Sunday, 27 July 2014

About the "outing" of Church of England bishops

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

Independent Peter Tatchell threatens to ‘out’ bishops he believes are gay after hospital chaplain Jeremy Pemberton has his license to preach revoked

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:

…Conclusion

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.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 27 July 2014 at 7:12pm BST | Comments (42) | TrackBack
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Friday, 25 July 2014

Women bishops measure - changes by the laity

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.

I have published the detailed voting results on final approval of the 2012 measure here and of the 2014 measure here.

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 25 July 2014 at 9:30pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Women Bishops - detailed voting results

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:

Item 503 - Draft Bishops and Priests (Ordination and Consecration of Women) Measure
Item 504 - Draft Amending Canon No.33

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.

Clergy
1 voted against the measure and abstained on the canon.
2 abstained on the measure and voted for the canon.

Laity
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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 25 July 2014 at 4:53pm BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Further news and comment on women bishops

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.

We have reported news and comments on last Monday’s votes at General Synod here, here, here and here. There is more.

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?

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 at 9:38pm BST | Comments (67) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 20 July 2014

Update on clergy entering same-sex marriages

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…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 20 July 2014 at 6:15pm BST | Comments (42) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 19 July 2014

Bishop of Edmonton to retire

Updated

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 19 July 2014 at 12:24pm BST | Comments (47) | TrackBack
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More news and comment on women bishops

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

CHURCH COMMISSIONERS

The right hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—

Women Bishops

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 19 July 2014 at 11:25am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Friday, 18 July 2014

Assisted Dying Bill

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

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 18 July 2014 at 11:08am BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Faith leaders unite to condemn assisted dying law

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 11:11am BST | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Women bishops - further reactions to Monday's vote

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.

GRAS
Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod

PRESS RELEASE
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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 10:22am BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Richard Frith to be next Bishop of Hereford

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 9:59am BST | Comments (22) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

General Synod - Tuesday's business

General Synod completed its York meeting this morning.

Order paper for the day

Official summary of business

audio recording

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 10:08pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Women bishops - more reports and reactions to Monday's vote

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

The Telegraph Celebration as Church of England General Synod approves women bishops

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

Video: Archbishop Welby talks to BBC Newsnight about the vote to allow female bishops

Gillan Scott God & Politics in the UK Good news at last, but the women bishops vote was ultimately never about women bishops

Fulcrum Statement on Synod Vote for 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
PRESS RELEASE
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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 10:01am BST | Comments (39) | TrackBack
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Monday, 14 July 2014

Women bishops - immediate reactions to today's vote

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

BBC Church of England General Synod backs 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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 5:31pm BST | Comments (52) | TrackBack
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Church of England to have women bishops

Press release from the Church of England

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 5:04pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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General Synod - votes on women bishops

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

there voted

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

there voted

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)

The motion

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

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General Synod - Monday's business

to be updated during the day

order paper for the morning
order paper for the afternoon and evening

official summary of the morning’s business
afternoon’s business
evening’s business

audio
morning
afternoon
evening

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.

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Sunday, 13 July 2014

General Synod - Sunday's business

Order paper for the day

Official summary of business
afternoon
evening

audio of
afternoon session
evening session

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General Synod - Sunday press

John Bingham The Telegraph First women bishops could be appointed by Christmas
Churches will use Magna Carta anniversary to ‘reassert Britain’s Christian heritage’

BBC Women bishops: Archbishop Welby ‘hopeful’ on vote

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?

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Saturday, 12 July 2014

General Synod - Saturday's business

to be updated during the day

Order papers
morning
afternoon and evening

Official summary of the day’s business
morning
afternoon
evening

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.

Jim Wallis gave this presentation on The Uncommon Good in the afternoon, and this interview afterwards.

audio of
morning session
afternoon session - Jim Wallis speech
remainder of afternoon session
evening session

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Assisted Dying Bill - Carey and Welby disagree

Updated

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

Update

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

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Friday, 11 July 2014

General Synod - Friday's business

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.

The final versions of these, to be debated on Monday, are here: draft measure and draft amending canon.

Official summary of the day’s business:
Friday afternoon
Friday evening

Audio of day 1

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General Synod

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.

Update

Church Times leader The vote on Monday

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England edges towards historic breakthrough on women bishops

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Thursday, 10 July 2014

Church Commissioners confirm Wonga exit

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

BBC Church of England ends Wonga investment

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

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Child abuse inquiry

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

Statement from Bishop of Durham on Government announcement on child abuse inquiries

BBC Bishop of Durham: Abuse inquiry ‘good first phase’

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

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Women bishops - is there a plan C?

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…

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Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Bishop refuses to license married health service chaplain

Updated Thursday morning

Update
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…

The following information is taken from a posting by Laurence Cunnington on the Facebook page of Changing Attitude and is also available there.

…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.

Background

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.

Present position

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
Jubilee House
Westgate
Southwell
NG25 0JH
Email bishop@southwell.anglican.org

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
Bishopthorpe Palace
Bishopthorpe
York
YO23 2GE
Email office@archbishopofyork.org

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
Minster Centre
Church Street
Southwell
NG25 0HD
Email dean@southwellminster.org.uk

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…

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Monday, 7 July 2014

Women bishops vote is one week away

Updated

We previously reported on this topic on 20 June: Women in the Episcopate Legislation and Expect a conservative evangelical bishop soon.

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…

Update

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:
www.praynovena.org.uk

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Saturday, 5 July 2014

More on same-sex marriage and clergy discipline

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.

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Friday, 4 July 2014

CNC delays

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
Question
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.

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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Presiding Bishop visits St Albans and Oxford

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.

ENS Video: Presiding Bishop preaches at Alban Pilgrimage

ENS Video: Alban Pilgrimage pays tribute to Britain’s first Christian martyr

At Oxford, she preached at the University Church and received an honorary degree from Oxford University.

ENS Presiding Bishop preaches in Oxford

ENS Presiding Bishop receives 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.

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Saturday, 28 June 2014

Bishop of Basingstoke

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 28 June 2014 at 2:52pm BST | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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The CofE, Ethical Investment - and Wonga

Yesterday’s second distribution of General Synod papers included the annual report of the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group. Also published was this press release.

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

Christian Today Wonga controversy leads to changes in Church of England’s investment policies

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Oxford Faith Debates: The Future of the Church of England

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 20 November DIVERSITY – What kind of Unity is appropriate nationally and internationally, How can Diversity become a strength?

Thursday 4 December VISION – What does the Church of England offer the next generation?

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Friday, 27 June 2014

Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission

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.

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Thursday, 26 June 2014

The CofE, banks, credit unions and payday lenders

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

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Supreme Court judgment on right to die

Updated Friday

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.

Judgment (PDF)
Judgment (html)
Press summary (PDF)
Watch Lord Neuberger’s summary of the judgment on YouTube

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

Update
The Church Times has a report on the judgement from its legal correspondent Shiranikha Herbert: Judges not persuaded by ‘right to die’ appellants.

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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Bishop of Norwich's "blacklist"

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.

Update

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.

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Monday, 23 June 2014

CofE clergy and same-sex marriage

Updated Tuesday

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

BBC Gay wedding canon Jeremy Pemberton faces service ban

Independent Church of England tells same-sex married clergyman Canon Jeremy Pemberton to stop leading services

Telegraph First gay priest to marry banned from working as a priest in his diocese

Pink News UK: First gay clergy to marry ‘fired’ by Bishop

Blog:

Changing Attitude Bishop acts against married gay priest

Updates

Religion News Service via the Washington Post Trevor Grundy Gay Anglican priest’s license is revoked after he marries

Nottingham Post Gay priest banned from working in Nottinghamshire after marrying his long-term partner

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.

Blog:

Ekklesia Savi Hensman Punishing married gay clergy is Church of England own goal

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Friday, 20 June 2014

General Synod Agenda - July 2014

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.

Online General Synod papers
Women in the Episcopate Legislation

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Women in the Episcopate Legislation

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]

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

GENERAL SYNOD

JULY GROUP OF SESSIONS 2014

FIFTH NOTICE PAPER

CORRIGENDUM

ITEM 504
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.

WILLIAM FITTALL
Secretary General

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Online General Synod papers

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 1902-5Y Report by the Revision Committee [Saturday]
GS 1902A Draft Amending Canon 32 [Saturday/Tuesday]
GS 1902C Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [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 1919A Draft Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure [Saturday]
GS 1919Y Report by the Revision Committee [Saturday]

GS 1921A Draft Church of England (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure
GS 1921Y Report by the Revision Committee [Saturday]

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 1940A Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution No 1 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1940Y Report

GS 1944A and GS 1944B Private Member’s Motion: Canon B8 [Saturday]
GS 1945A and GS 1945B Diocesan Synod Motion: Magna Carta.
A translation of the Magna Carta is available by clicking here [Monday]

GS 1946 Declaration regarding the National Front [Saturday]
GS 1947 Declaration regarding the British National Party [Saturday]
GS 1946-7X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1948 Agenda
GS 1949 Report by the Business Committee [Friday]

GS 1950 Appointments to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]

GS 1951 Report by the Business Committee on the Article 8 Reference [Friday]

GS 1952 Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure [Friday]
GS 1953 Draft Amending Canon No 34 [Friday]
GS 1952-3X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1954 49th Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Saturday]

GS 1955 Payments to the Churches Conservation Trust Order [Saturday]
GS 1955X Explanatory Memorandum

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

GS 1964 Draft Amending Canon No 35
GS 1964X Explanatory Memorandum [Tuesday]
GS 1965A and GS 1965B Diocesan Synod Motion: Spare Room Subsidy [contingency business]

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.

Notice Paper 1
Notice Paper 2 (re-issued)
Notice Paper 3
Notice Paper 4
Notice Paper 5

Prayer Card

Church Community Fund Annual Report

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Expect a conservative evangelical bishop soon

Updated twice

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.

Update

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
GENERAL SYNOD
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. [1]

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
June 2014

[1] 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.

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Thursday, 19 June 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury addresses National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast

The Archbishop of Canterbury addressed the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast.

A full transcript of his remarks can be found here.

A video recording of the entire address is here.

The Bible Society also has two short videos, available from here.

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Trojan horses, religion in schools, and public opinion

We have reported previously here, and then here, about the issues raised by events in a number of supposedly secular Birmingham schools.

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:

http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/lwiuydgoju/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-x140606.pdf.pdf

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:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/v0zlbnvgel/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-140613.pdf

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:

http://news.opinium.co.uk/sites/news.opinium.co.uk/files/op4610_observer_faith_schools_tables.pdf

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.

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Sunday, 15 June 2014

More about religion in schools

Updated Wednesday

Update
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…

This week’s issue of The Tablet carries an editorial commenting on the Birmingham situation (see earlier article): Islamic extremism let loose by Gove

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…

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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Faith Schools and Trojan Horses

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.’

Church of England officials have responded strongly, see this article by Arun Arora which has also appeared over here.

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.

Not one.

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):

Telegraph
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

Guardian
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

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The Alban Pilgrimage 2014

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.

There is a booklet of information for pilgrims and you can read about the story of Saint Alban here.

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Tuesday, 3 June 2014

BNP and National Front incompatible with teaching of Church

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.”

ENDS

Notes

  • 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:
GS 1946 National Front declaration
GS 1947 British National Party declaration
  • 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.

Pink News BNP furious after Church of England bans clergy from having party membership

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Monday, 2 June 2014

The Church of England and HS2

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.
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cmhs2/petitions/1756.pdf

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.”

Background

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.

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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

General Synod Agenda - July 2014

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
Formal business
Brief response on behalf of ecumenical guests
Business Committee Report
Not later than 4.15 pm
Approval of appointments
Legislative Business
    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
Questions

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)
Legislative 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

EITHER
(if Article 7 Reference Meetings are not required)
2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report 2013
Liturgical Business
    Additional texts for Holy Baptism – First Consideration
Churches’ Mutual Credit Union (CMCU): Presentation

OR
(if Article 7 Reference Meetings are required)
4.00 pm – 6.15 pm
Liturgical Business
    Additional texts for Holy Baptism – First Consideration
Churches’ Mutual Credit Union (CMCU): Presentation

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm

Financial Business
    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
Legislative business
    Women in the Episcopate legislation – Final Approval

2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Legislative business
    Women in the Episcopate legislation – Final Approval (Ctd…)
Diocesan Synod Motion: Magna Carta

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
CHARM: Presentation
Audit Committee Annual Report

Tuesday 15 July

9.30 am – 1.00 pm
Legislative Business
    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
Farewells
Prorogation

Contingency Business:
Bradford Diocesan Synod Motion: Spare Room Subsidy

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Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Church Credit Champions Network

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:

BBC Financial advice to be available in church

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]

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 at 11:13pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Friday, 23 May 2014

Church Commissioners' results 2013

The Church Commissioners have issued their annual report and accounts for 2013, and this accompanying press release.

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
Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 23 May 2014 at 3:25pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Dioceses vote in favour of women bishops

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?’

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 23 May 2014 at 2:39pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 22 May 2014

Women in the Episcopate - final diocesan synod votes

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 22 May 2014 at 10:26pm BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

House of Bishops meeting

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 20 May 2014 at 5:07pm BST | Comments (39) | TrackBack
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Monday, 19 May 2014

Diverse Church makes a film: Christian It Gets Better

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.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 19 May 2014 at 10:31am BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 18 May 2014

Justin Welby comments on the Nigerian kidnap crisis

The Archbishop of Canterbury has made several media interventions to talk about the abduction of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram.

Lambeth Palace press releases:
Archbishop condemns abduction of Nigerian schoolgirls
Archbishop writes on Boko Haram in the Church Times
Archbishop speaks to Radio 4 about situation in Nigeria.

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.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 18 May 2014 at 5:14pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 17 May 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 8

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.

Update

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.

Update 2
And now I have recorrected the Exeter abstentions back to what they were in the first place.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 5:00pm BST | Comments (35) | TrackBack
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homophobic bullying in church schools: more coverage

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.

Update

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.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 10:00am BST | Comments (42) | TrackBack
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Friday, 16 May 2014

Justin Welby's media comments on same-sex marriage

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?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 16 May 2014 at 10:12pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 15 May 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 7

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 8:48pm BST | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Dean of Christ Church Oxford to be Martyn Percy

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 13 May 2014 at 11:20am BST | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Monday, 12 May 2014

Archbishop Launches New Guidance for Tackling Homophobic Bullying in Church of England Schools

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

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 11:00am BST | Comments (43) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 10 May 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 6

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.

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Friday, 9 May 2014

Bishop of Grimsby

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

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 9 May 2014 at 11:41am BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 8 May 2014

What I Want to Say Now: Bishop John Gladwin

Updated

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 video recording of the first of the four, by John Gladwin, is now available, linked from this page. To go directly to the video follow this link.

A full transcript of this lecture is now available here.

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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Paul Bayes is to be next Bishop of Liverpool

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…

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Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Canon Dr Robert Innes to be next Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe

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.

From the Archbishop of Canterbury

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 Communion 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 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.

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Sunday, 4 May 2014

20 years of women priests

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

BBC March though London to mark 20 years of women priests

Huffington Post UK Justin Welby Says Church Of England ‘Has Long Way To Go’ Over Ordaining Women

Getty Images has this marvellous photograph: Women Priests Gather To Celebrate Twentieth Anniversary Of Ordination Of Women Priests

Update

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.”

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Saturday, 3 May 2014

Bishop of Gloucester on Church's attitude to homosexual people

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.

The full text of the address is available on the diocesan website, but only in WP format; however it is also reproduced as a web page at the Inclusive Church site.

I strongly recommend reading the full text of the address before commenting on it.

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Friday, 2 May 2014

Four new suffragan bishops announced

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:

Suffragan Bishop of Selby: John Bromilow Thomson

Suffragan Bishop of Whitby: Paul John Ferguson

Suffragan Bishop of Colchester: Roger Anthony Brett Morris

Suffragan Bishop of Barking: Peter Hill

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

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Thursday, 1 May 2014

Bath & Wells: Church Commissioners lose their case

Updated again Tuesday morning

Press releases from Church House, Westminster:

New Bishop of Bath and Wells to live in cathedral city

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.

Updates

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

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Modern Believing explores same-sex partnerships and marriage

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.

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Monday, 28 April 2014

Bishop of Newcastle announces his retirement.

The Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Reverend Martin Wharton, has announced his forthcoming retirement. There are these two items on the diocesan website.

Bishop of Newcastle to retire
Announcement from the Bishop of Newcastle

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.

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Sunday, 27 April 2014

GAFCON criticises Church of England again on same-sex marriage

Updated again Wednesday morning

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

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

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

The following names appear at the foot of the statement:

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

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

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

Another quote from the communiqué (emphasis added):

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

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

Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 27 April 2014 at 2:45pm BST | Comments (62) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Largest Diocese - is it really West Yorkshire and the Dales?

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)
Lincoln2670
York2660
Exeter2580
Carlisle2480

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 24 April 2014 at 6:03pm BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Justin Welby interview for the Telegraph

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

BBC Welby: Church ‘struggling’ over same-sex marriages

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Saturday, 19 April 2014

Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales

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.

Bradford diocese has published First new diocese for more than 85 years. This is also on the Archbishop of York’s website, along with a biography of Nick Baines.

The new diocese has a new website.

The Church of England Parliamentary Unit has published these three brief histories of the bishops of the three old dioceses as parliamentarians.
Ripon
Wakefield
Bradford

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Monday, 14 April 2014

Same-Sex Marriage: Anglican Mainstream takes a position

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

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

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

  • Marriage – between a man and a woman – is good for human flourishing, an aspect of God’s common grace for the whole of humanity irrespective of people’s faith position. Public policy should be directed towards supporting marriage, not undermining it.
  • Homes centred upon such marriages provide the best context for the bringing up of children, so that they can know the love and support of a mother and a father. Public policy should be directed towards supporting such homes for the benefit of children, whose needs should have priority.
  • There is well-founded evidence of the physical and emotional harm which can be a consequence of sexual relations between persons of the same sex. Footnote 1
  • Scientific enquiry into sexuality has shown that, rather than being a given, it is fluid, the product of a combination of factors including particularly nurture and experience Footnote 2 [and see also] J Michael Bailey. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 78 (3), March 2000, pages 524-536; M Frisch, A Hviid. ‘Childhood Correlates of Heterosexual and Homosexual Marriages: A National Cohort Study of Two Million Danes’, Archives of Sexual Behaviour 35 (5), October 2006, pages 533-547; The Social Organization of Sexuality, University of Chicago Press, 1994, pages 307, 309; Female Bisexuality From Adolescence to Adulthood: Results From a 10-Year Longitudinal Study Developmental Psychology 2008, Vol. 44, No. 1, 5–14
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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Further discussion of the LBC radio phone-in controversy

Updated Sunday morning (scroll down for new item)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canon Mark Oakley
London

Update

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

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

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

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

Bishop of Oxford to retire in the autumn

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 11 April 2014 at 11:26am BST | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Civil Partnership Review: response from Church of England

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.

Notes
Details of the Government consultation can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-the-future-of-civil-partnership-in-england-and-wales

The Church Times has reported this under the headline: Keep civil partnerships, Bishops tell Government.

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Church Times on the links with South Sudan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 11 April 2014 at 7:34am BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 6 April 2014

other reactions to the LBC radio phone-in

Updated Monday evening

Here are two articles which are supportive of the line taken by Archbishop Justin Welby on Friday:

Ian Paul has written What did Justin Welby say about gays and violence in Africa?

Andrew Goddard has written a long article The Archbishop, Gay Marriage and Violence: What are the issues?

The latter goes on to consider in some detail how the issues raised in the interview should be considered in the event that the Church of England, as a result of the “post-Pilling conversations” does eventually decide to make some change in its present official positions.

Update

Here are two more articles:

Cranmer Archbishop Justin gets handbagged by Ann Widdecombe

Phil Groom Epitaph for an Archbishop? For fear of sailing over the edge of the world, he never put out to sea

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Saturday, 5 April 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 5

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 5 April 2014 at 6:16pm BST | Comments (26) | TrackBack
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bloggers react to the LBC radio phone-in

Updated again Sunday 6 pm

Andrew Brown has written at CiF belief Welby’s argument against gay marriage has strength. But we can’t yield to moral blackmail

…Archbishops are not supposed to be Peter Singer-style utilitarians. And it seems to me that there are two things wrong with the Welby position from the point of view of Christian ethics. The first is surely that, while we have the right to make our own decisions about whether or not to yield to moral blackmail, we have no right to make them for other adults.

You might object that an archbishop is there to make decisions for other people, so different rules apply. But he is also there to set an example. And this leads to the second Christian objection to this kind of blackmail. Christians are called on to do what is right, and to trust that God will bring good out of it even if evil immediately follows. Failing to do what you believe is right is, in some lights, a kind of blasphemy.

Welby does not, in fact, believe in gay marriage, so he’s off that particular hook. And he has already said enough in favour of gay people to disgust the Ugandan and Nigerian churches. I don’t think you can accuse him of cowardice on this issue, even if he’s wrong…

Rachel Mann Justin Welby, Homosexuality and Unintended Consequences

…I do not doubt Justin Welby’s experience. As noted in a previous blog post I have lived in a country which criminalizes homosexuality. Changing Attitude and other organizations have consistently flagged up how very dangerous it is to be gay in the majority world.

In this blog post I want to examine the underlying logic of the Archbishop’s claims and question and problematize them. I apologize if my reasoning seems blunt and crude. I am currently fasting as part of EndHungerFast and my mind is not working at full tilt. Equally, I am very open to comments which help sharpen up my thinking in this area…

Symon Hill Welby, homophobia and the lives that are at risk

Savi Hensman Archbishop of Canterbury, equal marriage and safety of Africans

Gillan Scott Justin Welby’s debut radio phone-in was a breath of fresh air

Caroline Hall Archbishop of Canterbury Links Attacks on African Christians to Pro-LGBT Churches

Susan Russell Archbishop of Canterbury chooses pathetic over prophetic

Updates

Claire George has an article which in addition to her comments includes a transcript of part of the broadcast: [Opinion] What did Justin Welby say about Africa and Gay people?

The Bishop of California, Marc Andrus wrote A word on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statements

Kelvin Holdsworth You condemn it, Archbishop

This article is by the person who asked the archbishop the question that generated so much coverage of the programme: Rebel Rev lives up to her name

…I managed to get out just in time and asked the Archbishop the last question of the show. In a nutshell I was asking why, as priests, we couldn’t bless same sex couples and use our own conscience like happened when the remarriage of divorcees came about in church. This could be the case while we waited for a synodical process to go through that could change the rules to allow equal marriage in church.

