Friday, 21 June 2013

Martyn Percy delivers first Inclusive Church annual lecture

From the Inclusive Church website:

The Annual Inclusive Church lecture was inaugurated in 2013, marking the 10th anniversary of the founding of Inclusive Church.

The lecture is part of Inclusive Church’s commitment to articulate a coherent gospel theology of inclusion.

The inaugural lecture entitled ‘On Being Together: the Possibility of Church’ was given by Martyn Percy at Southwark Cathedral, with 200 guests.
Some earlier parts of this paper were initially explored in Anglicanism: Confidence, Commitment and Communion (Ashgate, 2013), Thirty-Nine New Articles: An Anglican Landscape of Faith (SCM-Canterbury, 2013), a lecture given at St. John’s College, Auckland, New Zealand , April 2013…

The full text of the lecture can be downloaded as a PDF file, from here.

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Monday, 18 June 2012

Not In My Name

From Inclusive Church:

If you were as angry and disillusioned as were many of us with the Church of England Response to the Government Consultation on Same Sex Marriage please join this campaign by personally disowning the content of the Response.

Pick up a pen.

Write a plain card/ post card/ short note or email to your Diocesan Bishop/ One of the Archbishops / Your General Synod Representatives/ Anyone you know well who represent the “hierarchy of the C of E”

And say simply:

Dear …

NOT IN MY NAME

What on earth is happening to the Church of England , the Church to which I belong?

Why were amendments added to the draft legislation regarding women Bishops when 42 out of the 44 Dioceses had voted for the unamended proposals? Why was the careful work of so many years overturned in a few days? In whose name? These new amendments are NOT IN MY NAME

And who wrote the so called “Church of England” Government Equalities Office Consultation on Equal Civil Marriage Response? It is NOT IN MY NAME and I dissociate myself from the out of date, intolerant views contained therein. The Government at least consulted gay and lesbian people about their hopes for the future of their relationships , which is more than the Church of England ever does. In this the Government shows a democratic spirit which is the spirit of the times, but which seems to be lost altogether from the present Church of England hierarchy which appears to act as an increasingly clumsy, backward looking “Magisterium” in matters of the utmost human sensitivity and seriousness. In whose name does it act like this?

NOT IN MY NAME.

Signed

Yours in Christ
Name

Baptised and Confirmed Member of the Church of England/ Regularly worshipping member of the Church of England

This task is not meant to be onerous but to register with the Bishops and other members of the hierarchy our distrust and anger over recent moves and statements made by them as if they carry the authority of the whole church.

If you are very busy just write one card or contact one Bishop.

If you are less busy please write to as many hierarchs as you can.

Put anything you like on the card but include the words NOT IN MY NAME so that they get the message. The more humorous and distinctive the card the better, without of course being rude, or simple plain little while card will do.

Please try to get friends/ members of your groups/ other congregation members to do the same.

Flood them………..we have to show we care!

See also the online petition Church of England? Not in our name

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Saturday, 3 December 2011

BeAttitude: Inclusive Church Conference papers now available

The papers delivered at the recent Inclusive Church conference: BeAttitude are now available for all to read as PDF files. Other material from the conference can also be found at the link above.

Giles Goddard Tradition and the Gospel

Adrian Thatcher Gender and the Gospel

Hilary Cotton Episcopacy and the Gospel

Andrew Nunn Worship and the Gospel

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Sunday, 30 January 2011

Anglican Priest Says Homophobia Kills

Changing Attitude Ireland press release

Anglican priest, Canon Giles Goddard - chair of Inclusive Church England - said in a sermon today (Sunday 30 January) in Trinity College Dublin:

“You may have heard that a Ugandan gay activist, David Kato, was bludgeoned to death in his home in Uganda. His funeral was on Friday. At his funeral, the officiant – who was an Anglican lay reader - ranted against homosexuality. And at the end of the service the villagers refused to bury his coffin. I think it’s important to be clear about this; homophobia kills and any church that preaches intolerance is contributing to the very real and deadly consequences of homophobia.”

He went on to say that:

“Two things need to happen to ensure the continued health of the Anglican Communion. First, that we need to be clear about the implications of the refusal by some conservative provinces to engage with Communion processes; this Primates Meeting and the Anglican Covenant. The implication is that the processes set in place in an attempt to placate them – the moratoria– are to all intents and purposes defunct, and should be quietly forgotten. Which is not surprising, because they were legalistic responses to a legalistic approach to the Gospel.

Secondly, having done that we need to find a way out of the absurd stalemate we are in over human sexuality. We need as a Communion to find a way to recognise that there are a great many Anglican and Episcopalian Christians whose faith and life, and the faith and life of those around them, is deeply enriched by their same-sex relationships. That these relationships are undoubtedly blessed and hallowed in the sight of God. A way which recognises differences of opinion; which does not force those who disagree to abandon their beliefs; but which recognises and celebrates the ways in which the love of Jesus is expressed in the world. Here we are in Ireland, close to a living example of what’s possible in extremely complicated issues with flexibility and care. I do not believe that something similar isn’t possible within the Anglican Communion. It’s time to find that way.”

The full text of this sermon can be found at this page.

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Thursday, 28 October 2010

Church Groups Unite Against Anglican Covenant

Press Release from Modern Church and Inclusive Church

Thursday 28 October 2010

Church Groups Unite Against Anglican Covenant

Two major Church of England groups, Inclusive Church and Modern Church (formerly MCU) have joined together to campaign against the proposed Anglican Covenant.

In November the Church of England’s General Synod will be asked to approve the Anglican Covenant. Many Synod members do not realise it, but it could be the biggest change to the Church since the Reformation.

Each of the 38 Provinces in the Anglican Communion is being asked to sign it. By signing, it undertakes not to introduce any new development if another Anglican province anywhere in the world opposes it – unless granted prior permission from a new international body, the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.

The campaign opens tomorrow Friday, when full-page advertisements appear in both the Church of England Newspaper and the Church Times. It will continue during the weeks leading up to the General Synod debate scheduled for Wednesday 24 November, and if the draft is not rejected, but referred to the dioceses, it will continue throughout 2011.

The full text of the Church Times advert is available as a PDF file here.

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Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Inclusive Church statement on women bishops

PRESS RELEASE 14th July 2010

Another milestone passed

Inclusive Church gives thanks that General Synod agreed the draft legislation for the consecration of women as bishops by an overwhelming majority. The process in Synod over the weekend was thoughtful, respectful and gracious.

“Another milestone has been passed” said Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of Inclusive Church. “The Church of England is gradually reaching the point when all are able to live out their vocation as bishops, clergy or laity. As a church we can now move forward after forty years of discussion.”

“This is good news for the whole church and we are delighted,” said the Rev’d Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH and a member of IC’s Executive Committee. “Synod’s decision gives the church a powerful mandate to move forward enthusiastically; welcoming the ministry of women at all levels whilst making space for those who are opposed to stay within our body.”

The legislation will now be discussed in Dioceses before its final return to Synod in about 18 months time. The provision for those opposed represents a compromise for all sides. We hope that over the coming months and as the Code of Practice is agreed, many of those who have questioned the provision will find that it does in fact meet their needs.

We were alarmed however that the adversarial nature of the debate means that there seems to be very little trust between the two sides on this issue. There are strong partnerships on both sides, but there’s an urgent need to build friendship across boundaries. Inclusive Church is committed to trying to make this happen.

We hope that in the coming months the various groups and organisations involved can meet and talk, so that we can develop bonds of love in what is likely to continue to be a difficult process. Our prayer is that when final approval comes, it can be something the Church of England welcomes unequivocally.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Inclusive Church is a network of organisations and individuals who come from differing traditions and locations but are united in one aim; to celebrate and maintain the traditional inclusivity of the Anglican Communion.

Our Partner Organisations are

  • Accepting Evangelicals
  • Affirming Catholicism
  • Association of Black Clergy
  • Changing Attitude
  • Clergy Consultation
  • Evangelical Fellowship of Lesbian and Gay Christians
  • Group for the Rescinding of the Act of Synod
  • Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) Anglican Matters
  • Modern Churchpeople’s Union
  • Society of Catholic Priests SCM
  • Sibyls
  • Women and the Church (WATCH)
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Saturday, 12 June 2010

Inclusive Church open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Inclusive Church has issued this open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

St John’s Vicarage
Secker St
London SE1 8UF

www.inclusivechurch2.net

10th June 2010

Dear Archbishop

We are writing to express our grave concern about the contents of your Pentecost letter and its consequences applied with such speed by the Anglican Communion Office.

Your letter opens with a reminder of the joy of Pentecost, when “we celebrate the gift God gives us of being able to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ in the various languages of the whole human world”. But the result of your proposals - to summarily remove from those Communion bodies to which you directly appoint, those provinces which are in your view in breach of the moratoria - is a diminishing of the diversity of the Anglican Communion and a silencing of the different languages in which we are called to speak.

Our concerns are three-fold.

First, it is clear from the actions of the Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion that the application of the sanctions is one-sided and disproportionate. The Anglican Church of North America may now provide cover for the Bishops previously ordained by Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya but these provinces remain committed to them and the actions which made the emergence of ACNA possible, actions carried out in direct violation of the moratorium that you asked for. It would be farcical to suggest they are no longer breaking the moratoria just because they have been successful in generating a breakaway body to provide local cover for the result of their acts. The Secretary-General is “seeking clarification” regarding the Southern Cone and Canada. However, without consultation, he has proceeded in removing members of The Episcopal Church from Communion bodies. This kind of punitive exclusion will do nothing to promote the “path of mutual respect and thankfulness that will hold us in union and help us grow in that truth.”

Second, by proposing these actions you are not strengthening but diminishing the distinctiveness and the contribution of the Anglican voice to our ecumenical dialogue. It is clear that all the major churches are engaged in the struggle to acknowledge and include LGBT Christians. The Anglican Communion has been more open than most about its struggle, and has earned the respect of many of our partners in this. By excluding those provinces which have been able, despite deep controversy and through profound study and prayer, to include both those who welcome LGBT Christians and those who do not, you are empowering the Anglican Communion to speak with a voice which does not reflect its truth; it is, in short, inauthentic. Further, it fails to acknowledge the terrible persecution which is experienced by LGBT Christians, and those who uphold human rights as reflecting crucial Gospel values, in many of those provinces which are at the forefront of opposition to TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada. Your previous statements opposing homophobia and seeking generosity from (among others) the Church of Uganda are undermined by these actions.

Third, the actions proposed and taken appear to pre-empt the consequences of the draft Covenant. You reiterate that “the Covenant is not envisaged as an instrument of control”. And yet, by these sanctions you are prefiguring the life of the Covenant by already excluding from Anglican dialogue those who do not have majority support - creating, by default, track 2 churches. It is increasingly clear, as discussions about the Covenant continue, that whatever its original intentions it is already becoming an instrument of control, an additional “instrument of unity” which will achieve precisely the opposite.

By excluding TEC and possibly the ACoC in this way, the voices are also silenced of the thousands of members of the Church of England for whom the life of TEC and the ACoC is a source of joy and thanksgiving - for whom the full inclusion of LGBT Christians within our parishes is already a reality, even though the structures and senior hierarchy of the Church of England are unable to acknowledge this reality.

You stress the urgency of mission. The result of these actions is further to undermine the mission of the Church of England, and to cause despair amongst those who are trying to enable all to understand the love of God. Supporters of Inclusive Church have spoken with you on a number of occasions about the vital urgency of speaking generously about the breadth of Christian experience. Unless we do, we will be unable to re-engage with the communities we seek to serve in this country and who are bemused by the Church of England’s continuing rejection of LGBT Christians.

The period of engagement for which you call will not be served by putting in place further exclusionary structures. It is only the conservative extreme of the Anglican Communion which appears to support – indeed, to encourage - further division. We are profoundly supportive of the sort of frank and open conversations for which you too hope. Therefore, a question - how do you anticipate these conversations being fruitful when decisions have already been taken which further reduce the status of LGBT Christians and those who welcome them?

Yours sincerely

Canon Giles Goddard
Chair, IC

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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Inclusive Church Open letter to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

Inclusive Church has today issued this Open letter to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States.

Inclusive Church
St John’s Vicarage
Secker St
London SE1 8UF
www.inclusivechurch2.net

An open letter to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States
815 Second Avenue
New York
NY 10017

09 June 2010

Dear Bishop Katharine,

We rejoice that in your Pentecost Letter the Episcopal Church has reaffirmed its strong affirmation of gay and lesbian people as part of God’s good creation and your continued commitment to recognising, led by the Spirit, that God is calling and fitting gay and lesbian people to be ordained leaders of the Church.

We regret that the Archbishop of Canterbury has suggested in his letter to the Anglican Communion that The Episcopal Church should not be a participant in Ecumenical Dialogue on behalf of the Communion and should serve only as consultants on IASCUFO. The Archbishop may experience ecumenical partners saying they “need to know who it is they are talking to” but our experience is of ecumenical partners saying we are carrying forward this difficult discernment process for the whole church, that they have similar or more contentious issues to deal with themselves, and that they are appreciative of the open way we are facing this issue.

We do not support the Archbishop’s position that only those in agreement with the majority view can be participants as Anglicans in ecumenical dialogue or for that matter any other representative body of the Anglican Communion. Indeed, the Episcopal Church’s diligence in undertaking “deep and dispassionate study of the question of homosexuality, which would take seriously both the teaching of Scripture and the results of scientific and medical research” with gay and lesbian people, as resolved at the 1978 Lambeth Conference, and in upholding their human rights, as emphasised at the 1988 Lambeth Conference, has been in marked contrast to the position of other provinces whose status as representative participants is unchallenged. We ask you to have the courage, commitment and humility to “remain at the table” not just until you are asked to leave but indeed until the table is removed from you. We recognise this is asking you to be in an uncomfortable place but the self-denial being asked of you is not for a gracious withdrawal but a silencing of voices that need to be heard.

The 1979 Anglican Consultative Council Resolution on Human Rights specifically called on member churches “to rigorously assess their own structures, attitudes and modes of working to ensure the promotion of human rights within them, and to seek to make the church truly an image of God’s just Kingdom and witness in today’s world”. In 1990 the ACC resolution on Christian Spirituality urged “every Diocese in our Communion to consider how through its structures it may encourage its members to see that a true Christian spirituality involves a concern for God’s justice in the world, particularly in its own community”. We recognise that developments in the life of the Episcopal Church have been in line with and, in part, a response to this call.

In 2005 The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada were asked to withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council. Inclusive Church appealed to you not to accede to this request. We argued that The Anglican Consultative Council, consisting of Bishops, Clergy and Laity is currently the most representative body in the Anglican Communion; were you to withdraw your participation it would no longer be a fully representative body. It is our belief that your actions, taken in response to the pastoral needs of gay and lesbian people and the justice of their claim to full participation in the life of the church, do not justify the breaking of “the bonds of communion” or any moves to exclude you from the conciliar life of the Communion. On the contrary it means you bring to the Anglican Consultative Council experience and counsel that would otherwise be absent and without which the Anglican Communion can not progress to a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding sexuality or ever achieve reconciliation.

We hold to that view still today and ask that you resist this process of excluding those Provinces of the Communion most committed to the visible inclusion of all Anglicans in the life of the Church. This process and the proposed Anglican Covenant are not building unity, they are turning disagreement into institutionalised disunity - even inventing mechanisms of exclusion to facilitate the process.

To agree to a voluntary self exclusion would not be to agree to a self- denying ordinance for the good of the whole. Gay Anglicans are part of the Anglican Communion in every province. Some are facing persecution by their own churches because of their courageous witness. By remaining at the table, the Episcopal Church has the opportunity to remind those who serve on representative bodies of their existence and to raise their voice. We ask that you resist this misguided process that is formally excluding those who speak for people the Communion should urgently be seeking to include.

Yours sincerely,
Canon Giles Goddard
Chair, Inclusive Church
www.inclusivechurch2.net

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Thursday, 11 February 2010

Inclusive Church statement on civil partners pensions

Inclusive Church

Press Release

11th February 2010

Inclusive Church welcomes the vote by the Church of England’s General Synod to extend pension rights beyond the legal minimum for civil partners.

The motion was carried by a clear majority in the Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity. The debate was characterised by a desire to show that the church can act justly and generously in support of those in civil partnerships.

Revd. Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of Inclusive Church said:

“This vote underlines Archbishop’s Rowan Williams’ earlier comments and clearly demonstrates that the Church of England is opposed to all forms of homophobia. I hope this will be the beginning of a new openness towards LGBT people in the church.”

Revd Mark Bratton, proposer of the motion said:

“This unexpected result will encourage those who have given their lives to supporting those in ministry that the church values their commitment and sacrifice.”

The motion:

“That this Synod request the Archbishops’ Council and the Church of England Pensions Board to bring forward changes to the rules governing the clergy pension scheme in order to go beyond the requirements of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and provide pension benefits to be paid to the surviving civil partners of deceased clergy on the same basis as they are currently paid to surviving spouses.”

Voting:
Bishops
12 for
2 against
3 abstentions
Clergy
97 for
23 against
10 abstentions
Laity
78 for
59 against
9 abstentions

More information contact:
Revd Canon Giles Goddard 07762 373 674
Revd Mark Bratton 0754 060 4225

ends

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Monday, 25 January 2010

Inclusive Church Lent Course

Inclusive Church has a new course for new and established Christians: Living Christianity - Everyday Bread.

We are pleased to launch LIVING CHRISTIANITY, a five part programme (ideal for a Lent Course) that takes the shape of the Eucharist to introduce Christian faith in the Inclusive tradition. “Living Christianity is a course to nurture new Christians, to refresh old ones and to catch up with people asking questions about the Christian faith. It has been written by leaders in parish ministry in the Church of England who are concerned to celebrate the breadth and diversity of traditional Anglicanism.”

Available as a book or Digital Download from stores.lulu.com/inclusivechurch.

Participants’ notes cost £3.99 each, and the Leaders’ notes are £9.99 (or £5.99 to download in .pdf format.

There is an extract from one of the sessions on the web page.

The latest Inclusive Church newsletter is available here.

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Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Inclusive Church responses to the Archbishop

Inclusive Church has issued two documents, which were compiled in response to the letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury last August, entitled Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future.

These responses express grave concern about the content and implications of “Our Anglican Future”. They were written after consultation and are intended to reflect a variety of responses to the Archbishop’s paper.

There is a short paper here.

And a much longer paper here.

(Both in PDF format.)

Earlier IC responses are here.

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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

letter to Uppsala and Canterbury

An Open letter from the LGBT Anglican Coalition* to the Archbishops of Uppsala and Canterbury has been published.

As Anglican clergy and lay people, we were dismayed to see that there was no official representation from the Church of England or any other Anglican Church from the British Isles at the service of consecration of Bishop Eva Brunne of Stockholm and Bishop Tuulikki Koivunen Bylund of Härnösand.

We do understand that, as the Church of England has not yet finalised plans for the ordination of women as bishops – though we hope and pray that will happen soon – it might not have been possible for an Anglican bishop to have laid hands on the ordinands as part of the consecration. But that should not have prevented a bishop from attending and representing the Archbishop of Canterbury at the consecration on November 8th in Uppsala…

Read the whole letter here.

*The LGBT Anglican Coalition is a new network of groups working for the full and equal inclusion of LGBT Christians within and beyond the Church of England.

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Monday, 12 October 2009

women bishops: Inclusive Church press release

Inclusive Church Press Release
12 October 2009
The Decision of the Revision Committee

Inclusive Church is deeply disturbed by the recent announcement of the Church of England’s Revision Committee. It has moved away from the expressed will of General Synod in July 2008 - that there should be legislation to consecrate women as bishops on the same terms as men with an additional code of practice containing arrangements for those who do not accept the authority of bishops who are women.

Their decision reflects a further undermining of the Anglican understanding of the role of the Bishop as the pastor of, and focus of unity in the Diocese. If implemented it will inevitably create a two-tier institution with little prospect of long-term unity.

The impact of this on those within and outside the church will be immense. The bias shown against women in this proposal will mean that the church continues to be seen as institutionally discriminatory towards them. The impression given is of an organisation which perpetuates injustice, undermining its ability to witness to Christ in the world. It ignores the considerable gifts ordained women have to offer within the Episcopate. Men and women should be present on the same terms.

We urge the Revision Committee to reconsider its decision and prepare legislation, as it was requested, to open the Episcopate to women with a national code of practice to be drafted separately.

www.inclusivechurch2.net
Revd Canon Giles Goddard
The parish of St John with St Andrew Waterloo
Chair, Inclusive Church
Secker St
London SE1 8UF
07762 373 674

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 12 October 2009 at 6:14pm BST | Comments (55) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 13 August 2009

Bishop Peter Selby to speak at WOTS

Bishop Peter Selby, the retired Bishop of Worcester and a long term supporter of Inclusive Church, is to speak at the Inclusive Church residential conference, Word on the Street. This will be held Monday 5th - Wednesday 7th October 2009.

His paper will be called “WHEN THE WORD ON THE STREET IS ‘RESIST’ - reflections on the present moment.” His offer follows the publication of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s response to the Episcopal Church - “Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future”.

For more information on this conference, see the latest newsletter here. Booking form available here.

In addition to the keynote speakers, as announced previously, the workshop leaders are:

Christina Rees - Through the Biblical Door

Christina Rees is chair of Women and the Church (WATCH) and a trustee of IC. In this workshop she explores human liberation and fulfilment in the light of her biblical understanding and personal experience, which includes the experience of leadership in the present struggle for women to become bishops within the Church of England.

Rose Hudson-Wilkin – My life and Our Life

Rose Hudson-Wilkin is Vicar of Holy Trinity, Dalston and All Saints, Haggerston. She is a member of General Synod and has recently completed a 10 year term as Chair of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns. Today Rose helps us explore how to combat racism in the parish and the wider life of the Church of England.

Giles Goddard – Route Maps and Road Blocks

Giles Goddard is Chair of Inclusive Church, newly appointed Priest in Charge of St John’s Church Waterloo and hon. canon of Southwark Cathedral. His book “Space for Grace, Creating Inclusive Parishes” was published by Canterbury Press in November 2008. Giles has been involved in trying to make the structures of the church welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people for many years and uses this workshop to ask “Dialogue – where now, in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion?”

Clare Herbert – Sharing Everyday Bread

Clare Herbert is national coordinator of Inclusive Church and NSM at St Martin-in-the-Fields. In this workshop she introduces Everyday Bread , module 1 of the Inclusive Church 5 step programme “Living Christianity” and discusses resources for use in the parish and/or local area to increase participants’ confidence in faith and competence in “doing theology together”

Lesley Bilinda – Ubuntu, we can be human only together

Lesley Bilinda is the author of two books “The Colour of Darkness” and “With What Remains” (Hodder and Stoughton) and has been involved with the Tutu Foundation UK since its launch in 2007. Formerly the manager of a community health programme in Rwanda she has spoken widely on the issues of forgiveness and reconciliation following the murder of Rwandan husband Charles, with many of their family members and friends, in the genocide of 1994. Lesley will use this workshop to describe the work of the Foundation and to help us consider the principles of Ubuntu in our own work for inclusion and peace.

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Tuesday, 4 August 2009

On the Archbishop’s Reflections

On the Archbishop’s Reflections

4th August 2009

A joint statement by 13 groups working together in the Church of England

We have read and reflected upon the Archbishop’s response to the Episcopal Church of the USA “Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future” and have a number of questions about the consequences of his response. We question whether the voices of those within the Church of England who are or who walk alongside lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people have been adequately heard within the recent discussions. These discussions have gone on in various places around the Communion, and we believe it is important in this context that the LGBT faithful and those who work alongside us speak as well.

We wish to reaffirm our loyalty to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the scriptures, our commitment to the Anglican way, and our celebration of and thanksgiving for the tradition and life of the Church of England. Above all, our concern is for the mission of the Church in our world. We have no doubt that the Church of England is called to live out the Gospel values of love and justice in the whole of its life; these values are intrinsic to the calling of Jesus Christ to follow him and it is out of this context that we speak.

While we acknowledge the intention of the Archbishop of Canterbury to seek a way forward for the Anglican Communion, we have grave concerns about the implications of his reflections in “Covenant, Communion and the Anglican Future.” For example, we consider that references to same-sex unions as a “chosen life-style”, and assertions that those who have made such a commitment are analogous to “a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond” to be inconsistent with the Archbishop’s previous statements on committed and faithful same sex relationships (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article4473814.ece) and are at odds with our reading of the message of the gospel. Whilst we applaud his assertion that we are called to “become the Church God wants us to be, for the better proclamation of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ” we find no indication of how that can be achieved for those who are not heterosexual.

We acknowledge, once again, that there are and always have been many loyal, committed and faithful bishops, priests and deacons – properly selected and ordained - and many lay people who are LGBT or who work alongside LGBT people with delight and thanksgiving. We know ourselves to be part of the church of God in England and we work, together, to bring about the reign of God in this part of God’s creation. We pray earnestly that the Church of England will continue to select, train, ordain and deploy LGBT people and enable them to exercise their calling from God in the Church of England.

