Gallery lunch in the House of Commons yesterday. He also answered questions. Amongst other topics he spoke about child abuse within the Church of England.
Michael White and Rajeev Syal The Guardian Church of England to examine 1950s records in child abuse investigation
Georgia Graham and John Bingham The Telegraph Justin Welby: I broke down in tears at horror of Church child abuse
He also spoke about immigration.
John Bingham and Georgia Graham The Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury condemns politicians who view immigration as a ‘deep menace’
Nigel Morris The Independent Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby: There is no immigrant ‘menace’
The papers for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 17 and 18 November are now all online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.
GS 1926D - Amending Canon No.33 [Monday]
GS 1966 - Agenda
GS 1967 - Report by the Business Committee [Monday]
GS 1970 - Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy (draft edition) [Monday]
GS 1971 - The Anglican-Methodist Covenant: Report from the Council for Christian Unity [Tuesday]
GS Misc 1085 - Guidelines for the professional conduct of the clergy (The Ministry of Absolution)
GS Misc 1086 - A background note on Violence against Religious Minorities in Iraq and Syria [Tuesday]
GS Misc 1088 - Representative of Pentecostal Churches of the General Synod
GS Misc 1089 - The Porvoo Declaration - New signatories
GS Misc 1090 - Women in the Episcopate - appointment of Independent Reviewer
GS Misc 1091 - Report on the Archbishops’ Council’s activities
The final agenda and the papers for next month’s meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England are published today, along with this press release summarising the agenda.
Final agenda for General Synod published
24 October 2014
The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London in November for a two day meeting from 13.45 on Monday 17 November until 17.00 on Tuesday 18 November.
The Agenda for the meeting is published today. After the usual introductory material, including the debate on the report by the Business Committee the Synod will be invited to enact Amending Canon No. 33 to allow women to be bishops. This will be followed by a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Various items of legislative business will follow. Some of these will run into the following day, when a further slot for legislative business has been allocated at 12 noon. The Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure and the Church of England (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure will both return to the Synod for their Final Drafting and Final Approval Stages. . Amending Canon No. 35 (relating to Canon B 12) and the Naming of Dioceses Measure will both undergo their Revision Stages. A new draft Measure allowing diocesan stipends funds to invest on a ‘total return’ basis will be introduced for First Consideration. Finally, the Synod will be asked to approve a Scheme amending the Diocese in Europe’s Constitution.
Following the legislative business, there will be a Take Note debate on the Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy. This is a draft document prepared by the Convocations of York and Canterbury which updates the existing Guidelines dating from 2003 to take account of new developments in secular and Church legislation and pastoral practice, as well as liturgical developments. Following comment by General Synod, the draft Guidelines will return to the Convocations for further consideration. After a short period of worship, the day will conclude with Synod Questions.
Tuesday 18th November will start with Holy Communion which will lead into a presentation by a panel of speakers moderated by the Bishop of Coventry on Violence against Religious Minorities in Iraq and Syria. The panel will include the Rt. Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Great Britain, who is one of our regular Ecumenical representatives on Synod and who is in close touch with churches in Iraq and Syria, Dr.Fuad Nahdi Executive Director of the Radical Middle Way and Founding Editor of the pioneering Q-News and the Revd Dr Rachel Carnegie, the Co-Director of the Anglican Alliance. There will be opportunities for Synod members to pose questions to the panel.
Any remaining legislative business will be taken at 12 noon. After lunch on Tuesday 18th November there will be a presentation followed by a debate on the Anglican Methodist Covenant. The Synod will be invited to endorse the recommendations in the Final Report of the Joint Implementation Commission which calls for both churches to take forward further work on the possibility of reconciling their ministries with a view to interchangeability.
There will be a debate on a Diocesan Synod Motion from the former Diocese of Bradford (now part of the Diocese of Leeds) regarding the Spare Room Subsidy. The motion reflects concern from the Diocese at the impact of the Spare Room Subsidy, also known as the “Bedroom Tax”.
Contingency business takes the form of a Private Member’s Motion by the Revd Canon Dr Michael Parsons (Gloucester) on Canon B38 (‘Of the burial of the dead’). The motion calls for the introduction of legislation so that the law would no longer make any distinction in the form of funeral service to be used when someone has taken their own life.
Synod papers, including the full agenda, can be found here.
From today’s Hansard:
I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967, that Her Majesty has signified her Royal Assent to the following Measure:
Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure 2014.
The following Measure was given Royal Assent:
Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure.
Updated Wednesday evening, Thursday morning
The report of the Independent Inquiry, commissioned by the Archbishop of York and chaired by Judge Sally Cahill, into the Church of England’s handling of reports of alleged sexual abuse by the late Robert Waddington, formerly Dean of Manchester, was published today.
Press Association report in The Guardian Archbishop of York ‘deeply ashamed’ by church’s handling of abuse allegations
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Abusive priest ‘avoided prosecution because of failure to act on allegations’
Caroline Wyatt BBC Archbishop of York ‘wholehearted’ apology to abuse victims
At the request of some of those interviewed by the inquiry the report will not be made available in an electronic format but in hard copy only. Copies are available from Church House Bookshop.
Caroline Davies The Guardian Archbishop of York ashamed over Church of England’s abuse case failures
Madeleine Davies Church Times York Inquiry finds ‘systematic failure’ over abuse
Updated Monday morning and afternoon
The Measure completed is progress through Parliament today when the House of Commons agreed that it should be sent for Royal Assent.
The Hansard report of the debate is here.
David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has this summary of the debate, Commons debate women in the episcopate, which also includes “Next Steps”. [There is a correction to this, published on Thursday.]
General Synod members were this morning sent this note from the Secretary General.
I am pleased to report that the House of Commons approved the Measure to enable women to become bishops yesterday evening. Following the successful outcome in the House of Lords last Tuesday the way is now clear for Royal Assent, which is expected this Thursday.
The royal licence for the canon will be needed before the canon can be enacted by the Synod on 17 November. But there is every reason to believe that that will be forthcoming and we shall be therefore be putting the papers for the November Synod in the post this Thursday. They will be on-line at 2pm on Friday when the usual pre-Synod press conference is held at Church House. The way is now clear for members to proceed with train and hotel bookings for November.
The House of Lords today passed the motion to approve the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure.
John Bingham The Telegraph Women bishops approved by House of Lords
As John Bingham also notes:
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, also disclosed during the debate that all the main Westminster political parties had signalled their support for a plan to fast-track the first women bishops into the Lords.
The debate in the House of Commons has now been scheduled for Monday of next week. Subject to a favourable vote in the Commons (which everybody expects) the measure will then only require the formality of the Royal Assent to come into effect.
The investigation into allegations against the Rt Revd Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester, has been dropped.
The Gloucestershire Citizen also carries the story here with slightly more detail:
A statement from Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, Lead Bishop on Safeguarding for the Church of England said: “We can confirm that we have been notified by the Metropolitan Police that following enquiries they are to take no further action regarding the allegations made against the Rt Revd Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester.
“We would ask for continuing prayers for all of those affected by these events and those involved in ongoing processes.“
Bishop Michael said: “It was right that the allegations should be fully investigated and I am gratified that the police have completed the investigation and concluded that there are no grounds for further action to be taken
“My family and I are profoundly grateful for all the support and affirmation we have received through this very difficult time.”
Bishop Michael will not yet return to his post until due church processes have been concluded.
However he hopes the process will conclude in time for him to return to his post before he is due to retire as planned in November.
We earlier reported the news that Bishop Michael was ‘stepping back’ from his role in the diocese of Gloucester, pending his retirement in November.
The first of the Oxford Faith Debates took place last week.
Audio recordings of the whole proceedings are now available from this page.
Many of the papers delivered at the To Have and To Hold conference are now available from the LGBTI Anglican Coalition website.
Follow links from here.
Copies of these papers are now also available on the Inclusive Church website, at this page where they may be slightly easier to access.
Among them, the Digest of Methuen and Thatcher talks may be particularly useful for promoting local discussion groups on this topic.
The Ecclesiastical Committee’s report on the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure is now available online.
The Measure has to be approved by both Houses of Parliament before it can receive the Royal Assent and come into effect. The Archbishop of Canterbury will lead a House of Lords debate to approve the measure next Tuesday (14 October). The debate in the House of Commons has not yet been scheduled.
The BBC reports: Jeremy Pemberton gay marriage case: Archbishop of York challenged
The Archbishop of York has been challenged over “discrimination” against a gay clergyman who married his same-sex partner.
Jeremy Pemberton can no longer work as a priest in Nottinghamshire and has been blocked from taking a job as a hospital chaplain in the county.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell challenged the archbishop over the case as he arrived at Southwell Minster.
However, Dr John Sentamu said he could not comment due to legal reasons.
Local newspapers carried the story too:
The Peter Tatchell Foundation reported it this way: Archbishop of York beset by gay protesters.
Updated Friday morning
Reform, the organisation of Conservative Evangelicals in the Church of England, has issued a press release, available here, and copied in full below the fold. It begins like this (emphasis added by TA in italics)
Reform calls for ‘decisive intervention’ to save shared conversations on sexuality from collapse
Posted on 8 October 2014
At it’s [sic] most recent meeting on Wednesday, 1st October 2014, the Reform Council expressed its dismay that the objectives of the ‘shared conversations’ on Scripture, Sexuality and Mission had been changed and that as a result orthodox Anglicans had been in effect excluded. It called on its members not to participate in the conversations under these conditions.
Speaking after the Council meeting, the chairman, Prebendary Rod Thomas, said ‘It is difficult to see how the process of shared conversations can command credibility if those who are most committed to the Church of England’s official teaching are in effect excluded. If this project is not to collapse, then decisive intervention from the House of Bishops is needed now. The shared conversations must acknowledge that Scripture remains authoritative for the Church of England and that the outcome of the conversations is genuinely open-ended. Unless that is clarified and the recently announced new objective is withdrawn, we cannot see a way forward.’
Andrew Brown discusses this announcement in this article: Church of England’s gay marriage split is as entrenched as ever
Hopes that the Church of England might be able to discuss its deep differences over gay people looked sillier yesterday after the conservative evangelical group Reform pulled out of conversations. It was upset over the failure to “admonish” a prominent liberal, while gay protestors led by Peter Tatchell heckled the archbishop of York over his backing for sanctions against a gay priest who has married his partner.
Reform’s press release dropped in first. The group is upset by three things. The headline is that it wants the bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, to stop calling conservative evangelicals (that would be Reform) “homophobic”, and to renounce his public support for gay marriage. Then it wants a crackdown on those priests who have married their partners. This is extremely difficult legally, as Wilson points out in public and the house of bishops has been told in private…
… But the real sticking point for Reform was the hope expressed by the bishops at their most recent meeting, “for the Church of England to live together as a family who disagree with one another.” They are Calvinists. They don’t want to live together with people who disagree with them – to be “yoked with unbelievers”, as St Paul put it. You can laugh at their demand not to be called “homophobic”, although it would be a small thing to grant them.
You can laugh, too, at the gloriously unrealistic demand that the church spend millions in legal battles with the equality law.
What is non-negotiable, though, is the group’s demand that the church deal with disagreement on this matter by expelling its opponents. It’s certainly a popular demand – on both sides. But it is the one thing against which the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has set his face. What he wants is “good disagreement”. For Reform – and, to be fair, for its opponents – what’s good about disagreement is the moment when the enemy crumbles…
Update The Church of England issued this media statement yesterday:
Statement on Shared Conversations on Scripture, Sexuality and Mission
09 October 2014
In a media statement dated October 6 2014 the council of Reform “expressed its dismay that the objectives of the ‘shared conversations’ on Scripture, Sexuality and Mission had been changed” at the recent meeting of the College of Bishops. In support of this claim the Council referred to the media statement released after the meeting claiming that the media report introduced a “new objective”.
The objectives of the Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission were set out in June 2014 by the Bishop of Sheffield in GS Misc 1083. These objectives remain unchanged. No new objective has been added.
The media statement did not report on the contents of the discussions held at the meeting of the College as those conversations were confidential to the groups. It was no more than a general report of the proceedings and should not be over-interpreted.
The media statement issued after the College of Bishops meeting was accompanied by a podcast which also explored the shared conversations. Neither the podcast nor the statement was intended to nor should be taken to replace, add to, subtract from, substitute or alter the process as set out in the Bishop of Sheffield’s paper. That document (GS Misc 1083) remains the authoritative statement of the objectives as set by the House of Bishops.
The above points have been communicated to Reform.
Media Statement Oct 6, 2014: Reform calls for ‘decisive intervention’ to save shared conversations on sexuality from collapse
Posted on 8 October 2014
REFORM CALLS FOR ‘DECISIVE INTERVENTION’ TO SAVE SHARED CONVERSATIONS ON SEXUALITY FROM COLLAPSE
At it’s most recent meeting on Wednesday, 1st October 2014, the Reform Council expressed its dismay that the objectives of the ‘shared conversations’ on Scripture, Sexuality and Mission had been changed and that as a result orthodox Anglicans had been in effect excluded. It called on its members not to participate in the conversations under these conditions.
Speaking after the Council meeting, the chairman, Prebendary Rod Thomas, said ‘It is difficult to see how the process of shared conversations can command credibility if those who are most committed to the Church of England’s official teaching are in effect excluded. If this project is not to collapse, then decisive intervention from the House of Bishops is needed now. The shared conversations must acknowledge that Scripture remains authoritative for the Church of England and that the outcome of the conversations is genuinely open-ended. Unless that is clarified and the recently announced new objective is withdrawn, we cannot see a way forward.’
The Council’s assessment was made after members heard that the original objectives of the conversations, as reported last July to the General Synod, had been severely narrowed. This emerged after the meeting of the College of Bishops in mid September, which described the second objective as creating ‘space and an environment for the Church of England to live together as a family who disagree with one another…[to] ensure that those with differing views on sexuality continue to share together a place of common baptism and faith”.
This new objective requires participants:
To reject the current Church of England understanding that all sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage “should be met with a call for repentance and the exercise of compassion”
To accept the premise of the Pilling Report that the Bible isn’t clear on matters of sexuality - when, as the Bishop of Birkenhead’s Dissenting Statement argued, there is no sound reason for thinking it is unclear
To accept an outcome in which the Church moves from its present, biblical, understanding of marriage to one where we accommodate two separate beliefs, with one part of the Church calling for repentance over sexual sin and another declaring God’s blessing. This is tantamount to asking us to accept a redefinition of what will and will not lead to salvation - as though there could be two gospels, equally valid.
In advising its members not to get drawn into what was now a ‘deeply flawed’ process, The Council also warned about the steady erosion of the Church’s commitment to biblical authority - particularly in the field of sexuality. It noted:
The lack of a consistent and clear response to those clergy who have entered into same-sex marriages, thereby pre-empting the results of the shared conversations as pressure grows to accommodate ‘facts on the ground’;
The continued failure to admonish the Bishop of Buckingham, despite his refusal to uphold the teaching of the church and guidance of the House on matters of sexuality, whilst also allowing him, without criticism, repeatedly to describe Conservative Evangelicals as homophobic, including those who themselves experience same-sex attraction but seek to live celibate, God-honouring lives.
Note to editors:
Reform is a network of individuals and churches promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ by reforming the Church of England - www.reform.org.uk. It is one of the three bodies that sponsor ReNew.
College of Bishops Statement can be found here:
For further information please contact the Director, Susie Leafe on 07753690120 or by email email@example.com
Two reviews that have now appeared of the book More Perfect Union:
Andrew Goddard on Fulcrum Review of “More Perfect Union?: Understanding Same-Sex Marriage” by Bishop Alan Wilson
As the Church of England begins two years of Shared Conversations focussed on sexuality, probably the most vocal episcopal critic of current teaching and practice, Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, has set out his case for change in More Perfect Union?: Understanding Same-Sex Marriage (DLT). For those still unclear about the substance and tone of Anglican arguments for same-sex marriage this is a short, readable guide. Although helpful in giving a sense of much revisionist rhetoric and argument it suffers the fatal flaw he levels against his opponents (40) – preaching to the choir and cutting almost no ice with anyone else…
Ian Paul on Psephizo More Perfect Union?
I’ve had quite a few interactions with Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, mostly on line and (once) in person. On some occasions he has been reasonable, thoughtful and well-informed; on others, belligerent and polemical. So when I received this book for review, I was intrigued to know which way it would go. Unfortunately, it is the latter.
Reading the first couple of chapters was a very odd experience, and I could not work out why—until I realised I had entered a parallel universe—Wilson’s World, if you will. In this World, all sorts of odd things happen…
Update book launch event cancelled
Those who want to read the book for themselves may be interested in this event at Church House Bookshop: Book Launch: More Perfect Union?
And Alan Wilson wrote this piece for Comment is free earlier in the week: Any ‘biblical’ objection to gay marriage is nonsense. The C of E must admit this.
The Revd Dr Charlotte Methuen has written a review of Bishop Alan Wilson’s book More Perfect Union. Dr Methuen is Senior Lecturer in Church History and Head of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Glasgow.
Alan Wilson, More Perfect Union (London: DLT 2014). Pp. xx + 172. £9.99 (paperback).
In this short book, Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, presents the case for extending marriage to include same-sex couples. Written in the heat of the debate about the Church of England’s response to the legal introduction of marriage for same-sex couples in England in 2014, Wilson’s book brings together a host of arguments and data which should prove thought-provoking even to those who disagree with his conclusions.
Wilson opens with an autobiographical note: selected to be Bishop of Buckingham in 2003, his consecration service was originally to be shared with Jeffrey John, who had been appointed Bishop of Reading. Wilson recounts his sense of bemusement as John, a gay man living in a celibate partnership, was pressured to withdraw from the appointment. Over the years that followed, Wilson became more uncomfortable with the inconsistent position being taken by the Church of England. He began to recognise that what God wants for gay people “is no more than he wanted for all people – flourishing faith, hope and love, lived out individually and in community” (p. xvi). For Wilson “allowing gay people to marry became … an issue of justice and equality.” Consequently, he affirms, “rejoicing with gay people who marry … no longer seemed to me a concession to secular modernity, but sharing the good news of the kingdom” (p. xvii). That around 80% of the messages he received as he began to explore these issues were supportive, suggests, Wilson remarks that, “the vast majority of people seemed to be travelling along a road like mine, including a sizeable number of Evangelical Christians” (p. xvii). This book is in many ways the account of that journey.
In Chapter 1, “Gay and straight in Church and State”, Wilson traces the legal status of gay people in the last 50 years, and the way that the Church of England has and (mostly) has not responded to the increasingly widespread recognition of same-sex relationships. These developments have taken place in wider context of rapid changes to patterns of relationships: in the early twenty-first century, people are marrying later than was the custom in previous generations, and they do so “to seal and not to form permanent relationships” (p. 15). That is (although Wilson does not make this point explicitly), the vast majority of couples who marry are already living together, and many have children. Marriage has come to be seen as the affirmation of a relationship, rather than marking a beginning.
Wilson next turns to the question “Unnatural?” Considering the accusation that same-sex relationships are unnatural, Wilson observes that concepts of the natural have changed radically over the centuries. Paul, for instance, “disapproved of ‘unnatural’ practices like men growing their hair, or women cutting it (1 Corinthians 11:14–15)”; in the twentieth century, women were long prevented from running the marathon on the grounds that “their bodies were not made for such exertions” (pp. 20-21). Moreover, modern biology has revealed unexpected complexities in the definition of gender and sexual difference; the definition of sexual orientation is even more complicated. For Wilson, the important recognition is that all people have (as the 1928 wedding liturgy puts it), “natural instincts and affections implanted by God [which] need to be hallowed and directed aright.” Relationships, he suggests, “are judged better by their fruit than by their configuration” (p. 34).
“Equality or bust,” chapter 3, considers the question of the definition of marriage. Is it really the case that extending marriage to include same-sex couples would represent a profound – and indeed impossible – redefinition of the fundamental meaning of marriage? Wilson argues that in reality, marriage “has been radically and continuously redefined down the ages by the lived experience of married people” (p. 40). Moreover, this category, he suggests, has in the past included same-sex couples. Consequently, “portentous assertions that monogamy between a man and a woman has been the anthropological gold standard from the dawn of time are simply false” (p. 40). Wilson argues also that equality of treatment is fundamental to the biblical message: “St Paul tells the Romans… that ‘God shows no partiality’” (p. 51).
Wilson turns next to the biblical witness. In “Scripture 101” he considers how to read the biblical text, pointing out that the Bible was long used to defend practices which are now seen as wrong, such as slavery or the use of corporal punishment for children. Addressing “Things gays are liable to read in the Bible,” he considers the six biblical passages which might be held to speak to homosexuality (these, as he remarks, comprise 0.002% of the verses of the Bible, compared to around 10% of Bible verses which refer to matters of economic justice – p. 62). These verses, Wilson concludes, do not address homosexuality in the modern understanding of the word, but are concerned with men who take on the role of women in that they allow themselves to be penetrated during a sexual encounter. The single text which may refer to same-sex relations between women, Romans 1:26-27, could (although Wilson does not say so) equally be interpreted to imply that women were sleeping with men in ways deemed unnatural. Wilson does remark on the “complete absence in the New Testament of any of the extensive standard assortment of Greek words that would have been used naturally to describe the enormous amount of same-sex activity that went on in ancient cities” (p. 80). He concludes: “The discipline that enable Christians to hear the word of God according to the love of God is .. obedience to the New Testament injunction to discern the spirits and make love our aim” (p. 81).
Considering “Biblical marriage”, Wilson points out that the Hebrew Scriptures contain “at least seven different definitions of marriage” (p. 84), most of which see marriage as a property transaction between two men, with a woman as the property. In the New Testament, “Jesus teaches that marriage is a provisional institution with roots in creation. … It is a way of arranging other matters of this age, like property, inheritance and dynastic legitimacy, all of them less important than the kingdom” (p. 89). It is emphatically not for all, and celibacy is clearly a favoured option. In the Pauline epistles, subordination of the wife is accepted as the norm, although men are urged to love their wives, and Paul certainly sees marriage as a mutual relationship. Marriage in the New Testament comes also to function as a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and the church, just as in the Old Testament the relationship between God and Israel had been described in terms either of marriage or of harlotry. Here, none of the realities often cited as fundamental to marriage – gender difference, the ability to conceive children, or a particular understanding of sexual intercourse – can be held to apply.
In chapter 7, Wilson addresses “The irresistible rise of Christian marriage”, which he sees as involving four phases: marriage as a “pre-endtime encumbrance” (33-100 CE), as a “secular institution” (100-1200), as an “indissoluble sacrament” (since 1300 and still an ideal, although now “largely an empty shell”), and as a “partnership of equals” (since 1650 and increasingly seen as the ideal). Chapter 8, “Geopolitics and mission”, counters the argument that the persecution of Christians elsewhere should mitigate against arguments for equality in the North and West: “We know … that the Nigerian terrorist movement Boko Haram disapproves intensely of young women being educated… Would closing down [educational opportunities for women in the West] really moderate Boko Haram’s behaviour?” (p. 133). Wilson here also considers the meaning of unity for the Church, concluding that “Honest disagreement that takes everyone as seriously as everyone else can transcend any particular culture and offer hope to a world in sore and increasing need of reconciliation and healing” (p. 146).
In a final chapter, “The law of the land, and that’s great”, Wilson discusses possible ways forward for the Church of England in the face of the introduction of same sex marriage. Wilson sees this move as an opportunity for the Church: “Marriages that are good news reflect equality in diversity and a genuine reciprocity, their own personal and distinctive complementarity, that is bigger than the imposition of crude gender stereotypes, Such marriages offer a special opportunity for those within them to reflect the vales of the kingdom of God in which all are equal” (pp. 163-4).
This is an important book. Wilson admits from the outset that it “is not, in any sense, an academic tome” (p. xvi). There is a wealth of evidence here, some of which would have benefitted from brief references or indication of further reading. Wilson is keen to emphasise the shifting meaning of words, but takes 1 Tim 5’s “widows” in a modern sense, as women whose husbands have died, neglecting the meaning of women who choose to live without men; this flattens the meaning of that text and in my view warps his interpretation. I would have like more reflection on developments between the Pauline letters and the (almost certainly pseudepigraphical) Pastoral epistles, which seem to represent a rather different understanding of the role of women than that offered by Paul. The style suggests that this is a book written in haste, and it certainly speaks to the moment. But that is necessary, and right: and it is much to be applauded that a bishop of the Church of England has chosen to speak out on the question of equal marriage.
DLT Books has issued a press release announcing the publication of More Perfect Union: Understanding Same-sex Marriage by Alan Wilson. The text of this is reproduced below the fold.
John Bingham wrote about this book in the Telegraph under the headline One in 10 Church of England bishops ‘could be secretly gay’ – says bishop.
Alan Wilson has written on his blog about some recent reactions to his book, and about the recent College of Bishops meeting for “shared conversations”: Ins and Outs and Same-Sex Marriage.
** PRESS RELEASE FROM DLT BOOKS **
‘Alan Wilson is the only bishop in the Church of England who speaks for the full inclusion of LGBTQI people in the Church. In this powerful statement, he sets out the scientific, theological and Biblical reasons which have led him to believe that this is the truly Christian option.’ - Linda Woodhead MBE
‘An extraordinarily valuable contribution to the quest for an open and honest conversation around an issue that the Church can no longer sweep under the ecclesiastical carpet.’ – Steve Chalke
‘The joy of this book is a bishop telling the truth, not least about the way the gay issue has been handled in recent history, and the awful dishonesties in which we are now entrammelled as a result.’ – Jeffrey John
In a recent interview with Pink News Archbishop Justin Welby acknowledged that the Church of England had to accept same-sex marriage is now law in England and Wales, but Welby himself voted against the Same-Sex Marriage Act in the House of Lords in 2013. Indeed, even after having been passed into law on 29 March 2014, when the balloon went up and Messrs. Peter McGraith and David Cabreza made Britain’s first same-sex marriage at Islington Town Hall, many leaders of the Church of England remain strongly opposed. So much so that Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who married his long-term partner in April, was told to stop leading services and then barred from a post as an NHS chaplain.
In this important and timely book Alan Wilson argues that allowing gay people to marry is a moral purpose. Indeed, there is a burgeoning movement within the Church broadly in favour of same-sex marriage, not to mention leaders of the Church already in gay partnerships, who wish for their religion to fully ratify and acknowledge their relationships.
Wilson says: ‘I asked myself “what does God want for gay people?”. After re-revisiting the Bible, and more importantly getting to know gay people of all types and varying backgrounds, he decided the answer was that God wants for them the same as everyone else – flourishing faith, hope and love, involvement and inclusion.
Meanwhile, from a scientific perspective, More Perfect Union? asserts that homosexuality is part of a wide range of human sexual longing and expression, not an anomaly, a sickness, nor merely a lifestyle choice.
The vast majority of people Wilson encountered on his journey toward being in favour of same-sex marriage were not anti-gay, were ‘just trying to love their neighbour as themselves’, even if, in some cases, their heads lagged behind their hearts on the issue of gay marriage.
The ultimate aim of this book is to help Christians unite head and heart in a fully positive response to gay people marrying, and to enable them to wholeheartedly rejoice in such union, in doing so shaking off the hangover of years of stereotyping, fear and discrimination about gay people.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alan Wilson became Bishop of Buckingham in 2003 after more than 20 years as an urban and suburban parish priest, and some prison ministry, and has a doctorate in Church History. He has been married for over 30 years, and has 5 children.
Diocese of Guildford: nomination of Andrew Watson
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
History: Published 26 September 2014
Part of: Community and society
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Andrew Watson for election as Bishop of Guildford.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Andrew John Watson MA, Bishop of Aston, for election as Bishop of Guildford in succession to the Right Reverend Christopher John Hill BD AKC MTh, whose resignation took effect on 30 November 2013.
Andrew Watson is 53 and studied law at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he was also a music exhibitioner, regularly playing his bassoon in various orchestras and chamber groups.
Following 2 years as a caretaker and youth worker in Islington, he trained for the ordained ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, where he met his future wife Beverly (who has since been ordained herself).
He served his title at St Peter’s, Ipsley, in Worcester diocese from 1987 to 1991, leading a church on the council estate where they lived, and served a second curacy at St John and St Peter, Notting Hill, in London diocese from 1991 to 1996, restoring the Grade 2* listed church of St Peter (which features prominently in the movie Notting Hill), and developing a community café, nursery school and prison visiting team.
From 1996 to 2008 he was Vicar of St Stephen’s, East Twickenham, in London diocese, where he planted 3 further churches and led teams to Norway and Sweden, Donetsk and the slums of Delhi.
He was a member of the General Synod from 2000 to 2008 and Area Dean of Hampton from 2003 to 2008.
In October 2008, he was consecrated Bishop in St Paul’s Cathedral. Since then he has served as the Suffragan Bishop of Aston in the diocese of Birmingham, overseeing the programme ‘Transforming Church’.
Andrew and Beverly have 2 girls and 2 boys, Hannah (24), Sam (22), Joe (19) and Lydia (15). He is the author of The Fourfold Leadership of Jesus (Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) 2008), Confidence in the Living God (BRF 2009) and The Way of the Desert (BRF 2011). He remains a keen musician and a China enthusiast, and enjoys reading, cooking, photography and walking stretches of the South West Coast Path.
From the Birmingham diocesan website: Bishop David is delighted that Bishop Andrew Watson is to be the new Bishop of Guildford
From the Guildford diocesan website: New Bishop of Guildford announced
Unanswered questions on Pilling report
There are problems about its use of science and other evidence, says Chris Cook
At the College of Bishops’ residential meeting this week, the Pilling report was scheduled for further discussion (News, 12 September). The report is the work of the House of Bishops Working Group on sexuality, and was published last November.
In January, the College of Bishops published a statement acknowledging the “strongly held and divergent” views reflected in the report, and accepting its recommendation for “facilitated conversations” to continue the process of listening, reflection, and discussion. There are, however, several important questions that need to be addressed about the report, particularly on its approach to the evidence and use of science.
The report has been criticised from both sides of the debate, but the process of facilitated conversation requires that we all, with the Bishops, give it careful attention. It raises questions not only about how we interpret scripture, but also about how we interpret our knowledge of sexuality. The often unexamined assumptions about the relationship between science and theology which are embedded in these interpretative processes influence both the way in which we go about the debate, and the conclusions that we reach.
The working group that produced the Pilling report was asked to “draw together and reflect upon biblical, historical, and ecumenical explorations on human sexuality”, as well as other material arising from the listening process after the 1998 Lambeth Conference.
This task need not necessarily have involved attention to scientific explorations, and the group does not appear to have had a scientific adviser. It is commendable, therefore, that the group recognised the importance of the scientific evidence, and devoted a whole chapter of its report to it.
Reflecting on the scientific evidence, the group concludes that “neither the medical nor the social sciences have arrived at any firm consensus that would impact decisively on the moral arguments.” It further notes that it is in the nature of science to test hypotheses against evidence, and that the theses that emerge can always be challenged by new evidence.
Similarly, “the teaching of the Church, like a thesis in scientific enquiry, stands until the evidence contradicting it is sufficient to change it.” Such transformative evidence is not solely scientific, but it is clear that the group understood that, in part, it may be scientific. Unfortunately, it found that the evidence was “not unequivocal”, and that scientists “find their scientific knowledge supporting different conclusions”.
The reader may conclude that the scientific evidence did not help much. When it comes to reflecting on the traditional Anglican recourse to scripture, tradition, and reason, science — as a strand of reason — seems to contribute little or nothing to the conclusions reached in the report, other than to reinforce the sense of irreconcilable disagreement.
Perhaps, then, it is time to put aside the science, and return to the more important biblical and theological debate. This, I think, would be a deeply mistaken conclusion, and, clearly, the working group does, too; for it recommends that the Church should continue to pay attention to the “as yet inconclusive scientific work on same-sex attraction”.
“Same-sex attraction” is not a phrase that appears in scripture, and the working group — wisely, in my view — identifies the importance of the “Is this really that?” question as a key determinant of the different ways in which we interpret scripture on matters such as this. So when we discuss this (homosexuality or any other matter), we must ask whether or not it is the same as the that to which the biblical text refers.
If, however, this question is to be followed through faithfully, it requires that careful biblical exegesis be accompanied by an equally careful analysis of the scientific evidence. Both scripture and scientific evidence have to be interpreted, and each plays a part in the interpretation of the other, whatever privilege we may feel that we need to give one or the other.
But the interpretation of science, the “Is this …?” part of the question, is not the same as the interpretation of scripture, the “… really that?” part.
The Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Revd Keith Sinclair, a member of the working group, found himself unable to sign the Pilling report. A dissenting statement and an appendix concerning scripture and same-sex relationships, both written by him, are, however, published with the report.
In the latter, he expresses concern that there has been a revisionist re-reading of scripture. Presumably, he is concerned that non-traditional interpretations of scripture have been adopted (by some) without due regard to a weight of biblical scholarship that continues to affirm the “traditional” biblical teaching on homosexuality.
Yet I do not believe that this is the primary problem. There has been a revisionist “reading” of our experience of human sexuality, and this, at least in part, has come about because of the way in which we now read scientifically.
First, our scientific concept of homosexuality is a modern one, acknowledging diversity within the range of normal sexual orientation; and, as such, was completely unknown to the Early Church.
Second, this scientific concept of homosexuality is no longer considered pathological, and mainstream scientific and clinical thinking concerning its origin and implications has changed out of all recognition; expectations for good professional practice now reflect this.
Third, as outlined in the report Some Issues in Human Sexuality (2003), there have been significant changes of understanding in Church and society more widely relating to various aspects of sexuality, including divorce and contraception, as well as homosexuality. As a result, we now interpret the metaphorical “text” of sexuality very differently from the ways we did 50 or 100 years ago.
Radical changes such as these have led to what Bishop Sinclair refers to as “revisionist” readings of scripture; but it is misleading and unhelpful to refer to re-readings in this way. There is no traditional reading of scripture on homosexuality to be revised, given that the modern scientific concept of homosexuality was unknown until the 19th century.
Notwithstanding the view of the whole working group that the scientific evidence is uncertain, many Christian professionals, as well as gay and lesbian Christians, experience significant unease at the way in which traditional readings of the Bible on homosexual behaviour have become associated with prejudice towards gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. Traditional readings of scripture that now appear to promote such prejudice have therefore given way to new readings that seek to show that scripture is still authoritative and redemptive.
One problem, then, is that we are confused about whether we are talking primarily about the interpretation of scripture, or the interpretation of human experience, and that these two hermeneutic processes are inextricably linked with one another, at least - but not only - for Christians in the Western world.
A second problem that I encounter as a practical theologian, and as a scientist reading this report, is that I do not see the critical rigour in evaluating scientific evidence which I should expect to find here. This is evident in numerous ways, but a single example may suffice to illustrate the nature of the problem.