I was shocked and saddened by Justin’s response. Much has been publicised and blogged about Justin’s answer by theologians and people far and wide in the Anglican Communion. As the person who asked the question and a bog standard priest in the Church of England I feel extremely let down by my institution and the Archbishop. He said that we couldn’t move forward with a more liberal agenda in the UK without it having a devastating effect on people in Africa. He told a story about standing at a mass grave and had been told the people were killed because of the liberal changes in America. That’s like wondering why a woman in a violent relationship who is murdered didn’t leave, instead of asking the murderer why he killed her. Violence always needs to be condemned. The Archbishop didn’t do this. Murder and homophobia are the issues, not liberalism in the UK. Can you imagine what would have happened if Gandhi had given in to the violence and not challenged the marginalisation and oppression at the salt mines? How different would the world be if Wilberforce wasn’t listened to because the slaves might have been further abused? What would have happened if the civil rights movement hadn’t progressed because people were scared of the violence of the KKK? Women are killed and maimed today because they are being educated. Just ask Malala. Does that mean we shouldn’t educate girls? Apartheid was atrocious in its outpouring of violence. Should we not have campaigned because more black people would have been killed? What Justin said put the power in the hands of the oppressors and those who wield violence.

Let’s be clear, it’s not only Africa that kills people because of homophobia. I live in London, a very cosmopolitan city, yet my neighbour was killed in a homophobic attack. I had a friend who took his own life because he couldn’t cope with coming to terms with his sexuality in the face of homophobia from his family, friends and church. There are many people hurt and trapped by homophobia and a lack of acceptance in the UK…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 5 April 2014 at 12:02pm BST | Comments (74) | TrackBack
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Friday, 4 April 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury answers questions on radio phone-in

Updated Sunday morning

A full transcript of the broadcast is now available: ARCHBISHOP’S PHONE-IN ON LBC RADIO: TRANSCRIPT.

Lambeth Palace press release: Archbishop answers questions on LBC radio phone-in

Archbishop Justin spent an hour answering questions on LBC’s radio phone-in this morning, tackling topics ranging from same-sex marriage to the nature of God.

Listen again to the full programme here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGdBTMx1Vgo.

LBC Radio has this: Archbishop: Gay Marriage Could Mean Murder Of Christians. Embedded in that page is a six-minute clip of the part of the interview that is attracting the most media attention.

And also this: Archbishop Confronted by Angry Ann Widdecombe.

Media coverage:

Guardian Andrew Brown African Christians will be killed if C of E accepts gay marriage, says Justin Welby

Tablet Liz Dodd Christians in Africa would die if CofE accepted gay marriage, Welby warns

BBC Welby: backing gay marriage could be ‘catastrophic’ for Christians elsewhere

Church Times Madeleine Davies Welby links gay marriage with African killings

Anglican Communion News Service Abp Welby: Anglican Communion sexuality decisions can mean African Christians suffer

Pink News Archbishop of Canterbury: Africans could be killed if the Church of England backs same-sex marriage

And Archbishop of Canterbury defends Anglican position on gays from Ann Widdecombe attack

Mail Online Steve Doughty Gay marriage puts the world’s Christians at risk of violent revenge attacks: Archbishop’s warning over spread of liberal views in CofE

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 4 April 2014 at 6:17pm BST | Comments (47) | TrackBack
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Gender: what difference does it really make?

The new Starbridge Lecturer in Theology and Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge is Dr Andrew Davison.

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.

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Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Wells Palace saga continues

Continued from here

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.

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A Critique of the House of Bishops Pastoral Statement

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…

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Women’s Contribution to the Ordained Ministry (Church of England)

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 1 April 2014 at 10:34am BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Women in the Episcopate

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 1 April 2014 at 10:17am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 30 March 2014

Still more about same-sex marriage

Updated Tuesday

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.

Update

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.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 4:54pm GMT | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 29 March 2014

More reports on same-sex marriage

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

Dr Jeffrey John: Most Church of England people agree, same-sex weddings ‘have God’s blessing already’

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 March 2014 at 3:41pm GMT | Comments (44) | TrackBack
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Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 4

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 29 March 2014 at 12:28pm GMT | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Media coverage of church responses to same-sex marriage

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.”

Gay marriage: bishop of Salisbury gives backing to same-sex weddings

…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”…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 March 2014 at 10:29am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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More supportive church reactions to same-sex marriage

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.”

ENDS

Notes

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

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 March 2014 at 10:15am GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Friday, 28 March 2014

Church Commissioners Questions - Same-sex Marriage (Priests)

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.

Other questions were on Cathedrals, Investments, Diocesan Support, and Church Growth Research Programme

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.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 28 March 2014 at 10:09am GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Bishop Peter Ball to be prosecuted

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.”

Statements by the Sussex Police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

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.

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Saturday, 22 March 2014

More on same sex marriage and on the Pilling report

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.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 22 March 2014 at 5:46pm GMT | Comments (158) | TrackBack
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Wells Palace: diocese objects

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.”

Update
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.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Saturday, 22 March 2014 at 2:55pm GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 3

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.

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Friday, 21 March 2014

More from Mike Higton on Marriage and Gender

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:

Men and Women in Marriage

…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.

Gender, Nature, Culture

…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…

Update

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.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 21 March 2014 at 6:00pm GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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East Barnet PCC writes to the Bishop of St Albans

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
Quinquagesima

Notes

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

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 21 March 2014 at 1:20pm GMT | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Global Freedom Network

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

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 21 March 2014 at 11:21am GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Church annual statistics for 2012

The Church of England has today released its annual statistics for 2013: Statistics for Mission 2012. There is an accompanying press release:

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.”

Ministry Statistics 2012 have already been published. There are links to earlier statistics here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 21 March 2014 at 10:26am GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Monday, 17 March 2014

New Bishop of Lewes announced

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 17 March 2014 at 10:37am GMT | Comments (52) | TrackBack
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More about church reactions to same sex marriage

Continuing the soap opera, but broadening out a little from the bishops statement.

Savi Hensman Church of England faction urges punishment of partnered parishioners

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…

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Saturday, 15 March 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 2

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.

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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Reactions to the House of Bishops statement - episode 10

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 House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance on Same-Sex Marriage Part I – Engaging with the Critics

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…

The House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance on Same-Sex Marriage Part II - Raising Questions and Recognising Challenges

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.

Updates

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…

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Update on the vacancy in the See of Hereford

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

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Sunday, 9 March 2014

Reactions to the House of Bishops statement - episode 9

Episode 8 was here. Earlier episodes from here.

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.

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Saturday, 8 March 2014

Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 8 March 2014 at 5:07pm GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Reactions to the House of Bishops statement - episode 8

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.

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Sunday, 2 March 2014

Reactions to the House of Bishops statement - episode 7

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:

Disagreeing about Marriage

…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…

Disagreeing about Marriage – and Gender

… 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.

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Friday, 28 February 2014

Reactions to the House of Bishops statement - episode 6

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
Dear Bishop,

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.

Yours truly,
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

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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Statement from the Church Commissioners on Wells Palace

Statement from the Church Commissioners on Wells Palace

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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 27 February 2014 at 11:17am GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Bishop of Oxford writes to his clergy on same-sex marriage

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.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 26 February 2014 at 10:40pm GMT | Comments (55) | TrackBack
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LGBTI Anglican Coalition sends open letter to House of Bishops

As a follow-up to the press release issued last week in response to the House of Bishops Pastoral Statement, the LGBTI Anglican Coalition has sent an open letter to all members of the House of Bishops.

The statement on the Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage, issued by the House of Bishops 14 February 2014 has caused a great deal of anger and dismay amongst the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Communities, not least because its tone and action has foreclosed on many of the issues which should be the subject of the facilitated discussions called for in the Pilling Report. We remain committed to these discussions but given the breakdown in trust which has resulted from recent actions it is now even more important that these conversations take place in a way which is not only impartial, but which is seen to be impartial by all of the bodies that are concerned.

We look forward to the opportunity of continued debate, and the open letter, attached, which has been sent to the House of Bishops of the Church of England is intended to help to rebuild some of the ground upon which the debate may take place…

The full text of the letter can be read here.

A blog article which conveniently summarises the letter has been published by Ekklesia: Savi Hensman Bishops face searching questions on same-sex marriage guidance:

…Emphasising “the traditional Anglican ‘insistence upon the duty of thinking and learning as essential elements in the Christian life’ (Lambeth Conference 1930) and ‘facing with intellectual integrity the questions raised by modern knowledge’ (Lambeth 1958)”, it asks how the House of Bishops has informed itself of the work of theologians arguing for greater acceptance from 1940 to the present.

Three-and-a-half decades after the start of a formal process of studying sexuality, including dialogue with lesbian and gay people, it asks how the findings have informed the thinking of the House of Bishops.

The letter also makes the point that “there are many LGBTI clergy who, in good conscience seeking to model their household according to the way of Christ, are intending to marry or to convert their civil partnership to marriage”, and asks “How will you ensure that these clergy can contribute fully and equally to the proposed discussions, without fear of sanction?”

In addition “we would ask how you intend to resolve the issues of the presumed bipolarity of male and female in gender and sexual orientations and in their relationships in the light of the latest scientific and theological knowledge” so that all “who seek to enter committed, loving and faithful relationships can find their rightful place within a renewed church which draws its teaching from the New Covenant and the unconditional love of Christ?”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 26 February 2014 at 12:18pm GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Bishops and welfare reforms

Updated Thursday morning

Since I published Bishops slam David Cameron’s welfare reforms last Thursday a number of more or less related articles have appeared.

Andrew Brown The Guardian Christians less generous than their clergy and everyone else
[see update below]

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England bishops do not speak for own flock on welfare, study suggests

Tim Wyatt Church Times War of words between bishops and Government

Two retired archbishops have their say.
Rowan Williams Daily Mirror Food bank users are not scroungers and this isn’t a hiccup - it’s a serious crisis
George Carey Daily Mail Bishops are naive over cuts, warns former Archbishop of Canterbury Carey

John McDermott Financial Times A different banking crisis

Jessica Elgot Huffington Post UK Welfare Cuts: Have Christian Leaders Become The New Voice Of The Left?

The future of welfare: a Theos collection

Linda Woodhead Westminster Faith Debates
Churchgoers favour reduction in the welfare budget
What British People Really Believe

Jonathan Clatworthy Modern Church The bishops: the real opposition?

It’s been announced Bishop to Lead Parliamentary Inquiry into Foodbanks and Food Poverty.

Update

Following representations from Theos The Guardian has amended the article by Andrew Brown linked above, changed the headline to Christians more hostile to benefit claimants than their clergy and added this note at the end:

This article, including the headlines, was amended on 26 February 2014 to clarify that research which suggested that large numbers of Christians believed spending on social security should be reduced was not done by the Christian thinktank Theos.

Gillan Scott comments on his Politics & Religion in the UK blog Are Christians really more hostile to benefit claimants than their bishops?

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 26 February 2014 at 10:21am GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Monday, 24 February 2014

More about historical error in the House of Bishops statement

Following the publication here of Linda Woodhead’s article titled An error in the House of Bishops Guidance on Same Sex Marriage some further discussion continued at Law and Religion UK where Frank Cranmer wrote An error in the House of Bishops’ Guidance on Same Sex Marriage? – perhaps not.

Now, Scot Peterson has published Generalizations, Just-So Stories and Marriage Law and Doctrine. He reviews the discussion so far, explaining that:

..As Iain McLean and I have written in our recent book, Legally Married, the law of marriage in the UK has changed frequently. Here, the question is whether the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013 is ‘the first time’ there has been 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.

After laying out the facts he is in no doubt about the outcome, finishing with:

…Conclusion: Woodhead’s argument is correct, and Arora and Cranmer are mistaken. The House of Bishops’ statement is in error. The civil law in England and Wales (and elsewhere) has frequently diverged from religious rules about marriage. Social norms about marriage have moved ahead, public policy about marriage, expressed in laws, has evolved, and so has church doctrine, but not always at the same rate. It would be honest of the Church of England, and its bishops, to admit that fact and get on with it.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 24 February 2014 at 7:44am GMT | Comments (67) | TrackBack
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Reactions to the House of Bishops statement - episode 5

Updated Monday afternoon

Links to Episode 4 and to earlier items here.

Two articles have appeared that deal with the question of what sanctions, if any, are available to the bishops for dealing with those clergy who themselves enter into a same-sex marriage.

At Law & Religion UK David Pocklington asks: Tougher sanctions against clergy who marry same-sex partner?

At Ecclesiastical Law Philip Jones writes at considerable length: Clergy Discipline and Same Sex Marriage: Inappropriate Conduct?

…The obvious legal solution to the pastoral difficulty is to amend the law, and so bring clergy discipline into alignment with the Church’s teaching. This would require new legislation making it a specific ecclesiastical offence for clergy to enter into same sex marriages.

Any amendment of the Clergy Discipline Measure to include such an offence would, of course, require the approval of Parliament, which might not be forthcoming in the present climate of opinion. However, the General Synod has a common law power to legislate by canon, inherited from the Convocations, which does not require parliamentary approval (see Synodical Government Measure 1969)…

Gillan Scott has Unpacking the ‘doublespeak’ of the C of E’s latest statement on same-sex marriage

Two more statements from individual dioceses:

  • Diocese of Guildford (from the Bishop of Dorking) by email (not yet appeared on diocesan website):

You will no doubt have heard through the media news of the Pastoral Letter which the House of Bishops has issued as guidance concerning the Same Sex Marriage Act which comes into force at the end of March this year. Inevitably, the media have highlighted what is seen as the negative outcome rather than the many positive things which the Guidance has to say. The Letter and the accompanying advice contained in the Appendix are available online on the Church of England website. Please read all of it very carefully.

You will notice, and this is what Bishop Christopher and I were keen to point out in our earlier letter to the clergy, that a pastoral response of prayers is encouraged, where appropriate, to gay couples who may enquire about the possibility of some form of service. This would not be any fomal rite or liturgy but, as paragraph 22 of the Appendix states, a ‘more informal kind of prayer, at the request of the couple, might be appropriate in the light of circumstances’. My own view is that this might be best done in the couple’s home.

Yours in Christ

+Ian

Updates

The Bishop of Blackburn has issued this statement:

Statement by the Bishop of Blackburn on the Bishops’ Pastoral Statement – 24.02.14.

(Broadcast on BBC Lancashire Breakfast)

Bishop Julian declined the invitation to take part in the broadcast, but issued the following statement:

“In the light of the sensitive nature of the discussions within the Church, I am reluctant to be drawn in to public discussion at this stage. There are strongly held views in totally opposing directions while the Church seeks to resolve those differences. The two year process of consultation agreed by the Church would be a time to listen to one another and study the Scriptures as together we seek to discover the mind of Christ.”

Fulcrum has issued a statement:

Fulcrum response to the HoB Pastoral Statement on same-sex marriages

Fulcrum is grateful to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the House of Bishops for their careful pastoral letter and statement. It is appropriate that the House of Bishops should uphold the present doctrine of the Church in advance of the facilitated conversations on which assurances have been given that they have no pre determined outcome. They are simply sworn to do that by their office. Any other outcome would have been prejudicial to those conversations taking place. We recognise that their statement is not universally welcomed, but hope that it may create space in which the conversations can begin and end in Christ.

We are also aware that any statement they made was sadly likely to be challenged legally, which will be a costly thing in mission, pastoral emotion, money, and reputation of the whole body of Christ. We hope that others will join with us in praying that our focus for mission as the Church of England may go forward without such distraction; but in doing that we also recognise those of the LGBTI community who will experience most sharply the Bishops’ call for restraint.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 24 February 2014 at 7:08am GMT | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 22 February 2014

Women Bishops: electronic voting results

The electronic voting results from this month’s General Synod are now available as pdf files. As all were votes of the whole synod they are arranged by vote (for/against/abstain) and then alphabetically by name.

For convenience I have put the results relevant to women bishops into a spreadsheet arranged by synod number (which brings members together by diocese) for each house and added absentees and vacancies.

There were two votes:

  • Item 515: That Clauses 1-6 stand part of the Canon
    Many Synod members would have viewed this as a vote on the principle of allowing women to be bishops.
    This was carried with 304 votes in favour and 33 against. 45 abstentions were recorded.
  • Item 10: a motion to suspend Standing Order 90(b)(iii)
    This motion was to allow the reference to the dioceses to be completed in less time than usual so that final approval can be taken at the July 2014 Synod.
    This was carried with 358 votes in favour and 39 against. 9 abstentions were recorded.

From the voting lists I have counted the votes in each house.

item 515 ForAgainstAbstention
Bishops
32
0
2
Clergy
145
10
16
Laity
127
23
27

 

item 10 ForAgainstAbstention
Bishops
32
0
0
Clergy
175
8
2
Laity
151
31
7

At final approval a two-thirds majority will be required in each house for the Women in the Episcopate legislation to be carried.

Here is the full set of electronic voting results:

Tuesday 11 February

Item 515 - Draft Amending Canon No.33 (clauses 1-6)
Item 10 - Motion to suspend SO 90(b)(iii)
Item 519B - The Church Representation Rules Amendment Resolution

Wednesday 12 February

Item 13 - Southwark Diocesan Synod Motion Environmental Issues
Item 27 - Girl Guides’ Promise

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 22 February 2014 at 3:13pm GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Friday, 21 February 2014

Reactions to the House of Bishops statement - episode 4

The Bishop of Norwich has issued a letter to his clergy, but to date I have not been able to find it on the diocesan website. So here is a local copy of it.

The Suffragan Bishop in Europe has published a guest article on his blog by The Revd Canon Dr Jack McDonald.

Christian Concern has issued a lengthy letter to its supporters urging them to write to their bishops. See ACTION ALERT: Challenge Bishops and Archbishops to tell the truth about marriage.

The Barnet and Potters Bar Times reports that the Parish of St Mary’s in East Barnet to make stand against Church of England leaders on same-sex blessings.

…Members of the St Mary’s Church council now plan to meet and formulate a statement in response to the House of Bishop’s latest refusal to be moved on the subject.

Church rector James Mustard said he expects his parish to release the statement in the coming weeks and says it is an important subject for the image and ministry of his church in the area.

He said: “The feeling is that this ongoing prohibition on blessing same-sex couples is harmful to our relationship with the community, whether they come to the church or not.

“I think it is important that churches in favour of supporting same-sex couples with blessings should speak out, and we’re preparing to issue a statement opposing the House of Bishops’ decision.”

This week’s Church Times has several items:

News articles by Madeleine Davies
Bishops’ same-sex-marriage statement provokes anger and defiance and
Disobedient clergy risk rebuke

…On Tuesday, the Revd Will Adam, Vicar of St Paul’s, Winchmore Hill, in north London, who edits the Ecclesiastical Law Journal, said that it could be argued that clergy had to comply with the prohibition on same-sex marriage because they had sworn the oath of canonical obedience.

If defiance was deemed to be a doctrinal offence, the case would have to be taken up by the Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved. “It’s a panel who are, or have been, very senior judges or diocesan bishops. So it’s pretty big. Would a bishop be brave enough to bring such a case?” He said that it had met only twice since it was established.

A case could be brought under the CDM, Mr Adam suggested, if the offence was defined as sexual misconduct. The House of Bishops was on “pretty safe ground” with regard to equality legislation, he believed, given the exemptions that applied to religious organisations…

Leader Comment: Same-sex marriage

…Given their consistent opposition to same-sex marriage, the St Valentine’s statement was predictable. It would help greatly, though, if it were acknowledged for what it is: a holding position. We do not think it will hold for long; nor can it, unless congregations feel no responsibility for what is clearly a pastoral disaster, or are willing to be seen as “akin to racists”. Archbishop Welby spoke of “courageous Churches”. It ought not to take courage to treat LGBT people more lovingly. But perhaps courage is precisely what the Bishops lack, since to treat someone lovingly is to treat him or her equally.

Letters to the Editor: Gay marriage: the Bishops and public opinion

…We do not all agree about same-sex marriage, nor about how the Church of England should respond. But we are all of a mind on this: if the Church of England is serious about intentional evangelism to a generation that regards us with a mixture of apathy and contempt, and if we are to reverse our fast institutional retreat from relevance in the life of this nation, we need urgently to change the tone and manner of our discussions on matters relating to human sexuality…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 21 February 2014 at 9:00am GMT | Comments (35) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 20 February 2014

Bishops slam David Cameron's welfare reforms

Updated Friday morning

Today’s (Thursday’s) Daily Mirror carries this article by Jason Beattie: 27 bishops slam David Cameron’s welfare reforms as creating a national crisis in unprecedented attack.

The bishops (and other church leaders) have sent this letter to the Daily Mirror.

Sir,

Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry.

Half a million people have visited foodbanks in the UK since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year.

One in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children, and even more families are just one unexpected bill away from waking up with empty cupboards.

We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must “heat or eat” each winter, harder than those faced by families whose wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.

Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using foodbanks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.

On March 5th Lent will begin. The Christian tradition has long been at this time to fast, and by doing so draw closer to our neighbour and closer to God.

On March 5th we will begin a time of fasting while half a million regularly go hungry in Britain. We urge those of all faith and none, people of good conscience, to join with us.

There is an acute moral imperative to act. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing so already, as they set up and support foodbanks across the UK. But this is a national crisis, and one we must rise to.

We call on government to do its part: acting to investigate food markets that are failing, to make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger.

Join us at www.endhungerfast.co.uk.

It is signed by 27 Anglican bishops (25 Church of England and two Church in Wales), ten Methodist chairs of districts, three United Reformed Church Moderators and two Quakers.

There is already a lot of online news and comment.

The Telegraph
Keith Perry Bishops condemn Government welfare reforms
Matthew Holehouse Clegg hits back at bishops: We spend billions and billions on welfare
Benedict Brogan Church vs State: is David Cameron facing a crusade?
John Bingham and Matthew Holehouse Welby: churches know what they are talking about in benefits warning

The Guardian
Nicholas Watt Bishops blame David Cameron for food bank crisis
Steve Richards Comment is free It’s no wonder David Cameron has alienated the church
Andrew Brown Christian conservatism takes radical position against welfare cuts

BBC News
Church of England bishops demand action over hunger
Clegg hits back at bishops’ welfare reform criticism

Channel 4 News Heat or eat? Church of England bishops’ hunger plea

Financial Times Editorial Britain’s bishops deserve a hearing

Adam Withnall The Independent Britain faces food poverty ‘national crisis’ because of Government welfare reforms, bishops warn

Nick Baines blogs Bashing the bishops

Tim Wyatt Church Times Empty plates: campaigners ask Christians to go hungry

Update

The End Hunger Fast campaign issued this press release: Church leaders call national fast for UK’s hungry as “End Hunger Fast” campaign planned for Lent. The copy of the open letter on their website has slightly fewer signatures than the copy in the Daily Mirror, which may explain the discrepancies in the number of bishops quoted in the press articles.

Helen Warrell and Jim Pickard Financial Times Clergy preach to Cameron on benefit reform

The Guardian
Editorial Food poverty: government in denial
Patrick Butler Families turn to food banks as last resort ‘not because they are free’

Charlotte Leslie MP The Telegraph Haven’t the Bishops heard? Charity begins at home

Daily Mail
Tamara Cohen and Steve Doughty What hunger crisis? Bishops are so wrong on welfare, says Clegg: Deputy PM reacts angrily to claim ‘safety net’ has been removed
Editorial Preaching the sermon according to Labour
Simon Heffer Will the Church ever learn there is nothing moral about welfare dependency?

