Comments: Coekin appeals to Canterbury

"I trust this enclosed letter speaks for itself" Why didn't he finish there then?

"publicly seen fit to attack my reputation." Oh, the irony! Bishop Tom's reputation has gone unscathed because of your valiant attempts to safeguard it.

"homosexual agenda" What's THAT about?

"However, I did not want to go down the “juridical” route that the Bishop of Southwark is now taking by removing my licence; for this is the way to formalized schism. Rather, we believed that we needed to admit “impairment of communion” as dealt with by the Eames Commission Report of 1994 and a situation that “can be defended as a necessary and strictly extraordinary anomaly in preference to schism"

Does this man think the rest of the world is populated by simpletons? Or is he genuinely convinced that the Bishop of Southwark FORCED him to organize irregular and deliberately (in light of Reform's conference 'agenda') provocative and disruptive ordinations by an ex-communicative bishop?

"By revoking my licence the Bishop of Southwark has followed the juridical and schismatical route" But, dear Richard, everyone in the universe, including that missing dust that scientists keep going on about, KNOWS that that is what you wanted to to get him to do. You want him to seem bad and you seem good. Standard stuff. No surprise to anyone except you, maybe.

The nitpicking waffle about the 'distinctions' is passive aggressive nonsense which is meant to distract from the reality of the situation.

It is HIS 'wholesome doctrine' because it is HIS interpretation of scripture and tradition

He states the 'ideal' given in the bishops' report 'Issues in Human Sexuality:' is now Church Doctrine. Is that by HIS decree? Or did I miss some important procedure that officially translated this REPORT's 'ideal' into 'doctrine'?

There is that 'erroneous doctrines... coming from the Bishop of Southwark' WHAT IS IT? Why will nobody tell me what it is that the person of Bishop Thomas Butler has publicly taught as DOCTRINE which is either erroneous or in contradiction to the 39 articles? Because someone does not oblige your commands to refute something does not mean that they teach it as DOCTRINE.

Until someone tells me WHAT he has actively taught, with evidence, which is 'erroneous doctrine or in contradiction to the 39 articles' I will see it as nothing more than wicked, groundless defamation by people with a massive AGENDA.

The letterhead is a bit of a giveaway, innit? A picture of a book. That is what we worship over our neighbour - a book.

Posted by Augustus Meriwether at Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 5:15pm GMT

The letters are certainly detailed and well written. Being in the American church, I cannot comment on the various Canons of the Church of England or their relationship with statute law. It does seem The Rev. Mr. Coekin has done his research. On the other hand, to suggest that a CESA bishop is more in line with the teaching of the Church of England than is a CofE bishop seems brash arrogance.

That said, I have two thoughts. The first is that the phrase "grounded in Scripture" need not necessarily mean "interpreting Scripture literally;" but that's a continuing part of the discussion.

The second thought is that the application of the concept of "impaired communion" to relations between priest and bishop (and perhaps congregation and bishop), as opposed to between provinces and perhaps between dioceses as a whole, takes the institutional stresses to a new level. Certainly, these seems to expresses presbyteral or perhaps congregational polity, instead of episcopal and synodical polity. Just how far down the structure can such a concept be maintained, and still maintain any real institutional structure?

Posted by Marshall at Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 6:38pm GMT

Marshall,

There has been impaired communion within the Church of England (and in the Anglican Communion) for a considerable length of time over unbiblical ordinations. A number of Church of England members do not receive communion from bishops who ordain women, or from women clergy, or from clergy in provinces with women bishops. Nothing new here.

The decision by the Bishop of Southwark to align himself with a statement giving tacit approval to gay marriage is equally divisive. It has not been approved or debated by the Church synod but is simply announced by the House of Bishops. It runs clean contrary to the plain teaching of Old and New Testaments and to the teaching of the vast majority of Christendom, as Dr Williams has acknowledged, both at the ACC and more recently in Egypt.

There are evidently many on this blog who approve of simply coercing or expelling minorities, but some, like Rev Coekin, are prepared to stand up for their faith, and in the diocese of Southwark that means asking the bishop to decide where he stands.

Coercion or expulsion is the answer given.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 7:34pm GMT

". . . following legal but irregular ordinations by a South African . . ."

legal?

I'm certainly not familiar with English law, but while they are "valid" they wouldn't seem to be "legal"

Am I missing something?

Posted by Tim Stewart at Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 8:43pm GMT

Alan

As every single member of the House of Bishops of the CofE has aligned himself in an identical way with the CPA Pastoral Statement, what is special about the Bp of Southwark?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 8:45pm GMT

Augustus: ".....everyone in the universe, including that missing dust that scientists keep going on about, KNOWS that that is what you wanted to to get him to do..."

When you were checking with everyone in the universe, including the missing dust that scientists keep going on about, you must have overlooked me - and countless others I suspect.

But your point is that the poor Bishop of Southwark - knowing what the universe and the missing dust knows - complied with Richard's wishes because .....???

It seems we're in the land of the fairies.

It will be interesting to see the Bishop's justification. I hope we can rely on Thinking Anglicans to report it.
There are some interesting precedents being implied for episcopal power here. If the Bishop is able to act in this way in this case, anyone else who wants to disagree with their Bishop had better watch their backs - anyone of any theological persuasion that is.

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 9:05pm GMT

Marshall,

I for one, would not say that Mr Coekin has “done his research”. Note that he does not quote anything from the central Canons, only gives their numbers…

It is very strange, the way he mixes Canons, Articles, History, Lambeth tea and cakes with the Third Trumpet from the South, Civil Partnership legislation and “the Homosexual Agenda”. If this is how he reads his Bible, it explains a lot.

What amazes me is the idea that a bishop from a foreign church would be able to do “legally” behind the back of the diocesan Bishop, what an Anglican Communion bishop cannot do canonically in the established Church of England.

The centrepiece seems to me to be this: “The Bishop has previously disapproved of some of our church-planting efforts (even though the only plant to be in a parish without the parish priest’s permission was planned in consultation with, and the approval of, the then suffragan bishop, and, when meeting surprising reaction from the huge church in the next parish, was immediately moved and eventually refashioned as a free church in which I do not exercise presbyteral ministry.”

Seems we’ve seen some of this in certain letters, lately…

So “congregational” – yes, most certainly. Church? – not at all.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 9:15pm GMT

To Alan Marsh,

As far as I know no ordination is ever “biblical”.

They are Church; Tradition, not Scripture.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 9:17pm GMT

Now isn't that interesting. We can surmise that David Holloway at least saw a copy for comment. Of course, if I had been involved silly little IT things like that would have been covered!!!

Posted by Peter O at Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 11:26pm GMT

Furthermore, let me add another observation. Despite my personally thinking that Coekin's actions were wrong, getting out my copy of the Canons, I think he has a very strong legal case for saying the revocation of his licence was an unlawful action.