Together, we reaffirm our commitment to working for the full inclusion of all people at all levels of ministry. We will continue to work towards liturgical and sacramental recognition of the God-given love which enables many LGBT couples to thrive. We will seek to strengthen the bonds of affection which exist between those in all the Churches of the Anglican Communion who share our commitment to the full inclusion of all of God’s faithful. We will also continue to work closely with our brother and sister churches, especially those with whom we have mutual recognition of orders such as the Nordic churches.

We will work to ensure that if the Church of England is to sign up to the Covenant, it has potential for rapid progress on this and other issues. We find the notion of a “two track communion” flawed in the way that the Act of Synod is flawed, and we commit ourselves to continuing the effort to find ways forward through which those who disagree profoundly on this and on other issues can continue to celebrate their common membership of the Church of England and unity in Christ.

Signed by representatives of the following groups working together in the Church of England

Accepting Evangelicals

Changing Attitude

The Clergy Consultation

Courage

Ekklesia

Evangelical Fellowship of Lesbian and Gay Anglicans

General Synod Human Sexuality Group

Group for the Rescinding of the Act of Synod

Inclusive Church

Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (Anglican Matters)

Modern Churchpeople’s Union

Sibyls

WATCH National Committee

www.inclusivechurch2.net

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Monday, 20 July 2009

The Episcopal Church's new resolutions

press release from Inclusive Church

The Episcopal Church’s new resolutions

Inclusive Church welcomes the clarity of the new resolutions passed at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the USA (TEC). They accurately and honestly describe the current situation, affirming that homosexual orientation should not be a bar to ordination as priest or bishop, and recognising that same sex blessings are being performed in some parishes and dioceses.

It is our wish that such honesty prevail in all current dialogues within the Anglican Communion - for example, recognising that within the Church of England there are a great many gay and lesbian clergy, single or in committed relationships, and many churches offer blessings or thanksgivings for same-sex relationships.

We equally acknowledge the costly lengths to which TEC has gone over many years to encourage the unity of the Anglican Communion, and note that the moratoria previously agreed regarding human sexuality have not been overturned.

We urge members of the Communion to consider carefully what has actually been agreed at Anaheim. The Presiding Bishop has stated in a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other Primates ‘This General Convention has not repealed Resolution B033. It remains to be seen how Resolution B033 will be understood and interpreted in light of Resolution D025. Some within our Church may understand Resolution D025 to give Standing Committees (made up of elected clergy and laity) and Bishops with jurisdiction more latitude in consenting to Episcopal elections. Others, in light of Resolution B033, will not.’

Inclusive Church believes that excluding LGBT people from the sacramental life of the church is a sin similar to the historical discrimination against people of colour and women. We value Anglican diversity, and acknowledge that there is a breadth of views on questions of human sexuality. We salute the considerable efforts made to recognise and contain that breadth with TEC, and regret the attempts by others who have withdrawn to undermine the territorial integrity of local Anglican churches.

Above all we pray that the slow and often tortuous process in which the Communion is engaged over these issues will, in the end, enable all the member churches to speak more prophetically and more clearly of God’s inexhaustible love and justice for the whole world.

For further information visit www.inclusivechurch.net

Giles Goddard
Chair, Inclusive Church
07762 373 674
gileswgoddard@gmail.com

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Sunday, 17 May 2009

update on Inclusive Church

First, there is a fund-raising event:

Friday 26 June • 6.00pm–9.00pm
Inclusive Church Presents…
The National Gallery. Your own private view.
with Neil MacGregor and Nicholas Holtam
followed by a reception buffet with wine at St Martin-in-the-Fields
Tickets £75

A unique opportunity to view some of the famous works hung in The National Gallery, London as well as the chance to hear Neil and Nicholas discuss some of the Gallery’s artworks. Later in the evening there will also be a opportunity to see the newly-restored St Martin’s and a very special illuminated Bible that is currently being exhibited there.

Neil MacGregor is Director of the British Museum and was, from 1987-1992, Director of the National Gallery. Nicholas Holtam is Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Further details from icevents2009@btinternet.com or download the flier with full information and booking form from here.

Second, there is additional information about the residential conference “Word on the Street - reading the Bible inclusively” on Monday 5th - Wednesday 7th October 2009. See earlier article here.

The Most Revd Dr Idris Jones, Primus of Scotland and one of IC’s Patrons will preside at the eucharist - Canon Frankie Ward from Bradford Cathedral will be our inspiring and exciting preacher, and Dr Andrew Mein from Westcott will speak on Inclusion and the Old Testament.

Download the PDF with full details of the conference and a booking form from here.

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Thursday, 26 March 2009

Word on the Street

Inclusive Church is delighted to announce its next residential conference on Monday 5th - Wednesday 7th October 2009.

“Word on the Street - reading the Bible inclusively” will be a three day conference at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire to help us see how Holy Scripture does indeed:

  • call us to a faith in God which draws all people to God
  • root and ground our call on the Anglican Church to live out the promise of Jesus’ inclusive Gospel within its three-fold ministries of deacon, priest and bishop
  • celebrate the gifts of all members of the Body of Christ, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation

With Workshops, Bible studies, Worship, Plenary, Meals and Bar

The keynote speakers are:

  • Revd Prof Richard Burridge, Dean of King’s College, London
    SEX, RACE, AND INCLUSIVE READING
  • Dr Paula Gooder, Freelance writer and lecturer in Biblical Studies
    INCLUSION AND ST PAUL
  • Dr Robert Beckford, Educator, author and award-winning broadcaster
    WAS JESUS INCLUSIVE?
  • Speaker to be confirmed
    INCLUSION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
  • Canon Giles Goddard, Chair, Inclusive Church
    INCLUSION, THE WORLD AND THE CHURCH

The cost is £195. Students and those on low income £130. Residential ordinands and stipendiary curates £90.

For a flyer and booking form follow this link. Book early to avoid disappointment!

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What shall we say?

Inclusive language is a contentious issue still. Inclusive Church and WATCH (Women and the Church) jointly organised a day conference on 9th Feb 2009. The speakers were

  • Canon Lucy Winkett
  • Dr Steven Shakespeare
  • Revd June Boyce-Tillman
  • Revd Elizabeth Baxter

Links to their presentations and related materials can all be found here, or as follows:

Speak to us of liturgy - Lucy Winkett

Speak to us of prayers, by Steven Shakespeare

Elisabeth Baxter - Inclusive Language for a therapeutic church - handout (PDF)

June Boyce-Tillman - Hymns for today’s church - handout (PDF)

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Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Write in Support of Women as Bishops

From the latest InclusiveChurch newsletter (available as PDF here) and online here.

Write NOW in Support of Women Bishops

(There is still work to be done!)

We have heard that Archbishop Rowan is receiving huge amounts of mail from those opposed to women as bishops and to having a Code of Practice. The opponents of inclusion are still fighting and believe that they can still change or influence Synod’s decision.

Please write to the Legislative Drafting Group (who are creating the legislation to include women as Bishops in the Church of England). We should also write to Rowan as Chair of the House of Bishops making similar and related points.

We need to act quickly because the Legislative Drafting Group meets next on 14th November and the House of Bishops meets next on 12th December.

It is vital to mobilise ALL those in the Church who want to have women as bishops, and who think a Code is an acceptable way forward.

Once again, reactionary conservatives / fundamentalists have pulled out all the stops to try to shake Rowan’s confidence that going ahead is the right thing at this time and that a Code will suffice.

We need to be able to show that we speak for the vast majority of Anglicans in this country.

Some points that could be made in a letter include:

• We know that the Church is ready for and wishes to have women as bishops

• General Synod is competent to decide on having women as bishops

• General Synod in July showed some of what Synod did not want. This must not be put into the Code.

• A Code of Practice CAN work (Forward in Faith is saying it cannot work).

• There must be no separately consecrated bishops. In other words, no more ‘flying’ bishops, and those men who are currently flying bishops should be invited to become ‘proper’ assistant bishops, ministering to all in their area, not just to those who oppose women’s ordained ministries.

• Most of all, we must act in faith based on what we believe about what baptism in Christ means for all people, our mission imperative (over the past 2000 years women have been excluded from different types of ministry because of how it would affect the mission of the Church in the context of the surrounding culture. We need to be asking, what will help our mission now?), and trusting in where God has led us so far.

If you write nothing else, please reassure Rowan that there are many thousands of people in the Church who long to have women as bishops and who see this as God’s guidance and direction for the Church. He needs to be supported in his position as Archbishop of Canterbury and encouraged that the vast majority of the Church are behind him and the bishops in moving forward with consecrating women.

Letters to the Legislative Drafting Group should be sent to: The Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, Bishopscourt, Bury New Road, Manchester, M7 4LE

Letters to the House of Bishops should be sent to: Jonathan Neil-Smith, Secretary to the House of Bishops, Church House, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3NZ

With thanks to Christina Rees (Chair of WATCH)

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Saturday, 19 July 2008

Alongside Lambeth

Press Release

If you are in Lambeth for a few days please consider taking part in this program for visitors, guests and volunteers. Gathering ‘alongside’ the Bishops and Spouses meetings, we will be sharing our experiences of faith through Bible studies and discussions. Everyone is welcome regardless of faith background. Alongside Lambeth is sponsored by Inclusive Church and Thinking Anglicans.

Bible Study
Meet at the café in the Marketplace at 11 am any morning except July 24 and July 27. After a brief devotional, small groups will meet for Bible Study and discussion. We’ll be paralleling the Bishop’s process by using the ‘Signs on the Way’ Bible study booklet. This is a time to set aside roles and agendas as we discover the person of Jesus together through the study of John’s Gospel.

Buzz Groups
This is a unique opportunity to meet with other Anglicans. If you want to meet with people who have similar interest to you, or if there’s something you particularly want to share, you can offer a Buzz Group. You can sign up at the Inclusive Church booth in advance or give your information to the Buzz Group coordinator before the morning’s Bible Study. Groups will normally take place at 12 noon, starting on Tuesday July 22nd. After gathering at the Marketplace Café, each group will find its own space to meet in one of the public areas of the campus.

Growing in Mission
Each afternoon at 4 pm, except July 24, there will be a talk and discussion in St Stephens Church, (down the hill from the campus) followed by Evening Prayer. A variety of speakers and panels will offer reflection on the same subjects that the Bishops are considering (not necessarily in the same order). Topics include
* Care-full listening
* Anglican Identity
* Youth and Mission
* Sexuality and mission
* Environmental stewardship
See below for confirmed speakers. Information will be available at the Inclusive Church stall as speakers are added.

Evening Prayer
Each day except July 27, Evening Prayer will be led by the clergy team of St Stephens, at St Stephens. They are also available to pray and meet with people individually as needed. For Chaplaincy services please contact the Rev. Caro Hall 0750 368 1408 or enquire at the Inclusive Church Booth.

Monday July 21st Care-full Listening
Sue Burns (New Zealand): Sissi Loftin and Janet Brocklehurst (US/UK)

Sue Burns is a priest from Aotearoa/New Zealand where she works in ministry formation and theological education. In response to the request for listening in the Anglican Communion, Sue developed a process of respectful conversations which she facilitated in dioceses in Aotearoa / New Zealand and Pasifika. Together with Janet Trisk of Grahamstown SA Sue contributed a chapter on sexuality and Identity for the book prepared for Lambeth, The Anglican Communion and Homosexuality.
Sissi Loftin and Janet Brocklehurst are training as facilitators with The Compassionate
Listening Project and have been with them a couple of times to Israel-Palestine, listening to all sides of the conflict. They have also offered Compassionate Listening in their home parish and hope to find a way to use their skills in building bridges within the Anglican Communion.

Tuesday July 22nd Communion for Creation: Co-operation for the sake of God’s Earth
Eric Beresford (Canada)

Eric Beresford was the staff person responsible for planning and putting together the Anglican Communion Environmental Network. During his time with the Anglican Communion Office he worked with the ACC to prepare and pass a motion on the Patenting of Biological and Genetic materials and the implications of this for food security. Eric has taught Environmental Ethics both at McGill University and at Atlantic School of Theology where he is the President. He will be discussing the possible impact the Anglican Communion might have on current efforts to reduce climate change.

Wednesday July 23rd Youth Inc – Why’s it so scary?
Rev Canon Dianna Gwilliam (UK)

Dianna Gwilliam worked for many years as a youth minister during her training for ordination and since then. She is currently Vicar of a parish in south-east London and Chaplain to an Educational Foundation which includes 6 schools. She is particularly interested in theological education for children and young people and says that serving a parish in which there are eight schools is ‘brilliant!’

Coming soon…
Giles Goddard (UK)
Andrew Wingate (UK)
Rowan Smith (S Africa)
Jenny TePaa (New Zealand)
A panel on Sexuality and Mission

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 19 July 2008 at 6:15pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Outbreak of peace?

Inclusive Church press release
Outbreak of peace?

Inclusive Church is hoping that the Lambeth Conference will witness an outbreak of peace in the Anglican Communion. IC has organised two events for the Lambeth Conference

“Strangers to Friends” - the IC Network Eucharist. 17 groups will come together to celebrate the peace we know in Christ, having worked together all year. All are welcome. Saturday 26th July: 7pm, Keynes Lecture Theatre. President – Rt Revd Carlos Touché-Porter, Archbishop of Mexico and a Primate of the Anglican Communion. Preacher – Canon Lucy Winkett, St Paul’s Cathedral.

“Inclusive Imperative – Anglican Welcome” Revd Dr Richard Burridge, Dean of King’s College London and Ms Nomfundo Walaza from Cape Town, SA will speak on “Using the New Testament now in peace-making and conflict resolution.” All are welcome. Thursday 31st July, 6.30 pm, Darwin Suite 1.

Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of IC, said “The conference has been planned as a chance for people to meet and talk. That’s it. As a church we have to work out new ways of living together. It’s not a time for point scoring or arguing but for engaging and listening.”

IC welcomes the acknowledgement by the Archbishop of Wales on Sunday that he would, if agreed by the Church in Wales, consecrate a gay bishop in a relationship. The first Lambeth Conference was born out of controversy, and focused on unity as a way forward. The reality of Anglican welcome means that the issues which face us are here to stay.

For further information contact;
Revd Canon Giles Goddard: 07762 373 674 office@inclusivechurch.net
Revd Clare Herbert: 07504 577 210 herbert.clare@googlemail.com

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Wednesday, 9 July 2008

women bishops: two press releases

Inclusive Church has issued a press release, The vote for women bishops. A copy of the text is also below the fold.

WATCH has issued a press release. The text appears below.

WATCH Press Statement
WOMEN BISHOPS: A STEP CLOSER
9th July 2008 – for immediate release

The Church of England has been debating whether women should be ordained as deacons, priests and bishops for nearly 100 years, and today marks the beginning of what we hope is the 26th and final mile in the marathon of discussions and debates since then.

Yesterday the Church agreed to drawing up legislation for women bishops and also for a code of practice with arrangements for those who in conscience cannot accept the Episcopal ministry of a woman.

After 6¼ hours of debate, the House of Bishops Motion was passed by a substantial majority in all three houses. The Legislative Drafting Group for Women Bishops will now work on the legislation and on the contents of the code of practice, which will be debated in General Synod in February 2009.

In spite of the recent statement from the Vatican that Synod’s vote created new obstacles to unity between the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, two facts remain: Rome’s official stance is still non-recognition of all Anglican orders, male and female, and the Anglican Church has had women bishops for the last 20 years. The question remains as to why the vote presents a fresh obstacle?

WATCH welcomes the outcome of the vote and rejoices that women will soon takes their place alongside men as bishops in the Church of England.

WATCH Chair and member of General Synod, Christina Rees said, “This is good news for the whole Church and for the nation we serve. Women will soon be able to bring their experience and gifts to the Episcopal leadership of our Church. We rejoice that God has led the Church to this moment.”

During the debate, Robert Key MP said that the people of England are making a judgment on us; a reference to how detached the church has become from the rest of society through refusing to make women bishops. The Bishop of Bath and Wells stressed that we need to trust each other and not have legislation.

Earlier this year, over 1,300 clergywomen signed a statement which was sent to all bishops in the Church of England, declaring that they wished the Church to proceed on a basis of trust and not law: that arrangements for those opposed to women bishops should be managed by the local diocesan bishop, be they male or female as is the case in the fifteen provinces which have already agreed to consecrate women to the episcopate. If such arrangements were enshrined in law then their response would be “thanks but no thanks”. It is to be hoped that the Statutory National Code of Practice requested by General Synod will reflect these concerns.

Contacts:
Christina Rees Chair, WATCH
Hilary Cotton Co-Vice Chair, WATCH

Inclusive Church press release

Women as Bishops
9th July 2008

Inclusive Church is delighted that General Synod voted by a large majority to move to the consecration of women as bishops.

Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of IC, said “It is a time for rejoicing. We have reached another milestone in the long process of removing the barriers to inclusion in the Church of England. The gospel is a gospel of welcome and this decision will make us more able to be welcoming in our churches.“

Inclusive Church includes many catholics, liberals and evangelicals among our supporters, who have recognised that a national code of practice is the best way forward. Through a code of practice, the concerns of those who do not yet accept the ministry of women can be recognised, but there not be “no go areas” for women. It has worked in other provinces and no doubt it will work in England.

Although the response of some of our ecumenical partners has been negative, we have no doubt that many members of other churches will welcome the decision.

We pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as the Church of England continues to try to fulfil its role as the Established Church. There is still a great deal of work to do to complete the process. We look forward to working with our partners and, we hope, with those who are opposed to the decision. We hope that helpful past dialogues can be revitalised to make sure that the legislation and the code of practice are as effective as they can be.

Canon Giles Goddard

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Saturday, 21 June 2008

Midsummer opinions

Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times that Christians read the handwritten word differently.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about The bare and desolate SPCK bookshops.

Chris Hardwick writes in the Guardian that It’s healthy for Christians to disagree, but we really must learn to ‘quarrel peacefully’.

Also in the Guardian this week:

Rowan Williams wrote about Henry Chadwick.

Riazat Butt wrote about The ‘pope’ of hope.

Giles Fraser wrote about Me and the secular police.

And over in the Church Times he wrote about Saying ‘no’ to distant government.

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Friday, 20 June 2008

Church Services after Civil Partnerships

InclusiveChurch press release

Church Services after Civil Partnerships

20th June 2008

InclusiveChurch today publishes a paper by Revd Brian Lewis, a member of General Synod and of IC’s Executive Committee on the law in relation to services after Civil Partnerships. The paper demonstrates that under the laws of the Church of England – especially Canon B5 - clergy have far greater liberty in this area than is commonly thought. They are permitted to carry out services of prayer and dedication following a civil partnership so long as they are not deemed to be “Services of Blessing”. The paper is available here, or here as a PDF file.

Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of Inclusive Church, said “We very much welcome this long overdue clarification of the law. It makes the distinction between marriages and civil partnerships and sets out what is permissible within the terms of Canon B5. We hope it will be helpful for clergy wishing to provide public services which respond prayerfully and pastorally to the needs of their congregations.”

The Revd Brian Lewis makes the comparison with the Service of Prayer and Dedication following a Civil Wedding (popularly described as a “A Church Blessing”). In these services the individuals are blessed without the service becoming “a Service of Blessing”.

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Thursday, 3 April 2008

Women, Communion and the Church

From Inclusive Church
Women, Communion and the Church

3rd April 2008

Inclusive Church (IC) is disappointed by the Church in Wales’ decision not to allow women to be bishops. But we are pleased that the Church in Wales resisted pressure for any arrangements which would have discriminated against women and which would have destroyed the unity and integrity of its episcopate.

Christina Rees, Chair of WATCH (Women and the Church) and member of IC’s Executive Committee said, “I applaud the leadership shown by Archbishop Barry Morgan and the Welsh bishops’ resolute decision not to compromise the principle of having women as bishops on the same basis as men are bishops.”

The vote on women bishops failed narrowly to get the required two-thirds majority in the house of clergy.

For IC, Revd. Dr Giles Fraser said: “People mustn’t get disheartened. This will go through. The Gospel points towards full inclusion and if that’s what the Gospel says, that’s what God wants. Therefore all will be well.”

Inclusive Church has prepared a statement celebrating the historic generosity of the Anglican Communion and calling for renewed unity among churches. Churches in agreement with the statement are asked to send an email to endorse@giftofcommunion.org listing the church’s name, parish, diocese and province.

It reads

“As Christians, we believe that all people have been made in the image of God. We believe that God loves each and every person with an infinite, never-ending, unconditional love.

As members of the body of Christ, we acknowledge each person’s unique and valuable contribution as we seek together to build up that body in love.

As members of the Anglican Communion, we celebrate the gift of our diversity and are committed to being a broad Church that accepts and welcomes difference. We acknowledge our need of God’s forgiveness for the sins and failings which harm our shared witness in the world. We believe our unity is rooted in our baptism in Christ, and we will seek to maintain that unity through the grace of the Holy Spirit who lives and works in each one of us.”

As the Lambeth Conference approaches - at a time of debate and discernment in our life together - we believe the best way forward will not include segregating or excluding those with whom we disagree.

This invitation is intended for churches, and not individuals and should have the agreement of Church Vestries or PCC’s. Questions or comments can be addressed to info@giftofcommunion.org.

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Thursday, 27 March 2008

Gift of Communion

Inclusive Church has announced:

Celebrating the Gift of Communion

In advance of the Lambeth Conference we invite parishes to give thanks for the gift of the Anglican Communion, and to affirm their commitment to its historic generosity. At a time of debate and discernment in our life together we believe the best way forward will not include segregating or excluding those with whom we disagree.

If your church is in agreement with the following statement, please send an email to endorse@giftofcommunion.org listing your name, parish, diocese and province. Please make sure you have the agreement of your parish council or vestry before signing, and note that this invitation is intended for churches, and not individuals. If you have any questions or comments please address them to info@giftofcommunion.org. Please circulate this message to friends and networks.

“As Christians, we believe that all people have been made in the image of God. We believe that God loves each and every person with an infinite, never-ending, unconditional love.

As members of the body of Christ, we acknowledge each person’s unique and valuable contribution as we seek together to build up that body in love.

As members of the Anglican Communion, we celebrate the gift of our diversity and are committed to being a broad Church that accepts and welcomes difference. We acknowledge our need of God’s forgiveness for the sins and failings which harm our shared witness in the world. We believe our unity is rooted in our baptism in Christ, and we will seek to maintain that unity through the grace of the Holy Spirit who lives and works in each one of us.”

For more about this, read Scott Gunn at Seven whole days Put your congregation on record, support the gift of Communion.

For the most recent Inclusive Church newsletter, see here.

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Thursday, 20 December 2007

two more items from the Chicago Consultation

The grace of communion, spelled with a small “c” is a talk given at the consultation by Dr Jenny Te Paa.

A new way in the wilderness is a sermon by the Very Revd Tracey Lind, Dean of Trinity Cathedral, Cleveland, delivered upon her return from the consultation.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 20 December 2007 at 12:10pm GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 12 December 2007

more from the Chicago Consultation

Marilyn McCord Adams delivered a paper entitled “Shaking the Foundations: LGBT Bishops and Blessings in the Fullness of Time”.

Read the full text on Daily Episcopalian over here.

Read the Episcopal News Service report here.

Check at Episcopal Café for more papers soon.

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The Chicago Consultation

Here’s the press release from: The Chicago Consultation

International Anglican group initiates “strategy of inclusion”

Chicago Consultation celebrates contributions of gay Christians, urges blessing of same-sex relationships, calls homophobia “a sin whose end time is now”.

(Evanston, Ill.) Anglicans from around the world met near Chicago last week to build international coalitions and develop a strategy for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in the life of the Church.

Meeting at Seabury-Western Seminary, Dec. 5-7, the 50-member group known as the Chicago Consultation urged leaders of the Episcopal Church to permit the blessing of same-sex relationships and to remove barriers that keep gay candidates from being elected as bishops.

“Some people call it the gay agenda, but we call it the Gospel Agenda,” said the Rev. Bonnie Perry, rector of All Saints Church, Chicago, co-convener of the Consultation. “We are asking our Church and our Communion to see what God has created and know that it is good.”

The Consultation also called upon the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, to invite Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as a full participant to the Lambeth Conference. Robinson, a member of the Consultation, is the only diocesan bishop in the Anglican Communion living openly in a same-sex relationship.

“We wanted to affirm Gene,” said Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Diocese of Washington, “but we also wanted to affirm all of the anonymous gay and lesbian Christians who have graced the Church with their God-given gifts—even when the Church has been unwilling to receive them.”

Participants from Africa, England and New Zealand joined fellow Anglicans from Central, North and South America in pledging to work against schismatic leaders who have sought to gain power in the Communion by turning marginalized groups against one another.

“Homophobia is a sin whose end time is now,” said the Rev. Canon Marilyn McCord Adams, Regius Professor of Divinity at Christ Church, Oxford University, in a paper opening the consultation.

Human institutions are riddled with systemic evils, she said. “Our calling is to discern which ones are ripe for uprooting and to take the lead in eradicating them, beginning in the garden behind our own house!”