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 20 February 2014 at 8:53pm GMT | Comments (35) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

An error in the House of Bishops Guidance on Same Sex Marriage

An article by Linda Woodhead who writes in a personal capacity.

“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)

“For the first time in the history of the Church of England has the law of the State been brought on one specific point into direct, open, overt contrast with and contradiction of the specific and defined law laid down in the authoritative regulations of the National Church.” (Archbishop Randall Davidson, on the passage of the deceased wife’s sister legislation, Hansard, 1907)

The fact that many in the Church of England contested the recension of the Deceased Wife’s Sister Act (1835) until defeated in 1907 sounds ridiculous to us. And that’s the point. What to contemporary generations seems an unsupportable divergence between the law of the land and the Church’s teaching on marriage (the BCP’s Table of Kindred and Affinity in this case) seems a storm in a teacup for later generations for whom it is established social fact.

The same is true of the Church’s long and deep resistance to the remarriage of divorcees. Princess Margaret’s romance was sacrificed on this altar, and within living memory many clergy who sought remarriage were skewered on it, for it was only in 2002 that Church practice finally came into line with civil law. As Dr Robin Ward reminded me yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury during the (1820) trial of Queen Caroline explained to the House of Lords that although Our Lord allowed remarriage after divorce, the British Constitution wisely forbad it.

This is why Archbishop Lang viewed the 1937 Matrimonial Causes Act, which liberalised divorce, as a serious divergence between English law and church teaching on marriage. He explained his decision not to vote for it by saying that he had come to the conclusion “that it was no longer possible to impose the full Christian standard by law on a largely non-Christian population, but that witness to that standard, and consequent disciplinary action towards its own members or persons who sought to be married by its rites, must be left to the church” (JG Lockhart, Cosmo Gordon Lang, p. 235).

So the fact that the House of Bishops’ statement above is in error matters a great deal. It matters because errors of fact should not occur in a statement of such gravity, and it matters because it reveals a wider mindset amongst the bishops and their advisors which is forgetful of the church’s own history and therefore proverbially condemned to repeat it. The bishops are in a false position because they believe that the scale of the challenge which gay marriage presents to the Church is much greater than it really is. The error speaks of an episcopate closed in on itself, trapped in the present, unwilling to accept advice from experts, and acting out of fear.

“The sky is falling in,” said Chicken Licken. “The sky is falling in,” said Archbishop Davidson. “The sky is falling in,” said Archbishop Lang. “The sky is falling in,” said Archbishop Welby. But this time, hardly anyone believed it.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 at 4:00pm GMT | Comments (57) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Women bishops reference to dioceses

Update Wednesday afternoon The links are now all correct.

The papers sent to dioceses for the Article 8 reference regarding women bishops are now available online. This is copied below.

Women bishops reference to dioceses

The Article 8 process regarding women bishops is outlined and explained in a note from the Business Committee of the General Synod. Click here.

The Business Committee has also circulated four other documents: a report from the House of Bishops (GS 1932) which includes the texts of the draft House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (in Annex A) and the draft Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations (in Annex B); a background note on the new package of proposals (A8(14)1); the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (A8(14)2); the draft Amending Canon No. 33 (A8(14)3); and an Explanatory Memorandum relating to the draft legislation (A8(14)4).

The General Synod voted on Tuesday 11 February to suspend Standing Order 90 until the end of the Group of Sessions to be held in November 2014. This enables a shortening of the deadline for Diocesan Synods to vote on the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops. Reporting forms, recording the votes of Diocesan Synods, should be returned to the Clerk to the Synod to arrive by midnight on Thursday 22 May 2014.

A background note produced by the Business Committee in 2010 on the history of the legislative proposals can be viewed by clicking on the link below.

A8(WE)BACKGROUND

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 at 7:00pm GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Reactions to the House of Bishops statement - episode 3

Updated Tuesday evening

Previous episodes can be found here, and then over here. And this one has its own article.

New items:

Ekklesia Savi Hensman Love, grace and the bishops’ pastoral guidance

Changing Attitude Colin Coward
Bishop of Blackburn acts on House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement and
Diocese of Lincoln – Ad Clerum about the Pastoral Statement

Bishop of Oxford Bishop of Oxford speaks on Same Sex Marriage statement

Anglican Mainstream
Fidelity, Naivety and Integrity: the C of E House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage by Dermot O’Callaghan and also
Untheological, incoherent, unhelpful – Bishops, think again! by Thurstan Stigand

Peter Ould The Opening Shots

Updates

Anglican Mainstream has more items:
Andrew Symes The last six days: the story so far and the implications
Michael Nazir-Ali A Response to the House of Bishops Guidance on Same-Sex Marriage

Law and Religion UK David Pocklington House of Bishops’ Statement on Same-sex Marriage
This contains a detailed analysis of the statement from a legal viewpoint, and is worth reading in full.

Centre for the Study of Sexuality and Christianity CoE Bishops’ Statement on UK Same Sex Marriage – Not Truly “Pastoral” full text below the fold.

ANYTHING BUT PASTORAL!

CSCS calls on pro same-sex marriage Bishops to speak out

The Centre for the Study of Christianity (CSCS) supports, unequivocally, the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013 which enables same-sex couples to celebrate equal civil marriage with effect, in England and Wales, from 29 March 2014. CSCS rejoices with sisters and brothers in Liberal and Reformed Judaism, the Society of Friends, and Unitarian Free Christian Churches who have opted-in, to enable such marriages to be celebrated on their premises. CSCS also recognises that amongst people of faith and none, diverse theological and ideological positions might be held regarding same-sex marriage.

Following its Annual Conference, Redefining Marriage?, held in Birmingham on 15 February 2014, CSCS expresses serious concern at the possible impact of Church of England House of Bishops so-called ‘Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage’. This, and the letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, appear to pre-empt the process of facilitated conversation, listening and reflection, called for by the Pilling Report and referred to in the 27 January 2014 Statement from the College of Bishops. The House of Bishops latest statement sets down answers, even before many of the questions have been asked.

Any true pastoral process in the LGBT context should begin with a listening to, and analysis of, the lived experience of people of faith, particularly its LGBT members, their parents, spouses, and families. It should then proceed to reflect on this in the light of developing, and not fixed, understandings of scripture, tradition, and reason. The latter should not rely on un-reformed views of natural law but, discerning the signs of the times, encompass the insights of contemporary thinkers in the fields of gender, sexuality, anthropology and other human sciences. The House of Bishops’ Statement, and indeed the Pilling Report show little evidence of such engagement.

The Bishops’ Statement, if taken as authoritative even for the time being, could lead to pastoral chaos, as well as unwarranted intrusion into the lives and consciences of Church of England laity and clergy. We call upon those Bishops of the Church of England who have hitherto expressed support for same-sex marriage to come out and clearly state whether the House of Bishops Statement of the 15 February 2014 is issued in their name and with their support. If it is not we urge them to disassociate themselves from the Statement, declining to implement its proposed policies and procedures in their Dioceses.

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Petitioning Bishops of the Church of England

A petition has been initiated on change.org:

To rescind their opposition to equal marriage. To take back their recent Pastoral Guidance. To create a Church where all are welcomed.

On Saturday the 15th of February 2014, the bishops of the Church of England released Pastoral Guidance in relation to equal marriage. This document is an attempt on their part to hinder the movement of God’s Spirit in relation to the full inclusion of all God’s children in the Church of England. This document must not go unchallenged. By signing this petition, you are part of the ongoing struggle for change in the Church of England…

At the time of posting this, the petition has reached 2000 signatures.

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Monday, 17 February 2014

Forward in Faith: Reference to the Dioceses

Women in the Episcopate: Reference to the Dioceses

The diocesan synods will shortly be voting on the Women in the Episcopate legislation – a draft Measure and a draft Canon.

This legislation forms part of a package which also includes a House of Bishops’ Declaration (containing provisions that will replace Resolutions A and B and the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod) and a Resolution of Disputes Procedure, both of which we warmly welcome.

Only the Measure and the Canon will be the subject of formal voting in the diocesan synods. When legislation is referred to the dioceses because it touches the sacraments of the Church, Forward in Faith believes that synod members should give their votes according to principle and conscience. For members of Forward in Faith that is likely to involve voting against the Measure and the Canon because, for reasons of theological conviction, we cannot endorse the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate. This will be the only opportunity for members of diocesan synods to vote on the principle in accordance with their theological convictions.

We wish to underline that in making this recommendation we are not seeking to hinder progress towards a final resolution of this issue. It is important that this is made clear in diocesan synod debates. We are conscious that at this stage in the process only simple majorities are required.

We were encouraged that, when members of the General Synod voted against the relevant parts of the legislation at the February group of sessions, the fact that they felt obliged to do so as a matter of integrity was widely accepted. We trust that similar understanding will be shown in the diocesan synods.

On behalf of the Council:

+ JONATHAN FULHAM LINDSAY NEWCOMBE ROSS NORTHING
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker Dr Lindsay Newcombe The Revd Ross Northing
Chairman Lay Vice-Chairman Clerical Vice-Chairman

17 February 2014

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Rwandan bishop in UK faces probe over allegations of role in 1994 genocide

The Observer yesterday carried these two stories by Chris McGreal.

Rwandan priest in UK faces probe over allegations of role in 1994 genocide
How ‘accomplice’ to Rwanda genocide turned up in a rural English pulpit

The first of these begins:

The Church of England is investigating a Rwandan bishop who is now serving as a parish priest in Worcestershire over “disturbing” allegations that he was a propagandist for leaders of his country’s 1994 genocide and complicit in sending Tutsis to their deaths.

The Diocese of Worcester issued this press release in response: Statement in response to allegations about Bishop Jonathan Ruhumuliza.

Other websites have subsequently published their own articles on this story.

Shari Miller Daily Mail Church of England investigates bishop accused of ‘collaborating’ in Rwandan genocide who is now a parish priest in Worcestershire

Edwin Musoni All Africa Rwanda: UK Church Probes Rwandan Bishop Over 1994 Genocide

A number of other African websites have republished the articles from either The Observer or the Daily Mail.

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Sunday, 16 February 2014

LGB&TI Anglican Coalition Response to the House of Bishops

Press Release

The LGB&TI Anglican Coalition is appalled by the House of Bishops’ recently-issued Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage, especially in the light of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential address in which it was stated that differing views should be accepted in a spirit of ‘good disagreement’. In this document we see no acceptance of disagreement at all, but instead a heavy-handed and legalistic imposition of discipline.

The new guidance emphasises the well-known fact that same-sex couples will not be able to marry in Church of England churches even when equal marriage takes effect. Furthermore, despite the recommendation of the Pilling Report, the prohibition on blessing same-sex couples is reinforced. While these iron exclusions are in place it is simply ludicrous to speak of the Church ‘Welcoming’ lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGB&TI) people, or to pretend that this statement is in any sense ‘pastoral’.

The guidance also excludes people married to members of the same sex from ordination, and forbids LGB&TI clergy to marry same-sex partners. This is cruel and unjust to clergy who have faithfully served the church, hitherto with the full knowledge and support of their bishops, and it will impoverish the ministry by driving away LGB&TI ordinands. Only those who are prepared to lie will remain.

The statement was made without any consultation with openly gay people, and fails to acknowledge that some of the bishops who are signatories are understood to be gay themselves. This heightens the corrosive sense of hypocrisy and cynicism with which this issue is surrounded in the Church.

We are aware that the position taken in this statement was partly or even mainly driven by fears about the unity of the Anglican Communion, and that bishops who wished to take a less harsh line were told that the Communion would not stand for it. In some large African provinces which are threatening to secede over this issue the Anglican Church helps supply the theology which backs the violent persecution of LGB&TI people. We believe that it is simply immoral for the Church of England to appease these provinces by sacrificing the rights and freedoms of LGB&TI people in this country or any other, or to place the cause of institutional unity above the cause of justice and humanity.

This guidance is wrong in tone and content, and will further damage the Church’s mission, not only to LGB&TI people, but to all people of goodwill who respect justice and truth. It may seek to carry disciplinary authority, but it has no moral authority and cannot command respect. We hope and pray that it will be swiftly withdrawn.

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More reactions to the House of Bishops statement

Updated third time Monday evening

Earlier items are in the preceding article.

Changing Attitude Transcript of Bishop Steven Croft on R4 ‘Sunday’ on church penalties for same sex marriage

Cif belief Andrew Brown Gay marriage: I don’t dismiss bishops’ dishonest compromise out of hand

Bosco Peters When is blessing not a blessing

Modern Church Jonathan Clatworthy Gay marriage: the bible is not perspicuous

Jeremy Fletcher Same Sex Marriage and the House of Bishops

Archdruid Eileen Painted into a Corner

Peter Ould Some Thoughts on the Statement

Tobias Haller Incoherent Hypocrisy

Updates

The Suffragan Bishop in Europe writes about the application of this statement in that diocese: House of Bishops on Same Sex Marriage. He notes, inter alia, that

…We in the Diocese in Europe have lived for a number of years with the reality of same-sex marriage in many of the countries where we serve, in Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, for instance, (even though in very few countries are our clergy legally permitted to conduct marriages)…

Sam Norton The Lego movie and the House of Bishops Statement on gay marriage

Christina Beardsley ‘One of gayest churches in Christendom’?

Pink News How can the Church of England be ‘welcoming’ when it bans priests from marrying gay people?

Ian Paul The real challenge after Pilling that no-one is talking about

Anglican Mainstream Statement commenting on the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage

Church Society Lee Gatiss responds to House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage

Peter Saunders C of E Bishops say church members should ‘welcome’ ‘married’ same-sex couples into the church community

Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement LGCM appalled by the House of Bishops Pastoral Letter

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) tentatively welcomed the Pilling Report recognising the positive recommendations contained therein and was pleased that it was positively received by General Synod, in a discussion which recognised the need to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) people more fully. This was further supported by Archbishop Justin Welby’s presidential address.

It is hard to believe that following on from these events that the House of Bishops could publish a document called ‘Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage’ which is anything but pastoral.

The House of Bishops needs to wake up and realise that it can not recommend blatant discrimination and expect lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people to feel welcome in the church.

The Rev Sharon Ferguson, Chief Executive, said ‘Church of England leaders are under pressure from some in their church and wider Anglican Communion to continue to discriminate, but this should be set against the demands of the Gospel. Whilst it is positive that clergy can pray publicly for same-sex partners following civil partnership or marriage registration, it is a pity that the House of Bishops letter takes such a negative stance, fails to show appreciation for the ministry of LGB&T clergy and seems unaware of the powerful theological and pastoral arguments put forward in recent decades for celebrating committed loving relationships, including marriage.’

She continued: ‘However, in the Church of England and other churches, Christians committed to full inclusion will continue to work towards this, so that the good news of Christ can be more effectively embodied and shared.’

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Saturday, 15 February 2014

Reports and reactions to House of Bishops statement

Media reports:

Telegraph John Bingham Church offers prayers after same-sex weddings – but bans gay priests from marrying

Church Times Paul Handley No blessings, no same-sex marriages for clergy: Bishops keep the door shut as Act comes into force

Independent Lizzie Dearden Church of England offers prayers after gay weddings but no same-sex marriage for vicars

BBC Gay couple blessings ruled out by Church of England bishops

Diocesan statements:

Bishop of Manchester Bishop’s pastoral statement

Blogs:

Archbishop Cranmer House of Bishop’s same-sex dog’s breakfast

Bishop Alan Wilson We come in Peace — Shoot to Kill?

Changing Attitude Colin Coward House of Bishops prioritise discipline not love

Rachel Mann Personal Response to the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement

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House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage

The House of Bishops issued the statement below today (Saturday 15 February 2014).

House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage

Following their meeting on February 13th 2014 the House of Bishops of the Church of England have today issued a statement of Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage.

The statement comes as an appendix to a pastoral letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York addressed to the clergy and people of the Church of England.

The text of the letter and the statement is reproduced below

15 February 2014

To the Clergy and People of the Church of England

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

We write as fellow disciples of Jesus Christ who are called to love one another as Christ has loved us. Our vocation as disciples of Christ in God’s world is to hold out the offer of life in all its fullness. God delights always to give good gifts to his children.

The gospel of the love of God made known to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest of these gifts. The call of the gospel demands that we all listen, speak and act with integrity, self discipline and grace, acknowledging that as yet our knowledge and understanding are partial.

As members of the Body of Christ we are aware that there will be a range of responses across the Church of England to the introduction of same sex marriage. As bishops we have reflected and prayed together about these developments. As our statement of 27th January indicated, we are not all in agreement about every aspect of the Church’s response. However we are all in agreement that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged.

We are conscious that within both Church and society there are men and women seeking to live faithfully in covenanted same sex relationships. As we said in our response to the consultation prior to the same sex marriage legislation, “the proposition that same sex relationships can embody crucial social virtues is not in dispute. Same sex relationships often embody genuine mutuality and fidelity…., two of the virtues which the Book of Common Prayer uses to commend marriage. The Church of England seeks to see those virtues maximised in society”.

We have already committed ourselves to a process of facilitated conversations across the whole Church of England in the light of the Pilling Report. These conversations will involve ecumenical and interfaith partners and particularly the wider Anglican Communion to whom we rejoice to be bound by our inheritance of faith and mutual affection. They will include profound reflection on the meaning, interpretation and application of scripture to which we all seek to be faithful. They will involve particular attention to the lived experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. We believe that Christian understandings of sexuality have a vital contribution to make in our society’s conversation about human flourishing.

The introduction of same sex marriage in our country is a new reality and has consequences for the life and discipline of the Church of England. We seek to model a distinctive and generous witness to Jesus Christ in our pastoral guidance to the Church at this time which is set out in the Appendix to this letter.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for all people in all times and situations. We continue to seek God’s grace and the prayers of the whole Church as we seek to proclaim that faith afresh in this generation.

+ Justin Cantuar               + Sentamu Eboracensis

On behalf of the House of Bishops of the Church of England

Appendix

The Church of England and the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013

The Church of England’s teaching on marriage

1. The Church of England’s long standing teaching and rule are set out in Canon B30: ‘The Church of England affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better for worse, till death them do part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side, for the procreation and nurture of children, for the hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections, and for the mutual society, help and comfort which the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.

2. The Book of Common Prayer introduces the Solemnisation of Matrimony by saying, ‘Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee…

3. The Common Worship marriage service, consistently with the Book of Common Prayer, says, ‘The Bible teaches us that marriage is a gift of God in creation and a means to grace, a holy mystery in which man and woman become one flesh…’ The House of Bishops teaching document of 1999 noted that: “Marriage is a pattern that God has given in creation, deeply rooted in our social instincts, through which a man and a woman may learn love together over the course of their lives.

4. The Lambeth Conference of 1998 said ‘in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage’ (resolution1.10) This remains the declared position of the Anglican Communion.

5. The same resolution went on to acknowledge ‘that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.’ It went on to ‘condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex.’

6. In February 2005 the Dromantine Communique from the Primates of the Anglican Communion again affirmed the Anglican Communion’s opposition to any form of behaviour which ‘diminished’ homosexual people.

7. It stated: ‘We …. wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of the moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people. The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.

8. It was on the basis of this teaching that the then Archbishops published in June 2012 the official Church of England submission in response to the Government’s intention to introduce same-sex marriage. They arguments in it were based on the Church of England’s understanding of marriage, a set of beliefs and practices that it believes most benefits society. During the legislation’s passage through Parliament, no Lord Spiritual voted for the legislation.

The effect of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013

9. The Government’s legislation, nevertheless, secured large majorities in both Houses of Parliament on free votes and the first same sex marriages in England are expected to take place in March. From then 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.

10. The effect of the legislation is that in most respects there will no longer be any distinction between marriage involving same sex couples and couples of opposite genders. The legislation makes religious as well as civil same sex weddings possible, though only where the relevant denomination or faith has opted in to conducting such weddings. In addition, the legislation provides that no person may be compelled to conduct or be present at such a wedding.

11. The Act provides no opt in mechanism for the Church of England because of the constitutional convention that the power of initiative on legislation affecting the Church of England rests with the General Synod, which has the power to pass Measures and Canons. The Act preserves, as part of the law of England, the effect of any Canon which makes provision about marriage being the union of one man with one woman, notwithstanding the general, gender free definition of marriage. As a result Canon B30 remains part of the law of the land.

12. When the Act comes into force in March it will continue not to be legally possible for two persons of the same sex to marry according to the rites of the Church of England. In addition the Act makes clear that any rights and duties which currently exist in relation to being married in Church of England churches do not extend to same sex couples.

13. The legislation has not made any changes to the nature of civil partnerships though it paves the way for a procedure by which couples in civil partnerships can, if they choose, convert them into a marriage. The Government has indicated that it will be later this year before the necessary regulations can be made and the first conversions of civil partnerships into marriages become possible.

14. There are three particular areas on which some guidance is necessary on the implications of the new legislation in relation to our common life and ministry in England.

Access to the sacraments and pastoral care for people in same sex marriages

15. In Issues in Human Sexuality the House affirmed that, while the same standards of conduct applied to all, the Church of England should not exclude from its fellowship those lay people of gay or lesbian orientation who, in conscience, were unable to accept that a life of sexual abstinence was required of them and who, instead, chose to enter into a faithful, committed sexually active relationship.

16. Consistent with that, we said in our 2005 pastoral statement that lay people who had registered civil partnerships ought not to be asked to give assurances about the nature of their relationship before being admitted to baptism, confirmation and holy communion, or being welcomed into the life of the local worshipping community more generally.

17. We also noted that the clergy could not lawfully refuse to baptize children on account of the family structure or lifestyle of those caring for them, so long as they and the godparents were willing to make the requisite baptismal promises following a period of instruction.

18. We recognise the many reasons why couples wish their relationships to have a formal status. These include the joys of exclusive commitment and also extend to the importance of legal recognition of the relationship. To that end, civil partnership continues to be available for same sex couples. Those same sex couples who choose to marry should be welcomed into the life of the worshipping community and not be subjected to questioning about their lifestyle. Neither they nor any children they care for should be denied access to the sacraments.

Acts of worship following civil same sex weddings

19. As noted above, same sex weddings in church will not be possible. As with civil partnership, some same sex couples are, however, likely to seek some recognition of their new situation in the context of an act of worship.

20. The 2005 pastoral statement said that it would not be right to produce an authorized public liturgy in connection with the registering of civil partnerships and that clergy should not provide services of blessing for those who registered civil partnerships. The House did not wish, however, to interfere with the clergy’s pastoral discretion about when more informal kind of prayer, at the request of the couple, might be appropriate in the light of the circumstances. The College made clear on 27 January that, just as the Church of England’s doctrine of marriage remains the same, so its pastoral and liturgical practice also remains unchanged.

21. The same approach as commended in the 2005 statement should therefore apply to couples who enter same-sex marriage, on the assumption that any prayer will be accompanied by pastoral discussion of the church’s teaching and their reasons for departing from it. Services of blessing should not be provided. Clergy should respond pastorally and sensitively in other ways.

