York Minster saga episodes continue this week in the CEN:
Edward Norman joins Rome after Anglican disillusionment
But he will still be on the CofE payroll until his retirement date in May.
Dean denies awarding himself a pay rise
Actually, it’s not the dean’s salary that worries me here.
Minster accounts for 2002/3 show that Dean Furnell’s salary was then £26,300, augmentation £6,124 and pension contributions £8,294 — a total of £40,718. The four other priest-canons got totals of up to £31,397. And a lay canon — cathedral chapter steward Peter Lyddon — had a swingeing total of £63,729. This is £3,000 more than the pay of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
See also Ex-Dean hits back in Minster ‘fat cat’ row by Michael Brown of the Yorkshire Post.
The Sunday Times and the BBC both report on a forthcoming change to British law:
Sex-change weddings upset clergy
Some Anglican priests are threatening to resign if they are forced to allow people who have changed their sex to marry in their churches.
Many clergy do not accept that people can change sex using surgery, and see such weddings as same sex marriages.
However, under the Gender Recognition Bill, soon to become law, clergy in England and Wales will be unable to prevent their churches being used.
Church weddings for sex swappers
The bill, which has already gone through the House of Lords, was passed on its second reading in the Commons last week with a large majority. There was controversy after the vote when it emerged that the Church of England’s General Synod, meeting in a nearby building, had not been told the debate was happening.
Although some Anglican bishops have backed the measure, traditionalists fear it will change the basis on which people’s identity is defined.
Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester, said last night: “When the bill passes into law, for me the words woman and man will no longer mean what they have always meant and the government will have introduced marriage between two people of the same sex.”
On the other hand, the BBC also reports that at least one vicar understands that the church needs marketing and in another place someone understands the value of training:
You don’t expect to see a vicar on patrol with a policeman in the early hours of the morning, dealing with drunks and emergency calls. But in Northamptonshire, Church of England curates are plodding the streets with local officers as part of their training. Listen here with Real Audio.
Self-knowledge is the key to this spiritual spring time
Geoffrey Rowell writes in the Times about Lent as a spring time
(Australians and others in the Southern Hemisphere just pass on this :-)
The scourging of the Shi’ites
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about the parallels between certain Muslim and Christian rituals
Arousing passion and interest in Jesus’s death Telegraph leader
Mike Wooldridge of the BBC writes about Cathedrals fall on hard times
The Church Times has this editorial The first year at Lambeth
The CEN has this The Archbishop’s First Year
The Telegraph has an interview: Outcry over gay bishop shook Church leaders
And the BBC Radio 4 Today programme had a discussion between Gillian Evans and Pete Broadbent which you can listen to with Real Audio here
The Western Mail had I miss Wales, its people, culture and language, says Archbishop
Martha Linden of Press Association had this interview (via ACNS) Year of hope and pain for Archbishop
The detailed reports of synod debates published in the Church Times on 13 February are now online.
Differing views on sexuality are ‘sincerely held’, Synod told
No more archdeacons, but universities to stay
Synod calls to ‘nurture loathing’ of racism
Synod approves the Toyne report
Gender-neutral language agreed
Serving the ‘network culture’
New collects approved
Bishop: report is ‘clumsy, inept and brutal’
Housing help for clergy
Lent and Easter liturgy
Sex, power and cash can lead to glory
The ABC Lateline TV programme in Australia has this:
Archbishop Peter Carnley suggests ‘lifelong friendships’ over gay marriage
The Most Reverend Dr Peter Carnley says a recognition of lifelong friendships between two homosexuals may be a way of giving gay couples the same legal status as heterosexual couples. Archbishop Carnley says churches are yet to reach a mature mind on the subject of gay marriage.
Video report using Real Player here.
ABC News has Archbishop urges church to deal with gay marriages
Other press reports across Australia on this are like this one: Gay relationships ‘here to stay’ in the Australian.