I think this is going to have some serious implications in the next month or so. If Canterbury rejects the appeal, Coekin may very well appeal to the Panel of Reference. He will force a referal and that will mean that the panel, which has so far appeared to be impotent
http://www.australianchurchrecord.net/ACR_1888_Nov_2005.pdf
read an interesting article here,
will have to act. What I'm saying is that Coekin (and those backing him) may take this opportunity to "force the issue" (as it were) in the CofE.

Interesting times ahead.

Posted by Peter O at Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 11:31pm GMT

"If the Bishop is able to act in this way in this case, anyone else who wants to disagree with their Bishop had better watch their backs - anyone of any theological persuasion that is."

Didn't you know, Neil, many already do - when the shoe is on the other foot, but i guess that is OK?

;-)

Posted by Mish at Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 11:55pm GMT

Actually, thinking about it, it is a very clever strategic move - and one being played straight into. If the ArchBishop does not intervene on their behalf, it escalates the whole thing - shifting the focus from the Bishop of Southwark onto Rowan Williams (the probable target in the game-plan).

If he does intervene, he shoots himself in the foot, as he can then be undermined in the same way using this as a precedent - for his views on the same issue. Parachute in some Nigerian Archbishop and hey-presto - a whole load of illegal bishops to undermine and create chaos within the CofE.

Luvverly Jubbly.

Heads they win, tails we lose.

Posted by mish at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 12:12am GMT

Dear Simon

The House of Bishops seems to operate collectively without a mind of its own, but at least one bishop (Worcester) has publicly indicated his dissent from what he has collectively agreed to. And it is unlikely that many of them will actually interview their clergy to ask what they do in their bedrooms.

So far as Rev Coekin is concerned, he has to deal with the bishop of the diocese, not the House of Bishops, and Dr Butler has refused to ordain or provide clergy to lead the growing congregations which he (Coekin) and others have planted.

In effect Butler has renounced involvement in the work Coekin is doing, by refusing to provide ordained leadership (surely one of the primary responsibilities of any bishop?) and by taking away Coekin's licence.

But the gospel is about much more than the politics of life in the rather overwhelmingly gay diocese of Southwark, and since the bishop has failed in his duty, either to uphold scriptural teaching or to provide a growing mission with ordained Church of England leaders, there seems to be little alternative but to get on with it some other way.

And it is a precedent which will be widely followed elsewhere, now that it has been demonstrated that bishops, even in the Church of England, have only the amount of jurisdiction which any voluntary organisation has in respect of its volunteers.

Goeran fails to comprehend the difference between the Svenska Kyrkans to which he belongs, and the Church of England. His church has been formally disestablished, but Swedish people still treat it as if it were the state church, and obey the law of the church as if it were the law of the state.

The Church of England is still officially the state church, but for most practical purposes it is a voluntary association. Volunteers can not be compelled and laws can not be imposed or enforced without their consent, canon law included. It is a nonsense to talk about the Southwark ordinations as "illegal". Dr Butler may not like it, but English Christians are free to invite whoever they like to ordain them.

It should be noted that the three new deacons have not sought Butler's licence, nor did their congregations ask his permission. He is no longer their bishop.

And that is his mistake. Had he sought to embrace their ministry and to validate it by ordaining them, he would still have had some say in their ministry and in the life of their churches. By excluding them, while tolerating the gay lifestyle of many of his clergy, which goes far beyond "Issues in Human Sexuality" to which Butler is also officially signed up, he has taken a deliberate decision and made his choice.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 12:23am GMT

Well, just a comment from "the land of the fairies" . . . ;-)

I have now made it my personal mission to underscore *each and every time* someone here at TA connects the words ***"plain" or "clear", with Scripture*** (e.g "plain teaching" "clearly states" etc, etc). It means the writer of same has *volunteered to do your thinking (inc. your Bible-reading) for you*.

Wouldn't every "Thinking Anglican" prefer to think for themselves? (As one's Reason is formed by Scripture and Tradition, and in dialogue w/ the decision-making bodies of their national church?)

In the case above, it is Alan Marsh who has made the offer: thanks but no thanks, Alan! :-p

[NB: "It runs clean contrary to . . . the teaching of the vast majority of Christendom, as Dr Williams has acknowledged". I believe that the ABC was acknowledging the reality of the current *dogma* of "Christendom" (i.e. power-structures w/in the churches, largely non-democratic at present): that is all. It's simularity to genuine Christian *teaching* (grounded in Scripture, Tradition and Reason) is, I would contend, slim and none (and slim just left town! *g*)]

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 12:24am GMT

Re the letter to Bp Tom:

Coekin says, "I am not clear what I have done that gives you cause to revoke my licence" and "there seems no evident ground for you to revoke my licence under Canon law"

He gives the answer to this in the last paragraph when he says, "I have been driven to... supporting the valid but irregular ordination of my staff.' (knowingly against the express wishes of the Bp of his diocese).

The third item of the Canons says:

Canon 1.3 "the inferior clergy who have received authority to minister in any diocese owe canonical obedience in all things lawful and honest to the bishop of the same".

Seems pretty cut and dried to me.

Just to add further clarity:
Canon 14.3
"Every person who is to be ordained priest or deacon, or to be instituted to any benefice, or to be LICENSED either to any lectureship, preachership, or stipendiary curacy, or to serve in any place, shall first take the Oath of Canonical Obedience to the bishop of the diocese by whom he is to be ordained, instituted, or licensed, in the presence of the said bishop or his commissary, and in the form following:

"I, [Richard Coekin], do swear by Almighty God that I will pay true and canonical OBEDIENCE to the Lord Bishop of [Southwark] and his successors IN ALL THINGS LAWFUL AND HONEST: So help me God."

To plainly and very publicly disobey his diocesan bishop and then turn around and ask 'why did you revoke my license?' citing canon law, is just silly.

And just a thought -
As his license is revoked, and this is about his PERSONAL complaint to his Bishop and appeal to the Archbishop, should he be using the Dundonald Church letterhead for these purposes?

Posted by Augustus Meriwether at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 3:05am GMT

"There are evidently many on this blog who approve of simply coercing or expelling minorities, but some, like Rev Coekin, are prepared to stand up for their faith, and in the diocese of Southwark that means asking the bishop to decide where he stands."

In my experience, it is precisely the "embattled faithful remnant" with their noses buried in The Book who wish to coerce or expel people; specifically people who belong to sexual minorities. Unlike certain international bishops, I have no qualms about sharing an altar rail and a chalice with those who consider me and my kind to be an abomination. I simply pray that God may turn their heart of stone into a heart of flesh; and that they might look up from their Bibles long enough to see their neighbor.

Posted by Counterlight at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 4:41am GMT

Countreligh wrote:

'I simply pray that God may turn their heart of stone into a heart of flesh; and that they might look up from their Bibles long enough to see their neighbor.'