Clergy and ordinands

22. The preface to the Declaration of Assent, which all clergy have to make when ordained and reaffirm when they take up a new appointment, notes that the Church of England ‘professes the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation.’ This tension between the givenness of the faith and the challenge to proclaim it afresh in each generation, as the Spirit continues to lead the Church into all truth, stands at the heart of current debates about human sexuality and of what constitutes leading a life that is according to the way of Christ.

23. At ordination clergy make a declaration that they will endeavour to fashion their own life and that of their household ‘according to the way of Christ’ that they may be ‘a pattern and example to Christ’s people’. A requirement as to the manner of life of the clergy is also directly imposed on the clergy by Canon C 26, which says that ‘at all times he shall be diligent to frame and fashion his life and that of his family according to the doctrine of Christ, and to make himself and them, as much as in him lies, wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ.

24. The implications of this particular responsibility of clergy to teach and exemplify in their life the teachings of the Church have been explained as follows; ‘The Church is also bound to take care that the ideal is not misrepresented or obscured; and to this end the example of its ordained ministers is of crucial significance. This means that certain possibilities are not open to the clergy by comparison with the laity, something that in principle has always been accepted ’ (Issues in Human Sexuality, 1991, Section 5.13).

25. The Church of England will continue to place a high value on theological exploration and debate that is conducted with integrity. That is why Church of England clergy are able to argue for a change in its teaching on marriage and human sexuality, while at the same time being required to fashion their lives consistently with that teaching.

26. Getting married to someone of the same sex would, however, clearly be at variance with the teaching of the Church of England. The declarations made by clergy and the canonical requirements as to their manner of life do have real significance and need to be honoured as a matter of integrity.

27. The House is not, therefore, willing for those who are in a same sex marriage to be ordained to any of the three orders of ministry. In addition it considers 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.

28. The Church of England has a long tradition of tolerating conscientious dissent and of seeking to avoid drawing lines too firmly, not least when an issue is one where the people of God are seeking to discern the mind of Christ in a fast changing context. Nevertheless at ordination clergy undertake to ‘accept and minister the discipline of this Church, and respect authority duly exercised within it.’ We urge all clergy to act consistently with that undertaking.

House of Bishops
15 February 2014

Ends

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Friday, 14 February 2014

General Synod: Questions on Pilling Report

The Bishop of Sheffield replied to three questions taken together.

Mr Clive Scowen (London) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q12 With regard to the College of Bishops‟ request to the Archbishops to commission the design of (i) a process for facilitated conversations on the subject of sexuality, involving profound reflection on the interpretation and application of Scripture, and (ii) additional materials to support and enable them, will the Chair of the House of Bishops give assurances that the design will ensure that:
• the process will not be a “one way street” intended at the outset to lead to a change in the church‟s teaching or pastoral practice concerning sexuality or marriage;
• the primary purpose of the conversations will be to enable participants‟ views to be clearly articulated, heard and understood, rather than to change participants‟ views;
• the conversations will be professionally facilitated in a way which does not steer them to any particular conclusion;
• the conversations will not be premised on the proposition that scripture is not clear about these matters; and
• participants who believe that scripture clearly teaches that having sexual relationships, otherwise than within the marriage covenant between one man and one woman, is not consistent with Christian discipleship will be free fully to articulate and explain that view?

Mrs Andrea Minichiello Williams (Chichester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q13 Why, in light of the Statement on the Pilling Report by the College of Bishops (issued 27 January 2014) which emphasises upholding the Church of England‟s commitment to biblical orthodoxy on God‟s purpose for sexual expression (within marriage between one man and one woman), is a two-year process of facilitated conversation taking place, if such a process is not intended to change the orthodoxy?

The Revd John Cook (Oxford) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q14 Given the College of Bishops‟ request to the Archbishops to commission the design of a process for facilitated conversation on sexuality, can the Chair of the House of Bishops give an assurance that the process and additional materials will focus first on scripture and its perspicuity, so that experience and culture are responded to in the light of a clear understanding of Scripture?

The Bishop of Sheffield replied:

The Church Times’ headline - ‘Pilling report-Bishops accept recommendations’ - would have been less inaccurate if it had said ‘accept recommendation [singular] for facilitated conversations.’

There is no predetermined outcome to these conversations nor is there any intention on the part of bishops collectively to steer them to a particular conclusion. In our statement of 27 January the one aspiration we articulated was for ‘good disagreement that testifies to our love for one another across the church in obedience to Christ’.

The statement made clear that the Church of England’s ‘pastoral and liturgical practice remains unchanged during this process of facilitated conversation’ and that ‘no change to the Church of England’s teaching on marriage is proposed or envisaged’. It also stresses that our task, in taking counsel together, is ‘to read and reflect upon the Scriptures and to continue to discern together the mind of Christ.’

What is the point of all this reflection and conversation, some ask, if Scripture is clear and the truth unchanging and unchangeable? The answer is that the substantial shift in attitudes in society to same sex relationships inevitably raises significant questions for the Church of England. In every generation the Church is called to proclaim the faith afresh, not refashioning it but nevertheless wrestling with the interpretation and application of Scripture as the Spirit who inspired it continues to lead us into all truth.

Mr Scowen asked a supplementary question:
May I take it therefore that the answer to each of the five points of my question is Yes?

Answer: i think I would refer Mr Scowen to the answer I have already given, if I may. I think it is fair to say that there was some wrestling in the College of Bishops meeting about whether we should use the term ‘facilitated conversations” for the process which we had in mind, and which we agreed to take forward. Partly because it was pointed out within the conversation, that the only experience we have had corporately of facilitated conversation, is of a process which is designed to lead to a particular outcome, and set of conclusions. A counterargument was that the term is one used by the Pilling process and the Pilling report, it’s not… and we couldn’t easily think of a better substitute for it. But we did want to find a way to communicate clearly that no two sets of facilitated conversations are exactly the same, and that this set is not designed to reach a premeditated, already determined conclusion.

There was a further supplementary question (or was it two?) asked by Professor Richard Burridge about the involvement of Scripture scholars in the process.

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Church Commissioners Questions

Sir Tony Baldry answered Church Commissioners questions in the House of Commons yesterday (Thursday). He prefaced his first answer with remarks on the progress made at General Synod towards allowing women to be consecrated as bishops.

Church Property (Community Use)

1. Laura Sandys (South Thanet) (Con): What plans the commissioners have to make their buildings and other church property available for wider community use. [902578]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): With your permission, Mr Speaker, before I answer this first question, it may be convenient to the House if I make a short comment on the progress made by the General Synod this week on the Church of England being able to consecrate women as bishops. On Tuesday, the General Synod completed the revision process for a new draft measure to enable women to become bishops. The Synod also agreed to shorten the consultation period with the diocese to consider this new measure, so the measure is now likely to come for final approval at the July meeting of the General Synod. If the measure is approved then, I would hope that the Ecclesiastical Committee would be able to give it early consideration and that both Houses would then separately consider it so that, if it is approved, the Synod might then be able to promulge the canon in November. That would mean that it would be possible for the first woman to be nominated as a bishop in the Church of England this year.

Turning to my hon. Friend’s question, the Church of England has changed legislation to make it much easier for church buildings to be used for a wide range of community and cultural uses. The Church of England encourages all parish churches to be open where possible for as long as possible.

Laura Sandys: Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating the congregation of volunteers at St Peter’s church in Broadstairs? He very kindly visited an award-winning tourism project called the St Peter’s village tour. Will he encourage other churches to use their facilities in order to open up to the community and develop tourism propositions?

Sir Tony Baldry: I much enjoyed my visit to my hon. Friend’s constituency. She is absolutely right. The church of St Peter’s in Broadstairs is an excellent example of a church that is a hub of the community, hosting local clubs and services to the elderly, as well as toddlers groups and young people’s clubs, and, as my hon. Friend says, organising popular tours of the village for visitors to Broadstairs. May I also draw the House’s attention to Holy Trinity Margate, which is another fantastic example of a church delivering almost 24/7 social action?

Flood Relief Fund

2. Miss Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton) (Con): If the Church Commissioners will consider creating a Church of England relief fund for flood victims to which the public could contribute.

Sir Tony Baldry: Last Friday the Bishop of Taunton wrote to all parishes in the Bath and Wells diocese, giving details of how parishioners could both provide and access much-needed financial and practical support. On the wider question of a relief fund for flood victims, I think my hon. Friend was present on Monday when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government told me that a number of charities were offering help for flood victims and promised that the Government would do more to signpost those voluntary organisations to help people in distress.

Mr Speaker: I think we have time for the questions; it is hoped that we have time for the answers.

Miss McIntosh: When we had severe flooding in 2000, the then Archbishop of York, Lord Hope, created a Church of England relief fund, through which we were very humbled to receive not just national donations, but donations from Mozambique, which is a very poor country, but it wished to show solidarity. I hope my right hon. Friend will use his good offices to create such a fund through the Church of England, to which both national and international donors will be able to contribute, if they wish to do so.

Sir Tony Baldry: Every parish in flood-affected areas is, where possible and practical, giving help to those affected by the floods, including making churches available for people who have been evacuated, providing drop-in centres, visiting housebound people and delivering food parcels. On the question of an overall fund, there is a feeling that there are already a number of national funds available to help flood victims and that the Church setting up a further fund may confuse rather than help.

Credit Unions

3. Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con): What guidance the Church Commissioners are providing to church congregations on supporting local credit unions.

Sir Tony Baldry: Substantial material on the Church of England’s website is publicly and readily available to church congregations to download to assist them in supporting local credit unions. The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to all clergy to encourage them and their parish churches to support the new resources, working with their local credit union and continuing to assist those in need.

Andrew Selous: The Dunstable deanery wants to set up a credit union, and the Money Matters credit union—I save with it myself—is working with Leighton-Linslade town council to set up a credit union in Leighton Buzzard. Churches can help there too. Do the Church Commissioners agree that we need more saving as well as more affordable lending?

Sir Tony Baldry: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Ever since the Archbishop of Canterbury indicated that the Church hopes over time to help compete payday lenders out of business, there has been considerable interest from parish churches right across the country about helping to support credit unions in their local areas and dioceses.

Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): Will the Second Church Estates Commissioner take on board the fact that although many of us support credit unions, if we are to move with the times it is crowdfunding and crowdsourcing that are appropriate to local communities and congregations? That is being pioneered in some areas, so will he consider it?

Sir Tony Baldry: As the last debate on this subject in the House demonstrated, there are a number of responsible ways to help people in difficulties to access credit, other than recourse to payday lenders.

Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab): Not just church congregations but individual members can use credit unions. Now that the law has been changed, organisations can set up community accounts. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that churches ought to look at investing their own funds in credit unions?

Sir Tony Baldry: Yes. Indeed, many churches are already doing so. I can send the hon. Lady details of a number of diocesan-led initiatives that are doing exactly that.

Bishop of Bath and Wells: Residence

6. Tessa Munt (Wells) (LD): What recent discussions the Church Commissioners have had on further consultation on the decision to relocate the residence of the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): At the invitation of my hon. Friend, I visited Wells on 25 January to attend a public meeting and listen to the views of local people. I promised that I would report those views to the governors of the Church Commissioners, which I shall do at their next meeting later this month. She also presented a petition at General Synod earlier this week. A number of questions on this matter were also asked and answered at General Synod.

Tessa Munt: Bearing in mind that there is unity between churchgoers and those who are not churchgoers, I will quote from a letter that I received last night, which said of the Church of England:

“It is most depressing to see it damaged by its own corporate actions… There are times when I look into the internal workings of the Church of England and despair.”

People understand that the investment arm can make a return on the latest asset of the Church Commissioners, the Old Rectory at Croscombe, by renting it out on the ordinary market. However, may I make a plea for a graceful and sensitive response to the thousands who have registered their disagreement with allowing the new bishop to move in, and for there to be real consultation?

Sir Tony Baldry: My hon. Friend has made her views on this matter very clear. I have promised that I will report those views to the governors of the Church Commissioners later this month. I am sure that they will reflect carefully on all the representations that have been made on this matter.

Mr Speaker: The hon. Lady has not merely asked a question, but offered the House a treatise. Some might even judge it to have constituted a sermon.

Archbishops of Canterbury and York: Visits

8. Fiona Bruce (Congleton) (Con): What reports he has received on the recent visits to South Sudan, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have both been overseas in the past month. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent visit to South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were part of his programme of visits to all parts of the Anglican communion. He saw at first hand the devastating impact of conflict and the huge difficulties that are faced by the Church and the wider population in areas of conflict and instability, as well as the key role that is played by the Church and the urgent need for far-reaching efforts towards reconciliation.

Fiona Bruce: The persecution of Christians and those of other faiths is increasing in the regions that have been visited by both archbishops. What work is the Church of England doing with churches on the ground to promote peace and stability in those areas?

Sir Tony Baldry: It is difficult, in the time that is allowed, to encapsulate the seriousness of this issue. The churches are keen to help rebuild their countries by strengthening communities through reconciliation, healing and the overcoming of fear. As the Archbishop of Canterbury said, reconciliation requires people to face reality and to tell the truth about the suffering that has been experienced and the harm that has been done. He said:

“When there is enough confidence to meet each other, then honest talking is possible.”

He also stressed the importance of caring for those who have suffered. In each of those war-torn and conflict-stricken countries, one hopes and intends that the Church will be present, helping to bring reconciliation.

Mr Speaker: I hope that we all feel uplifted by the voice of Sir Tony. I feel sure that we do.

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General Synod - Church Times reports

Today’s Church Times has these two reports.

Dioceses given three months to vote on women bishops

Oil-less future looms for Synod

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Thursday, 13 February 2014

General Synod: Pilling Report

The audio recording of the final session on Wednesday dealing with the Pilling report is now available here.

The official report of the session says:

HUMAN SEXUALITY: REPORT FROM THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS’ WORKING GROUP (GS 1929) AND NEXT STEPS

Sir Joseph Pilling made a presentation to the Synod on the report from the House of Bishops’ Working Group (GS 1929).

The Bishop of Sheffield, Steven Croft, then spoke to the Synod about the process on the basis of the report.

Synod then asked questions to the process, which were answered by Bishop Steven Croft and Sir Joseph Pilling.

Earlier, on Monday, a number of other Questions relating to the report were answered by Bishop Steven Croft.

Answers given will be transcribed from the Monday afternoon audio recording soon.

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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

General Synod - Wednesday - press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph
Welby tells Church refusing gay blessings will be viewed like racism
[The headline on this article was changed after publication to “Justin Welby says ‘Church viewed liked racists over homosexuality’”.]
Girl Guides offers concession to Christians in row over dropping God from pledge

David Pocklington of Law &Religion UK The Church and the Environment

Sam Jones The Guardian Church of England vows to fight ‘great demon’ of climate change

Michael Trimmer Christian Today Climate change is ‘great demon of our day’

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Church Society calls for 12 Conservative Evangelical Bishops

Church Society issued a press release this afternoon. In it the director of Church Society calls for the appointment of 12 Conservative Evangelical Bishops.

News Release from Church Society
12 February 2014

Lee Gatiss looks to Archbishop for credible action after positive words

‘I welcome Archbishop Justin Welby’s Presidential Address to General Synod this morning, particularly his important reminder to us all that ‘where God is involved, there is no limit to what can happen, and no limit to human flourishing.’ He is absolutely right that if the Church of England is to live out its commitment to see conservative evangelicals flourish ‘there is going to have to be a massive cultural change’ that some may find threatening. I deeply sympathise with him when he confesses that this may be a hard course to steer, but am heartened when he says ‘Yet I know it is right that we set such a course and hold to it through thick and thin.’

After this candid speech, we are looking to him, in a positive and hopeful way, to make the claim that he wants evangelicals like us to flourish in the Church truly credible. He could do that in two ways: first, by engaging conservatives in real dialogue, listening in detail to our concerns; and second, encouraging and ensuring the appointment of 12 Conservative Evangelical Bishops.

A commitment in this area would convince us, including many young evangelicals exploring vocations, of the sincerity of the House of Bishops’ claim that they wish to provide for our flourishing. It would be a welcome game-changer in creating trust from our constituency. In an episcopal system, to which we are happily committed, this would be a very persuasive sign that we have a future.’

Lee Gatiss
Director, Church Society.

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General Synod - Wednesday

Order paper for the day

Official summary of the morning’s business: General Synod - Wednesday AM

Official summary of the afternoon’s business: General Synod - Wednesday PM

Press release on the environmental issues debate: General Synod re-affirms the Church of England’s commitment to play a leading role in the effort to prevent dangerous climate change

Press release on the girl guides promise debate: Synod approves motion to support girl guides promise action

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WATCH and Forward in Faith respond to yesterday's votes on women bishops

WATCH press release

Women and the Church (WATCH)

Press Release Tuesday 11 February 2014 2.00pm

Women in the Episcopate Legislation

WATCH is very pleased that the legislation to enable women to become bishops in the Church of England is now proceeding. We look forward to having the first woman bishop being nominated by the end of the year.

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH, said, “There was a real sense of wanting to move forward today”.

Forward in Faith statement

The Act of Synod and the House of Bishops’ Declaration
Feb 12, 2014

As part of the package of proposals regarding the ordination of women to the episcopate in the Church of England, the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 is to be replaced by a House of Bishops’ Declaration and a Resolution of Disputes Procedure (to be established by Regulations made under a new Canon).

Yesterday the General Synod welcomed the draft Declaration and Regulations and included the text of the new Canon in the legislation that will now be referred to the diocesan synods for approval. It also voted in favour, at the preliminary stage, of the draft Act of Synod that will eventually rescind the existing Act of Synod. We note that this will only come into force when the new Canon is promulged, thus ensuring continuity.

We welcome the fact that the new House of Bishops’ Declaration refers to the Sees of Beverley, Ebbsfleet and Richborough by name. It notes that they will remain in existence as one of the means by which episcopal ministry is provided to parishes that pass resolutions under the Declaration.

We welcome the following statement by the House of Bishops in paragraph 23 of its most recent report (GS 1932):

‘The title and role of the “provincial episcopal visitor” are currently set out in the 1993 Act of Synod. There is no reason why these – or the financial arrangements for the three sees – should change when the 1993 Act of Synod is rescinded, given the House’s wish for there to be continuity. As noted in paragraph 30 of the Declaration, the three sees and their occupants remain an integral part of the new dispensation.’

We welcome the fact that, once the new Declaration has been finalized, the House of Bishops will only be able to amend it if the amendment has been approved by two-thirds majorities in each House of the General Synod. This gives us assurance as we approach the new era that the legislation will initiate.

The Act of Synod has served the Church of England well. We are confident that the Declaration will enable us to flourish within its life and structures for generations to come.

+ JONATHAN FULHAM
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker
Chairman

LINDSAY NEWCOMBE
Dr Lindsay Newcombe
Lay Vice-Chairman

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Synod votes to bring forward draft safeguarding legislation

Press release following this morning’s General Synod debate on Safeguarding

Synod votes to bring forward draft safeguarding legislation
12 February 2014

Synod voted today that proposals for draft legislation to enable the Church of England to deal more effectively with safeguarding issues be brought forward.

General Synod last July voted to endorse work on legislative and non-legislative changes to enhance the Church of England’s safeguarding arrangements following on from the Chichester Commissaries’ interim and final reports.

The proposals take into account not just the recommendations of the Commissaries but also other submissions made in the course of the Archbishops’ Council’s consultation. The intention is to introduce legislation in July 2014.

The proposed draft legislation outlined in full detail here will:

Tighten up procedures around temporary permissions to officiate in a local parish

Prevent clergy robing during a service when prohibited or disbarred

Give bishops power, where appropriate, to direct clergy to undergo a risk assessment (this is currently voluntary)

Prevent anyone who is on a barred list from serving as a churchwarden or as a member of a PCC, district council or synod

Prevent anyone with certain convictions in relation to children from serving as a member of a PCC, district council or synod.

Give bishops the power to suspend people from these posts and bodies if arrested on suspicion of committing certain offences against children.

Introduce similar provision covering lay workers and Readers.

Remove the 12 month Clergy Discipline Measure limitation period for bringing a complaint about sexual misconduct committed against children or vulnerable adults.

Extend the bishop’s power of suspension.

Three additional suggestions for reform include:

(i) The imposition of a duty on relevant persons to have due regard to the House of Bishops’ current safeguarding policies

(ii) The imposition of a duty on all diocesan bishops to appoint a diocesan safeguarding advisor

(iii) The imposition of a duty on relevant persons to undergo safeguarding training when required to do so by the bishop.

The Bishop of Durham Paul Butler, Joint Chair of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee said: “This is just one step towards the Church making itself a safer place for all while acknowledging that effects of abuse on survivors can be lifelong. We are determined to improve our procedures and policies. We recognise that simply changing these does not transform our DNA but is an important start. We can never be complacent and we continue to urge any victims or those with information about church-related abuse to come forward knowing that they will be listened to in confidence.”

Notes

July 2013 Synod safeguarding debate

May 2013 Response to Final Report of Archbishop’s Chichester Visitation

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Archbishop's Presidential Address to the General Synod

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave his presidential address to General Synod this morning. The text is available here: Archbishop’s Presidential Address to the General Synod preceded by this remark “In his presidential address to Synod today, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke of the need for ‘massive cultural change’ within the Church of England so that people can flourish together despite deeply held differences on issues such as sexuality and women bishops”.

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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

General Synod: Questions about ACNA

The Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:

Q. Has an assessment been made of any implications of the appointment of the Revd Tory Baucum as one of Canterbury Cathedral’s Six Preachers from the point of view of the relationship between the Church of England and ACNA (with which the Church of England is not currently in communion)?

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

A. Careful thought and assessment has certainly been given to the appointment of Dr Tory Baucum from the point of view of the relationship between the Church of England and ACNA and also the relationship with The Episcopal Church of course with which the Church of England is in communion, and for that matter with the relationship with the Anglican Church of Canada who feel implicated in this, and also by a number of other churches around the Communion, particularly in the group known as the Global South. An invitation to be a Six Preacher is a personal appointment of the Archbishop and has no implications in itself as to ecclesial relationships. However this particular appointment is of a person who has a distinguished ministry in reconciliation, which he exercises carefully in his context. There was consultation with a number of people and the appointment has been enthusiastically welcomed by the local bishop of The Episcopal Church, bishop, Shannon Johnston, the Bishop of Virginia.

Supplementary question from Canon Goddard:

… Could you just say what steps have been taken to ensure that this appointment is not taken to mean that clergy ordained in this country by overseas bishops, without the permission of the diocesan, are nevertheless recognised in the Church of England.

A. Thank you. I’m straying slightly onto thin ice here. It is true that permission would need to be given under the 1967 Measure, which is presumably what you are thinking about, in order for Tory to preach here. But it will not be breaking new ground, because Tory having been ordained in The Episcopal Church, the permission can be given under Section 1 of the Measure. That is, on the basis that he has been ordained by a bishop of a church in communion with the Church of England. It will not therefore be based upon the recognition and acceptance of the orders conferred by the ACNA.