The submission from the Royal College of Psychiatrists is quoted in support of a now widely accepted clinical and scientific view, based on peer-reviewed publications, that homosexual orientation is compatible with normal mental health. It is the experience of stigma and discrimination in society that contributes to the greater-than-expected mental-health problems experienced by some gay and lesbian people.
The report, however, immediately counterbalances this viewpoint with an opposing one, taken from a booklet published by a Christian organisation committed to a particular theological view in relation to matters of sexuality, Core Issues Trust.
Thus, it is alleged, the view of the Royal College is “neither proven nor ruled out by the evidence”, and an alternative possibility, that homosexual orientation “cuts against a fundamental gender-based given of the human condition, thus causing distress”, is equally neither proved nor ruled out.
Having consulted the peer-reviewed primary-research papers on which the opposing viewpoints are based, I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that the Core Issues Trust has simply marshalled scientific evidence in support of a position that has previously been determined by a particular interpretation of scripture. Thus, the point of view that it promotes is not so much based on scientific evidence as it is an apologetic for a theological tradition.
It is impossible, however, to reach this conclusion (or the alternative possible conclusion that the Royal College of Psychiatrists has misinterpreted the scientific evidence in support of another agenda), without consulting the primary-research publications oneself. Unfortunately, in its report, the working group shows little evidence of having done this.
A third and more fundamental problem is that science and theology are both concerned with asking and answering questions. The six questions chosen for attention in the section of the report which deals with scientific evidence are themselves significant.
The first question, dealing with sexual dimorphism, evokes an answer concerned largely with intersex syndromes and transsexualism, both of which are more or less beside the point so far as homosexuality is concerned. And yet none of the questions deals with the important issue why homosexuality is no longer classified as a psychiatric disorder.
There is a question about the causes of homosexuality, and much is made about what we do not know by way of answer, but there is no question asking whether homosexuality is something that people choose, or whether it is something more essential to personal identity, something that is discovered about oneself rather than chosen.
It is not clear how the scientific questions addressed in the report were identified, but the choice of questions would seem to have been significant in determining the conclusions reached. Some questions that were not asked are inherently both scientific and theological, notably the all-important “What is natural?” Failure to ask these difficult questions has let us all off the hook in relation to the thorny problem of how we engage scientific with theological reasoning in our understanding of sexuality.
This, in turn, has made it difficult to develop a coherent Christian view of sexuality which has both scientific and theological integrity.
A fourth and final problem that has not been addressed is that scientific terminology is precise, and open to examination — even when contested — in a way that ancient Hebrew and Greek terminology (for example, words such as “arsenokoitēs”) is not.
Homosexuality is a modern term; St Paul never talks about “homosexuality”, but only about homosexual acts and desires (and using language that is different from ours).
Scientific discourse on homosexuality requires that we distinguish carefully between sexual orientation, sexual identity (which has anatomical, genetic, psychological, and social dimensions), sexual attraction, and sexual behaviour. This care is sometimes lacking in the report.
Thus, questions are formed using words that are not quite right for the purpose (for example: “Is sexual attraction fixed and immutable?” when it is actually sexual orientation that appears to be under discussion). Sexual identity is discussed only in the section on homophobia, and none of these terms seems to be adequately defined anywhere in the report.
Had the scientific questions been chosen differently, and had the evidence been evaluated more critically in searching for the answers to them, I believe that the theological implications might have been different, or at least more helpful.
We interpret scripture, scientific evidence, and our experience of our sexuality according to complex and often hidden assumptions, which do not always lead us to sound conclusions. Where we start, whether with scripture or science, is probably less important than having the wisdom to formulate the right questions, the courage to ask them, and a constructively critical, rigorous, but also compassionate spirit with which to pursue the answers.
As we approach the process of facilitated conversation which the Pilling report has recommended, and which the Bishops have endorsed, I hope that more critical attention will be given to the scientific evidence. It has the potential to help us to address new questions to scripture, which, in turn, may help us to find that scripture is authoritative and salvific in ways that we had not previously expected.
In response, scripture presents us with important theological and prophetic questions about patterns of stigma and prejudice, which science has identified as underlying (and consequential upon) much mental ill-health.
Dr Chris Cook is Professor of Spirituality, Theology and Health at Durham University.
The projected timetable (see below) for the November 2014 Group of Sessions of General Synod has been published here. It is accompanied by this note:
The holding of the group of sessions remains contingent on the legislation to enable Women to become Bishops having completed all its remaining stages. It was found expedient by the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament on 22 July and will debated in the House of Lords on 14 October. We await a date for the Commons debate. A further update will be published as soon as possible and in any event before the end of October.
Monday 17 November
1.45 pm – 7.15 pm
1.45 pm Worship
Report by the Business Committee
Enactment of Amending Canon No 33 (relating to Women in the Episcopate)
Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury
* Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure – Final Drafting/Final Approval
* Measure allowing diocesan stipends funds to invest on a ‘total return’ basis – First Consideration
* C of E (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure – Final Drafting/Final Approval
* Amending Canon No 35 (relating to Canon B 12) – Revision Stage and Final Drafting/Final Approval
* Draft Scheme amending the Diocese in Europe Constitution
* C of E (Naming of Dioceses) Measure – Revision Stage
4.40 pm ‘Take Note’ debate on the Professional Guidelines for the Clergy
5.40 pm Worship
Tuesday 18 November
9.15 am – 1.00 pm
Holy Communion in the Assembly Hall
10.30 am Presentation followed by Debate on Violence against Religious Minorities in Iraq and Syria
12.15 pm Legislative Business (Continued from Monday 17 November)
2.15 pm – 5.00 pm
2.15 pm Anglican-Methodist Covenant: Report from the Joint Implementation Commission
Bradford Diocesan Synod Motion on the Spare Room Subsidy
4.40 pm Farewells
Priavte Member’s Motion on Canon B 38
The BBC has reported that the Archdeacon of Cheltenham has said that New Bishop of Gloucester ‘likely to be a woman’.
The first woman bishop in the Church of England could be in the Gloucester diocese, a senior clergyman has said.
The archdeacon of Cheltenham’s comments came during an open meeting where some 70 people shared their views on what qualities the new bishop should have.
The Venerable Robert Springett said he felt the likelihood was “really pretty high” as the diocese could now pick the best person regardless of gender.
Cheltenham is one of the two archdeaconries in the Diocese of Gloucester.
Gloucester will be the first diocese to hold both of its Crown Nominations Commission meetings after the expected coming into effect in November of all the legislation allowing women to be bishops in the Church of England. The meetings are scheduled for 8 January and 19/20 February 2015.
Law & Religion UK has a detailed discussion about this topic, triggered by this headline in the Mail on Sunday:
Vicars set to reveal secrets of confession: Church of England may axe 400-year-old sacred law to let clergy report sex attackers
The very very thorough analysis by David Pocklington is here: CofE to axe seal of confessional? Do read it all.
Here’s a press release from The National Estate Churches Network:
Farewell to Welfare!?
National Estate Churches Network Annual Conference 2014
1st October St James Church Thurland Rd, Bermondsey, London SE16 4AA
15th October St Michael in the City Upper Pitt St, Liverpool L1 5DB
The National Estate Churches Network has sent us news of their forthcoming conference:
This year’s annual conference explores the effect that the Cuts are having on the people of our poorer housing estates. We are really excited that our keynote speaker at both venues is John Battle the brilliant long-time campaigner and advocate for those who are marginalised. As well as high quality input, there will be time to share and reflect together. What does our Christian Faith demand of us who live and work with those who really feel the impact of benefit reform? Can we make the system better or is it really ‘Farewell to Welfare’?
Book online or you can phone or text 07933 438304 for a booking form.
A whole day conference at just £20 including lunch.
1st October or 15th October 2014 10am-3.30pm
The Church of England started its series of “shared conversations” on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission this week in the College of Bishops. The College has just finished its meeting and published this press release.
College of Bishops Meeting
17 September 2014
The College of Bishops of the Church of England has met for three days. Two of the days were devoted to the first of a series of shared conversations in the Church of England on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.
The context and process for the conversations were set out in a paper to General Synod by the Bishop of Sheffield on 26 June 2014 available here which also identified two outcomes for the process.
The first is to enable the Church of England to reflect, in light of scripture, on the implications of the immense cultural change that has been taking place in society on issues of sexuality. How can the Church “proclaim the gospel afresh in every generation” as a missionary church in a changing culture ?
The second objective is to create space and an environment for the Church of England to live together as a family who disagree with one another. Recognising that this was the experience of the first disciples and apostles who went on to proclaim the Gospel across the world, how can the Church ensure that those with differing views on sexuality continue to share together a place of common baptism and faith ?
As part of the conversations the college shared the different responses being expressed in the life of the church and the deeply held convictions and experiences that inform them. In this the college reflected the diversity of experience and view held by the country as a whole. The college also acknowledged that at this stage it was not seeking to achieve consensus nor to make any decisions but rather the purpose was being open to see Jesus Christ in those who took an opposing view to their own position.
The resource materials and process prepared for the college will be further developed in the light of the experience there before they are rolled out in regional conversations early next year.
In addition to participating in the shared conversation process the college received presentations on a wide range of issues including Iraq and the Middle East, Science and Religion, Discipleship, Resourcing Ministerial Education and other matters.
A podcast interview with the Bishop of Winchester and the Bishop of Manchester reflecting on the shared conversation process is available here.
Church of England press release: Reflections on shared conversations process ahead of College of Bishops
15 September 2014
In a podcast interview Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director of Reconciliation, and the Revd Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs, talk about the process of shared conversations that has flowed [from] the Pilling report as the College of Bishops of the Church of England gathers for its annual residential meeting in Leicestershire.
The College will conduct shared conversations for the next two days in small groups with the discussions remaining confidential, mirroring the wider proposed process.
In an interview recorded ahead of the meeting of the College David Porter and Malcolm Brown recognised that whilst a uniform view on the issues was highly unlikely, the potential for the Church to model a different and more Christ like way of disagreement would be crucial.
Malcolm Brown said: “There’s a lot of anxiety around about what may lie behind these conversations about hidden agendas. I hope that we’ve unpacked that sufficiently in the light of Pilling indeed to show that that isn’t the case. There’s a lot of reassurance that says this is what it says on the tin and it’s not something hidden.”
David Porter added: “For me the ideal outcome will be that people will be able to articulate with a measure of empathy the views of others that they don’t agree with.….And that we develop that rapport, that capacity to disagree well, that means that when we get to the process which is beyond the shared conversations when decision will have to be made, the way we approach the making of those decisions is done in a way that honours the fact that we are brothers and sisters of Christ. And that even though we disagree, we are going to do that in a way that reflects that reality as much as the reality of our convictions on these issues.” He adds that he hopes people will see the way the conversations are being held and say: “Look at how these Christians love one another because of the way they disagree well.”
Listen to the interview here:
The interview is 11 minutes long.
The Pilling report is here:
The Church Times has a report of this by Madeleine Davies headlined ‘No hidden agenda’ behind sexuality conversations
THERE is no “hidden agenda” behind the shared conversations on sexuality that begin this week, the Church of England’s Director of Mission and Public Affairs said on Monday.
In a recording published on the Church of England website, Dr Malcolm Brown spoke of a desire to ensure that “some of the fears that are not certainly intended to be substantiated are dispelled. There’s a lot of anxiety around about what may lie behind these conversations, about hidden agendas and things like that. I hope we have unpacked that sufficiently . . . to show that isn’t the case.”
Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation, charged with overseeing the conversations, said: “It is what it says on the tin. It’s a process of shared conversation. It’s about creating space that they can feel a certain amount of confidence because someone is there helping hold the ring, so that all voices will be heard; that people will be able to engage with each other in a respectful way, to come and talk about the change that we see in the culture around us in relation to questions of human sexuality, and the diversity that exists within the Church, about how we should respond as people of faith to that…
This article also repeats the remarks from the Bishop of Willesden that we reported on earlier here.
Today’s Church Times contains two items relating to the legal action taken by Jeremy Pemberton.
News report: Madeleine Davies Pemberton mounts a legal challenge over lost NHS job
and (same link, scroll down) Rob Clucas The Bishop’s ruling: a legal opinion.
From the news report:
…On Tuesday, a spokesman for the diocese of Southwell & Nottingham said: “We have received notification of legal action by Canon Jeremy Pemberton, and at this stage we have no further comment to make.” No comment has been received from the Archbishop of York.
Once an employment-tribunal claim is received by an employer, he or she is usually required to respond within 28 days. One of the uncertainties of this case is whether or not the Bishops can be defined as employers.
On Tuesday, Dr Russell Sandberg, senior lecturer in law at Cardiff University, said: “It depends upon the facts of the case - there is now no presumption that ministers of religion are not employees.
“Furthermore, the definition of employee for discrimination-law purposes is wider than [it is] for unfair dismissal.”
Dr Sandberg also suggested that bishops of the established Church could be considered as holding a public office.
The case, if it is accepted by a tribunal, will also test the interpretation of the Equality Act (2010). Dr Sandberg said: “Organised religions can rely upon an exception from the normal rules forbidding discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, either in order to comply with the doctrines of the religion, or to avoid conflicting with the strongly held convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers.”
He warned, however, that the scope and extent of these exceptions was “largely unknown, given the lack of case law, and uncertainty which arose in parliamentary debates”.
From the opinion article:
…But there are complicating factors. First, I understand that the post would be paid for by the NHS. In this situation, is the Church the employer, or the NHS Trust? The NHS Trust, as a public body, has specific positive duties in relation to the Equality Act and sexual orientation (and other protected characteristics), and it is not clear how these would be reconciled with the permitted discrimination under Schedule 9(2). Also, could the Church be a public body? This is at present unclear.
Second, there is a question mark about how adequately the Equality Act 2010 gives effect to the European directive that it was aiming to implement (transpose). Is the implementation of the European legislation defective in failing to require proportionality in the compliance and non-conflict principles of Schedule 9(2) of the Act? This was the view of the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its second report on the Equality Bill, concerning the amendments to the Bill that were made at committee stage in the House of Lords.
Where domestic legislation attempting to transpose the directive fails, and a case comes to court, there is a general obligation in EU law on the domestic court or tribunal to interpret the national law in a way that gives effect to European law. If the Act cannot be reinterpreted to comply with the directive, there may be a claim of direct effect, if the case is against a public body.
Whether a remedy is available to an individual will depend on the possibility of the direct effectiveness of the framework directive in the case of the Church’s (or the NHS Trust’s) being a public body in refusing to employ clergy in a same-sex marriages.
Canon Pemberton’s decision to take legal action against the Archbishop of York and the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham is interesting. The law here is complex and unclear…
Updated again Monday evening
Last month Rachel Mann wrote on her blog about Shared Conversations’ and the place of LGBTI people in the C of E.
‘When are the shared conversations starting and who’s going to be involved?’
…I’ve been thinking an awful lot about this (by church standards!) imminent process in the past couple of weeks. While this fact is no doubt a symptom of my need to get out more, my rumination is also unsurprising. Like pretty much every LGBT person who has chosen to stick around within the church I am profoundly conscious of the extent to which ‘we’ have been treated as something to be talked about, as an issue. So there’s a part of me that’s intrigued by the possibility that we might be talked to. Really talked to.
And, yet, the Pilling Report was also, supposedly, part of a process of being talked to and with. As someone who conversed at length with members of the Pilling Committee I’m not especially convinced I was listened to. It would not be beyond the possibility that I might be the kind of person who was asked to participate in the upcoming conversations. (And I suspect there will be a goodly number of people who – as much out of a desire to know what this process will involve – will be keen to participate.) And yet that previous experience has made me suspicious of the whole process.
In some respects it feels like the world is changing fast. The number of ‘coming outs’ recently, including Vicky Beeching, has hopefully left some church people thinking, ‘are there actually any straight people in the church?’ (;-D). However, the treatment of Jeremy Pemberton and the patchy nature of support for LGBT people in the C of E should give pause. As someone said to me recently, ‘We live in a bubble in Manchester diocese.’ It is a place where – more or less – LGBT lay and ordained can thrive and feel supported. You don’t have to travel too far outside the bounds of the city to experience a quite different reality.
Why am I suspicious about the ‘shared conversation’ process? Partly because ‘conversations’ have been going on in one form or another since at least the Consultations of the ‘70s. And yet it’s not clear that the C of E institution qua institution has shifted that much.
However, I am more concerned about whether the conversations will truly be conversations. The notion of ‘conversation’ includes the meanings of a ‘turning together’ or a ‘changing together’ as well as a living amongst or dwelling together. It is a mesmerizing possibility, but given things like the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement (aka The Valentine’s Day Massacre) it’s difficult for those of us who have been traditionally excluded from welcome in the church to trust that those with power, privilege and authority will genuinely place their privilege at risk of conversion, of conversation.
I believe that, in conversation, a mutual conversion to one other is certainly possible and I guess many of us would still be willing to give it a go. But we’d better hope God is around to give all participants a reality check, a regular kick in the shins.
This week Accepting Evangelicals has published A Woman’s Courage and the House of Bishops…. This discusses the case of Vicky Beeching who is a Patron of AE. But it then goes on to discuss the meeting next week of the College of Bishops:
…Next week, the Church of England’s College of Bishops meet to talk about sexuality. They will spend 2 days together with facilitators trying to find a way to have open conversations on the issue.
According to the CofE briefing paper, “Under the direction of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation, Canon David Porter, a team of around 20 trained facilitators will support a process of conversations across the Church of England. They will bring the skills necessary to ensure that the process provides a safe place for all viewpoints to be expressed and to keep the conversations to the objective of seeking understanding rather than having any predetermined trajectory. The process will begin at the meeting of the College of Bishops in September where the bishops will spend two days working in small groups with facilitators.”
These shared conversations are essential for the Church of England, but they will only work if the conversations are truly open and honest. That will take courage.
There are many Bishops who support same-sex relationships but have been too afraid to say what they really think. As one diocesan Bishop said to me at General Synod, “Benny, you know what I think, but I’m chicken – I am too afraid to say it!”
There is also a sizeable minority of the Bishops who are gay themselves. For many of them it is an open secret – one which is only protected by the loyalty and compassion of others which will not ‘out them’ to the world. How stressful must it be for them to continually keep quiet or deflect the conversation or sign up to statements which strike at the very heart of their being.
If the shared conversations next week are to move the Church forward, there must be a greater honesty, greater courage, and greater grace at work than ever before.
Women are renowned for their moral courage, and although there are no women Bishops in post yet, perhaps the courage of people like Vicky Beeching can inspire and challenge our Bishops to have a more open and honest conversation next week. It is certainly long overdue.
The Church Times carries a news report on the forthcoming meeting, see Bishop ‘not optimistic’ on eve of shared conversations by Madeleine Davies.
This article has now been replaced by a new one reporting on the recorded interview published on 15 September, but it still contains the remarks quoted below.
…On Tuesday, the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, said: “It won’t be an easy conversation - more difficult than that on women bishops - but we are absolutely going with this. . . It is clear that the facilitated conversations over women bishops did make a difference in terms of helping people understand each other better.”
He was, however, “not optimistic about the outcomes. Archbishop Justin has broached the concept of ‘good disagreement’. I don’t think we know what that might look like. There is a huge polarity between those who want the C of E to hold to its historic understanding of marriage - and not to change its canonical and liturgical formulae - and those who want the C of E to embrace total equal treatment, expressed in a change in relation to doctrine, marriage, and pastoral practice. Some are looking for a ‘two integrities’ approach - personally, I can’t see the Church holding together on that kind of basis.”
LGBTI Anglican Coalition supports Church of England’s Shared Conversations
From 15 to 17 September, the College of Bishops of the Church of England will be meeting for two days to start the process of Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.
The LGBTI Anglican Coalition welcomes this first step and our members will be praying for a successful outcome to the meeting. Although we have reservations about the context in which this is taking place – articulated very clearly in the recent letter sent from the Trustees of Changing Attitude to all those attending the meeting – nevertheless we welcome the initiative, and hope it bears fruit.
We believe that there are two specific ways in which the College can and should signal that the meeting has been successful.
* The first is to affirm in public that some of their members are themselves gay or bisexual.
* The second is to affirm that within the College there exists a diversity of opinion about the policy issues surrounding sexuality, including both the recognition of civil partnerships and the acceptability of same-sex marriage as a legal right.
These two small steps would do much to enhance the credibility of the bishops, and to encourage LGBTI clergy and laity to participate in subsequent stages of the conversations process.
The following statement has been issued by the lawyers acting for Canon Jeremy Pemberton:
STATEMENT REGARDING LEGAL ACTION TAKEN BY JEREMY PEMBERTON
“Canon Jeremy Pemberton, the first British clergyman to enter a same sex marriage, has confirmed that he has filed an Equality Act claim in the Employment Tribunal against the Archbishop of York and the acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham. The action is being brought because of the sanctions imposed upon him as a result of his marriage. Canon Pemberton married his long term partner Laurence Cunnington in April of this year. Shortly thereafter his permission to officiate was revoked and a licence for chaplaincy work was refused. This led to the withdrawal of a job offer from Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Commenting on his decision to issue proceedings in respect of the alleged discrimination that he has suffered, Canon Pemberton said “I am deeply saddened that I have had to take this step against church authorities. However, I feel I have been left with little choice, having found myself being punished and discriminated against simply for exercising my right to marry. I will be making no further comment until these matters have been resolved through the court process.”
Among those assisting Canon Pemberton in his claim are Helen Trotter, a specialist employment and discrimination barrister from Kings Chambers and leading ecclesiastical lawyer, the Revd Justin Gau, from Pump Court Chambers.”
8th September 2014
A week ago the Trustees of Changing Attitude England wrote to every bishop and elected senior woman in advance of the meeting of the College of Bishops from September 15-17 when they will start the process of Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.
The change in attitude and practice which the shared conversations are designed to explore has already taken place. The change is not universally acknowledged and has not been formally approved by the House of Bishops or the General Synod. Lesbian and gay clergy have married and are intending to marry. Many lesbian and gay lay couples have already married. Their families and friends and congregations welcome them and celebrate their marriages.
The attitude and practice of many bishops has already changed. Many already affirm that the Church of England is a Church which should include LGBTI people equally in ministry and relationship. Some bishops give their blessing and approval to civil partnered lesbian and gay couples without asking whether the relationship is sexually intimate.
The Reverend Colin Coward MBE, Director of Changing Attitude England, said:
“The internal divisions in the House of Bishops over the Pastoral Guidance and the policy about same-sex marriage are all too obvious. The Pastoral Guidance issued in February never had sufficient support from the whole House and was unworkable from the start.
“The change is not sudden or superficial. It has been evolving for decades as the secular movements for justice for LGBTI people and the Christian campaigns for equality have developed and matured.
“There is a noticeable increase in despair and depression among LGBTI clergy. Partnered clergy are unwilling to marry and those in civil partnership are reluctant to convert their CP to marriage fearing hostile action from their bishop. LGBTI clergy conclude that they will never be able to move to a new post if they marry and that there is effectively no future for them in the Church of England. Potential ordinands are dissuaded from pursuing a vocation.
“People are angry at what they perceive to be the hypocrisy in the incoherent practice of the House of Bishops and the failure to honour lesbian and gay clergy who marry, are in a civil partnership, known to be living with a partner or in a relationship. The teaching of the House of Bishops is now effectively that lesbian and gay clergy couples should live in an unmarried state rather than committing themselves publicly to one another in fidelity and love. Men and women in ministry no longer want to work in an environment which is deceitful and dishonest.”
Changing Attitude England urges a change of policy and practice on the House of Bishops in response to the high levels of anxiety and insecurity being felt LGBTI clergy, licensed lay ministers, and ordinands and the anger and frustration being felt by gay and straight Anglicans.
We urge the House of Bishops to review the Pastoral Guidance document:
- There are strong theological arguments for accepting and celebrating same-sex partnerships, including marriage.
- Clergy and congregations should be free to conduct services of thanksgiving and blessing for married same-sex couples.
- The threat of sanctions against clergy who marry should be removed to enable LGBTI clergy and lay ministers to participate in the mutual conversations.
The full text of the letter is copied below the fold.
The text of the letter:
To the College of Bishops and elected senior women
We are writing to every bishop and elected senior woman in advance of the meeting of the College of Bishops from September 15-17. We urge a change of policy and practice on the College and House. The current situation is creating high levels of anxiety and insecurity for LGBTI clergy, ordinands and those exploring a vocation, and to some extent, licensed lay ministers as well.
The change in attitude and practice which the mutual conversations are designed to explore has already taken place. The change is not universally acknowledged and has not been formally approved by the House of Bishops or the General Synod but a change in Church practice has already happened.
Lesbian and gay clergy have married and are intending to marry. Many lesbian and gay lay couples have already married. Their families and friends and congregations welcome them and celebrate their marriages. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Christians allow themselves the freedom to marry and to construct their faith and their ethics and morality according to their reading of Scripture, their inheritance in the faith, prayerfully and after deep reflection and encounter with the living God.
The attitude and practice of many bishops has already changed. Some of you give your blessing and approval to civil partnered lesbian and gay couples without asking whether the relationship is sexually intimate.
The change is not sudden or superficial. It has been evolving for decades as the secular movements for justice for LGBTI people and the Christian campaigns for equality have developed and matured.
Whatever fruits the mutual conversations bear following their conclusion in November 2016, many of you in the College of Bishops and many members of General Synod already affirm that the Church of England is a Church which should include LGBTI people equally in ministry and relationship. This is already the practice of many in our Church.
Canon Jeremy Pemberton
We are writing now because of the refusal of Richard Inwood, acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, to grant Canon Jeremy Pemberton a licence because of his marriage to Laurence Cunnington. As a result, Jeremy’s appointment as Chaplaincy and Bereavement Services Manager at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was withdrawn.
Canon Jeremy Pemberton’s case has attracted a lot of media attention. The media and the majority of people don’t understand what the Church is doing and are confused by the attitude of bishops. This is having a very negative effect on people’s impression of the Church, on the integrity of Christianity in England and on mission and evangelism, reinforcing people’s perception of the Church as systemically prejudiced.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Anglicans, lay and ordained, our families, friends and congregations, have reacted strongly. People are angry for a number of reasons. Many of you will understand why.
People are angry because of the effect this has had on Jeremy and in particular the loss of the new post to which he had been appointed. The way Jeremy has been treated is leading to increased despair and depression among LGBTI clergy.
Division in the House of Bishops
The internal divisions in the House of Bishops are becoming more obvious as a result of the difference in the treatment of Jeremy Pemberton by the acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham compared with his treatment by the Bishop of Lincoln and by Andrew Foreshew-Cain’s treatment by the Bishop of Edmonton.
We know from conversations with a number of bishops that some will either take no action against gay priests who marry or will impose the lightest of penalties following the example of +Lincoln and +Edmonton.
Other bishops will impose a harsh penalty by refusing to grant or withdrawing a license or PTO.
The Pastoral Guidance issued in February never had sufficient support from the whole House and was unworkable from the start.
People see a House of Bishops in which the divisions over the Pastoral Guidance and the policy about same-sex marriage are all too obvious.
The effect on LGBTI Anglicans
People in Changing Attitude England’s networks are deeply disappointed by the failure of the bishops known to be supportive of lesbian and gay clergy and relationships to express their support more clearly and strongly.
The divergence of practice has several effects:
There are other reasons for the anger people feel:
Despite what has been said above, more lesbian and gay clergy are planning to marry or to convert their civil partnership to marriage from December onwards.
The House of Bishops need to review the Pastoral Guidance document urgently to achieve justice and coherence.
You need to respond to the anger and frustration being felt by LGBTI laity and clergy. The temperature is rising and people are calling for urgent action. We are not prepared to wait for the conclusion of the mutual conversations for the changes which have already occurred to be approved by the House of Bishops.
The Reverend Colin Coward MBE
and the Trustees of Changing Attitude England
Following up on the recent Milburn report, today’s Church Times has analysed the educational background of the bishops of the Church of England.
The detailed results are listed only on the website, below the text of the article appearing in the newspaper.
Read it all at Half the Bishops in the C of E were educated privately.
…Data collected by the Church Times shows that [Welby] is not alone in being educated privately. While he is the only Etonian, 48 (exactly 50 per cent) of the 96 serving bishops whose schooling could be determined were educated in the independent sector. Thirty-five (36 per cent) attended a grammar school; just 13 per cent attended a comprehensive school.
Analysis of the bishops’ undergraduate education shows that 43 (42 per cent) took a first degree at Oxford or Cambridge. The University of Durham was, by a large margin, the third-commonest Alma Mater: 17 per cent of bishops received their first degree from the institution…
The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced this new initiative today.
Archbishop of Canterbury invites young Christians to spend year praying at Lambeth Palace
Thursday 4th September 2014
Archbishop Justin Welby is opening up Lambeth Palace to adults aged 20-35 to spend a year living, praying and studying together as a radical new Christian community.
In a unique experiment, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is to open up Lambeth Palace in London to Christians aged 20-35 – inviting them to spend a year living, studying and praying at a historic centre of the Anglican Communion.
Launching in September 2015, the Community of St Anselm will gather a group of adventurous young adults from all walks of life, hungry for a challenging and formative experience of life in a praying community.
The Community will initially consist of 16 people living at Lambeth Palace full-time, and up to 40 people, who live and work in London, joining part-time. The year-long programme will include prayer, study, practical service and community life.
Members of the Community will live in a way the ancient monastics would recognise: drawing closer to God through a daily rhythm of silence, study and prayer. But, through those disciplines, they will also be immersed in the modern challenges of the global 21st century church.
Lambeth Palace is in the process of recruiting a Prior to pioneer this new venture and direct its worship and work. The Prior will work under the auspices of the Archbishop, who will be Abbot of the Community.
Archbishop Justin Welby said: “Stanley Hauerwas reminds us that the church should always be engaged in doing things that make no sense if God does not exist. The thing that would most make no sense at all if God does not exist is prayer. Living in a praying community is the ultimate wager on the existence of God, and is anything but comfortable or risk-free. Through it people subject themselves to discipline, to each other in community, and, above all, to God.
“I expect this venture to have radical impact – not just for the individuals who participate but for life at Lambeth, across the Church and in the world we seek to serve. This is what we expect in following Jesus. I urge young people to step up: here is an open invitation to be transformed and to transform.”
The Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Revd Dr Jo Wells, said: “Archbishop Justin is passionate about prayer and about community. The renewal of prayer and Religious Life is the first of his three priorities, and that is what the Community of St Anselm is all about.
“We are inviting people from all around the Anglican Communion – and beyond – to live a year in God’s time. There are no qualifications for joining the Community except a longing to pray, to learn, to study together the things of God, and so to be stretched in body, mind and spirit.”
“Archbishop Justin longs that Lambeth Palace be not so much a historic place of power and authority, but a place from which blessing and service reach to the ends of the earth.”
We have also been sent these notes.
John Bingham The Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury offers monastic gap year at Lambeth Palace
Updated Thursday morning
Madeleine Davies writes in the Church Times Welby invokes Holocaust at vigil for Middle East minorities
CHRISTIANS in the Middle East have not been treated so badly since the invasion by Genghis Khan in 1259, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Wednesday. He later invoked the Holocaust when addressing an interfaith vigil at Westminster Abbey.
At a press conference at Lambeth Palace in the morning, the Archbishop said: “It took the barbarism of the jihadist militants to wake us up. But this . . . is a new thing. There has not been treatment of Christians in this region in this way since the invasion of Genghis Khan in 1259, 1260. . . I think we find it hard to believe that such horrors can happen.”
He was speaking after a meeting and prayer service with representatives of Middle East Churches, many of whom had just come from the region. In a joint statement, read out by Archbishop Welby, they warned that the region was “in desperate danger of losing an irreplaceable part of its identity, heritage and culture”…
Lambeth Palace releases:
Channel 4 News Simon Israel Archbishop: we must counter the ‘obscene simplicity’ of IS ideology
Christian Today Ruth Gledhill Iraq: What influence does Justin Welby have in bringing British Jihadists to justice? and also Carey Lodge This evil must stop: Archbishop of Canterbury on Iraq
Huffington Post jessica Elgot Archbishop Of Canterbury Joins Jewish And Muslim Faith Leaders To Declare #WeAreAllHuman
Guardian Ruth Gledhill Archbishop of Canterbury condemns Isis persecution of Christians
Telegraph John Bingham Prince of Wales ‘heartbroken’ for Christians in Iraq [story does also refer to the archbishop]
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.)
Our friends at Anglicans Online have drawn our attention to this survey that the Church of England is about to carry out in a representative sample of parishes.
Everyone Counts is a congregational survey with a focus on diversity. In October around one in six churches will take part in the survey, answering a few simple but important questions about how they identify and their connection to the church.
Currently, volunteers across the dioceses are getting ready for the survey. This page provides additional information for the churches and coordinators involved. Later we will post updates on the project, additional materials and interim findings.
These papers are available.
Celebrating Diversity in the Church of England [a background paper presented to the Archbishops’ Council]
An announcement from Westminster Faith Debates, Clergy Polled In New Anglican Survey, reports that:
A new survey is underway, gathering information about the beliefs and values of Anglican clergy in the UK for the purpose of academic research, and to support a forthcoming debate series on the Future of the Church of England. Designed by Professor Linda Woodhead at Lancaster University, the survey is being administered by the professional market research agency YouGov among a random sample of UK clergy. It is carried out anonymously so that individuals can complete their answers and express their views with the guarantee of confidentiality.
The research is gathering opinion on different aspects of the Church of England and its future direction from the people who serve it and know it better than anyone. As well as seeking views on the operation and priorities of the Anglican Church itself, the survey also asks for responses to questions on various moral, social and political issues. Findings will be made available on the Westminster Faith Debates website in due course.
These findings will also inform a series of free debates to be held at the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford this autumn, which will bring distinguished speakers and experts together with an open public audience to consider how the Church of England can flourish in the future. Panellists include Sir Tony Baldry MP, Vicky Beeching, Diarmaid MacCulloch and the Bishop of Oxford, and the debates will be made available online afterwards as podcasts. The events are being organised by the Westminster Faith Debates, with the support of Ripon College, Cuddesdon and the Church Times.
In addition, Professor Woodhead is inviting any Anglican clergy who are listed in Crockfords to nominate themselves to participate in a panel, which she can call upon to respond to future requests for polls of clergy opinion. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org putting ‘panel’ in the subject line.
Downing Street has today announced the appointment of two Area Bishops for the newly created Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales. The diocesan bishop Nick Baines has the details: Two new bishops.
The Revd Dr Toby Howarth, currently Secretary for Inter Religious Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury and National Inter Religious Affairs Adviser for the Church of England will be the Bishop of Bradford.
The Revd Dr Jonathan Gibbs, currently Rector of Heswall in the Diocese of Chester, will be the first ever Bishop of Huddersfield. This is a new bishopric covering the local authority areas of Calderdale and Kirklees and is one of five areas in the diocese, which each have their own bishop.