Amen.

Posted by mish at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 8:56am GMT

This ordinary member of the CofE is absolutely sick of the pride and self-indulgence of people like Richard Coekin. (Which is of course dwarfed by the pride, arrogance and hypocrisy of Akinola.)

Posted by Chris at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 9:08am GMT

"citing canon law, is just silly" - as you have just done, AM.

A bishop can only require a cleric to obey the ecclesiastical law. The oath of obedience, according to well-established principles, is not an absolute undertaking to obey any and every direction from the bishop. ("I was only obeying orders.....")

It is an undertaking to obey canon law of which the bishop is the local administrator. The bishop does not make canon law.

As there is no offense in English law of receiving ordination from a CESA bishop (or RC bishop, or orthodox bishop, etc etc) none of the new deacons has broken any law. As lay people they were not subject to canon law, and as CESA deacons they own no obedience to the Bishop of Southwark.

And if no law was broken when they were ordained, how can Rev Coekin be "guilty" of breaking the law?

ECUSA is well-known to be fundamentalist about its canons and constitution, and authoritarian in its episcopate, but that is not how the law works here in England.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 9:11am GMT

Alan Marsh,

Surely, the fact that the Church of Sweden has always been a majority church and the Church of England a minority church (The Tory Party at prayer ;=), can have little to do with the present outburst of congregationalism, anarchy and schism in the Diocese of Soutwark.

Or does it?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 9:13am GMT

Dear JCF, by all means illuminate plainly and clearly any instance of anyone who thinks that the bible has something to say. Just don't rule out the possibility that those who have studied and thought about it for decades might have reached some conclusions.

Unfortunately for your assertions, it is plain and clear that the great majority of Anglicans, let alone Christians, do not share your church's preference for its own authority rather than the consensus of faith, and that is why it is impaired and embattled at the moment. It is not a matter of opinion: it is the present reality.

ECUSA will almost certainly decide at the 2006 GC not to alter anything it has previously done, but it could if it chose realign itself with the consensus which exists elsewhere. It is a moment of kairos - either to go it alone, or to accept that mistakes have been made.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 9:35am GMT

A curse of the modern age is the tendency to define words however one pleases (a situation which makes it pointless to use words at all). If the bishop thinks he can define 'wholesome doctrine' any way he pleases, he's incorrect, just as the abortion doctors who think they can define diminished mental health as social inconvenience are incorrect. This much is obvious enough.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 10:24am GMT

Marshall-
Just a thought. You say 'grounded in Scripture' does not necessarily mean interpreting Scripture literally.
Let's forget the problematic term 'Scripture' and propose that 'grounded in the text does not mean interpreting the text literally'.

In certain genres of writing (history, biography, the majority of letters) that is precisely what it does mean. Interpretation is genre-dependent.

This is a separate question from whether what the text says is actually true. It is merely the question of whether it is what the writer means. In history, biography and letters, writers generally mean what they say. (You may say that 'mean what they say' is a problematic phrase. But we live in a world where people *can* have conversations, and *can* understand each other. So there must be limits on how problematic it really is.)

The whole idea of Paul saying - after penning Rom. 1 or 1 Cor. 6 - 'Of course, that stuff I wrote about homosexuality - I didn't mean it literally' - reminds me of nothing so much as some Monty Python sketches (Dennis Moore; The Spanish Inquisition). Beginning with a grand uncompromising statement, then suddenly changing tone and letting it die the death of a thousand qualifications.

The authority is not Paul's anyway. He is only reiterating what was widely accepted at the time. And it was only widely accepted at the time because the things in question appeared for various reasons still present today to have more connection with the seamier side of life than with the holier. Reality comes first; people's conclusions on the basis of reality come second; Paul's reiteration of those conclusions is merely a third and derivative level.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 10:44am GMT

Being in the American church myself, I find it useful when this discussion arises, to look at the wording of the statement itself (below quoted from CoE release on the matter).

"The statement reaffirms the Church’s teaching on both marriage and sexual intercourse. ‘Sexual intercourse, as an expression of faithful intimacy, properly belongs within marriage exclusively,’ the statement says. Marriage, it states, ‘is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, is central to the stability and health of human society.’ "

"The statement notes that the new legislation makes no change to the law in relation to marriage and that the Government has stated that it has no intention of introducing ‘same-sex’ marriage. It also notes that the Act leaves ‘entirely open the nature of the commitment that members of a couple choose to make to each other when forming a civil partnership.  In particular, it is not predicated on the intention to engage in a sexual relationship.’ "

Seems ok to me. But hey, we have female bishops, and our very own presented to the ACC on the issue of Windsor, so what do I know!

Posted by RMF at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 12:54pm GMT

Counterlight your rhetoric is as unhelpful as the rhetoric so frequently used by those on the conservative side of this debate. Recognsing one's neighbour does not entail blanket endorsement of everything they might choose to do. Rather church discipline (of which exclusion from communion is the ultimate part) is meant to be grounded in the love command of Jesus - that you might bring an erring brother or sister back to the truth (Matthew 18). Obviously it isn't always done with this motive but you have no more right or ability to judge the motives of everyone who disagrees with you than they do to judge yours (which of course also frequently happens, but two wrongs...).

Posted by Sean Doherty at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 2:03pm GMT

It was clear from the off that this was a carefully laid scheme and needed a thoughtful response.

My first thought was (and remains) for the three new Deacons in the Church of God and that nothing should be done to harm them or make their position more difficult than was already the case by the method of their ordination. I continue to rejoice in their presence and to pray for them and their families and the people they minister to.

The newly ordained are three clerics of CESA and so have no need of a licence from Bishop Tom. The congregations they serve now have a cleric from CESA as their pastor amongst them whom they choose to pay and support. As these three congregations have now no formal links with the Anglican diocese of Southwark, they are free to call themselves what they wish, but they seem to have all the marks of a CESA congregation rather than a congregation of the Church of England in the diocese of Southwark.

As far as I can understand the last link the Dundonald group had with the diocese of Southwark and the Church of England was Mr Coekins’ licence. He has already declared himself to be in impaired communion with the diocesan bishop and by extension the English House of Bishops and procured the services of a bishop not in communion with the Anglican Communion to ordain his staff.

In the circumstances one might ask why Mr Coekin feels aggrieved by having his licence withdrawn by a bishop whose authority he no longer recognises. Mr Coekin obviously does not see the fact that his staff are exercising a ministry without such a licence as a problem so I wonder why he sees this as a problem for himself. I am sure his congregation will not view him differently now, so why does he wish to hold onto a licence from a bishop with whom he is not in full communion?

If he lacks a bishop for the proper maintenance of order and discipline within his congregation I am sure that CESA would be able to provide such oversight. The ecumenical officer of the diocese should be involved to ensure that the highest degree of cordiality and cooperation exists between the diocese of Southwark and the new CESA plant.