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Women bishops - press reports

BBC Women bishops: Church backs plan to fast-track scheme

John Bingham The Telegraph Women bishops plan fast-tracked after warning change ‘urgently needed’

Madeleine Davies and Tim Wyatt Church Times Women-bishops package makes brisk progress

Michael Trimmer Christian Today Church of England paves way for first women bishops

Penny Marshall ITV News Church of England moves closer to a vote on women bishops - but it’s not over yet

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has written this helpful summary: Women in the episcopate – further progress.

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General Synod - Tuesday afternoon

Here is the official summary of this afternoon’s business: General Synod - Tuesday PM and the order paper.

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General Synod approves next steps on Women in the Episcopate

Updated Wednesday morning
The paragraph italicised (by me) below originally referred the voting figures to the wrong item. It has now been amended by Church House.

Press release from the Church of England following today’s debates.

General Synod approves next steps on Women in the Episcopate
11 February 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England has today voted to pave the way for the legislative process to enable Women to become Bishops to be completed this year.

In a series of interrelated legislative and procedural items the Synod held four debates dealing with differing aspects relating to women in the episcopate.

The first synod discussion related to the House of Bishops draft Declaration and Disputes Resolution Procedure regulations - GS 1932.

Both the proposed declaration and accompanying regulations were drawn up by the House of Bishops at the invitation of the last meeting of the Synod.

The debate was opened by the Rt. Revd. James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, Chair of the Steering Committee, who moved “That this Synod welcomes the draft House of Bishop’s Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests and the draft Resolution of Disputes Procedures Regulations as set out in GS 1932”
The motion was passed by the Synod.

The second debate dealt with the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure - GS 1925A - and Draft Amending Canon No.33 - GS 1926A. At its meeting in November the General Synod voted to dispense with a Revision Committee Stage for the new legislation so that the Synod could conduct the Revision Stage in Full Synod.

After debate the revision stage for both the measure and the canon were completed without any amendments being made.

The Synod then gave preliminary consideration to the draft Act of Synod to rescind the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 - GS 1934.

The measure was accepted by Synod; and the amending Canon no.33 was passed by Synod by 304 votes to 33 with 45 abstentions.

The final debate on women in the episcopate in this session took the form of a procedural motion suspending Standing Order 90(b) (iii) so that the reference of the draft Measure and draft Canon to the Dioceses under Article 8 of the Synod’s Constitution can be concluded within 3 months rather than the 6 months stipulated under the standing order.

After debate the motion, requiring a 75% majority of the whole Synod, was approved by 358 votes to 39 with 9 abstentions.

The legislation now goes to the dioceses for approval. Provided a majority approve it by the 22 May deadline the General Synod will be able to hold the final approval debate in July, less than 20 months after the failure of the earlier legislation to secure the necessary two-thirds majorities in November 2012. If passed the legislation would then go to Parliament for approval and could be in force before the end of the year.

An audio interview with the Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, about the latest approval of legislation towards seeing Women in the Episcopate is available here.

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General Synod - Women in the Episcopate debates

Today (Tuesday) General Synod is holding a series of debates on the legislation on Women in the Episcopate. This article will be updated as the debates proceed.

The order paper for all the debates is here and includes the text of all motions before Synod.

First debate

Synod debated and passed this motion:

That this Synod welcome the draft House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests and the draft Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations as set out in GS 1932

Second debate

This was the revision stage of the draft Measure (GS 1925A) and Canon (GS 1926A). The draft measure was considered clause by clause.

Clause 1 is the clause that allows women to be bishops. After a short debate Synod voted to include it in the measure.

The amendment to Clause 2 was withdrawn, and Synod voted to include the clause in the measure.

The insertion of the proposed new Clause 3 was defeated.

Synod then quickly proceeded to accept the remainder of the draft measure. this completed revision (without amendment) of the draft measure GS1925A.

Third debate

After a very short debate a division of the whole synod was called on the draft amending canon. There were 304 votes in favour of the canon, 33 against and 45 recorded abstentions.

Fourth debate

The final part of the package is the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993. This requires another Act of Synod. Synod voted in favour of this new Act (which will require final approval at a later Synod).

At this point Synod broke (a little early) for lunch.

The official summary of the morning’s business is here: General Synod - Tuesday AM.

Fifth debate

The draft measure must be referred to dioceses (and a majority of them must vote in favour) before the legislation can proceed to final approval. Synod’s standing orders require dioceses to be given a minimum of six months to respond. But Synod was asked after lunch to agree to a suspension of the relevant standing order so that dioceses could be required to respond in time for final approval to be taken in July 2014.

The suspension of the standing order was carried with 358 votes in favour and 39 against, with 9 recorded abstentions. Motions of this sort require a 75% majority, which was comfortably met.

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General Synod - Tuesday morning press reports

BBC Women bishops law: Church asked to back fast-track scheme

Sam Jones The Guardian Church of England admits selling Wonga stake will take a ‘little while’.

Reshma Rumsey ITV News Church of England Synod to vote on women Bishops

BBC Hundreds sign petition against Bath and Wells bishop move

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Monday, 10 February 2014

General Synod - Monday

General Synod opened its February group of sessions at 2.00 pm today. This page will be updated with notes on the business transacted.

There is a live video stream here.

The last item of business today is Questions (and answers). The questions themselves have been published here.

There was an Ethical Investment Advisory Group presentation to Synod.

Synod debated gender-based violence and passed this motion.

That this Synod, believing that all people are made in the image of God and that all forms of violence based on gender represent an abuse and violation of that image:
(a) affirm work already undertaken in dioceses, deaneries, parishes and Church of England schools in raising awareness and caring for survivors of gender-based violence in all our diverse communities;
(b) support measures to bring perpetrators to account and provide support for changed lifestyles;
(c) encourage boys and men to stand against gender-based violence; and
(d) commend Anglican Consultative Council Resolution 15:7 on preventing and eliminating gender-based violence to dioceses, deaneries and parishes and urge them to seek practical approaches to its implementation.

A press release was promptly released after the debate: Synod approves motion to affirm work in combating Gender-based violence.

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod - Monday PM.

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Statement from Church Commissioners on Bishop's Palace, Wells

The Church Commissioners issued this statement this morning.

Statement from Church Commissioners on Bishop’s Palace, Wells
10 February 2014

As the providers of housing for all Diocesan Bishops in the Church of England, the Commissioners consider that the sustainability of the ministry of each bishop to be of crucial importance. This means that every Bishop should be housed appropriately and that their homes are properly places of rest and privacy in the midst of ministries which are increasingly demanding in terms of leadership and management, civic engagement and pastoral support of the whole diocese.

In arriving at their decision the Commissioners held two meetings with senior members of the Diocesan leadership team, including Bishop of Taunton, prior to any decision being taken and kept them informed of the progress of the matter through the Bishoprics and Cathedrals Committee and the Board of Governors. We listened carefully to their concerns. The fact that they do not agree with the decision that was ultimately made is not evidence of a lack of consultation.

The provision of housing inevitably involves choices and on occasion making hard unpopular decisions. In recent years similar decision have been taken in Durham Diocese and Carlisle Diocese. In every case the provision of housing appropriate to the local context. In Wells the Bishop’s Palace is currently celebrating record 2013 visitor figures of 61,100; a 39% increase compared to 2012 (44,100 visitors). In addition 53 events were held at the Palace (an increase on the 47 held in 2012), including festivals, fairs, medieval falconry, outdoor theatre, hands-on workshops and family trails.

The Church Commissioners share with the Palace Trust, who continue to be responsible for the day to day running of the palace, the hope that this increase in visitor numbers and activity will continue in the years to come. The Commissioners do not share the view that the future of the Palace as a viable attraction is dependent upon the Bishop residing in the building.

In light of such activity it is right and proper that considerations such as appropriate privacy for any new Bishop are considered and whether it is sustainable for a diocesan bishop and his family to live in the midst of an increasingly busy tourist attraction. The Commissioners believe that it is not. Inevitably such decisions are hard choices and in this instance the Commissioners are aware that their decision has not been popular. It must however be balanced against wider considerations, not least where the welfare of those who by virtue of their calling find themselves in demanding positions of responsibility.

The Commissioners believe that by living in the palace the Bishop will in practice find it very difficult to avoid devoting significant amounts of time to its maintenance, operation and upkeep. The experience of the last bishop bears this point out. It remains the commissioners view that any incoming bishop should not find his ministry restricted in this way before his ministry commences.

The new Bishop played no part in the decision with the consultations with the senior leadership team taking place before the bishop’s appointment. Going forward the issue of the Bishop’s housing is not something which should overshadow the Bishop’s ministry. We agree with the diocese that it would be unhelpful for this issue to be one in which the Bishop himself is expected to become involved.

In the short term the Commissioners have invested in a property in Crosscombe which they believe will enable the Bishop to carry out his ministry whilst the search continues for a more permanent home. The property was formerly owned by the Diocese and not by the Commissioners contrary to some media reports. The Diocese sold the property to a purchaser who invested considerably in repairs and upgrades to the property. The Church commissioners have subsequently completed their purchase of this property. No funds from the diocese, the monies given by parishioners on a regular basis, was involved in the purchase of the property which will be part of the property portfolio held by the commissioners for investment purposes.
The office of the Bishop of Bath and wells will remain at the Palace where he will continue to be based with his staff and the Bishop of Taunton. The Bishop’s chapel will also continue to be used as a regular place of prayer by the Bishop and his staff.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 10 February 2014 at 10:30am GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 9 February 2014

Pre-Synod press roundup

Updated Monday morning

The General Synod meets in London for three days, starting tomorrow (Monday). Here are some online news and comment articles about items on the agenda.

Church Times
Paul Handley Poll: lack of trust in Synod
Angela Tilby The Synod must get real on gay sex
Gavin Drake Churches urged to tackle domestic violence

These three refer to a diocesan synod motion on environmental issues.
Gillan Scott God & Politics in the UK The Church of England mustn’t waste this opportunity to address the ravages of climate change
David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Fracking and the Church of England
Independent Catholic News A ‘Beyond-Lightbulbs-Moment: CoE Synod to debate environment

John Bingham The Telegraph Final hurdle for women bishops to overcome

Kate Cooper blogs on Girl Guides and Female Bishops – The Plot Thickens.

Stephen Lynas blogs QUESTION: “Why do we never get an answer?”

There are links to the papers for the women in the episcopate legislation here, and to the agenda and other papers here.

Update

Tina Rowe Western Daily Press Petition to save role of Wells’ Bishop’s Palace goes to General Synod

Alice Collins Christian Today Women bishops legislation dominates Church of England General Synod

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 9 February 2014 at 7:41pm GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Friday, 7 February 2014

Jane Hedges to be Dean of Norwich

Press release from the Prime Minister’s office

Dean of Norwich: Jane Barbara Hedges
7 February 2014

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Jane Barbara Hedges, BA, Sub-Dean, Canon Steward and Archdeacon of Westminster, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, Norwich, on the resignation of the Very Reverend Graham Charles Morell Smith, BA, on 31 October 2014.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Jane Hedges (aged 58) was educated at Durham University and Cranmer Hall, Durham and has an Honorary Doctorate from Portsmouth University.

She served a curacy at Holy Trinity with St Columba, Fareham from 1980 to 1983. She then became Team Vicar in the Southampton City Centre Team Ministry from 1983 to 1988 before becoming Diocesan Stewardship Adviser in Portsmouth diocese for 5 years. From 1993 to 2001 she was Canon Pastor at Portsmouth Cathedral. From 2001 to 2003 she was Priest-in-Charge of the Honiton Team Ministry in the Diocese of Exeter, becoming Team Rector in 2003 and also Rural Dean. In 2006 she was appointed Canon Steward at Westminster Abbey and Archdeacon of Westminster, also becoming Sub-Dean in August 2013.

Jane Hedges is married to Chris and they have two sons, Jonathan and Adam. Her interests include travelling, sport, walking, animal welfare and entertaining.

The Norwich diocesan website has First female Dean of Norwich appointed.
Norwich Cathedral has New Dean of Norwich Appointed.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 7 February 2014 at 10:10am GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Living arrangements for Bishop of Bath & Wells - 2

This is an update to our earlier article here.

Archbishop Cranmer blogs that Tessa Munt MP intends to gate-crash General Synod on behalf of the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

Arun Arora, Director of Communications, Church Commissioners, has written to The Telegraph: When palaces are unsuitable for modern life.

John Bingham writes in The Telegraph today that Churchgoers fear secret plan to sell bishops’ palace, says former Dean, referring to a letter from Richard Lewis also in The Telegraph: Evicted Bishop of Wells.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 7 February 2014 at 9:57am GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Church of England Funded Pension Scheme valuation

Updated Wednesday

The Church of England Pensions Board issued this statement last month.

The Church of England Funded Pension Scheme valuation
21 January 2014

In response to the claims in the media by Mr John Ralfe in relation to the Church of England Clergy Pensions Scheme, the pensions board has issued the following statement:

John Ralfe’s claim that there is a big hole in the clergy pension scheme is simply inaccurate. At the last valuation of the scheme, on 31 December 2012, the funding deficit was 25%, and we are on target to be fully funded over the next decade. Had the valuation been carried out at the end of 2013, we might have expected the funding deficit to be closer to 15%.

Mr. Ralfe says that the clergy pension scheme’s discount rate was increased by 0.5% without an explanation. The pensions board made the assumptions for the valuation based on their assessment of the strength of the responsible bodies’ financial covenant, the fall in yields on fixed interest gilts, market expectations for future RPI inflation and up to date mortality expectations. The discount rate is in line with advice from an independent actuary and with the requirements of the pensions regulator.

Mr. Ralfe has raised these sorts of issues in the past, but has refused numerous offers by the Church of England Pensions Board to meet to discuss this matter.

Our return-seeking funds have returned 20.8% over the three years to the end of 2012, and provisionally, 27.7% over the three years to 2013, improving the funding position of the scheme.

Mr Ralfe also fails to take into account that, unlike most other defined benefit schemes, this scheme is still quite immature and is still open to new members giving it a healthy contribution inflow. A bond heavy investment policy is not normally seen as either necessary or desirable for relatively immature schemes, and would make them unnecessarily expensive.

Robert Peston, the business editor of the BBC published this article on the same day: An unholy pension hole.
The following day Simon Read wrote in The Independent: Vicars’ retirement savings in jeopardy, says pension expert

John Ralfe has now published an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Financial Times: Dear Archbishop, the Church of England is in pension denial and on his website. [Registration (free) required in both cases]

Update

Following Ralfe’s release yesterday of his letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pensions Board has today issued the letter that it sent in reply; read it here. It goes into much more detail than the press release above.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 4 February 2014 at 6:13pm GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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new Bishop of Leeds announced

It has been announced this morning from 10 Downing Street that the first Bishop of Leeds, serving the new diocese in West Yorkshire and the Dales, is to be the outgoing Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nick Baines.

The press release from Number 10 reads:

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Nicholas Baines, BA, Bishop of Bradford, for election as the new Bishop of Leeds, following the restructuring of the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield into the Diocese of Leeds (West Yorkshire and the Dales).

Biographical notes on Nick Baines appear below the fold.

The website for the proto-diocese carries this story Bishop of Bradford Announced as First Bishop of Leeds for the new Diocese

The Archbishop of York has issued his own lengthy press statement.

Nick Baines has blogged about his own appointment here.

There is a video in which he speaks about this too.

Biography

The Right Reverend Nicholas Baines (aged 56) studied Modern Languages at the University of Bradford, worked as a linguist specialist at GCHQ, Cheltenham, and trained for ordination at Trinity College Bristol. He was ordained Deacon in 1987 and Priest in 1988.

From 1987 to 1991 he served as assistant curate at St Thomas Kendal and from 1991 to 1992 as assistant priest at Holy Trinity with Saint John, Leicester. In 1992 he was appointed Vicar of St Mary and Saint John, Rothley in Leicester Diocese where he remained until 2000 when he became Archdeacon of Lambeth.

In 2003 to 2011 he was appointed Area Bishop of Croydon. Since 2011 he has been Bishop of Bradford. He was a Member of the General Synod from 1995 to 2005 and was a Director of the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group from 2002 to 2010. A regular broadcaster, he also chairs the Sandford St Martin Trust. He is the Anglican Co-chair of the Meissen Commission and represents the Archbishop of Canterbury at global interfaith conferences. He has written 6 books and writes a popular blog.

He is married to Linda and they have 3 adult children and 2 grandchildren. His interests include the shaping of the church to face the challenges and opportunities of the twenty first century, particularly engagement with people outside the church. Other interests include reading, music and sport (particularly Liverpool FC).

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 4 February 2014 at 10:02am GMT | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Monday, 3 February 2014

Bishop of Gloucester to retire

Michael Perham, the Bishop of Gloucester, has announced that he will retire on 21 November 2014.

The diocese joins the queue for the Crown Nominations Commission, which has no free slots before 2015.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 3 February 2014 at 11:07am GMT | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Friday, 31 January 2014

Archbishops' letter to primates: GAFCON responds

From the GAFCON website:
A response to the statement by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York

A response to the statement by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York of 29th January 2014

This week, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York sought to remind the leadership of the Anglican Communion and the Presidents of Nigeria and Uganda of the importance of friendship and care for homosexual people.

Christians should always show particular care for those who are vulnerable, but this cannot be separated from the whole fabric of biblical moral teaching in which the nature of marriage and family occupy a central place.

The Dromantine Communiqué from which the Archbishops quote also affirmed (Clause 17) the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 which states that ‘homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture’ and that the conference ‘cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions’.

Yet earlier this week, the English College of Bishops accepted the recommendation of the Pilling Report for two years of ‘facilitated conversation’ because at least some of the bishops could not accept the historic teaching of the Church as reaffirmed in the Lambeth resolution.

Indeed, in making the case for such a debate, the Pilling Report observes ‘In the House of Lords debate on same sex marriage, the Archbishop of York commended that the Church needed to think about the anomalies in a situation where it is willing to bless a tree or a sheep, but not a faithful human relationship.’ The anomaly only exists of course if it really is the case that a committed homosexual union can also be Christian.

The good advice of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York would carry much more weight if they were able to affirm that they hold, personally, as well as in virtue of their office, to the collegial mind of the Anglican Communion. At the moment I fear that we cannot be sure.

Regrettably, their intervention has served to encourage those who want to normalize homosexual lifestyles in Africa and has fuelled prejudice against African Anglicans. We are committed to biblical sexual morality and to biblical pastoral care, so we wholeheartedly stand by the assurance given in the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution that those who experience same sex attraction are ‘loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.’

May God in his mercy grant that we may hold to the fullness of his truth and the fullness of his grace.

The Most Rev’d Dr Eliud Wabukala
Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya and Chairman, GAFCON Primates Council.
30th January 2014

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 31 January 2014 at 7:30pm GMT | Comments (34) | TrackBack
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Archbishop Stanley Ntagali Comments on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill,...

The Church of Uganda has issued this press release.

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali Comments on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the Church of England’s “Pilling Report,” and the Open Letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York

30th January 2014

The Church of Uganda is encouraged by the work of Uganda’s Parliament in amending the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to remove the death penalty, to reduce sentencing guidelines through a principle of proportionality, and to remove the clause on reporting homosexual behaviour, as we had recommended in our 2010 position statement on the Bill. This frees our clergy and church leaders to fulfill the 2008 resolution of our House of Bishops to “offer counseling, healing and prayer for people with homosexual disorientation, especially in our schools and other institutions of learning. The Church is a safe place for individuals, who are confused about their sexuality or struggling with sexual brokenness, to seek help and healing.”

Accordingly, we are grateful for the reminder of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to fulfill such commitments as stated in the 2005 Communique of the Primates Meeting held in Dromantine, Northern Ireland.

We would further like to remind them, as they lead their own church through the “facilitated conversations” recommended by the Pilling Report, that the teaching of the Anglican Communion from the 1998 Lambeth Conference, from Resolution 1.10, still stands. It states that “homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture,” and the conference “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions.”

It was the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada’s violations of Lambeth 1.10 which caused the Church of Uganda to break communion with those Provinces more than ten years ago. We sincerely hope the Archbishops and governing bodies of the Church of England will step back from the path they have set themselves on so the Church of Uganda will be able to maintain communion with our own Mother Church.

Furthermore, as our new Archbishop of Canterbury looks toward future Primates Meetings and a possible 2018 Lambeth Conference of Bishops, we would also like to remind him of the 2007 Primates Communique from Dar es Salaam, which says that there are “consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion” for TEC and those Provinces which cannot

1. “Make an unequivocal common covenant that the Bishops will not authorize any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through” their governing body;

2. “Confirm…that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent.”

It is clear that the Episcopal Church in the USA and the Anglican Church of Canada have not upheld these commitments, and so we do pray for the Archbishop of Canterbury as he considers whether or not to extend invitations to their Primates for the next Primates Meeting or to their Bishops for the 2018 Lambeth Conference. To withhold these invitations would be a clear signal of his intention to lead and uphold the fullness of the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10.

The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali

ARCHBISHOP OF CHURCH OF UGANDA.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 31 January 2014 at 12:16am GMT | Comments (55) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 30 January 2014

College of Bishops statement: GAFCON responds

From GAFCON website

There is urgency about the gospel

To the Faithful of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and friends
from Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council

29th January 2014

‘…by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God’ 2 Corinthians 4:2

My dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

I write this first message of 2014 with great hope and confidence for the year ahead. GAFCON 2013 renewed our vision for the Anglican Communion as a global fellowship faithful to the Scriptures and confirmed what many of us had already sensed, that our movement is emerging as the only real answer to the Communion’s problems of fragmentation and confusion.

In the year ahead we must resolve to devote ourselves to the great biblical mandate to make disciples of all nations which was the focus of our gathering in Nairobi. There is urgency about the gospel and it must be proclaimed in word and deed, in season and out of season and it is the same gospel, whether in strife torn nations such as South Sudan or in the affluent but morally disorientated nations of the developed world.

We cannot therefore allow our time and energy to be sapped by debating that which God has already clearly revealed in the Scriptures. Earlier this week, the English College of Bishops met to reflect upon the ‘Pilling Report’, commissioned to reflect on how the Church of England should respond to the question of same sex relationships. Its key recommendations were that informal blessings of such unions should be allowed in parish churches and that a two year process of ‘facilitated conversation’ should be set up to address strongly held differences within the Church on this issue.

While we should be thankful that the College of Bishops did not adopt the idea of services for blessing that which God calls sin, it did unanimously approve the conversation process and this is deeply troubling. There has been intensive debate within the Anglican Communion on the subject of homosexuality since at least the 1998 Lambeth Conference and it is difficult to believe that the bishop’s indecision at this stage is due to lack of information or biblical reflection. The underlying problem is whether or not there is a willingness to accept the bible for what it really is, the Word of God.

At Lambeth 1998, the bishops of the Anglican Communion, by an overwhelming majority, affirmed in Resolution 1.10 that homosexual relationships were not compatible with Scripture, in line with the Church’s universal teaching through the ages, but the Pilling Report effectively sets this aside. The conversations it proposes are not to commend biblical teaching on marriage and family, but are based on the assumption that we cannot be sure about what the bible says.