Here are the official announcements from Downing Street.
The diocesan website has: New Bishops announced for West Yorkshire and Dales.
Last week Patrick Strudwick in the Independent broke the story about Vicky Beeching: Vicky Beeching, Christian rock star ‘I’m gay. God loves me just the way I am’.
Another interview by Jonathan Merritt appeared at RNS Christian rock star Vicky Beeching comes out as gay: An RNS interview.
Channel 4 News had an interview which is included in this report: ‘They made me feel like they thought I was demon-possessed’.
The BBC Radio 4 Sunday interviewed her in the last ten minutes of this episode.
Comments on the matter from others have included:
Eddie Green Outwards and Upwards
Accepting Evangelicals have issued a press release: Evangelical support for Vicky Beeching.
Symon Hill at Ekklesia Vicky Beeching and the EA: Who represents evangelicals?
Peter Ormerod at Comment is free Why Vicky Beeching coming out matters.
Updated Sunday evening
Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds, has sent a letter about Iraq and IS to the Prime Minister. The bishop has published the text of the letter on his blog with this explanation.
Recognising the complexities of such matters and the difficult role of the Prime Minister in them, I wrote the letter as a constructive stimulus to discussion of the wider questions provoked by what is happening in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. Attempting to fix the immediate will prove costly in every respect, if we don’t have a long-term, overarching and holistic vision for what we – along with other governments, agencies and partners (such as the churches) – need to achieve. The lack of clarity about such a comprehensive and coherent vision is being commonly remarked upon, and my letter seeks concisely and respectfully to elicit some response to these serious questions.
Mark Townsend writes in The Observer today that Church launches bitter attack on PM’s ‘incoherent’ Middle East policy.
The Church of England has delivered a withering critique of David Cameron’s Middle East policy, describing the government’s approach as incoherent, ill-thought-out and determined by “the loudest media voice at any particular time”.
The criticisms are made in an extraordinary letter to the prime minister signed by the bishop of Leeds, Nicholas Baines, and written with the support of the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Seen by the Observer, it describes the UK’s foreign policy as so muddled and reactive that it is “difficult to discern the strategic intentions” of the government’s approach to the region…
[The Observer’s link to the full text of the letter is broken; it should be Dear prime minister: what is the UK government’s strategy in Iraq and Syria?]
The Telegraph has Church of England attacks Government response to Iraq crisis.
This morning’s BBC Radio4 Sunday programme covers this story with an interview with the Bishop of Manchester [starting at 1 minute 6 seconds].
The Church of England website has this page on Iraq.
Symon Hill writes that Nick Baines is mistaken: Cameron’s policy is coherent, but morally foul.
Nick Baines has some “comments of explanation”: As I was saying…
Record amount from parishes to fund ministry and mission, show 2012 stats
14 August 2014
Parishes across the country raised a record amount of £929 million in 2012 to fund the ministry and mission of the Church of England across the country according to statistics published today. Parishes raised these funds from a combination of investments, legacies and donations despite the reduced gift aid rates*. The figure represents a modest increase on £916m in 2011.
In addition to funding the work of the Church at a parish, diocesan and national level, Parish Churches also continued to give generously to other organisations donating more than £46m to other charitable organisations, exceeding the £43.3m raised by Children in Need.
The statistics also show that after three years of deficits, parishes have successfully reduced their expenditure and encouraged more giving, to reach a break-even point in 2012. After adjusting for inflation, the data show that expenditure increased between 2002 and 2009 but has been steadily declining since.
Dr John Preston, the Church of England’s national stewardship adviser said: “The 2012 figures show the Church’s continued commitment to give generously despite the economic environment. It is a real testimony to the generosity of people in the pews that despite the reduced gift aid rates they have raised the largest ever amount of money to support the ministry and mission of the church. The Christian principle of stewardship is clearly alive and well.”
The information in the Finance Stats document is collated from the annual parish returns (excluding the Diocese in Europe).
For further Church of England statistics see https://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/facts-stats/research-statistics.aspx.
The Archbishop of Canterbury issued this Statement from Archbishop Justin on Iraq yesterday (Friday).
“The horrific events in Iraq rightly call our attention and sorrow yet again. Christians and other religious minorities are being killed and face terrible suffering.
“What we are seeing in Iraq violates brutally people’s right to freedom of religion and belief, as set out under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is extremely important that aid efforts are supported and that those who have been displaced are able to find safety. I believe that, like France, the United Kingdom’s doors should be open to refugees, as they have been throughout history.
“The international community must document human rights abuses being committed in northern Iraq so that future prosecutions can take place. It is important and necessary for the international community to challenge the culture of impunity which has allowed these atrocities to take place.
“With the world’s attention on the plight of those in Iraq, we must not forget that this is part of an evil pattern around the world where Christians and other minorities are being killed and persecuted for their faith. Only this week I received an email from a friend in Northern Nigeria about an appalling attack on a village, where Christians were killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Such horrific stories have become depressingly familiar in countries around the world, including Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
“We must continue to cry to God for peace and justice and security throughout the world. Those suffering such appalling treatment in Iraq are especially in my prayers at this time.”
Press reports include:
Edward Malnick The Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury urges Britain to open doors to persecuted Iraqi Christians
Sam Jones and Owen Bowcott The Guardian Isis persecution of Iraqi Christians has become genocide, says religious leaders
Updated Friday morning
It was reported on Saturday that the Bishop of Gloucester, Michael Perham, who was due to retire later this year, was to step back ‘for personal reasons’ with immediate effect. It has now been confirmed that he has today been interviewed by Gloucestershire Police in connection with two alleged incidents of indecent assault in the early 1980s. He has not been arrested and was not charged. One incident concerns a woman aged over 18 at the time, and the other a woman under 18 at the time.
Further coverage in
The Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, will act as bishop.
UPDATED Wednesday evening with other reports. There is little or no extra information in any of these stories.
Updated again Friday
The Bishop of Tewkesbury has published this letter on the diocesan website.
Updated again Monday evening
Our previous reports on this were Discussions in the House of Lords on same-sex marriage and Update on clergy entering same-sex marriages although the subject is also touched on here.
Today, the BBC reports that Gay wedding canon Jeremy Pemberton has NHS job offer withdrawn and there is an audio file of the interview that lies behind this report over here.
The first gay British clergyman to marry a same-sex partner has had an NHS job offer withdrawn because a bishop will not give the licence needed.
Jeremy Pemberton currently works as an NHS chaplain in Lincolnshire, but has been blocked from taking a new job with the NHS in Nottinghamshire…
Other media are now picking up on this story, see for example, the Independent Married gay clergyman has NHS job offer withdrawn after bishop blocks licence .
The Church Times asked its readers a question about Bishop Richard Inwood’s action last week:
Is Bishop Inwood right to withhold Canon Pemberton’s licence? Total: 571 Yes: 21.5% No: 78.5%
Andrew Brown at the Guardian has written: Church faces legal challenge after blocking job offer to married gay priest.
The first priest to marry his same-sex partner is to issue a legal challenge to the Church of England after his offer of a job as an NHS chaplain was withdrawn when his bishop refused the necessary permission.
The Rev Jeremy Pemberton, who married Laurence Cunnington in April, was informed on Friday that Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS trust had withdrawn its offer of a job after Bishop Richard Inwood had refused him the official licence in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.
“It this is not challenged,” Pemberton said on Sunday, “it will send a message to all chaplains of whom a considerable number are gay and lesbian. This is an area of law that has not been tested and needs to be.”
Anglican clergy are allowed to enter civil partnerships, but the House of Bishops has forbidden them to marry their same-sex partners, at least until a two-year discussion process within the church has been completed.
But the legal process for disciplining clergy who do so is unclear and has not been tested. Supporters of gay marriage claim it is a doctrinal issue, which is cumbersome and difficult for the church to prosecute. Opponents claim it is merely a matter of conduct, for which a simpler legal process exists.
Pemberton’s case suggests that some bishops hope to deal with the matter by ensuring that no one who marries their same-sex partner will ever find another job.
“It is tragic and disappointing that bishops think they can get away with this,” Pemberton said. “I have not been through any disciplinary process…”
The BBC has a further report which quotes a spokesperson for the Archbishops’ Council: Church of England shuns gay wedding canon Jeremy Pemberton row
The Church of England has said it will not intervene in the case of the first gay British clergyman to marry.
Following the ceremony in April, Jeremy Pemberton had his permission to work as a priest in Nottinghamshire revoked.
This led to the offer of a chaplaincy with the NHS being withdrawn - although he is still holds a licence and has a similar job in Lincolnshire.
The church, which does not accept gay marriage, said each diocese was responsible for its own decisions…
… a spokesperson for the Archbishops’ Council said it would not comment on individual decisions made by diocese.
They added: “The Church of England is made up of 42 dioceses.
“Each diocese is autonomous with the diocesan bishop overseeing and taking a lead in its ministry and mission.”
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.
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.
The BBC reported on a Question that was asked in the House of Lords yesterday as follows: Stop Church sacking gay vicars who marry, says senior Tory.
The Independent has this: Government should stop gay vicars being sacked by Church of England, says Conservative Lord Fowler.
There is a very detailed explanation of what was actually said, and by whom, at Law & Religion UK in Lords probe Church on same-sex marriage clergy. Read this to find out more.
This article also discusses (scroll down) a question that was asked yesterday concerning the conversion of civil partnerships to marriage. An earlier article explained that the regulations for this, which were due to be debated the previous day were instead withdrawn. See Civil partnership conversion to same sex marriage – Update.
The Hansard report of the debate yesterday starts here.
*Updated 9 August
There have been several media reports that Peter Tatchell is again considering “outing” some Church of England bishops who are believed to be partnered homosexuals, this time in connection with the issue of clergy who enter same-sex marriages.
This story began when Kelvin Holdsworth interviewed Peter Tatchell on this topic and reported on his blog: Peter Tatchell on Outing Bishops. (Tatchell had come to St Mary’s Cathedral Glasgow to deliver a lecture on human rights which you can see in full here.)
Media reports have ensued:
Pink News Peter Tatchell: I am considering outing bishops who discipline married gay clergy
Now, Paul Johnson has written a lengthy analysis in answer to the question: Do Church of England ‘gay bishops’ have a human right not to be ‘outed’?
…This subject will no doubt be discussed in detail by those learned folk over at Thinking Anglicans and Law and Religion, but one aspect that caught my attention was Tatchell’s interpretation of the bishops’ ‘right to privacy’:
Peter Tatchell: […] we are amassing the evidence right now. I’m not saying that we will use it, but we are certainly thinking about it – because people have a right to privacy so long as they are not using their own power and authority to harm other people and when other people are being caused harm and suffering we have a duty to try and stop it. If this is the only way, it is certainly not the preferable way, it’s not the first option but as a last resort I think it is morally and ethically justifiable.
This made me think: how would Tatchell’s interpretation of the ‘right to privacy’ stand up in the context of ECHR jurisprudence?
Could Article 8 protect Bishops from the practice of ‘outing’?
And he ends his analysis (which should be read in full) with this:
From the Court’s existing case law it would appear that any complaint to the Court from a Church of England bishop about any failure of the UK to fulfil its positive obligations under Article 8 to prevent discussion of his private life would likely be unsuccessful.
This is because such a discussion would likely be judged to involve a public figure and to be an issue of general debate to which the public had a right to be informed. In short, it would be regarded as necessary in a democratic society to ‘override’ the rights of the individual subject to discussion.
The use of photographic ‘evidence’, however, would raise separate issues and any regulation of it by UK authorities may not be judged to violate Article 10.
As such, aside from its moral or ethical legitimacy, Peter Tatchell’s ‘outing’ of ‘gay bishops’ may be on safe legal grounds in respect of any complaint to the Court by an ‘outed’ bishop under Article 8 of the Convention.
There is a further discussion of the above at Law & Religion UK in “Outing” gay bishops and Article 8 ECHR.
The legislation to allow women to become bishops in the Church of England failed at final approval in 2012 because it did not achieve a two-thirds majority in the House of Laity. A different measure was passed in 2014, primarily because of laity who voted against in 2012, but in favour in 2014.
From these spreadsheets I have calculated that of the laity who voted against the 2012 measure:
45 voted against in 2014
20 voted in favour in 2014
4 abstained in 2014
2 were absent in 2014
3 were no longer members of Synod in 2014
Those who voted against the 2012 measure and in favour of the 2014 measure were:
Glynn Harrison (Bristol)
Anne Williams (Durham)
Peter Bruinvels (Guildford)
Keith Malcouronne (Guildford)
Adrian Vincent (Guildford)
Anne Bloor (Leicester)
Christopher Corbet (Lichfield)
Debra Walker (Liverpool)
Philip Rice (London)
John Barber (Manchester)
Peter Capon (Manchester)
Philip Giddings (Oxford)
John Beal (Ripon & Leeds/West Yorks & the Dales)
Thomas Sutcliffe (Southwark)
Mary Judkins (Wakefield/West Yorks & the Dales)
John Davies (Winchester)
Priscilla Hungerford (Winchester)
David Robilliard (Winchester)
Jennifer Barton (Worcester)
Martin Dales (York)
Those who voted against the 2012 measure and abstained in 2014 were:
Peter Collard (Derby)
Ann Turner (Europe)
Prudence Dailey (Oxford)
Victoria Russell (Oxford)
Nobody who voted for the 2012 measure voted against or abstained in 2014.
The detailed results for the electronic votes at this months’ meeting of General Synod are now available.
The two relating to the ordination and consecration of women are:
These are pdf files arranged by house, by vote (for, against, abstain) and then by name. I have rearranged them by house and then by synod number, so that members from the same diocese are grouped together. I have also added the names of the absentees. These results are in this spreadsheet.
A very small number of lay and clergy members voted differently for the measure and the canon.
1 voted against the measure and abstained on the canon.
2 abstained on the measure and voted for the canon.
2 voted against the measure and for the canon.
3 voted against the measure and abstained on the canon.
1 voted for the measure but was absent for the vote on the canon.
Update Wednesday morning
Frank Field MP tweeted at 6.02 pm on Tuesday that “Ecclesiastical Committee, of which I am a Member, has just unanimously approved the women bishops measure. Hurrah!”
Update Wednesday afternoon
The agenda of yesterday’s meeting of the Ecclesiastical Committee, originally linked below, is no longer available.
A transcript of the Archbishop’s opening speech to the Committee is here.
The Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament met today (Tuesday) to consider the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure. There is a recording of the public part of their meeting here [1 hour 16 minutes].
John Bingham of The Telegraph reports on the meeting: Church of England to use positive discrimination to boost women bishops.
Linda Woodhead The Conversation Yes vote for women bishops challenges the Church of England to embed equality
WATCH Synod Voted Yes!
The Ordinariate in England and Wales: Statement from the Ordinary - Women Bishops
David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Women in the episcopate: legislation and its adoption
The Primate of Uganda Church of Uganda applauds CoE women bishops vote
Moses Talemwa The Observer (Uganda) Uganda Hails Vote On Women Bishops
Ian Paul asks What are (women) bishops for?
This roundup has been somewhat delayed due to the distractions of General Synod, but here it is now. Our previous report was on 9 July, and is here.
Madeleine Davies wrote in the Church Times on 11 July: Chaplain is blocked from new post after same-sex marriage. She included this:
…Canon Pemberton said that he had mentioned his application for the new job during his meeting with Bishop Inwood on 29 May, and that he was “not surprised, but disappointed”, to learn that the Bishop had subsequently refused to issue a licence.
“The unequal position that I find myself in is that I have a licence now, and am working in a trust in Lincolnshire; so I am a suitable person to work in the NHS; but if I attempt to move 30 miles away, I become unemployable, apparently.”
He went on: “It needs to be considered that the NHS is bound by the Equality Act 2010, and it does seem odd that, if this offer is withdrawn, it is because the Church has obliged the NHS to act in an unequal way. Is that proper or legal?
“My action has exposed a faultline here with an NHS that acts strictly under the rules of equality according to the law, and a Church that does not.”
Chaplains are appointed by NHS trusts. The UK Board of Healthcare Chaplaincy, with whom Canon Pemberton is registered, states that: “It is usual for job descriptions and person specifications for chaplaincy posts that include a religious function to specify that a chaplain will have the endorsement of their faith community, often referred to as ‘being in good standing’.”
It continues: “The situation may arise that the standing of a chaplain in relation to her or his faith community or belief group changes during the term of employment. Whilst this may affect the official status of the chaplain as a ‘minister of religion’ or ‘office holder’ of a belief group, it may have no consequences in relation to their terms of employment so long as they continue to practise ethically and professionally.”
NHS Employers was contacted but was unable to comment at the time of going to press.
On Wednesday, the Revd Justin Gau, a barrister specialising in both employment and ecclesiastical law, and Chancellor of the diocese of Bristol, said that the removal of Canon Pemberton’s licence was, in his opinion, “unlawful, as there has been no breach of canon law”.
And Hugh Muir in the Guardian had this tidbit:
Battle lines are drawn in the Church of England after the first gay British clergyman to marry a same-sex partner was blocked from taking up a promotion within the NHS. Canon Jeremy Pemberton works as a chaplain for an NHS trust in Lincolnshire. The Right Rev Richard Inwood, acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, said he is “unable” to issue a licence for Pemberton to work for the NHS in Nottinghamshire “in light of the pastoral guidance and for reasons of consistency”. A number of people have expressed outrage. Add to their number Prof Diarmaid MacCulloch, the Oxford historian of the church. “I trust that you realise what an appalling impression of pastoral insensitivity you and your fellow bishops are providing to the nation,” he tells the acting bishop. “None of you seem to understand the widespread contempt that your stance provokes, particularly among the young.” They can’t even claim to have history on side.
Changing Attitude has had several articles relating to this action:
At the press conference in York on the evening of 14 July, after the vote on women in the episcopate, the journalists Rachel Younger for Sky News and David Sanderson for The Times both asked the archbishops how soon there would also be bishops who were in same-sex marriages. Needless to say the answers predicted no timescale for this. There is an audio recording of this press conference available here. The Sky News questions come at the very beginning of the conference, and The Times questions come at the very end (about 24 minutes in). A transcript of part of the latter is included here, below the fold.
The Archbishop of York, replying to a question from The Times said:
… All I know is, that we need to find probably a language of conversation just like the Church in New Zealand, which talks about same-gender relationships, which is bigger than purely sex, that language is a more creative language. And if you have read Issues in Human Sexuality the Church of England is very clear that sexual orientation really, and that is what you are talking about has never been a bar to ministry or to anything else. Now a new thing has arrived, called same-sex marriage. That poses in terms of the doctrine of marriage, a problem for the Church of England but I still hope even when that happens, people will still be treated as made in God’s image and likeness and as children of God. And though you may feel that they don’t quite fulfil the exemplifying nature of Christ and His Church, nevertheless they mustn’t be diminished, they mustn’t be treated in a way that doesn’t give love and grace and care. And I actually think our two years conversation could give us a language of talking, so that people don’t automatically just cause all kinds of…. And the other worry that I have got, if for example you have got single people, we live in a society in which immediately, they assume if you happen to be a single unmarried bishop this must be xyz, and those kind of things worry me. And people casting aspersions and assuming people’s behaviour and life when actually if you dig deep deep, that is not actually what they are standing for. So I want to find a new way of speaking, a new way of understanding…
Peter Wheatley, the area bishop of Edmonton in the diocese of London has announced that he will retire at the end of the year.
There is nothing about this as yet on the London diocesan website, but we have seen a copy of the letter sent by the bishop to clergy in the Edmonton Area announcing his retirement.
Update 23 July
An announcement of the bishop’s retirement was posted on the diocesan website today: The Bishop of Edmonton announces his retirement.
Madeleine Davies Church Times Synod delivers a confident vote for women bishops
Church Times leader comment The morning after
Nick Baines Bishops
David Keen Women Bishops: The Morning After
Janet Henderson Women Bishops, Malala and Mary Robinson
Archbishop of Canterbury Archbishop writes to ecumenical partners about women bishops
Methodist Church in Britain welcomes ‘yes’ vote on women bishops
The United Reformed Church welcomes women bishops
The Baptist Times Baptist welcome for General Synod vote
Statement from the Russian Orthodox Church
Ephraim Radner What Women Bishops Mean For Christian Unity
Sir Tony Baldry, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, was asked a question about women bishops in the House of Commons on Thursday. The answer is copied below the fold. He indicated that the Measure was likely to complete its passage through Parliament by early October, so that General Synod could promulge the Canon in November.
A letter from Rod Thomas to Reform members: Rod writes in response to the York General Synod
The right hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—
Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): What the next steps are on the women bishops measure following the General Synod.
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): The next step is for the Ecclesiastical Committee to meet on Tuesday, when I hope it will pass the measure that was agreed by General Synod on Monday. That will at last enable women to become bishops in the Church of England.
Helen Goodman: I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that answer. It is the answer that we have been waiting for the past 20 years to hear. It is very good news for the country and for the Church. I congratulate everybody who secured the result in Synod. When does he think women bishops might be installed, and when does he think they might be introduced into the other place?
Sir Tony Baldry: The answer I feel like giving to the hon. Lady is, “Hallelujah, sister! At last!” After so many years of waiting, the Church of England is going to have women bishops, which will enable it to fulfil its mission as a Church for the whole nation and allow every part of the Church to flourish.
If the Ecclesiastical Committee approves the measure on Tuesday, subject to the agreement of the Leader of the House I hope to bring the measure to this House in September. I think that the other House hopes to deal with the measure early in October. That would enable General Synod to meet formally in November to do the final approval and promulging of the canon. That would enable the Church of England to appoint the first women bishops this year or early next year.
Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): I join my right hon. Friend in welcoming the move towards women bishops. However, for the moment, it is a male preserve. Will he join me in congratulating the Rev. David Court, the new Bishop of Grimsby, who will be consecrated at St Paul’s next week, and wish him well in his work in the Lincoln diocese?
Sir Tony Baldry: Of course. Every bishop in the Church of England is a focus of unity in their own diocese and all bishops undertake incredibly important work. One of the great things about General Synod was that we were able to get agreement for there to be women bishops with no one in the Church feeling hurt or aggrieved. We were therefore able, under the leadership of Archbishop Justin and Archbishop John, to move forward as a united Church.
The House of Lords is today debating Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill.
Today’s Guardian carries these three articles
John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, My wife knew she was dying – but she chose life
Andrew Brown Legalising assisted dying will put too much pressure on people, says bishop
editorial The Guardian view on assisted dying: safeguard life
But not all clergy oppose the bill.
John Bingham The Telegraph Bishop: uphold sanctity of life by allowing assisted dying
Patrick Sawer The Telegraph Anglican leadership accused of “scaremongering” over assisted dying
Twenty four British faith leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, have today called for Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill not to be enacted.
From the Archbishop’s website
Assisted Dying Bill: Archbishop signs faith leaders’ statement
Wednesday 16th July 2014
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby today joins over 20 British faith leaders calling for Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill not to be enacted.
In a joint statement ahead of the House of Lords debate on Friday, the faith leaders said that if passed the bill would have “a serious detrimental effect on the wellbeing of individuals and on the nature and shape of our society.”
This is followed by the full text of the statement and a list of all the signatories.
Press reports on opinions about the bill include:
John Bingham The Telegraph Religious leaders unite to condemn assisted dying law
Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England split over assisted dying as debate looms
Denis Campbell and Dominic Smith The Guardian Assisted dying: leading doctors call on Lords to back legalisation
We reported earlier on the views of George Carey and Justin Welby.
John Bingham The Telegraph Women bishops: I’m glad we waited until now, says Archbishop of York
The Telegraph editorial The Church of England has found unity on its own terms
The Telegraph letters Women bishops will meet opposition within the C of E laity
The Guardian letters Female bishops a birthday present for Emmeline Pankhurst
John Spence’s speech to Synod (on YouTube)
Transcript of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech to Synod
GRAS (the Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) have sent us a press release which is copied below the fold.
Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod
Press briefing for immediate release 14th July 2014
20 years after General Synod legislated to enable women to be priests in the Church of England it has today voted by a clear majority a legislative package enabling women to be bishops. The intention is to complete the process in November. The 1993 legislation included an Act of Synod that many in the church criticised because it appeared to be rushed through to ameliorate those who were opposed to the ordination of women as priests, but who had not expected the legislation to be passed.
The Act made extra provision for those who opposed women’s ordination, and legislated for discrimination in the church. It enabled parishes to vote not to have a bishop who supported women priests, with the implication that a bishop’s hands would be tainted by ordaining a woman. It ensured that no role in the Church of England would be closed to those who opposed women’s ordination, even roles which involved working closely with, or being responsible for, significant numbers of women clergy.
Chair of GRAS - Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod - Ruth McCurry said “We are overjoyed that we have finally seen the last of this Act. But we haven’t seen the end of discrimination against women in the Church of England. There is lots of work still to be done before women and men can truly flourish alongside each other in the church.”
NOTE TO EDITORS:
GRAS - The Group for the Rescinding of the Act of Synod and the promotion of Women as Bishops - was founded with the primary objective of campaigning to eradicate the 1993 Act of Synod.
Under the new legislation some of the provisions contained in the defunct Act of Synod are reborn in the Bishops’ Declaration, which sets out much of the detail of how the new women bishops Measure will be put into practice. Although its legal status is different, this Declaration will still restrict how women - and those who support them - will be able to minister in the church.
It was announced this morning that the next Bishop of Hereford is to be Richard Frith, currently the suffragan Bishop of Hull in the diocese of York.
Announcement on the Hereford diocesan website: New Bishop named for Diocese of Hereford
Announcement on the York diocesan website: Richard Frith to be Bishop of Hereford
Press release from Number 10:
Diocese of Hereford: Right Reverend Richard Frith
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
History: Published 16 July 2014
Part of: Community and society
The Right Reverend Richard Michael Cokayne Frith is approved for election as Bishop of Hereford.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Richard Michael Cokayne Frith, MA, Bishop of Hull, for election as Bishop of Hereford in succession to the Right Reverend Anthony Martin Priddis, MA, whose resignation took effect on 24 September 2013.
The Right Reverend Richard Frith
The Right Reverend Richard Frith (aged 65) studied at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and trained for the ordained ministry at St John’s College Nottingham. He served his curacy at Mortlake with East Sheen in Southwark diocese from 1974 to 1978. From 1978 to 1983 he was a Team Vicar at Thamesmead and from 1983 to 1992 Team Rector at Keynsham, Bath and Wells diocese. From 1991 to 1998 he was Prebendary at Wells Cathedral, for 6 of those years being Archdeacon of Taunton. Since 1998 he has been Suffragan Bishop of Hull.
He is married to Kay and has 4 children and 4 step children. His interests include the theatre and sport, with a particular passion for cricket.
General Synod completed its York meeting this morning.
Madeleine Davies, Tim Wyatt and Gavin Drake Church Times Women bishops legislation wins Synod’s final approval
John Bingham The Telegraph First women bishops in months after Synod vote
Jemima Thackray The Telegraph Women bishops: delaying this historic vote was a blessing in disguise
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today There will be women bishops… General Synod passes legislation
Ruth Gledhill The Guardian Joy and relief at display of unity for vote on ordination of female bishops
Claer Barrett and Mark Odell Financial Times Church of England synod votes for women bishops
Matthew Engel Financial Times Victory for women bishops but no triumphalism
Andrew Brown The Guardian Jubilation as Church of England’s synod votes to allow female bishops
Andreas Whittam Smith The Independent Women bishops: Church of England still divided but now prepared to trust each other
Stephen Castle The New York Times Church of England Votes to Allow Women as Bishops
Gillan Scott God & Politics in the UK Good news at last, but the women bishops vote was ultimately never about women bishops
Colin Coward for Changing Attitude Women bishops – finally
WATCH issued a press release which is copied below the fold.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued this statement: Women Bishops - Church of England.
Women and the Church
14 July 2014
“there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.28)
Today we are overjoyed that the General Synod has finally passed the legislation that will enable women to become bishops. This marks a new beginning for the church that can now begin to be fully affirming of both the women and men in it.
Much of the tone and mood of the debate today was notably different to that of November 2012 and WATCH gives thanks to all those who have worked tirelessly, supported wholeheartedly and prayed deeply for this wonderful day. Thanks be to God!
Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH said
What a historic day. Relief and then joy and then excitement. Yes to women at last.
Archbishop of Canterbury Church of England approves women bishops
Archbishop of Canterbury “delighted” at result but stresses this is not “winner takes all” but “in love a time for the family to move on together.”
Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England General Synod approves female bishops
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England General Synod votes for women bishops
and Women bishops: a century of campaigning
Anglican Communion News Service Church of England says yes to women bishops
Lizzie Dearden The Independent Women bishops approved: Cheers as Church of England General Synod votes for historic change
The Council of Bishops of The Society under the patronage of S. Wilfrid and S. Hilda has issued this statement, the Catholic Group in General Synod this statement, and Forward in Faith this statement.
Church of England to have women bishops
14th July 2014
The General Synod of the Church of England has today given its final approval for women to become bishops in the Church of England.
The vote in the General Synod on the measure was carried by the required two-thirds majority in the three constituent parts of the Synod: the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity.
The voting results were as follows:
House of Bishops: Yes 37 No 2 Abstentions 1
House of Clergy: Yes 162 No 25 Abstentions 4
House of Laity: Yes 152 No 45 Abstentions 5
This means the first woman bishop could potentially be appointed by the end of the year.
Today’s vote comes 18 months after the proposal was last voted upon in November 2012 when the proposal failed to achieve the required two thirds majority in the House of Laity.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:
“Today is the completion of what was begun over 20 years with the ordination of women as priests. I am delighted with today’s result. Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing.
The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds. Very few institutions achieve this, but if we manage this we will be living our more fully the call of Jesus Christ to love one another. As delighted as I am for the outcome of this vote I am also mindful of those within the Church for whom the result will be difficult and a cause of sorrow.
My aim, and I believe the aim of the whole church, should be to be able to offer a place of welcome and growth for all. Today is a time of blessing and gift from God and thus of generosity. It is not winner take all, but in love a time for the family to move on together.“
The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, said:
“This is a momentous day. Generations of women have served the Lord faithfully in the Church of England for centuries. It is a moment of joy today: the office of Bishop is open to them.
To those who ask “what took you so long?” my answer is that every decision has a cost and there will be those within our body who will be hurting as a result of this decision. Our answer to the hurting should not be “get over it” but rather “we will not let go until you have blessed us.”
We move slowly because we move together. But in moving together we achieve not only what is just but also model what is right. As the African Proverb says: “Whoever walks fast, travels alone. Whoever walks far, walks in the company of others.”
The legislation approved today includes a House of Bishops declaration, underpinned by five guiding principles and a disputes resolution procedure. Following the vote on the measure which enables women to become Bishops, the Synod voted on enabling legislation (Canon) and also rescinded existing legislation (Act of Synod) as part of a package of measures being proposed.
Following today’s vote the measure moves to the Legislative Committee of General Synod and then to the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Houses of Parliament where the legislation will be considered. Subject to Parliamentary approval the measure will return to the General Synod in November of this year where it will come into force after its promulgation (legal formal announcement).
Today’s vote follows a process which began at the 2013 July Synod which created a steering committee on women bishops, chaired by the Bishop of Rochester James Langstaff, with a mandate to draw up a package of new proposals. Bishop James opened the debate on behalf of the steering committee and responded to the debate urging synod members to vote for the proposals.
All portions of the legislative package to allow women to be bishops in the Church of England were approved by General Synod this afternoon.
1) Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (GS 1925B)
On the motion
That the Measure entitled “Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure” be finally approved
Bishops 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 recorded abstention
Clergy 162 in favour, 25 against, 4 recorded abstentions
Laity 152 in favour, 45 against, 5 recorded abstentions
and the motion was carried with the necessary two-thirds majorities in all three houses.
2) Draft Amending Canon No. 33 (GS 1926B)
On the motion
That the Canon entitled “Amending Canon No 33” be finally approved
Bishops 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 recorded abstention
Clergy 164 in favour, 24 against, 3 recorded abstentions
Laity 153 in favour, 40 against, 8 recorded abstentions
and the motion was carried with the necessary two-thirds majorities in all three houses.
3) The motion
That the petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence (GS 1926C) be adopted
was carried on a show of hands.
4) Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 (GS 1934A)
That the draft Act of Synod rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 be approved
was carried on a show of hands.
5) The motion
That the Act of Synod rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 be solemnly affirmed and proclaimed an Act of Synod
was carried on a show of hands
to be updated during the day
The day’s business started with a debate on the Armed Forces Covenant. The following motion was cared by 393 votes in favour to two against, with three recorded abstentions.
That this Synod, believing that the commitment of those that serve in the Armed Forces demands a reciprocal obligation from the Nation to ensure that they and their families are not disadvantaged:
(a) ask dioceses to reflection the Armed Forces Covenant and to consider signing Community Covenants, where not already signed, and Corporate Covenants setting out how they can both meet the pastoral and spiritual needs of the Armed Forces Community including serving personnel, regulars and reservists, veterans and military families located in their own diocesan area;
(b) invite the Archbishops’ Council to sign a Corporate Armed Forces Covenant setting out how it will provide pastoral and spiritual support for the Armed Forces Community including serving personnel, regulars and reservists, veterans and military families; and
(c) ask the Archbishops’ Council to report to Synod in the next Quinquennium on the implementation of the recommendations set out in The Church and the Armed Forces Covenant (GS 1960).
The debates on the legislation to allow women to be bishops started at 11.15 am. There is a package of four items, which are being separately debated.
1) Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (GS 1925B) – Draft Measure for Final Approval
2) Draft Amending Canon No. 33 (GS 1926B) – Draft Amending Canon for Final Approval
3) Draft Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence (GS 1926C) – Draft Petition for Adoption
4) Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 (GS 1934A) - Draft Act of Synod for Final Approval and Affirmation and Proclamation as an Act of Synod
The first two of these (the measure and the canon) require two-thirds majorities in all three houses (bishops, clergy and laity) to receive final approval. Motions for the closure of these first two debates are not allowed, so they will continue for as long as there are members wanting to speak. However the chair of the debate (today it will be the Archbishop of York) may at his discretion reduce the speech limit, and chairs have been know to reduce it to almost nothing to encourage people to stop talking.
The other items require no special majority.
At the beginning of the first debate the Archbishop reminded members of this standing order.
17. Breach of Order
The Chairman shall call a member to order for failure to address the Chair, irrelevance, tedious repetition either of his own arguments or of arguments already well rehearsed by other members, unbecoming language, disregard of the authority of the Chairman, or any other breach of order, and may direct him to stop speaking.
Claire Phipps of The Guardian is reporting live on the debate: Church of England General Synod votes on female bishops.
The Synod adjourned for lunch and reconvened at 2.30 pm.