The arguments he offers for his actions have oft been repeated by many break-away groups in the history of the Church and were the cause for the existence of CESA, they boil down to: We are still where we always were, while you have moved away.

For what it is worth my view is that Bishop Tom should have first suspended Mr Coekin’s licence while the proper inquiries were made by the officers of the diocese. These could have taken some years. That would have given all a breather and a chance to negotiate their way out of this. I am sure that the position where Mr Coekin can now grandstand his position and appear to be badly dealt with was part of the scheme to drag Rowan (Panel of Reference?!) into the affair at this time.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 3:09pm GMT

"It is very strange, the way he mixes Canons, Articles, History, Lambeth tea and cakes with the Third Trumpet from the South, Civil Partnership legislation and “the Homosexual Agenda”. If this is how he reads his Bible, it explains a lot."--Göran Koch-Swahne

Right on, dude!

Posted by Kurt at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 4:20pm GMT

Goran, I don't quite know what you mean by a majority church. The Swedish church attendance figures make very grim reading.
http://www.evl.fi/kkh/ktk/norden.htm

"Although the vast majority of the population in all the Nordic countries remain members of the church, the overall degree of commitment to the church is very low. According to the new findings, the proportion of highly committed members is ... lowest in Sweden (3%). Sweden also has the highest proportion (24%) of those who do not regard themselves as being at all committed to the church."

Posted by Alan Marsh at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 5:11pm GMT

>> We did so with the wide support of both local and national “Mainstream” Evangelical leaders.

Perhaps this is why a licence to be a minister in the CoE is inappropriate, then? ;)

Posted by Tim at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 5:56pm GMT

and BTW ...... I find it strange that Mr Coekin should appeal this decision to Rowan Williams a bishop he (and Reform) believes to be a False Teacher .....

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 7:22pm GMT

Like others I have no problem with a Christian denomination setting up in South London and ordaining its ministers in whatever way it sees fit. CESA is free to do that (though it needs to think about what to call itself - The Church of England in South Africa in England hardly rolls off the tongue) and we should afford it such ecumenical fellowship as appropriate. There is a competitive market for conservative protestant religion out there and it is entitled to compete on a level playing field.

What it may not do of course is pretend to be, or to have a special relationship with, the Church of England, or that its ministers are in any way part of the Anglican Communion. I hope that the newly ordained CESA deacons will manage those boundaries carefully.

Mr Coekin's position would however seem to be rather different. The new deacons are (I believe) intending to exercise ministry within congregations over which he will continue to have some degree of oversight. That in itself is not unknown within the C of E, but it requires the formation of a Local Ecumenical Partnership with all the checks and balances that ensure such do not become detached from denominational structures. Moreover CESA is not as far as I am aware part of English ecumenical structures, so is probably incapable of being a partner in a scheme.

As others have said, the attempt to clothe the recent ordinations in the fig leaf of opposition to the HoB paper on Civil Partnerships doesn't hold water. The HoB explicitly makes no change to Church of England teaching in matters of sexuality. It simply recognises that the recent civil legislation (to extend pension, tenancy, inheritance rights etc to those who have made their lives together) is not (unlike marriage) predicated on the sexual nature of the relationship and hence it would be odious (and probably illegal) for the C of E to act on the presumption that each and every such partnership represents a departure from church teaching, requiring discipline. The Church of England (except where specific synodical decisions have been taken - which is only in the case of women priests) does not allow an individual priest to pick a bishop of his or her favourite flavour, nor to declare him or herself in impaired communion with the diocesan bishop.

Nor is it acceptable for any priest to presume to demand that his bishop ordains persons purely on his own say-so. A bishop, having taken advice from his director of ordinands, may well feel that a particular individual is not an appropriate person. He will almost certainly expect to be able to deploy those he ordains to such title posts as he sees fit. As far as I am aware the men concerned were never offered to the Diocese of Southwark to place where the bishop felt most suitable, rather the demand was for them to work in specific congregations. The only exceptions to this universal practice are OLM clergy, who return to the congregation in which their vocation was first discerned, having been accepted, trained and prepared on that basis. This is not the case in this instance.

I can only imagine, as others have suggested, that this is all preparation for the Co-Mission group seceding from the C of E. God speed.

Posted by David Walker at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 8:29pm GMT

Revoking a minister's licence is a serious matter. I appreciate RC is in a different situation, but for most minister's that would mean their salary is terminate with immediate effect. That has an obvious massive impact upon the minister, his spouse and children.

Terminating a minister's licence without first having a hearing/meeting seems against the principles of natural justice.

Whatever theological position we take, terminating a ministers licence should be reserved for those who have departed from the faith or who place others at risk.

Out of interest, what is the mechanism for bringing a complaint generally about the conduct of a Bishop?

Posted by MartinLuther at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 11:18pm GMT

"Dear JCF, by all means illuminate plainly and clearly any instance of anyone who thinks that the bible has something to say."

The Bible has *many* things to say: different things to the different people who (prayerfully) read it.

"Just don't rule out the possibility that those who have studied and thought about it for decades might have reached some conclusions."

I rule out the possibilities of "conclusions" for the *living* Word of God (to "conclude" is the shut the book up, saying "All done now!"). Days, decades, millennia: if the Scriptures are *alive*, there can never be final conclusions, only an on-going dialogue.

"It is not a matter of opinion": everything you say is *entirely* your opinion, Alan (as everything I say is entirely mine---I just acknowledge it, is all). JMO! ;-p

"A curse of the modern age is the tendency to define words however one pleases (a situation which makes it pointless to use words at all)."

Christopher, if you're just talking to yourself, then words really aren't necessary. However, if you're talking to someone else, all words are (potentially) a matter of *negotiation* not stipulation. [Hence: "The whole idea of Paul saying - after penning Rom. 1 or 1 Cor. 6 - 'Of course, that stuff I wrote about homosexuality - I didn't mean it literally' - reminds me of nothing so much as some Monty Python sketches". No, Christopher, what's truly Pythonesque is the fanciful notion that Paul was speaking of "homosexuality" At All! At the same time he was speaking of jet-lag, cloning and the internet, I imagine? Ergo, I continue to resist, on this board, the *stipulation* that Paul is speaking of an anachronistic concept. Can't we please negotiate another way to talk about this?]