In three intensive days, punctuated by periods of silent prayer, participants heard papers by Adams, Bishop Stacy Sauls of the Diocese of Lexington, Dean Jenny Te Paa of St. John’s College, Auckland, New Zealand and the Rev. Frederick Quinn of Salt Lake City, Utah and began to develop strategies to advance the cause of full inclusion at the Lambeth Conference in July 2008, and at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Anaheim in 2009.

Te Paa also preached at a Eucharist celebrated with members of the Consultation and the seminary community.

While developing what they dubbed a “strategy of inclusion,” participants also voiced opposition to the current draft of a proposed Anglican Covenant, which would create a centralized governing body with authority over member Churches for the first time in the Communion’s history.

“There was tremendous energy in the plenary sessions, and even more in the breakout groups,” said the Rev. Ruth Meyers, academic dean at Seabury, and co-convener of the Consultation. “It was such a talented and committed group that eventually we abandoned some of the formal presentations and started identifying our priorities and making plans.”

Participants focused particular attention on building international coalitions to work against what the Rev. Mpho Tutu, executive director of the Tutu Institute for Prayer and Pilgrimage in Alexandria, Va., called “interlocking oppressions,” the web of economic, political and social factors that determine who has access to power, resources and social approval, and who does not.

“The issue is human suffering and the attitudes that cause it,” said Bishop Celso Franco de Oliveira of Rio de Janeiro.

Before adjourning, the group made plans to:

  • publish several of the papers it received on the Web site Episcopal Café (http://www.episcopalcafe.com/daily/)
  • establish a Web site
  • hire a part-time coordinator
  • support working groups on communications, fundraising and organizational strategy, as well as a group to identify and produce theological resources.

The consultation includes two Primates of the Anglican Communion—Archbishop Martin de Jesus Barahona of Central America and Archbishop Carlos Touche-Porter of Mexico, who was unable to attend due to illness; 12 bishops from the Episcopal Church, including 10 diocesan bishops or bishops-elect; four members of the Church’s Executive Council; numerous General Convention deputies, and representatives of groups such as Integrity, Claiming the Blessing and Inclusive Church.

Bonnie Anderson, president of the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies, attended the consultation as an observer, and said she hopes other groups in the Church will invite her to their meetings in a similar capacity so that she can familiarize herself with their concerns.

Participants from other Churches in the Anglican Communion included the Very Rev. Victor Atta-Baffoe, dean of St. Nicholas College, Cape Coast, Ghana; Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada; Te Paa; the Rev. Jane Shaw, dean of divinity, New College, Oxford and the Rev. Giles Fraser, founder of Inclusive Church in the United Kingdom.

The steering committee was convened by Meyers and Perry and included Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta, who was unable to attend the meeting; Chane; the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Seabury-Western; the Rev. Gay Jennings, associate director of the CREDO Institute; Jim Naughton, canon for communications and advancement in the Diocese of Washington; Robinson and Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Mary Wolfe Professor of Historical Theology at Episcopal Divinity School.

The consultation was supported by several grants, including one from the Arcus Foundation of Kalamazoo, Mich., which works to “achieve social justice that is inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity and race.” Following the conference, the group received a $60,000 grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Philadelphia, Pa., to support its future work.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 12 December 2007 at 6:46pm GMT | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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When signs signify

The text of the address given at the Drenched in Grace conference by the Revd Dr Louis Weil is now available at the Inclusive Church website.

Read it in full at When signs signify - the Baptismal Covenant in its sacramental context.

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Monday, 26 November 2007

Drenched in Grace: final press release

GLOBAL ANGLICANS SHARE CALL TO AN INCLUSIVE GOSPEL VISION AND MISSION

Inclusive Church supporters are drenched in grace and ready to embrace “costly unity”

Issued 26th November 2007

Last week, 180 people gathered in Derbyshire, England for “Drenched in Grace”, Inclusive Church’s first residential conference.

We met as Anglicans, committed to our church. We met as evangelicals and charismatics, as catholics, liberals and conservatives. We met at the Lord’s table - the unifying core of the conference. We reclaimed with confidence the orthodoxy of the inclusive Gospel we celebrate in the Anglican Communion.

We offered a model of engagement to the Communion at large. In our disagreements we acknowledged the primacy of God’s love in which we are all held together, but we did not keep silent about our differences.

Dr Jenny Te Paa (St John’s College, Auckland NZ) opened the conference. In a strong speech, Te Paa reminded us “how pervasive the reach of enmity has become amongst us.” She urged us “not so much to focus too intently and singularly on the bad behaviour of the few, but rather to focus anew on the very good behaviour of the many.”

Revd Dr Sharon Moughtin-Mumby in her talk “Out of the Silence” said “I believe it is vital for us to …. refuse to skip over the difficult and challenging or awkward passages of the Bible, just as in Inclusive Church we are committed to refusing to skip over those who can be made to feel like the difficult, challenging or awkward members of the people of God.”

Revd Dr Louis Weil (Berkeley, California) spoke about the central place baptism holds in our ecclesial understanding. Speaking of the sacraments of baptism and communion, he said “our obsession with validity has weakened the boldness of the sacramental signs. This creates a low level of expectation and weakens our understanding of mission.” We are in communion with one another by God’s grace, not by any human action. “I am in communion with Peter Akinola (the Archbishop of Nigeria)” he said. “I will remain in communion with Peter Akinola until we are both on the other side.”

Canon Lucy Winkett (St Paul’s Cathedral) spoke of the need to “forge relationships on the anvil of profound disagreement.” “The worry that we have as Anglicans is that our faith can be so driven by fear that our liturgy is tedious and our public pronouncements shrill and irrelevant.” In a powerful and wide ranging address she called for engagement with others across the theological spectrum.

Mark Russell, the Chief Executive of Church Army, sent us out into the world, calling passionately for the church to unite. “Unity is not saying that we will always agree with each other, unity is a deeper spiritual concept. Unity allows me to love my brothers and sisters even when I don’t always agree with them. Love allows me to hold difference and diversity.” He challenged us to “go from here, with a renewed vision to pursue a costly unity, and a vision to bring a gospel of hope to all.”

Many present are increasingly alienated and distanced from the church which they see as home. They are being rendered spiritually homeless. A common question was - why are our episcopal friends, who value and support classical Anglican comprehensiveness, so silent? Why do they, with few exceptions, leave the field clear to those who continually seek to undermine the Communion and deny its profound unity?

We have a Gospel to proclaim in a world disenchanted by the actions of those who proclaim a message which excludes. We invite them to meet with us, so that we can together move into the world with a vision of costly unity and hope for all in Jesus Christ.

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Saturday, 24 November 2007

Drenched in Grace: more links

The full text of the concluding keynote address by Mark Russell, Chief Executive of the Church Army, can now be found at Go into the world.

And the welcoming remarks by Giles Goddard at the conference opening can be found here.

For the other talks, see entries below.

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Thursday, 22 November 2007

more from Drenched in Grace

Here are links to audio recordings of two of today’s keynote talks.

Both of these presentations were outstanding and I strongly recommend listening to it all.

Louis Weil on When Signs Signify

Lucy Winkett on Our sound is our wound

(Text versions of these will also be available later.)

Meanwhile the full text of two other talks are already available:

Each of us was given grace: an address by Dr Jenny Plane Te Paa (audio linked here previously).

Out of the silence: an address by the Revd Dr Sharon Moughtin-Mumby

(Dr Moughtin-Mumby was unable to be present but her address was read by the Revd Canon Giles Goddard, chair of Inclusive Church.)

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Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Drenched in Grace opens

The InclusiveChurch conference Drenched in Grace opened with a keynote speech by Jenny Te Paa.

PRESS RELEASE

Jenny Te Paa condemns “the reach of enmity” among Anglicans The first Inclusive Church conference opened today at the Hayes Conference Centre in Derbyshire, England with an address by Dr Jenny Plane Te Paa. In a strong speech, Te Paa reminded us “how pervasive the reach of enmity has become amongst us.” She urged us “not to notice the bad behaviour of the few, but the good behaviour of the many.” Calling to mind the great humanitarian needs of the world, Te Paa lamented our obsession with drawing lines that exclude, which is distracting us from the enormous suffering so many people face. We must not “fret and fight” while people are literally dying.

Te Paa is a Principal of the College of St John the Evangelist in Auckland, New Zealand, was a member of the 2003 Lambeth Commission, and assisted in the St Augustine’s Seminar responsible for planning the detailed content for the forthcoming Lambeth Conference 2008.

The Revd Canon Giles Goddard, chair of Inclusive Church, said, “We are not a pressure group of the like-minded.” He added, “We are ordinary Anglicans who love our church, and we are deeply concerned by the way in which the effort to exclude is overtaking the calling to live the Gospel.”

180 people have gathered here at a time in which many people are concerned that the generous tolerance which has characterized Anglicanism is under serious threat from those who wish to divide the church. The conference includes participants from all parts of Great Britain and throughout the Anglican Communion.

Information for Editors: IC is a growing network of Anglicans from across the Anglican Communion working to celebrate the traditional diversity of Anglicanism.

For further information contact Revd Canon Giles Goddard - 07762 373 674 or
Revd. Philip Chester - 07515 815710

Savi Hensman has written a little more about the session on the IC blog at Each of us was given grace.

And you can listen to the entire speech by going to Audio from Jenny Te Paa address.

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Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Drenched in Grace

Just two weeks to go before the InclusiveChurch residential conference, Drenched in Grace. A description of the programme can be found here.

Keynote speakers -

  • Dr Jenny Te Paa, Principal of Te Rau Kahikatea College in NZ
  • Rev. Dr Louis Weil, Professor of Liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific
  • Rev Canon Lucy Winkett from St Paul’s Cathedral
  • Rev Dr Sharon Moughtin-Mumby formerly of Ripon College Cuddesdon
  • Mark Russell, Chief Exec of Church Army

Over 15 workshops will cover the spectrum of Anglican concerns, from women in the episcopate to inclusive liturgy, and from the Millennium Development Goals to welcoming transgendered people.

Download the brochure with booking form (PDF) here.

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Monday, 5 November 2007

Goddard2Goddard

The correspondence which started last January has recently resumed.

See the most recent letters:

Andrew to Giles on 16 September

Giles to Andrew on 3 November

This correspondence appears on both InclusiveChurch and Fulcrum. For the context see here.

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Saturday, 20 October 2007

Women Bishops and the Church of Sweden

The full text of the talk given by retired Swedish bishop Christina Odenberg, at a lunchtime meeting during the York General Synod sessions last July, can be found on the InclusiveChurch website.

Here it is.

And if you haven’t yet booked for Drenched in Grace in November, go here for details.

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Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Humility, Grace and Freedom

Dr Joseph Cassidy of St Chad’s College, Durham gave a talk on the place of humility and grace within the Anglican Communion, to the Inclusive Church day conference held at St Matthew’s Westminster on 22 September.

The full text of his talk can be found here.

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Thursday, 5 July 2007

InclusiveChurch on covenant proposals etc.

press release from InclusiveChurch

Covenant proposals and extra-Provincial Bishops

5th July 2007

The growing number of bishops created by African provinces for “pastoral oversight” in North America (and potentially in other provinces), the attempts to create a Covenant that defines Anglican doctrine and ethics, and the apparent intention to organise an alternative to the Lambeth Conference in London next year all point towards one thing. The strategy to destabilise the Anglican Communion is moving into another phase.

The creation by the provinces of Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria of extra-provincial Bishops is against the expressed wish of the Windsor Report and the post Lambeth ’98 process of listening and reconciliation. It is more evidence that the Primates of those provinces and their supporters in the US and Britain profoundly misunderstand the nature of the Communion. We very much regret that the Chair of the Covenant Design Group, the Archbishop of the West Indies, has welcomed these appointments.

Inclusive Church’s aim is to support and celebrate the traditional breadth and generosity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it has been received and passed on through Anglican history and lived out in the Communion. This creates challenges when there are fundamental disagreements. But the way to respond to disagreements is not to walk apart, nor to create separate structures, nor to seek to impose one particular point of view on the Communion. It is to engage, to communicate, to speak, to listen and to learn.

Clearly there are outstanding issues over how the Communion should respond to the reality that many Provinces include lesbian and gay Christians who live with partners in loving, faithful relationships. But the extraordinary way in which this issue has been allowed to dominate the life of the Communion over the past ten years is not coincidence.

There can be little doubt that the issue is being used by some, mainly conservative, Christians as a lever to try to change the Communion into something it is not; from a conciliar church into a confessional one. From a praxis-based Communion where the bonds between us are the bonds of fellowship and love to a codified Communion where exclusions are legally determined and legally enforced, and where the Communion defines itself not by who it includes but by who it excludes.

The Covenant process has been moved, by this group, away from its original intention which was to affirm the bonds of fellowship which exist. The way in which the draft was received by some at the Primates meeting in Tanzania is indication that, whatever the intention, it will be used to enforce a particular interpretation of the Scriptures to the detriment of the life of the Communion. We do not need a Curia, and the process of drafting a Covenant is already giving more power to the Primates than is justified by our history, by our life and by some of their actions to date.

Hard cases make bad laws. We wish to see, urgently, greater understanding between provinces, and we can see the value of a Covenant which enables this to happen . But the proposed draft before us is likely to be an instrument of further division, not unification. Some of our structures may need reform – but it is already clear that this Covenant process is unlikely to help.

The suggestion of an alternative “not the Lambeth Conference” is, simply, sad. Those who suggest it are walking away from the possibility of dialogue. The suggestion has little to do with dealing with our post-imperial past, and little to do with ensuring that particular voices are heard. It has a great deal to do with power; and with the location of power in the Communion.

We call on those supporting these actions to recognise that there is more than one answer to the questions which face us. Resolution will be achieved only through mutual respect and communication, and an acknowledgement that different views are sincerely held by faithful and loyal members of the Communion.

Inclusive Church is deeply committed to continuing the debate over these questions. The Anglican Communon has faced problems before and moved through them. With God’s help, we will again.

Giles Goddard
Chair, IC

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Sunday, 10 June 2007

Global Centre comes to UK

press release from InclusiveChurch:

“Global Centre” Comes To UK

InclusiveChurch is delighted to announce that the Most Revd Dr Idris Jones, Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway, has agreed to join the Archbishop of Mexico as a Patron of InclusiveChurch.

Bishop Idris is Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and a Primate of the Anglican Communion. He said:

“It is a privilege to be associated with Inclusive Church. The Anglican Communion is seeking how it may develop and deepen its life today - what better way could there be than working to keep our church as welcoming and encouraging to everyone who wants to follow Jesus so that everyone of us can be challenged by God’s love.”

We also announce that the Archbishop of Mexico, Bishop Carlos Touché-Porter, will be in England in September 2007. Bishop Carlos was a co-signatory of the Declaration by the Global Centre released in May 2007 which reaffirmed the call of Latin American bishops to preserve the “participative, diverse, ample and inclusive” nature of the Communion.

During his visit the Archbishop will take part in two major conferences:

  • “Renewing our Vision – Anglicans and the Global Centre” on Saturday 22nd September, at St Matthew’s Westminster. 11.00 – 4.00 Cost £10
  • Bishop Idris and Bishop Carlos will both speak at “Celebrating Anglican Diversity” on Sat 29th September, at Manchester Cathedral. 11.30 – 3.30 Cost £5

These conferences will inform discussions at “DRENCHED IN GRACE”, InclusiveChurch’s first residential conference to be held in Derbyshire on 21st – 23rd November. “Drenched in Grace” will be a celebration and restatement of broad and inclusive Anglicanism. A discount of £20 applies for bookings received before the end of June. For further information go here.

For further information or advance registration contact InclusiveChurch here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 10 June 2007 at 5:37pm BST | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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InclusiveChurch responds on the Anglican Covenant

Two documents have been published by InclusiveChurch and can be found from this page:

An Anglican Covenant?

InclusiveChurch believes that the Anglican Communion offers a creative and dynamic vision of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our structures, while loose and complex, mean that both tradition and development have a vital place in our attempts to live out the Gospel. Following the first Draft issued by the Covenant Drafting Committee and the way in which it influenced the Primates’ discussions in Dar Es Salaam, we have serious doubts about the proposed Draft Covenant. Tim Bartel and Savi Hensman have written responses which can be seen below:

The links above are to MS Word documents. For ease of access html pages are also available:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 10 June 2007 at 4:36pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Monday, 26 March 2007

InclusiveChurch on the American bishops

Press Release from InclusiveChurch

26th March 2007

We acknowledge the frustration which has led the Bishops of the Episcopal Church (TEC) to reject the requests of the Dar Es Salaam Communique for the creation of a parallel church structure.

We welcome their strong affirmations of the equality before God and human rights of all people.

We wish members of TEC to know that we fully support them in their response to the Primates.

To lose the long-cherished principles of provincial autonomy, respect for diversity and active participation of laypeople and clergy would be to lose many of the defining principles of our Anglican inheritance. We have no tradition of centralising authority in the hands of a few senior bishops.

The majority of members of the Church of England find the continued failure of Anglicans to recognise the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people absolutely unacceptable.

It is increasingly clear to us that the process which the Communion has followed over lesbian and gay Christians has been very seriously flawed. Comparisons have been drawn with the ordination of women. In relation to that question a moratorium was imposed in 1948. But the next twenty years led to a conditional acceptance, following a great deal of work by the Communion and a serious and sustained engagement with the question.

But the initial Lambeth resolution in 1978 calling for sustained engagement over issues of human sexuality was honoured only in the breach. Twenty years later at Lambeth 98, the conclusions of the working party charged with coming up with a response to these questions were hijacked by a few conservative bishops with the active support of the then Archbishop of Canterbury. A resolution was produced which rowed back from the 1978 call. In other words, the “conservative” position became a “regressive” position.

In this context, the frustration felt by the Episcopal Church and expressed by its Bishops last week is entirely understandable. To add weight to that frustration, the “listening process” which was called for by Lambeth 98 and again in the Windsor Report has not been carried out with any degree of seriousness by those people who have most to lose by genuine engagement - that is, those parts of TEC loosely grouped under the American Anglican Council, the Province of Nigeria and conservative groups in England. And the cross-border incursions condemned by the Windsor process have, far from coming to a halt, merely increased.

In the meantime, the Church of England has moved on. The debates at General Synod on Wednesday 28th February showed that there is a desire by Synod to take a more mature and supportive approach to Christians who genuinely see the inclusion of lesbian and gay people as a Gospel imperative.

We are now in the ridiculous position where we have gay clergy living in relationship at all levels of the hierarchy - and where the blessing of same-sex relationships is taking place in a significant number of parishes. Parishes trying to live out the radical and inclusive welcome of Jesus Christ are thriving. But because of the untenable policy of the House of Bishops none of this can be acknowledged.

In the meantime, the Archbishop of Nigeria is proceeding at full speed with his support for the homophobic legislation proposed in that country which breaches the UN Declaration on Human Rights, unchecked by his brother Primates.

In this context, we do not see that Lambeth 1.10 can be considered any longer to hold legitimacy or credence. Nor do we see that the Windsor process (which was planned as a process of reconciliation but has been used as a process of exclusion) can continue any further. The road map, effectively, was torn up at Dar Es Salaam. We are now in a new world, in which it is hard to see how a meaningful Covenant can be agreed.

This week it is worth remembering that the entire House of Bishops was originally opposed to the abolition of the slave trade. It took William Wilberforce and his colleagues over twenty years to convince the Church of the rightness of their cause.

InclusiveChurch remains committed to its fundamental aim: to celebrate the diverse gifts of all members of the body of Christ; and in the ordering of our common life to open the ministries of deacon, priest and bishop to those so called to serve by God, regardless of their sex, race or sexual orientation. We will continue to work to fulfil that aim across the Anglican Communion. We look forward to ever increasing friendship with inclusive Christians around the world.

Giles Goddard, Chair, IC

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 26 March 2007 at 1:07pm BST | Comments (51) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Mexico goes Inclusive

press release – 12th March 2007
Archbishop of Mexico becomes Patron of InclusiveChurch

InclusiveChurch is pleased to announce that the Archbishop of Mexico, the Most Revd. Carlos Touche-Porter, has agreed to be Patron of InclusiveChurch.

The Archbishop said “As an Anglican committed to promote inclusiveness and diversity in our Church, I rejoice, celebrate and support the ministry of Inclusive Church. May the Anglican Communion continue to be a house of prayer for all people, where everyone is welcome, valued and respected”. He is Presiding Bishop of La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico and a Primate of the Anglican Communion.

Archbishop Carlos preached at a service hosted by Affirming Catholicism in Westminster Abbey on Monday 26th February. His sermon can be found here.

The Revd. Dr Giles Fraser said “Archbishop Carlos represents traditional Anglicanism of a sort that is familiar to ordinary members of the Church of England. His approach stands in marked contrast to the dangerous distortion that is occurring in other parts of our communion. We are delighted to have him as our Patron.”

A seminar on “Anglican Inclusion – A Global Tradition” is being organised by IC to take place in the summer. Further details will follow.

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Friday, 2 March 2007

InclusiveChurch on General Synod and on Nigeria

Press Release 2 March 2007
A good day for the Church of England. A bad time for the Church of Nigeria

Members of the General Synod are to be congratulated on the tone and quality of the debates on Wednesday 28th February. In the first substantial debates on issues around human sexuality since the infamous “Higton debate” in 1987, contributions from all positions were characterised by honesty, charity and generosity.

InclusiveChurch hopes that the debates reflect a new understanding and respect for differing theological positions about lesbian and gay people within and outside the Church. We hope too that this new understanding will bring about a greater sense of cohesion between different parts of the Church so that we can now better preach and show the gospel of Christ’s love to those we serve.

John Ward, a member of General Synod and chair of the General Synod Human Sexuality Group, said ‘There are no winners or losers. I am delighted that we can now be in dialogue without fear and that lesbian and gay Christians are affirmed as full members of the Church. I believe that through prayer and communication something changed yesterday in Synod’

As a Church we are once again called to “to engage in an open, full and Godly dialogue about human sexuality…and acknowledge the importance of lesbian and gay members of the Church of England participating in the listening process as full members of the Church.” We hope that process of dialogue will include prayer, together, by people with differing understandings of the issues. Those of us who support a more inclusive position do this with deep respect and love for the word of God in the Bible. That love must be at the heart of the listening process so that all sides can engage with trust and confidence.

The motion on Civil Partnerships was amended to “note the intention of the House [of Bishops] to keep their Pastoral Statement under review”. Clearly the present arrangements are not working. We hope that a review of the Pastoral Statement will begin soon.

We view with concern the demands placed on the Episcopal Church by the Primates, especially as we are very aware that there are lesbian or gay clergy at all levels of the hierarchy of the Church of England, some of whom have entered into Civil Partnerships.

In the context of Synod’s debates we deeply regret the continuing support of the Church of Nigeria for legislation to criminalise lesbian and gay people. This appears to be a breach of Lambeth 1.10 which restates the need to resist homophobia in all its forms. We encourage all who have contact with the Church of Nigeria to make their concerns clear. The Anglican Communion does deep damage to its mission if it is seen to be supporting legislation which is in clear breach of the United Nations Convention on Human Rights. A letter on this from 250 American faith leaders can be found at http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/02/27/nigeri15425.htm

Giles Goddard, Chair, IC

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Monday, 19 February 2007

InclusiveChurch and others respond

PRESS RELEASE
THE PRIMATESMEETING OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION
from Inclusive Church, Changing Attitude England,
and Changing Attitude Nigeria

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
19 February 2007

Inclusive Church and Changing Attitude give a cautious welcome to the communiqué issued today by the Primates of the Anglican Communion meeting in Dar Es Salaam. We commend the work that the primates have done to further the mission of the church and to strengthen the bonds of the Anglican Communion. In particular we value the progress achieved on the listening process and the Anglican Covenant.

The standard of teaching on human sexuality set out in Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference of 1998 has never been one that Christian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people have accepted. It was drafted and agreed in our absence. The bishops who drafted the original version of the Resolution refused to meet us and hear our testimony. It is not possible for us to be bound by teaching drafted by a largely male, heterosexual body of bishops. The Anglican Communion can never come to an integrated teaching on human sexuality until it has listened with open mind and heart to our experience and Christian testimony. We subscribe to a high Christian sexual and relational ethic. We object outright to the idea that it is possible to divide our innate sexual identity as lesbian and gay people from what the church insists on calling ‘genital activity’. Like heterosexuals we believe the love between two mature adults should be expressed in a faithful, life-long partnership in which sexual expression is integral.

The Primates request that the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church ‘make an unequivocal common covenant with the bishops that they will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention’. The request not to authorise any Rite of Blessing in the Episcopal Church will be an intolerable burden for LGBT Anglicans. The Episcopal Church is not alone in having many faithful lesbian and gay couples who seek God’s blessing on their relationship. We know that in England, the USA and Canada as well as other Provinces, priests will continue to find ways to bless such relationships. If the church can condone the blessing of so many inanimate objects, it is surely right to bless the love of two people of the same gender. We pray for the day when the church can support the authorisation of same-sex blessings.