This business was concluded shortly before 5.00 pm with all items passed with the necessary majorities. Details of the votes here.
Synod was then adjourned until 5.15 pm.
The remainder of the day’s business is included in the official summaries above.
Andrew Brown and Nicholas Watt The Guardian Church of England General Synod expected to approve female bishops
Andrew Brown The Guardian Liberalism increases as power shifts to the laity in the Church of England
The Guardian editorial The Guardian view on the female bishops’ vote: One more heave
John Bingham The Telegraph Welby ‘can’t force’ women bishops on Church
Dan Grimmer Norfolk Eastern Daily Press No vote on women bishops will destroy church’s credibility, says Archdeacon of Norwich
The Telegraph editorial Time to settle the vexed issue of women bishops
Dan Clough Burnley and Pendle Citizen I’ll oppose ordination of female bishops, says John Goddard
Madeleine Davies Church Times Welby expects the women-bishops legislation to pass
Press Association (in the Mail Online) Baptism Services May Omit ‘Devil’
Peter Stanford The Telegraph Will Jane Hedges be the C of E’s first woman bishop?
to be updated during the day
Much of the morning’s business was taken up with the composition of and electorate for the universities constituency in General Synod. A proposal to abolish it was defeated in a vote by houses. The voting figures, which are not given in the summary, were
House of Bishops voted: 5 for, 17 against
House of Clergy voted: 53 for, 69 against
House of Laity voted: 67 for, 65 against
The numbers of abstentions were not stated.
A substantial change was made when Synod voted to extend the constituency to include theological education institutions as well as universities. Again there was a vote by houses.
House of Bishops voted: 12 for, 10 against, 0 abstentions
House of Clergy voted: 71 for, 64 against, 3 abstentions
House of Laity voted: 76 for, 61 against, 2 abstentions
The theological education institutes to be included are those “recognised by the House of Bishops as an institution for training candidates for ordination as ministers of the Church of England”.
These, and other non-contentious changes to the universities constituency, are subject to final approval, which is scheduled for debate on Tuesday.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has written for The Times on why he believes the Assisted Dying Bill, which will be debated in the House of Lords next week, is “both mistaken and dangerous”. His article can be read here: Archbishop Justin writes for The Times on the Assisted Dying Bill.
Meanwhile, former archbishop George Carey has said that he supports a change in the law on assisted suicide. He has explained his views in this article written for the Daily Mail: Why I’ve changed my mind on assisted dying says a former Archbishop of Canterbury.
Press reports include:
James Chapman Mail Online Carey: I’ve changed my mind on right to die: On eve of Lords debate, ex-Archbishop dramatically backs assisted death law
John Bingham The Telegraph Lord Carey: I support assisted dying
Nicholas Watt The Guardian Former archbishop lends his support to campaign to legalise right to die
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Former Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘Why I support assisted suicide’
The Telegraph Archbishop Welby: Assisted dying is ‘sword of Damocles’ over vulnerable
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England calls for review on assisted dying
Nicholas Watt, Shane Hickey and agencies The Guardian Church of England seeks inquiry over bill to legalise assisted dying
to be updated during the day
The first day’s business is listed in Order paper 1.
Despite some initial confusion during the debate on the report of the reference to the dioceses of the women bishops legislation, Sue Booys, the chair of the Business Committee, confirmed that two-thirds majorities in each house will be required for final approval of both the draft measure and the amending canon when they are debated on Monday.
It was also made clear that abstentions (whether recorded or not) do not count in the calculation of the size of any majority.
The final drafting of the draft measure and amending canon were agreed; the only drafting amendments were to some of the numbering in the canon.
Updated Friday afternoon, Saturday morning
The Church of England General Synod meets in York from this afternoon until Tuesday.
Some pre-synod press:
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England General Synod: women bishops campaigners praying for a breakthrough
The Church of England General Synod - a rough guide
Women bishops: what are the issues?
Press Association General Synod Vote on Women Bishops [on the Mail Online website]
Ruth Gledhill Chrisitian Today General Synod: Will women bishops happen this time?
Savi Hensman Ekklesia Church, worldly values, the ‘common good’ and war
You can follow the proceedings at this Live video stream.
The Agenda and papers are here.
Church Times leader The vote on Monday
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England edges towards historic breakthrough on women bishops
Updated Friday afternoon
The Church Commissioners issued this press release this evening.
Church Commissioners confirm Wonga exit
10 July 2014
The Church Commissioners for England are pleased to announce that their indirect investment exposure to Wonga in their venture capital portfolio has been removed. The Church Commissioners no longer have any financial or any other interest in Wonga.
The terms ensure that the Church Commissioners have not made any profit from their investment exposure to Wonga.
At no time have the Commissioners invested directly in Wonga or in other pay day lenders. The indirect exposure of the Commissioners through pooled funds represented considerably less than 0.01% of the value of Wonga.
The Church Commissioners estimate that if they had had to sell their entire venture capital holdings they might have lost £3-9m to remove the exposure to Wonga, which was worth less than £100,000. The Commissioners are pleased that another way forward has been agreed given their fiduciary duties to clergy pensioners and to all the parts of the Church they support financially.
The Commissioners believe venture capital to be a good and useful instrument with significant potential to serve the common good. It gets new businesses up and running and supports the economy and jobs.
The Commissioners have made a number of ethical investment changes. They have tightened their investment restrictions for direct investments, will announce new controls on indirect investments later in the year and have created a new responsible investment position in their investment team to lead the implementation of the Commissioners’ ethical investment policies and responsible investment commitments, supporting the work of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group.
The Commissioners’ focus remains the mission they share with the Archbishop of Canterbury - supporting the ministry and growth of the Church of England.
The Commissioners will also continue to seek ways, consistent with their fiduciary duties, to support the Church’s priority of promoting responsible credit and savings. In 2013 they provided £200,000 of start-up capital to the credit union the Church itself is establishing, the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union. As active stewards of their investments the Commissioners will continue to engage with financial services companies to encourage responsible credit and savings practice.
Update - press reports
Chris Johnston The Guardian Church of England finally severs financial links with Wonga
Paul Handley Church Times The Church of England pulls its cash out of Wonga
Ian Johnston Independent Church of England severs its links with payday lender Wonga
Sharlene Goff Financial Times Church of England sells indirect stake in Wonga
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England finally casts out Wonga
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced on Monday that there will be an inquiry into allegations of child sex abuse in Establishment circles in the 1970s and 80s.
Patrick Wintour The Guardian Theresa May promises child abuse inquiry with ‘maximum transparency’
David Barrett, James Kirkup and Georgia Graham The Telegraph Theresa May launches major new inquiry into child sex abuse allegations
It was later announced that the inquiry was to be headed by Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former president of the Family Division of the High Court. There has been criticism of this choice.
BBC Ex-senior judge Butler-Sloss to head child sex abuse inquiry
Nicholas Watt The Guardian Lady Butler-Sloss to lead child abuse inquiry
Nicholas Watt The Guardian ‘Conflict of interest’ raised over Butler-Sloss role in child abuse inquiry
David Barrett and Matthew Holehouse The Telegraph Baroness Butler-Sloss criticised over previous ‘flawed’ paedophile report
Andrew Brown reports in The Guardian: Church of England women bishops: archbishops will overrule synod.
The archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is preparing to drive through legislation to allow women bishops even if it is rejected by the church’s governing body, the General Synod.
The synod is poised to vote again on the vexed plan next week but senior sources have told the Guardian that should the move be blocked again, there are now options being considered to force the change on the church.
Options under consideration include an immediate dissolution of the synod so that fresh elections could produce a sufficient majority by November, or even a move by the bishops in the House of Lords to introduce the legislation without synodical approval…
Updated Thursday morning
Guardian Chaplain accuses Church of England of homophobia
The first British clergyman to enter a gay marriage has accused the Church of England of homophobia and said that he is considering legal action after it blocked his attempt to take up a new post in a move he says is intended to stop others following in his footsteps…
…You will all, no doubt, be aware from recent press and internet coverage that Jeremy Pemberton has had his ‘Permission to Officiate’ (PTO) in Southwell & Nottingham Diocese removed by the acting Bishop, following consultation with the Archbishop of York. Distressing as this was, there has now been a further significant and much more serious development.
Jeremy currently works as a Chaplain in an NHS Trust in Lincolnshire and retains his general licence from the Bishop of Lincoln. Jeremy received a written rebuke from this Bishop for contracting his marriage with me but this had no impact on his employment.
However, he has recently been successful in his application for a promotion within the NHS to become the Head of Chaplaincy & Bereavement Services in a large hospital closer to home. This hospital is located within the geographical area covered by the Church’s Southwell & Nottingham Diocese. For those of you who are unaware, NHS chaplains are funded in full by the NHS and not by the Church of England.
The NHS has requested the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham to issue Jeremy with a licence in order that he may take up his new job. This is standard procedure. The Bishop has refused to issue any form of licence to Jeremy as, by his marriage to me, and for no other reason, he does not, according to the Bishop ‘model the Church’s teaching’ in his life. Leaving aside the insulting nature of this phrase, the effect of this refusal is that Jeremy will be denied the opportunity to take up his new position and develop his ministry further. There was no disciplinary process, no hearing and there is no right of appeal against this decision.
I realise that, as Jeremy’s husband, I am far from impartial but those of you who know him well will recognise my description of him as a fine man of integrity and exceptional abilities and whose ministry in this Diocese would be a tremendous asset to those he serves. I am appalled, to put it mildly, that he is to be denied this opportunity solely because of his marital status. It is worth pointing out that Paul Butler (now Bishop of Durham) and the current Bishop of Lincoln issued Jeremy with his PTO and licence respectively in the past in the full knowledge that he is gay and living in a relationship with me. All that has changed is that we have got married. Nearly 100 of you were there on that day and will recall the commitment we made to each other with our vows. For this to result in the ruining of Jeremy’s employment prospects is outrageous and is, in my opinion, homophobic bullying.
What I am asking
Some of you may think what Jeremy has done is wrong and that he is paying the penalty for that. You are entitled to your opinion and I ask you to do nothing. Those of you who agree with me, I would ask that you consider doing one or more of the following in order to show support and perhaps result in the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham changing his mind and issuing Jeremy with some form of a licence. When writing, it may carry more weight if you mention that you are a Christian/member of the Church of England if you are.
You could write, expressing your views to:
The Right Revd Richard Inwood
Acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham
I am not clear whether this latest decision was as a result of consultation with the Archbishop of York but, in any event, I would ask that you copy your correspondence to him at:
The Most Revd & Right Hon Dr John Sentamu
Archbishop of York
The Acting Dean of Southwell Minster, Nigel Coates, is extremely supportive, for which Jeremy and I are most grateful. You may also wish to contact him to express your support at:
The Revd Canon Nigel Coates
Acting Dean of Southwell Minster
The Archbishop of York and the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham will be attending the grand re-opening of the Archbishop’s Palace and Great Hall complex at Southwell Minster on 7th October. You might wish to consider attending this event and taking the opportunity to bring your opinion of their treatment of Jeremy to their attention…
Last week the Church Times reported that Swing voters say they will now back women bishops.
THE pivotal votes of a small number of members of the General Synod who helped to defeat the women-bishops Measure in November 2012 have swung to the Yes camp.
The earlier Measure was lost by six votes in the House of Laity. Instrumental to the defeat were a handful of members who, despite being in favour of the consecration of women as bishops, voted against the Measure, prompted by a concern that it did not offer enough provision for those who were opposed on principle.
Five of these members told the Church Times this week that they now planned to vote in favour…
Today, Forward in Faith has published this press release: The July 2014 Sessions of the General Synod
The Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod, Canon Simon Killwick, has issued the following statement:
“Following the failure of the previous legislation in November 2012, the Catholic Group immediately called for round-table talks to agree on a new package which could be fast-tracked through the Synod. These talks have been amazingly fruitful in that they have generated a new package which provides a way forward for everyone in the Church of England and the package is being fast-tracked through the Synod with the added bonus in the creation of a much more positive atmosphere of trust, generosity and mutual respect. We look forward to this new atmosphere pervading the debates at the forthcoming Synod and beyond, so that we can all move forward as one.”
Please pray for the members of the General Synod, which meets in York from Friday 10 July to Tuesday 15 July:
Updated Sunday afternoon
We reported previously on the Bishop of Norwich’s “blacklist” (note the quotation marks). This terminology was a direct quotation from a Guardian news report, originally linked in an earlier article. That Guardian report was subsequently amended.
David Pocklington has recently provided a very detailed account of the background to all this in an article at Law & Religion UK entitled Clergy blacklists, blue files and the Archbishops’ List. This explains in great detail exactly what the current procedures are, what lists do exist, and how a name can get onto a list.
And now Colin Coward has published Bishop of Norwich clarifies purpose of monitoring and reference group. The bishop wrote:
“It was a surprise to read that I was apparently keeping a blacklist of clergy who had entered same sex marriages or was charged with acting against them. Such assertions are a very long way from the truth.
“What I have agreed to do at the request of the Archbishops is to be available to other diocesan bishops for consultation as and when they have to decide what to do if clergy in their dioceses marry a same sex partner. There may well be courses of action or ways of responding which they have not considered, and I hope the reference group will ensure cases are not dealt with erratically.
“I am not charged with taking any initiative, nor would I do so (it is up to diocesan bishops to contact me) but I hope that in this matter, as in all things, there is still the possibility for some pastoral wisdom.”
Changing Attitude has also published this: Same sex marriage guidance for clergy.
A question was asked in the House of Lords yesterday about the appointment of the next Bishop of Guildford. A short debate followed about the length of time between the announcement of a vacancy for a diocesan bishop and the meetings of the Crown Nominations Commission to nominate a successor. The full text of the debate (which did at times stray off topic) is copied below the fold.
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer comments on
The sluggish delinquency of the Crown Nominations Commission.
Bishop of Guildford: Appointment
Tabled by Lord Trefgarne
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Prime Minister is yet in a position to make a recommendation to Her Majesty the Queen in respect of a new Bishop for Guildford.
Baroness Harris of Richmond (LD): My Lords, on behalf of the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, and at his request, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in his name on the Order Paper.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): My Lords, the Crown Nominations Commission had its first meeting in early June and will have its second meeting on 21 and 22 July. The Prime Minister awaits the nomination from the Crown Nominations Commission and will then make a recommendation to Her Majesty the Queen, with the hope of an announcement in September.
Baroness Harris of Richmond: I thank my noble friend for his reply, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, will. I mention my having just completed the lengthy but very successful process of choosing a new dean for Ripon Cathedral, in a new and vast super-diocese. Will my noble friend consider sitting down with the Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments and the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary, both of whom do a magnificent job with very few resources, and perhaps with others who have been through this long and involved process, to review and come back with some proposals to streamline that process? Alternatively, should the church be free to appoint its own bishops? I declare an interest as high steward of Ripon Cathedral.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, because of the age profile of the current House of Bishops, I understand that a number of vacancies and some retirements are coming along. I know that the most reverend Primate is conscious of this. The last time this was considered in 2008, the previous Government brought forward some changes to the appointments process. This Government do not have any proposals to change any further but I am sure that these matters ought to be borne in mind.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab): My Lords, perhaps I may ask the Minister a slightly broader question about public appointments which have been held up.
Is he aware that since last Monday, the Science Museum Group—I declare an interest as a trustee—has been without a chairman, even though the process to reappoint the excellent Dr Douglas Gurr started as long ago as last summer? Numerous other appointments are awaiting decisions from the Cabinet Office or 10 Downing Street, of which the Science Museum is perhaps the most blatant example at the moment.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, I very much take the noble Lord’s point. Leadership in all institutions and bodies is very important and I will take that back. Again, I am very mindful of the point that the noble Lord is making.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, would the Minister find it helpful if the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury was made aware of the concern of the House about there being sufficient meetings of the Crown Nominations Commission, so that when there is a pile-up of episcopal vacancies, as it were, there are sufficient meetings to address that? Is the Minister also aware that we very much hope to have legislation by the end of this year so that women can become bishops?
Noble Lords: Hear, hear!
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: They would therefore be eligible, and much overdue, to come into this House.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, what the right reverend Prelate said last is of great importance not only in this House but to the nation as a whole. I wish the deliberations of the General Synod extremely well. I know that when we had a previous exchange the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury was going to be made aware of some of the concerns, and it would be extremely helpful if a record of our discussions today were made known to him.
Lord Howell of Guildford (Con): I shall ask a slightly narrower question than the Question on the Order Paper. Is the Minister aware that Guildford is a lovely place and that the cathedral at the centre is superbly sited, although it is in need of funds for repairs? Does he agree that there ought to be a whole raft of people eager to serve in this great role as bishop of Guildford? I hope there is an excellent range of candidates, one of whom will soon be appointed.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I agree with my noble friend. I hope the appointment will be made soon. It is very important that dioceses have bishops at the helm. I am aware that Guildford is in a very beautiful county, the most wooded county in the country. It is a fine place.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab): My Lords, is Guildford a suitable place for fracking?
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I am sure that when the new bishop arrives he—or perhaps, if it is some time, she—will consider these things. The important thing is that we need an energy mix in this country. Fracking could well provide that. Clearly it needs to be done carefully and sensitively, but we should not pass this opportunity.
Baroness Berridge (Con): My Lords, I expect that the winds of change will blow through the Anglican Church later this month. Will the Minister outline whether the Government will take this opportunity to look at the selection process for appointments in slightly more detail? Previously, I lived in the north-west of England for nine years. Liverpool, Manchester, Warrington, Bolton, Blackburn, Burnley, Preston and Lancashire are not currently on the Benches of the Lords spiritual but, as of right, Winchester is. That diocese includes the Channel Islands, which are not in the United Kingdom. Is it not time that we had a system of appointment that saw our metropolitan cities represented as of right?
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, I can safely say that much of this is a matter for the church. There is legislation going back to the 19th century on these matters. At some point perhaps that might be looked at.
Lord Morgan (Lab): My Lords, would it not be desirable if the Prime Minister made no suggestion about appointing the Bishop of Guildford, as would be the case with the disestablished Church in Wales? Would that not greatly liberate the church as an independent body free from the trammels of state interference?
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I am not sure that I am inclined to that view. Obviously the Church in Wales and the Church of England have taken different paths. That is a matter for the Church of England.
Lord Deben (Con): My Lords, we should be careful because the Church of Rome appoints its own bishops and takes a great deal longer than the Church of England, which is itself very dilatory. Changes do not necessarily speed up the system.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I am a great believer that if one does not want too much change, one should have some change.
Lord West of Spithead (Lab): My Lords, the House is not sitting tomorrow. There was mention of Her Majesty. Tomorrow, Her Majesty is naming the first fleet carrier to have been built since the Second World War. It is the work of 10,000 men and women around our country—a masterpiece of engineering. Would the Minister like to acknowledge and welcome this marvellous event tomorrow?
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, the whole nation is extremely fortunate to have a head of state who works so hard on our behalf.
Updated Friday evening
The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church recently visited St Albans and Oxford.
At St Albans she preached at the Alban Pilgrimage.
At Oxford, she preached at the University Church and received an honorary degree from Oxford University.
The citation for the degree can be seen here.
The Church Times carries this interview with her, conducted by Paul Handley ‘A long process of liberation’.
Lucy Davis of WATCH has written Wonderful, inspiring day in St Albans with Bishop Katharine.
Press release from the Prime Minster’s Office.
Suffragan Bishop of Basingstoke: David Grant Williams
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
History: Published 26 June 2014
Part of: Arts and culture
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon David Grant Williams to the Suffragan See of Basingstoke.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon David Grant Williams, BSc, Vicar of Christ Church, Winchester, in the Diocese of Winchester, and Honorary Canon of Winchester Cathedral to the Suffragan See of Basingstoke, in succession to the Right Reverend Peter Hancock, MA, on his translation to the See of Bath and Wells on 4 March 2014.
Reverend Canon David Williams
The Revd Canon David Williams (aged 53) studied Social Policy at Bristol University and after some years working with CMS in Kenya, trained for the ordained ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his curacy in the Diocese of Sheffield at All Saints, Ecclesall from 1989 to 1992 after which he became Vicar of Dore, an adjacent parish. He was made Rural Dean of Ecclesall in 1997 and served in this role until moving south in 2002. During these years he was also a Chaplain at Aldine House Secure Children’s Home.
Moving to the Diocese of Winchester in 2002, he became Vicar of Christ Church Winchester and was made an Honorary Canon of Winchester Cathedral in 2012. He was elected to General Synod in 2010 and became Chair of the House of Clergy of Winchester Diocesan Synod in 2012.
David grew up in Uganda and retains strong links with East Africa. He is married to Helen and they have 2 children, Sarah (25) and Mark (22). David owns a small racing yacht and spends days off sailing in the Solent. Together with his son, Mark, he also completed 2 long motorbike journeys across Eastern and Central Africa in 2010 and 2012.
The Bishop-designate said today:
“During the 13 years Helen and I have lived and worked in Winchester, we have grown to love the church and its people and are very much looking forward to serving in a wider context across the diocese. We look forward to welcoming many to our new home and to sharing in the life and ministry of the people of God here.”
The Winchester diocesan website has A new Bishop for Basingstoke in which it is stated that “The Most Reverend Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury has decided that David’s consecration as Bishop of Basingstoke will take place at Winchester Cathedral, the first consecration in the city for many years.”
Consecrations in the Canterbury province normally take place in London at St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey or Southwark Cathedral. Readers may know where and when the last one was held elsewhere.
Ethical Investment Advisory Group - ethical investment restrictions tightened
27 June 2014
The Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) has tightened its recommendations regarding investment restrictions. From this month none of the EIAG’s investment exclusions have a revenue threshold higher than 10%, a reduction on the previous 25% threshold.
The EIAG also announced that during 2013 it instructed votes for the Church Commissioners and Church of England Pensions Board on over 30,000 resolutions at approximately 3,000 company general meetings. Reflecting wider concern over executive remuneration packages, the EIAG withheld support in over 70% of cases.
In wider corporate engagement, church investors recorded important successes in the areas of both alcohol and pornography. After engagement with the EIAG, all three major UK-listed supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons - published alcohol policies newly acknowledging the potential for alcohol to cause harm. In the area of pornography, church investor engagement with a major telecommunications company led to the company ceasing to promote pornographic material on its handsets in the UK.
The threshold reduction follows a review requested by the Archbishop of Canterbury in light of the “Wonga controversy.” As a consequence of the review process revenue thresholds used to exclude companies on account of their involvement in tobacco, gambling, high interest rate lending and human embryonic cloning have been capped at 10% from the previous threshold of 25%.
The annual review makes it clear that these new restrictions would not have prevented the exposure to Wonga which was in a pooled fund and which could not have been screened in the same way as direct holdings are.
Edward Mason, EIAG Secretary, said: “Exposure to restricted investments, like Wonga, can occur in pooled funds and the EIAG accepts this.” Commenting on the EIAG’s intention to propose a new pooled funds policy to the national investing bodies, he said: “The policy will specify controls on the use of pooled funds but will not bar their use.”
The EIAG will publish the new policy on pooled funds later once the investing bodies have agreed it. The annual review explains that pooled funds are often the only way to access certain asset classes and investment strategies - including venture capital which, along with increasing financial returns for investors, also serves society.
Writing in the report’s foreword, EIAG Chair James Featherby explains that the Commissioners’ indirect investment in Wonga highlighted some misconceptions about ethical investment, and in particular that its objective is to achieve a morally perfect portfolio.
“In our view Christian ethical investment is, instead, about fulfilling responsibilities to beneficiaries and trying to make a positive difference in society. The Church’s national investing bodies seek to do the latter through engagement with companies, partnerships with other investors, and participation in public policy initiatives. In this way they aspire to be part of the Church’s witness to the world.”
Press reports include:
Ben Quinn The Guardian Wonga: Church of England advised by ethics review to keep its stake
Alex Blackburne Blue & Green Tomorrow Church of England reduces exposure to ‘sin stocks’ after ethical investment review
The organisation that brought you the Westminster Faith Debates now brings you a new series of five debates specifically about the Church of England.
They will be held in Oxford, at the University Church, on Thursdays in October, November and December, from 5.30 pm to 7 pm, under the overall title The Future of the Church of England. Click on each link below for details of the speakers.
Thursday 9 October PARISHES – What future for the Parochial System?
Thursday 23 October HERITAGE – How can Buildings, Endowments and Pensions become Assets not Burdens?
Thursday 6 November PEOPLE – How can Anglicans of all kinds be engaged in the Church of the Future?
Thursday 4 December VISION – What does the Church of England offer the next generation?
The House of Bishops’ plans for Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission in the Church of England were issued today in a paper (GS Misc 1083) circulated to General Synod papers. I have made a webpage version available here.
These conversations are what the Pilling Report called “facilitated conversations”. They will start in the College of Bishops in September, then move to groups of dioceses and end with two days of conversations in General Synod in July 2016. The paper gives full details of who will be involved and how they will be supported.
The Church of England has issued this press release.
Next steps in shared conversation process published
27 June 2014
The Church of England has today published the next steps in its process for shared conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.
A short paper from the Bishop of Sheffield outlines the next steps for the Church following the publication of the Pilling report in November 2013 which recommended that the church’s internal dialogue on human sexuality might be best addressed through a process of conversations across the Church.
The outlines of the process were approved by the House of Bishops at its meeting in May and are published today.
The document has been sent to members of the Church’s General Synod ahead of its meeting in York from 11 -15 July.
The document can be found online here.
Archbishop Justin Welby delivered a lecture on The future of banking standards and ethics at New City Agenda, House of Lords, Westminster on Tuesday 17 June. The text is now available online: Archbishop’s lecture on the future of banking standards.
The Financial Times has two reports by Martin Arnold: Archbishop of Canterbury warns banks are still ‘too big to fail’ and Archbishop warns on return of loan sharks
Jill Treanor writes in The Guardian about Church of England’s unholy mess over Wonga stake This refers to earlier reports that “selling the £100,000 stake would result in a loss of between £3m and £9m”.
General Synod will have a presentation on the proposed Churches’ Mutual Credit Union on Sunday 13 July. This background note was issued to Synod members at the end of last week. The Business Committee report has this preview of the presentation.
This will take the form of a presentation under S0 97 by the Revd Canon Antony MacRow Wood and Hilary Sams, the President and CEO Designate respectively of the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union (‘CMCU’). Their presentation will outline the plans for the launch of this new credit union for clergy. Those eligible to join will be the clergy, trustees and staff of the Anglican churches and charities in Britain and the ministers, trustees and staff of the Church of Scotland and the Methodist church. The aim of the CMCU is to provide a mutual ethical vehicle for tax efficient savings and affordable loans for clergy and staff of churches charities. It will also help to support and strengthen the credit union movement and contribute to the rebuilding of the mutual sector as a viable, ethical alternative to mainstream banking for people irrespective of their financial status.
The Independent has two articles about CMCU:
Jamie Merrill Church of England to open credit union in its ‘war on Wonga’
Simon Read Church’s credit union continues Welby’s ‘war on Wonga’ but more help for all needed
Meanwhile payday lender Wonga is in the news for another reason.
Rupert Jones The Guardian Wonga to pay £2.6m compensation for fake debt firm letters
and Wonga’s fake legal letters passed to police
Jim Armitage The Independent Wonga scandal and subsequent let-off calls for a full parliamentary inquiry
Katherine Rushton The Telegraph Wonga to pay £2.6m compensation for fake legal letters
The UK Supreme Court yesterday handed down its judgment in the assisted suicide (or “right to die”) case. The full judgment and summaries are available online.
Newspaper and other reports include:
Rosalind English UK Human Rights Blog Supreme Court rejects right to die appeals
John Bingham The Telegraph Supreme Court rejects right to die bid but challenges Parliament to review law
Owen Boycott The Guardian Assisted suicide campaigners fail to get supreme court to overturn ban
BBC News Campaigners lose ‘right to die’ case
Kathleen Hall The Law Society Gazette Supreme Court dismisses ‘right to die’ appeal
Brian Farmer The Independent Right-to-die: Supreme Court rules against assisted suicide
The Church of England has issued this statement.
Statement on Supreme Court judgement
25 June 2014
In response to ruling on the cases of Paul Lamb and Jane Nicklinson, and ‘Martin’
Revd Dr Brendan McCarthy, National Adviser: Medical Ethics and Health and Social Care Policy for the Archbishops’ Council, said:
“We welcome the judgment of the Supreme Court and the emphasis it has placed on the need for the law to protect vulnerable individuals.
“We remain convinced that the current law and the DPP guidelines for its application provide a compassionate framework within which difficult cases can be assessed while continuing to ensure that many vulnerable individuals are given much needed protection from coercion or abuse.
“We recognise the distress that this judgment will cause some individuals but we believe that any other judgment would have resulted in even greater distress for even greater numbers of people.”
Reactions from church groups and others include:
Press Association Reactions to right-to-die ruling
Dan Bergin Independent Catholic News Campaigners welcome court judgements on assisted suicide
Alex Stevenson politics.co.uk Right-to-die campaigners are wasting their time
Editorial in The Guardian The Guardian view on parliament and assisted suicide
The Church Times has a report on the judgement from its legal correspondent Shiranikha Herbert: Judges not persuaded by ‘right to die’ appellants.
Updated Wednesday morning
The following statement has appeared on the Church of England website today [Tuesday].
Statement in relation to weekend press reports
24 June 2014
“The recent press report that the Bishop of Norwich has been asked to keep a blacklist of clergy who marry same sex partners is untrue. The House of Bishops agreed in February to establish a small informal monitoring and reference group which is available to diocesan bishops who may wish for information or advice. The group has no formal powers. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York asked the Bishop of Norwich to chair the group and for the Bishops of Sheffield and Willesden to be members.”
That is the complete text.
David Pocklington has written about this at Law & Religion in Marriage of clergy to same-sex partners. As he had explained earlier:
Permission to Officiate is issued under Canon C 8 (3) entirely at the discretion of the bishop, creates no employment-like rights, and can be withdrawn at the absolute discretion of the bishop without the need for a disciplinary process. In contrast, Canon Pemberton is employed as Deputy Senior Chaplain with the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust in the diocese of Lincoln, under the Extra-Parochial Ministry Measure 1967, for which he holds a licence from the Bishop of Lincoln. However, although employed by the hospital, that employment is generally dependent upon the Bishop’s licence which can only be terminated following a disciplinary process, s8(2) Clergy Discipline Measure 2003. No public announcement has been made regarding this licence.
And he now comments:
The CofE statement has been greeted with scepticism by some of those commenting on the Thinking Anglican report of the announcement. Against such concerns, however, it would be unusual if the Church had not established a group to monitor developments in a sensitive area such as this, and would be subject to criticism if it did not adopt a consistent approach in the interpretation of the House of Bishops Statement of Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage: there is a degree of uncertainty in the sanctions that may be applied under ecclesiastical law and a further degree of complexity is added through the range of possible employment situations as these current examples demonstrate.
There were reports this weekend of some developments in the cases of clergy entering same-sex marriages:
Mail on Sunday Jonathan Petre First clergyman who flouted the Church of England’s gay marriage ban is fired by his bishop
Guardian Andrew Brown Second priest defies Church of England to marry his same sex partner
Changing Attitude Bishop acts against married gay priest
Religion News Service via the Washington Post Trevor Grundy Gay Anglican priest’s license is revoked after he marries
BBC Radio Lincolnshire has an extended discussion of the matter in this programme, starting at 2 hours, 10 minutes, and running for about 12 minutes. Recommended if you have the time.
Ekklesia Savi Hensman Punishing married gay clergy is Church of England own goal
The detailed agenda for next month’s meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England was released today, along with this press release summarizing its contents.
Agenda for July 2014 General Synod
20 June 2014
The General Synod of the Church of England meets in York in July for a five day meeting from 3.00 pm on Friday 11th July until 1.00 pm on Tuesday 15 July.
The Agenda for the meeting is published today. The Agenda is constructed around a sequence of legislative business on Women in the Episcopate. This will begin on the afternoon of Friday 11 July with the Report by the Business Committee on the Article 8 Reference to the dioceses. This will be followed by the Final Drafting Stage for the Measure and Amending Canon. The House of Bishops will meet on the morning of Saturday 12 July for its consideration of the draft legislation under Article 7 of the Synod’s Constitution. The Agenda allows alternative scenarios for the afternoon of Sunday 13 July to enable the Convocations and the House of Laity to debate the draft legislation if they claim a reference under Article 7. If these stages are completed, the Synod will take the Final Approval stage during the morning of Monday 14 July.
On the afternoon of Friday 11 July, the Synod will be debating the First Consideration of the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and the associated Amending Canon No.34, which give effect to proposals in developed in response to the reports of the Chichester commissaries and approved by the Synod in February. Changes will include making it easier to suspend clergy, or bring complaints against them, where abuse is alleged, enabling bishops to compel clergy to undergo risk assessments and imposing a duty on clergy, churchwardens and PCCs to have due regard to the House of Bishops’ safeguarding policies.
On the afternoon of Saturday 12 July, the General Synod will be addressed by the US writer and theologian the Revd Jim Wallis on the subject of ‘The (Un)Common Good’. Jim Wallis is the President and Founder of Sojourners magazine and the author ‘On God’s Side.’ This will be followed by group work by Synod members on the same theme, culminating in a debate later that afternoon on a motion from the Mission and Public Affairs Council.
On Sunday 13th July there will be a presentation by the President and CEO Designate of the newly-established Churches’ Mutual Credit Union. The aim of the CMCU is to provide a mutual ethical vehicle for tax efficient savings and affordable loans for clergy and staff of church charities. It is hoped that the establishment of the CMCU will help to support and strengthen the credit union movement and provide a viable, ethical alternative to mainstream banking for people irrespective of their financial status. Also on Sunday 13th July the Synod will be debating the draft new Additional Texts for Holy Baptism in accessible language which have been drawn up by the Liturgical Commission and which have been passed by the House of Bishops to the Synod for First Consideration.
On the morning of Monday 14 July there will be a presentation followed by a debate on a motion promoted by the Mission and Public Affairs Council on The Armed Forces Covenant and Community Covenant. The motion invites many community bodies, including local authorities, churches and others to join the initiative which offers pastoral care for members of the Armed Forces Community. The opening presentation will be from the new Bishop to the Armed Forces, the Rt Reverend Nigel Stock.
There will be a debate on the commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta on a motion moved on behalf of the Guildford Diocesan Synod. A motion on the Spare Room Subsidy from the Diocese of Bradford (now part of the diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales) is listed as contingency business. A Private Member’s Motion from the Reverend Christopher Hobbs on Canon B 8 (vesture), postponed from the previous Group of Sessions is scheduled for the evening of Saturday 12th July.
This group of sessions has a substantial legislative programme in addition to the items already mentioned, including legislation on synodical elections, ecclesiastical property, the faculty jurisdiction and pensions.