I recognize that I am contributing to the drift of this thread, so I'm outta here now: from here on the Yank side of the Pond, Happy Thanksgiving Day everybody---at all times and places, God is gracious! :-D

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 11:59pm GMT

Quoting other posters out of context, and then misrepresenting their argument is a barren exercise, and one which I hope not to see repeated here. An incumbent or other minister in the Church of England, and in every other Anglican church I expect, swears to obey his or her bishop "in all things legal and honest", or words to that effect. If I'm not mistaken, Mr Coekin has the right to challenge the actions of the Bishop Southwark in the Consistory Court where the legality or honesty of the Bishop can be judged by an independent Judge (who forms part of the judicial system of England) and/or in the Court of Arches, which is the Archbishop of Canterbury's Consistory Court. The decisions of these bodies are binding legal decisions which form part of the common law of England. Mr Ceokin can be represented by counsel of his choice. The bishop will no doubt also be represented by counsel. All the evidence will be put before the judge, and tested by cross-examination if counsel things that necessary. I have no doubt the bishop would accept the judgment of the Court, but I wonder whether Mr Coekin would: good order doesn't seem to be what he's on about.

Posted by Rodney at Friday, 25 November 2005 at 2:58am GMT

Christopher:

I'm not arguing with your statement about Paul. Whether he meant what we mean by homosexuality or not, I presume he meant what he said, or thought he said. However, many of us would agree that interpretation may be "genre-dependent." Thus, we would appreciate the words of Jesus differently from the Lament Psalms, or the Wisdom Literature differently from the histories in the books of Kings (even without entering into discussions of historicity). Certainly, we as Christians interpret Torah in such a way that we don't practice Levirate Marriage (if the older brother marries and dies without leaving a son, the wife cohabits with the younger brother until she bears a son, who then inherits the property of the deceased - Deut. 25:5-10). If we are to accept some parts of the Torah law and not accept others, we need a clearer understanding of why than simply, "These are the clear words of Scripture."

Even Paul understood something of this. He speaks of three sources of his teaching: that which he learned in his vision of Christ; that which he learned from the Apostles; and his own opinion. He is generally clear when he teaches which authority he appeals to, and does not see them as equal.

Posted by Marshall at Friday, 25 November 2005 at 4:28am GMT

Rodney,

You ARE mistaken. Canon C12 allows the bishop to send a written notice revoking a Licence summarily. He is supposed to allow the minister an opportunity to put his side of the case, but the canon does not require any kind of judicial hearing. The consistory court is not involved at any stage.

There is a right of appeal to the archbishop within 28 days, who may hear the appeal himself, or with another bishop, or with a legal adviser.

From 2006 there will be new rules which WILL require a formal hearing in any disciplinary case. Long overdue!

Posted by Alan Marsh at Friday, 25 November 2005 at 9:15am GMT

Bp Walker is wise to say that the position in Dundonald would have required agreement for a Local Ecumenical Project to bring it within the structures of the Church of England, while Martin Luther is correct in saying that withdrawal of a licence should only be used as a sanction for those who have had due process. One cannot help thinking though that the fact Mr Coekin did not suffer deprivation of salary or home in this case played a part in the bishop’s mind. How glad I am that in the UK, at least, we are far more circumspect about deposing people from orders.

So far prudence seems to have been generally absent in this affair and I continue to have concerns over the advice given to bishop Tom who has something of a reputation for acting without too much thought.

I vaguely recall that English bishops had all but surrendered their powers of choosing ordinands to a central selection panel whose decision they rarely, if ever, contradict – perhaps others can say if my recollection is correct.

What still remains unclear here is what Mr Coekin and his friends hope to gain from this process.

I assume that he continues to function as the chief pastor of the Dundonald plant and its off shoots and so demonstrates his independence from bishop Tom and the need for his licence. Is he hoping that those who have shown support will now follow his lead? If this is the beginning of a realignment of like-minded groups it appears to me to be a rather weak platform upon which to build a “continuing” Church in England.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Friday, 25 November 2005 at 9:19am GMT

Marshall-
I agree- but there are already two ways of distinguishing between categories of OT laws which are barometers as good as we are ever going to get (though by no means clear-cut): namely,
(1) Is it mentioned in the NT as still applying after the crucifixion and resurrection?
(2) Is it moral or merely ritual, depending on a ritual system which has now come to an end?

Posted by Chirtsopher Shell at Friday, 25 November 2005 at 9:24am GMT

Thank you Rodney, I wasn't going to bother with reacting to it - well put. I must say though, it's a bit more than quoting out of context; it's actually hacking a sentence in half to deliberately change its meaning entirely. But, there you go, that's the sort of obfuscative tactics that often happen in online forums - I class it as a form of trolling and usually try to avoid engaging with those pursuing such tactics. Debate doesn't seem to be possible with them and attempting it also becomes a 'barren exercise'.

Canon 1.3 "the inferior clergy who have received authority to minister in any diocese owe canonical obedience in all things lawful and honest to the bishop of the same".

Basically, that's what it comes down to. It was perfectly legal and honest of the Archbishop of Southwark to a) not ordain the candidates, b) not say the things Richard Coekin wanted to say, and c) instruct Richard Coekin not to arrange or allow or support any irregular ordinations (I'm sure I read somewhere that the bishop had warned him not to do so, at least - I can't think where I read it: anyone help here?)

If the Bishop did instruct as above, then Richard Coekin disobeyed the Bishop in that final legal and honest instruction. Therefore he broke Canon law. It really seems very simple to me. It's also clear to everyone that he holds the authority of his Bishop in contempt.

Why anyone should question the removal of his license by that bishop is beyond me. To say that the bishop doen't have any grounds to do so, strikes me as bizarre, especially when citing canon law in your defense - a set of laws you have broken.

Posted by Augustus Meriwether at Friday, 25 November 2005 at 9:45am GMT

JCF -

Your point about Paul not recognising the concept of 'homosexuality' is, I think, central to your overall stance.

Paul's world and our world had plenty of similar phenomena, and plenty of different. The similar would congregate at the anthropological end of the scale, and the different at the sociological end. Whatever it was that Paul was talking about, it seems to have quite a lot of overlap, both in referent and in semantic range, with what we call 'homosexuality'. The overlap is far from complete, but why would one expect that? Different societies split up the world differently concept-wise, even when it is very much the same realities that they are talking about. Keeping the discussion on a scemantic level means it is always kept at a sceondary level. Let's speak at a primary level: in terms of phenomena. You either agree with me that there was a strong overlap between the phenomena that Paul was speaking of and our 'homosexuality', or you disagree. If you disagree, then you consider the phenomena in question to be something merely sociologically determined, rather than anthropologically. Which is the opposite to the normal pro-gay position.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Friday, 25 November 2005 at 1:21pm GMT

I fear it's easy to miss the wood for the trees.

The CoE has a mandate to take the Gospel to the furthest corners of England. That includes South London.

Bishops shouldn't get delusions of grandeur. It's not "their" patch or Diocese. They are not princes - they are servants. Their role is not to hinder Gospel ministry but support and enable it. They shouldn't allow personal dislike of their ministers to cloud their judgement.

The question which should be asked, is what has +Tom done to support the Gospel initiative emerging from Dundonald. The answer seems to be to have made it difficult at every stage, to have withdrawn support and to have prompted an unseemly court case.