I cannot therefore commend the proposal by the College of Bishops that these ‘facilitated conversations ‘ should be introduced across the Communion. This is to project the particular problems of the Church of England onto the Communion as a whole. As with ‘Continuing Indaba’, without a clear understanding of biblical authority and interpretation, such dialogue only spreads confusion and opens the door to a false gospel because the Scriptures no longer function in any meaningful way as a test of what is true and false.

Faced with these challenges, I am reminded of the importance of the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration. It places our fellowship under the written word of God, which ‘is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading’. Here we have a solid foundation for the responsible reading of the Bible which preserves its transformative power. As John the Evangelist writes ‘these things are written so that you may believe…..and that by believing you may have life’ (John 20:31).

Plans are already taking shape following GAFCON 2013 to provide our global fellowship with the organisation and communications it needs if the Anglican Communion is to recover its unity by listening to and obeying the Word of God. Using modern communications it is possible for us to experience the connectedness of being a global communion in a way that our predecessors could never have imagined. Each one of us can play a part and so may I conclude by inviting you, if you have not yet done so, to join the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans at http://fca.net. My pastoral messages and other communications can then be sent direct to you by email and together we can serve the cause of the gospel at this critical time.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 30 January 2014 at 8:29am GMT | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Archbishops write to all Primates & to presidents of Nigeria, Uganda

Lambeth Palace press release (also on Bishopthorpe site)

Archbishops recall commitment to pastoral care and friendship for all, regardless of sexual orientation

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have today written to all Primates of the Anglican Communion, and to the Presidents of Nigeria and Uganda, recalling the commitment made by the Primates of the Anglican Communion to the pastoral support and care of everyone worldwide, regardless of sexual orientation.

In their letter, the Archbishops recalled the words of the communiqué issued in 2005 after a meeting of Primates from across the Communion in Dromantine.

The text of the joint letter is as follows:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

In recent days, questions have been asked about the Church of England’s attitude to new legislation in several countries that penalises people with same-sex attraction. In answer to these questions, we have recalled the common mind of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, as expressed in the Dromantine Communiqué of 2005.

The Communiqué said;

‘….we wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people.

The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by Him and deserving the best we can give - pastoral care and friendship.’

We hope that the pastoral care and friendship that the Communiqué described is accepted and acted upon in the name of the Lord Jesus.

We call upon the leaders of churches in such places to demonstrate the love of Christ and the affirmation of which the Dromantine communiqué speaks.

Yours in Christ

+Justin Cantuar +Sentamu Eboracensis

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 at 5:40pm GMT | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Living arrangements for Bishop of Bath & Wells

The home of the most recent Bishop of Bath and Wells (Peter Price, who retired in mid 2013) and many of his predecessors was at The Bishop’s Palace in Wells. But on 3 December the Church Commissioners (who are responsible for housing diocesan bishops) announced that new living arrangements were to be made for the next bishop, Peter Hancock, who has yet to take up his post.

Statement from Church Commissioners on living arrangements for Bishop of Bath & Wells
03 December 2013

Andrew Brown, Secretary to the Church Commissioners said:

“After discussion at its meeting on 28th November the Board of Governors took the decision to provide new housing for the Bishop of Bath and Wells to enable him to carry out his ministry and mission in a more sustainable way. The Bishop will continue to work and worship at the Palace and share the office with the Bishop of Taunton. The decision to move the bishop’s home will mean he can live in more privacy as the Palace and gardens will remain open to the public. We are currently looking at an alternative residence near to Wells. The Church Commissioners support for bishops is based on making their living and working arrangements conducive to effective ministry and mission both in their diocese and the Church as a whole. The daily working life of the Palace will continue including the use of the Chapel alongside the work of the Trust running the Palace as a visitor attraction.”

The Palace website explains on its news page that “Whilst the Palace is well-known and prides itself on having the Bishop of Bath and Wells reside on site it has not always been so, for eight centuries bishops have had irregular relationships with the Palace. It is only since the mid-1850s that the Palace has been much more of a home to Bishops of Bath and Wells and over time the office function in the Palace has become more important.” [Scroll down to 20 December and 5 December for more details.]

The Commissioners’ decision has proved very controversial.

There were questions in the House of Commons to the Second Church Estates Commissioner on 14 January, 21 January and 23 January.

The Diocese has expressed its opposition to the Commissioners’ decision.

Diocese expresses opposition to Church Commissioner’s Palace decision
Friday 24th January 2014

Statement from the Bishop of Taunton and senior staff of the Diocese of Bath & Wells re: Bishop of Bath & Wells accommodation.

“The Diocese wishes to express publicly its opposition to the Church Commissioners’ decision that the next Bishop of Bath & Wells will not live at the Bishop’s Palace in Wells.

Despite ample time and opportunity, the Church Commissioners have failed to undertake effective consultation at a local level. Instead they have taken a unilateral decision which has, sadly, cast a shadow over the announcement of our next Bishop.

Based on the scarce information made available to us by the Commissioners, the Diocese cannot support their decision. If there is a persuasive case for the move, it has yet to be made.

We call upon the Church Commissioners to allow the next Bishop of Bath & Wells to begin his new role in residence at the Palace whilst a full and proper consultation about the long-term plans for the Bishop’s residence and office arrangements takes place.”

Ends

Rt Revd Peter Maurice, Bishop of Taunton
The Ven Nicola Sullivan, Archdeacon of Wells
The Ven John Reed, Archdeacon of Taunton
The Ven Andy Piggott, Archdeacon of Bath
Revd Preb Stephen Lynas, Bishop’s Chaplain
Preb Dr Catherine Wright, Dean of Women Clergy
Nick Denison, Diocesan Secretary
Harry Musselwhite, Chair of the Board of Finance

Press reports include these.

BBC Tessa Munt MP questions Bishop of Bath and Wells’ palace move [8 January]
Diocese of Bath and Wells ‘cannot support’ bishop’s palace move [25 January]
Bishop of Taunton calls for talks on palace move [28 January]

John Bingham The Telegraph Palace coup: Church in open rebellion over decision to downsize bishop to country pile [26 January]

Ruth Gledhill The Times Church buys back rectory after Bishop’s Palace is declared unfit [29 January - behind a paywall, but the first couple of paragraphs are visible as a taster.]

Daily Mail Inside the £1million country home for the Bishop who turned-down a palace because he wanted ‘a bit more privacy’ [23 January]
Sophie Jane Evans Bishop banned from living in his palace will be moved to £900,000 rectory that the church is buying back after declaring it ‘unsuitable’ and selling it … for £750,000 [29 January]

David Keen blogs in favour of the Commissioners’ decision: Is the Bishop of Bath and Wells a person, or a tourist attraction?

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 at 12:21pm GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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College of Bishops statement: media coverage and responses

First of all, press coverage so far:

Telegraph John Bingham Church of England bishops: we agree on one thing – that we can’t agree on homosexuality

Religion News Service Trevor Grundy Church of England’s Bishops Defer Gay Marriage Decision

George Conger has written a critique of the preceding item:So what is happening with Anglican gay marriage?

Michael Trimmer Christian Today CofE bishops agree to disagree on human sexuality

And there is coverage in The Times, but it is behind a paywall: Bishops call for honesty in gay debate

Next, comments from lobby groups and bloggers:

Andrew Symes Executive Director of Anglican Mainstream has written The College of Bishops’ Statement on the Pilling Report: a Response

My initial response to this Statement was one of disappointment, but then after attempting to read between the lines I found some cause for encouragement…

Ian Paul has written Why the bishops have done the right thing

…Why do I think College of Bishops have made the right decision? Well, most obviously because their response to Pilling is exactly the one I said in November was needed. The reason for this is more and more evident in public responses, particularly on social media, from all sides of the debate.

On the one hand, many ‘conservatives’ say that there is nothing to be done, and no need any further discussion. I don’t think this takes into account sufficiently the need for the Church of England to develop more credible pastoral response, taking into account what Justin Welby described as the revolution in attitudes within society on this issue.

On the other hand, many ‘revisionists’ agree there is no need for further discussion, but for exactly the opposite reason. It is clear what God is doing in society, and the Church needs to catch up without any further delay…

Peter Carrell Sanity overcomes English bishops

…For myself I am prompted to wonder if (when all is said and done) we are (though we are scarcely aware of it) engaged with a true novelty in the life of the church:

1. a matter on which we disagree so severely that schism always lurks as a possible outcome (and, indeed, has become an outcome in some places) yet not a matter on which any rational, compassionate Christian (in the abstract position of peaceful reflection*) would wish to divide the church for fear that doing so made a scapegoat of a tiny minority;

2. a matter on which the catholicity of our church/Communion is under an unprecedented ‘strain’ (as we try to reconcile the universality of the church implying inclusivity with the universality of the church implying commitment to common doctrine)…

David Pocklington has written Bishops’ statement on Pilling Report

…As we have noted before, the Pilling Report is a report to the House of Bishops, not a report of the House of Bishops and it is therefore unsurprising that: yesterday’s statement emphasized that it was not a new policy statement; and the statement itself did not expand on the report’s conclusions, an unlikely possibility given the strongly held and divergent views within the College . Nevertheless, there are two important points within the statement:

  • acceptance of Pilling’s recommendation for “facilitated conversations, ecumenically, across the Anglican Communion and at national and diocesan level”, these conversations to commence following the approval of the process and materials by the House of Bishops in May; and
  • that there will be no change to the Church of England’s teaching on marriage or to pastoral and liturgical practice during this process of facilitated conversation. Too much cannot be read into the wording, but it would tend to suggest that the introduction of extra-liturgical public services of pastoral accommodation, i.e. blessings of same-sex unions, over the next two years is ruled out, whilst this is may be an option for the future.

If the timetable suggested by the Report is followed, i.e. “without undue haste but with a sense urgency, perhaps over a period of two years”, the formal position of the Church of England is unlikely to change from that expressed in the 2005 HoB statement before mid- to late-2016. Whilst this will be a comfortable two years before the next Lambeth Conference, a potential flash-point for the Anglican Communion, in other respects the delay is unsatisfactory…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 at 9:29am GMT | Comments (4)
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Monday, 27 January 2014

Last Rites for the Church of England?

BBC Radio 4 this evening broadcast “Last Rites for the Church of England?” in which Andrew Brown “asks if the Church of England has become fatally disconnected from society.” The half-hour programme will be broadcast again on Sunday 2 February at 2130.

But you can listen to the programme online here now. There is also a 13 MB downloadable podcast.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 27 January 2014 at 10:13pm GMT | Comments (27) | TrackBack
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Pilling Report - Statement from the College of Bishops

The Church of England House of Bishops issued this statement this evening.

Statement from the College of Bishops

27 January 2014

The College of Bishops met on 27th January, 2014 to begin a process of reflection on the issues raised by the Pilling Report (GS 1929). The College expressed appreciation to Sir Joseph Pilling and to all members of the working party for the work they have done on behalf of the Church.

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.

We are united in seeking to be faithful to the Scriptures and the tradition of the Church and in seeking to make a loving, compassionate and respectful response to gay men and women within Church and society.

We recognise the very significant change in social attitudes to sexuality in the United Kingdom in recent years.

We recognise also the strongly held and divergent views reflected in the Pilling Report, across the Anglican Communion and in the Church of England. We acknowledge that these differences are reflected also within the College of Bishops and society as a whole.

We accept the recommendation of the Pilling Report that the subject of sexuality, with its history of deeply entrenched views, would best be addressed by facilitated conversations, ecumenically, across the Anglican Communion and at national and diocesan level and that this should continue to involve profound reflection on the interpretation and application of Scripture. These conversations should set the discussion of sexuality within the wider context of human flourishing.

We have together asked the Archbishops to commission a small group to design a process for these conversations and additional materials to support and enable them. We hope that the outline for the process and the additional materials will be approved by the House of Bishops in May.

We acknowledge that one of the challenges we face is to create safe space for all those involved to be honest about their own views and feelings. This has not always happened and it must do so in the future. We recognise that we will not all agree and that this process is in part committed to seeking good disagreement that testifies to our love for one another across the church in obedience to Christ

As the Archbishops noted in November, the Pilling report is not a new policy statement from the Church of England and we are clear that the Church of England’s pastoral and liturgical practice remains unchanged during this process of facilitated conversation.

No change to the Church of England’s teaching on marriage is proposed or envisaged. The House of Bishops will be meeting next month to consider its approach when same sex marriage becomes lawful in England in March.

We are grateful to the whole Church for their prayers for our meeting today and for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We recognise that on many occasions in the past the Church has faced challenging questions. It is vital in these moments to take counsel together, to read and reflect upon the Scriptures and to continue to discern together the mind of Christ.

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College of Bishops discusses Pilling report today

Timed to coincide with the meeting of the College of Bishops today, to discuss the Pilling report, there are several new items:

Andrew Brown has written this piece at Comment is free Bishops must reject these wicked homophobic views.

These are not the views expressed in the report, but rather the views expressed by Anglican churches in Nigeria and Uganda:

…The bishops are meeting in the wake of the legalisation of same-sex marriage, which represents an irrevocable move towards the acceptance of gay people in this country. But they are also meeting in the shadow of astonishingly homophobic laws supported by two of the largest Anglican churches in Africa – in Nigeria and Uganda.

The Nigerian law has passed with overwhelming support (1% of the Nigerian population is in favour of “society accepting homosexuality”, according to the Pew Foundation). The marginally more liberal Ugandan government (where 4% of the population accepts homosexuality) has just rejected a similar law.

In Britain, where the Pew figures say that over 70% of the population is pro-gay rights, a number of conservative evangelical churches have aligned themselves with Uganda and Nigeria as a pre-emptive strike against the C of E recognising same-sex marriage. Although tomorrow’s meeting will dodge the question, there will be clergy queueing to marry their same-sex partners when this becomes legal in April, when the question can no longer be dodged…

The data from Pew Research mentioned by Andrew in his article can be found here: The Global Divide on Homosexuality and there is also a world map here. The divide is stark.

And there is further survey data illustrated in the latest article from Changing Attitude: Infographics about attitudes in the Church of England.

Changing Attitude is publishing three infographics today about attitudes in the Church of England on the day the College of Bishops meets to discuss the Pilling Report.

The survey results provide a glimpse of where the church is, both within itself and as it is viewed by society. These aren’t partisan statistics – we haven’t hunted around for the figures most favourable to our cause. We have used the YouGov surveys produced for the Westminster Faith Debates 2013 because they are the most rigorous, very recent, and based on a large sample and with no attempt to influence the response by skewing how questions are asked.

Here is a snapshot of what reality actually looks like at the moment for the Church of England. (There’s a wealth of other information in the Westminster Faith Debates stats, and you can see the whole dataset here: http://faithdebates.org.uk/research/)

The survey shows remarkably strong support for same-sex marriage in the Church of England – 40% in favour, 47% against – given the reluctance of the bishops and General Synod to show approval for same-sex relationships, let alone equal marriage. If non church-going Anglicans are included, there is a slim majority for same-sex marriage, 44% with 43% against. In the population as a whole, 52% are in favour, 34% against…

There are three infographics, here is a direct link to the third one:

And finally, although far from new, as noted in the comments on an earlier article, Changing Attitude’s own submission to the Pilling review group was based in large part on the earlier Osborne report. This should have been published in 1989 but was suppressed. It was “re-published” by the Church Times two years ago: CofE’s Osborne report finally published. The comparison between this and the Pilling report shows how little change there has been within the CofE.

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Friday, 24 January 2014

Pilling: another roundup of opinions

Updated again Sunday evening

Ekklesia has published a major commentary on the Pilling report by Savi Hensman available here: Edging towards accepting diversity: the Pilling Report on sexuality. Here is the Abstract:

A Church of England working party on sexuality, chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling, has called for a more welcoming approach to lesbian and gay people, though not full inclusion. It recognises the current lack of consensus on the theology of sexuality, including what the Bible has to say, and recommends that clergy be free to hold services, though not weddings, for same-sex couples.

The report is a small step forward, though it is over-cautious and its handling of historical and scientific evidence is weak, this detailed analysis from Ekklesia suggests. It is also unbalanced, giving too much space to one dissenting member of the working party, firmly opposing any shift by the church towards a more pluralistic stance on same-sex partnerships. Yet it acknowledges diversity, encourages openness to listening and growth, and may lead to further progress in enabling the church to value its lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) members and credibly witness in today’s world to God’s love for all.

John Watson at Fulcrum has written A response to David Runcorn’s appendix to the Pilling Report.

The Spectator has published a rather curious leader article:The Church of England’s endless gay panic.

Update

Christina Beardsley has also published a detailed analysis of the Pilling report at Changing Attitude over the past couple of weeks. This is now more conveniently available as a single article here.

Update
This lengthy article is now also available as a PDF from here.

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Thursday, 23 January 2014

"Priest 'bullied' out of his Merseyside church"

Updated Saturday evening and Monday morning

Last September, Richard Blackburn, the Bishop of Warrington and Acting Bishop of Liverpool, established an episcopal visitation to the parish of St Faith’s, Great Crosby. The visitation was carried out by Bishop Stephen Lowe, and his report has now been published. Today’s statement from the diocese, Report on the Episcopal Visitation to St Faith’s Crosby, starts

A report of an episcopal visitation carried out by Bishop Stephen Lowe has found serious failings in the PCC and amongst the laity at St Faith’s Crosby. The report outlines major failings in the governance of the parish which has led to what can be described as a culture of bullying towards the Priest in Charge, Father Simon Tibbs.

The Episcopal Visitation was established by Bishop Richard Blackburn, The Bishop of Warrington and Acting Bishop of Liverpool in the wake of reports of difficulties at St Faiths. The Bishop instigated a six month visitation period for Bishop Stephen to thoroughly investigate concerns at the parish and produce a report.

Bishop Stephen report was presented to the PCC at a special meeting on Monday 20th January.
Bishop Stephen Lowe said “This has been a disturbing and distressing experience in the life of St Faith’s. I have found clear weaknesses in the governance structures at the church. Weaknesses that existed before Father Simon’s arrival. Weaknesses that have allowed a culture of bullying towards Father Simon from some elements of the PCC. The Diocese of Liverpool will need to consider its mentoring arrangements for priests in the light of this unhappy episode. However my main recommendation is that the Diocese of Liverpool takes firm action to restore good governance in the parish before considering the long term future of St Faith’s Crosby.”

The diocesan statement also details the “temporary measures to improve governance at St Faith’s Crosby”.

The Bishop of Warrington, the Rt Revd Richard Blackburn, is to act swiftly on the findings of an independent report into the governance at St Faith’s Crosby. The Bishop has announced that he has asked for the visitation process to continue for 18 months to enable stronger governance procedures to be put in place and deal with Bishop Stephen’s recommendations.

Bishop Richard has given licence to Revd Susan Lucas to act as Priest in Charge during this time. She will be strongly supported by Bishop Stephen Lowe. She will be charged to bring in measures that address the weaknesses in governance, reinvigorate the teaching of Christian giving and strengthen the sacred traditions of Anglo-Catholic liturgical worship so they become a meaningful expression of God’s love and mission. Bishop Richard has asked that this process should take no more than 18 months and he will closely monitor progress…

Bishop Stephen’s full report is available for download: Visitation Report.

The report has received extensive coverage in today’s local Liverpool and Crosby papers.

Jamie Bowman Liverpool Echo Priest ‘bullied’ out of his Merseyside church by powerful drinkers’ club among his flock
Jamie Bowman Crosby Herald Damning report reveals culture of bullying at Crosby church

It has also attracted the attention of the national press

The Telegraph Priest ‘bullied’ out of parish for challenging binge drinking culture among worshippers
BBC St Faith’s Church Crosby priest was ‘bullied’ out of parish
Luke Traynor Mirror Vicar ‘bullied out of his job by right-wing drinkers in his flock’
Liz Hull Daily Mail Priest bullied out of his C of E parish after nine months after banning congregation’s ‘un-Christian’ boozy sessions after services

Update
The PCC has issued a press release this afternoon (Saturday) which can be read here:

Press Statement
from the Church Wardens of St. Faith’s Great Crosby
re the Episcopal Visitation report by retired Bishop Stephen Lowe

The report of Stephen Lowe purports to be ‘independent’, but is clearly subjective and opinion based. The overwhelming majority of those present at the Congregational Meeting on January 20th felt that his was a grossly distorted and one-sided view of the situation. His report made sparse reference to the carefully considered answers submitted by the PCC to the Diocese’s Articles of Enquiry. A report detailing the responses of the congregation to Stephen Lowe’s ‘findings’ is being submitted to the Diocese and we shall be requesting that this is also published on their website as a matter of public record.

The “Review of PCC Governance at Crosby, St Faith’s” referred to in Bishop Lowe’s report is now available online here.

Monday update

Patrick Sawer in The Telegraph Merseyside’s ‘Cyber Priest’: ‘Thou shalt not drink wine in church’

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 23 January 2014 at 8:44pm GMT | Comments (43) | TrackBack
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Pilling: Changing Attitude sends report to Bishops

From the Changing Attitude website:

Changing Attitude England Report to the College of Bishops meeting 27 January 2014

Changing Attitude England posted a Report today to every member of the College of Bishops and the 8 senior women in advance of their meeting 27 January 2014. A paper about the inclusion of LGB&T people in all conversations affecting our place in the Church has already been sent to the members of the College of Bishops in the papers for the meeting and that is reproduced at the end of our Report.

Changing Attitude England’s Report to the College of Bishops

Changing Attitude’s goals

Changing Attitude has three core goals, the achievement of which would mark a radical transformation in the experience of LGB&T Christians, and we believe, for the church as a whole. The goals are:

  • Celebrating the loving, permanent, faithful, stable of lesbian and gay relationships, lay and ordained
  • Equality in lay and ordained ministry in the selection, training and appointment process and the end of hypocrisy and secrecy – the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ culture.
  • Identify and eradicate prejudice against LGB&T people and the systemic homophobia which corrupts Christian attitudes and teaching.

1. Changing Attitude’s submission to the Review Group

In our submission to the Review Group we said the need for a radical change in Christian attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) people is now urgent. We asked whether the review group is going to advocate that the Church of England recognises the reality of the presence of LGB&T people in the Church or whether they are going to maintain the present culture of secrecy, denial of reality, suppression of identity and the unhealthy attitudes in which many LGB&T Christians remain trapped.

The report does not herald radical change and does not therefore fulfil the expectations of Changing Attitude. There are no practical proposals which will begin to dismantle the present culture of secrecy, denial of reality, suppression of identity and the maintenance of unhealthy attitudes. The group has met people and listened and the unhealthy attitudes remain unchanged.

The Review Group explored a lot of the ground which is fundamental to the dilemmas faced by the church as it continues to think about human sexuality. The report explores many of the issues which must be reviewed if the Church of England is ever to speak truthfully and lovingly to those whose sexuality and gender are variants on the heterosexual, patriarchal norm of Christian theology, teaching and practice…

Read the full report here.
Scroll down for the separate document “…about the inclusion of LGB&T people in all conversations affecting our place in the Church has already been sent to the members of the College of Bishops..”