The full agenda can be viewed here.
Synod papers can be found here
I have also these articles.
Updated Friday night A notice paper has been issued with an important correction to paragraph 21 below. Two-thirds majorities in all three houses are needed for the Amending Canon (and not simple majorities as originally stated). The original version of paragraph 21 is struck through below and followed by the corrected version.
The Women in the Episcopate Legislation will return to General Synod for final approval next month. This extract from the Report of the Business Committee (GS 1949) explains the procedure.
Women in the Episcopate Legislation
16. The Women in the Episcopate legislative process will be taken in several tranches throughout the Group of Sessions. On Friday afternoon [11 July] there will be a ‘take note’ debate on the report by the Business Committee on the Article 8 reference to the dioceses.
17. If the Synod approves the ‘take note’ motion, then the Final Drafting Stage will be taken immediately afterwards on Friday afternoon on the basis of a report from the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee’s report, which identifies its proposed amendments, will be the subject of a ‘take note’ debate.
18. If the ‘take note’ motion on the Steering Committee’s report is carried at the Final Drafting Stage, then the draft Measure and Amending Canon will stand referred to the House of Bishops under Article 7 of the Synod’s constitution, together with the draft Act of Synod (which stood referred to the House following its Preliminary Consideration by the Synod in February). It is intended that the House should meet to deal with the reference at a special meeting on the morning of Saturday 12 July. If the House of Bishops approves the draft Measure and Amending Canon and draft Act of Synod, they can return to the Synod for Final Approval Stage.
19. Prior to the Final Approval stage, the Convocations and the House of Laity may claim a reference under Article 7 of the Synod’s Constitution. Therefore the Business Committee has made provision on Sunday 13 July from 2.30 until 3.50 pm for the Convocations and the House of Laity debate the draft legislation if they have claimed a reference. Alternative Business is provided in the event that no Article 7 Reference is claimed.
20. In order to allow for these possible stages of the legislative process, the Business Committee has scheduled the Final Approval Stage for the morning of Monday 14 July. As this is Article 7 and Article 8 business, the Chair for the debate will be one of the Presidents. He is required to declare on behalf of the Presidents, the Prolocutors and the Chair and Vice Chair of the House of Laity that the requirements of Articles 7 and 8 of the Constitution have been complied with.
21. Following the declaration by one of the Presidents, the Synod will proceed to the Final Approval Stage, which involves a separate motion for each item of business. A two-thirds majority in each House of the Synod is required for the Final Approval of the draft Measure. The Final Approval of the draft Amending Canon and the draft Act of Synod require no special majority but in practice the motions for their Final Approval would not be moved if the Measure itself had not been approved with the requisite majority.
21. Following the declaration by one of the Presidents, the Synod will proceed to the Final Approval Stage, which involves a separate motion for each item of business. A two-thirds majority in each House of the Synod is required for the Final Approval of both the draft Measure and the draft Amending Canon. The Final Approval of the draft Act of Synod requires no special majority. In practice the motions for the Final Approval of the draft Amending Canon and the draft Act of Synod would not be moved if the Measure itself had not been approved with the requisite majority.
22. If the Synod gives Final Approval for the draft Amending Canon, the Synod will also be asked to approve a petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence to promulge and execute the Amending Canon and formally affirm and proclaim the Act of Synod (though it will not come into force until, following the receipt of the Royal Assent and Licence, the Canon is promulged). Only a simple majority is required for its approval.
Canons can only be promulged at a meeting of General Synod. If the Measure receives final approval in July it has to go the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament and then to each of the two Houses of Parliament before it can receive the Royal Assent. The Queen then has to give her Assent and Licence to the Amending Canon. Whether this can be completed before the next available date for a meeting of General Synod (17 November 2014) is a matter for Parliament and the Palace.
At the same meeting as Synod promulges the Amending Canon it will be asked to approve “Regulations prescribing a procedure for the resolution of disputes arising from the arrangements for which the House of Bishops’ declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests makes provision.” At that point it will become possible for a woman to be consecrated as a bishop in the Church of England.
These are the relevant papers for July.
GS 1925-6Z Draft Measure and Draft Amending Canon for Final Drafting [Friday]
GS 1925B Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure [Friday/Monday]
GS 1926B Draft Amending Canon No 33 [Friday/Monday]
GS 1926C Draft Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Monday]
GS 1934A Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 [Monday]
JULY GROUP OF SESSIONS 2014
FIFTH NOTICE PAPER
REPORT OF THE BUSINESS COMMITTEE (GS 1949)
(MOTION FOR THE FINAL APPROVAL OF AMENDING CANON NO. 33)
Paragraph 21 of this Report should read:
“Following the declaration by one of the Presidents, the Synod will proceed to the Final Approval Stage, which involves a separate motion for each item of business. A two-thirds majority in each House of the Synod is required for the Final Approval of both the draft Measure and the draft Amending Canon. The Final Approval of the draft Act of Synod requires no special majority. In practice the motions for the Final Approval of the draft Amending Canon and the draft Act of Synod would not be moved if the Measure itself had not been approved with the requisite majority.”
The requirement for a special majority in the case of Amending Canon No. 33 arises from the fact that section 11 of the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993 requires a two-thirds majority of those present and voting in each House for the Final Approval of any Canon which repeals any provision of any Canon promulged under section 1 of the 1993 Measure: that provision will be engaged by Amending Canon No. 33 since paragraph 3 of the Canon will ‘revoke’ (ie repeal) Canon C 4B (which was promulged under section 1 of the 1993 Measure).
I apologise to members of the Synod that the text of the Business Committee’s Report was incorrect in this important respect.
Updated Friday 27 June The second set of synod papers was circulated today and I have added links below. A full set of papers can be downloaded as a zip file.
Most papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod were put online today. There is a list in agenda order here, and I have rearranged it into numerical order below with a note of the day(s) on which item is scheduled for debate. I will add links to further papers as they become available.
GS 1877D Amending Canon No 31 [Saturday]
GS 1903A Convocations (Elections to Upper House) (Amendment) Resolution [Saturday/Tuesday]
GS 1904A Clergy Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution [Saturday/Tuesday]
GS 1905A Church Representation Rules (Amendment) No 2 Resolution [Saturday/Tuesday]
GS 1925-6Z Draft Measure and Draft Amending Canon for Final Drafting [Friday]
GS 1925B Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure [Friday/Monday]
GS 1926B Draft Amending Canon No 33 [Friday/Monday]
GS 1926C Draft Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Monday]
GS 1934A Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 [Monday]
GS 1936A Draft Church of England (Pensions) (Amendment) Measure for Revision and for Final Drafting (if needed) and Final Approval [Saturday]
GS 1950 Appointments to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]
GS 1951 Report by the Business Committee on the Article 8 Reference [Friday]
GS 1954 49th Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Saturday]
GS 1956 The Common Good [Saturday]
GS 1957 Archbishops’ Council Annual Report [Sunday]
GS 1958 Additional Texts for Holy Baptism [Sunday]
GS 1959 The Archbishops’ Council’s Budget 2015 [Sunday]
GS 1960 The Armed Forces Covenant and Community Covenants [Monday]
GS 1961 Audit Committee’s Annual Report [Monday]
GS 1962 Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1962X Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1963 Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) order 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1963X Explanatory Memorandum
In addition the following GS Misc papers have been issued.
GS Misc 1070 Ethical Investment Annual Review
GS Misc 1072 Appointment of Synod Senior Staff
GS Misc 1073 Charm Rental Scheme
GS Misc 1074 Members of Committees
GS Misc 1075 Archbishops’ Council’s Activities
GS Misc 1076 Women in the Episcopate - Declaration from the House of Bishops
GS Misc 1077 Women in the Episcopate - Guidance notes from the House of Bishops
GS Misc 1078 Mutual Credit Union
GS Misc 1079 A note from the Archbishops
GS Misc 1081 Clergy Disicpline Commission Annual Report
GS Misc 1082 House of Bishops Summary of Decisions
GS Misc 1083 Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission
There are other papers listed below the fold.
One of the papers issued to General Synod members today is A note from the Archbishops (GS Misc 1079). This looks at a number of matters to do with next month’s final vote by General Synod on the admission of women to the episcopate.
One item of particular interest is the statement in paragraphs 10-11 that the archbishops are “consulting with others” to ensure that a “bishop who holds the Conservative Evangelical view on headship” is appointed “within a matter of months”. One way for this to happen is for such a person to be appointed to one of the currently vacant suffragan sees.
The paper also discusses the arrangements to be made at consecrations once the episcopate is open to both men and women, in particular when a new bishop has “concerns about who presides and shares in the laying on of hands at their consecration”. In short there will be no formal arrangements and each case will be dealt with on an individual basis.
The full text of GS 1079 is copied below the fold.
Forward in Faith has issued the press release: The Consecration of Bishops.
Glyn Paflin writes in the Church Times Headship and consecrations: Primates prepare ground for Synod vote.
GS Misc 1079
Women in the Episcopate
A note from the Archbishops
1. A year ago it was with some trepidation that the Synod was preparing to meet for the first time since the end of the unsuccessful legislative process the previous November. Now the situation looks very different. The facilitated conversations last July, the work of the Steering Committee last autumn, the imaginative decision for the revision process of the legislation to be committed to the whole Synod, and the large majorities in the November and February Group of Sessions, have created a new sense of hope and expectation.
2. Since February all 43 dioceses that were able to consider the draft legislation have given their approval. In diocesan houses of clergy 90% of those who cast a vote supported the legislation and in the houses of laity 92% did so.
3. In May, the House of Bishops made The House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (GS Misc 1076), in the form welcomed by the Synod in February. The Declaration notes the significance of opening all orders of ministry equally to women and men and the opportunities this presents for building up the Body of Christ and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom.
4. The House amended its standing orders to provide that the Declaration cannot be amended unless a draft of the proposed amendment has first been approved by two-thirds majorities achieved in each House of the Synod. It also agreed the guidance note (GS Misc 1077) promised under paragraph 22 of the Declaration.
5. In May we also consulted the House about two issues on which particular responsibilities fall to us by virtue of the offices that we hold. These concern the outworking of paragraph 30 of the Declaration in relation to consecration arrangements and the presence in the College of at least one bishop who takes the Conservative Evangelical view on headship.
6. On the first, we recognise that, once the episcopate is open equally to all irrespective of gender, there will be some bishops who will be unable in conscience to participate in the laying on of hands at some services. There will also be new bishops who, because of the theological convictions held by them and those to whom they will minister, will have concerns about who presides and shares in the laying on of hands at their consecration.
7. Arrangements for consecration services are and will remain the personal responsibility and decision of the Archbishop of the Province, as is made clear in the Royal Mandate. After careful thought and prayer we do not believe that an attempt to offer detailed prescriptions as to how consecration services should be conducted in every circumstance would help to establish the relational framework offered by the five guiding principles.
8. The proper place for the working out of details is in conversation between those concerned, and especially between any new bishop and the Archbishop of the Province. This is in the spirit of the analogous discussions between a parish that has passed a resolution and their diocesan bishop.
9. As Archbishops we will exercise that responsibility in ways that exemplify the five guiding principles, enabling bishops to serve across the spectrum of our teaching and tradition. Any special arrangements to which we may agree in particular cases will arise out of a spirit of gracious generosity, and will involve only such departures from the norm as are necessary to fulfil the spirit and purpose of the Declaration and to maintain the peace and unity of the Church. No consecration duly performed by either Archbishop as principal consecrator would be invalid.
10. On the second issue touched on in paragraph 30, it is evident that to date the normal processes for appointing diocesan and suffragan bishops have not delivered the aspiration to appoint a bishop who holds the Conservative Evangelical view on headship. It is also unclear whether the processes are capable of doing so within a reasonable timescale. 
11. We are therefore now consulting others with a view to ensuring that the aspiration is met within a matter of months. We recognise that, as stated in paragraph 30, such an appointment “is important for sustaining the necessary climate of trust”.
12. In the light of the decisions already taken and these clarifications now offered we believe that the circumstances now exist for the Synod to approach the final stages of the legislative process in July in a spirit of generosity and hope. As each member weighs his or her own responsibility in relation to the final approval debate we need each to consider how we can contribute to the well-being and unity of the Church, and the fruitfulness of our response to God’s call.
13. “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
+Justin Cantuar: +Sentamu Eboracensis
 GS 1650 - Talent And Calling; Recommendation 8 of the Report (in 4.4.1) reads:
“We recommend that bishops should be asked to indicate which (if any) of those currently on the List from their dioceses are from a conservative evangelical background. Bishops should be asked positively to look for clergy from this constituency who might either be qualified for inclusion on the Preferment List or might be developed in such a way that they might be qualified later on.”
The Report’s recommendations were debated and endorsed at the July 2007 Group of Sessions. The voting was AYES: 297; NOES: 1. Those responsible were invited to give effect to the recommendations and the Archbishops’ Council was asked to report to Synod during 2008 on progress with implementation. GS1680, which reported back to Synod in February 2008, did not address this particular recommendation.
The Archbishop of Canterbury addressed the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast.
A video recording of the entire address is here.
The Bible Society also has two short videos, available from here.
British Religion and Numbers has published two articles discussing the public opinion polls that have been undertaken in response to all this.
Back on 12 June, there was Trojan Horse Plot and Other News.
Two-thirds of the British public think there is substance behind the allegations of a ‘Trojan horse’ plot whereby hardline Muslim groups have attempted to take over certain schools in Birmingham. However, opinion is divided about where blame for this state of affairs lies. These are among the findings of a poll conducted by YouGov for The Sunday Times, in which 2,134 adults aged 18 and over were interviewed online on 5 and 6 June 2014 (i.e. before the formal release of Ofsted’s reports on the 21 schools on 9 June). The data tables were published on 8 June at:
The opening questions were generic, YouGov’s panellists initially being asked whether it was acceptable for state schools with a majority of pupils from Muslim families to set rules reflecting their interpretation of Islamic religion and culture. Overwhelmingly (85%), this was deemed unacceptable, with still higher proportions among UKIP supporters (95%), the over-60s (93%), and Conservatives (91%). Overall, only 7% defended the operation of Islamic rules in these circumstances, and no more than 11% in any demographic sub-group…
Then on 18 June, BRIN published More Trojan Horse Polling. This includes two separate polling reports:
Trojan horse plot (1)
For the second week running, YouGov was commissioned by The Sunday Times to investigate public opinion surrounding issues raised by the so-called ‘Trojan horse’ plot, whereby Muslim hardliners were alleged to have been trying to take over the governance of some state schools in Birmingham. For this second poll, 2.106 Britons were interviewed online on 12 and 13 June 2014, with data tables published on 15 June at:
More than three-quarters (79%) of respondents identified some risk to state schools being taken over by religious extremists, 34% agreeing that there was a large risk in many parts of the country and 45% a minor risk in just a few parts of the country (with 10% detecting no significant risk and 2% none at all). Risks were most likely to be perceived by Conservatives (88%), UKIP voters (94%), and the over-60s (91%). One-half the sample considered that academies and free schools were at greater risk from religious extremism than local authority controlled schools, while 28% judged them at equal risk…
Trojan horse plot (2)
The ‘Trojan horse’ plot also provided the context for an online poll by Opinium Research among 1,002 UK adults aged 18 and over on 12 and 13 June 2014. It was conducted for The Observer, with a report appearing on pp. 1 and 14 of the main section of that newspaper dated 15 June. The survey concerned ‘faith schools’, although it should be noted that the schools at the centre of the ‘Trojan horse’ plot were not faith schools in the strict meaning of the term, but rather community schools, some under local authority control and some academies. The tables from the Opinium poll were released on 16 June and can be found at:
In the wake of the ‘Trojan horse’ controversy, Opinium’s panellists were asked whether they thought some predominantly Muslim schools were actually fostering extremist attitudes among their pupils. Most (55% overall, 60% of men and 63% of over-55s) considered that they were, far more than the 16% who believed that mainly Muslim schools were simply reflecting the values and views of the parents of their pupils. A further 29% did not know or otherwise could not choose between the two options on offer…
Do read the full analysis on each of these three polls.
The full results of the survey on which the story below was based are now available here.
Today’s Observer newspaper carries this front page lead story:
Taxpayers’ cash should not be used to fund faith schools, say voters by Toby Helm and Mark Townsend.
Labour is calling for cross-party talks on how religious education is conducted and monitored in the state sector as a special poll for the Observer shows widespread concerns about the use of taxpayers’ money to fund faith schools in a multicultural Britain.
The survey by Opinium shows that 58% of voters now believe faith schools, which can give priority to applications from pupils of their faith and are free to teach only about their own religion, should not be funded by the state or should be abolished.
Of those with concerns, 70% said the taxpayer should not be funding the promotion of religion in schools, 60% said such schools promoted division and segregation, and 41% said they were contrary to the promotion of a multicultural society. Fewer than one in three (30%) said they had no objections to faith schools being funded by the state.
Labour supports the continuation of state-funded faith schools and shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said he saw them as “an important part of the educational landscape”. But he said the recent controversy in Birmingham, where six non-faith schools have been put into special measures and a further five criticised following allegations of a plot by hardline Muslims to infiltrate them, had raised important questions about the relationship between education and religion in a multicultural society.
Acknowledging that none of the schools criticised by Ofsted had been faith schools, Hunt said the row had triggered a real debate which politicians needed to join. “Events in Birmingham have raised questions about faith, multiculturalism and state education and in the aftermath this is the moment to think about discussing, on a cross-party basis, how we manage potential tensions, particularly in urban districts.”
Hunt said he believed that in future Ofsted should have a strong role in inspecting how religion was taught in faith schools, and that only qualified teachers should give instruction on the subject. He suggested that schools should teach about other religions, and not just one.
Opinium found that 75% of the public believed there was a serious risk pupils could be encouraged to adopt extremist views in predominantly Muslim schools. A majority – 56% – thought all faith schools should have to teach the national curriculum rather than being free to teach only about their own religion…
Some scepticism is in order regarding the claim that the controversy surrounding a small group of schools in Birmingham is just about Muslim extremism. It obscures the fact that this is rather more a crisis in the Government’s reform of the state school system in England. The Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, was so keen to break the power of what he calls “the blob” – an alleged body of ideologically motivated educationalists entrenched in the system particularly at local authority level – that he has created the conditions under which the Birmingham problem could emerge…
…It apparently never occurred to the Education Secretary that some governors and some parents in some places, influenced by a highly conservative version of Islam in the local mosque, would want the local school in which a majority of children were Muslim to adjust its culture accordingly – for example by requiring male and female pupils to be segregated, or girls to be veiled.
And if teachers, including heads, did not cooperate, he had given governors the power to overrule or even replace them. But this is not so much the result of a sinister plot by Muslim extremists, more the logic of Mr Gove’s entire free school and academy reform programme. He handed power to local people, and they used it. If they rejected Western culture, particularly its attitude to the equality of women, then they had simply used the freedom Mr Gove had given them to exploit their power…
Updated Wednesday morning
The media reports of recent OFSTED inspections of a number of Birmingham schools, linked to the “Trojan Horse affair” alleging Islamist extremism, have led the British Humanist Association to call for a wider review of the place of religion in schools, see BHA: Birmingham schools findings reflect need for wider review of place of religion in schools
Today the BHA has called for a wider review of the place of religion in state-funded schools.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘It is vital that every young person receives a broad and balanced education in an environment that is free from discrimination on the basis of religion, gender or sexual orientation and that prepares them for life in wider British society. It is only if schools provide such an education in such an environment that we can live in a society where everyone is treated equally with tolerance and respect. Park View has been failing to do this, and we are pleased that that is now set to change.
‘However, these issues speak more widely to the need for a thorough review of the place of religion in schools. While controversy has raged about these admittedly serious problems, there has been no similar level of concern expressed about the all-too-common situation where a pupil is unable to get into their local Church of England school because their parents are not Christian; a teacher is unable to find employment at a Catholic school because they are not Catholic; or a child is left distressed or sidelined because of Christian proselytising in an assembly in a school with no religious character. While these situations are allowed to continue, it is no surprise that some people of another faith will take existing schools of no religious character and effectively treat them as their own “faith” schools. This kind of behaviour will only be stopped once no school is legally able to discriminate against any pupil, parent or member of staff.’
Birmingham, the BHA, Religious Education and Church Schools
The publication of the OFSTED report into 21 schools in Birmingham linked to the so called “Trojan Horse” affair led to a flurry of tweets and comment from the British Humanist Association (BHA) yesterday. The thrust of their contention - that the OFSTED report showed the damage done by the presence of faith schools in the education system – is a shaky attempt to build one of the BHA’s long held aims into the news agenda. The tweeting of a comment from the debate on the report was typical: “Great from @crispinbluntmp - there should be no faith schools, every school should prepare pupils for life in wider British society”.
Unfortunately for the BHA the facts do little to support their claims. The fundamental problem with the BHA’s argument is that none of the schools being looked into in Birmingham are faith schools.
Of the 21 Birmingham schools investigated by Ofsted, 8 are Academies and 13 are local authority run. So the BHA’s argument that “the way to stop this kind of thing is to make get rid of faith schools” is not simply misleading, it is so far off the mark as to require special measures.
Perhaps one of the deeper ironies of the BHA’s attempt to hijack this issue for their own aims is that it is a perfect example of using a “Trojan Horse”; using the OFSTED findings as subterfuge for attacking the work of church schools not least in Birmingham itself.
At the same time that the BHA was going into overdrive about the OFSTED report, the Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, was making his maiden speech in the House of Lords. His theme was education. In his speech Bishop Stephen noted that the diocese of Chelmsford has recently accepted an invitation to be a co-sponsor of the London Design and Engineering University Technical college where in addition to receiving technical and practical training, Religious Education will be given a high priority on the curriculum. The Bishop noted that the trustees of the college recognise that it is “impossible to understand and inhabit the modern world – especially in East London – without a critical appreciation of faith, and even more than this, a mature spiritual, moral, social and cultural worldview. Moreover, good religious education has been shown to be one of the best ways of countering religious extremism. “
In an interview after his speech Stephen Cottrell warmed to this theme saying “RE, perhaps in the past, might have been something which was just of academic interest. Now it’s of practical relevance to actually understand who is my neighbour, how do I love and understand and appreciate my neighbour…One of the things that most obviously contributes to cohesion between people of different cultures and different faiths is proper appreciation and understanding of different faith traditions”
The Church of England educates a million children a day in its schools. Even the BHA, in its more reflective moments, would be hard pressed to describe CofE Schools as hotbeds of religious extremism or indoctrination. The contrast between some of the findings in the recent OFSTED investigation and the experience of those educated at Church of England schools stand in marked contrast. As the former Chief Rabbi, Dr. Jonathan Sacks, wrote of his own experience of Church of England primary and secondary schools: “I went to Christian schools, St Mary’s Church Primary, then Christ’s College Finchley. We Jews were different and a minority. Yet not once was I insulted for my faith.”
The work of Church of England schools in Birmingham is evidence of Stephen Cottrell’s contention that the best way of countering religious extremism is to engage with faith and not banish it. For over a decade some Church of England primary schools in the city have had an almost 100% school roll from Muslim families, serving children from local communities in the inner city. Every Church of England School in the city educates children of all faiths and none. Meanwhile the Church of England’s only secondary school in the city provides an account of excellence and achievement in the midst of challenging circumstances.
St Alban’s Academy is the only state-funded Church of England secondary school in Birmingham and is the nearest secondary school to the city centre. The proportion of students known to be eligible for free school meals is very much higher than the national average. The percentage of students from minority ethnic backgrounds is over four times higher than the national figure and the proportion of those who speak English as an additional language is high. The percentage of students registered by as having special educational needs and/or disabilities is well above the national average.
The School’s most recent OFSTED report – from 2011 – found the school was “outstanding”. The report said “From exceptionally low attainment on entry, students leave with above average attainment and outstanding achievement.” The report further highlights the achievements of the school in providing: “outstanding spiritual, moral, social and cultural development that underpins students’ exemplary behaviour and makes an exceptional contribution to their excellent learning.”
This is the experience of millions of families who have been served by Church of England schools which remains a testament at firm odds with the doctrinaire dogmatism and opportunism of the BHA.
There is also this interview by Nigel Genders the newly-appointed Church of England Chief Education Officer.
Some media reports and comment (Updated Wednesday morning):
Dan Hodges All faith-based schools are Trojan Horse schools. Let’s ban every single one of them
Tim Stanley Trojan horse plot: the problem isn’t faith schools, it’s Islamic fundamentalism
Graeme Paton ‘Selection by faith’ axed at new wave of Anglican schools
John Harris The lesson of Birmingham? State education is in chaos
Simon Jenkins When Whitehall meddles in schools, it’s only ever bad news
BBC Sean Coughlan What is the fall out from the Trojan Horse?
Church Times Madeleine Davies Birmingham schools hit back at OFSTED after critical reports
Daily Mail Manzoor Moghal I fear Islamic extremism in these schools is just the tip of the iceberg
This year’s Alban Pilgrimage takes place on Saturday 21st June 2014.
The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and John Bell of the Iona Community will be preaching at this year’s Pilgrimage.
More details on the St Albans Cathedral website here.
The timetable of the day:
11.00 Pilgrimage Procession begins through the City Centre
The route begins from St Peter’s Church, St Albans, and continues to the Town Hall and then we will process to the West End of the Cathedral.
c. 12 noon Festival Eucharist (following the Procession)
Preacher: The Most Rev’d Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. The service will be sung by the Abbey Girls Choir.
12 noon Children’s Worship and Activities
In the Abbey Primary School. All children must be registered to participate in advance - see here.
14.00 Orthodox Service and Veneration of the Relic at the Shrine of Saint Alban
Organised by the Ecumenical Chaplaincy and the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius - all welcome.
15.00 Anointing for Healing in the Lady Chapel.
16.00 Festival Evensong and Procession to the Shrine
Preacher: John Bell of the Iona Community. The service will be sung by the Cathedral Choir.
Update Tuesday afternoon More press reports added
The House of Bishops of the Church of England have voted to make membership or support of the British National Party (BNP) or National Front (NF) a potential disciplinary offence for its clergy, as this press release explains.
BNP and National Front incompatible with teaching of Church
03 June 2014
The House of Bishops of the Church of England have voted to make membership or support of the British National Party (BNP) or National Front (NF) a potential disciplinary offence for its clergy.
The formal declarations by the House of Bishops mean that a complaint of misconduct can be made under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 against any cleric of the Church of England who is a member of, or promotes or expresses or solicits support for, the BNP or NF.
The declarations will be laid before the General Synod of the Church at its July meeting in York and will come into force at 5.30pm on 11 July 2014 unless 25 members of the General Synod give notice that they wish a declaration to be debated. If such notice is given, the expectation is that the declaration would be debated at the Synod’s July group of sessions in York, and it could not come into force unless approved by the Synod.
The declarations state that on May 19 2014 the House of Bishops resolved to declare that the constitution, polices, objectives, activities or public statements of the National Front and the British National Party are incompatible with the teaching of the Church of England in relation to the equality of persons or groups of different races.
Once a declaration comes into force support for the political party concerned by clergy of the Church of England would be unbecoming or inappropriate conduct. The declarations from the House of Bishops, which were made under section 8(4) of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, implement in relation to the clergy of the Church of England, a policy of the General Synod agreed in February 2009 following a Private Member’s Motion from Vasantha Gnanadoss: “That this Synod, noting that in 2004 the Association of Chief Police Officers adopted a policy whereby “no member of the Police Service, whether police officer or police staff, may be a member of an organisation whose constitution, aims, objectives or pronouncements contradict the general duty to promote race equality” and “this specifically includes the British National Party”, request the House of Bishops to formulate and implement a comparable policy for the Church of England, to apply to clergy, ordinands, and such employed lay persons as have duties that require them to represent or speak on behalf of the Church.”
- An explanatory note explaining the background to the declarations (GS 1946-7X) can be found on the Church of England website, together with the declarations:
- The Church’s teaching in relation to the equality of persons or groups of different races is set out in the 2010 House of Bishops’ theological statement Affirming our Common Humanity.
- In making a declaration of incompatibility the House of Bishops took account of the constitutions of both parties and published statements on their behalf, including, for example, the BNP’s manifesto for the last General Election (“Democracy, Freedom, Culture and Identity”) which is published on the BNP website.
John Bingham reports for The Telegraph that Church of England bans clergy from ‘un-Christian’ BNP and National Front.
Matthew Taylor writes in The Guardian that Church of England bans clergy from joining BNP or National Front.
There are numerous media reports of a formal objection to the HS2 railway project that has been made by the Church of England. See for example:
Read the official press release about it here: Archbishops’ Council submits petition on HS2 Bill to Parliament:
02 June 2014
The Archbishops’ Council has submitted a petition on the HS2 Bill to Parliament, regarding treatment of burial grounds and human remains.
A Church of England spokesperson said “In terms of ‘opposition’ the C of E is not opposing HS2 per se, rather we are petitioning for a technical change to the Bill, ie we are opposing the Bill in its present, in our view technically deficient, form. It is simply a matter of re-instating a clause which can be found in other legislation relating to development and has been left out of this Bill.”
There will be thousands of exhumations, but not at Kensal Green where HS2 runs underneath in a tunnel. It is likely there will be a significant number at the three sites, but we do not have reliable figures.
One of the problems such projects face is that it’s difficult to judge the amount of time and money which will be needed to deal properly with human remains.
Individual churches near the line are opposing the Bill and have sent in their own petitions. We hope to achieve better mitigation and where necessary compensation for these churches and their communities. We are particularly worried about the effect on Chetwode St Mary in Buckinghamshire, but there are others.
Main burial grounds that will be disturbed
Euston St James Gardens, London, to be cleared (actually in St Pancras parish), 18th-19th century.
Kensal Green cemetery London, tunnel underneath (so no exhumations).
Stoke Mandeville St Mary old church, Bucks / Oxford, to be cleared (a ruin, with burial ground probably 12th century to 1905)
Park Street / Curzon interchange, Birmingham 18th-19th century, to be cleared.
This is all explained at Law & Religion UK HS2, burial grounds, the Church of England and hybrid bills.
Updated Monday 2 June The business on Saturday afternoon has been slightly amended, and a revised edition of the timetable issued.
The outline agenda for the July meeting of the Church of England General Synod is now available, and is copied below.
Friday 11 July
3.00 pm – 6.15 pm
Brief response on behalf of ecumenical guests
Business Committee Report
Not later than 4.15 pm
Approval of appointments
Women in the Episcopate legislation:
* Report on Article 8 Reference to the Dioceses
* Final Drafting Stage
Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and associated Amending Canon – First Consideration
8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Saturday 12 July
9.30 am – 1.00 pm
Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York
49th Report of the Standing Orders Committee (deemed business)
Amending Canon No 31 – Enactment
C of E Pensions (Amendment) Measure – Revision Stage
Amending Canon No 32 and Amending Rules relating to GS elections etc – Revision Stage
Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure – Revision Stage
Adjourned debate on Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution – Final Approval
Payments to the Churches Conservation Trust Order
C of E Pensions (Amendment) Measure – Final Drafting (if needed) and Final Approval
Amending Canon No 32 and Amending Rules relating to GS elections etc – Final Drafting (if needed) and Final Approval
Cof E (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure – Revision Stage
2.30 pm – 3.15 pm
The Church’s Response to Poverty: Presentation
‘The (Un)Common Good’: Presentation by the Revd Jim Wallis, Author of ‘On God’s Side’
(3.30 pm - 4.45 pm Group Work: The Common Good)
5.05 pm – 6.30 pm
The Common Good:
Presentation and Debate
8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Private Member’s Motion: Canon B 8
Sunday 13 July
(if Article 7 Reference Meetings are not required)
2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report 2013
Additional texts for Holy Baptism – First Consideration
Churches’ Mutual Credit Union (CMCU): Presentation
(if Article 7 Reference Meetings are required)
4.00 pm – 6.15 pm
Additional texts for Holy Baptism – First Consideration
Churches’ Mutual Credit Union (CMCU): Presentation
8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Archbishops’ Council’s Budget 2015
Church Commissioners’ Annual Report
Monday 14 July
9.30 am – 1.00 pm
The Armed Forces Covenant and Community Covenants: Presentation and Debate
Not later than 11.15 am
Women in the Episcopate legislation – Final Approval
2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Women in the Episcopate legislation – Final Approval (Ctd…)
Diocesan Synod Motion: Magna Carta
8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Audit Committee Annual Report
Tuesday 15 July
9.30 am – 1.00 pm
Any remaining legislative business from Saturday followed by:
Draft Amending Canon giving effect to the Southwell and Nottingham DSM on the administration of Holy Communion – First Consideration
Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report 2013 (if not taken on the Sunday due to the Article 7 reference)
Not later than 12.30 pm
Bradford Diocesan Synod Motion: Spare Room Subsidy
The Church Credit Champions Network was launched this evening, as described in this press release from the Church of England: Churches step up fight for better lending.
The first steps towards a national network of churches, communities and credit unions will be unveiled today at a launch, supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Task Group on Responsible Lending.
The Church Credit Champions Network (CCCN) aims to create a network of people who will bring together churches, communities and responsible lenders. The scheme is being piloted in three Church of England Dioceses - Southwark, Liverpool and London. The members will act as advocates for the community finance providers…
The Church Credit Champions Network is a joint project of the Contextual Theology Centre and the Church Urban Fund and is being delivered with the assistance of the Church Urban Fund’s Together network.
Sir Hector Sant gave this speech at the launch: Sir Hector Sant’s speech at launch of Church Credit Union Network.
Early press reports include these:
Reuters Former British regulator launches church taskforce on credit unions
[Also available, in edited form, at The Guardian Hector Sants introduces network of credit unions to rival payday lenders]
Church Commissioners announce annual results for 2013
23 May 2014
The Church Commissioners’ total return on its investment in 2013 was 15.9 per cent. This means that the Church Commissioners fund has exceeded its target return of RPI + 5 percentage points over the past one year, three years, ten years and twenty years. It has also has performed better than similar funds over the same periods. Details have been published today in their full Annual Report and Account (link below) for 2013.
The Commissioners’ fund is a closed fund, taking in no new money, and has performed better than its target return of RPI +5.0% p.a. and its comparator group over the past, one, three, 10 and 20 years. The results confirm the fund’s strong long term performance
Andrew Brown, Secretary to the Church Commissioners, said:
“I am delighted to report the very strong investment performance the fund produced. It is from these investments that the Commissioners are able to provide the financial support to the Church. It is particularly pleasing to note that the fund has exceeded our target and performed better than its comparator group over all of the periods measured.
“As our annual report shows, the Commissioners continue to identify and fund the church’s work in areas of need and opportunity throughout England. Working towards the spiritual and numerical growth of the Church includes growing its capacity to serve the whole community.”