Perhaps +Tom should also consider his own position. The problem though is that he has the freehold. So he can act with immunity.

As to why RC is appealing, simple - he wants to remain within the CoE. Why should he be pushed out in this way - it's not right.

Posted by Martinluther at Friday, 25 November 2005 at 2:07pm GMT

AM, no doubt in ECUSA you take the view that clergy must obey every instruction handed down by the bishop, whether or not he has any right to impose it. People have long tried to use the excuse, "I was only obeying orders" and some in authority expect them to do so. The recent summary depositions in ECUSA illustrate this attitude perfectly.

English law is different. Those in authority (including bishops) can only demand that people obey the law as it stands. The law is made by Parliament (by the Synod and Parliament for the Church) and by judicial decisions. Neither government nor bishops can order people to do something which the law does not require.

Rev Coekin is perfectly entitled to point out that there is no law forbidding him to help organise an ordination of new ministers by a CESA bishop. The service did not take place in his own church and the new deacons are serving in congregations which one may assume are happy to be served by CESA ministers, since they are providing their housing and stipends.

There is no law against the CESA or any other church conducting ordinations anywhere in England. The jurisdiction of the Church of England extends only to its own clergy and places of worship. Since the new ordinands were not subject to that jurisdiction and do not now claim to be, then they have broken no law. If they have not done so, then the support of Rev Coekin can not be unlawful.

What it amounts to is that the Bishop (not Archbishop) of Southwark has failed to prevent the expansion of these church plants, and has retaliated against the only person over whom he had any hold - but with the result that he has lost all influence now that Rev Coekin is free of his jurisdiction.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Friday, 25 November 2005 at 2:23pm GMT

If RC wants to remain within the CofE, then he shouldn't have brought in bishops from outside the CofE to carry out illegal 'ordinations' (into what I am not sure - certainly not the Church of England!)

However, should he wish to remain in the CofE will require him accepting the authority of his Bishop, just in the way that liberal clergy accept the place of evangelical Bishops.

As he clearly cannot do this, he has removed himself from the CofE, and hence Anglicanism, by his actions.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 25 November 2005 at 3:14pm GMT

Two points.

First, Alan Marsh is almost right about Canon C12. It does, however, allow the archbishop to delegate the appeal hearing entirely and not participate in it himself. The other bishop must come from outside Southwark diocese and from within the Southern Province.

Second merseymike is quite wrong to say that Mr Coekin has excluded himself from the Church of England. Holding a License under Seal is quite separate from being a clergyperson, never mind being a member of the CofE.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 25 November 2005 at 3:36pm GMT

But he appears to be setting himself up as a minister of another denomination - or is he claiming to be both in the CofE and in this ither unnamed denomination?

Unless, of course, he has withdrawn althogether from that ministry.

So, whilst he may remain a Church of England clergyperson, he is in fact opting to be a church leader in another setting which is not part of the Church of England.

Sounds a bit like leaving it to me, although strictly speaking yes, you are right.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 25 November 2005 at 3:57pm GMT

Christopher Shell writes: I agree- but there are already two ways of distinguishing between categories of OT laws which are barometers as good as we are ever going to get (though by no means clear-cut): namely,
(1) Is it mentioned in the NT as still applying after the crucifixion and resurrection?
(2) Is it moral or merely ritual, depending on a ritual system which has now come to an end?

Christopher, I find those standards less helpful than you do. First, regarding your first category: I don't deny that Torah standards might be mentioned as retained after the Resurrection, but I don't think which ones are is all that clear. Indeed, Jesus says that he has not come to change the Law, and then proceeds to reinterpret liberally through the rest of his ministry. Paul, again, makes the distinction between his own opinion and what he has received through the revelation of the resurrected Christ or from the Apostles. Indeed, he challenges his on background - a Jew among Jews, blameless before the Law, and yet realizing that the Law does not save. If he can become "all things to all persons that by all means I might save some," surely he holds his own understanding of the importance of law under the perspective of the radical love of Christ.

Regarding your second category: I find it reflects an artificial distinction. For the ancient Israelite, the ultimate risk of violating the Torah was separation from the community of faith. They would not recognize any provision as "merely moral" or "merely ritual." Any violation made one unclean, ultimately, for ritual purposes. Any violation was grist for the mill in confessing one's sins and sending them off on Azazel, and for the annual sin offering. Granted, there are differences between how consequences are stated for various violations - for example, between Leviticus and Deuteronomy. However, in either case these were acts that separated one from Israel, which was first a worshipping community and only later a civil community.

Posted by Marshall at Friday, 25 November 2005 at 8:28pm GMT

I want to hear more about those clergy in Southwark diocese that [Richard Coekin claims in his letter] are living in homosexual partnerships. They ARE disobeying Scripture (as interpreted by the HoB) AND Canon Law AND the House of Bishops instructions.

Maybe Coekin or someone else in S. London will 'Out' them ?! I would love to see +Southwark tested on his claimed commitment to discipline !

Posted by Dave at Friday, 25 November 2005 at 10:00pm GMT

Dave,

I would hope Mr. Coekin (or "someone else") would have the rudimentary decency to be as repulsed by your cynical suggestion as I am.

Posted by John D at Saturday, 26 November 2005 at 12:12am GMT

"I want to hear more about those clergy in Southwark diocese that [Richard Coekin claims in his letter] are living in homosexual partnerships. They ARE disobeying Scripture (as interpreted by the HoB) AND Canon Law AND the House of Bishops instructions. Maybe Coekin or someone else in S. London will 'Out' them ?! I would love to see +Southwark tested on his claimed commitment to discipline !"

So the hunt has started already. How exhilerating for the reasserters. I'm sure it will be done with warm smiles, much talk of love and prayer. It's inevitable, of course. but it chills me to the bone.

With this and the Roman Catholic Instruction, the Christian world is in for some very dark days indeed.

Posted by Augustus Meriwether at Saturday, 26 November 2005 at 1:39am GMT

Augustus-
The reason I don't understand your stance is that truth (no less) would be the casualty.
Who would seek ministry from anyone not truthful or transparent?
This 'turning a blind eye' is a killer. For example, the abortion law is broken daily by doctors choosing to make words mean what they want them to mean. Again, we are supposed to collude with the blatant untruth that in all divorces there is 'no fault' or that there are *always* more or less equal faults on both sides.

We all know that these things are not true. We all know deep down that the boy who said the emperor had no clothes was right. Right because truthful and transparent. To go along with such (ideologically motivated, and probably selfishly motivated) untruths is to show no regard for truth itself, which is a disadvantage so fundamental as to make almost everything else pointless.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Saturday, 26 November 2005 at 9:52am GMT

Dave,

At least one cleric in the diocese of Southwark has very publicly "outed" himself in a speech on the floor of General Synod. Others in the diocese, such as Jeffrey John when he was at Southwark Cathedral, have made their position very plain, John having written a pamphlet advocating gay "marriage". No attempts appears to have been made to rein in any of these in Southwark diocese, and John has been made Dean of another cathedral.