The Primates also request that the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church ‘confirm that ‘a candidate for Episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent’. There is no prohibition on a single or celibate lesbian or gay priest receiving the necessary consent. Dioceses who wish to nominate a partnered lesbian or gay priest and such priests themselves are being asked to make a great personal sacrifice. In England, priests who are gay will also continue to be nominated and consecrated as bishops, as they will in other Provinces.

The Revd Giles Goddard, chair of Inclusive Church, said:

“The arguments over human sexuality have been dominating the life of the Anglican Communion for too long. We need, urgently, now to find a way to move on, so that the Gospel for all people can be freshly proclaimed in a changing world. The Primates meeting has begun to show us a way forward. We trust that the Lambeth Conference will be allowed to be a restatement of the heart of Christ’s message of love for the world.”

The Revd Scott Gunn, TEC representative to Inclusive Church, said:

“I am grateful that Bishop Katharine is recognised as the legitimate ecclesiastical authority in the United States. My hope is that the Anglican Communion can return to its focus on mission and evangelism. I hope they will shift the focus of attention away from a legalistic examination of the Episcopal Church towards a Gospel life of hope, reconciliation, justice and love.”

The Revd Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England, said:

“I rejoice that the Primates are committed to the continuing unity of our world-wide Communion of churches. We LGBT Anglicans in Changing Attitude England and Nigeria are also faithfully committed to our church. We know the pilgrimage journey to our promised land of full inclusion is going to be long and hard. There are millions of Anglicans who have yet to learn about the deep faith of LGBT people in the Lord Jesus Christ and of our lives committed to prayer, worship, justice and evangelism. We are present in every Province and country of the Anglican Communion and we want to participate in the listening process in order that our stories of faithful obedience to God can be heard. We have been misrepresented for too long. Now is the time for people across the world to learn about LGBT Anglicans in Africa, Asia and South America.”

“I am saddened that our brothers and sisters in the Episcopal Church have been asked to carry a burden on behalf of us all. With the Episcopal Church and the Canadian Church, we in England are also seeking honesty in the ordination of priests who are lesbian or gay priests and the consecration of bishops who are gay. We look forward to the day when we can include our lesbian sisters among those who will be consecrated as bishops in England.”

Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, said:

“Our presence here in Dar Es Salaam at the Primates meeting demonstrates our loyalty to the Communion. We are committed to participating in the listening process and we want to be heard. We hope the Anglican Communion office and Canon Philip Groves, facilitator to the listening process help us communicate our experience directly to them if the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) refuses to participate.”

“My own Primate received me warmly the first time we met on Wednesday 14 February. I had hoped the next time we met we would have been able to develop our first meeting and have some conversation together but it didn’t happen. I hope we will meet again and he will be able to hear the voice of one of his own gay Nigerian members.”

STATEMENT ON THE PRIMATESMEETING OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION

Full Inclusion
We celebrate the fact that the majority of Primates have modelled what it means to be an inclusive church this week, welcoming Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori from the Episcopal Church of the USA. Bishop Katharine has brought hope to many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Anglicans across the world. She is committed to the full inclusion of all people in the Episcopal Church. Her voice will remind other primates that Gospel justice will not have been accomplished until the church is fully open to everyone, including LGBT people. Her presence has changed the Primates’ Meeting from being an exclusively male club. Another step has been taken towards the full inclusion of women in our church. We long for the day when all people are welcomed into the church, without regard to race, sexual orientation, economic means, gender, physical or mental challenge, or any other division.

Listening Process
We approve of the progress made by the Revd Canon Philip Groves as he develops his work on the listening process, inviting every province in the Communion to demonstrate how they are responding to the Lambeth 1.10 commitment to listen. We look forward to the development of his proposals for the Lambeth Conference 2008 and offer our full support to him in his work.

We hope that the Listening Process will be undertaken by every Province with the awareness that to listen properly means being open to the possibility of change by all involved. We trust the Holy Spirit, through this process and through our common Anglican life, to lead us into all truth.

The primates and the bishops who will gather at the Lambeth Conference 2008 have yet to hear directly from LGBT people. This remains a major challenge for the church. The listening process needs to be undertaken in every province and by every primate and bishop. We urge renewed emphasis on the listening process throughout the Communion.

Same-sex blessings
The cost of the decision not to authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in the Episcopal Church is a serious means that LGBT people in America are being asked to carry an intolerable burden. As in England and other parts of the Communion which acknowledge that God blesses covenanted, faithful relationships, we know that priests with the courage of their own spiritual convictions will continue to welcome those who come for blessing.

Covenant
We welcome the framework of the draft covenant for the Anglican Communion. For 500 years Anglicanism has been a creedal, rather than a confessional church. We believe that the ancient creeds of the church are sufficient now, as they have been for over 1,600 years. We remain concerned about the increased tendency in Anglicanism to centralise authority.

In particular we welcome the commitment to ensure that ‘biblical texts are handled faithfully, respectfully, comprehensively and coherently’ [3(3)], to ‘nurture and respond to prophetic and faithful leadership and ministry to assist our Churches as courageous witnesses to the transformative power of the Gospel in the world’ [3(4)] and ‘to seek to transform unjust structures of society’ [4.1].

Theological Diversity

From its inception, the church has been diverse in its theological understanding. We believe that in our many diverse cultures it is to be expected that people will experience God and express their faith in a variety of ways appropriate to their own culture. In our conversations with Tanzanian Anglicans from local congregations, we have heard that while they may not agree with our own view of human sexuality, there is a high level of understanding and acceptance of diversity. They view the threat of schism as posing a great danger to local mission and evangelism, while they continue to hope for a global, diverse Anglican Communion.

As we work to build up the Kingdom of God, we urge sensitivity in our diverse cultures, that not all cultures people are prepared to welcome LGBT at this time.

Working together
Members of Inclusive Church, Integrity USA, and Changing Attitude Nigeria and England have worked together in harmony this week. We have prayed for the Primates. We have given many interviews to the press and media. We have built friendships with other Anglicans across our diversity of opinions. We have talked to many members of the Tanzanian press and helped them some of them begin to understand the experience of LGBT people. We have made contact with LGBT Anglicans from Tanzania and we hope to build on our new friendships. Those Primates who spoke with us encouraged us to work for the unity of the Anglican Communion and for the full inclusion of all, and especially LGBT people.

Prayers
We encourage all people to pray for the primates, bishops, clergy, and people of the Anglican Communion. We especially urge prayer for the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the Primate of Nigeria Peter Akinola, and the Primate of the Episcopal Church Katharine Jefferts Schori. Each of these three Primates faces tremendous pressure of leadership, and we pray that the Holy Spirit will guide them.

Conclusion: Hope for living the Gospel
We look forward to a time when our conversations will be dominated by concerns of mission, evangelism, and service rather than by threats of discrimination, persecution, and schism.

We read the Gospels as commending radical inclusion. Jesus again and again shared meals with outcasts, treasured those whom the culture rejected, and taught that religious practice must be loving. St. Paul urged the earliest Christian communities to be people of Gospel love and hope, rather than people enslaved to the Law. We firmly believe that LGBT Christians belong at the centre of our common life in Christ, not at the margins.

We hope that the church will live this vision. In short, we seek a church that embraces all people as God’s precious children. We want an inclusive church.

END

MEDIA CONTACTS:

The Revd Colin Coward
Director of Changing Attitude England
+44 7770 844302
Email colin@changingattitude.org

Davis Mac-Iyalla
Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria
+234 8025866133
Email davis@nigeria.changingattitude.org

The Revd Scott A Gunn
ECUSA representative to Inclusive Church
+255 762 400949 (in Tanzania until 2 p.m. GMT Wednesday 21 February)
+1 508 720 1500 (in the US any time)
sgunn@swingspan.com

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 19 February 2007 at 11:44pm GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 10 February 2007

InclusiveChurch: A Thousand Hundreds

InclusiveChurch is appealing for donations. The campaign, launched last month, is named A Thousand Hundreds.

HOW YOU CAN HELP US SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

It was, in the end, two American parishes in Virginia going over from the Anglican Communion to the Archbishop of Nigeria that did it. And as a result, the broad, worldwide Anglican organization known as InclusiveChurch is doing two things: making a stand, and starting an appeal.

We know we don’t have much time.

The decision for everyone to go their separate ways could be taken at the Lambeth Conference next year. Meetings leading up to it start next this month.

You can help, whether you’re not a regular churchgoer or not, by contributing to our A Thousand Hundreds campaign. We’re looking for a thousand donations of a hundred pounds.

There are full details of this appeal on the IC website.

The Church Times reported the launch, see ‘Broad centre’ group launches campaign by Rachel Harden.

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Monday, 5 February 2007

Inclusive Church views the future

From the Church of England Newspaper

Turbulent Times: Continuing our series in which campaigning groups outline their future for the Church. This week: Inclusive Church.

Why it is time to focus on the positive aspects of the Church
by Brian Lewis

The Anglican Communion is a truly remarkable phenomenon, an extraordinary kaleidoscope of churches each embodying its own particular history and engaging with its local community in its own distinctive way. The existence of the Communion has meant that churches that are very different from each other have been able to work together as partners, partners in mission sharing spiritual gifts, and partners in material assistance and development.

Inclusive Church hopes that through the work of the Primates’ meeting and the actions of the other “instruments of unity” the Anglican Communion will come to a renewed understanding of its worth and a deeper historical perspective on its differences. There is much talk of the fractures in the Communion but not enough recognition of the works of partnership and the expressions of unity that still go on in very many places; churches from “the North” (including TEC) and “the South” (including in Africa) are still working as partners in mission, poverty relief and development. We hope for a communion that recovers a broader perspective on the issues of the current day and we dare to hope that the Church of England will contribute to this by developing its own understanding of what it means to be an inclusive church. The Church of England will, by a more honest and tolerant recognition of the divergent views within itself, contribute to the wider Communion discovering ways to hold differences without irrevocable division.

When we speak of our hope for an inclusive church we mean a church that will live out the promise of the Gospel. A church that will celebrate the diverse gifts of all members of the Body of Christ, and in the ordering of our common life open the ministries of deacon, priest and bishop to those so called to serve by God, regardless of their gender, race or sexual orientation. The just ordering of the Church’s common life will strengthen its proclamation of the Gospel. Our failure to be inclusive is a real barrier between the church and the wider society we seek to serve and evangelise.
A theology of inclusion is not in opposition to theology that values conversion and sanctification. For us inclusion means that we recognise that God desires salvation for all regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation and that we are all called to lives that are faithful, honest, other enriching and socially responsible again regardless of our race, gender or sexual orientation. It is the church’s task to help the Christian discern a pattern of holy living in response to that Gospel challenge. That response will be based on the serious reading of, and attending, to Scripture in a way that does not confuse the Gospel with either the presuppositions and exclusions of the first century, or an uncritical acceptance of the mores of the culture of today.

The ordination of women to the priesthood is not the church giving up obedience to God and following the culture of the day, it is the church joyfully recognising the leadership gifts God has given to women as well as men and bringing that into the life of our church in our world today. We believe that Scripture teaches us God intends men and women to work in partnership, a partnership expressed in ministry, lay and ordained. This is not a departure from biblical truth it is the church coming to understand it more fully over time, a process encouraged and authenticated by women responding faithfully to God’s call as the church has increasingly opened its lay and ordained ministries to women.

The society in which we live and proclaim the Gospel accepts the right of women to full participation at all levels. So deeply is this part of our society that we have legal sanctions to prevent individuals or organisations denying women the opportunity to advance to all levels of leadership. Yet we have only managed to hesitantly and conditionally recognise what women in the priesthood have brought to the church. Our failure to move easily and speedily to bring women into the episcopate has made us appear strange, irrational, and frankly unwell to the society we hope to evangelise.

We hope for a church that will have the courage to say Yes to women in ministry and leadership. We believe that when our church finally admits women to the episcopate in a way that does not diminish the fullness of that ministry this will not change the essential nature of the episcopate but rather remove an artificial cultural barrier that excludes those whom God has called. It is an uncomfortable truth that some of reactions to the election of Katharine
Jefferts Schori to the position of Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church revealed how superficial the Communion claim to agreement on women in the episcopate is. Women bishops in the Church of England will be an encouragement to those parts of the Communion where this is not yet a reality and strengthen the place in the Communion of those churches in which women already take their rightful place.

If attitudes to women bishops (especially primates!) are one apparent challenge to the Communion’s unity, differing approaches to homosexuality seem to be an even greater threat. Then again we are told that the principal cause of division is not homosexuality but the proper place of Scripture in determining the theology and ethical position of the Church. But first let us note that the same level of division has not come from divergent views of how the Bible should determine the church’s position on other issues. For example some churches in the Communion allow those previously divorced to marry in their churches, others regard that as a betrayal of the clear teaching of the Bible but there is no talk of dividing the Communion over it. We are left with the question of why the issue of homosexuality has produced the visceral response, the violence of language and the depth of division that it has.

The issue of homosexuality is not new - not even to the bishops of the Anglican Communion. Nearly thirty years ago, in 1978, the Lambeth Conference resolved:

“While we reaffirm heterosexuality as the scriptural norm, we recognise the need
for deep and dispassionate study of the question of homosexuality, which would
take seriously both the teaching of Scripture and the results of scientific and
medical research. The Church, recognising the need for pastoral concern for those
who are homosexual, encourages dialogue with them.”

With the notable exception of a few (the Churches in Canada and the USA for example) this study has not been carried out and where it has the results have been ignored in the other parts of the Communion.

The Lambeth Conference of 1988 resolved

“This Conference:

1. Reaffirms the statement of the Lambeth Conference of 1978 on homosexuality, recognising the continuing need in the next decade for “deep and dispassionate study of the question of homosexuality, which would take seriously both the teaching of Scripture and the results of scientific and medical research.”

2. Urges such study and reflection to take account of biological, genetic and psychological research being undertaken by other agencies, and the socio-cultural factors that lead to the different attitudes in the provinces of our Communion.

3. Calls each province to reassess, in the light of such study and because of our concern for human rights, its care for and attitude towards persons of homosexual orientation. “

Could a Lambeth Resolution have been more carefully and studiously ignored?

It is in the context of these resolutions and the complete failure of the Communion to respond to them that we should see the more widely quoted resolution 1.10 of 1998.

We are however, where we are, and Inclusive Church is determined to journey in hope. It is not too late for the Primates to listen to each other with a greater spirit of generosity than they appear to have found in the recent past. The “Windsor process” might achieve greater success if it is broadened to involve the whole Communion at deeper levels. At present it seems to depend on the Bishops indeed the Primates alone. The Lambeth Commission was mandated to report to the Archbishop of Canterbury in preparation for the meetings of the both Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council. It was perhaps a lost opportunity that the Primates acted at Dromantine without waiting for the ACC to meet and bring its wisdom to the table. Their call for members of the ACC to voluntarily suspend their own membership was particularly damaging. The ACC is after all the duly constituted representative body of laity, clergy and bishops in the Communion. When the ACC did meet with the “voluntary” self-suspension of the North American churches it was notable that the suspension was confirmed by a margin less than the votes of the excluded provinces. The Primates decision to exclude would not have been confirmed by the ACC if it had met with its properly constituted membership. May we hope that the Primates will seek ways of acting that are less about determining who may come to the ACC and the Lambeth Conference and more about listening to what might come from those bodies if they are allowed to have their own integrity and purposes.

If the ACC has been somewhat sidelined, how much more the Church of England. With the Archbishop of Canterbury engaged in his delicate role as the “fourth instrument of unity” and choosing to exercise that role in the manner he has, the Church of England has been effectively voiceless. The recent decision to add the Archbishop of York to the Primates meeting may help but it is late in the day and with due respect to the Archbishop of York he was not the one chosen by the due process of the Church of England to represent it.

It is our hope that the Church of England will make a more positive contribution to bringing reconciliation to the Communion by modelling a more irenic and constructive model of debate than we have seen within the Communion to date. At its next meeting General Synod will consider a private members motion that calls for recognition of the diversity of views within the Church of England and the honest and sincere nature of those views. It is a serious attempt to set the ground for a genuine intelligent conversation within the Church of England about the nature of homosexuality, how we read and attend to scripture and how we proclaim the gospel afresh in the society in which we are set. This is not a naive expression of the view that if we can just talk to each other we will discover that we all really agree. We might, but its also very possible we won’t. If we can not come to agreement we still owe it to the people of the church and to the mission of the church to get past caricatures of each other and come to a deeper understanding of what it is the other is really saying. We do not yet know what we might achieve by sitting down to understand the others context, nor should we imagine that we have already heard all that the other has to say, or that we each understand what the other means by the language used. This is not a romantic call to sentimentality it is an invitation to the hard work of dialogue.

The Archbishops’ Council report “Into the New Quinquenium” (General Synod Feb. 06) speaks of the life of the Church being expressed “in its transforming engagement with the society in which it is set”. We journey in hope to the day we become an inclusive church, ordering our common life with justice and celebrating the gifts God has given all his people; while we remain hampered by the cultural presuppositions of a previous age we can not hope to engage and speak to the society in which we are set.

The Rev’d Brian Lewis is a member of the Inclusive Church Executive, a member of General Synod, a parish priest and chairs the Newham Faith Communities Forum.

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Wednesday, 31 January 2007

InclusiveChurch responds to adoption debate

Press release from InclusiveChurch
An interactive network for the voice of liberal Anglicans
.

InclusiveChurch responds to adoption debate

The debate on gay adoption highlights an increasingly serious problem within the Church of England.

We have been called to bear witness to the gospel of generous, redemptive love and justice, but time and again we are perceived to be more concerned with rejection than welcome, with bunker-digging rather than dialogue.

The collective sigh of relief that was breathed and the profound joy that was felt across the country when women were ordained to the priesthood, from those outside as well as those inside the Church, has now been overshadowed.

Instead, the Church is now associated more and more strongly in the public mind with another form of discrimination - homophobia. We are now in a situation where, however carefully public statements are worded, the Church’s of England’s grudging response to the Equality Act, and to last year’s civil partnerships legislation, only encourages the belief that ‘the Church has a problem with gays’.

Meanwhile, the country has moved on. Civil partnerships have been warmly welcomed by gay and lesbian people and their friends and families, with uptake take-up far in excess of Government predictions. And around the country gay couples are getting on with the tough and uniquely valuable vocation of bringing up adopted children.

The Church is certainly called to be counter-cultural. We are certainly called, for example, to challenge trade injustice, to question policy on the international arms trade, to resist consumerism - not least its trivialisation of God’s precious gift of sexuality - in short, to try to work for the good of all people under the eyes of God.

But sometimes our resistance to lessons learned in the secular world appears to be a denial of the possibility of progress.

We cannot control God’s outrageously inclusive Gospel. We should, rather, be asking what God is teaching us through our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters who have heard the Gospel message of salvation and redemption, and become part of the Christian community.

To this end, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement has organised a conference on “Faith, homophobia and human rights” on February 17th.

And the Church of England’s General Synod is preparing to discuss a motion on February 21st which includes the following:

‘That this Synod acknowledge the diversity of opinion about homosexuality within the Church of England and that these divergent opinions come from honest and legitimate attempts to read the scriptures with integrity, understand the nature of homosexual orientation, and respect the patterns of holy living to which lesbian and gay Christians aspire…’

We support these initiatives. As a church, we are in danger of becoming like sheep bleating in our little fold while real life goes by on the road outside. We acknowledge the diversity of opinion within the church. But it is our hope and prayer that the conference and the debate may be occasions to move away from rejection, so that we can jointly preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ’s love for God’s world to which we are all committed, trusting that the Spirit will through dialogue and mutual respect lead us into all truth. .

Revd Briony Martin, Vice Chair, InclusiveChurch

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Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Drenched in Grace: Anglicans, Inclusion and the Gospel

Drenched in Grace: Anglicans, Inclusion and the Gospel is the title of the InclusiveChurch residential conference to be held from 21st to 23rd November 2007 at the Christian Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire.

DRENCHED IN GRACE: Anglicans, Inclusion and the Gospel

More than at any time in the recent past, those who seek to offer an open, inclusive and welcoming Gospel within the Anglican Communion are facing great challenges. Now more than ever we need to be equipped with the theological and ecclesiastical resources which mean that we can with confidence affirm that the Gospel of justice, inclusion and peace we try to communicate is scriptural, rational and central to Anglican tradition.

Confirmed speakers so far are:

Dr. Jenny Te Paa
Principal of Te Rau Kahikatea, College of St John the Evangelist, Auckland, New Zealand and member of the Windsor Commission

Rev. Dr. Louis Weil
James F. Hodges Professor of Liturgics, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley California

Rev. Canon Lucy Winkett
Precentor, St Paul ’s Cathedral, London

Rev. Dr. Sharon Moughtin-Mumby
formerly lecturer in OT Studies, Ripon College, Cuddesdon and now Curate, St Peter’s Church, Walworth (Diocese of Southwark)

Mark Russell
Chief Executive Officer, Church Army

For further details see here and for a booking form go here.

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Thursday, 14 December 2006

InclusiveChurch replies to "covenant"

Press Release

1.0 Conservative Evangelicals are clearly trying to create a defining moment for the Anglican Communion. The declaration by the Anglican Church of Tanzania separating itself from all who ordain, who are, or who support homosexual people, together with Reform’s “Covenant” are the next stages in the rolling out of a strategy which will, if allowed to proceed destroy the Anglican Communion.

2.0 We are seeing the development of a long term plan developed by various people on various continents which is intended to bring the Anglican Communion out of its historically generous and open position, into a narrowly defined, confessional group of churches rooted in the religious right of the United States and extending from there across the world.

2.1 We understand that the Tanzania declaration was produced at the behest of others with the specific aims of undermining the Presiding Bishop of the United States, challenging the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and derailing the moves towards an inclusive Covenant which the Communion is beginning to make. It is a deliberately incendiary move. The intention is to pre-empt any decisions the Primates’ Meeting in February might make so that elements from the Global South and disaffected elements of the Episcopal Church rebels can proceed with their plan to set up an alternative Communion.

3.0 Reform’s “Covenant” brings this strategy into England. The authors of the “Covenant” (all male, all white) and their cohorts are, simply, using the politics of the playground, issuing financial threats and huffing and puffing in an attempt to bring the Church of England into line. The most cursory reading demonstrates a startlingly inadequate ecclesiology and a deep misunderstanding of the role of bishops. They are showing increasing militancy and becoming more and more vocal, because those of us who support the orthodox, historic and open tradition of Anglicanism are, unexpectedly, refusing to lie down and be trampled on.

4.0 Underlying all this is an obsession with homosexuality which flies in the face of human understanding, of natural law and of the Gospel; fundamentally, the labelling of homosexuality as “intrinsically sinful” offers the only chance for unity that these groups can find. It means that Biblical scholarship is distorted to justify the anathematising of homosexuals, and that the Gospel is reduced to a message where the rejection of lesbian and gay people lies millimetres below the surface.

5.0 InclusiveChurch has always, from the beginning, tried to be open to those with whom we disagree. We have sought meetings with conservative groups, and have tried to ensure that the breadth, generosity and openness of Anglicanism is extended to those who would reject that breadth and generosity. But we find that these groups, in the end, do not wish to engage. They wish to set up a separate structure which will keep them safe from taint. In the first place, the taint of homosexuality. Beyond that, the taint of women as bishops (or indeed as priests); and beyond that, the risk of change.

5.1 InclusiveChurch is committed to orthodox Anglicanism, which preaches the gospel of the liberating love of God. Jesus came to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and to let the oppressed go free. Nowhere in the statements of these conservative groups and churches do we hear of the boundless love of God. The theology of the Reform “Covenant” bears as much relation to Anglican theology as that of Calvin and Zwingli did to Hooker and Andrewes.

6.0 We ask the people of Reform: “Why do you not have the courage of your convictions and leave the Church of England altogether? When your actions and your statements display so clearly your wish to distort the church of the Elizabethan Settlement, the Protestant revival, the Oxford Movement and the innovations of the twentieth century, why do you not simply realign yourselves with other churches? Why do you want to remain Anglican if that Anglicanism is a travesty of the gift we have been given?

The logic of your statement is you should secede from the Church of England altogether, not have it restructured to accommodate your narrow views of who may or may not be an Anglican. Inclusivity is written into the title deeds of the Church of England and we ask you to respect it.

But if you leave, you may not take the name “Anglican”; for the church you create will not be an Anglican church.

6.1 Or, if you wish to remain in the Church of England, then remain in the knowledge that we are all required, in love, to engage with each other. We inclusive Christians undoubtedly have a great deal to learn from you; we all, undoubtedly have a great deal in common. Stay in the knowledge that engagement will bring about change. And that God speaks not just to you but to others as well. And that all our understanding of God’s will – yours and ours – is flawed, because we are all flawed.”