The Commissioners manage assets which were valued at £6.1billion at the end of 2013. More than half of their current distributions meet the cost of clergy pensions earned up to the end of 1997. The generous giving of today’s parishioners accounts for around three quarters of the Church’s annual £1.4 billion spending on its ministry and mission.
Writing in the report’s foreword Andreas Whittam Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner, said:
“The year under review was a good one for the Church and for the Commissioners. Indeed, it may prove to have been a turning point, the moment when the Church decisively increased its focus on securing numerical and spiritual growth in church membership.”
He added that at the same time the Commissioners, to assist this process, began to target their charitable distributions much more strategically.
After taking account of expenditure the fund has grown from £2.4 billion at the start of 1994 to £6.1 billion at the end of 2013.
The Commissioners manage their investments within ethical guidelines with advice from the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group.
The fund is held in a broad range of assets. Returns contribute to the ministry of each of the Church’s 44 dioceses by: paying for clergy pensions for service up to the end of 1997; supporting poorer dioceses with the costs of ministry; funding some mission activities; paying for bishops’ ministries and some cathedral costs, paying the clergy and assisting with the legal framework for parish reorganisation.
In 2013, the Church Commissioners continued to provide significant support to encourage the growth of the Church’s existing ministries and new opportunities. Along with the Archbishops’ Council the Commissioners earmarked £12 million (2011-2013) for research and development funding to help understand better which parts of the Church are growing and why, and to seek to develop that growth.
There is also this press release on some the projects funded by the Commissioners.
Transforming lives: Commissioners fund churches in new housing and other development areas
23 May 2014
Pioneer minister to new communities in Leeds shares how 60% of congregation are new to church
The Church Commissioners annual review published today (here), shares stories of support across the country for church growth in new housing and development areas as well as a dedicated stream of funding for work in deprived areas.
In a Church of England interview the Revd James Barnett, pioneer minister to new communities in Leeds, talks about people’s lives being transformed and shares inspirational stories from Riverside. Andrew Brown, Secretary to the Commissioners, also explains more about the funding.
James features on the front cover of the Report with members from Riverside, a new expression of church where 60% of the 70 regular worshippers had not attended any church before.
“Any new church is a work in progress but God’s presence is tangible at Riverside and the Church is also making a difference in the community,” says James.
The Report also features other Commissioners funded projects from around the country:
- Former hair stylist Rev Ben Norton has an Archdeaconry brief in York Diocese for pioneering work among young people building on earlier work on a major housing estate. He is also volunteering a day a week in the local hairdressing salon.
- Liverpool Cathedral is committed to offering a variety of styles of worship that are accessible to all. The Zone 2 all-age, café-style service meets every Sunday at the same time as the traditional Choral Eucharist.
- The Tolladine Mission in Worcester is based in an area with pockets of multiple deprivation. The missioners live in the area and their work includes a garden project for young people with learning and/or behavioural difficulties and work in local schools, along with opportunities to explore the Christian faith
Now that the dioceses have finished on voting on the current draft legislation to enable women to be bishops, the Church of England has issued this press release.
Dioceses vote in favour of women bishops
23 May 2014
The Church of England’s dioceses* have now all voted in favour of the current draft legislation to enable women to be bishops. Manchester was the last diocese to vote and they approved the motion at a meeting of their Synod yesterday. In 2011 both London and Chichester diocesan synods voted against the legislation.
The February 2014 meeting of General Synod referred the current Women in the Episcopate legislation to the dioceses.
Diocesan Synods all voted in favour of the motion: ‘That this Synod approve the proposals embodied in the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure and draft Amending Canon No 33.’
For the motion to be carried the houses of clergy and laity had to each vote, by a simple majority, in favour.
The table attached records the votes in favour and against, and any recorded abstentions in each house. The draft legislation will now go before General Synod in July for a Final Approval vote.
The Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, Chair of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation for Women in the Episcopate said:
“The dioceses have now expressed their view very clearly and the matter now comes back to General Synod in July. I pray that the Synod will continue to approach this decision in a prayerful and generous way as we move towards voting on the proposal that women may be bishops in the Church of England.”
The table of Diocesan Synod results can be found here.
*Due to logistical constraints the Diocese in Europe was unable to convene a meeting in the three month period allowed for this Article 8 reference.
The table linked above showed a few very small differences from mine. On the assumption that Church House have the correct figures, I have amended mine to match.
WATCH has issued this press release.
A clean sweep this time: 100% of Dioceses support Women Bishops legislation
Posted on May 23, 2014
Women and the Church (WATCH) is delighted and hugely encouraged by the overwhelming support given by 100% of diocesan synods for the new Women in the Episcopate legislation. Such a resounding endorsement, including from the dioceses of London and Chichester which voted against last time, gives us significant hope and encouragement for the final vote at General Synod in July.
Chair of WATCH, Hilary Cotton said, ‘This is really, really good news in the lead-up to the Final Approval vote. In most dioceses over 90% of votes were cast in favour: surely General Synod cannot turn their backs on this again?’
The final three diocesan synod votes on the legislation to allow women to be bishops in the Church of England took place this week: Chester and Rochester yesterday and Manchester tonight. All three voted in favour.
Apart from Europe, which was unable to arrange a synod meeting before the deadline of midnight on Thursday 22 May 2014, all the dioceses have voted in favour of the draft legislation, which will return to General Synod in July for the debate and vote on final approval.
Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.
The House of Bishops met yesterday and today and has issued this summary of its proceedings.
House of Bishops Statement
20 May 2014
The House of Bishops of the Church of England met at Bishopthorpe Palace in York on Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th May 2014.
In a wide ranging agenda the House discussed issues including: the progress of legislation on women in the episcopate, the meeting of the General Synod in July, additional liturgical materials for baptism, closer working with the Methodist church, shared conversations on enabling wider debate of the Pilling report and the place of Bishops in public debate.
On the progression of legislation enabling Women in the Episcopate, the House approved the House of Bishops Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests which sets out arrangements for those parishes who on theological grounds are unable to accept the ministry of women priests or bishops. The House also voted to amend their standing orders so to ensure the Declaration cannot be amended without the majority of two-thirds of each house of the General Synod. The House agreed guidance notes for Bishops and Parishes on the Declaration that will be issued prior to General Synod.
The House of Bishops supported exploring with political parties the possibility of amending existing arrangements for the selection of Lords Spiritual in order that the first women diocesan Bishops will be able to become members of the Bishops’ Bench in the House of Lords more quickly than would otherwise be the case under current arrangements.
In their consideration of the business to be discussed at the July meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England, the House noted proposals for a debate on safeguarding legislation being introduced in Synod on Friday afternoon. The House also noted the desire for a debate on the ‘Common Good’ and the Church of England’s contribution to developing, nurturing and participating in the flourishing of all the people of England.
The House of Bishops received a report from the Liturgical commission on the use of additional texts for use in services of Baptism following the piloting of new materials in parishes. The House heard that the feedback form the parishes to the use of the texts had been largely positive and welcoming. Following a debate and minor amendments to the text the House voted for the new texts to progress to being debated by General Synod.
The House discussed a draft report and note from the Council for Christian Unity on closer working with the Methodist Church and a report from the Joint Implementation Committee which is provisionally due to be presented for discussion by the Methodist conference and the General Synod. The House agreed that the paper should be debated at the next synod after July.
The House also discussed the next steps in the process for conversations around Human Sexuality. In its discussion the House noted that the process of shared conversations needed to demonstrate primarily how the Church of England could model living together with issues of tension, where members took opposing views whilst remaining committed to one another as disciples of Jesus Christ - members of one church in both unity and diversity. The House agreed to a proposed process and timescale for the conversations with regional discussions taking place over the next two years. The House also authorised its Standing Committee to sign off the final arrangements and materials.
The House concluded its meeting with a discussion of the place of the Church of England and its Bishops in public debate. The House heard presentations which emphasised the need for the Church develop its confidence arising from its well-developed and sustained levels of service to communities across the country. The House also heard of the importance of sustaining the place of Bishops and faith based organisations in the public square at a time when confidence in the wider political process was being eroded and the place of faith based values was being challenged. The House heard how the work of Bishops and the wider church in its provision of foodbanks, partnerships with civic society, chairing economic and policy reviews, living wage and credit union work demonstrated the role of the Church of England at both a delivery and strategic level in areas of civic engagement, community cohesion and social justice.
Diverse Church has made an impressive film. You can watch it on YouTube here.
Diverse Church is a supportive community of 70 young LGBT+ Christians in UK evangelical churches. We aim to be a pastoral/mission resource for the wider church.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has made several media interventions to talk about the abduction of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram.
The Church Times interview is available at Missing schoolgirls: Welby warns over difficulties of negotiation with Boko Haram (scroll down for the interview itself) and there is a leader comment here: Evil of Boko Haram.
Updated Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon
Since I last posted on this, four more dioceses (Chichester, Durham, Exeter and Leicester, all today) have voted, all in favour. 40 dioceses have now voted in favour of the draft legislation, and none against. For a diocese to be in favour, its house of clergy and laity must each vote in favour. The votes of the bishops, although recorded, are ignored.
Chichester was one of the two diocese that voted against in 2011. Today their synod voted (for/against/abstention): Bishops 1-1-1, Clergy 36-22-2, Laity 54-20-0. In 2011 the figures were Bishops 0-2-0, Clergy 30-35-0, Laity 37-41-0.
Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here. Please send any corrections to the email address at the bottom of that table.
I have corrected the Leicester figures, which were completely wrong. Somebody tweeted the 2011 figures as though they were today’s and I believed them!
I have also corrected the figures for abstentions in Exeter.
And now I have recorrected the Exeter abstentions back to what they were in the first place.
Updated Sunday afternoon
See the original article on the publication of the report last Monday here.
The Church Times reported on this twice, first on Monday with Welby launches anti-homophobia schools guide and then in the paper edition on Friday with Church schools urged to stamp out anti-gay bullying.
And there is a leader comment (scroll down to second section)
Beware of bullies
THE new church guidelines about homophobic bullying are to be commended, as much for their existence as their content. After years of clumsy official statements (e.g. Resolution 1.10 from Lambeth 1998), it is good to read: “Pupils may justify homophobic bullying because: they think that homosexual people should be bullied because they believe homosexual people are ‘wrong’; they do not think that there is anything wrong in bullying someone because of their sexual orientation; they do not realise that it is bullying. . .” The authors, throughout, seek to separate bullying from the expression by Christians of a negative view. Bullying is defined tightly: insensitive use of language, direct abuse, and physical harm. But if the definition were widened to include discriminatory behaviour, persistent condemnation, and the scapegoating of gay marriage for “undermining” Christian marriage (unmarried cohabitation, divorce, and serial marriage being a few elephants in this room), surely the Church would find itself in detention. We would not pick out one group of children to hector persistently about a sensitive area of life. Why treat adults in this way?
This leader is discussed further by Colin Coward in Church Times nails the challenge to homophobia in the Church.
LGCM welcomed the report with this press release: LGCM warmly welcomes the Cof E guidance to combat homophobic bullying. The last paragraph reads:
This is certainly a step in the right direction but as the document states itself in a quote from a teacher in a CofE school:
‘Whilst welcoming this initiative, the CofE’s own institutional homophobia and the theological/moral confusion behind it is a big problem!’ [report page 26]
John Bingham wrote in the Telegraph Welby tells Church schools to teach respect for gay and lesbian relationships
The Pink News interview is covered in yesterday’s article.
Today, Deborah Orr has written at Cif that The Church of England is homophobic, despite Justin Welby’s trendy-vicar act
…Presumably, he thinks “homophobia” is being personally rude and aggressive to gay people because they are gay, but that asking them to kindly observe the “heterosexuals only” sign is fine, as long as one is polite about it. He is wrong. He and his church discriminate against people because of their sexuality, so the Anglican church is homophobic. Since it’s an established part of the state, the state is homophobic. In part. It’s all a bit of a curate’s egg.
The idea we’re all supposed to accept is that the Church of England is an innocuous purveyor of spiritual pomp and circumstance, unifying state, crown and church with tradition, ceremony, and most importantly, great outfits, accessories and interiors. Otherwise, all the prelates are off helping their communities as well as they can, marking life and death’s big occasions, organising fetes and occasionally mentioning to the government that poverty is miserable. Quite where fighting against the development of a secular morality that seeks to protect the rights of all responsible citizens fits into this is hard to say.
Of course, the Church of England would probably be happy to go with the UK flow, self-preservation having always been its primary concern, were it not for the fact that it wants to preserve its worldwide communion just as much as it wants to preserve its 26 undemocratic places in the House of Lords.
Can it really be right that we have to accept a homophobic established church trying to vote down progressive legislation just because that might upset its really homophobic members overseas? The rest of us have had to come to terms with the fact that the days of empire are over, and also that they might, just might, not have been all they were cracked up to be. Why the Anglican church believes it can and should defy that logic is a mystery that surely can’t endure much longer.
The BBC Sunday programme carried a discussion about the report, featuring The Revd Jan Ainsworth and Bishop Alan Wilson. The item starts at 35 minutes, 45 seconds into the programme. This is worth a listen.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has given several interviews lately touching on the topic of same-sex marriage.
The Pink News interview is here: Exclusive: Archbishop of Canterbury: It’s ‘great’ that equal marriage is the law of the land. Do read the whole report.
And the endorsement by Nick Clegg is in this article: Exclusive: Nick Clegg: ‘The Archbishop of Canterbury is right to denounce homophobia’.
Lambeth Palace later issued this: Same-sex marriage: Archbishop’s view remains the same.
Andrew Brown at the Guardian reported on the apparent confusion in Archbishop of Canterbury creates a stir with ‘great’ remark to gay magazine. He notes that:
…But the logic of Welby’s own position is moving him away from the certainties of his youth. The more he denounces homophobia, the more difficult it becomes for him to defend discrimination against gay people within the church. He opened this week with a rousing denunciation of homophobic bullying in church schools, but within days his office was explaining that this was simply because he was opposed to all bullying on any grounds.
Meanwhile, conservatives don’t see anything wrong with homophobia except perhaps the word itself. The churches in Nigeria and Uganda have recently passed laws that criminalise even the advocacy of same-sex relationships. In the case of Uganda, they provide for life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality”. They cling to a resolution passed by a gathering of Anglican bishops from around the world in 1998 that condemned “unjustified discrimination against homosexuals”, but it is difficult to imagine any discrimination that some of them would not now consider justified…
Earlier this week, the archbishop had appeared on a Radio Nottingham programme. This interview has been transcribed in full by Changing Attitude: Archbishop of Canterbury interviewed by BBC Radio Nottingham and Pink News.
Sarah Julian asked him a series of questions based on Canon Jeremy Pemberton’s marriage to Laurence Cunnington to which his answer, repeated several times with minor variations, was “nothing to say.” What happens if you break the rules, was her stance. What happens to Jeremy now, and other priests like him?
Listening to this interview (audio - in the above link - only available this week) it really is very difficult indeed to understand why the archbishop had ever agreed to appear. What other questions did he expect a local Nottingham station would be likely to ask him?
Since I last posted on this, three more dioceses (Coventry on Monday, London and Salisbury tonight) have voted, all in favour. 36 dioceses have now voted in favour of the draft legislation, and none against.
The most significant result is London, which voted against in 2011. Today their synod voted (for/against/abstention): Bishops 3-0-0, Clergy 40-10-7, Laity 43-17-1. In 2011 the figures were Bishops 2-1-0, Clergy 39-41-0, Laity 45-37-0.
Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.
Number 10 has announced that the next Dean of Christ Church, Oxford is to be the Revd Canon Professor Martyn Percy.
Deanery of Christ Church, Oxford: Reverend Canon Professor Martyn Percy
The Queen has approved that the Reverend Canon Professor Martyn William Percy, BA (Hons), MEd, PhD, Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon, be appointed Dean of Christ Church, Oxford in succession to the Very Reverend Christopher Andrew Lewis BA, PhD, on his resignation.
Professor Martyn Percy
Professor Martyn Percy was educated at Bristol University, Sheffield University and at King’s College, London. He trained for the ordained ministry at Durham University. Since 2004, he has been the Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon. The College also incorporates the Oxford Ministry Course, the West of England Ministerial Training Course, and the Oxford Centre for Ecclesiology and Practical Theology (a research and consultancy centre).
Professor Percy is a member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford, Professorial Research Fellow at Heythrop College, London and Visiting Professor of Theological Education at King’s College, London. He is an Honorary Canon of Salisbury Cathedral, and a former Canon Theologian at Sheffield Cathedral. He has served as Curate at St. Andrew’s Bedford, and then as Chaplain and Director of Theology and Religious Studies at Christ’s College, Cambridge. From 1997 to 2004 he was the Director of the Lincoln Theological Institute for the Study of Religion and Society.
Martyn has served as a Director and Council member of the Advertising Standards Authority, and as a member of the Independent Complaints Panel for the Portman Group (the self-regulating body for the alcoholic drinks industry). He is currently a Commissioner of the Direct Marketing Authority as well as an Advisor to the British Board of Film Classification. Since 2003 he has co-ordinated the Society for the Study of Anglicanism at the American Academy of Religion. He writes on Christianity and contemporary culture and modern ecclesiology. His recent books include Anglicanism: Confidence, Commitment and Communion (2013) and Thirty-Nine New Articles: An Anglican Landscape of Faith (2013). Professor Percy is 51, and married to the theologian the Revd. Dr. Emma Percy, who is Chaplain and Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford. They have 2 sons.
This is a unique appointment, combining as it does the headship of an Oxford College and the deanship of a cathedral. Christ Church has its own announcement as do the Diocese of Oxford and Ripon College Cuddesdon.
The Church of England’s guidance for tackling homophobic bullying in its schools was published this morning. The document Valuing All God’s Children: Guidance for Church of England Schools on Challenging Homophobic Bullying can be found here. The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued this press release.
Archbishop Launches New Guidance for Tackling Homophobic Bullying in Church of England Schools
The Archbishop of Canterbury has today launched a report from the Education Division of the Church of England “Valuing All God’s Children: Guidance for Church of England Schools on Challenging Homophobic Bullying.”
The guidance, which is being sent to all Church of England schools, provides 10 key recommendations which should be adopted by schools in combating homophobic bullying as well as sample policies for primary and secondary Church schools. Published by the Church Of England Archbishop’s Council Education Division, the guidance involved consultation and involvement with a number of Church of England schools with existing good practice.
Speaking at a Church of England Secondary School, at Trinity Lewisham, The Right Reverend Justin Welby said that the publication of the guidance fulfilled a pledge he made last July when addressing the Church of England’s General Synod.
“Less than a year ago I set out my concerns about the terrible impact of homophobic bullying on the lives of young people and I made a public commitment to support our schools in eradicating homophobic stereotyping and bullying.
“Since then an enormous amount of work has gone into producing this guidance so that commitment can be turned into action. I am extremely grateful to all those who have worked so hard to produce it and I particularly want to thank the schools and young people who have contributed.
“Church schools begin from the belief that every child is loved by God. This guidance aims to help schools express God’s love by ensuring that they offer a safe and welcoming place for all God’s children. This is a task we are called to share and I know it is one our schools take immensely seriously. I commend this guidance as a contribution to that work.”
In his address to the Church of England’s General Synod in July 2013, the Archbishop said:
“With nearly a million children educated in our schools we not only must demonstrate a profound commitment to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying; but we must also take action. We are therefore developing a programme for use in our schools, taking the best advice we can find anywhere, that specifically targets such bullying. More than that, we need also to ensure that what we do and say in this Synod, as we debate these issues, demonstrates above all the lavish love of God to all of us.”
The Guidance published today notes that the purpose of schools is to educate and the aim of this guidance is to protect pupils in Church of England schools from having their self-worth diminished and their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their perceived/actual sexual orientation:
“Church schools are places where boundaries should be strong, where any harmful words or actions are known to be unacceptable, and where there are clear strategies for recognising bullying and dealing with it in a framework of forgiveness and restorative justice. Children and young people in Church of England schools should be able to grow freely and to be comfortable and confident within their own skins without fear or prejudice.” (paragraph 19 of Guidance document)
Lambeth Palace issued Archbishop visits CofE school to launch anti-homophobic bullying plans.
William McLennan of The Independent anticipated the publication of the guidance with this report: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby condemns anti-gay bullying in schools.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has written this article for i: Tackling homophobia in Church schools: There is room for everyone, but not for behaviours which cause harm
Since I last posted on this, six more dioceses (Worcester, Gloucester, Newcastle, Derby, Truro and York) have voted, all in favour. 33 dioceses have now voted in favour of the draft legislation, and none against.
Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.
Still to vote (all on dates this month) are Coventry (12th), London and Salisbury (15th), Chichester, Durham, Exeter and Leicester (17th), Chester and Rochester (21st) and Manchester (22nd). Europe will not be voting as the diocese was unable to arrange a synod meeting before the deadline.
The next Suffragan Bishop of Grimsby in the diocese of Lincoln is to be Canon David Court.
Press release from Number 10
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon David Eric Court, BSc, PhD, PGCE, BA, Vicar of Cromer, Rural Dean of Repps and Honorary Canon of Norwich Cathedral in the Diocese of Norwich, to the Suffragan See of Grimsby, in the Diocese of Lincoln, in succession to the Right Reverend Douglas James Rossdale, MA, on his resignation on the 5 April 2013…
Press release from the Diocese of Lincoln
St Paul’s Cathedral has organised a series of Sunday afternoon sermons at Evensong in May with the general title What I want to Say Now.
During May four retired bishops have been invited to preach at Sunday Choral Evensong under the theme of What I want to say now.
No longer in public office but still part of a world and church undergoing huge challenges and changes, we look forward to hearing the distilled wisdom they believe it is urgent to share at this moment.
The four bishops are:
Sunday 4 May The Right Reverend John Gladwin - Bishop of Chelmsford, 2004-2009
Sunday 11 May The Right Reverend Peter Price - Bishop of Bath and Wells, 2001-2013
Sunday 18 May The Right Reverend Tom Butler - Bishop of Southwark, 1998-2010
Sunday 25 May The Right Reverend Christopher Herbert – Bishop of St Albans, 1996-2009
A full transcript of this lecture is now available here.
Downing Street announcement: Diocese of Liverpool: the Right Reverend Paul Bayes
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Paul Bayes, BA, DipTh, Suffragan Bishop of Hertford, for election as Bishop of Liverpool in succession to the Right Reverend James Stuart Jones, Hon DLitt, BA, PGCE, whose resignation took effect on 31 August 2013.
The Right Reverend Paul Bayes
The Right Reverend Paul Bayes (aged 60) studied for the ordained ministry at Queen’s College Birmingham. He served his curacy at St Paul’s Whitley Bay in Newcastle diocese from 1979 to 1982. From 1982 to 1987 he was a University Chaplain in the West London Chaplaincy in the diocese of London. From 1987 to 1990 he served as a Team Vicar at High Wycombe in the diocese of Oxford and then as Team Rector there from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 2004 he was Team Rector of Totton in Winchester diocese, and from 2000 to 2004 he also served as Area Dean of Lyndhurst. From 2004 to 2010 he was a member of the staff of the Archbishops’ Council, working as National Mission and Evangelism Adviser. In 2007 he was appointed an Honorary Canon of Worcester Cathedral. Since 2010 he has been Suffragan Bishop of Hertford in the diocese of St Albans.
Paul Bayes is married to Kate, who is a head of sixth-form and a drama teacher. They have 3 grown-up children.
His particular concern is to find good ways of communicating the Christian faith within England as it actually is. His recreations include walking, reading, laughter and conversation.
Diocesan announcement: The next Bishop of Liverpool is to be the Right Revd Paul Bayes
Downing Street has announced that the next Bishop of Liverpool will be the Rt Revd Paul Bayes. Bishop Paul has been Bishop of Hertford since 2010 and will succeed the Rt Revd James Jones, becoming the 8th Bishop of Liverpool…
Update After publication the text of this press release was amended with the struck-out text being replaced by the text shown (by me) in italics.
Canon Dr Robert Innes to be next Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe
Tuesday 6th May 2014
The next Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe will be the Revd Canon Dr Robert Innes, currently Senior Chaplain and Chancellor of the Pro-Cathedral of Holy Trinity Brussels.
Canon Inness will succeed the Rt Revd Dr Geoffrey Rowell, who retired in October.
The appointment has been made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Lokoja,
representing the Standing Committee of the Primates of the Anglican Communiona representative appointed by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting, in consultation with representatives elected by the diocese and the Central Members of the Crown Nominations Commission.
The appointment has been made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Lokoja, a representative appointed by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting, in consultation with representatives elected by the diocese and the Central Members of the Crown Nominations Commission.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, said: “Robert Innes brings a wealth of invaluable experience and as such will make a fine successor to Geoffrey Rowell, under whose leadership the Diocese in Europe has flourished. The diocese is unique in the Church of England, covering a vast geographical area and serving in a myriad of varied circumstances. I am prayerfully expectant that under Robert’s leadership the diocese will continue to thrive and witness to the Kingdom of God.”
The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, said: “I very much look forward to deepening partnership in the gospel with Canon Innes both in Europe and in the House of Bishops and General Synod within the Church of England. His experience of sharing the gospel outside the UK will bring a wider perspective to the discussions of Bishops and Synod and his energy for mission is just right for the diocese at this time.”
Canon Innes was educated at Cambridge University. He worked for Arthur Andersen for a number of years before training for ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham in 1998. He served his title in the Diocese of Durham whilst also working as a lecturer at St John’s College, Durham (1995 to 1999) after which he spent six years as Vicar of St Mary Magdalene, Belmont. He then moved to the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe to become Senior Chaplain and Chancellor of the Pro-Cathedral of Holy Trinity, Brussels in 2005. He was additionally appointed a Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen in 2012.
Canon Innes will be commissioned and consecrated on the 20th July 2014 at Canterbury Cathedral. He will be based in Brussels and work closely with the Diocesan Office in London.
Watch the new Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe speaking at St Pancras International station, London, on Thursday 1 May 2014.
The diocesan website has its own announcement: New Diocesan Bishop Appointed.
Updated Sunday evening, Monday evening, Tuesday evening
Yesterday there was a procession from Westminster Abbey and a celebratory service at St Paul’s Cathedral to mark the 20th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Church of England. Every woman ordained in 1994 was invited to take part in the events.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Justin Welby, preached this sermon: Archbishop Justin’s sermon at service to mark 20 years of women priests
Press reports include these:
Edward Malnick The Telegraph Female priests have suffered, says Justin Welby
Getty Images has this marvellous photograph: Women Priests Gather To Celebrate Twentieth Anniversary Of Ordination Of Women Priests
Madeleine Davies Church Times Sunshine celebration for 20 years of women’s priesthood
Kate Boardman was there: Rejoice!
WATCH have issued a press release (copied below the fold). They also have some photographs of Ordinations at St Paul’s 20 years ago.
Press Release Tuesday 6 May 2014
Women and the Church (WATCH)
20th Anniversary Celebration of the Priesting of Women
On Saturday 3rd May 2014 the Church of England at last said ‘Yes!’ to women. Yes, we are glad that you are here; yes, we are thankful for your witness and care as priests; yes, we rejoice at your calling. Large numbers of people both ordained and lay, women and men, came together to give thanks and celebrate the ministry and vocation of our ordained women. It was particularly poignant and moving that the congregation in a packed St Paul’s stood and gave a prolonged ovation as the “women of 94” entered the Cathedral. We give thanks for the Archbishop of Canterbury who acted as deacon to the presidency of Canon Philippa Boardman at the Eucharist, and WATCH along with many others were moved by his sermon. Archbishop Justin spoke of the Church, “Male or female, it matters not, so long as in our beings, through our clay, in a willingness to risk everything and stop at nothing, we offer ourselves to Christ and for Christ”. His words felt both sensitive and appropriate and signalled the beginning of the healing process for so many in the Church.
Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH commented, “Saturday was a day of joy and affirmation for all women and all that they offer to the Church in the service of Christ. Those called to ordination were rightly the focus of celebration as their call from God was unheard by the Church for so long. WATCH recognises that there is still more to do and we are ready, as ever, to join in the Spirit’s dance of transformation. Alleluia.”
At the Gloucester Diocesan Synod this week, the bishop, The Right Reverend Michael Perham, delivered his presidential address. In this he reflected on the House of Bishops’ Statement in January on Same-sex Marriage and on the Pilling Report, the report of the Working Party on human sexuality, for which he was a member.
The diocesan press release contains a major part of what he said: Bishop Michael addresses the Church’s attitude to homosexual people.
I strongly recommend reading the full text of the address before commenting on it.
Church press release:
Downing Street has announced today four new Suffragan bishops in the Dioceses of York and Chelmsford. John Thomson (Selby), Paul Ferguson (Whitby), Roger Morris (Colchester), and Peter Hill (Barking), have been confirmed to become Suffragan bishops after their nomination was approved by the Queen.
Downing Street announcements:
Diocese of York announcement: New Bishops of Selby and Whitby
Diocese of Chelmsford announcement: New Bishops – Exciting times for a diocese on the move with God
Updated again Tuesday morning
Press releases from Church House, Westminster:
Archbishops’ Council committee upholds objection to moving residence of Bishop of Bath and Wells
The Committee appointed by the Archbishops’ Council to hear an objection to a Church Commissioners’ decision to move the residence of the diocesan bishop of Bath and Wells has upheld this objection from the Bishop’s Council. This means that the the exchange of residence from the Palace in Wells to The Old Rectory in Croscombe will not now go ahead.
The committee, which met in Wells from 28-29 April, issued its ruling today, having considered the grounds of objection, and all relevant circumstances, to the Church Commissioners’ decision to move the residence.
It was for the Commissioners to satisfy the committee that the objection should not be upheld and the ruling today stated that the Commissioners failed to do so. “The Old Rectory cannot be considered as providing accommodation which is reasonably suitable as a residence for the Bishop, even on a temporary basis.”
But in its determination the Committee stated it did not accept that the relevant legislation required a presumption to be made in favour of the status quo - living in the Palace. It simply stressed that the overwhelming weight of evidence showed that it is necessary for the Bishop to live in the City of Wells in order to exercise his ministry effectively…
Joint statement on the housing of the Bishop of Bath and Wells and this can also be found here with the title: Bishop of Bath & Wells to live at the Bishop’s Palace
The Church Commissioners for England and the Diocese of Bath and Wells have today issued a joint statement following the publication of the decision of the committee of the Archbishops’ Council…
The full determination with reasons can be found here.
The Bishop’s Palace website had this:
An historical day; Church Commissioners’ decision to re-house Bishops of Bath & Wells overturned
The Palace Trust, who manage The Bishop’s Palace, is delighted with today’s news that the Archbishops’ Council have overturned the Church Commissioners’ decision to house the next Bishop of Bath & Wells outside of the Palace.
The decision made by the Church Commissioners in December 2013, was met with immediate public outcry and the subsequent development of Diocese opposition reaching question time in the House of Commons.
“The decision delivered today to allow the next Bishop of Bath & Wells to reside on site is very welcome” says Rosie Martin, Chief Executive of The Bishop’s Palace.
“This reversal of such a major decision is unheard of, it’s a first, and there is a palpable sense of excitement this afternoon at The Bishop’s Palace. We can now plan a very warm and very genuine welcome to Bishop Peter Hancock and his wife, Jane when they arrive in June at their new home; The Bishop’s Palace. We sincerely look forward to our on-going and future relationship with the Church Commissioners”…
The Telegraph has this report: Bishop restored to palace after downsizing debacle
Church of England officials are facing humiliation after controversial plans to stop a bishop living in the medieval palace occupied by his predecessors for centuries were overturned…
The Church Times has this: Joy in Wells as decision to move bishop is reversed
Law & Religion UK has Accommodating bishops and the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure 2009
Announcement from Modern Church:
Leading theology journal challenges church leaders on same-sex partnerships and marriage
One of the most respected scholarly journals in the religious world is presenting a positive case for gay marriages and same-sex partnerships.
Amid controversy in church and society, marriage equality is taking effect not only in Britain but in many parts of the world. The latest [April] issue of Modern Believing offers an in-depth exploration of the theological questions raised. This issue is guest-edited by Savitri Hensman, an Ekklesia associate, and contains six articles by theologians presenting a positive response to the growing public acceptance of same-sex partnerships.
There will be a launch event to publicise this, details are over here.
The contents of the issue can all be found on the website of the Liverpool University Press.
The Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Reverend Martin Wharton, has announced his forthcoming retirement. There are these two items on the diocesan website.
The announcement does not give the exact date of the bishop’s retirement, but the Ecclesiastical Offices (Age Limit) Measure 1975 requires him to vacate his office on his 70th birthday, which is on 6 August 2014.
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
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.
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…
The new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales claims to be the largest diocese in England by area with an area of 2425 square miles.
History will be made on Easter Day, April 20th, when the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales is created, the first new diocese in the Church of England since 1929, and, at 2,425 square miles, the largest diocese in England by area.
The same figure can be found on pages 9 and 31 of the statement of need for the new diocese.
But table 1 of Statistics For Mission 2012 lists four dioceses with an area larger than this.
|diocese||area (sq miles)|
However, we understand that the total land area of the new diocese is actually 2630 square miles. This makes the diocese the third largest in terms of size after Lincoln and York (though there is not much in it!).
Another error is that the previous new diocese in the Church of England (Derby) was created in 1927 and not 1929.
Cole Moreton has been interviewing the Archbishop of Canterbury for The Telegraph (and not just about same-sex marriages).
Part One (Friday) The Archbishop of Canterbury’s deadly dilemma
Part Two (Sunday) Archbishop of Canterbury: Sometimes I think: ‘This is impossible’
There are also these news items by Cole Moreton and John Bingham.
Justin Welby: the anguish I face over gay marriage
Church holds on to Wonga shares.
Other news outlets have covered the first part of the interview.
Kashmira Gander The Independent Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says Anglican Church cannot support same-sex marriage
Jack Simpson The Independent Justin Welby: Same sex ceremonies a balancing act for Church of England
Ben Quinn The Guardian Justin Welby: church ‘struggling with reality’ of same-sex marriages
Overnight the Dioceses of Bradford, Wakefield, and Ripon & Leeds ended and the new Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales was born.
Madeleine Davies writes for the Church Times that Yorkshire dioceses will celebrate Paschal rebirth.
Nick Baines is Moving on. He will become the acting Bishop of Leeds until he gets made ‘legal’ on 8 June at York Minster.
The new diocese has a new website.
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
Updated again Monday evening
There are numerous media reports today about this event.
Savi Hensman has this analysis: Another crisis for Church of England, newspapers warn
Andrew Brown has this view: The gay Anglican wedding exposes a creaking compromise within the church
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
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.”
John Pritchard, the Bishop of Oxford, has announce that he will retire on 31 October 2014: Bishop John announces his retirement.
My list of current and forthcoming vacancies in diocesan sees is here.