There ARE two standards operating in Southwark, and have been for a long time.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Saturday, 26 November 2005 at 1:26pm GMT

Must say that I find it hard to understand why any gay man would wish to be a priest in an institutionally homophobic organisation.Indeed, there seems plenty of evidence that gay people are simply turning their back on a church which has nothing to offer them.

I go occasionally these days, but won't give a penny in cash, and feel at best semi-detached, thinking that a return to Quakerism would make much more sense.

Posted by Merseymike at Saturday, 26 November 2005 at 2:07pm GMT

"AM, no doubt in ECUSA you take the view that clergy must obey every instruction handed down by the bishop, whether or not he has any right to impose it. People have long tried to use the excuse, "I was only obeying orders" and some in authority expect them to do so. The recent summary depositions in ECUSA illustrate this attitude perfectly."

This is a wide brushing of the state of things in ECUSA, and suggests a sort of militantcy that does not exist in the Church—I would amend "by and large" to my statement but that only makes it appear as if your version is a recurring case.

By "recent summary depositions," you refer to what? In any event it is important to distinguish between a few things. First is the normal state of affairs in the Church. Second are circumstances where priests with the intervention of extra-diaconal extra-provincial, and even extra-national backing, confound the authority of the diocese and a bishop (sometimes in contravention to Windsor). Third are circumstances where a bishop moves unilaterally to remove a diocese from the regular governance, institutins, and consultations of the Church.

At any rate, the Episcopals have a long and vibrant history of confounding each other on many issues. Naturally what unites us is not each other's unyielding position on this or that, but Christ, before the rail.

I keep in mind the feeding of the five thousand when I think of the unity of the Episcopal Church. One brings five loaves. Another brings two fish. Yet in Christ, we are immeasurably enriched.

Posted by RMF at Saturday, 26 November 2005 at 2:59pm GMT

"At least one cleric in the diocese of Southwark has very publicly "outed" himself in a speech on the floor of General Synod." - I was in the gallery that day, he rightly received an ovation from General Synod.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Saturday, 26 November 2005 at 5:53pm GMT

There are thousands of gay clergy in the British Isles, many of them have partners – many are celibate – many of them are well known and have long been comfortable for their sexuality to be an open book.
There are many gay clerics in the “orthodox”/Anglican Mainstream group too - many of them are partnered too and while it is known to some they are obviously not happy to be open.
The media and others particularly press for these priests and bishops to be “outed” – But we do not do “outings”!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Saturday, 26 November 2005 at 6:14pm GMT

{Sigh}

MM, your lament above reminds me of something I read on an (Anglican) friend's site recently:

[Describing a young man] "He takes his gayness for granted . . . He’s Buddhist, meditates daily, free in ways I’m not. That he has found a spiritual path other than Christianity is becoming common. For most it’s clear—no Good News there. And they simply move on. Why can't I?"

The Anglican Communion (and Christianity in general) is increasingly *depriving itself* of the GIFTS that LGBT persons-of-integrity can bring.

That LGBTs will survive (thrive!) is NOT in question.
That the Anglican Communion (or Anglicanism) will survive, IS.

:-(

Lord have mercy!

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Saturday, 26 November 2005 at 7:28pm GMT

Dear John D, Augustus and Martin Reynolds - it's not clerics who struggle with homosexual attractions, but choose to obey Scripture and remain celibate,that I want to see disciplined. The clerics I want 'Outed' are those who are disobeying scripture and the teachings of the church by living in a homo-sexual partnership. If, as Alan says, +Southwark has priest that he knows is defying this (or at least has claimed to be from the floor of GS) he should defrock him... or ask the ABofC to do it.

Alan - who outed himself publicly in GS ? Did he just say he is "gay", or say that he is living in a sinful relationship and intends to defy the church ?

Posted by Dave at Saturday, 26 November 2005 at 9:39pm GMT

The CofE won't do it, because it knows there are far too many to make it viable. Not to mention those who I actually don't approve of - who have casual sexual encounters ( curiously viewed as somehow not as serious as they can be confessed! )

Posted by Merseymike at Saturday, 26 November 2005 at 11:04pm GMT

The priest concerned is a representative of Southwark diocese on General Synod (where I heard him say it) and a member of the Crown Nominations Commission, which appoints new diocesan bishops for the Church of England. He could not have more spectacularly or publicly thrown down the gauntlet to Bishop Tom, but there are rules in Southwark, and then there are rules.


Posted by Alan Marsh at Sunday, 27 November 2005 at 12:46am GMT

"The clerics I want 'Outed' are those who are disobeying scripture and the teachings of the church by living in a homo-sexual partnership."

So who else do you want named and shamed in this New Inquisition? To have any integrity, you cannot leave this at just homosexuality; you will have to include those aspects of morality about which the Bible is far clearer and explicit. So, are we going to name and shame the adulterers, the liars, the gossips, the embezzlers, the violent, the alcoholics....?

And what about the innocent who get caught in the cross-fire? What happens to the families and friends of those concerned? And are you really saying that anyone who is homosexual but not "practicing" will escape? Are you really that naive? And just who is going to be making the judgement and on what grounds? Merely sharing a house with someone of the same sex will not be sufficient "evidence" - so what do you propose to do? Are you going to set up CCTV in clergy bedrooms? If so, of course, you will have to do that for ALL clergy.

Finally, seeing as you seem so intent on using scripture to justify what (in any context) would be thoroughly obnoxious behaviour, how about this for you:

"Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone."

You can have your New Inquisition and your naming and shaming. But don't for a single second make the mistake of thinking that you are acting as a Christian. You will have stepped right outside the boundaries. May God have mercy on your soul.

Posted by David Chillman at Sunday, 27 November 2005 at 7:52am GMT

",that I want to see disciplined. "
Hmmm - lets get back on topic.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 27 November 2005 at 10:55am GMT

Above all, don't forget the Greedy!

(somehow you always leave those out - I can't imagine why ;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 27 November 2005 at 2:45pm GMT

"Outing" gay people is both offensive and dangerous and to be deplored. I am not sure it is a good idea for people to out themselves, but that must be their decision.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Sunday, 27 November 2005 at 2:50pm GMT

the letter seems to have been written by the reverend gentleman on David Holloway's computer if the information in the word file under 'author' is to be believed. Are there any comparative philologists who can analyse the two reverend gentlemen's syntax and enlighten us as to the author of the letter?
Any chances that there was a laptop at a certain Reform conference on which the letter was written or am I barking up the wrong tree?
My understanding of Bishops is that they do not like to be contradicted, but prefer you to do it yourself rather than get someone else to do it for you.
Mister Coekin could have borrowed his laptop, or written it at his house, after all it does not matter very much... or he could have written it on a computer bought from the other gentleman.
I am amused by this, but also saddened by it.