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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Bishop of Dover to assume interim episcopal oversight in Channel Islands

Updated again Wednesday evening

Press release from the Archbishop of Canterbury

Bishop of Dover to assume interim episcopal oversight in Channel Islands

Wednesday 22nd January 2014

The Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, is to assume interim episcopal oversight of the work of the Church of England in the Channel Islands on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, delegated the oversight of the Islands.

The interim arrangement, which has the fullest support of the Bishop of Winchester, will be in place within a matter of weeks. The reports commissioned by the Bishop of Winchester, being conducted by Dame Heather Steel and Bishop John Gladwin in relation to safeguarding issues, will be completed in due course.

The Bishop of Dover is a former Bishop of Basingstoke in the Diocese of Winchester, and therefore has significant knowledge of the Islands. He and the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, undertook a pastoral visit to the Channel Islands in December, during which they met local church leaders and Island authorities from both Deaneries.

The interim arrangement is also entirely separate from issues to do with the Islands’ formal relationship with the Church of England. The Archbishop intends to appoint a Commission to look at the relationship between the Islands, the Diocese of Winchester and the wider Church of England.

The news was broken by Peter Ould on his blog yesterday: Jersey to Canterbury (and Dover). He has further covered the story today here and, in an interview with BBC Jersey, here.

Channel Television has this report: Jersey church splits from Winchester.

Update

The following pastoral letter from the Bishop of Winchester has been published, though as yet not on the Winchester diocesan website. Via Anglican Ink.

Winchester Pastoral Letter Jan 2014

I wanted to contact you all following Lambeth Palace’s announcement today that the Bishop of Dover is to take temporary responsibility for episcopal oversight of the Channel Islands. This follows a proposal I took to the Archbishop of Canterbury last year, which has now been supported and implemented by Archbishop Justin and his colleagues and which also has the backing of representatives from the Islands.

It will be evident to a number of you that, what began as an important and ongoing safeguarding matter in Jersey last year has steadily become complicated by a range of political and legal issues. The safeguarding investigations will, of course, continue and I hope in time we will benefit from improvements to our policies to help vulnerable people in the Islands and across the Diocese. Nevertheless, I am all too conscious of the additional, fundamental issues that have been raised and I believe they also warrant urgent and full attention. Equally I believe that the best way of achieving the reconciliation that we all want is for me to step back for now from the tensions that have arisen and allow for fresh, external input. I am very grateful therefore that Bishop Trevor is able to devote the time to take on this role, on a temporary basis, bringing with him knowledge of the Channel Islands as a former Bishop of Basingstoke.

The Islands have a centuries-old, cherished relationship with the rest of the Diocese to which I remain fully committed. From a practical perspective, the Archbishop and I have agreed it is necessary for the Islands to continue to pay their parish share during this period, so that normal ministry and mission remain unaffected.

Archbishop Justin has also announced that he will put in place a Commission to examine fully the legal and political challenges that have arisen. I feel that, in time, this process will play an important part in healing and reaffirming relations going forward.

Finally, I ask you all to hold Bishop Trevor in your prayers as he undertakes this work and want to thank you for your devotion to the mission and ministry of the Church in this Diocese.

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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Pilling: Christian Concern lobbies the Bishops

From the website of Christian Concern:

ACTION: Ask the Bishops to stand up for marriage

On 28th November 2013, the Church of England published a crucial report by the House of Bishops Working Group on Sexuality (Pilling Report), outlining its recommendations for the recognition of same-sex relationships by the CofE.

The Report suggests that, while the Church of England should not change its official teaching on marriage and sexuality, it should enter into a period of “facilitated conversions” to allow local clergy to bless same sex partnerships informally, using unauthorised liturgies.

However, to allow informal blessings of same-sex relationships, while claiming not to change the church’s teaching, would in practice and in fact, change the church’s traditional teaching on the issue.

The College of Bishops meets next Monday (27th January) to give serious consideration to the proposals put forward by the Pilling Report.

Please write to the Bishops, urging them to affirm the Bible’s clear teaching on marriage and sexuality and to give courageous leadership which is faithful to Scripture.

Concerns about the Report which you may wish to make are:

  • The report as a whole appeals to the secular world-view by seeking to accommodate same sex relationships
  • The liberal view of Scripture adopted by the Report is hugely concerning as it suggests that Scripture does not offer conclusive teaching on the issue of homosexual practice
  • The Report wrongly claims that Scripture and theology are apparently unclear on the rightness of homosexual practice, but urges the church to go ahead and bless such practice anyway, as long as the relationships are ‘permanent, faithful and stable’
  • The Bible offers clear teaching on how humans are best able to flourish and we appeal to you as Bishops to reinforce the commitment to biblical teaching
  • Permitting services to bless same sex unions would be a direct denial of the authority and teachings of the Bible, and would result in serious division, distress and acrimony within the Church
  • Allowing clergy to offer an informal blessing, and claiming that this does not change traditional Anglican teaching, is too fine a distinction and potentially contradictory for the wide Christian community and beyond
  • True pastoral care in the case of those experiencing same-sex attraction is to help them live Christianly and it is wrong to separate teaching and practice
  • Please also ask the Bishops to support the strong dissent to the Report issued by the Bishop of Birkenhead, which you can read here >

Click here to read the full text of the Pilling Report >

See below for contact details of the Bishops [scroll down for email list of diocesan bishops only]

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 at 10:53pm GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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New Bishop of Exeter is announced

10 Downing Street has announced: Diocese of Exeter: Robert Atwell nomination approved:

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Robert Ronald Atwell, BA, MLitt, Suffragan Bishop of Stockport, for election as Bishop of Exeter in succession to the Right Reverend Michael Laurence Langrish, BSocSc, MA, DD, on his resignation on 31 August 2013.

Robert Atwell, aged 59, studied for the ordained ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. He served his first curacy at John Keble Church, Mill Hill, London from 1978 to 1981.

From 1981 to 1987 he was Chaplain at Trinity College, Cambridge. From 1987 to 1998 he was a Benedictine monk at Burford Priory, Oxfordshire.

From 1998 to 2008 he was Vicar of St Mary’s, Primrose Hill, and Director of Post-Ordination Training in the Edmonton Area of the Diocese of London. Since 2008 he has been Suffragan Bishop of Stockport.

Robert Atwell is single. His interests include gardening, theatre, films, music and novels.

The Diocese of Exeter has announced: Next Bishop of Exeter Named:

The next Bishop of Exeter is the Rt Revd Robert Atwell, currently Bishop of Stockport in the Diocese of Chester. His appointment was announced this morning by the Prime Minister’s office.

View photos throughout the day on our Pinterest Board >
Follow our news on Twitter > and Facebook >

Bishop Robert will become the 71st bishop of the Diocese of Exeter which comprises more than 500 parishes across the county of Devon…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 at 10:12am GMT | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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Friday, 17 January 2014

Women in the Episcopate: Forward in Faith responds to latest drafts

Press release from Forward in Faith:

Women in the Episcopate: The Latest Drafts

Jan 17, 2014

Women in the Episcopate: Draft House of Bishops’ Declaration and Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations

Forward in Faith welcomes the publication of the House of Bishops’ report (GS 1932 – available from http://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/structure/general-synod/agendas-and-papers/february-2014-group-of-sessions.aspx).

In commenting on the proposals in November we set out three matters that still needed to be resolved. We are grateful that two of them have been addressed: the draft Declaration now contains transitional provisions, and the House of Bishops’ Standing Orders will provide that the Declaration cannot be amended unless two-thirds majorities in each House of the General Synod support the amendment. We also welcome the other minor improvements which the House has made to the draft Declaration and Regulations.

However, we note that the draft Declaration does not address the third of the matters that we raised in November. Para. 42 of the Steering Committee’s report (GS 1924) pointed to the need for ‘an agreed way of proceeding’ with regard to ‘issues that will arise in relation to consecration services for Traditional Catholic bishops’, including the ‘further and sharper issues that will arise in due course as and when there is a woman archbishop’. The Steering Committee was clear in envisaging ‘an overall, balanced package’ and that the dioceses should ‘vote on the legislation in the knowledge of how all the elements of the package fit together’ (para. 42).

It is essential that an acceptable way of proceeding in relation to the consecration of Traditional Catholic bishops is agreed before the legislation is referred to the dioceses. Resolution of this outstanding matter is crucial for the acceptability of the package as a whole.

We also note the publication of a first draft of the Guidance Note for Bishops and Parishes (GS Misc 1064). Forward in Faith will study this closely.

+ JONATHAN FULHAM
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham
Chairman

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General Synod agenda - early press reports

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England could appoint first female bishop ‘by Christmas’

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England could name first woman bishops ‘by Christmas’

Liz Dodd The Tablet Women bishops could be appointed by Christmas if Church of England Synod can clear final hurdles

Madeleine Davies Church Times Women bishops possible in 2014, says Fittall

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 17 January 2014 at 4:27pm GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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General Synod Agenda

The usual pre-Synod press release, summarising the agenda, was issued this morning.

Agenda for February 2014 Synod
17 January 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London in February for a three day meeting from 2.00 pm on Monday 10th February until 5.30 pm on Wednesday 12th February.

The agenda for the meeting is published today. The main item of business will be the Revision Stage for the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops. In an unusual move, this will be taken on the floor of the Synod without there having been a prior Revision Committee. There will also be three other debates as part of the women bishops process: on the Declaration and Disputes Resolution Procedure agreed by the House of Bishops in December; to initiate the process to rescind the 1993 Act of Synod; and to suspend part of the Standing Orders in order to accelerate the process for referring the legislation to the dioceses. These debates will take up much of Tuesday 11th February.

There will also be debates on Gender-Based Violence, the Girl Guides’ Promise, the environment and fossil fuels and the use of vesture in Church services. The Group of Sessions will conclude with a presentation on the report from the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality. A Diocesan Synod Motion from the Guildford Diocesan Synod on the Magna Carta is listed as Contingency Business.

On the Monday afternoon there will be a presentation on Ethical Investment by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG). The EIAG will give an overview of the Church of England’s approach to ethical investment, in particular the work it has done on reflecting the Church’s position on alcohol more faithfully and supporting purposeful investment in business. It will summarise the issues that the EIAG is currently working on, including the use of pooled funds in ethical investment and an ethical investment approach to climate change.

This will be followed by a further policy-focused debate, this time on Gender-Based Violence. The debate will be preceded by a short presentation by Mandy Marshall and Peter Grant who are co-directors of Restored Relationships, an international Christian alliance working to transform relationships and end violence against women.

Each session will be followed by a Question and Answer session with Synod members. The debate on Gender-Based Violence will be followed by a brief period of worship.

The sequence of business of Tuesday 19th November in relation Women in the Episcopate will be as follows. First, the Synod will debate a motion from the House of Bishops inviting the Synod to welcome the draft House of Bishops’ draft Declaration and Disputes Resolution Regulations. Secondly, there will be the Revision Stage on the floor of the Synod of the draft Measure and Amending Canon. Thirdly, Synod will give initial consideration to a draft Act of Synod to rescind the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993. Finally, there will be a motion to suspend part of Standing Order 90 to reduce the normal minimum length of time for an Article 8 Reference to the dioceses from six months to three months to allow a faster passage of the final stages of the Women in the Episcopate legislation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will give a Presidential Address on the morning of Wednesday 12th February.

This will be followed by a debate on a package of proposals for legislative change in relation to safeguarding and related disciplinary matters, which has been developed in response to the reports of the Chichester commissaries. This includes 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 relevant persons to have regard to the House of Bishops’ safeguarding policies. The intention is to introduce legislation in July 2014 but given the importance and range of the proposals this report gives Synod the opportunity to consider the package in February before the legislation is prepared.

Later that morning, there will be a debate on a motion from the Southwark Diocesan Synod on Environmental Issues. This will build further on the work being carried out by the Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG). The Diocesan Synod Motion calls for the establishment of a General Synod Working Group on the Environment to look into this further.

Two Private Members’ Motions will be debated on Wednesday afternoon. The first, tabled by Mrs Alison Ruoff (London Diocese), references the recent changes to the Girl Guides’ Promise. The second, to be moved by the Reverend Christopher Hobbs, calls on the General Synod to amend Canon B 8 so that the wearing of the forms of vesture referred to in that Canon ‘becomes optional rather than mandatory’.

Finally, there will be a presentation from Sir Joseph Pilling on the recent Report of the House of Bishops’ Working Group on Human Sexuality which was published on 28 November. There will be an opportunity for questions on the process and next steps on the Pilling Report.

Click here for General Synod February Agenda and Papers

My usual list of online papers is here (women in the episcopate) and here (other items).

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February General Synod - online papers

The General Synod of the Church of England will meet in London from Monday 10 February to Wednesday 12 February, and papers are now available online. I have already listed those relevant to Women in the Episcopate in an earlier posting and here are the remainder.

GS 1930 - Agenda

GS 1931 - Report by the Business Committee [Monday]

GS 1933 - Gender-Based Violence: Report by the MPA Council [Monday]

GS 1935 - Draft Church of England (Naming of Dioceses) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1935x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1936 - Draft Church of England (Pensions) (Amendement) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1936x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1937 - Draft Parochial Fees and Scheduled Matters Amending Order 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1937x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1938 - Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1939 - Legal Officers (Annual Fees) (Amendment) Order 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1938-9x - Explanatory Memorandum [item 506]

GS 1940 - The Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution [Tuesday]
GS 1940x - Explanatory Memorandum [item 505]

GS 1941 - Safeguarding [Wednesday]

GS 1942A & GS 1942B - Diocesan Synod Motion: Environmental Issues [Wednesday]

GS 1943A & GS 1943B - Private Member’s Motion: Girl Guides’ Promise [Wednesday]

GS 1944A & GS 1944B - Private Member’s Motion: Canon B8 [Wednesday]

GS 1945A & GS 1945B - Private Member’s Motion: Magna Carta cContingency business]

Other Papers issued to members

GS Misc 1065 - Church Stipends Report 2013

GS Misc 1067 - Dioceses Commission Annual Report 2013

1st Notice Paper
2nd Notice Paper

HB(13)M4 House of Bishops Summary of Decisions December 2013

A zip file containing all the papers is also available.

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February General Synod - women in the episcopate

General Synod will be debating the latest proposals on women in the episcopate on Tuesday 11 February. The relevant papers have been released today.

The actual items of business can be found in the Agenda (GS 1930). In addition there are these papers.

GS 1932 - Draft Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests and Draft Reolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations
GS 1925A - Draft Bishops and priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure
GS 1926A - Draft Amending Canon No.33
GS 1934 - Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993
GS Misc 1064 - House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests - Guidance Notes for Bishops and Parishes
GS Misc 1068 - Note by the Legal Advisers on clause 2

The Report of the Business Committee (GS 1931) has the usual comments on individual items of business, and those for Women in the Episcopate are copied below the fold.

Extract from the Report of the Business Committee (GS 1931)

Tuesday 19 November

Legislation on Women in the Episcopate

25. The main business of Tuesday 19th November will relate to Women in the Episcopate.

26. There will be four separate items of business. First the Synod will consider a motion from the House of Bishops inviting the Synod to welcome the draft House of Bishops’ draft Declaration and Disputes Resolution Regulations. The Synod had a first opportunity to consider drafts in November as part of the Steering Committee’s report but the House of Bishops had not at that stage discussed them in detail. This is the Synod’s opportunity to debate what the House has now agreed.

27. Secondly, the draft measure and amending canon will be considered on the Revision Stage. Because there was no Revision Committee Stage the normal 40 member rule for the consideration of amendments will not apply.

28. Thirdly, the Synod will be invited to consider, under the preliminary motion procedure, a draft Act of Synod to rescind the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993. Since rescinding the Act of Synod constitutes Article 7 business, it will need to be considered by the House of Bishops before it comes for final approval at a subsequent group of sessions. It will also be open to the Convocations and the House of Laity to claim references.

29. Fourthly there will be a motion to suspend Standing Order 90(b)(iii) so that the Article 8 reference of the draft measure and amending canon can be concluded in May, with a view to completing the remaining stages of the legislation at the July group of sessions. To pass, the motion will require a 75% majority. If the motion is not carried, the Business Committee will be required by SO 90 to allow at least six months for the reference, which means that the earliest date for its completion will be September.

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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Church of England reports Signs of Growth

Press release from Church House: Signs of Growth:

…Key findings of the research include:

  • Significant Growth Fresh expressions of Church (new congregations and new churches) with around 21,000 people attending in the 10 surveyed areas of the 44 Church of England Dioceses.
  • Significant growth in Cathedrals, especially in weekday attendance. Overall weekly attendance grew by 35% between 2002 and 2012.
  • Declining numbers of children and young people under 16 - nearly half of the churches surveyed had fewer than 5 under 16s.
  • Amalgamations of churches are more likely to decline - the larger the number of churches in the amalgamation, the more likely they are to decline

There is more information in the press release.

Also, the executive summary of the Research is available as a PDF [link altered].

More detail is on this website.

The detailed study of Fresh Expressions can be found at the Church Army website.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 16 January 2014 at 12:31pm GMT | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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ACNA priest to become a Six Preacher at Canterbury Cathedral

Lambeth Palace has announced: Archbishop appoints US priest as Canterbury preacher

Archbishop Justin hopes the Revd Dr Tory Baucum’s presence as one of Canterbury Cathedral’s Six Preachers will help promote ‘reconciliation and unity’

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, is delighted to announce the appointment of the Revd Dr Tory Baucum, Rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia, as one of the Six Preachers of Canterbury Cathedral.

Dr Baucum will be installed as one of the Six Preachers during Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral on 14 March. The Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral unanimously approved the nomination of Dr Baucum shortly before Christmas.

The College of Six Preachers was created by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in 1541, forming part of his plans for a new foundation to replace the dissolved Priory. Canterbury was unique in this; no other cathedral had a group of preaching priests and was a reflection of Cranmer’s determination to give greater prominence to preaching. Today, the Six Preachers are called to preach on various occasions at Canterbury Cathedral, the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion. The preachers serve five-year terms, which can be renewed.

While Dr Baucum has extensive experience of preaching, evangelism and peace-making, his appointment is also recognition of his commitment to reconciliation, which is one of Archbishop Justin’s ministry priorities. Truro Church seceded from the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church in 2006 and subsequently became part of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

When Dr Baucum became Rector in 2007, the church and the diocese were involved in litigation over property rights. Dr Baucum, a priest in ACNA, developed a close friendship with Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, the Rt Revd Shannon Johnston, and a settlement was subsequently reached.

Commenting on the appointment, Archbishop Justin said: “Tory is a fine scholar, an excellent preacher, and above all someone with a holistic approach to ministry. The close friendship he has forged with Bishop Shannon Johnston, despite their immensely different views, sets a pattern of reconciliation based on integrity and transparency. Such patterns of life are essential to the future of the Communion. I hope and pray that Tory’s presence as one of the Six Preachers will play a part in promoting reconciliation and unity among us.”

The Dean of Canterbury, the Very Revd Dr Robert Willis, said: “In recent times, the Six Preachers have become a significant and diverse group from across the whole Anglican Communion and fulfil a role of preaching and teaching from time to time in Canterbury. We look forward to welcoming Dr Baucum, whose particular gifts will enrich the group still further.”

Dr Baucum said: “I am deeply moved by the honour bestowed upon ACNA and especially the congregation of Truro Church in this appointment by Archbishop Welby to be a Six Preacher of Canterbury Cathedral. I am devoted to Archbishop Welby’s vision for the Anglican Communion and I hope this appointment might help, in some small way, translate that vision into reality.”

About the Revd Dr Tory Baucum

The Revd Dr Tory Baucum is the Rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia, a post he has held since 2007. He holds degrees from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry and Asbury Theological Seminary. He also teaches at Virginia Theological Seminary. His areas of expertise include St Augustine, Wesley, homiletics, evangelism and contextual theology. He has ministered and taught in several Anglican provinces and theological colleges, including the Diocese of London, St Augustine’s in Lima Peru and Bishop Barham College in Kigezi, Uganda. Dr Baucum is Chairman of the Board of Fresh Expressions USA and a Board Member of Alpha-USA. He is married to Elizabeth and they have three teenage daughters.

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Saturday, 11 January 2014

Comments continue on the Pilling report

A question about the Pilling report was asked in the House of Commons this week:

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): What assessment the Commissioners have made of the Pilling report, published by the House of Bishops working group on human sexuality in November 2013; and if he will make a statement. [901874]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): The report was discussed by the House of Bishops in December and its recommendations will be considered by the College of Bishops later this month.

Mr Bradshaw: Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that the report’s recommendation that parishes should be allowed to offer same-sex couples some sort of blessing would in effect simply formalise what already happens in practice in many Anglican parishes? Does he agree that the vast majority of Anglicans in this country would welcome a more generous approach to long-term, faithful, same-sex relationships?

Sir Tony Baldry: I agree with the principle that everyone should be welcome at the communion rail. The working group did not recommend a new authorised liturgy, but a majority of its members did recommend that vicars should, with the consent of parochial church councils, be able to mark the formation of a permanent same-sex relationship in a public service. I am sure that that is one of the issues that the House of Bishops will be considering very seriously in the context of its consideration of the Pilling report’s recommendations.

Rumblings against the report from conservatives at home and abroad continue to appear:

Andrew Symes writes on Anglican Mainstream “in a personal capacity” about 2014: The beginning of facilitated schism?

…Might it be possible that a Happy New Year in the Church of England might see, as this Bishop sees, an honest recognition that the differences over sexuality and underlying doctrinal and philosophical systems are so great that we need to at least talk about separating? Could it be a good thing to walk apart, rather than perpetuating the fiction that we all really believe the same things? And in doing so, could this be done peacefully, with justice, fairness and mutual respect, recognizing that there are still many areas of common interest, such as good administration of buildings insurance and clergy pensions, care for the poor and vulnerable, and the need to preserve the proclamation of the Christian story in society even though we might interpret it differently?

Robert Lundy Communications Officer for the American Anglican Council writes about Crisis Comes to Church of England:

…2013 started with controversial events and ended with more controversy. The Pilling Report, compiled by a special working group on human sexuality from the House of Bishops and released in November, suggested that the church allow “pastoral accommodation” and thus an informal public service for those in civil partnerships. From many Anglicans’ points of view, the document gave much more credence to a liberal view of scripture and was not representative of the church’s long-standing teaching. Sir Joseph Pilling, the report’s namesake, presented the document to the House of Bishops in December. From here the Church of England and entire Anglican Communion will wait to see if the bishops endorse the report or unequivocally repudiate it. The answer could come as soon as January 27th of 2014 when the full House of Bishops meets again…

For the record, the meeting on 27 January is of the College of Bishops, not the House of Bishops. The difference is very fully explained on this page.

This meeting of the College will not be attended by any outsiders other than the eight women clergy who have recently been elected to join them, and Sir Joseph Pilling himself. See this report by Colin Coward: No conversations about us without us:

Changing Attitude England participated in the LGB&T Anglican Coalition conversation last Saturday which agreed to write to William Fittall and others about the College of Bishops meeting on 27 January to discuss the Pilling Report.