Updated Saturday morning
Church of England press release:
Response to Government consultation on future of civil partnership
11 April 2014
The Church of England has submitted its response to the Government’s consultation document on the future of civil partnership. The 12 week consultation period opened in January and closes next Thursday (17 April).
The response, which can be found here, has been considered and approved by the Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops’ Standing Committee as well as by both Archbishops.
Details of the Government consultation can be found here:
The Church Times has reported this under the headline: Keep civil partnerships, Bishops tell Government.
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…
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.
Here are two more articles:
Two more diocesan synods have voted on the Women in the Episcopate legislation: Blackburn on Thursday and Southwell & Nottingham today. In each case the vote was in favour. 27 diocesan synods have now voted in favour and none against.
The next vote is in Worcester on 30 April.
Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.
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…
…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…
Susan Russell Archbishop of Canterbury chooses pathetic over prophetic
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…
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.
Guardian Andrew Brown African Christians will be killed if C of E accepts gay marriage, says Justin Welby
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
Today’s Church Times contains a substantial article by him entitled Gender: what difference does it really make?
SAME-SEX marriage has come to England and Wales, and in response Churches are invoking the term “complementarity”. Before using a word, we should think about it carefully. What might complementarity actually look like, in either same- or opposite-sex relationships?
I should like to offer some philosophical tools for thinking it through. Philosophy need not lead us into abstraction, but can help us to understand real lives and relationships. I also want to consider how complementarity features in marriage: not so much, here, within a marriage, but - more provocatively - between different kinds of marriage…
His recent book Why Sacraments? also contains some material on same-sex marriage.
The Archbishops’ Council has issued this press release:
Archbishops’ Council hearing on home for Bishop of Bath and Wells
31 March 2014
The Archbishops’ Council has appointed a committee to hear an objection raised by the Bishop’s Council of the Diocese of Bath and Wells to a Church Commissioners’ decision to move the residence of the diocesan bishop.
The committee will meet at the Palace in Wells from 28-29 April. It will consider the grounds of objection, and all relevant circumstances, to the Church Commissioners’ decision to move the bishop’s residence from the Palace in Wells to The Old Rectory in Croscombe. It is for the Commissioners to satisfy the committee that the objection should not be upheld. If it fails to do so then the move will not go ahead.
The committee members are all members of the Archbishops’ Council; Mrs Mary Chapman (Chair), Mr Philip Fletcher and the Venerable Cherry Vann.
The committee will visit both the Palace and the proposed new house in Croscombe and hear evidence from the Bishop’s Council and the Church Commissioners. Both parties may call witnesses. It has also invited the new Bishop of Bath and Wells, Rt Revd Peter Hancock, the Chapter of Wells Cathedral and the Palace Trust to make representations. The meeting will not be open to the public.
The Archbishops’ Council is required under the regulations relating to section 7 of the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure 2009 to hear the objection. It is the first time that an objection has been raised under Section 7.
The decision of the committee is final and the decision and full reasons will be announced at an agreed date, to be confirmed, after the meeting.
Benny Hazlehurst has written Why the Bishops have got it wrong…
As the first same-sex marriages are conducted in England and Wales, much of the country is celebrating with the happy couples, but there are a significant group of LGB&T people who are being excluded from that joy by the Church of England.
The Bishops’ Valentine’s Day guidance on same-sex marriage was a shock to the vast majority of LGB&T clergy in the Church of England.
While apparently being magnanimous to lay people who get married to someone of the same gender, offering ‘pastoral provision’ for informal prayers and full access to the sacraments, the guidance also prohibited existing clergy in same-sex partnerships from getting married and said that it would not ordain anyone in a same-sex marriage.
At the stroke of a pen, it reintroduced a prohibition on marriage for some priests in the CofE, opened the gates to ecclesiastical guerrilla warfare in dioceses, and further distanced the House of Bishops from a substantial proportion of their clergy and people, not to mention the population at large…
The House of Commons held a Westminster Hall debate on Women’s Contribution to the Ordained Ministry (Church of England) recently. The Hansard transcript is available here, and there is a video recording here.
WATCH issued this press release:
Westminster Hall Debate: Women’s Contribution to the Ordained Ministry (Church of England). Thursday 20 March
“I hope our debate has sent a message to the 4,200 ordained women that we greatly value what they do. The Church of England needs to embrace the gifts that men and women bring”, Caroline Spelman MP for Meriden.
WATCH congratulates Caroline Spelman MP and other Members of Parliament for taking part in the Westminster Hall debate on the role of ordained women in the Church of England over the past 20 years. Ordained women across the country will be affirmed to hear the many appreciative comments made on their contribution within Church and Society that has ensured that the priestly role has become “Transformational”. We hope all ordained women will welcome the recognition given in the debate that their work and ministry now seen as, “a valued, valuable and wonderful part of church life”. WATCH also concurs with the comment that much still needs to be done to ensure that the glass ceiling does not remain in place.
In the debate hope was expressed that the proposed legislation coming before the General Synod in July will go through. We welcome the assurance given by the Second Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry, that all efforts will be made for the Measure to be fully properly considered, approved and passed into law well before Christmas. Sir Tony also offered the hope that we will see the first women bishops consecrated shortly thereafter.
We appreciated his reading from the New Testament showing the loyalty of the women who stood witness to Christ’s crucifixion, and how Mary Magdalene was the one sent to the disciples to tell of his resurrection. In this context, we welcome and fully endorse his comment that the last 20 years have demonstrated that women priests are well able to proclaim the risen Christ throughout the land. By their ministry they have made and continue to make an enormous contribution to the life of the Church, community and country.
WATCH welcomes the appreciation of its long years of campaigning work, together with those supporters in Deanery, Diocesan and General Synods who wish to see women enter the Episcopate.
We concur with the commendation of The Archbishop of Canterbury for the “urgent and effective manner” in which he has worked for the new legislation since his appointment.
Sally Barnes coordinator of the WATCH Parliamentary Task Force said,
“WATCH would like to thank those Members of Parliament who took part in this debate for the many affirming comments made from their personal contacts with ordained women. We are all heartened to know that after so long the value and worth of their vocations have been so emphatically recognised, along with their spiritual, pastoral insights and gifts. We look forward to the same recognition being given to those women who will be appointed as bishops and to the time when the Church of England will have finally broken the stained glass ceiling of discrimination. Then we, with so many others, will rejoice fully.”
Steve Doughty of the Daily Mail reported that Church is ‘running out of men to be bishops’: Labour MP uses debate on women being consecrated to says Anglican talent pool is drying up.
WATCH and GRAS have welcomed the approval of the women in the episcopate legislation by a majority of diocesan synods.
WATCH issued this press release.
WATCH encouraged by Diocesan Synod support for new women bishops legislation
Over the weekend five more diocesan synods met and voted, overwhelmingly in favour, on the new women bishops legislation. 25 dioceses have now voted and agreed on the legislation meaning it can now be returned back to General Synod in July 2014 for final approval.
Adding all the votes together for the 25 dioceses which have now voted gives a 94% majority, compared with a 77% majority from the votes of all 44 dioceses for the previous legislation in 2011.
Hilary Cotton, chair of WATCH said, “We are hugely encouraged by the voting so far. In almost all the dioceses a mere handful of laypeople have voted against the legislation. With this extraordinarily high level of support, I cannot see any rationale that General Synod members might use to explain a second defeat in July. “
GRAS (Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) issued this press release yesterday.
Diocesan support for Women in the Episcopate
GRAS is delighted that the proposed legislation to enable women to be bishops has now received the support of the majority of the 44 Dioceses of the Church of England. So far the total number of Dioceses in favour of the legislation has reached 25 with none against. The measure now has the support required for General Synod to consider it for final approval when it meets in July. The remaining Dioceses are all meeting before the end of May and we expect them to give the measure the same level of support.
With such a strong mandate from the Diocesan Synods, which represent the ‘people in the pews’ of the Church of England, the General Synod would re-open serious questions about its fitness for purpose if it were to fail to give final approval to this measure in July.
GRAS hopes and prays that this legislation will receive final approval this year and make it possible for the first woman Bishop to be appointed in the Church of England as early as this year. However, we must be aware that this legislation will not bring about full equality between women and men in the Church of England, and there will remain a lot of work to be done in the legislation, structures and culture of the church before that day comes.
The main editorial article in today’s Observer refers to the Friday press conference.
Gay marriage: a joyous day for respect and love
…Inevitably, also in the anti-gay marriage campaign are traditionalists in favour of “natural” marriage. They argue, along with the Catholic church and the Church of England, that the Bible refers to marriage as the union of man and woman for the purposes of procreation. Clergy in the Church of England are prohibited from marrying same-sex partners. Faith and equality have yet to cohabit successfully in the established church. On Friday, the bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, lambasted his superiors for hypocrisy. “There are partnered gay bishops telling their partnered gay clergy you shouldn’t marry your partner, Fred,” he said. Colin Coward, of Changing Attitude, a liberal pressure group in the church, is optimistic of movement. “I am already fielding inquiries from people who want to know if they can get married in their local church… the Church of England will be forced to face up to that reality.”…
Paul Vallely writes in the Independent that The church has lost its way on the road to gay marriage
Ding-dong the bells are going to chime. Or perhaps more accurately, since gay marriage became legal in England and Wales, ding-ding. Or dong-dong.
Not that the bells in question are in churches. Both the Church of England and the Catholic Church are doctrinally opposed to the idea of same-sex unions, though at least seven clergy couples are preparing to marry in defiance of their bishops.
But the loudest clerical voices are opposed. The executive secretary of something which likes to call itself Anglican Mainstream was darkly blogging last week to the effect that recent floods and storms are God’s verdict on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. If that’s the mainstream, it doesn’t bear thinking about what might be found on the C of E’s wilder shores…
Kelvin Holdsworth wrote The sacrament lottery.
Benny Hazlehurst wrote Will the sun still rise tomorrow?
Gillan Scott wrote Gay marriages are here and this is what I’m celebrating.
And Rachel Muers has written about Quakers (Same-Sex) Marriage and the State.
The Guardian editorial on Monday morning: Gay marriage: fair do concludes this way:
…The greatest difficulty is faced by the Church of England, which is legally obliged to marry almost everyone in this country – but is now legally forbidden to marry gay and lesbian people no matter what the wishes of an individual priest or congregation may be. This is not an issue on which it can or should come to a single mind. It may always be divided over it but the great majority of the church is not homophobic and recoils from those churches abroad which are.
The archbishop of Canterbury – a reasonable opponent of gay marriage, not gay people – called last week for the church “to continue to demonstrate, in word and action, the love of Christ for every human being”. He means it, but he may not be widely believed or heard. In the last 20 years the church has behaved with an unattractive cowardice over the issue. Now that it is trying to be humble and brave, few people care. Unfair, perhaps, but not undeserved.
Today, the Archbishop of Canterbury was in Bury St Edmunds. See this report, with video, from the Bury Free Press what he said there: VIDEO: Archbishop of Canterbury addresses same-sex marriage during visit to Bury.
…Addressing the complexities the Church of England faces on the issue to an audience of 900 guests in St Edmundsbury Cathedral, he said: “We’ve a huge responsibility here for Christians all around the world.
“It’s complicated because throughout history the scriptures teach and the church is understood that sexual activity should be within marriage and marriage is between a man and a woman and to change our understanding of that is not something we can do quickly and casually. It has to be done with profound thought and not just because as there is there’s a very clear majority in this country in favour of gay marriage.
“Parliament has spoken very clearly and we accept that and that’s right and proper.
“We have to be those who are faithful to the tradition we’ve inherited and adapt and change as each generation comes along in a way that’s faithful to the God who loves us and we do that in the context of the whole church.
“It is unbelievably difficult, unbelievably painful and unbelievably complicated.
“I haven’t got a quick one-liner that solves the problem - I wish I had and I would dearly love there to be one but there isn’t.”
He continued: “The church does look very bad on this issue to many people in this country particularly younger people and we’re mugs if we think anything else.
“We need to be really blunt about that. We need to listen to them but we need to listen to Christians around the world and we need to listen to each other and in the discussions rather than shouting that one side’s homophobic and the other side’s betraying the gospel - we need actually to listen to each other as human beings.”
Some other items:
The Church Times had a leader titled: Room to manoeuvre. It concludes:
…So, what can be done? The most immediate prospect is an outbreak of small-arms fire, as liberals attempt to counter the House of Bishops’ negativity by expressing their welcome for same-sex marriage in various ways, perhaps not all legal. Similarly, we can expect conservatives to reassert traditional views of marriage, quietly supported by a significant proportion of churchgoers who remain uncomfortable with the new definition of marriage.
These are more than mere skirmishes, and the Bishops find themselves with little room to manoeuvre. The time and energy needed for the facilitated talks is running out, undermined by the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage in society at large, and the damage being done to the Church’s pastoral reputation every time a couple is rejected or a potential ordinand is turned down. If meaningful dialogue is to take place as it ought, a new interim position needs to be forged that takes a more realistic view of the new terrain. The half-hearted homophile passages in the Bishops’ pastoral guidance should be revised, and the reluctant concession about prayers for couples in civil partnerships needs to be strengthened and extended to same-sex marriage. The Church’s reservations about the equivalence of gay and straight relationships needs still to be acknowledged; but some of the pressure would be off. And then the Church might learn how to disagree well rather than, as at present, obnoxiously.
And there was also this news report: Gay-wedding day dawns as Church remains clouded.
Both the Bishop of Buckingham and the Dean of St Albans have written for Pink News:
Bishop of Buckingham: Allowing gay people to marry enriches the public understanding of marriage
Five more diocesan synods voted on the Women in the Episcopate legislation today: Bristol, Hereford, Lincoln, Norwich, Portsmouth.
So far I have heard that four (Bristol, Hereford, Lincoln and Portsmouth) have voted in favour by large majorities (in Hereford’s case unanimously), making a total of 24 in favour and none against.
All five voted in favour, making a total of 25 in favour and none against.
So a majority of the 44 diocesan synods have now voted in favour, and the legislation will definitely return to General Synod for final approval in July.
The next votes are in Blackburn (3 April), Southwell & Nottingham (5 April) and Worcester (30 April).
Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.
Andrew Brown at the Guardian has written two items:
Archbishop of Canterbury signals end of C of E’s resistance to gay marriage. The money quote in this is:
“I think the church has reacted by fully accepting that it’s the law, and should react on Saturday by continuing to demonstrate in word and action, the love of Christ for every human being.”
…Meanwhile, although Anglican conservatives mostly recognise that the battle has been lost in wider society, it makes them more determined that the Church of England should not change. This is increased by the fear of alienating African churches, which have taken an increasingly homophobic line in the last decades.
The resulting position is one of exquisite embarrassment. Very few in the church are not embarrassed by the antics of anti-gay campaigners. Their numbers include the General Synod member Andrea Williams, who last year urged Jamaicans to keep homosexual acts criminal, and linked homosexuality with paedophilia - or Andrew Symes, an Oxford vicar who wrote on his blog that he believed the winter flooding was in effect part of God’s just punishment for sexual permissiveness.
At the same time these people are plugged into a large and active network of African conservatives, who hope and pray that the Church of England will break up over the issue and leave the liberal rump (as they see it) to wither.
Meanwhile, the wider world simply cannot understand the fuss, and every statement by a bishop or archbishop suggesting compassion or understanding for the liberal position simply increases the pressure on the present compromise, which has left the Church of England prevented by government ministers from holding gay marriages…
John Bingham at the Telegraph wrote: Clergy should defy Church’s ‘morally outrageous’ gay marriage ban, says bishop
The Rt Rev Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, said priests should be “creative” to get around restrictions on blessings for same-sex couples and that gay clergy who wish to marry should do so in defiance of the official line.
He also claimed that several current serving bishops are themselves in gay partnerships, and urged them to publicly acknowledge their status for the sake of “honesty and truthfulness” and even consider marrying.
Joined by an alliance of seven retired bishops, he condemned the Church’s position on gay marriage as “morally outrageous” and said it made him “ashamed”…
Ruth Gledhill at The Times (subscription required) has written Bishop defies Church to back clergy in same-sex marriage
A bishop has backed clergy who want to enter into same-sex marriages in defiance of the Church of England’s ban.
The Bishop of Buckingham, the Right Rev Alan Wilson, said that in spite of the official line that gay clergy cannot get married, there were gay bishops in the established Church who were in partnerships themselves, and called on them to “come out”…
The statement from the Bishop of Salisbury (already mentioned in the comments on earlier threads) is here: Bishop Congratulates and Prays for Same-Sex Couples Getting Married
The Right Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, has congratulated same-sex couples who will be getting married from tomorrow and assured them of his prayers.
Bishop Nicholas said:
“Tomorrow, the first same-sex civil marriages will take place in this country. This is a new reality being undertaken by people who wish their relationships to have a formal status which embodies a commitment to them being faithful, loving and lifelong. These are virtues which the Church of England wants to see maximised in society. I therefore congratulate those who are getting married, assure them of my prayers, and wish them well in all that lies ahead.”
1. The Church of England teaches that marriage is the lifelong union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others for life. To say that this can now apply equally to same sex couples has proved controversial, though Parliament voted for the new legislation by unexpectedly large majorities. The Church of England has not changed its understanding of marriage and is unable to conduct same sex weddings. However, it recognises that new circumstances have arisen and that change has happened very quickly. There is a spectrum of views among the members of the Church of England which is preparing for a two year discussion about sexuality.
2. Recent Church of England guidance on same-sex civil marriage supports lay people who enter into that new possibility. It can be expected that some people doing so will want support and prayer from Christians that their relationships will be loving, faithful and lifelong. Church of England clergy are not presently permitted to enter same-sex marriages.
3. In England and Wales there are something like 7,000 Civil Partnerships a year and a similar number of same sex marriages can be expected. This is less than 3% of the 240,000 heterosexual marriages that take place each year. There are about 118,000 divorces a year.
The Dean of Durham has published a blog article: Equal Marriage: crossing the threshold. Here’s an excerpt:
…Fourthly, let me acknowledge the pain and anger of gay people who continue to feel excluded by the church’s stance on equal marriage. The recent guidance from the House of Bishops has not reassured them, and it’s now clear that some bishops were far from comfortable with the advice they had issued. However, I do not think that this represents a stable position. As equal marriage becomes accepted by society and, as the indications are showing, by the majority of lay people in the church, we shall see a shift in the official stance. In time, the church will accommodate itself to this development, and recognise that by blessing same-sex marriages and even solemnising them, it is affirming the principle that covenanted unions are fundamental to the way we see (and more important, the way God sees) human love. Precisely the same happened with the remarriage of divorced people in church, and with female bishops. It takes time for change to be received and its theological significance understood: not much comfort to those asking the church for recognition now, but in time I believe we shall get there…
The Camden New Journal carries a letter Same-sex weddings with our blessing signed by many clergy in Camden expressing support for same-sex marriage. The letter is reproduced in full below the fold.
THIS week, and for the first time, gay and lesbian couples will be celebrating their wedding day in many venues across Camden.
Some will have waited many years for this moment to celebrate the love that they have found in each other; and for all there will have been opposition and struggle at times. Their wedding day will be a time of joy and happiness as they make vows, declare their love, and rejoice with family and friends.
As members of the clergy of the Church of England in Camden we want to offer our congratulations to them and their families and friends and our very best wishes to them for many happy years of married life together.
Marriage brings strength to both partners in good times and in bad, so that they may find strength, companionship and comfort and grow to maturity in love. Marriage is a way of life that is holy and is a sign of unity and fidelity which all should uphold and honour. In the marriage service of the Church we begin the service with these words: “God is love, and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them” 1 John 4:16 – we pray for all those who are marrying this year – that they may find rich comfort and blessing in each other for the whole of their life together.
REV MARJORY BROWN
St Mary’s, Primrose Hill
REV ANDREW CAIN
St Mary’s, Kilburn & St James West Hampstead
REV CHRIS CAWSE
Holy Cross, Cromer Street
REV ANNETTE FRITZ-SHANKS
Emmanuel, West Hampstead
REV BOB HANSON retired
REV JENNIE HOGAN
Chaplain, Goodenough House, WC1
REV ROSS HUTCHISON
St Mary’s, Kilburn & St James, West Hampstead
REV DAVID JOHN
St Cuthbert’s, West Hampstead
REV JONATHAN KESTER
Emmanuel, West Hampstead
REV PAUL NICOLSON
St Saviour’s, Eton Road & St Peter’s, Belsize
REV DAVID PEEBLES
St George’s, Bloomsbury
REV DAVID RUSHTON
Chaplain, Royal Free Hospital
REV ANNE STEVENS
New St Pancras, Euston Road
REV PIPPA TURNER
Chaplain, Royal Veterinary College
REV MARK WAKEFIELD
St Mary’s, Primrose Hill
REV ALYSOUN WHITTON
Emmanuel, West Hampstead
REV CLAIRE WILSON retired
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry) answered questions in the House of Commons yesterday, including this one on Same-sex Marriage (Priests).
Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): What the Church of England’s policy is on priests entering a same-sex marriage; and what guidance has been given on what would happen to a priest who did so.
Sir Tony Baldry: Clergy and ordinands remain free to enter into civil partnerships. The House of Bishops in its pastoral guidance distributed on 15 February said that it was not willing for those in same-sex marriages to be ordained to any of the three orders of ministry—deacon, clergy or bishops—and that
“it would not be appropriate conduct for someone in holy orders to enter into a same-sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church’s teaching in their lives”.
As with any alleged instance of misconduct, each case would have to be considered individually by the local diocesan bishop.
Mr Bradshaw: In light of the recent Pilling report, does the right hon. Gentleman believe it would be sensible if a hard-working, popular priest got married with the full support of his or her parish and congregation and was then disciplined, sacked or defrocked?
Sir Tony Baldry: The situation is clear. The Church of England’s understanding of marriage remains unchanged: marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, and under the canons of the Church of England marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman. The canons of the Church of England retain their legal status as part of the law of England and I would hope that no priest who has taken an oath of canonical obedience would wish to challenge canon law and the law of England.
In an exchange on Twitter yesterday, Peter Ould asked “Who gives Tony Baldry MP the steer on what to say in response to questions in the Commons?” and churchstate (the Church of England Parliamentary team) answered “Process in a nutshell: we make suggestions after consulting senior colleagues & specialists. He then decides what to say.”
The Church of England issued this press release this afternoon.
Bishop Peter Ball to be prosecuted
27 March 2014
The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, Chair of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee said today:
“We can confirm that the Crown Prosecution Service announced today that Bishop Peter Ball will be prosecuted for misconduct in public office and indecent assault. The church has been working closely with Sussex police throughout this investigation. The full police and CPS statements are now available. The Church of England takes any allegations of abuse very seriously and is committed to being a safe place for all. But we can never be complacent. We would like to urge any victims or those with information to feel free to come forward knowing that they will be listened to in confidence.
We have also put support systems in place for all those affected in anyway by today’s charges. Should anyone have further information or need to discuss the personal impact of this news the Church has worked with the NSPCC to set up a confidential helpline no. 0800 389 5344. Although we cannot comment on this case any further at the moment, lessons must be learnt and it is our mission that all our churches are places of safety and joy, of justice and the enrichment of life.”
Some press reports:
Madeleine Davies Church Times Bishop is charged over sex-assault offences
BBC Former Bishop Peter Ball faces sex offence charges
Sandra Laville The Guardian Church of England bishop charged with indecently assaulting two young males
The bishop was originally arrested in November 2012, as we reported at the time.
Comments are closed for this article.
The Church Times article by Will Adam which was previously subscriber-only is now available to all: Breaking the rules on gay marriage.
PICTURE the scene: the Bishop’s post is being opened, and among the invitations, job applications, and clerical outfitters’ catalogues are three troubling pieces of correspondence.
The first is from the Diocesan Director of Ordinands, informing the Bishop that an ordinand in training, who is in the process of looking for a title post in the diocese, has entered into a same-sex marriage.
The second is a letter of complaint from a group of parishioners that the Vicar of X has just used the form of service for prayer and dedication after a civil marriage from Common Worship: Pastoral Services to bless a same-sex marriage in church.
The third is from the churchwarden of Y to say that the Rector has just come back from holiday with the news that the trip was a honeymoon, and a new (same-sex) spouse has moved into the Rectory.
What is the Bishop to do?
This week’s Church Times carries a report by Madeleine Davies headlined Bishops start quizzing their clergy.
Gay clergy have this week been describing the ramifications of the pastoral guidance on same-sex marriage, issued by the House of Bishops last month. Bishops have begun meeting gay clergy, at least five of whom are reported to be planning to marry…
And there is a report in the Camden New Journal Two Camden vicars to defy Church of England ban on blessing same-sex marriages.
…In what could become a test case, the Rev Anne Stevens, of St Pancras New Church, in Euston, and Father Andrew Cain, of St James’s in West Hampstead and St Mary’s in Kilburn, will campaign for the law to be changed.
Blessing services will be offered at St Pancras church, with prayers and thanksgiving at St James’s, when the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 comes in on March 29.
Under the act there is a “quadruple lock” that prevents the marriages or blessing the marriages of gay couples in the Church of England.
More Camden churches are expected to follow their lead with a letter signed by local clergy due to be released next week…
Andrew Symes has written at Anglican Mainstream Same sex marriage – are we allowed to pray about it? Try to ignore his comment about the weather.
There is a very interesting exchange of views about the Pilling report between Sean Doherty and Malcolm Brown.
See A Response to the Pilling Report and then A response to Sean Doherty’s KLICE Comment on the Pilling Report The latter explains quite a lot about how the report was written.
Updated Monday evening
In the continuing saga of the Bishop’s Palace at Wells (previous episode here), the Bishop’s Council of the diocese of Bath & Wells has formally objected to the Church Commissioners’ decision to house the Bishop elsewhere.
A news story on the diocesan website states:
At a special meeting on Tuesday 18 March, members of the Bishop’s Council of the Diocese of Bath & Wells unanimously agreed to lodge a formal objection against the Church Commissioners’ decision to move the Bishop of Bath & Wells out of the Palace in Wells and into temporary accommodation in Croscombe.
A spokesman for the Diocese says: “On 27 February this year we were given official notice by the Church Commissioners about their decision to move the Bishop to The Old Rectory in Croscombe. We were advised of our right to object within 28 days and we are taking the opportunity to do so. We now await the outcome.”
The Church Commissioners have issued this statement:
Statement from Church Commissioners on Wells Palace
24 March 2014
The Church Commissioners have received from the Bishop’s Council of the Diocese of Bath and Wells a formal objection to the proposal to move the residence of the Bishop of Bath and Wells from Wells Palace to Croscombe.
At a meeting of a committee of the Board on 21st March it was agreed to forward the objection to the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England who will in due course rule on the matter.
The Commissioners welcome the opportunity to present their case to the Council.
Seven more diocesan synods voted on the Women in the Episcopate legislation today: Bath & Wells, Birmingham, Bradford, Lichfield, Liverpool, Oxford and Peterborough.
We await the results from Bath & Wells, but the motion was approved by large majorities in the other dioceses.
We await precise voting figures from Lichfield, but t The motion was approved in all seven synods.
So far 20 dioceses have voted in favour and none against. At least 23 dioceses must vote in favour if the draft legislation is to return to General Synod in July.
The next diocesan synod votes will be on 29 March in Bristol, Hereford, Lincoln, Norwich and Portsmouth. If approved by those synods it will have passed the threshold of more than half the dioceses, guaranteeing its return to the General Synod.
Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here.
Updated Tuesday evening
There is an article in today’s Church Times by Mike Higton titled Gay-marriage debate: it’s all about gender. This is available only to subscribers, but his two earlier blog articles were linked in one of our many posts here about responses to the recent Bishops’ statement on same-sex marriage.
For convenience here again are those earlier links:
More recently, Mike has started writing about the earlier CofE document Men and Women in Marriage.
Here are the links to his next two articles:
…The report is explicitly presented as a follow-up to the 2012 document. In the Foreword, the Archbishops say that it aims to provide a ‘short summary of the Church of England’s understanding of marriage’ and, more fully, that
It sets out to explain the continued importance of and rationale for the doctrine of the Church of England on marriage as set out in The Book of Common Prayer, Canon B30, the Common Worship Marriage Service and the teaching document issued by the House in September 1999 [The reference is to Marriage: a Teaching Document from the House of Bishops of the Church of England, Church House Publishing]
That description could be misconstrued, however. Our report did not provide an evenly balanced summary of all the main things that the Church of England has wanted to say about the nature and purpose of marriage, but was an attempt to set out more fully the background in the Church of England’s thinking to the specific arguments made in the debate about same-sex marriage. So nearly everything in the report is (as the title says) about the necessity of marriage taking place between a man and a woman – and about ‘how the sexual differentiation of men and women is a gift of God’ (§3). Other topics (including such central topics as faithfulness and public commitment) appear only briefly, and only insofar as they relate to that central topic.
Like the original response to the government consultation, then, this is a report about gender – specifically about the importance of gender difference to marriage, but also more broadly about the wider importance of gender in society. And that’s where my analysis, spread over the next two or three posts, is going to focus.
…I said in the previous post that I ask was going to take seriously the Archbishops commendation of this report for study, and ask what agenda it suggests for further deliberation. In this post, I am going to point to a central facet of the report that I think should provide some shared ground between those who accept and those who reject its conclusions – before turning to a range of questions that the report’s detailed arguments have raised for me, which I think provide an agenda for further deliberation.
I am very aware that saying ‘We need to discuss x!’ can be a way of saying ‘You all need to agree with me about x, and if you thought just a little more clearly, you would do!’ It can also be a way of saying ‘None of you have been thinking about x. I am the first person to whom these ideas have occurred. Bow before me and my brilliance!’ So let me say right away that I know that good, rich, complex and interesting work has been done on all the questions I am about to raise – and that some of it has been done elsewhere by people involved in the writing of this report. And let me say that I do not think that further deliberation will lead to agreement, or even that it will lead to a general drift towards more liberal (or less liberal) conclusions. I have thoughtful, intelligent, well-read friends who occupy all sorts of different positions on these matters, and many of them know a very great deal more about them than I do.
Here, as elsewhere, my hope is not for consensus, but for a better quality of disagreement – and for more helpful public expressions of those disagreements…
The third article in this series is now available: Desire and Discipline. It’s long, but worth reading through. It concludes:
…I am writing these posts not because I’m an expert in this area (I’m not), but because I happen to find myself standing on the overlap between two worlds – an academic world in which these questions and insights in relation to gender have rightly become unavoidable, and a world of church report writing in which they barely appear on the agenda. All I’m doing, in effect, is saying to the latter world, ‘Hey, you should talk to these other people, because they taught me everything I know about this, and they’re really worth listening to!’ So if you’ve got this far, and want to find the good stuff – well, go and read Susannah Cornwall, Rachel Muers, Sarah Coakley, Steve Holmes, Eugene Rogers, Christopher Roberts, Rowan Williams, Beth Felker Jones, James Brownson, for starters. They don’t all agree (to say the least), and they won’t all back up what I’ve said above, but they’ll certainly change how you approach these questions.
Here is the full text of the letter mentioned in a news item in the Church Times today. That news item, North-London PCC votes against Bishops’ same-sex marriage guidance, is available only to subscribers.
To the Bishop of St Albans
from the Rector, Churchwardens and Parochial Church Council of East Barnet.
1. In partnership with our bishops, we are committed to upholding the Established ministry of the Church of England in this parish. We believe that the church exists for the benefit of all: people of all faiths and none.
2. Gay, lesbian and bisexual people, and others who do not identify as heterosexual, live in our parish, as they do in every parish in the land. [note 1] The Church of England’s bishops stand firmly against homophobia. [note 2] It is implicit, therefore, that the church exists for everyone, to enfold the lives of all into our parish communities and incorporate them into the Body of Christ, whatever their sexuality.
3. The ongoing prohibition upon the public blessing of same-sex couples implies that the church has reservations about those who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. It suggests that the church does not cherish them so much as fully to embrace them. We believe this is at odds with the bishops’ firm rejection of homophobia.
4. The House of Bishops states “the proposition that same sex relationships can embody crucial social virtues is not in dispute” and it wishes to see virtues of “genuine mutuality and fidelity” in all relationships “maximized in society.” [note 3] This implies that same-sex relationships can be positive and can contribute to the common good.
5. By limiting our ability publicly to bless and recognize God’s grace in same-sex relationships, the House of Bishops implies that the church does not view them as positive and does not wish to encourage them. We believe this contradicts the bishops’ desire to see the virtues of these relationships maximized in society.
6. If we cannot publicly recognize God’s grace in same-sex relationships, we do not believe we can fully incorporate people in these relationships, or those who might enter into these relationships, into the community of faith. We believe this is
dissonant with the mission of the church.
7. We urge the House of Bishops to adopt the Pilling Report’s recommendation that “a priest with the agreement of the relevant PCC should be free to mark the formation of a permanent same-sex relationship in a public service.” [note 4]
2 March 2014
1 2011-12 Integrated Household Survey, Office for National Statistics
2 “We are united in welcoming and affirming the presence and ministry within the Church of gay and lesbian people, both lay and ordained. We are united in acknowledging the need for the Church to repent for the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke and affirming the need to stand firmly against homophobia wherever and whenever it is to be found.” Statement from College of Bishops, 27 January 2014
3 House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance, 14 February 2014
4 The Pilling Report, Church House Publishing (2013), pp. 149
The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced that Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis back Anglican-Catholic anti-slavery and human trafficking initiative.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis have given their backing to a ground-breaking ecumenical initiative to combat modern slavery and human trafficking.
The agreement to help eradicate an injustice affecting up to 29million people was co-signed on March 17th by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Sir David Moxon; the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science, Bishop Sanchez Sorondo; Dr Mahmoud Azab on behalf of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Egypt; and Mr Andrew Forrest, the founder of the large international philanthropic anti-slavery organisation from Perth, Western Australia “Walk Free”.
The joint statement by the Global Freedom Network signatories, which underscores the searing personal destructiveness of modern slavery and human trafficking, calls for urgent action by all other Christian churches and global faiths. The Global Freedom Network is an open association and other faith leaders will be invited to join and support the initiative…
The Anglican Centre in Rome and the Vatican have issued press releases.
Major Faith Initiative to Combat Slavery
New Initiative by Global Faiths to Eradicate Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking by 2020
The second of these includes the text of the statement.
The initiative has attracted media attention around the world.
Tim Wyatt Church Times New interfaith body will tackle slavery
Christopher Baker and Helena Liu The Guardian Will Andrew Forrest convince Australia’s billionaires to open their wallets?