7.0 We say to the senior hierarchy of the Church, to Archbishops, Primates and senior staff of the church: “Enough is enough. This squabbling needs to be brought to an end. There is no justification for a Bishop from the province of Nigeria exercising jurisdiction in the United States. There is no justification for Alternative Episcopal Oversight or Extended Primatial Oversight or any other terms used to cloak intolerance. There is no way a province can declare itself to be “out of communion” with another province. We ask you to say to the rebels, whether they are provinces or parishes - ‘leave or engage: if you engage, respect the structures: and listen to the spirit as it speaks to the whole church’. This bullying and hectoring must cease, so that the Gospel can be proclaimed anew. If that means that this generation oversees a split in the Communion, so be it. We trust in God for the future of the Church.”

8.0 To laity and clergy throughout the Communion we say: “You are the future. The Gospel we have been given lies with you to pass on. Are you willing to allow that Gospel to be distorted and broken, to allow the Communion to be torn into something it is not, for the sake of a concept of tradition, biblical truth and God which is exclusive and condemnatory? Are you willing to allow the Communion to go the way of all sects, into marginal oblivion?

We need, all of us, to speak, to pray and to love. We need to seek ways to engage with those with whom we disagree, in worship, in prayer and in our daily lives. We need also to engage with all the structures of the Communion – the Instruments of Unity, Synods, Bishops and officers, making our passion and our commitment known.

But, in the end, we need to be willing to say to those who would undermine the Gospel we proclaim: leave, if you will. Taking your money with you. We are all diminished by division but if division comes, so be it. God’s love will not be constrained.”

Giles Goddard: Chair, InclusiveChurch
St John of the Cross: December 14th 2006
original press release here, and continued here.

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Sunday, 10 December 2006

InclusiveChurch responds to Reform threat

InclusiveChurch PRESS RELEASE: Advent 2: 10th Dec 2006

Rebel churches want to destroy the traditional breadth of the Church of England

Today’s Sunday Telegraph reports that a small group of conservative evangelical parishes are intending to set up an alternative jurisdiction within the Church of England using retired bishops to provide their own, separate ministry. What they are objecting to is in fact the agreed position of the House of Bishops.

The Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, President of InclusiveChurch, said “These rebel churches want to destroy the traditional breadth of the Church of England and turn it into a puritan sect. They must not be allowed to succeed.”

Britain is aware of the dangers of religious extremism. Now, more than ever, the message of a broad and inclusive Christianity needs to be heard. The Civil Partnership legislation has clearly offered new opportunities for people in this country to express a profound and committed love for one another. InclusiveChurch welcomes that.

These parishes are attacking their Bishops for upholding the agreed position on the Civil Partnership legislation. We urge the House of Bishops to resist this attempt further to divide the Church of England. The threats of financial penalties sound very like an attempt to bully the church into a particular position. Rather than engage with the world, these parishes seem to wish to separate themselves from it.

These proposals represent part of a wider pattern which will, if allowed to continue, distort and ultimately destroy the Anglican Communion. Across the Communion, we see attempts to replace the breadth and openness of Anglican theology with a confessional, protestant theology and practice. The recent irregular ordinations in the Diocese of Southwark, the statements of the Primates of the Global South at Kigali in July, the moves by the diocese of San Joaquin and parishes in the Diocese of Virginia to remove themselves from the Episcopal Church, and the appointment by the Church of Nigeria of Martyn Minns as a Bishop in the United States are all part of this strategy.

Alternative Episcopal Oversight, when it was created, set a dangerous precedent for Anglican Christianity. It implied that a “mix and match” church was possible, with people and parishes being able to choose their bishops according to their views on specific issues. The request for Alternative Primatial Oversight in America is partly a result of this precedent. This proposal to bring bishops out of retirement in order to promote a view of the church which appears increasingly single-issue and dominated by homosexuality is another.

We repeat, as we have said before; the Anglican Communion is a gift. In all its complexity and untidiness it has a great deal to offer the world. For that reason we have welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s proposals for working out a Covenant between us.

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Monday, 9 October 2006

A further IC response to Kigali

INCLUSIVECHURCH: A FURTHER RESPONSE TO THE “KIGALI COMMUNIQUE

In September 2006, a Global South Primates Meeting was held and the Kigali Communiqué published. We are among the many Anglicans concerned that its direction is at odds with our understanding of Scripture and the essence of Anglican tradition.

It is disappointing that the Communiqué renounces fellowship with Anglicans in North America and provincial autonomy, and commends for further reflection ‘The Path to Lambeth’, which condemns provinces as following the ‘way of idolatry’ if they take a different view on theology or even comply with equality laws. This also claims that there is a general ‘requirement that believers not associate with openly immoral church members’; and ‘We in the Global South have always made repentance the starting point for any reconciliation and resumption of fellowship in the Communion.’ This echoes Archbishop Peter Akinola’s earlier description of the Episcopal Church of the USA as a ‘cancerous lump’ which must be ‘excised’.

Witnessing in a broken world

The Communiqué draws attention to the tragedy of the genocide in Rwanda, to which primates and other leaders responded by ‘prayer and reflection. We were chastened by this experience and commit ourselves not to abandon the poor or the persecuted wherever they may be and in whatever circumstances. We add our voices to theirs and we say, “Never Again!”’ It continues, ‘As we prayed and wept at the mass grave of 250,000 helpless victims we confronted the utter depravity and inhumanity to which we are all subject outside of the transforming grace of God.’

Over the past century, widespread cruelty and slaughter have taken place not only in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America but also in Europe. Many vividly remember when Hitler’s regime, which held that some people were superior and others subhuman, murdered large numbers of Jewish and disabled people, and locked gypsies and gays, communists and feminists in concentration camps which many did not survive. How have ordinary people repeatedly been persuaded to go along with ethnic ‘cleansing’ and other barbarity?

Factors perhaps include the tendency of humans to feel distaste or contempt for, or distance themselves from, those regarded as ‘other’. Most disturbingly, while some Christians have bravely resisted, other devout believers have been convinced that mistreating others was doing God’s will. Through the centuries many have believed that the Bible justified anti-Semitism and separation of humankind into different ‘races’ or violence against the defenceless. It is all too easy not to question what teachers, pastors and national leaders claim is righteous and true. Scripture and tradition, as well as claims of social progress, have been misused to justify victimising others, not recognising them as children of the same heavenly Father, in whose image they are made. Indeed ‘The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse – who can understand it?’ (Jeremiah 17.9).

Less obviously, in both the global South and North, the destitute and abandoned largely go unnoticed by the prosperous and comfortable, apart from occasional acts of charity. Often Christians as well as non-Christians pass by on the other side (Luke 10.25-37), unwilling to enter too deeply into the lives of those whose experience is different from their own.

Humility is called for on the part of Anglicans throughout the world who wish to challenge cruelty and injustice and grow more like their Shepherd, who teaches people to love even their enemies (Matthew 5.43-48), patiently seeks the lost (Luke 15) and is willing to lay down his life for his sheep (John 10.11-16). ‘Evangelical’ or ‘Anglo-Catholic’, ‘liberal’ or ‘traditional’, we can only witness authentically to a broken world if we can admit our own fallibility.

Being Anglican

Nevertheless Anglicanism has something to offer the world. It arose from the ashes of brutal conflict in which pious Christians burnt or beheaded one another in God’s name. Former enemies, joined in a common baptism, together partook of the body and blood of Christ.

Decolonisation further decentralised power in the Anglican Communion, as did the increased role of laypeople in decision-making. There is no single authority which wields control everywhere, which could stifle cultural and theological diversity.

At best, Anglican engagement with Scripture, tradition and reason (and experience, some would add) has provided fertile ground for the workings of the Holy Spirit. It has sometimes taken a long time to reach consensus, and profound theological disagreements remain on issues ranging from lay presidency at communion to nuclear warfare, remarriage of divorcees and homosexuality. Patience can be hard, not only for those who believe that harmful teachings and practices are not being strongly enough challenged but also for others who feel that their vocation or very humanity has not been recognised because of their gender, sexuality, ethnicity or disability. But in time correct ideas are generally confirmed and wrong ones abandoned, in the context of shared worship, prayer and care for the sick and needy.

Dare any of us judge others, confident that we occupy the moral high ground (Matthew 7.1-5)? Does the language of “The Road to Lambeth” reflect the wisdom from above that is pure, peaceable, gentle and full of mercy (James 3.13-18)? Can we presume to come to the Lord’s table trusting in our own righteousness, and insist that certain of our brothers and sisters be barred if we are to attend? Jesus himself was criticised for eating with sinners (Matthew 9.11-13); are the disciples greater than the master? And if strong differences of opinion arise over other matters (which is likely) might there not be further splits? Will clergy who disagree with legitimate decisions within their provinces again seek out archbishops overseas to offer episcopal oversight? This is not in accord with Anglican tradition, and sets a poor example to a divided world.

Living with difference can be painful, and it may take time to learn to dispute difficult issues with kindness, respect and empathy. But the breadth of Anglicanism is part of our inheritance which we should cherish. Through continuing to eat and drink together at the Lord’s table and seeking to love across boundaries of culture and opinion, Anglicans may experience spiritual renewal and play a greater part in the healing of the nations.

Prepared by Savitri Hensman, Anglican Matters and member of InclusiveChurch executive

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InclusiveChurch on San Joaquin

Statement from InclusiveChurch regarding the Diocese of San Joaquin

9th October 2006

1.0 On October 1st, the Diocese of San Joaquin in California gave notice that it is calling a conference on 1st and 2nd December 2006 following proposals to amend the Diocesan constitution. The amendments would “place the Diocese of San Joaquin in an ideal position to be part of any ecclesiastical structure that the Archbishop of Canterbury and Primates might design”.

There can be little doubt that we are witnessing the rolling out of a carefully planned and well-funded strategy to create a church-within-a-church. If San Joaquin is successful, it will probably be followed by the other Dioceses seeking Alternative Primatial Oversight (APO). From there, it is likely that non-geographical missionary dioceses will be created, so that parallel structures will exist initially in the United States but thereafter in Canada, the United Kingdom and across the world.

2.0 This in tandem with the “Road to Lambeth” document and the Kigali Communique further confirm that the attempt to subvert traditional Anglicanism is already well advanced. We view these developments with deep concern.

3.0 InclusiveChurch is a broad-based organisation. Our supporters, across the world, include evangelicals, broad-church Anglicans, liberals and catholics. The partners with whom we work very closely include: Accepting Evangelicals, Changing Attitude, the Association of Black Clergy, the Modern Churchpeoples’ Union, the Society of Catholic Priests, Women and The Church, the Group for the Rescinding of the Act of Synod, Affirming Catholicism and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. We are orthodox Anglicans. We care deeply about the Gospel of Jesus Christ as communicated through the Anglican tradition. We look to the tradition of Lancelot Andrewes and Richard Hooker: “One Canon (of Scripture) reduced to unity by God Himself, two Testaments, three Creeds, four General Councils, (over) five centuries.” We understand the Anglican Communion to be both Catholic and Reformed, episcopally governed and synodically led. And we give thanks to God for its breadth, its diversity and its complex life.

4.1 It is in this context that we believe that what we are seeing is a serious distortion of Anglican polity and theology. In particular, bodies which have no legal or executive status in Anglicanism - notably the Lambeth Conference and the Primates Meetings - are being promoted to a position where they are being used to override fundamental Anglican principles - provincial autonomy and synodical government. Resolution 1.10 - which came at the end of a notoriously unedifying debate and is the flawed result of a badly managed process - apparently justifies the elevation of the Windsor Report to a quasi-legal status with the Primates sitting as judge and jury on the “Windsor compliance” of the Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC).

4.2 None of this is acceptable. Primates are not cardinals. The Primates’ meeting is not the Curia. Primates of any part of the Anglican Communion do not have the right to commit their provinces to action without implementing detailed and comprehensive synodical processes. The Windsor Report was an attempt to find a way through the apparent impasse we had reached. We acknowledge that it has, in the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury, been “widely accepted as a basis for any progress”. As a result and in order to go the extra mile, TEC and the ACC have agreed in the interests of unity both to withdraw from the meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council and to major amendments in provincial practice. But the notion that TEC has in some way “broken the rules” has no place in Anglican ecclesiology.

5.0 Savitri Hensman has written “Anglicanism has something to offer the world. It arose from the ashes of brutal conflict in which pious Christians burnt or beheaded one another in God’s name. Former enemies, joined in a common baptism, together partook of the body and blood of Christ.

Decolonisation further decentralised power in the Anglican Communion, as did the increased role of laypeople in decision-making. There is no single authority which wields control everywhere, which could stifle cultural and theological diversity.

Dare any of us judge others, confident that we occupy the moral high ground (Matthew 7.1-5)? Does the language of “The Road to Lambeth” language reflect the wisdom from above that is pure, peaceable, gentle and full of mercy (James 3.13-18)? Can we presume to come to the Lord’s table trusting in our own righteousness, and insist that certain of our brothers and sisters be barred if we are to attend? Jesus himself was criticised for eating with sinners (Matthew 9.11-13); are the disciples greater than the master? And if strong differences of opinion arise over other matters (which is likely) might there not be further splits? Will clergy who disagree with legitimate decisions within their provinces again seek out archbishops overseas to offer episcopal oversight? This is not in accord with Anglican tradition, and sets a poor example to a divided world.” (InclusiveChurch: a further response to the Kigali Communique - by Savitri Hensman)

6.0 This statement is being written in a thriving, inner city parish in South London. Half of the congregation are from Nigeria; one fifth from Sierra Leone and Ghana. Some are gay or lesbian. We do not agree on everything. But we meet, every Sunday, at the altar and share in the eucharist. We give thanks, every Sunday, that we are the Body of Christ; by the one spirit we were all baptised into one body.

6.1 The approach being taken by the “Global South” and the dioceses seeking APO seems to assume a theological dualism. Those who ascribe to a particular series of beliefs, coalescing around attitudes to homosexuality, are right. Everyone else is wrong. In the words of the Archbishop of Nigeria “Who ever subscribes to this covenant must abide by it and those who are unable to subscribe to it will walk out”. We see no place in Anglicanism for the description by a Primate of another province as a “cancer” which must be “rooted out”.

7.0 We call on all members of our communion - laity, clergy and bishops - to recognise the clear and present danger to the charism with which we are entrusted. In a world where modernity is increasingly rejected, and where the “lust for certainty” is increasingly paramount, the Anglican Communion has a great deal to offer. In the words of the Archbishop of Cape Town “We must not lose this inheritance, if we are serious about being faithful to the Lord, as he has been faithful to us.”

For further information and to sign up as a supporter of InclusiveChurch’s aims, go to www.inclusivechurch.net.

Giles Goddard - Chair -
On behalf of the InclusiveChurch Executive

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Monday, 25 September 2006

The end of the Communion?

InclusiveChurch has issued the following press release:

The end of the Communion?

1.0 As a result of the statements issued by the meeting of the Primates of the “Global South” in Kigali, the Anglican Communion has been moved into completely new territory. We are presented with a situation where the possibility of dialogue between believing Christians is being closed down. Both the tone and the content of the Communique of the Primates of the Global South reflect an understanding of the Church which is profoundly un-Anglican, and represents a radical departure from both our ecclesiology and our traditions. We are sleepwalking towards a new church, and unless the silent majority of Anglicans do take action we will wake up to find we have lost the Church and the Christianity we hold dear.

2.0 “One church, one bishop, one territory” is fundamental to our Anglican polity and identity; to say that it is now “outdated” is to deny the whole history of Anglicanism . To say that many of the Primates can either not be in communion or to be in “impaired communion” with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (TEC) represents a theological and ecclesiological nonsense, The sacrament of Holy Communion is a sacrament given to us by God which is not capable of impairment. We trust in God and give thanks to Him for the gift of communion; it is as the Body of Christ that we exist.

3.0 The proposal to create two parallel jurisdictions within the Anglican Communion, separate but both nominally Anglican through their relationship with Canterbury, rides roughshod over the Instruments of Unity and over the Windsor process. It also represents a misunderstanding of the nature of Anglican identity. If we are in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury we cannot be out of communion with one another.

But we remember that many of the primates of the “Global South” absented themselves from a Eucharist to which they were invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Dromantine Conference in 2005. We draw the conclusion from that that their allegiance to Canterbury is at best skin deep, and subject to his confirmation of their particular position on matters of human sexuality.

We also note that the Communique did not involve or receive the assent of the Archbishop of Cape Town and the Province of Southern Africa, and we wonder how many other Provinces’ assent has been assumed instead of confirmed.

4.0 Those who believe in a church which is both inclusive and welcoming have until now sought to respond to the actions of the Primates of the “Global South” with reason and restraint. As a result, factions within our Church have pushed harder and harder at the bounds of communion. Their proposals now bear only a tangential resemblance to the Anglicanism which has until now defined and developed the Communion.

5.0 We note too that significant amounts of funding for many of the organisations which have led on these – notably the American Anglican Council, Anglican Communion Network and Anglican Mainstream – have come from the Ahmanson family and other non-Anglican, politically conservative foundations based in the United States. This funding has enabled the due processes of the Anglican Communion to be subverted and hijacked, raising issues of family life and human sexuality to a prominence within the life of our church which is unjustified and contrary to the Gospel values of love and justice.

6.0 We have noted with concern that although the Archbishop of Canterbury has implicitly on a number of occasions publicly been critical of the actions of TEC - for example in his recent Pastoral Letter he has as yet not been critical of the very serious breaches of the Instruments of Unity by the Church of Nigeria; for example, the creation of a Bishop in the United States in complete contravention of Windsor guidelines on provincial boundaries. Neither has he challenged the actions of the Church of Nigeria in its vociferous support of the criminalisation of homosexuality in Nigeria despite his condemnation of homophobia on several occasions.

7.0 We note that the Communique from the Primates of the “Global South” identifies the Church of England as being compromised by its attitude towards the civil partnership legislation in this country. We believe it is important in this context for the Church of England to be clear on its current practice. Namely, that hundreds if not thousands of same-gender partnerships have been celebrated over the past thirty years, in churches, by priests and deacons. Further, that there have been, and in the future no doubt will be homosexual bishops in relationships within our church. Any Covenant, therefore, which excludes members of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada will have also to exclude the Church of England.

7.0 In the light of what is being produced by the “Global South” we have the following questions for which we request urgent clarification from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion Office

7.1 Will they confirm that all Bishops duly elected or appointed and with current responsibilities in the Communion will be invited to the 2008 Lambeth Conference? There can be no other way to ensure that those loyal to the principles of Anglicanism are duly and properly involved in the life of our Communion.

7.2 If “Alternative Primatial Oversight” is granted for the Dioceses seeking it in the United States, what equivalent oversight will be offered to LGBT Christians experiencing danger and discrimination in Nigeria and other parts of Africa?

7.3 What structures exist to permit the selection of an “alternative” to the Presiding Bishop of TEC to attend Primates’ meetings?

7.4 Is the development of parallel jurisdictions acceptable to the ACO? If it is, then what is to stop the development of more jurisdictions on other matters?

7.5 The “Global South” Primates appear to be seeking to pre-empt the Covenant process by preparing a draft with the clear intention of requiring assent to confessional propositions related to homosexuality. What implications does this have for the process of agreeing a Covenant which recognises the depth and breadth of Anglicanism, both Catholic and Reformed?

7.6 What brief was given to the Bishops of Durham and Winchester in their recent attendance at a meeting of Bishops of TEC?

8.0 We are also concerned by the silence from the Bishops of the Church of England. The implications of the “Global South” developments may well, in the near future, have an impact on the Church of England. Indeed there have already been actions which indicate the shape of things to come, such as the unauthorised ordinations in the Diocese of Southwark. There are significant numbers of English Bishops who are deeply perturbed by the actions of their colleagues across the world, and deeply concerned to counter homophobia and prejudice. Why are they not speaking?

9.0 Today we celebrate the life of Lancelot Andrewes, one of the fathers of our church. We deeply regret the way in which the Communion is being undermined and sidetracked by a false Anglicanism which neither reflects nor pays tribute to our history. We trust and pray that the dialogue to which we are all as Christians called will continue so that the Gospel of Christ may flourish in this country and across the Communion.

Giles Goddard
Chair, InclusiveChurch

Lancelot Andrewes; 25th September 2006

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Friday, 22 September 2006

Transforming the World?

InclusiveChurch is holding a conference with this title on Saturday 14 October at St Mary’s Church Putney.

After the success of our two National services in 2004 and 2005 and our Partners’ Conference last year, we now offer our supporters the opportunity to participate in our first National Day Conference.

Transforming the World? has been created to ask the question – how do we re-engage with an indifferent world? Our preoccupation with issues of sexual orientation and gender have distracted us from preaching a Gospel of inclusion, justice and fairness. It seems to us at Inclusive Church that it is urgent that we rediscover our voice to our wider society.

Clare Herbert, Ann Morrisey and Jeremy Davies will encourage us to ask the questions, - why continue to bother with the Church? What can we offer to transform the world? Is the inclusive gospel something to celebrate?

Programme

10.00 am Arrival and coffee

10.30 am Keynote Speaker: Clare Herbert ‘What can we offer an uninterested world?’

12.00 noon Lunch

12.45 pm Workshops

  1. Ann Morrisey – ‘Transforming the world – engagement and involvement?’
  2. Jeremy Davies – ‘Transforming liturgy?’

1.45 pm Workshops re-run (so you all get a chance to go to both!)

2.45 pm Plenary – conclusions and the future, including our international residential conference in Swanwick, November 2007.

3.15 pm Eucharist – celebrant Giles Fraser

4.15 pm Tea and depart.

We know you’re all busy people and so are starting to book your diaries up for October already so we’re offering you an incentive - a reduction in conference fees if you book early. For booking and payment before 1 October 2006, the fee will be £20.00 only. After 1 October and on the door, the fee will be £25.00. Both prices are still a bargain for such a great day.

Please make your cheques payable to The Inclusive Church Network and send them to

The Revd. Giles Goddard
Chair, InclusiveChurch
St Peter’s Church,
Liverpool Grove
London SE17 2HH

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Thursday, 29 June 2006

InclusiveChurch on the Anglican Covenant

PRESS RELEASE

Inclusive Church is grateful to the Archbishop of Canterbury for his reaffirmation of the breadth and diversity of the Anglican tradition.

His recognition of this fundamental principle and mark of Anglicanism - the catholic, reformed and liberal strands of the Communion - offer a sound basis for our journey forward together.

But we have profound concerns about the process of agreeing any Covenant. The quick response of some of the more conservative parts of the Communion indicates that they see a Covenant more as an instrument of division than an instrument of unity.

The terms and wording of any document will need to “renew our positive appreciation of the possibilities of our heritage” in the Archbishop’s words. A Covenant must therefore give value to the strands in our tradition, not excluding reason from our theological method but finding a new way of expressing the Anglican approach to the faith in today’s world.

If we are to approach the process of agreeing a Covenant with honesty and integrity we must as Provinces and local churches be willing to be open about our own present situations. Many provinces have practices which other parts of the Communion may not support. For example, the blessing of same-gender relationships happens regularly in this Province even if not officially acknowledged. There are ongoing issues around the world over the tacit acceptance of lay presidency and polygamy.

The possibility of a two-tier Communion should not therefore be seized upon as a way to exclude those who support the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the church. The Church of England is in various ways very similar to the Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada and many of us would hope to strengthen our links in the future. It is likely that any wording designed to exclude TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada would also exclude the Church of England.

We are also uncertain whether a Covenant would affect the unilateral activities the Windsor report hoped to end – for example the election by the Province of Nigeria of Revd Martin Minns as bishop for a missionary initiative in North America.

We have serious concerns about the way a Covenant might be applied locally in the future. Proposals before the Church of England’s General Synod for the ordination of women as bishops are specifically designed to avoid parallel jurisdictions. How can we reconcile that with the proposal to have “constituent” and “associate” members of the Communion? Is there not potential for division even at Deanery level?

Ultimately we believe that we are already brought together by the covenant of Baptism. An Anglican Covenant, to reaffirm the bonds of unity for our Communion, will have to reflect the essential inclusiveness of the Baptismal Covenant.

Revd Dr. Giles Fraser, President, InclusiveChurch
Revd Giles Goddard, Chair, InclusiveChurch 07762 373 674

office@inclusivechurch.net
www.inclusivechurch.net

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Monday, 19 June 2006

InclusiveChurch letter from Columbus 4

Letter from the General Convention 2006: Sunday June 18, 2006
Columbus, Ohio.

IIt has been an eventful twenty four hours. Last evening there was a gathering to honour the ministry of the retiring Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold. It was a moving, humorous and respectful tribute employing video, music and drama to celebrate a remarkable ministry. Presentation was made of a book of reflections on reconciliation, ‘I Have Called You Friends’, published by the Cowley Press, and the evening was strong evidence of the spiritual heart of this Convention. One bishop afterwards said they failed to see how anyone present could not have been touched by the grace of God’s presence.

The ending of one ministry led today to the start of a new one. The election this afternoon of the Bishop of Nevada, Katharine Jefferts Schori, as the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church electrified the General Convention, dramatically moving the Windsor Report from top of the agenda. The news was greeted with unrestrained delight by the majority of the thousands waiting for the result who were also clearly aware that this is a momentous decision with wide reaching consequences. The Episcopal Church has become for some the scapegoat of the Communion and the election of the first woman primate will undoubtedly be seen by them as hastening the division that has been darkly predicted at the edges of this Convention. (Conspiracy theorists suggest bishops of the Anglican Communion Network actually voted for her to precipitate the break). Whatever happens next this election will undoubtedly change something of the chemistry of the Episcopal Church, many believe for the better.