Posted by hector house at Sunday, 27 November 2005 at 5:59pm GMT

As the discussion goes on, I thought it might be beneficial for thinking Anglicans to know where they can listen to Richard Coekin speaking. It always helps I find to listen carefully to what others are saying. So you can find him preaching on the Sunday after the 'controversial' ordinations at http://www.co-mission.org.uk/tbt/sermons.php. Drop down to the sermon on 'Forgiveness and Love'. It will require some thinking as it lasts 47 minutes.

Posted by Bob Marsden at Monday, 28 November 2005 at 10:53am GMT

It is heartbreaking that there has been so much mistruth and ill feelings circulating in connection with the ordinations which were carried out. Much of the debate engaged in above really is ignoring the real issues at stake here - contending for the faith of the scriptures. I commend Bob Marsden's approach to actually listen to what Richard Coekin says - you will be pleasantly surprised.

As a member of a Co-Mission congregation in central london, I know that Richard is a great and godly man, driven to take the action that he did - with full support from many many churches from accross the world - because he was compelled to. The full support of all the congregations in the Co-Mission network was present. Richard wanted to obey not man, but God. Much of the debate has suggested that it would never, ever, be possible to disobey your bishop - that would be a frightening situation indeed. The Word of God must always be our final authority.

The oath of allegiance taken to your bishop is conditional - in all things lawful and honest. As a lawyer, I see such conditional clauses operating all the time. In this case, an ongoing obligation is imposed on bishops to act only in accordance with the Scriptures. In the absence of such compliance, the oath of allegiance taken can be said not to be operational, and that is the case that is argued here.

Finally, the addition of David Holloway's name to the document is entirely ficticious. It is not the name that appears as the author on the Co-Mission website. It goes to show that before you can take a proper view of something, you need to know all the facts - something which has been worringly absent from many contributions to this ongoing debate.

Posted by Stephen Smith at Tuesday, 29 November 2005 at 11:17am GMT

Stephen Smith said: "In this case, an ongoing obligation is imposed on bishops to act only in accordance with the Scriptures. In the absence of such compliance, the oath of allegiance taken can be said not to be operational, and that is the case that is argued here."

Erm, in what way *exactly* was Bishop of Southwark, Right Reverend Thomas Butler, not acting in accordance with scripture? Generally OR in direct relation to this instance? As a lawyer you must know that you would have to prove this very clearly for your case to hold a drop of water. Bear in mind that if the argument is to be as general as your assertion suggests, your argument must be strong enough to support the idea that no priest under his charge now has any obligation to be obedient to him in anything. Basically you have to prove that he is unfit for his office.

Go on then: prove it.

Posted by Augustus Meriwether at Wednesday, 30 November 2005 at 6:54am GMT

Stephen Smith:
I can assure you that, in the headers of the original MS Word file containing the letter of 3 November, as sent out to the press, the original creator of the document is shown as David Holloway. I was as surprised as anybody when I saw it.
If it is fictitious then it has been added by the supporters of Mr Coekin.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 30 November 2005 at 10:41pm GMT

People do check documents with colleagues before publishing them, and it is perfectly possible that it was emailed to Rev Holloway, who loaded it on his PC and saved it in Word before sending it back. The program would have added Holloway's name to the document in the course of saving it. Why not ask Holloway?

It is unlikely that Holloway wrote it as Rev Coekin is perfectly capable of writing it for himself.

Much Ado etc!

Posted by Alan Marsh at Thursday, 1 December 2005 at 1:10am GMT

Some interesting comments on Fulcrum's Forum under a thread headed;- " Response to Stephen Kurt supporting Bishop Tom."
http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/forum/thread.cfm?thread=290
The thread has been started on 29/11/05 by a Co-Mission pastor in response to Stephen Kurt's article posted earlier on Fulcrum's site.

Posted by Ruth at Thursday, 1 December 2005 at 1:31pm GMT

Augustus Meriwether's claim not to know how Bp Butler is out of accord with scripture is an example of what CS Lewis called fernseed and elephants - or, in this instance, simply elephants. Sometimes things (such as a ship one is on) are so big that one does not see them.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Friday, 2 December 2005 at 10:37am GMT

Apologies, I got confused; I thought we were referring to the actual appeal letter to the Archbishop, not the letter to the Bishop of Southwark, which is not on the Co-Mission website, so I had no basis to say who authored it.

David Holloway is an expert on Canon law, so he probably was consulted, and, as Alan Marsh said, made some suggested amendments. The reason I was initially concerned, was that I thought someone had changed the document on this website when compared to the Co-Mission website; in the absence of that there is no cause for concern.

The main thing is, though, not who helped write detailed Canon law arguments, but why the ordinations took place.

The newly ordained ministers lead thriving and vibrant churches, and have now finally received epsicopal recognition of their ministry. They were selected and paid by the CofE to train, emanating from Co-Mission churches, but unfortunately the CofE was unable to complete the process which it started. Arguing aside, let's try to see this from the perspective of a normal congregation member at a Co-Mission church - an ongoing (3 years) problem of how to ordain the ministers of three growing churches, has been solved. We should rejoice that there are churches growing with such vibrancy, where the Bible is being faithfully taught, and where the Ministers have now received the ordinations they have so long been waiting for.

Posted by Stephen Smith at Friday, 2 December 2005 at 11:57am GMT

So, Tom Butler removes a priest's licence when he may not have done anything actually against Canon Law, but does nothing about a priest who Outs himself as defying Canon Law in front of General Synod !

I'd love to hear TB defend himself.... he is applying his power with partiality !

ps David, Yes - I think that everyone who is called to be a priest but breaks Christian morality (or rejects the Christian faith) should either repent or resign.. and if they won't they should be called up on to repent or be sacked by their Bishop (as I hear +Oxford, Richard Harries, did to one of his priests some years ago - much to Richard's credit!) I'm far from perfect too, but [mostly] repentant --- and we are supposed to be Christ's church !

Posted by Dave at Friday, 2 December 2005 at 5:55pm GMT

I suppose the CESA can ordain whoever they like without contacting a single hair of anyone in the CoE, but since Coekin is under the authority of a CoE bishop, he should have thought twice about organizing an ordination for non-Anglicans for members of his staff, who obviously are no longer Anglican.

And as mentioned, he does not recognize the authority of his bishop, which means, that he refuses to follow orders.

He wants his license ANYWAY?

Seems like more of a way to force the ++Canterbury to do something or other.

I wonder if Coekin would think it alright if an Anglican priest organized and participated in an ordination for a Greek Orthodox priest and also said his own bishop was ungodly?

Posted by RMF at Friday, 2 December 2005 at 9:15pm GMT
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