Robert Mickens, Mark Brolly and Liz Dodd The Tablet Faiths unite against human trafficking
James MacKenzie The Star (Malaysia) Muslim and Christian leaders unite to combat modern slavery
Stoyan Zaimov Christian Post Europe Catholics, Anglicans and Muslims Unite in Global Freedom Network Aimed at Eradicating Slavery
The Nation (Pakistan) Initiative by Global Faiths to Eradicate Modern Slavery, Human Trafficking by 2020
Peter Sherlock The Conversation The Global Freedom Network reminds us that with acts of faith comes responsibility
Sydney Morning Herald editorial Andrew Forrest’s inspiring role in fight against slavery
Church annual statistics for 2012: Almost 1,000 Occasional Services each day of the week and no significant change in attendance over past decade
The Church of England today released its annual statistics for 2012.
Overall in 2012, on average 1.05m people attended Church of England churches each week showing no significant change over the past decade. Figures for all age average weekly attendance show around 1 in 5 churches growing, and just over this number declining with 57% remaining stable.
In 2012 the Church of England conducted over 356,000 services of baptism, wedding and funerals at an average of about 6,700 each week - almost 1,000 per day - marking the rites of passage in people’s lives in communities across the country. Last year the Church of England baptised almost 140,000 people (2,700 per week), performing around 56,000 marriages in (1000 per week) and conducted 160,000 funerals (3,000 per week).
Christmas and Easter services continue to attract higher numbers with services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day attracting around 2.5m people and services at Easter attracting 1.4m people.
The 2012 statistics also suggest that around 38,000 people who had not previously attended church were welcomed in to a worshipping community in 2013, compared to just over 19,000 who died or who left due or illness. Nearly 23,000 joined a church due to moving into an area compared to 18,500 leaving because they moved away.
The 2012 figures also show that more than 100,000 young people aged 11 to 25 attended activities connected to the Church in 2012. Around 28,000 adults work voluntarily with young people aged 11-17 and around 2,000 are employed to do.
Dr Bev Botting, Head of Research and Statistics for the Archbishops’ Council said: “These statistics for 2012 show that weekly attendance over the past decade has not changed significantly. The introduction of cleaner data and more rigorous methodological approaches and analysis means these figures provide a clearer picture of Anglican churchgoing in the decade to 2012.”
Press release today from Number 10.
Suffragan Bishop of Lewes: Richard Charles Jackson
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Richard Charles Jackson to the Suffragan See of Lewes.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Richard Charles Jackson, MA (Oxon) MSc, Diocesan Advisor for Mission and Renewal, in the Diocese of Chichester, to the Suffragan See of Lewes, in the Diocese of Chichester, in succession to the Right Reverend Wallace Parke Benn, BA, on his resignation on 31 August 2012.
Reverend Richard Charles Jackson
The Reverend Richard Jackson (aged 53), studied first at Christ Church, Oxford and then at Cranfield Institute of Technology. He studied for his ordination at Trinity College, Bristol. From 1994 to 1998 he served his first curacy at Lindfield in Chichester diocese. From 1998 to 2009 he was Vicar at Rudgwick, in Chichester diocese, and was also Rural Dean for Horsham from 2005 to 2009. Since 2009 he has been Diocesan Advisor for Mission and Renewal.
Richard Jackson is married to Deborah and they have 3 children. His interests include hill walking, carpentry and motorcycling.
The Chichester diocesan website has more about the new bishop: New Bishop of Lewes Appointed.
Continuing the soap opera, but broadening out a little from the bishops statement.
David Pocklington Clergy, same-sex marriage and (quasi-) law
This is a good summary of recent discussion on the legal issues affecting CofE clergy who choose to enter a same-sex marriage.
Miranda Threlfall-Holmes Sex and Marriage
The controversial thing about same sex marriage - as distinct from same sex relationships, same sex civil partnerships, or even plain old same sex sex - is that if sex takes place within marriage, it isn’t sinful. Not all marriages (or other relationships) involve sex, of course. But it is the sex that is controversial.
Those who take an unhealthy interest in other people’s sexual sin have had a mantra - all sex outside of marriage is wrong. Marriage good, all other sex bad, is meant to be the rule. (Its a rule few people observe, but the point of this sort of rule is idealism rather than realism).
And that, of course, is why the idea of a couple of the same sex marrying each other, if you think gay relationships are always wrong, is a problem. Thats why the Church authorities - who argued vigorously against Civil Partnerships when they were first mooted - are now desperate for clergy in those partnerships to stay there, rather than get married.
Tom Brazier A promise is a promise
This is not a post about same sex marriage and the church. But I want it to be read by those who are talking about same sex marriage and the church. I especially want it to be read by @notsuchgoodnews, @MirandaTHolmes, @kateboardman, @StLCowley, @churchnw6, @StPancrasChurch, @changingatt and others who possibly disagree with me. Because this is something we should be discussing…
Church Times Gavin Drake Westminster rules on gay marriage in shared churches and chapels
Sam Norton Where is the redeeming grace?
There is one aspect of the conversation about gay marriage and so on which is really starting to become clear to me, which is, put simply, that to get from a conservative premise to a conservative conclusion you need to resort to some distinctly ungracious arguments…
Updated Saturday evening
Four more diocesan synods voted on the Women in the Episcopate legislation today: Carlisle, Ely, St Albans, Winchester.
At the time of writing I have not seen the result from Carlisle, but the other three all voted in favour by substantial majorities.
All today’s results are now available; all four dioceses voted in favour by substantial majorities. So far 13 dioceses have voted in favour and none against. At least 23 dioceses must vote in favour if the draft legislation is to return to General Synod in July.
The next diocesan synod votes will be on 22 March in Bath & Wells, Birmingham, Bradford, Lichfield, Liverpool, Oxford and Peterborough.
Detailed voting figures for all dioceses are here. I have added running totals of the voting figures to the bottom of this table.
Updated twice on Tuesday evening
The soap opera continues.
Bosco Peters has written Rethinking marriage? He concludes this way:
…By the 1928 marriage rite, wives obeying their husband had gone, and with it the biblical submit-and-subject wording. In only one prayer was the allusion retained that in marriage “is signified and represented the spiritual marriage and unity betwixt Christ and his Church”. [In the CofE Common Worship rite that becomes, “they shall be united with one another in heart, body and mind, as Christ is united with his bride, the Church” or “they shall be united in that love as Christ is united with his Church”].
Because the union of Christ and His church is an unbreakable union, Marriage-is-like-Christ-and-His-church imagery comes together with marriage-is-indissoluble. Furthermore inevitably with the inequality of Christ and His Church, this image comes with an inequality between husband and wife, and a distinction of their roles.
New Zealand Anglicanism shifted from a firmly-held “marriage cannot be dissolved” to “a couple when getting married should intend to stay together”. ALL references to Marriage-is-like-Christ-and-His-church imagery were completely removed from the three different rites available for getting married in the 1989 New Zealand Prayer Book. Even the Church of England’s own Common Worship rite has removed all but the tiniest single vestigial allusion (quoted above) to what was clearly once a dominant biblical paradigm for marriage.
What once again is clear when those who say the debates are not sourced in prejudice about homosexuality, but are about integrity to scripture and tradition, is that whilst a sea change has occurred in the understanding of marriage, they have only begun to register an issue when the direction heads towards committed same-sex couples.
In the discussion about whether gender difference is essential to marriage it is clear where the inner logic of the trajectory of Christian marriage changes leads, and that the Church of England bishops’ statement is on the wrong side of that trajectory.
Andrew Goddard has written an article in two long parts for Fulcrum:
The divisions within the Church of England and the multiple challenges it faces in the light of the advent of same-sex marriage have become even clearer and more serious in the weeks since the House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance. In what follows I explore three areas where the bishops have been criticised and offer a defence of their stance…
This second part turns to highlight three areas of ambiguitiy, unclarity or inconsistency before concluding with some thoughts on the challenges we now face…
He concludes with this:
…One reason that further practical guidance is unlikely from the House of Bishops is that some of its members do not personally believe that the church’s doctrine of marriage as being a union of a man and a woman is true and something which “most benefits society” (para 8). Others, although personally convinced of such a view, are concerned about the implications – in church and wider society – of following that commitment through in church teaching and practice. Those concerns will have been deepened by the strength of criticism they have faced for upholding the teaching and following it through even to the extent they have done.
The sad reality is that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Although it is reported that only one bishop voted against the guidance, it is also being claimed that a significant number, even a majority, are not personally happy with it. The reactions to the guidance make clear just how extensive the divisions are in the wider church and thus how difficult the environment for the facilitated conversations is going to be. They also perhaps highlight two areas where the conversations need to focus their attention but which were largely unaddressed by the Pilling Report:
(1) What doctrine of marriage should the Church have and how should it then bear faithful witness to that in ordering its own life and in mission in a wider society which recognises same-sex marriage? and
(2) What is to be done, what new church structures may be needed, so that those who find themselves unable to accept the conclusions on the doctrine of marriage and its practical implications can faithfully bear witness to their understanding of marriage without undermining the mind of the majority or condemning the Church of England to continuing destructive conflict over this issue?
Giles Fraser has written Gay clergy marriages: the final chapter of the Anglican Communion fiction.
…All this means that the bishops won’t be able to do a damn thing about their clergy having same-sex marriages. As the bishop of Buckingham explained: “If a member of the clergy wants to marry, I may like or not like the match, but I have no legal power to stop them marrying.” And when this happens, the toys will be thrown from many a Nigerian church pram. The fiction that is the Anglican Communion will be over and we can go back to being the Church of England, rather than the local arm of the empire at prayer. And thank God for that.
Peter Ould has published CDM or EJM? in which an anonymous correspondent who has “considerable experience in the exercising of the Clergy Discipline Measure and the processes before it and who has a firm founding in Ecclesiastical Law ” writes that:
…There can be no doubt that for a member of the clergy to commit matrimony in a civil register office with another person of the same sex, would be both perfectly legal according to the new Act of Parliament, and conduct unbecoming a clerk in holy orders so far as the Church of England is concerned. That Act of Parliament acknowledges that the law of the Church diverges from that of the state in such matters, and expressly permits the Church to act independently where marriage discipline is concerned. Even if Church legislation directly contradicts the law of Parliament, the Act expressly allows for this.
The House of Bishops has expressly stated that it will not allow the clergy to enter into same-sex marriages. This statement forms part of the discipline of the Church, since the House of Bishops is the teaching authority for the Church, and its members administer the CDM. All of the clergy in office have signed the Declaration of Assent and have taken an oath of canonical obedience. The latter commits them to obeying the canon law of the Church of England, including the lawful directions of their bishop where he has authority to do so.
There can therefore be no doubt that a CDM tribunal will rule that a same-sex marriage by one of the clergy constitutes conduct unbecoming, just as surely as if the minister concerned had committed adultery or some other act of immorality of a sexual nature. This is not a matter of doctrine but of morality…
But do read the whole article.
Andrew Symes of Anglican Mainstream has written for the American Anglican Council: Gay marriage and the Church’s response
…But also among those holding to a conservative position there are divisions. Should Christian sexual ethics be explained outside the community of faith? Should Anglicans protest against gay marriage outside registry offices, or the teaching of homosexual practice in schools? Could it ever be right (even if not canonically appropriate) to refuse sacraments to those who have entered a same sex marriage against pastoral advice? Should people with same sex attraction be enabled to seek skilled help to change if they so wish? What about the future of the Church – would it be a good thing to participate in facilitated conversations? Are there any circumstances in which it might be the best thing to form a separate Anglican administration, either linked to the Church of England or not? Is GAFCON the solution? All of these questions separate the confessing C of E Anglicans…
The Crown Nominations Commission held its second meeting to consider the See of Hereford on 25 and 26 February, and was unable to make a choice. The Commission will reconvene in May and June. The news was announced in this press release published on the Hereford diocesan website.
Archbishop of Canterbury
March 7th 2014
From the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Diocese of Hereford
Vacancy in the See of Hereford - meeting of the Crown Nominations Commission
An update from the Archbishop of Canterbury - Chair of the Commission
Many of you will have been keeping the Crown Nominations Commission in your prayers last week, for which many thanks. It is good for those of us undertaking this work to know that we are being prayed for.
We thought it important to provide an update on the progress of our deliberations which are still continuing. The Commission has had two meetings. Following interviews, we did not feel able to make a choice as to whom God is calling to be the next Bishop of Hereford and felt that we needed more time to discern the next stages for mission and ministry in the Diocese. Taking time over appointments is important and the Commission is utterly committed to finding the right person to be your Bishop. We are therefore making arrangements to reconvene on 1 May and 6 June 2014.
As ever, I will be keeping the whole diocese in my prayers.
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury
Anglican Mainstream has published an email sent by the EGGS Committee to the members of EGGS. EGGS is the Evangelical Group of the General Synod, and the names of the committee members are shown here. The full text of the email is copied below the fold.
The BBC Radio 4 programme Sunday broadcast this morning carried a segment which discussed the legal implications for clergy who enter a same-sex marriage. The Bishop of Oxford was among those interviewed, along with the expert legal journalist, Joshua Rozenberg. The 10 minute segment begins about 35 minutes into the broadcast.
Dear EGGS member
I am writing on behalf of the EGGS committee to offer a brief response to the Archbishops’ Pastoral Letter and Appendix released on February 15th.
We welcome the Archbishops’ pastoral letter of 15th February and note the divergence to which the Statement refers between the general understanding of marriage in England as enshrined in law and the doctrine of marriage held by the Church of England. In view of this significant change we believe that the House of Bishops is increasingly called to inhabit a prophetic role in articulating Scriptural patterns for human flourishing to our society and culture, and we assure them of our prayers and support as they do so.
We applaud their call and commitment for the church to be a welcoming community. We are grateful for the clear indication of agreement in the House that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged. We are encouraged that the Statement recognises the consistent teaching of Canon B30, the Book of Common Prayer and Common Worship in this regard. We welcome the indication that clergy should not enter same-sex marriages and that those in same sex marriages cannot be ordained. We also welcome the advice that pastoral discussion with those entering same-sex marriage needs to include an exploration of the church’s teaching and their reasons for departing from it.
At the same time as expressing our thanks, we wish to note the following concerns:
We are concerned that the Appendix says nothing about the position of lay people holding a bishop’s licence or commission.
We believe that such lay ministers, who along with ordained ministers should offer an exemplary lifestyle, should be expected not to enter into same-sex marriages, and those who have contracted same-sex marriages should not be licenced or commissioned.
We believe that the guidance in respect of acts of worship after a civil same sex wedding (Appendix paragraphs 19-21) is unclear. The distinction between a service of blessing and informal prayers is a distinction without reasoned theological difference and likely to lead to confusion at parochial level. The implication that it is acceptable for clergy informally to pray for God’s blessing on a relationship which departs from the church’s teaching (Appendix paragraph 21) seems at best counterintuitive, and we would have wished for clearer indication that those departing from the church’s teaching on this (or any other matter) should be encouraged to reconsider their ways. Many evangelical churches will of course continue to pray for people’s spiritual and physical needs in the context of all kinds of relationships : this is not to be confused with an endorsement of these relationships.
While affirming that everyone should be welcomed in our churches, we continue to believe that appropriate sacramental discipline should apply to those who choose to enter into any sexual relationship other than within marriage between a man and a woman.
The ‘sharp’ end of the challenge to respond to requests for recognition of same sex marriages is going to be at parochial level – and we are concerned that the guidance offered is insufficient in this regard.
We look forward to the conversations of the coming months as an opportunity to explore how a biblically orthodox perspective on human sexuality is good for all society and for each child, woman and man. We pray that in exploring this together we may be re-energised by the clarity of Scripture and the vision it offers for human flourishing.
Please pray for our Archbishops and Bishops in their leadership: that God will give them the ‘knowledge of His will …. that we may live lives that please Him in every way’ (Colossians 1).
Rev John Dunnett
On behalf of the EGGS Committee.
As I reported here the current legislation on Women in the Episcopate was sent to dioceses promptly after last month’s meeting of General Synod. The first diocesan synod votes were held a week ago, and so far nine dioceses have voted; all were in favour of the legislation.
I have compiled a table of the voting figures here which I will update as further votes take place.
Andrew Brown has published at Cif belief this report on the Bad History saga: Why the church’s gay marriage schism is here to stay in which he concludes:
…In other words, the conservative position today is that when the bible says (with Jesus) that a man can’t marry another woman while his first wife is still alive, that’s not about the nature of marriage; when it says (with Moses) that if his wife dies, a man can’t marry her sister, that’s not about the nature of marriage; but when it says (as it doesn’t, because this was too obvious to spell out) a man can’t marry another man, that really is part of the definition of marriage in the way that the others aren’t.
If this is what Fittall, Arora and the archbishops of Canterbury and York, deep down believe then their defence of the palpably silly makes sense. What God wants is by definition more valuable than anything else in the world and what God wants – Conservatives believe – is a straight man married to a straight woman: Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve are the perfect couple. It is that relationship that shows the kind of love that leads us towards God. You or I might point out that since Adam and Eve never existed it would be unwise to draw conclusions from their relationship, but that’s not how the religious imagination works.
The point is that they can’t be convinced by arguments from science, from history or from the law about what marriage is. Their minds will only by changed by arguments from God and what God wants. Only if they see God at work in their opponents will they change. To see that, they would have to be looking for signs of it. I don’t think there is any immediate danger of that, on either side.
Jonathan Clatworthy has written Church teaching and the general understanding of marriage:
…To me, the House of Bishops’ claim is a typical example of a stance just too common to require any alternative explanation. ‘Conservatives’, of both the campaigning and the fence-sitting types, love to think that the way things were in their childhood was the way they always had been, all the way back to the beginning. This, for example, is what the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission did last April with their unpopular Men and Women in Marriage; but it is so common that we can all think of examples, not just in matters of religion. I very much doubt that the House of Bishops considered the Acts of 1907 or 1937 and judged that they did not invalidate the statement; they just assumed that the current change is the first such change ever.
They contrast ‘the doctrine of marriage held by the Church of England’ with ‘the general understanding and definition of marriage in England as enshrined in law’. I think they mean two things: that the Church’s doctrine of marriage will diverge both from the legal definition and from ‘the general understanding of marriage in England’. (I am not sure; they might have meant ‘the general understanding of marriage in England as enshrined in law’, in which case ‘general understanding’ is only adding emphasis, not making an additional claim.) This post leaves aside the question of legal definition and focuses on the ‘general understanding’.
To judge whether the bishops are right we need an account of what this general understanding is, independently of the legal definition…
UNITE the Union had earlier published this:
Faith Worker Branch Executive statement in response to the House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage, 14.02.14
“We welcome the House of Bishops’ commitment to a process of conversations that will include profound reflection on the meaning, interpretation and application of scripture with particular attention to the lived experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, and we would strongly urge the Bishops to pursue this as a priority.
We are concerned, however, that some aspects of the guidance, Paragraph 27 in particular, may discriminate against LGBT clergy in their pursuit of an authentic, loving and committed relationship that accords with their God-given sexuality, and which may as a result diminish their human right to enjoy that relationship.
We are concerned, too, that the vagueness of the guidance in Paragraphs 20 & 21 may unwittingly put clergy at risk of disciplinary action whilst attempting to minister appropriately in complex pastoral circumstances.
We affirm our support of all of our clergy members, and will continue to support and represent them in all aspects of their ministry, including any action taken against them as a result of the application of the Bishops’ guidance.”
The Bishop of Dorking delivered this speech to Guildford Diocesan Synod. Several people have commented that it contains echoes of what the Bishop of Oxford wrote earlier.
Continuing from here…
Mike Higton has written two long articles discussing what’s going on in this debate about the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance. They should both be read in full, but here are some excerpts to give you the flavour:
…look back again at the Church’s ‘Response to the Government Equalities Office Consultation’ – which I assume can be taken to represent the views of at least some of those responsible for the current Pastoral Guidance. The section on ‘The Church’s understanding of marriage’ is the heart of the report, and before it gets to the two brief paragraphs on civil and religious marriage and their possible divergence, it has thirteen paragraphs that make a rather different point. The centre-piece of this part of the Response is the other paragraph that is put in bold, paragraph 13:
We believe that redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships will entail a dilution in the meaning of marriage for everyone by excluding the fundamental complementarity of men and women from the social and legal definition of marriage.
My suggestion – which I can only make very sketchily here, but will fill out in a subsequent post – is that, for at least some of those who have rejected Linda’s criticism, this is the central issue, and its centrality is so obvious, so luminously blatant, that to pretend that other aspects of the Church’s definition of marriage might be as central – especially issues about which there has been all sorts of complex and detailed disagreement for as long as we’ve been a church – can only be deliberate obfuscation, akin to the claim that the whole structure of the Bishops’ argument should be called into doubt because there is a misplaced semicolon in a footnote somewhere.
In other words, I think I can see that, for someone who inhabits the views set out in that Response to the government consultation, the criticism that Linda and her colleagues made, and that I like them would like to see taken seriously, must look like such a stark case of missing the point that it can only be a deliberate missing of the point…
… I assume that it is not unfair to think that something like this thinking is being expressed both in the House of Bishops’ promulgation of their Pastoral Guidance, and in its defenders’ reaction to the question posed by Linda Woodhead. And, as I suggested in my previous post, I think grasping this point helps to make sense of their reaction.
We are, such a person might think, dealing in this debate with a fundamental structure of creation, and of society – and of our law’s relation to that. We might all agree that questions about fidelity and mutuality go as deep as this question of gender complementarity, but nothing else comes close. In particular, questions about remarriage after divorce and questions about the precise circle of people you can’t marry are clearly not even in the same league as this question. We are dealing with a fundamental structure of creation, and therefore with the very possibility of flourishing in a society that has to live in harmony with creation. That’s clearly what was really being said when the bishops talked about there having been no fundamental divergence between civil and religious understandings of marriage until now – and all this fuss over secondary details is a mischievous smokescreen. It’s all about gender – and this criticism from the likes of Woodhead, her colleagues, and now Higton – well, it dramatically misses that point.
Have I got that right? Is that a fair representation of the source of the impatience with Linda’s question that I’ve been hearing? I realise I’m putting words into mouths here, but I hope I haven’t slipped into caricature?
Phil Groom has written Heaven is Weeping: An Open Letter to the House of Bishops @C_of_E @JustinWelby @JohnSentamu which is also very long, and worth a read.
Updated yet again Saturday morning
First of all, a roundup of links on the story so far. Episode 5 was here. Earlier episodes all linked from there.
Since our original publication of Linda Woodhead’s article An error in the House of Bishops Guidance on Same Sex Marriage we had a follow-up in More about historical error in the House of Bishops statement.
And we have also reported that the LGBTI Anglican Coalition sends open letter to House of Bishops and Bishop of Oxford writes to his clergy on same-sex marriage.
Now the new items.
Today in the Church Times there is Sexuality ‘fudge’ sticks in critics’ throats by Tim Wyatt and Gavin Drake. This quotes the Archbishop of York:
Dr Sentamu, speaking at a meeting of Jewish and Christian students in Durham in the middle of last week, said that the Church of England’s position was that “a clergy person has a right, an expectation, to live within the teaching of the Church, but for lay people and others they should be welcomed into the Church.
“Immediately, when you say that, people say that I’m homophobic. You can’t win on this one. How can I, on one hand, uphold the teaching of sexuality as I see it in scripture, and yet, at the same time, say - this is Anglican fudge - that people’s sexual orientation cannot lead to discrimination because they’re human beings just like anybody else, and God loves them deeply?
“As far as I’m concerned, whatever the sexual orientation, gay people are people, and they need to be given the same protection.”
The story also reports that:
In addition, a group of 21 academics has stated that a statement in the Bishops’ guidance “is wrong”. The guidance suggested that the legalisation of gay marriage meant that, “for the first time” civil law and C of E doctrine of marriage diverged.
The academics, who include Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor David Martin, and Professor Linda Woodhead, call this “inaccurate and misleading”, arguing that the Church’s understanding of marriage has differed from civil law since at least 1857, around questions of divorce and second marriage.
In reply, the secretary to the House of Bishops, William Fittall, wrote this week that the bishops knew that canon law and statute law had not been identical for years.
He maintained, however, that the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex partners was of a different order of disagreement.
He also said that the point about a divergence between canon and statute law was not essential to the bishops’ theological case.
The full text of the letter, which has now been sent to all members of the House of Bishops, is available below the fold.
Update 1 The CofE Communications Office on Friday afternoon published Full Correspondence with Professor Linda Woodhead on Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance.
Update 2 Alan Wilson has published Who’s fooling who about history?
…It seems to me vastly unfair on those who struggled against Deceased Wife’s Sister marriages between 1842 and 1907 to suggest that a marriage setup that ran counter to Leviticus 18:18 should be a minor matter of “accidents” whilst one that potentially breaches Leviticus 18:24 should be a fundamental, matter of “substance.”
What really intrigues me about the whole rhetoric of “redefinition” developed by the Moral Majority on the West Coast in the 1990’s is how appealing it is to those who don’t want to allow gay people to marry, but how completely ineffective it has been with everyone else. Not only did it pancake seriously in both houses of the UK parliament, but all those right wing websites that swore to carry on the struggle after the legislation went through last year seem to have packed up and gone home. I wonder why?
Update 3 It appears that Update 1 left out one of the emails received by Linda Woodhead.
[Original article continues]
And there is an analysis of the Bishop of Oxford’s letter by David Pocklington here: Oxon Ad Clerum: Bishops’ Pastoral Statement
The Church Times also carries a very interesting article by Will Adam titled Breaking the rules on gay marriage
but this is available only to subscribers.
The Bishop of Salisbury issued this statement: Bishop Calls Attention to Same-Sex Marriage Guidance.
27th February 2014
Error in the Bishops Guidance on Same Sex Marriages
We write to alert you to the fact that an important statement in the Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriages issued on 14th February is wrong.
The guidance claims that: “There will, for the first time, be a divergence between the general understanding and definition of marriage in England as enshrined in law and the doctrine of marriage held by the Church of England and reflected in the Canons and the Book of Common Prayer.” - House of Bishops, 14th Feb 2014, Appendix, para 9.
This is inaccurate. Civil law and church teaching have diverged before, on at least two occasions. The first was in relation to the marriage to a deceased wife’s sister, the second in relation to the remarriage of divorcees.
There has been a robust discussion of this topic between experts on ecclesiastical history, law and sociology which Dr Scot Peterson summarises here.
We are all in agreement that the statement in the Bishops Guidance is mistaken and misleading. Since it forms an important part of the case which is being made, we felt it was right to draw the mistake to your attention. We respectfully ask that it be corrected.
Our attempts to resolve this matter by writing to Mr Arora and Mr Fittall have failed. There is growing concern amongst the academic community about the situation.
Looking to the future, some of us are anxious to improve channels of communication with the Church, so that our research and scholarship can be used constructively. If you would be interested in a meeting to discuss this issue, we would be very grateful if you would reply to Professor Woodhead.
Professor Callum Brown FRSE, University of Glasgow
Professor Arthur Burns, King’s College London
The Revd Dr Mark Chapman, Ripon College Cuddesdon
Professor Grace Davie, University of Exeter
The Revd Duncan Dormor, St John’s College, University of Cambridge
Professor Kenneth Fincham, University of Kent
Professor Sarah Foot, Christ Church, University of Oxford
Dr Matthew Guest, University of Durham
The Revd Dr Carolyn Hammond, Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge (member of FAOC)
Professor Gerard Loughlin, University of Durham
Elizabeth MacFarlane, St John’s College, University of Oxford
The Revd Dr Judith Maltby, Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford
Professor Iain McLean FBA, Nuffield College, Oxford
Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch FBA, Saint Cross College, University of Oxford
The Revd Professor David Martin FBA, London School of Economics
Dr Charlotte Methuen, University of Glasgow (member FAOC)
The Revd Dr Jeremy Morris, King’s College, University of Cambridge
Dr Scot Peterson, Balliol College, University of Oxford
Professor Alec Ryrie, University of Durham
The Revd Dr Robert Tobin, Oriel College, University of Oxford
Revd Dr William Whyte, St John’s College Oxford
The Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham
Professor John Wolffe, The Open University, President of the Ecclesiastical History Society
Professor Linda Woodhead, University of Lancaster
27 February 2014
The Bishop’s Palace at Wells was discussed by the Board of Governors of the Church Commissioners at its meeting last Tuesday (25th February). This was the first meeting of the Board since it made its decision at the end of November last year.
At the meeting the Commissioners were given an opportunity to read the correspondence received and examine the petition recently presented to the Secretary to the Commissioners. They were also provided with a report of the public meeting attended by Sir Tony Baldry MP.
During their discussion the Commissioners discussed the views of those opposed to their decision and acknowledged the strong feelings that the decision had aroused within the diocese. It was noted that there were also voices of support for the decision.
The Commissioners reiterated their understanding that the ministry of the new Bishop should not be encumbered or restricted by being housed in a place with a high level of public access which is guaranteed and even encouraged in relation to which he might be expected to fulfil a significant role.
Reference was made to the statement of needs for the new Bishop of Bath and Wells which recommended that “the bishop will need to develop a new, and less demanding, relationship with the Palace Trust, in order to be able to focus better on the life of the wider diocese.”
The Commissioners also reiterated their support for the Bishop’s working arrangements and the shared offices of the Bishop of Bath & Wells and the Bishop of Taunton situated in the north wing of the Palace and for the Bishop’s Chapel which will continue to be used for daily prayer, a weekly staff Eucharist, and other services.
The Commissioners agreed that a group would investigate and consult on alternative uses for the Bishop’s apartment in the Palace which would be consonant with the continued rhythm of work and worship at the heart of the Palace.
In reaffirming their decision the Commissioners also confirmed their intention to write formally to the standing committee of the Bishop’s Council in the Diocese of Bath and Wells with notice of their intention for the Bishop’s residence to be moved from the Palace to a new temporary residence.
From the Diocese of Oxford website: Bishop John writes to clergy on same-sex marriage.
In a letter to the clergy in the Diocese of Oxford today (26 February 2014), Bishop John writes about the recent statement by the House of Bishops on same-sex marriage.
“This is a very difficult part of the letter to get right. I know that what I write will be unacceptable to gay clergy who despair of the Church of England, and to conservatives who will see compromise looming. But I can’t not write about the Pastoral Letter and Appendix on Same Sex Marriage which emerged recently. I wish I could talk individually to everyone in order to engage properly and personally, but we all know this is impossible. I sit amongst many different loyalties and seek to honour as many of them as possible.
“First I apologise for the tone of the letter (or rather the Appendix). It was written by committee and that is always bad news. This is a deeply personal issue, indeed a visceral one, and every word and inference is capable of harm. I hope it’s common ground that we are part of a Church which is called to real repentance for the lack of welcome and acceptance extended to gay and lesbian people. Nor have we listened well to those whose voice has not been heard, including the experience of those called to celibacy, those in committed same sex relationships, and clergy who have lovingly and sensitively ministered to gay couples over the years.
“It was never going to be likely that the House of Bishops would change two thousand years of teaching during a day in February at Church House Westminster. The intention was to respond to a new legal situation in the context of a longer conversation in the Church about an issue which has theological, biblical, ethical, missiological and ecclesiological implications. This longer conversation is what the Pilling report has asked us to do and to which the College of Bishops is committed.
“The House was also aware of a huge level of interest and concern from other parts of the Anglican Communion, and from other denominations and faith traditions. The Archbishop told us how in the previous few days, literally in the midst of corpses and tales of systematic rape, he had been quizzed by his African episcopal hosts about the Pilling Report, such was their anxiety.
“The resulting letter and appendix is supposed to be a holding statement on the logical position of the House in the new situation, given the Church’s history and teaching – while the longer conversation goes on. The fact that this was done in a way which has caused dismay is a source of huge regret to me but that’s back to my first point above.
“The longer conversation is one on which David Porter, the Archbishop’s Adviser on Reconciliation, is to give advice in three or four months, having worked on the task with a well-chosen group.
“I appreciate that some are unwilling to participate in this process on the grounds that they believe the scriptural position is perfectly clear and ‘facilitated conversation’ can only mean an intention to change, while conversely others will be wary because they believe that to have participated in a process that didn’t in the end change anything might expose them to adverse treatment by bishops and/or others. Nevertheless, I dare to ask that we do enter the conversation with integrity and trust because we do need to seek God’s mind and heart, and we can’t do this without all of us being round the table and being honest with each other.
“I also know that many will be reluctant to examine the biblical material yet again. But the Bible is our core authority and issues of both exegesis and hermeneutical method are crucial. Let me be absolutely honest here. I don’t expect that many people will change their mind through this biblical exploration. I hope some might, because we must have the highest loyalty to truth, but in reality I don’t expect many to change their basic position.
“What I do very much hope, however, is that we can get to a point where we can respect the integrity of the biblical interpretation of others. I hope we can come to understand deeply why others take a different view, and to respect that conviction even though we disagree, perhaps profoundly. None of us is taking a cavalier attitude to biblical authority, but thoughtful, honest people can thoughtfully, honestly disagree.
“The task then becomes twofold: to discover how much we can agree on, and to learn how to disagree well on what we can’t agree on. Archbishop Justin often uses that phrase ‘disagree well’. So then the third question becomes whether we want to affirm that spectrum of honest belief or detach ourselves from it. I dearly want to keep intact the range and scale of the Church of England’s theology, and we will be grievously hurt by the loss of any from the richness of our calling and our reach in the nation’s life.
“As you will know from my statement EQUAL MARRIAGE LEGISLATION Dec 2012 I have been very happy to affirm civil partnerships as a positive development which gives same sex couples the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual couples. As that statement says, such relationships ‘are capable of the same level of love, permanence and loyalty as marriage, and I believe God delights in such qualities’.
“Nevertheless I believe that to say that civil partnership is the same thing as marriage is a category confusion. To use a musical image, nature has its ‘theme and variations’, both part of the music, but not the same thing. I have therefore looked for different ways of recognising two different patterns of relationship. I realise that that puts me at odds with most people on both ‘sides’ of the argument! And society has largely gone past that argument now anyway. The issue has become same sex marriage, though some may still want to opt for a form of civil partnership.
“So where do we end up? That’s just the point – we don’t know. The Pilling Report urges us to talk, and although it makes at least one recommendation about the recognition of a same sex relationship in a public service, its main recommendation is to talk and listen so that God may be heard. And that voice of God will undoubtedly be a gracious, gentle and challenging voice, just as I trust our conversations with each other will be marked by humility and grace.
“It’s quite clear that these conversations take place in a wider context of deep sexual confusion in society with everyone making up their own script, and the result is much chaos and pain. We have a responsibility to model something better in the way we handle principle and practice, disagreement and hope.
“As I wrote at the start, I’m sorry that the attempt by the House of Bishops to hold the ancient borders while the conversation goes on has proved so divisive in itself. The train crash was probably inevitable; the only question was when, where and involving how many. But be sure of this – there will be no witch-hunts in this diocese. We are seeking to live as God’s people, in God’s world, in God’s way. And we do that best as we stand shoulder to shoulder and look together at the cross, and at its heart see an empty tomb.”