There is no substitute for actually being here, and it is a pity there are so few of us here from the Church of England to experience the vitality of this remarkable church. Not everyone sees it. The Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, has commented on the resolution passed by the House of Bishops that opposes ‘any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriage or civil unions’, seeing this as evidence of a different religion at work. Following on from the Bishop of Durham’s intervention earlier in the week many people have questioned the prelates’ purpose, and how the Church of England would react to such direct intrusion from bishops from the Episcopal Church. The Bishop of Rochester preached at a eucharist on Friday organised by the AAC, ACN and Forward in Faith, at which we understand there were about eighty people present (Anglican Mainstream has the figure at 200).

Columbus is an unlikely setting for a gathering which is receiving so much attention from around the world, but what is happening here in these days is important, and in the right sense of the word, momentous. The overriding impression is of a church that is healthy, passionate and God centred. The commitment to Anglicanism is heartfelt, and it is worth repeating that the sense of Anglican identity is undoubtedly stronger here than in some other churches of the Communion. With so much focus on the pressures facing the Communion it is not surprising that there is so much introspection, but as the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Kenneth Kearon, today reminded the House of Deputies, the danger of spending too much time close to the problem is that we can lose sight of the big picture. Perhaps we all need to take a step back and celebrate the richness of the tapestry of God of which we are but a part.

Giles Goddard
Philip Chester

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Saturday, 17 June 2006

InclusiveChurch letter from Columbus 3

Letter from the General Convention 2006: Saturday June 17, 2006
Columbus, Ohio.

The atmosphere of the Convention may be cruelly deceptive; we could be completely wrong. But the quality of discussion and debate here, the powerful recognition of the Episcopal Church as part of the Anglican Communion, the acknowledgement of mutual and shared responsibilities, makes us cautiously optimistic that by the time the delegates and bishops disperse next Wednesday, the future for Anglicanism will be a great deal brighter than it was last week.

Not, however, that it’s by any means plain sailing. The complexity of the legislative process has to be experienced to be believed. We attended the House of Bishops discussion on some of the resolutions related to the Windsor report. The most frequent comment from the Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold, was “where are we?” At a number of points nobody knew.

From discussions today it seems that the remaining resolutions relating to the Windsor Report will make their way to the floor on Monday. Whilst there is noticeable respect for the importance of the issues facing the Communion, there is also some disquiet that so much time has been taken by this one issue to the detriment of other and more important gospel issues.

High spots - the Integrity Eucharist in Trinity Episcopal Church. Preacher - the Rt Revd Gene Robinson. The church was completely packed - we’ve never seen so many rainbow stoles. The gist of his sermon was perhaps most clearly expressed in these sentences: “The hard part is following Jesus’ own command to LOVE our enemies. Not to like them, not to be paralyzed by their opposition, not to give in to their outrageous demands, but to love them nevertheless. To treat them with infinite respect, listen to what drives them, try our best to understand the fear that causes them to reject us, to believe them when they say they only want the best for us. That’s hard work, and we can’t do it without God’s own spirit blowing through us like wind, breaking down OUR walls, causing our assumptions to “come loose,” and reminding us that they too are children of God, for whom Christ died and through whom they will be saved”.

full text of sermon

Another high spot - the Convention Eucharist this morning. The inspired choice of preacher was Dr Jenny Te Paa, a member of the church of Aotorea/New Zealand who served on the Windsor Commission. Speaking with power and authority, she expressed the dismay of the Maori elders of her community that there is the faintest chance that the Anglican Communion may no longer be one. She emphasised the cost and the potential pain of reconciliation, quoting Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And she called for an end to the sins of hypocrisy and fear, expressed through the evils of racism, sexism, imperialism and homophobia. But she also spoke of the experience of colonialism for indigenous peoples, clearly referring to the Global South. Sustained applause followed her sermon. Tom Wright’s letter earlier this week was thrown into stark contrast by the depth and respect with which she spoke to the Episcopal Church.

The Archbishop of York is here for the whole Convention. One of the resolutions currently under discussion opens the possibility of representatives from other parts of the Anglican Communion on Episcopal Church bodies, in order that there may be greater understanding of the polity of this province. Speaking in the debate, Dr Sentamu said that he was grateful for the hospitality extended by the Episcopal Church to its guests, and that his participation in the process meant that he would be leaving with a much greater understanding of this church. He also said that one of the problems at the moment is that much of the activity of the Global South is based on hearsay: “If you assume, you make an ass of you and me”.

And finally, Kenneth Kearon, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, gave an interview to the Episcopal News Service. “I commend the Episcopal Church for the way it has taken seriously the requests of the Windsor Report, and you see this seriousness in the way that business is being conducted on this particular issue at Convention.”

So where does all this leave the discussion? There is clearly a small minority for whom only full repentance and reversal of Gene Robinson’s ordination to the episcopate would be sufficient. One Bishop said to us that he thought it inevitable that some people would leave. But the dire predictions of fundamental splits seem unlikely to be realised, at least from the point of view of the Episcopal Church. The question is whether the rest of the Communion, especially the “Global South” will be able to respond to the decisions of this convention in the spirit of love and reconciliation with which they are offered.

Giles Goddard
Philip Chester

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Friday, 16 June 2006

InclusiveChurch letter from Columbus 2

Letter from the General Convention 2006: Friday June 16.

It is still not clear when the resolutions referring to the Windsor Report will move through the legislative process. We have heard that there is no consensus amongst the members of the Special Commission Committee as to the way forward, and despite the myriad of opinions volunteered no-one is really able to guess the outcome. One thing is clear: the bonds of affection between members of this church are deep and sincere and there is little desire for fracturing the body.

Yesterday we attended an interesting seminar on the baptismal covenant hosted by the Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission. In their response to the resolutions relating to the Windsor Report they refer to the assertion in the Prayer Book of ECUSA that “the bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble” and go on to call attention to the fact that “Baptism into our one Lord, and the regular renewal of that covenant in Holy Communion, form the basis for all communion within the Body of Christ. Thus ‘bonds of affection’ are properly understood as the fruit of this very real unity, rather than the essential sign of, or basis for communion among Anglicans Baptism is the sole basis for communion among Anglicans.”

The baptismal covenant, which unites us with Christ in his death and resurrection and seals us with the Holy Spirit, is “the sacrament of once-for-all admission into membership in the catholic church, a particular expression of which is the local eucharistic community.” With this understanding as the basis for church life it is, at the very least, presumptuous to declare who is and who is not in communion across the boundaries of the church. The intervention of the Bishop of Durham at the eleventh hour has surprised and confused many people here, and we have heard more than one person say that it seems to be a clear attempt to subvert the process of reception of the Windsor Report. It has certainly reaffirmed the determination of some to powerfully assert the communion of all the baptized.

The Episcopal Church has an understanding of the baptismal covenant that permeates every aspect of its life, defining its liturgy, ecclesiology and polity. It heightens the contrast between ECUSA and the Church of England and it is hard to overestimate its significance for the present discussion on communion. If the covenant we share as Anglicans is indeed the covenant of our baptism, what is the purpose of the proposed Anglican Covenant other than to create a new way of regulating our common life that is inconsistent with our Anglican understanding?

In some senses there is a far stronger understanding of Anglicanism present here than one would find in any large gathering of the Church of England. This is a church which people have chosen: in England association and commitment to the CofE is less clearly defined, for good and obvious reason. It perhaps explains why there is a degree of frustration here when Anglican commentators still talk about the ‘appointment’ of bishops, and why the Primate is called Presiding Bishop rather than Archbishop. Power is far less hierarchical in ECUSA and the ignorance of our different polities is sobering.

Many people ask us if the General Synod is in any way similar to the General Convention, and the simple answer is no. There is simply no equivalent gathering in the Church of England where people gather to celebrate, pray and deliberate on what it means to be church. The warmth of welcome we are receiving is deeply moving, and a sign of what our communion could and should be like.

Everywhere there is a sense that bit is time to move on. The ONE Campaign (the equivalent of our Make Poverty History) has wide support here and many wish this could receive at least the same attention being given to issues of human sexuality. This is undoubtedly a time for decision and we wait to see where the Holy Spirit leads.

Giles Goddard
Philip Chester
Inclusive Church

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Thursday, 15 June 2006

InclusiveChurch letter from Columbus 1

Ten thousand Episcopalians have gathered in Columbus Ohio to worship, pray and talk together. The scale of the Convention is breathtaking; the Conference Centre is half a mile from end to end, and the daily Eucharist is in a hall large enough to accommodate all the participants. People from across the spectrum of the church are present, from the conservative dioceses such as Pittsburgh and Fort Worth to liberals from Chicago and New York; worship is bi-lingual in Spanish and English; and legislative sessions start at 7.30 a.m and go on late into the evening.

The daily Eucharist is perhaps the most powerful part of the day - particularly as the whole congregation is seated at tables of ten people. After the sermon we are asked to take part in a “Table Discussion” which is extremely effective, creating a mini-community among the vastness of the worship and a palpable sense of unity within the incredible diversity of the Convention.

We are here to extend the hand of friendship from InclusiveChurch, to build networks of friendship and to share our common experiences. Clearly the huge issue for this conference, apart from the election of a new Presiding Bishop, is how the church here responds to the recommendations of the Windsor Report. Episcopalians are aware that “the eyes of the world are upon us” and are deeply aware that what happens this week will affect the future of the Anglican Communion. There is no sense that they are acting lightly, carelessly or without serious thought.

We have met, among other people, Cate Waynick, the Bishop of Indianapolis; Jon Bruno the Bishop of Los Angeles; representatives of Affirming Catholicism USA, Via Media, Claiming the Blessing; clergy and lay people from across the US and beyond. Apart from the generous and open welcome InclusiveChurch receives, there is a strong sense that ECUSA recognises its place as part of the Anglican Communion; the issue, therefore, for this week is how it can square the recommendations of the Windsor Report and the concerns of its conservative members with the strongly expressed determination to support, affirm and encourage the faith and ministry of lesbians and gay men within the church.

But the only point on which there is clarity is that there is no clarity. A Special Commission was set up to draft a possible response to the Windsor report, which has recommended a number of resolutions for Convention to consider. In these resolutions, the church expresses “deep regret” at the pain caused due to its actions and calls for “very considerable caution in the nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.” A further resolution asks the church not to proceed to “authorize public Rites of Blessing for same-sex unions, until some broader consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges.”

The legislative process calls for a Hearing to be held before the introduction of resolutions, which then have to be passed by a majority in the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies (which is made up of clergy and lay delegates from every diocese). The hearing regarding these resolutions was held last night; 1500 people attended and 70 spoke, including Gene Robinson (coincidentally following Robert Duncan the (conservative) bishop of Pittsburgh), Colin Coward of Changing Attitude and the Archbishop of York. While most of the contributions were unsurprising, there was clearly an undercurrent from some conservatives that the present situation cannot continue and that unity is being strained to breaking point.

In other words, the proposed resolutions go too far for some and not far enough for others. A startling and entirely inappropriate intervention from Tom Wright, the Bishop of Durham, makes this clear. In a paper released to the Anglican Communion Network of (predominantly conservative) bishops a couple of weeks ago and widely publicised just before the hearing, he calls for ECUSA to use precisely the language of the Windsor report in expressing regret and imposing a “moratorium” on the appointment of bishops who might cause controversy; he accuses the Special Commission’s report of duplicity in its use of language and includes scarcely veiled threats should ECUSA not roll over and submit to the Windsor recommendations. While his paper was seized on by some to reinforce their positions, for most it was seen as a unacceptable example of arrogance from the Church of England - precisely the kind of thing guaranteed not to encourage the meeting of minds which is so urgently sought. The Archbishop of York, who is present for the whole week, made similar points but with a great deal more tact.

The resolutions are now to be discussed in detail. There is much to be negotiated. There is a danger is that the substance of the issue - the acceptance of lesbians and gay people - will be confused with the fallout of the process related to Gene Robinson’s appointment. Unclarity on both issues may continue for some while yet. A desire for closure on these issues may not be fulfilled. To be continued……

Giles Goddard
Philip Chester
Inclusive Church

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Thursday, 2 March 2006

InclusiveChurch open letter to archbishop

InclusiveChurch calls on the Archbishop of Canterbury to support lesbian and gay Anglicans in Nigeria and Uganda

Press Release

InclusiveChurch and its Partner Organisations have called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to support lesbian and gay Christians in Nigeria and Uganda and asked him to encourage the Anglican Churches in Nigeria and Uganda to desist from denigrating them and denying their existence as committed and active Anglicans.

InclusiveChurch welcomes the establishment of Changing Attitude Nigeria and Integrity Uganda as legitimate voices of gay and lesbian Africans within our Anglican Communion. InclusiveChurch believes that the dire situation of lesbian and gay Anglicans in these countries is exacerbated by the actions of our own church.

In their joint letter to the Archbishop, the Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, President of InclusiveChurch and the Rev. Giles Goddard, Chair say, ‘We are deeply concerned that in Nigeria in particular the Anglican Church appears to be encouraging the State to engage in active persecution of gay people and those who speak for them.’

Successive Lambeth Conferences have called on the Anglican Communion to engage in dialogue with gay Christians and to listen to their experiences. Integrity Uganda and Changing Attitude Nigeria provide ways of responding to this call. InclusiveChurch believes that all Anglicans should welcome the establishment of these groups and seek to assist them in their difficult and dangerous situations. To deny them a legitimate place in the life of the church is reject the call of the Lambeth Conference resolutions.

InclusiveChurch believes that the full inclusion, without conditions, of women, lesbian and gay people, people from all ethnic backgrounds and people with disabilities at all levels of the church is essential as a sign of the universal love of God.

InclusiveChurch is a campaigning organisation which is committed to celebrating and maintaining the Anglican tradition of inclusion and diversity. More information at www.inclusivechurch.net.

For further information contact The Rev. Giles Goddard at giles@inclusivechurch.net 07762 373 674

The full text of the open letter appears below the fold.

Text of Open Letter

The Archbishop of Canterbury,
Lambeth Palace
London SE1

21st February 2006

Dear Archbishop,

Inclusive Church and its Partner Organisations welcome the establishment of Changing Attitude Nigeria and Integrity Uganda as legitimate voices of gay and lesbian Africans within our Anglican Communion. We are deeply concerned at the hostility and aggression that those who belong to, and those who support these organisations, have met from their respective Anglican Churches and ask that they be affirmed as members of the Anglican family with the right to be heard and respected.

Successive Lambeth Conferences have called on the Anglican Communion to engage in dialogue with gay Christians and to listen to their experiences. Integrity Uganda and Changing Attitude Nigeria provide ways of responding to this call. We believe that all Anglicans should welcome the establishment of these groups and seek to assist them in their difficult and dangerous situations. To deny them a legitimate place in the life of the church is reject the call of the Lambeth Conference resolutions.

We are deeply concerned that in Nigeria in particular the Anglican Church appears to be encouraging the State to engage in active persecution of gay people and those who speak for them. We hope that you will encourage all Anglicans to support these vulnerable Christians and to encourage the Churches in Nigeria and Uganda in particular to recognise the members and supporters of these groups as part of our Anglican family, and to desist from denigrating them even denying their existence as committed and active Anglicans.

We recognise how very difficult it is to raise this concern in the current climate of conflict within the Anglican Communion but the dire situation of these Anglicans can not wait for the Anglican Communion to resolve its internal difficulties, the physical dangers that they face are, we believe, being exacerbated by the actions of our own church. We earnestly hope that you will be able to recognise their situation and encourage all concerned to cease the campaign against them and recognise the Christian duty to protect, not persecute, these vulnerable Christians.

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, President
Rev. Giles Goddard, Chair

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Saturday, 7 January 2006

InclusiveChurch newsletter

The most recent newsletter for supporters of InclusiveChurch can be found on its website. A copy is also below the fold here.

Some dates to note:
Seminar with Bishop of Worcester: Sunday 22 January (application form here, scroll down)
St Albans Pilgrimage: Saturday 24 June, more details here
Day Conference Saturday 14th October

InclusiveChurch Christmas letter

Dear I C Supporter

I am writing to wish all our supporters a happy Christmas and to bring you up to date with InclusiveChurch’s news.

This seems like a good moment to restate what InclusiveChurch is for.

InclusiveChurch exists to ensure that the Anglican tradition of inclusion and diversity is celebrated and encouraged. On one level that means, in accordance with our Statement, working so that people are fully included at all levels of the church regardless of their gender, partnership status or ethnicity.

Civil partnerships

In that context, a brief comment on the arrangements for Civil Partnerships (detailed comment is for our partner organisations).

As couples prepare to formalise their relationships in this way, we welcome the new legal framework and wish all that’s good to those who are entering into partnerships. And we hope that, sooner rather than later, the Church of England will be able to be unequivocal in its welcome. One of those occasions when the church can learn from the world!

Anglicanism

But InclusiveChurch goes well beyond that. We spring from the rich and generous Anglican tradition – the tradition which includes Lancelot Andrewes, Richard Hooker, the Oxford Movement, the Evangelical Revival and the innovations of the twentieth century. Which includes both outreach and justice, both evangelism and a passionate commitment to the poor. We celebrate this tradition, which, at its best, enables all people to be welcomed at Christ’s table, and which tries to make the Incarnation a living and dynamic reality.

We try to include people from all parts of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. One of the most exciting things to have happened, for us, in the past year was the way in which different organisations worked together through the post of National Coordinator towards the General Synod elections. A tangible working out of our dream – that ecclesiastical boundaries can be broken down and the divisions often found between traditions can be destroyed.

Breadth and depth

Some have said we are intolerant. We know we fail at times to be properly inclusive and we are trying to do better. We are actively seeking discussions with those whose opinions we do not share – discussions which are difficult to have because feelings at times run so high. But we reject intolerance wherever it is found, and we are seriously concerned by some of the un-Anglican behaviour we have seen in recent months – especially around the illegal ordinations in Southwark, the letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury from some of the Primates of the Global South, and the withdrawal of the appointment of the Bishop of Lake Malawi.

We also recognise that there is still some explanation needed about decisions taken by some parts of the Communion which others find hard to understand, and for that reason we welcome the “listening process” instituted by the Windsor Report

It’s complicated, being Anglican. The threats to our traditions of breadth and depth are many. So InclusiveChurch hopes to provide resources and opportunities for the church at large to remind ourselves who we are. Our proposed activities for 2006 all group loosely under the heading “The Implications of Inclusion.” Because, at heart, the questions raised by inclusion are many – but a fundamental one is, how do we live in love with those with whom we profoundly disagree?

2006

We start with the seminar on Sunday, January 22nd led by the Bishop of Worcester – there are still places available at a cost of 15 pounds and the application form is http://inclusivechurch.net/newsletter/index.html (scroll down).

A prototype Lent Course will delve into scripture to illuminate the scriptural roots for an inclusive faith.

St Alban’s Pilgrimage
We urge as many of you as possible to go to the St Alban’s Day pilgrimage at St Alban’s Abbey on 24th June – organised by the Abbey with the Archbishop of Canterbury as lead president - further details in our “diary events” section online - http://www.inclusivechurch.net/diary/index.html. It will be a joyous and wonderful celebration of all that we hope for.

Conferences and joint working
A seminar with our partner organisations will be held in the summer, and a day conference for everyone – and IC Service - will be held on Saturday 14th October. We will continue to work with our partners through the Synodical structure to try to bring about the full equality of women within the Church and the full recognition of gay and lesbian partnerships.

We are also intending to develop parish links. Many PCC’s have signed up to the Petition and we are conscious we have done little to enable those congregations either to communicate with one another or to follow up their resolutions. We hope to change this.

Baptismal Covenant
Underlying all this, we are starting to do some work on the Baptismal Covenant. This key concept from the United States has increasing relevance for the UK; the idea that we are all covenanted to one another by virtue of our baptisms. In that context, we will be building connections across the Anglican Communion.

We don’t yet have enough money to employ a National Coordinator – thank you to those who have given; your money is safely deposited until we can use it for its designated purpose – but in the meantime we will try to ensure that InclusiveChurch is both inclusive and prophetic.

I would be grateful for your thoughts and comments on any of this, especially on our proposed programme for the year –
info@inclusivechurch.net

We are hoping that the debate can now - at last - move on. With two wonderful Archbishops and a real sense of excitement, it seems to us that this is a good time for the Church of England.

We are grateful for your support; and we wish you a happy Christmas.

Giles Goddard
Chair
info@inclusivechurch.net

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 7 January 2006 at 9:43am GMT | Comments (10)
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Tuesday, 5 July 2005

InclusiveChurch: The Time is Right

PRESS RELEASE: The Time is Right

The Church of England’s General Synod debates whether to proceed to legislation for women bishops on July 11th. InclusiveChurch calls for a single clause measure welcoming the consecration of women as bishops, with a recommended code of practice for Dioceses to respect the needs of those who are unable to accept the ministry of women as bishops.

The issue has already been debated for many years. Nearly 10,000 people have signed up to the InclusiveChurch Statement (at www.inclusivechurch.net). Of these, the vast majority are members of the Church of England. InclusiveChurch’s supporters are explicit and clear. Full inclusion, regardless of gender, is a gospel imperative. We wish to see women and men treated equally by the Church of England; equally valued and equally deployed according to calling, gifts and experience.

The Chair of InclusiveChurch, the Revd. Dr Giles Fraser, said

“We do not need more time to discuss the issue. We cannot justify the profligate waste of the talents, experience, gifts and ministry of half the human race. We worship an inclusive God and the Church of England needs to be willing to wake up to the implications of our faith.”

We note that fewer than 10% of the House of Bishops have asked for a further delay in the consecration of women as Bishops and we look forward to a Church which is led equally by women and men.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 5 July 2005 at 6:32pm BST | Comments (16)
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Saturday, 2 July 2005

InclusiveChurch comment on the ACC

The ACC has created a serious challenge for the Anglican Church
original here
The result of the vote at the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham on Weds 22nd June represents a serious challenge to the future of the Anglican Church. It is vital that those who celebrate the breadth and depth of the Anglican tradition begin to take seriously the threat to the future of our church.

St Paul says in the first letter to the Corinthians ‘Now the body is not made up of one part, but of many…..The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you.” ’ It is clear that the continued exclusion of the Episcopal Church of the USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, in spite of their open, honest and generous responses to the Windsor Report and the Primates’ request is a contradiction of the words of St Paul.

The preface to the Book of Common Prayer, published in 1662, opens with the words “It hath ever been the wisdom of the Church of England to keep the mean between two extremes.” The Church has lived with diversity and difference since its foundation. Anglicans from a vast breadth of theological and liturgical understandings have respected one another’s right to be members. The path has not always been easy but the Church has held together over nearly five centuries.

The Anglican Church has made a unique contribution to Christian witness. We have always been Catholic and Reformed, standing between the extreme certainties which caused such terror and suffering in the Reformation era. We are commtted to maintaining the value of that inheritance. We are not surprised when something that has so much within it that works for good and redemption is under attack.

But this Church that we love is now under threat. The Gospel of broad and generous inclusion is being undermined by a dangerously monochrome interpretation of scripture.

The loss of our voice; the change in our ecclesiology; the equating of our Anglican tradition with other hard-line, protestant, or neo-conservative churches would be a serious and permanent diminishing of Christian witness to the world.

InclusiveChurch and its thirteen partner organisations in the Church of England have welcomed the process of reception of the Windsor Report and the institution of the “Listening process” agreed by the Anglican Consultative Council. We are working closely with other groups within the Anglican Commuion, both in the UK and abroad. We are committed to this so that we can try to ensure that the ecclesiology of the Anglican Communion is not subverted.

The decision taken at the ACC meeting in Nottingham to include all the Primates as full members of the Anglican Consultative Council sets an alarming precedent. There is a real possibility of imposed doctrinal and theological positions from a conservative grouping.

We cannot risk becoming a church where the Primates can equate homosexuality with bestiality; or where there is permanent subjugation of women and institutionalised inequality; or where genuine debate and searching are replaced by an imposed orthodoxy.

We are aware that the Church faces very different challenges around the world, and we have no wish to exclude from the church those who have a different interpretation of the Gospel. But for the sake of the Church we repeat clearly that we are committed to finding ways to ensure that the diversity of the Anglican Communion continues to be celebrated and encouraged.

InclusiveChurch deeply regrets the continued exclusion of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada from full participation in the life of the Anglican Communion. We express our full support for their respect for the Anglican Communion and their membership of it.

We believe that the Gospel witness we offer must continue to grow and to that end we call on all members of our Communion to become aware of the risks we are facing. ‘The eye cannot say to the hand - “I do not need you.”’