The email said that members were unanimous in expecting that openly LGB&T people should be present at all future meetings taking forward the Pilling process, including the College of Bishops meeting planned for January 27. Our presence in the process is important if it is to be given full legitimacy by the wider Church and society.

Mr Fittall replied promptly to say that apart from Sir Joseph Pilling the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops is not inviting anyone to the meeting on 27 January who does not normally attend such meeting. He added that he would draw our note to the attention of Standing Committee members so that they are aware of the general point we make about how the process should now be carried forward…

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Friday, 10 January 2014

Giles Fraser speaks about homophobia and religion

On the BBC Radio 4 programme Thought for the Day, this morning, the Reverend Dr Giles Fraser talked about homophobia.

Thought for the Day - 10/01/2014 - Rev Dr Giles Fraser. (includes link to audio and full transcript)

Part of what he said:

…Of course, it’s not just football that has a problem with homophobia. If anything, it’s more difficult with religion where this attitude towards homosexuality can commonly be presented as having some moral or theological justification. But despite the widespread perception that faith is uniformly hostile to homosexuality, there are a significant number of people of faith who want to offer a minority report that insists being gay is no sort of moral issue – indeed, that the ways in which two adults express their love for each other physically ought to be celebrated as something precious, as something publically to affirm. What makes homophobia so especially wicked is that is traps people into a miserable life of clandestine relationships, continually fearful that they might one day be discovered and exposed for who they really are. Which is why having the guts to make such a public declaration of being gay, thus risking insults and name-calling – and in some countries considerably worse - is such a powerful witness to the truth.

“Long my imprisoned spirit lay” wrote Charles Wesley in a famous hymn about his religious conversion. “I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free, 
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.” He then goes on “No condemnation now I dread”. It was not, of course, a hymn about coming out of the closet, but about discovering and being able to speak the truth about oneself - and how liberating such truth-telling can be.

Nonetheless, these experiences are remarkably similar. “I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses” wrote Gloria Gaynor in a rather different sort of anthem. And St John put it even more pithily: “The truth will set you free.”

And yet, for many, the truth may not necessarily set them free, but might even end up landing them in jail. In Uganda, for instance, a law is about to be enacted in which consensual gay sex can lead to a 14 year term of imprisonment. Indeed, it’s going to be a criminal offense if one fails to report gay people to the authorities. Whereas St John spoke of truth as leading to freedom and release, for others, however, the truth can lead to prison.

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Sunday, 5 January 2014

Baptism Service

Updated Sunday afternoon and evening, Monday morning The update includes a link to the experimental texts.

The Mail on Sunday published this article by Jonathan Petre today: Welby casts out ‘sin’ from christenings: Centuries-old rite rewritten in ‘language of EastEnders’ for modern congregation. The online version is dated yesterday, but was updated early today.

The Mail on Sunday also carries this editorial: Embarrassed Church’s sin of omission.

Edward Malnick writes in the Telegraph: Church of England removes devil from christening service.

The Guardian carries this story from the Press Association: Church of England accused of dumbing down baptism service.

The Church of England issued this statement last night.

Statement on proposal to Synod on baptism service wording
04 January 2014

A Church of England spokesman said:
“The report in the Mail on Sunday (Jan 5) is misleading in a number of respects. The story claims that “the baptism ceremony had not been altered for more than 400 years until it was changed in 1980”. This is the third revision in 30 years.

The Baptism service currently used by the Church of England has been in use since Easter 1998. The wording of the service was amended by General Synod in 2000 and again in 2005.
In 2011 a group of clergy from the Diocese of Liverpool brought forward a motion to the General Synod of the Church of England requesting materials to supplement the Baptism service “in culturally appropriate and accessible language.” Specifically the motion requested new additional materials which would not replace or revise the current Baptsim service but would be available for use as alternatives to three parts of the service.

The Liverpool motion was passed by General Synod and as a consequence the liturgical commission has brought forward some additional materials for discussion by the General Synod at a future date where they will be subject to final approval by the Synod.

At its last meeting the House of Bishops agreed that the additional materials should be piloted and they were sent to over 400 for a trial period which lasts until the end of the April. The texts have no formal status without approval by General Synod.”

David Pocklington of Law &Religion UK comments: Sin + sound bites = Sales?

Update

Miranda Prynne in The Telegraph Church of England accused of ‘dumbing down’ christening service

Sam Jones in The Guardian Church of England’s new baptism service condemned by former bishop

A booklet containing the full experimental additional texts for use in Holy Baptism is available for download: Christian Initiation: Additional Texts in Accessible Language. The booklet also contains guidance on their use, and a comparison with the current Common Worhsip texts. Clergy of the Church of England are reminded that under the provisions of Canon B 5A (Of authorization of forms of service for experimental periods) these experimental texts may only be used in parishes authorized for this purpose by the archbishops.
[h/t Jeremy Fletcher]

Pete Broadbent doesn’t like the proposals: The experimental baptism rite - baptism lite.

Savi Hensman at Ekklesia asks Is baptism being watered down?

Emily Gosden writes in The Telegraph: Sin? People think it’s about sex and cream cakes, says Archdeacon in baptism service row.

Christina Odone comments in The Telegraph: Don’t ditch the devil, he’s done great service to Christianity.

The Church Times report of the 2011 General Synod debate is available: More ‘accessible’ baptism prayers on the cards.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 5 January 2014 at 1:07pm GMT | Comments (52) | TrackBack
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Friday, 27 December 2013

More on Pilling from Uganda and elsewhere

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda has criticised the Pilling report in his Christmas Message:

…We believe the Bible is the authoritative Word of God and trustworthy to tell us the Truth. Unfortunately, some in the Anglican Communion members no longer believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God. That’s why I and other Archbishops from the Global South, Sydney, and the Anglican Church in North America organized the second Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in October in Nairobi. We were altogether 1358 delegates worldwide. These included 169 delegates from Uganda. We are so determined to refuse anything that contradicts the Biblical authority without fear or compromise. I appeal to all Ugandans to join us in this struggle to protect our God given rights.

We are very concerned that our mother Church of England is moving in a very dangerous direction. They are following the path the Americans in the Episcopal Church took that caused us to break communion with them ten years ago.

The Church of England is now recommending that same-sex relationships be blessed in the church. Even though they are our mother, I want you to know that we cannot and we will not go in that direction. We will resist them and, with our other GAFCON brothers and sisters, will stand with those in the Church of England who continue to uphold the Bible as the Word of God and promote Biblical faith and morality…

There is a series of articles on the Pilling report on the Oak Hill Blog which can be accessed from this page.

Forward in Faith North America has issued this Statement on the Pilling Report.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 27 December 2013 at 11:05pm GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 22 December 2013

Jamaica conference and Christian Concern: an update

Updated Christmas Eve

The silence of Christian Concern was broken briefly when, for a short time, a copy of an article supporting Andrea Minichiello Williams appeared there, with the title Questioning a bishop’s duty to “uphold biblical truth and refute doctrinal error” but it was taken down very quickly. But not quickly enough.

The article, originally titled Sad Day for Church of England when Changing Attitude Drives Episcopal Oversight, was written by the Reverend Julian Mann, Vicar of the Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, a parish in the Diocese of Sheffield, and had originally appeared here, and has also been reproduced here.

Richard Bartholomew has updated his earlier article with this new one: Christian Concern’s Jamaica Anti-Gay Controversy Grows.

He writes:

…Certainly, I too thought the comments attributed to Williams were surprisingly virulent, which was why I maintained some caution when I quoted Buzzfeed myself. But if anything was amiss, why hasn’t Williams sought to set the record straight? I see no reason why Feder needs to defend his journalism when his subject has made no complaint of inaccuracy…

…This is the only response that Christian Concern has made on the matter, and it gives no indication that “the stand taken” by Williams has been misrepresented by Buzzfeed or the Independent. And there’s no explanation for why the article has now been removed.

Update

Christian Concern has published this video which contains Andrea Williams Christmas message. There are some generalised indirect references to recent events in this.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 22 December 2013 at 4:05pm GMT | Comments (70) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 19 December 2013

More coverage of the Jamaica conference story

Several British newspapers have picked up the story relating to Andrea Minichiello Williams:

Meanwhile, Lester Feder at Buzzfeed has published another article about Jamaica which gives some context to the earlier report: Why Some LGBT Youths In Jamaica Are Forced To Call A Sewer Home.

Update

The Times also has a report, Tom Daley was turned gay by death of his father, claims leading evangelical Christian, but as usual it only available to paid subscribers.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 19 December 2013 at 4:59pm GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Homophobia in the Church of England

Changing Attitude has published two articles relating to this topic:

How the Anglican Communion’s authoritative teaching about same-sex attraction is ignored

Thirty-five Primates of the Anglican Communion met at the Dromantine Retreat Centre in Newry, Northern Ireland, from 20 to 25 February 2005. Section 6 of The Dromantine Communique issued at the end of the meeting concluded with these two sentences:

“We also wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of the moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people. The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship (vii).”

Any action or language which leads to the victimisation or diminishment of people who love others of the same sex is anathema to the Primates of the Anglican Communion. This is the policy of the Anglican Communion and the reason why Andrea Minichiello Williams speech in Jamaica has been so strongly criticised, why Anglican Mainstream’s stance and editorial policy is criticised, and why Primates and bishops in Uganda and Nigeria who support the anti-gay bills and all anti-gay rhetoric is criticised by Changing Attitude…

Is Anglican Mainstream homophobic? A gay evangelical perspective

A gay evangelical, a supporter of Changing Attitude, has written an extended commentary on two articles posted on the Anglican Mainstream web site. Until recently, he and his partner were very committed and active members of a congregation rejuvenated following an HTB plant. To protect both them and the congregation, we are posting this anonymously. The couple is well known to us. The supporter has been motivated by the nature of many posts on the AM website which are, to a gay Christian, deeply offensive.

Anglican Mainstream has a deliberate policy of publishing ‘shocking and offensive’ articles that relate to homophobia – and there is a direct link between articles they publish or link to and support for prejudice against LGB&T people in other parts of the Communion and attempts to legislate against LGB&T people that would result in gay people being jailed for long periods…

Do read both articles in full.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 19 December 2013 at 4:57pm GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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another round-up of comment on the Pilling report

Andrew Symes of Anglican Mainstream has written for the American Anglican Council: Pilling: What are the Bishops thinking? (scroll down to read item).

In this he quotes at length anonymously, and not approvingly, from letters written by two diocesan bishops about the Pilling report. Of one letter he comments:

…All attitudes to Scripture and methods of interpretation are provisional; all are valid. No-one is a heretic. The church is inclusive of all beliefs. And the model we have used for pushing through the women Bishops legislation without ensuring that opponents are happy with adequate safeguards - could that be the same one about to be used for pushing through the acceptance of same sex relationships in church?

And of the other letter, Symes says:

…But it is alarming that a Bishop can so overtly support the blessing of gay relationships without any concern that this may be violating the Church’s historic understanding and teaching, and without any sensitivity towards his conservative clergy correspondent…

Do read the whole thing, to see what the bishops in question actually wrote.

My own article introducing the Pilling report to readers of The Tablet was published back on 5 December (subscribers only). The full text is reproduced below the fold. The following week a very interesting letter to the editor was published, and this is also reproduced below, with the agreement of its author and of the Tablet editor.

Crisis in the meaning of sexuality 12 December 2013

While Simon Sarmiento (“Let’s talk about sex”, 7 December) attempts a positive appraisal of the Pilling Report on human sexuality, what is disappointing for many is the inability to see a way through the divisive split between heterosexuality and homo­sexuality. For me the flawed nature of the document goes much deeper. While the ­document clarifies several contemporary influences – both psychological and sociological – creating serious sexual deviations in our time, there is total lack of any historical contextualisation. Throughout the modern world, including the monotheistic religions, we assume unquestioningly Aristotle’s psycho­sexual legacy. This is at the root of many contemporary sexually related problems.

For Aristotle, human sexuality was a biological propensity, primarily a male endowment, with the woman serving as a mere biological organism for fertilisation by the male seed. This led to the view that the primary purpose of sex was human ­procreation. As many Catholics will know, this became the sole purpose of Christian marriage at the Council of Trent (in the sixteenth century) and remained so until 1962.

That foundational biological reductionism still haunts the understanding of human sexuality today. Until that foundational deviation is addressed, and a fresh articulation of human sexuality outlined – with an accompanying new sexual ethic – we cannot hope to address in a coherent way the several other specific issues that loom large in our time. The central crisis is not about same- sex marriage or homosexuality. It is about the very meaning of human sexuality itself.

(Fr) Diarmuid O’Murchu, St Albans, Hertfordshire

And finally, as they say, there is this apocalyptic view of the matter: Lament from London: a dying church in England
The Church of England may be doomed, British commentator “Pageantmaster” writes, as it begins debate over the Pilling Report. Hampered by several generations of poor leadership, with bishops chosen for their ability to go along and get along, the Church of England may well surrender the fight in the battle with post-modern culture.

My article from The Tablet of 5 October (I didn’t choose the headline, see also note at bottom)

Let’s talk about sex
05 December 2013 by Simon Sarmiento

The Pilling Report on human sexuality, which was published last week, may not radically alter the Anglican position on homosexuality. But the way it has gone about studying the subject marks a willingness to engage with an issue now more divisive than that of women bishops

According to a covering note from Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu, there is one thing that the Pilling Report on human sexuality is not, and that is “a new policy statement from the Church of England”.

So what is it, apart from a 200-page report, with a 26-page dissenting appendix attached? Well it is certainly thorough, a lengthy response to the need for the Church of England to reflect on human relationships in all their messy complexity.

It was in July 2011 that the House of Bishops announced that it intended “to draw together and reflect upon biblical, historical and ecumenical explorations on human sexuality” and to “offer proposals on how the continuing discussion within the Church of England … might best be shaped”. Specifically, the Working Group on Human Sexuality, consisting of four bishops (Keith Sinclair of Birkenhead, Michael Perham of Gloucester, John Stroyan of Warwick and Jonathan Baker of Ebbsfleet, but soon translated to Fulham) under the chairmanship of retired civil servant Sir Joseph Pilling, was set up to reflect the wide range of opinion within the Church of England on homosexuality.

After criticism of its heterosexual male make-up, three advisers, including two women, were co-opted. Evidence was taken from a very large number of people, including many who are lesbian or gay, and also some who are transgendered (although the problems of the latter get scant attention in the report).

The first of the report’s 18 separate findings and recommendations is regarded by the authors as the most important: “We warmly welcome and affirm the presence and ministry within the Church of gay and lesbian people, both lay and ordained.” But the rest – which taken together focus on next steps, on the teaching of the Church, and the Church’s pastoral response – propose surprisingly few changes. Nevertheless they are an important step forward in methodology.

Media coverage has focused heavily on the recommendation that clergy should be “free to mark the formation of a permanent same-sex relationship in a public service”. But the statement does not use the word “blessing” and is immediately qualified by the declaration that “some of us do not believe this can be extended to same-sex marriage”. “Some” here presumably means more group members than the conservative, evangelical Sinclair, author of the dissenting appendix.

The main report goes on to recommend quite clearly that the Church should not authorise any formal liturgy, and refers to the “marking” concession as a “pastoral accommodation”, citing evidence taken from Professor Oliver O’Donovan, who commends the latter concept as “a response to some urgent presenting needs, without ultimate dogmatic implications”.

More fundamentally, the report recommends that the Church of England should now commit itself, both at national level and in every diocese, to a process of “facilitated conversations” on the subject of sexuality, over a period of two years. The report criticises the listening process in England to date as “uneven”, dependent on “local enthusiasm”, and sums it up by saying: “There has been no systematic process of listening involving the Church of England as a whole”. This method carries forward the principle of using external facilitators, which has recently borne so much fruit in the synodical discussions about how to legislate for women clergy to become bishops.

Opposition to homosexuality comes primarily from the Evangelical side of the Church, there being many Evangelicals who support making women bishops but who oppose – at present – any change of policy at all on homosexuality.

However, the report demonstrates that other Evangelical views exist by printing two appendices that discuss the biblical evidence, the dissenting one by Sinclair, and another by David Runcorn, which expresses support for same-sex relationships. There is no doubt that this latter view is gaining Evangelical supporters both within and beyond the Church of England, as contributions from Steve Chalke, Rob Bell and Jim Wallis indicate. But differences of biblical interpretation lie at the heart of this dispute.

Another finding, which says that “the way we have lived out our divisions and same-sex relationships creates problems for effective mission and evangelism within our culture”, gently understates the problem. In the report, considerable evidence is presented of the wide and growing gap between official Church of England teachings and the views of its members, not to mention the general population, and not only in the area of sexuality.

The group does not make any detailed recommendations concerning practical issues raised by the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act. It does suggest that, if the report’s recommendation for a two-year period of reflection is taken up, the statement anticipated next year from the House of Bishops, before the act comes into effect, should be explicitly provisional in nature. Its members also note that the future of civil partnerships is somewhat uncertain, and depends on a further Government consultation.

Reactions to the report from conservative Evangelical groups have been predictably loud and negative. While expressing strong support for the dissenting statement of Sinclair, the Revd Rod Thomas, chairman of Reform, said that he was “deeply ashamed” that the Pilling Report was opening up divisive discussions. The council of Reform declared that the matter was not open to negotiation. The Revd Andrew Symes, executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream, wrote that the report, if endorsed by the House of Bishops, would constitute “officially sanctioned apostasy”.

The moderate group Accepting Evangelicals welcomed the report, as did Inclusive Church. Lesbian gay bisexual and transgender groups have given it only a cautious welcome, while expressing regret that it offers so little. Changing Attitude said: “The door has been opened to allow conversations and representations about homophobia, prejudice, ethics, sexual intimacy, blessing of relationships, and pastoral practice in the Church.”

What actually happens to these recommendations depends in the first instance on the bishops, but it seems likely that there will be a strong majority in favour of moving forward with the proposed discussions. Agreement before the end of the two years on the “marking” of same-sex relationships will be much more difficult. By that time, same-sex marriages will be commonplace.

The following week, this note from me appeared on the Letters page to clarify this article:

Your editing of my article about the Church of England’s Pilling Report introduced a confusion between two distinct sections of the report, both written by Bishop Keith Sinclair of Birkenhead.

His 18-page appendix that analyses the scriptural evidence on homosexuality is quite separate from his main 27-page statement of dissent from many (though not all) of the report’s findings which is included in Part 3 of the 220-page document.

Simon Sarmiento

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 19 December 2013 at 11:53am GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Bishop of Chichester comments on homophobic remarks

The Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, has made the following response to the previously published remarks of one of that diocese’s elected lay representatives to the General Synod:

The comments by Andrea Minichiello Williams about the decriminalisation of same sex intercourse in Jamaica have no sanction in the Church of England or the diocese of Chichester. Insofar as such comments incite homophobia, they should be rejected as offensive and unacceptable.

The Christian Church is widely perceived as homophobic and intolerant of those for whom same sex attraction is the foundation of their emotional lives. It is urgent, therefore, that Christians find legitimate ways to affirm and demonstrate the conviction that the glory of God is innate in every human being, and the mercy of God embraces each of us indiscriminately.

This response is contained within a press release issued by Changing Attitude Sussex, the full text of which is copied below the fold.

PRESS RELEASE BY CHANGING ATTITUDE SUSSEX

SUSSEX MEMBER OF C OF E GENERAL SYNOD ADVOCATES PRISON FOR GAYS

One of the Sussex Diocese of Chichester representatives on the Church of England General Synod, Andrea Minichiello Williams, recently attended a conference in Jamaica to urge the Government to keep the law which criminalises homosexuality. She spoke in derogatory terms about gay people, and peddled the old vicious lie that homosexuals are paedophiles.

She said Jamaica had the opportunity to become a world leader by fending off foreign pressure to decriminalize same-sex intercourse.

“Might it be that Jamaica says to the United States of America, says to Europe, ‘Enough! You cannot come in and attack our families. We will not accept aid or promotion tied to an agenda that is against God and destroys our families,’” she said, adding to applause, “If you win here, you will have an impact in the Caribbean and an impact across the globe.”

She made the case that it is a “big lie” that homosexuality is inborn, arguing instead it is caused by environmental factors like “the lack of the father” and “sometimes a level of abuse.” She illustrated her point with the case of 19-year-old British diver Tom Daley and his reported relationship with American screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.

Daley, she said, who is “loved by all the girls and had girlfriends,” had “lost his father to cancer just a few years ago and he’s just come out on YouTube that he’s in a relationship with a man, that man is 39, a leading gay activist in the States.”

Williams warned that removal of Britain’s sodomy law was the start of a process that has led to more and more permissive laws, including equalizing the age of consent laws for homosexual and heterosexual intercourse.

“Once you strip away all this stuff, what you get is no age consent … nobody ever enforces that law anymore,” she said. “We already have a strong man-boy movement that’s moving in Europe.”

She also described several cases in which she said people had been fired for their jobs for their opposition to LGBT rights and said people with views like hers are being silenced in the media and intimidated with the threats of hate-speech lawsuits. This was especially true, she suggested, when organizations like hers try to claim a connection between homosexuality and paedophilia, she said.

“They hate the line of homosexuality being linked to paedophilia. They try to cut that off, so you can’t speak about it,” she said. “So I say to you in Jamaica: Speak about it. Speak about it.”

She took issue with the notion that advancing such arguments in opposition to expanding legal rights for LGBT people was hate speech. On the contrary, she said, “We say these things because we’re loving, we’re compassionate, we’re kind, because we care for our children…. It is not compassion and kind to have laws that lead people [to engage] in their sins [that] lead to the obliteration of life, the obliteration of culture, and the obliteration of family.”

The full details of her attack on LGB&T people can be read at www.thinkinganglicans,org.uk.

Dr Keith Sharpe, Chair of Changing Attitude Sussex commented:

Williams’ bigoted outburst amounts to dangerous hatemongering. It is reprehensible and highly irresponsible.

Jamaica is one of the most dangerous places in the world for LGB&T people who suffer homophobic intimidation and violence on a daily basis, including from the police. The brutal murder of gay men is commonplace. The community lives in constant fear and is unable to access the legal and justice systems.

Either Minichiello Williams did not know this, which is culpable ignorance, or she did know it and endorses it, which is sheer wickedness.

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Bishops’ report on Human Sexuality have recently called on the Church to repent of its homophobia. And yet here is a Sussex member of the General Synod advocating the vilest form of homophobia in a most terrible cultural situation. What she has said and done is contrary both to the Church’s Christian teaching and to common human decency. She has brought disgrace upon the Church of England and its General Synod as well as the Diocese of Chichester.

The Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, sought to distance himself from her remarks:

The comments by Andrea Minichiello Williams about the decriminalisation of same sex intercourse in Jamaica have no sanction in the Church of England or the diocese of Chichester. Insofar as such comments incite homophobia, they should be rejected as offensive and unacceptable.

The Christian Church is widely perceived as homophobic and intolerant of those for whom same sex attraction is the foundation of their emotional lives. It is urgent, therefore, that Christians find legitimate ways to affirm and demonstrate the c