Giles Goddard
Executive Secretary
InclusiveChurch

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 2 July 2005 at 4:44pm BST | Comments (62)
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Wednesday, 22 June 2005

Inclusive Church and LGCM press releases

Inclusive Church Press Release
Wednesday 22nd June 2005

Inclusive Church welcomes the reinstatement of the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada within the bodies of the Anglican Communion.

The grassroots network of Anglican Christians and various church interest groups and bodies regrets that the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham today was not able to include the North American churches unconditionally. However, that the vote taken failed to achieve a clear majority is an affirmation of the diversity of the communion and a powerful reminder of our identity as Anglicans. Now, we can move forward to the listening process called for by the 1998 Lambeth Conference and begun at the Anglican Consultative Council.

The Revd Giles Goddard, Executive Secretary of Inclusive Church said: “The landscape has changed. The Church is not polarised in the way people have assumed. The simplistic characterisation of the Global South and the West has been shown to be false. Inclusive Church looks forward to building on these creative dialogues formally and informally to combat the many forms of exclusion within and beyond our Church.”

LGCM - see below the fold.

Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement - Media Release - 22nd June 2005

The meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council being held in Nottingham was pressed to discipline the American and Canadian Anglican Provinces following a surprise resolution laid on the table at the beginning of the gathering this week.

The motion passed in a much reduced form with 30 votes for and 28 against with 4 registered abstentions. The meeting was closed to outsiders and the ballot was secret.

Speaking from Nottingham the General Secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, the Revd Richard Kirker said today:

“This is a very significant vote. The narrowness of its success and the fact the Americans and Canadians decided not to attend as voting delegations shows the Communion does not have the heart for the agenda inspired by American conservatives and led by the Archbishop of Nigeria.

“My hope is that they will stand back now and rethink. They may have forced this humiliation on their American and Canadian sister churches, but they can now see that they have not won the hearts of most Anglican Provinces.

“We had been led to believe that the views of the conservatives were practically universal, that is patently not the case. After the presentations from Canada and America justifying their positive stance towards homosexuals, I talked to three delegates from Asia, Africa and South America, each said they had changed their view
and were reconsidering their position.

“There has been far too little open debate outside North America and Europe - hearts can still be changed.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 22 June 2005 at 11:35pm BST | Comments (41)
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Thursday, 9 June 2005

InclusiveChurch and General Synod

InclusiveChurch is campaigning for election to the 2005-9 General Synod of many more clergy and lay members who are committed to celebrating and maintaining the Anglican tradition of inclusion and diversity.

Advice on how to get nominated and elected can be found on the IC website as PDF files:

IC Aims and Objectives for the 2005 General Synod Elections
Advice on making an election address
How to stand for General Synod, advice for Laity
How to stand for Synod - advice for Clergy
How does the single transferable vote system work?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 9 June 2005 at 9:59am BST | Comments (24)
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Monday, 6 June 2005

Evangelical, Broad and Catholic Anglicans Working Together for an Inclusive Future

History was made on Saturday 4 June when representatives of 14 organisations from the full span of Anglican Communion tradition took part in a partnership and strategy day, organised by InclusiveChurch at All Saints Church, Fulham.

Representatives of organisations as diverse as Accepting Evangelicals, the Society of Catholic Priests, the Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and Gay Christians and Affirming Catholicism met with representatives from LGCM: Anglican Matters, the Modern Church People’s Union, Progressive Christianity Network, WATCH, Changing Attitude and others to deepen existing partnerships and to develop concrete strategies for joint action.

Erica Wooff, National Coordinator of InclusiveChurch, said:

‘We are a network of partner organisations and individuals whose very make-up reflects the breadth and scope of the Church of England and beyond. We come from differing traditions and differing locations today, but we are united in one aim: To celebrate and maintain the traditional inclusivity and diversity of the Anglican Church.

Revd. Giles Goddard, Executive Secretary of InclusiveChurch, said:

‘If we are to be faithful to the Gospel and to our Anglican traditions, it is essential that we celebrate the ministry of women as bishops without reservation, of lesbian and gay people on equal terms with the rest of the world, of people from ethnic minorities and people with disabilities. We hope that the upcoming meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council will be robust in their rejection of anything which might limit Anglican diversity.’

As the first joint action following the partnership day, InclusiveChurch and its partner organisations will be present at the ACC meeting in Nottingham and will be urging ACC members to ask all Provinces in the Anglican Communion to begin a process of genuinely listening to and seeking to understand, first-hand, the experience and theological positions of lesbian and gay Christians - a process that has been woefully lacking to date.

For further information contact Rev. Giles Goddard at giles@inclusivechurch.net or on 07762 373 674 (m); or Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser at giles.fraser@btinternet.com or on 07811 444 011(m).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 6 June 2005 at 9:45pm BST | Comments (24)
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Sunday, 15 May 2005

St Albans Pilgrimage 2005

THE ANNUAL PILGRIMAGE TO ST ALBANS
Saturday 25 June 2005

10.30 am Procession from the Roman Basilica (site of Alban’s trial) to the Abbey, and Enactment of the Martyrdom

11.30 am Solemn Concelebrated Eucharist of Saint Alban
President: The Bishop of St Albans, Christopher Herbert
Preacher: The Dean, Jeffrey John

4 pm Solemn Evensong and Procession to the Shrine
Preacher: The Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries

  • Car and coach parking available at the Verulamium Museum where the procession begins.
  • All are encouraged to process from the Basilica, but for those who can’t make the 10.30 start, it will also be possible to join the procession at the cathedral
  • All priests are invited to robe (alb & red stole), process and concelebrate.
  • To register and receive further details, write to the Dean’s secretary, St Alban’s Cathedral, AL1 1BY; or phone 01727 890202; or e mail deansec@stalbanscathedral.org.uk.
  • There is no charge.

For more details of the day,including a map, see the cathedral website.

This event will also be attended by the Friends of St Albans Abbey, by the Society of Catholic Priests and is included in the new Diary section of InclusiveChurch.net.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 15 May 2005 at 1:42pm BST | Comments (7)
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Thursday, 7 April 2005

InclusiveChurch appeals to ACC and ECUSA

The Executive of InclusiveChurch has published on its website
An Appeal to the Council of General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America from InclusiveChurch.

While we recognise that the Primates, meeting at Dromantine in February, sought to prevent the fracturing of the Communion and to promote reconciliation and unity through their recommendations, we do not believe that these purposes are best served by all of the actions they commend. In particular we do not believe that the cause of unity and reconciliation within the Communion will be served by you deferring to the Primates request for your withdrawal from the Anglican Consultative Council…

…We are appealing to you directly because we believe we represent a substantial body of opinion in the Church of England that has had no opportunity to speak through our formal structures, but that would, had it opportunity, call for greater engagement and dialogue not less. We believe that it is by engagement and dialogue that our Communion will in the end be strengthened and enabled in its work of combating the ravages of poverty, war and disease that so beset our world. We therefore hope that you will continue your participation in the Anglican Consultative Council.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 7 April 2005 at 11:49am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Monday, 14 February 2005

InclusiveChurch calls for moratorium

InclusiveChurch has issued this press release:
Inclusive Church calls for a safe space in which gay Christians can speak

The Windsor Report has repeated the call for the Anglican Church to listen to the experience of gay men and women made at the last three Lambeth Conferences. If the church is to take this call seriously, it must create a safe environment in which people can talk. In particular, this means that clergy must be able to speak out without fear of losing their job or having other sanctions placed on them. InclusiveChurch calls for a clear and unequivocal moratorium on the disciplining of lesbian and gay clergy who wish to speak honestly about their sexuality.

The Rev’d Dr Giles Fraser, one of the founders of the movement said, ‘For nearly thirty years, the Lambeth Conference has called for the church to listen to gay and lesbian people. Yet, in many parts of the communion, this process has not begun. In many places those who speak out are attacked and persecuted. The church must make practical moves to enable gay and lesbian people to share their experience of Christ in their lives. Without making a safe space for this to happen, the promises made at Lambeth Conferences, and more recently by the Windsor Report itself, will be seen as hollow.”

Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude, part of the InclusiveChurch network, said: ‘The listening process has begun to happen in the majority of English dioceses. There are now many examples of good practice that other dioceses could learn from. It must be a process that the whole Anglican church engages in, not only in the UK but across the Communion. That means creating the right conditions for listening and putting the necessary resources in place. This is the challenge that the Windsor Report poses to the church.’

The InclusiveChurch website has also published two articles relating to Some Issues in Human Sexuality published last year:

‘Some issues in human sexuality’ - Cambridge biblical scholars critique the CoE Bishops’ report

A Response to ‘Some Issues in Human Sexuality’

Earlier articles can be found listed here.

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Friday, 13 August 2004

Inclusive Church, One Year On

Inclusive Church has issued a newsletter, the full text of which is below the fold.

On Thursday 2 September, there will be a seminar entitled Inclusive Church - One Year On - details of this are listed at the end of the newsletter.

update
Posters advertising the seminar can be downloaded from:
Poster as a .jpg file here (100K)
Poster as a pdf file (60K)

Inclusive Church, One Year On. Thursday 2nd September

Dear Supporter

A year ago this month InclusiveChurch.net was launched at St Mary’s Putney; in February the petition, as it stood then, was delivered to the Archbishop of Canterbury. It has continued to grow, however. Up to this week we have collected over 9000 signatories on the petition. The ongoing interest, and the events that have unfolded since the summer of 03 have prompted us to continue our efforts.

The Lambeth Commission led by Archbishop Eames has been set up, Gene Robinson has been consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire, same sex marriage has been discussed seriously in both the USA and Canada and Jeffrey John has been appointed as Dean of St Albans. Little progress has been made towards the appointment of women to the episcopate. Inclusive Church Sunday was a welcome opportunity for many to explore inclusivity in the context of worship. All of this, and the reactions we have seen, have indicated that the perspective of Inclusive Church is of urgent value to the church.

A seminar has been planned, entitled: Inclusive Church - One Year On.
It will also be held at St Mary’s Putney, the details of which are below. It will feature Ched Myers, an excellent speaker and theologian, and will be a thought-provoking and exciting day. A poster to advertise this event can be downloaded from www.inclusivechurch.net.

In addition we are developing our web site so that it can provide more than simply a place to sign up on the petition. The petition will remain, but there will be more content and opportunities for discussion and interaction. With your support we hope to take these and other projects forward as we try to reclaim the broad inclusivity that has been our Anglican heritage.

Please try and come to the seminar. By then the new web site should be taking shape also. Please express your opinion and demonstrate your support by logging on and making use of it. A fuller newsletter will follow in September, and we hope to see you on 2nd September.

With regards
Giles Fraser and the Inclusive Church Executive.

———-

Inclusive Church - One Year On - A Day Seminar with Ched Myers (US Theologian and Peace Activist)

Inclusive Bible, Excluding Church

Also Lunchtime Eucharist

10.30/11am - 4.30pm on Thursday 2nd September at St. Mary’s Church, Putney
(Nearest tube: Putney Bridge on District Line or Putney Station for overland trains).

Cost £5
For further details contact Revd Richard Sewell T. 020 8785 3821
or by email: fieldsofgold@deodar15.fsnet.co.uk

Ched will give four addresses under the following titles:

1. “I will give the eunuchs a name better than sons or daughters…” (Is 56:4f) Second Isaiah’s radical vision of inclusion.

2. “Nothing from the outside can make you unclean.” (Mk 7:1-30) Jesus’ argument against cultural traditions of exclusion.

3. “Do you see her?” (Lk 7:36-50) Jesus’ assault on social labeling and the architecture of invisibility.

4. “…entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:19). Paul against the gatekeepers.

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Monday, 26 April 2004

Inclusive Church Sunday

inclusivechurch.net has announced plans to observe 20 June 2004 as Inclusive Church Sunday. Details of the plans can be found here.

The arrangements include an order of service for a liturgy are built into Common Worship Order One, with Eucharistic Prayer G.

There are also sermon notes prepared for inclusivechurch by Canon Jeffrey John.

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Friday, 13 February 2004

Inclusive Church: sermon

Here is the sermon preached at St Matthew’s Westminster on 10 February 2004. The occasion was the service arranged by inclusivechurch.net on the night before the General Synod debate on Some Issues in Human Sexuality.

The preacher was The Reverend Canon Marilyn McCord Adams, Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Oxford.

Text continues below…

“Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit!”

Mary and Joseph were engaged. Joseph had contracted, already held title to exclusive reproductive rights. Then and there, it would have been legitimate for Mary and Joseph to have sexual relations before she came to live in his house permanently. There would have been nothing scandalous about her becoming pregnant with his child. But if she were found to be expecting a child Joseph knew not to be his, how could that spell anything but adultery - a crime that meant public disgrace, even stoning to death. Joseph was a righteous man, evidently not cruel or vindictive, willing to temper justice with mercy. He had decided to divorce her quietly, when in a dream, that liminal space where close encounters with strange kinds are possible, an angel figure ground-shifted the situation for him. What if Mary’s irregular, illegal sexual predicament signalled, not sin, but holiness? What if Mary were pregnant, not with someone else’s bastard, but with Spiritual opportunity, not only for herself and for Joseph, but for the wider community, the nation, and the world?

“Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife!”

Joseph wakes up and acts without hesitation. In Matthew’s Gospel, where the disciples characteristically understand but lack faith, Joseph does them one better. With only the vaguest understanding how this could be or why, Joseph has faith, takes Mary to wife, legitimates her child, emigrates to Egypt, returns to the safety of the Galilean margins, all to give holiness a chance.

“Joseph, do not be afraid!”

Tomorrow, the Synod of our Church will receive, discuss, perhaps debate Some Issues in Human Sexuality, a discussion document from the House of Bishops, which attempts a broader theological and biblical context before turning to current controversies about homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexualism. In many ways, the book is informative and reflective of considerable thought and learning. It helps by articulating many issues and arguments, and is especially good at clarifying the reasons of many in our Church who oppose blessing same-sex couplings and ordaining non-celibate homosexuals. The letter of the document serves up substance to chew on. But on my reading, its spirit is an ill wind.

“Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife!”

In its historical section, Some Issues recalls what our Church dared in the past. Despite dominical New Testament sayings to the contrary, Synod approved the remarriage of divorced persons in church and lifted the bar against their subsequent ordination. In 1958 and 1968, Lambeth reversed its 1908 ban on contraception. Even though abortion is the taking of an innocent human life, the Church responded to public opinion and supported legalization in 1967. Nevertheless, Some Issues warns, despite relatively rapid, socially and pastorally driven changes on these points, “gay and lesbian relationships may be one area on which the Church should hold fast to its original teaching” lest “serious mistakes” about “crucial moral issues” be made. Chapters that begin as explanatory slide into the defensive demand that “revisionists” establish their case - about the interpretation of Scripture and the psycho-socio-biological roots of homosexuality - beyond reasonable doubt. The burden of proof weighs down so heavily on those who would say “yes” to bless and to ordain, the contrary case from Scripture and tradition presented as so open and shut, that defenders of the status quo feel no urgency about coming to understand fresh arguments and novel methodologies on the other side. Unless and until risk is eliminated, the Church of England shouldn’t budge!

“Joseph, Joseph, why are you so afraid to take Mary as your wife?”

Joseph didn’t have the luxury of delay. Mary was pregnant; all too soon the baby would be born and need care and protection. The Gospels record how the ambiguity about Jesus never went away. All through His ministry, reactions were polarized - was Jesus Son of God, King of Israel? Or was He an agent of the devil? Joseph put faith first in advance of understanding. So also with human sexuality, faith that God is feisty - that God has it in mind to keep on insinuating holiness into places where we least expect it - has to precede if we are ever to have ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to understand.

We know how many in our Church, in the Anglican Communion, would beg to differ. But we who regard gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Christians, not as the latest problems on the sexuality syllabus, but as spiritual treasures for the whole community, cannot afford to equivocate or temporize. We must act to maintain safe spaces within the Church where they may be celebrated, housed, nurtured, and cared for. We must support them in their life in Christ, when invited accompany them on their spiritual journeys, bear wide and public witness to how we have experienced their partnerships as sacraments of God’s love in a broken and divided world.

Yet, to seasoned gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Christians, offers of compassion and pastoral care may sound patronizing. Frankly, in our current crises, it is the Church that has need of their expertise. At least since the sixties, popular consensus to traditional institutions and sexual mores has radically eroded. Instead of pointing accusing fingers backward, blaming Enlightenment individualism for current lifestyle diversity, we need to answer our call to dig down deeper into what God and we together might want to mean, what Good News we might be able to proclaim through human sexuality today. It is not a matter of fixing the roof and repainting the stucco, but of building up again from the foundation stone, from that skandalon, the rock of Christ.

Exegeting texts and formulating theories makes a contribution. (God knows how much I value them! I am a philosophical theologian; they comprise a large part of my job!) Certainly, the Church as an institution has responsibility for discerning guidelines, holding up ideals and sacramental signs. But for those who can “pass,” more or less fit in, it is possible to hide behind conventional role definitions and religious regulations and never come out to God or to ourselves as sexual persons at all! By contrast, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Christians have learned - necessity forced them - to bring their sexual urges, hopes, and fears, their revulsions and frustrations into the centre of their prayer lives. Because they have not super-spiritualized but won through to an embodied faithfulness before God, these veterans can be our guides in this wilderness, block access to false short cuts, alert us to snakes and scorpions and quicksand, teach us how to recognize the manna and squeeze water from a rock.

“Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife!”

If there were enough safe spaces in our Church, we could receive instruction from gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Christians another way. For many have maintained dual citizenship, sharing work and worship with straights while inhabiting subcultures where many experiments in human sexuality have been tried. Even where all things are lawful, not all things are helpful. If our Church were safe enough, if our non-straight brothers and sisters could really be confident that we listened not to judge but to learn, they might come out of the closet, let us profit from their experience. They might teach us to recognize multiple dimensions of intimacy, fidelity, equality and inequality, sameness and difference; force us to complicate our picture of what happens when they are kept together or teased apart. Reflection on subcultural models might loosen up our thinking, stir our imagination, help our Church revitalize its institutions of heterosexual marriage and celibacy as well.

“Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife!”

Looming large in all this is the relation between Christ and culture, between the Holy Spirit and human social - and yes, that includes religious - institutions. Some Issues admits that the Church has followed society - in permitting divorce, the remarriage of divorced persons, and abortion - but the bulk of the document insists that Scripture and tradition are and ought to be the valid norms. The Bible shows God meeting individuals over the centuries in dramatically different social systems - from Bedouin tribes to hilltop kingdoms to hellenized cities of the Roman Empire. Divine election of patriarchs, of David and Solomon, did not challenge polygamy or royal harems, but prospered chosen peoples within their social horizons, even though God had something bigger in mind. By contrast, the Gospels represent Jesus shaking the foundations of synagogue and temple. St Paul and other disciples precipitate a schism in Judaism by contradicting the traditions of the elders, by worshipping a Messiah that Deuteronomic scripture would write off as a false prophet, ritually cursed because crucified. On my read, Some Issues does not come close to being radical - down-to-the-roots - enough to help European and North American society win through to a fresh integration of sexual norms, because it is so preoccupied defending its pre-established conclusions. After all of that hard analytical work to nail things down, our Church needs to take a nap with Joseph, walk to Emmaus with the disciples, give the Holy Spirit space to do some figure-ground shifting. The Body of Christ is pregnant with holy opportunity. We shouldn’t want to abort it!

“Joseph, Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife!”

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IC petition presented

The Church of England Newspaper reports that

On Tuesday the lobbying group Inclusive Church, set up as a result of anger over the mishandling of the appointment of Canon Jeffrey John to Reading, handed over a petition to a member of the Archbishop’s staff. The petition, with 8,500 signatures and the support of about 100 parochial church councils, calls for the ministries of the Church to be open to all regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.
But the Chairman of Inclusive Church, Dr Giles Fraser, spelt out the message: “The Archbishop must resist those bent on dividing the Church as an authentic response to the consecration of bishop Gene Robinson in New Hampshire.”

The Church Times carried a picture captioned thus:

Point of view: the Revd Dr Giles Fraser handing a petition from the InclusiveChurch network to Chris Smith, Dr Williams’s chief of staff, outside the Synod chamber on Tuesday. Photo Richard Watt

The BBC has a short video clip of the handover ceremony, viewable with Real Player here

The covering letter to the petition is reproduced below.

Inclusive Church Petition, February 10, 2004

Dear Archbishop,

We write as friends, though many of us are broken-hearted about the direction currently being pursued by the Anglican Church.

We deeply regret the fact that you were forced to overturn your original affirmation of Jeffrey John’s name as chosen candidate for Reading. The message given on that day was that the way to get things done in the church is through organisational muscle and pressure. If Christian theology boils down to little more than the machinations of power politics, block votes at Synods, websites and even petitions, then God help us all.

The other message given out on that day was that gay and lesbian people are not welcome as members of the body of Christ. The Church may weakly insist that gay and lesbian Christians are valuable members of the Church - but its actions say something very different. Indeed, the cost of the current strategy is being paid by some of the most vulnerable members of our Church. This point cannot be passed over with a weary shrug as an unfortunate but unavoidable consequence of unity. Faithful gay and lesbian Christians are being scapegoated in the name of a false unity that seems little more than a cover by theological conservatives for claiming possession of the Church.

In her sermon later today, Professor Adams will say:

‘We who regard gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Christians, not as the latest problems on the sexuality syllabus, but as spiritual treasures for the whole community, cannot afford to equivocate or temporise. We must act to maintain safe spaces within the Church where they may be celebrated, housed, nurtured and cared for. We must support them in their life in Christ, [and] bear wide and public witness to how we have experienced their partnerships as sacraments of God’s love in a broken and divided world.’

But this is not just about any one issue. At stake here is a historic understanding of the Anglican Church as broad, tolerant, generous and inclusive. These values have always shaped the heart of our Church and they are in very real jeopardy.

When you became Archbishop you insisted that the Church must not lose touch with the values of the people of this country. It is clear they will not tolerate a homophobic Church at the centre of our spiritual life, nor will they be edified by a theology born of ecclesiastical expediency rather than theological principle.

With all our prayers and support at this most difficult time,

Rev’d Dr Giles Fraser
Chair, inclusivechurch

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Monday, 9 February 2004

IC petition to Archbishop

Inclusivechurch.net hands petition to Archbishop
PRESS RELEASE - Inclusivechurch.net - 5th February 2004

The Archbishop of Canterbury is to be handed a petition signed by over 8,500 individuals and over 100 Parochial Church Councils from the Inclusivechurch network of Anglicans. The petition demonstrates the strong conviction of the majority of grassroots Anglicans that the Church of England must be an inclusive church, open to all. The handing over will take place outside Church House,Westminster on Tuesday 10th February 2004 at 1.30pm, whilst the General Synod is meeting.

‘Inclusivechurch.net is an organisation set up to campaign for an open, honest and generous spirited Anglicanism that has always been the very heart and soul of the Church of England,’ says Rev’d Dr Giles Fraser, chair. ‘It is excellent that so many people have supported the petition in such a short time, and with such little promotion.’

The message of the petition is clear: the Archbishop must resist those bent on dividing the church as an authentic response to the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson in New Hampshire, U.S.A, and continue to work for a Church that is open to all, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.

The Inclusivechurch petition contrasts dramatically with the petition handed to the Archbishop last month by evangelicals opposed to a fully inclusive church for gay people. It claimed to include millions of Anglicans but turned out to have been signed by fewer individuals than this new petition from Inclusivechurch. ‘The point is that dioceses and parishes do not operate like unions, with block votes,’ says Fraser. ‘Rather, dioceses and parishes are made up of individuals.’

The vast majority of Inclusivechurch’s signatories belong to the Church of England. In addition to individual Anglicans who have signed the petition over 100 parishes have signed up too, each having passed motions of support through their PCCs. ‘It is important to note that many signatories come from parishes belonging to organisations like Reform,’ adds Fraser. ‘We have also received emails from individuals keen to protest against the actions of their local clergy who make gays or women clergy feel unwelcome, for example in places like Fort Worth or Pittsburgh in the USA, where dioceses have declared themselves to be conservative, non-inclusive zones.’

Inclusivechurch believes that this petition is part of the groundswell of Anglican opinion that is opposed to the sort of intolerance and bigotry that has been threatening the church. ‘The true diversity of Anglicanism is beginning to come through, for all that well-organised, well-funded conservative forces would have it otherwise,’ continues Fraser. ‘We are here to celebrate the true spirit of Anglicanism which is strongest when it is diverse and inclusive.’

Notes to editors:

The petition will be handed to Chris Smith, Chief of Staff at Lambeth Palace, on behalf of the Archbishop outside Church House, Great Smith Street, Westminster on Tuesday 10th February 2004 at 1.30pm.

An Inclusivechurch Eucharist will be celebrated at St Matthew’s Church, Great Peter Street, Westminster at 10th February. The preacher will be the Revd Canon Dr Marilyn McCord Adams, Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University and Canon of Christ Church.

Rev’d Dr Giles Fraser, the chair of inclusivechurch.net, will be available for comment on 10th February or he can be contacted on 07811 444011.

Inclusivechurch.net is a grassroots network of Anglicans with a campaigning edge, open to anyone who shares the vision of an inclusive church. It began as a group of friends from Southwark, London and Oxford who were increasingly worried about the future direction of the Church of England. Others similarly concerned over recent injustices in the church asked if they could join, including individuals from the evangelical wing of the Church. It snowballed very quickly: many thousands of people have now registered their support. A number of organizations including Changing Attitude, Affirming Catholicism, MCU, GRAS and the Open Synod group are involved.

In August 2003 a petition was launched on the website Inclusivechurch.net. It contains a Statement of Belief written by a group of Oxford theologians. The statement expresses the strong conviction that the Church is for all people regardless of sex, race or sexual orientation. It calls on the Church to act justly, particularly in the appointment of clergy and bishops regardless of sex, race or sexual orientation.

Visitors to the website, be they individuals, PCCs (Parochial Church Councils) or other organizations, are invited to register their support.

The full text of the declaration signed by individuals in the petition reads as follows:

‘We affirm that the Church’s mission, in obedience to Holy Scripture, is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every generation. We acknowledge that this is Good News for people regardless of their sex, race or sexual orientation. We believe that, in order to strengthen the Gospel’s proclamation of justice to the world, and for the greater glory of God, the Church’s own common life must be justly ordered. To that end, we call on our Church to live out the promise of the Gospel; to celebrate the diverse gifts of all members of the body of Christ; and in the ordering of our common life to open the ministries of deacon, priest and bishop to those so called to serve by God, regardless of their sex, race or sexual orientation.’

— ends

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Wednesday, 28 January 2004

IC newsletter

The latest newsletter of inclusivechurch.net is now online.
Note that the day of action is Tuesday 10 February:

1.30 pm - Handing of petition to Archbishop
Our petition, signed by 8,500 individuals and 100 PCCs, will be received by Chris Smith, chief of staff at Lambeth Palace, on behalf of the Archbishop. Assemble outside Church House, Great Smith Street, Westminster from 1.15 pm. We are looking for a professional photographer to record the event - please contact mvernon@dircon.co.uk if you can help.

7.30 pm - Eucharist
On the eve of the General Synod’s Sexuality debate at St Matthew’s Church, Great Peter Street, Westminster. The celebrant will be Rev’d Dr Giles Fraser, chair of inclusivechurch.net. The preacher will be Revd Canon Dr Marilyn McCord Adams, Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University and Canon of Christ Church.

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Monday, 3 November 2003

Inclusive Church welcomes GR

UK Anglicans welcome the consecration of Gene Robinson
PRESS RELEASE
3rd November 2003

The original release is here and reproduced below.

Inclusivechurch.net, the network of Anglicans working for an inclusive church, has whole-heartedly welcomed the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. ‘It is not only the people of New Hampshire who are celebrating this weekend,’ says Giles Fraser, the chair of inclusivechurch.net. ‘Inclusivity is at the very heart of the Gospel message. In Christ there is neither black or white, male or female, straight or gay. The consecration of Gene Robinson underlines the Biblical witness of God’s love for all.’

‘It was very important that Gene Robinson’s consecration took place,’ says Fraser. ‘Along with many others, I was very disappointed when Jeffrey John was forced to withdraw after having been appointed Bishop of Reading earlier in the summer. If the consecration of another openly gay priest, duly elected and confirmed, had failed to take place it would have been disastrous for the church.’

The statement from the Primates of the Anglican Communion, following their meeting at Lambeth Palace on 15-16th October, has begun a process that could lead to realignments in the church. But Fraser is of the firm conviction that groups who find it difficult to accept a gay bishop mustn’t split off from the Church. ‘I sincerely hope that people do not leave. The great genius of Anglicanism is that it manages to hold together unity and diversity,’ Fraser continues.

He also believes that the consecration is vital to the mission of the church. ‘In this country, 58 per cent of the population say they are Christians but do not go to church - in no small part because they think the church is judgmental. Gene Robinson’s consecration could hardly send out the message more strongly: the Anglican Church is an inclusive church.’

Notes:

Giles Fraser, the chair of inclusivechurch.net, can be contacted for comment directly on 07811 444011.

Inclusivechurch.net is a grassroots network of Anglicans with a campaigning edge, open to anyone who shares the vision of an inclusive church. It consists of thousands of people concerned over recent injustices in the church, including individuals from all wings of the Church. A number of organizations including LGCM, Changing Attitudes, Affirming Catholicism, MCU, GRAS and the Open Synod group are involved.

In August 2003 a petition was launched on the website inclusivechurch.net. It contains a Statement of Belief written by a group of Oxford theologians. The statement expresses the strong conviction that the Church is for all people regardless of sex, race or sexual orientation. It calls on the Church to act justly, particularly in the appointment of clergy and bishops regardless of sex, race or sexual orientation. Visitors to the website, be they individuals, PCCs (Parochial Church Councils) or other organizations, are invited to register their support.

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Wednesday, 8 October 2003

Walter Makhulu to lead vigil

www.inclusivechurch.net Surround them with prayer

Leading anti-apartheid Archbishop to preside at inclusivechurch service.

On 15th October the leaders of global Anglicanism will meet at Lambeth Palace to decide the future of the Communion, following American Church’s (ECUSA) election of an openly gay man, Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

As the Primates meet www.inclusivechurch.net has organised a celebration of the Eucharist, the symbol of Anglican unity, in the three parishes that immediately surround Lambeth Palace.

The former Archbishop of Central Africa, The Most Rev’d Walter Makhulu will be presiding at St Matthew’s Church in Westminster. He was president of the All Africa Conference of Churches from 1981 to 1986 and President of the World Council of Churches from 1983 to 1999. It is widely acknowledged that in the fight against the apartheid system in South Africa, few were braver than Walter Makhulu.

The Dean of Cape Town, The Very Rev’d Rowan Smith, will celebrate at St Peter’s, Vauxhall. The Dean of Divinity at New College, Oxford, The Rev’d Dr Jane Shaw, will celebrate at St John’s, Waterloo. The services will take place simultaneously at 11.00 am on Wednesday 15th October.

Following the forced resignation of Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading, www.inclusivechurch.net was set up over the summer to combat the increasing tendency towards narrowness and sectarianism within the Church. Over 6,000 church members and over 50 PCC’s have signed up to inclusivechurch’s Declaration of Belief. ‘We are at the heart and soul of Anglicanism’ claims Rev’d Dr Giles Fraser, Chair of inclusivechurch. ‘The vast majority of members of the Church of England want their church to be welcoming and generous to all. This is the historic inheritance of Anglicanism. The contemporary church is currently in danger of losing its open and inclusive approach. These are worrying times.’

Press and Photographers welcome at St Matthew’s, Westminster on the 15th. St Matthew’s is on Great Peter Street.

Further details: The Rev’d Dr Giles Fraser: 07811 444011

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Lambeth vigil - 15 October

Lambeth vigil supported by 6000 Anglicans prays for inclusive church

PRESS RELEASE Tuesday, October 7, 2003 For immediate release

The leaders of the Anglican Church will be literally surrounded by prayer as a network of over 6000 Anglicans organizes a vigil in churches around Lambeth Palace on 15th October. At 11 am, grassroots church-goers will assemble at the parish churches of St Matthew’s Westminster, St John’s Waterloo and St Peter’s Lambeth - the three parishes that immediately surround Lambeth Palace - to pray for the future of the church. The vigil has been organised by Inclusivechurch.net.

‘The meeting at Lambeth Palace of Anglican Church leaders from around the world to discuss the future direction of the Anglican Communion will be a pivotal meeting for our Church,’ says Giles Fraser, chair of Inclusivechurch.net. ‘We are praying that justice will prevail and that the historic, tolerant spirit of the Church of England, which is its genius, will grow, not diminish.’

‘People want an inclusive church,’ says Anne Kiem, a laywoman from All Saints Church, Fulham who will be at the vigil. ‘I do not want to belong to an organization that excludes people on the grounds of race, sex, gender or sexual orientation. This is what, I believe, the vast majority of people in the Church of England think too.’

‘Grassroots members of the Church of England are now speaking loud and clear to Anglican leaders,’ says April Alexander, the lay chair of Southwark Diocesan Synod, another supporter. ‘When secondary issues come to dominate over the church’s core beliefs about the loving-kindness of God, something very serious has gone wrong.’

Inclusivechurch.net is a grassroots network of Anglicans with a campaigning edge, open to anyone who shares the vision of an inclusive church. It began as a group of friends from Southwark, London and Oxford who were increasingly worried about the future direction of the Church of England. Others similarly concerned over recent injustices in the church asked if they could join, including individuals from the evangelical wing of the Church. It snowballed very quickly: over 6000 people have now registered their support. A number of organizations including LGCM, Changing Attitudes, Affirming Catholicism, MCU, GRAS and the Open Synod group are involved.

In August 2003 a petition was launched on the website Inclusivechurch.net. It contains a Statement of Belief written by a group of Oxford theologians. The statement expresses the strong conviction that the Church is for all people regardless of sex, race or sexual orientation. It calls on the Church to act justly, particularly in the appointment of clergy and bishops regardless of sex, race or sexual orientation. Visitors to the website, be they individuals, PCCs (Parochial Church Councils) or other organizations, are invited to register their support.

Notes:

Press are invited to attend the vigil respecting the fact that it is open to anyone.

St Peter’s Lambeth is 200 yards from Vauxhall BR Train Station on Kennington Lane. St John’s Waterloo is across the road from Waterloo BR Train Station. St Matthew’s Westminster is on Great Peter Street, round the corner from Church House.

Facilities for the press will be available at St Matthew’s Westminster.

Giles Fraser, the chair of inclusivechurch.net, can be contacted on 07811 444011.

April Alexander, Anne Kiem and other members of inclusivechurch.net are available for comment. Please call Mark Vernon on 07966 376564.

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Friday, 26 September 2003

inclusivechurch.net

Some news about INCLUSIVECHURCH.NET is available on this page.
Key points from this release:

  • Over 5000 individual Christians, and many organisations and P.C.C.s have joined in signing the statement in the four weeks since Inclusive Church .net was launched.
  • On 15th September a small group of supporters met to consider this overwhelming response, and concluded that Inclusive Church was here to stay.
  • We will shortly be posting more information on the website for all those who have signed up to the Statement of Belief setting out our suggested plans for the future, and inviting comments and ideas.
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Thursday, 4 September 2003

Surrounded by Prayer

inclusivechurch.net announces a service of prayer for an inclusive church on 15 October, the day when the Primates of the Anglican Communion will be meeting at Lambeth to discuss the consequences of the the election of Canon Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

Surrounded by Prayer

11.00 am 15 October 2003

Simultaneously at:
St Matthew’s, Westminster
St John’s, Waterloo
St Peter’s, Lambeth

On the 15th October there will be a meeting at Lambeth Palace of Anglican Church leaders from around the world to discuss the future direction of the Anglican Communion. It will be a pivotal meeting for our Church.

To coincide with that meeting inclusivechurch.net is organising an opportunity for prayer in the three parishes that immediately surround Lambeth Palace. A service of prayer for an inclusive church will take place simultaneously in all three churches. Please come and support those praying for an inclusive church.

St Peter’s is 200 yards from Vauxhall BR Train Station on Kennington Lane. St John’s is across the road from Waterloo BR Train Station. St Matthew’s is on Great Peter Street, round the corner from Church House.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Thursday, 4 September 2003 at 10:37pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 13 August 2003

Putney meeting report

Mary Ann Sieghart has written this article in The Times:
If all liberals left the church it would cease to be a national institution and become a narrow sect.

Later additions
A letter in The Times today commenting on this article is at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,173-777273,00.html

Another letter today from Charles Read pointing out that the meeting was not attended only by liberals, and speaking up for evangelicals who support an inclusive church.
See http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,174-780158,00.html

And for the third day running, some letters about this.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,175-781129,00.html

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 13 August 2003 at 6:48pm BST | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 12 August 2003

Sermon from Putney

Thinking Anglicans has received the sermon that Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark preached at St Mary’s Putney on Monday, 11 August at the service which launched www.inclusivechurch.net.

SERMON FOR ST MARY’S PUTNEY.MONDAY AUGUST 11TH 2003
Isaiah 42: 1-9. Galatians 3: 23-29. John 3: 16-21
“Indeed, God did not send the Son in to the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3: 17

When Bp Roy Williamson asked me to become (then) Provost of Southwark, he asked me to raise the profile of the Cathedral. When Canon Jeffrey John joined the Chapter he preached a wonderful first sermon and some members of the congregation told me I had competition, I repeated this compliment to the new Canon who simply said, “There is no competition”… well, I don’t know about the preaching, but regarding profile, OK, I know when I’m beaten, and I want to say to all the Deans of all the other Cathedrals, “Southwark has the most famous Canon Theologian in the world, and we’re keeping him”. Thank you, Philip Giddings.

I have to go to conduct a funeral after this Eucharist so I only have this chance to make my small contribution to this day, which I welcome. It must end clearly, and with genuine goals if it is to be of service to the Church, people must go away and do what they have undertaken. Moderate and open people are not good at organised lobby groups and funding, and that may be a good trait, but moderate people also need to recognise there is a sin called sloth.

This will not be a good sermon because it has too much in it. I remember a Bishop of Truro preaching in St Albans once, starting, “I have thirteen points to make.” — and he had — and he did.

We need to re-learn the vocabulary. I give you an example; I insist the Cathedral clergy wear black shirts — because it is a statement of history and origin, a uniform deeply rooted in tradition and monastic antecedents; none of those sky-coloured shades indicative of a deep mariological tendency which would shock their habitual wearers; nor the floral extravaganzas more symptomatic of a photo collage of the Chelsea flower show than the hard work of saving souls — and black shoes and socks; and be at the Daily Offices. Until General Synod said we could, we didn’t conduct second marriages; we don’t do same sex blessings or admit children to communion before confirmation. All that makes me a “liberal”, a “moderniser”. Then there are those who, like the Archbishop of Sydney, don’t wear clerical dress, so you don’t know who they are or what they represent, have liturgies which pay scant attention to canon law if at all, seek lay presidency at the Eucharist, re-baptise, are unaware that, after Alpha, the Greek alphabet continues with Beta and Gamma all the way to Omega. All that makes them “conservative”.

There’s a more important way we need to re-learn the vocabulary. Churches with a sacramental tradition, a high doctrine of the Church, have been willing, as for example when Dr Carey became Archbishop, to say, “OK we will work with him, we respect his office, we will do our best and we will co-operate.” and they did. But when Rowan Williams was appointed we see that there is a different definition of a high doctrine of the church whereby an archbishop can be unwelcome if you don’t like him, subverted, even by diocesan bishops and overseas archbishops; a high doctrine of the church can mean “rule or ruin”.

Then there is the descent in to name-calling. I am actually sorry that my remark about the “Anglican Taliban” caused offence to some evangelical clergy and laity. Sorry, because I genuinely know and respect many of them are thoughtful and sincere, some far more radicalised by their faith than I am, they want the Church to prosper and they have spent much of their lives and ministries rejoicing in the wide variety of the Anglican tradition. The Taliban are, of course, a small fundamentalist group, very highly organised and well-funded who hijacked the government of Afghanistan and what it means to be an orthodox Muslim with the most terrible consequences within and beyond Afghanistan. The lessons are there to be studied. But then I want to say to those to whom I wrongly gave offence that some of the characterisation of the ordination of women, of gay and lesbian people, and of broad and tolerant churches as “failing” or “unfaithful” is deeply hurtful, and those who have been, even remotely or passively, associated with such attitudes should not suddenly become sensitive when they find the roles reversed.

We all know this shows that there is always a deep temptation to be sucked down to the level against which one stands. We are called to greater fidelity of conduct, purpose and aspiration; that is one of the principles to be remembered today. Name-calling is useful shorthand but also a lazy and destructive loss of intellectual discipline, and, let’s be completely honest, — enormous and cathartic fun — just so long as we remember to keep our sense of humour at all times and not actually believe in the names.

I was only able to be at General Synod part of the time, but was constantly being stopped by evangelicals who wanted to tell me how ashamed they are of what has happened and, apparently, in their name. Of course the ones who are pleased and not at all ashamed were not going to stop me, but if we are to pay attention to vocabulary then the word “evangelical” needs an ambulance because it has become a totem for values and aspirations which are much narrower and more judgemental than the gospel of the New Testament, “euaggelion” ever was. We can help to rescue it by being properly evangelical in our faith ourselves, that should be a part of today’s agenda. But it can best be rescued by intelligent and thoughtful evangelical Christians, of whom there are very many, showing that they can use scripture with scholarship, care and dignity and not as a weapon for condemnation.

But there is an even more important vocabulary that we must learn. It is the vocabulary of biblical study as conducted from different perspectives. The debate about a faithful, inclusive and welcoming church is in many ways not a debate at all about gay clergy, women clergy, inclusive language or the Act of Synod and women bishops — all good media stuff. It is a debate about something that is not particularly media accessible or comprehensible — it is about hermeneutics.

Hermeneutics is about the interpretation of the meaning of scripture, as opposed to exegesis, which is about the practical application of the meaning of scripture. I am such a progressive liberal that I believe ordinands should study scripture in the original language wherever possible and should be equipped to help their congregations to do so also. I take scripture extremely seriously. I pay attention to the text in preaching; I may spend hours looking at commentaries and lexicons etc. My methodology is a world away from bible study groups which can become a sharing of personal responses, opinion, pious platitude and pooled ignorance. That is not taking scripture seriously. We can teach the evangelical tradition a lot about bible study. The really liberal tradition omits nothing, examines everything, engages with everything, is highly disciplined because nothing is allowed to go un-considered, liberals take scripture deeply seriously. A high doctrine of scripture is an Anglican gift to the Church of God from, and since, the Reformation; Word and Sacrament held, and holding, together. I want to encourage you all not only to take your own hermeneutics seriously but to find ways to engage with those with whom you may not feel a natural common ground and discover their hermeneutics also. And when the hermeneutics are done then the exegesis is informed and better applied. Too many people are failing to recognise the need for a rigorous study and hermeneutic before they even begin an exegesis, if we had that rigorous study we would not allow the Church to become a vehicle of prejudice, misguided exegesis.

One of the ways we can help is by blowing the trumpet of liberal and catholic minded, open, welcoming churches rather better; for too long we have allowed the mythology to develop that it is only the conservative evangelical churches of the affluent neighbourhoods which are prospering. Indeed they may be, and the image that they present, of a judgemental and exclusive church may be one reason a large part of the 73% of this country who call themselves Christian don’t actually attend church, they don’t like that image, it is untrue to their Christianity, but there are churches, like this one, Southwark Cathedral, St Albans Abbey and Great St Mary’s Cambridge all of which I know, and many more, which are doing their job well but do not boast. In particular there are inner city and rural parish churches which are very healthy and faithful, but they are also different, because they are broad and available to the entire community which may be very small, and they are not based upon prosperity values. Perhaps we need to blow some trumpets on the rooftops.

Another way is by ensuring that the abiding sin of sloth does not creep in. Open and welcoming churches does not mean sloppy, they should be on time, well-ordered, well-preached, well-presented and above all, well-prayed. One of the greatest tools of evangelism is excellence; people are attracted to worship that clearly places the highest possible value on the quality of what is being offered to God time after time after time. If lonely clergy find the Daily Offices hard, and goodness knows they are, then organise teams of people who will be there with them day by day so that we are better at praying together. If you pray together you can work together, if you do not, then there is no chance. Daily prayer and the Offices of the Church of England is the way of excellence. It is also the way of attention to the whole of scripture and tradition through the lectionary and guards against “pick’n’mix religion” which focuses on favourite passages and pet themes.

We need also to recognise the politics with which we are working. Conservative evangelical churches tend to be in very prosperous neighbourhoods, or if not, then they attract very prosperous eclectic congregations. Many of the clergy, not least among those who have been identified as conservative and evangelical, are prisoners of their own pews. In the catholic and so-called liberal broad churches of the Church of England we have been working for several decades to empower lay people so that they are a proper balance to the charge that “Father always knows best”. We need to recognise, however, that within the Church of England, as with so much else, there is an opposite expression, it is Anglican congregationalism whereby the minister knows little and is at the behest of powerful and articulate laity to the degree that clergy feel they cannot declare themselves or their hermeneutics in leadership, because life would be made impossible for them. They need help, sensitively and carefully in developing stratagems that bring their congregations with them and teach a gospel which is not simply based on personal opinions and has scholarship and research.

There is another, unpleasant, area of politics which today’s discussions should also address. I have been asked, more than anything in the past weeks, about schism and about money being withheld. If today’s discussions are seriously addressed to the unity and openness of the Church of England then these threats need confronting head-on. Not only are they an abuse of money and a proper doctrine of the Church but they are also open to a reply. It would be wonderful if today’s gathering began some organised response to the coercion of the withheld quota. Central, moderate and catholic minded congregations can very easily do this by undertaking to make up the difference of any diocesan shortfall and thereby face down the threats. I believe that congregations will welcome this request that they act with generous principle according to their beliefs. It may be time to call some bluffs, we will be amazed by the response, not least from all those who have felt excluded by the image of the self-righteous judgemental church who are willing to belong to and contribute to a forgiving church in which we are all recognised sinners.

We need also to address the strange notion of schism whereby people have such a low view of their baptism, and such a limited ecclesiology, that they think they are entitled to threaten schism. First let us acknowledge that the Church is already divided — between those who attend in some form and the many millions who do not and of whom a great number feel excluded, unwelcome, judged and condemned. They are baptised, as you and I are. They are baptised as those who now threaten to leave the church are. Today’s Epistle put it thus, “for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” So wherein lies this threat, does it have any doctrinal content? If Bishops are a focus for unity then they must discern what that actually means and where the boundaries of unity are to be placed, or are they meaningless? To those who believe that schism is a threat worth making I would say the boot is altogether on the other foot. Schism may doctrinally occur when the Church tells someone they are no longer acceptable as a member, it is not something a member, or a group, can effect, that is different, that is sectarianism.

I have said little directly of today’s scriptural passages, all of which were and are the basis of this sermon. I will not trivialise any of them by exploiting texts to add a pious gloss. Each one of them speaks of a gospel church, including Isaiah, and every one of them speaks of the cost of that goal in different ways. I wish this gathering well and I hope that it may be the beginning of a more confident and courageous Church of England which ultimately brings many more in to a wide and generous love reflecting God’s vast embrace founded upon Word and Sacrament expressed in prayerful excellence. AMEN.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 12 August 2003 at 6:47pm BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 10 August 2003

Grassroots Church movement calls for inclusiveness

Thinking Anglicans has received the following press release, announcing the formation of a new movement in the Church of England.

Grassroots Church movement calls for inclusiveness
PRESS RELEASE

Sunday 10th August 2003

For immediate release

The call for an inclusive Church will be heard loud and clear at a mass meeting to be held at St Mary’s Church, Putney on Monday 11th August 2003. During the meeting an online petition will be launched at www.inclusivechurch.net. The meeting is an occasion for Christians to express their views over issues such as the Jeffrey John debacle and the Church’s resistance to women bishops. The organizers have been overwhelmed by the numbers of people wanting to attend. Inclusivechurch.net is the result of that response.

Giles Fraser, the vicar of St Mary’s Church and one of the organizers of the meeting, said: ‘The church is not full of bigots. Debates in the church over homosexuality or women bishops are too easily hijacked by conservatives claiming to speak for a majority of Christians. Inclusivechurch.net is a chance for regular church-goers everywhere to say that they believe the Church must be inclusive. We want to see thousands of different voices uniting behind that belief.’

The meeting will begin at 10.30am with a Eucharist. During the service there will be an ‘open mike’ session during which people will be invited to express their views. A number of senior Anglican clergy will be present, including Deans and Archdeacons. Bishops have not been invited to safeguard the grassroots nature of the meeting.

The meeting began as a group of friends from Southwark, London and Oxford who were increasingly worried about the future direction of the Church of England. Others asked if they could come including individuals from the evangelical wing of the Church. It snowballed very quickly. A number of organizations including LGCM, Changing Attitudes, Affirming Catholicism, MCU, GRAS and the Open Synod group are sending representatives.

Inclusivechurch.net contains a Statement of Belief written by a group of Oxford theologians. The statement expresses the strong conviction that the Church is for all people regardless of sex, race or sexual orientation. It calls on the Church to act justly, particularly in the appointment of clergy and bishops regardless of sex, race or sexual orientation. Visitors to the website, be they individuals, PCCs (Parochial Church Councils) or other organizations, are invited to register their support.

Notes:

Press are invited to attend the meeting respecting the fact that it is open to anyone. It is on Monday 11th August, starting at 10.30am, at St Mary’s Church, Putney.

Pictures from Putney Bridge of the tower of St Mary’s Church draped with a massive banner declaring the church’s inclusivity will be available.

Giles Fraser can be contacted on 07811 444011 on Sunday 10th August & Monday 11th August. Thereafter press enquires should be made to Mark Vernon on 07966 376564 or the Rev’d Mark Harris on 07813 676892.

St Mary’s Church, Putney is on Putney High Street, SW15.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 10 August 2003 at 1:18pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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