The Telegraph has had a number of Anglican stories in the past 3 days.
Canon Edward Norman has written a scathing attack on the Church of England and is converting to Catholicism. Damian Thompson meets him.
Anglican Difficulties: A New Syllabus of Errors by Edward Norman
Meanwhile, that paper also reports on
Dean of York took 23pc pay rise out of Minster’s funds
and for good measure
Women could become ‘second class’ bishops
There was this interview with Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh on Beliefnet:
Who is Doing the Dividing?
and this one with Michael Ingham of New Westminster in the Vancouver Sun:
Tyrant. Dictator. Heretic. Totalitarian. Revisionist. Maverick. Renegade.
and BBC World Service had a long radio interview with Njongonkulu Ndungane which you can hear by going to this page
The Church Times carried this report:
Commission warns against harming unity
The CEN carried this one:
Criticism of ‘strident language’ in gay row
The Belfast Telegraph had Gay clerics: Anglicans urge calm in which Robin Eames is specifically reported to have confirmed the September 2004 completion date. This seems possibly to be contrary to what Rowan Williams said earlier at General Synod:
The Commission has deliberately a limited life. It will report to the Primates probably at the very beginning of the next calendar year, and interim reports will be issued meanwhile.
Every Voice Network carried this report by Kevin Jones:
Conservative fireworks backfire at Eames Commission as AAC retreat continues which says that a visit to the USA by John Rees, legal consultant to the commission, has been delayed until April.
For the full text of what Rowan Williams said to the Eames (now Lambeth) Commission, go to TA here.
The Times Gay row distorts Bible, says Williams by Ruth Gledhill
THE Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised fundamentalists and extremists on both sides of the Anglican Church for distorting the message of the Bible in the debate over homosexuality.
Rowan Williams told members of the Lambeth Commission on homosexuality that a church “faithful to the biblical revelation has to exercise discipline and draw boundaries if it is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus and not its own concerns”.
Dr Williams said the problem was not simply about “biblical faithfulness versus fashionable relativism”. He said that there were “profound biblical principles involved” and criticised those at both extremes of the debate.
Telegraph Church leaders rebuke factions over anti-gay hostilities by Jonathan Petre
Traditionalists want the commission to discipline or expel the liberal leadership of the American Episcopal Church, which supported the consecration of Canon Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in November.
If they do not succeed, they are threatening a mass exodus. They represent over half of Anglicans worldwide and could set up a rival Church. So far 11 of the 38 primates - the heads of the individual provinces which make up the Anglican Communion - have said they are in “broken” or “impaired” communion with the Episcopal Church’s leadership.
Insiders believe that the commission’s next meeting in America could be critical because trust between the Episcopal leadership and dissenting traditionalist bishops is wearing thin.
…the wounds may already be beyond healing in a broad church run by consensus across 164 countries, in contrast to the rigid hierarchy of the far larger Roman Catholic Church governed under strict papal authority.
“This statement is a signal of alarm, a sign of desperation that things could be getting out of control,” said religious commentator Clifford Longley. “People are already taking precipitate action,” he told Reuters.
No more synod :-( though see here for summary of business done.
Desmond Tutu speaks out:
Tutu tells Blair: Apologise for ‘immoral’ war in the Independent
Eames Commission changes name:
This body is now called the Lambeth Commission.
Press release: Lambeth Commission tackles tensions in the Church
Communique: Lambeth Commission on Communion Statement 9th-13th February 2004
There are several document in pdf format linked from that.
The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme had two reports:
Synod considers New Church funding Listen with Real Audio
The Church of England Synod ended this week looking in two different directions on a question that could be critical to its future. The members were presented with a report called Mission Shaped Church, which they enthusiastically endorsed - it should mean all sorts of new and different ways of worshipping are on offer. But when they were confronted with another report on how to fund the Church’s mission it all got unpleasantly acrimonious and they ended the debate without a vote. Christopher Landau reports.
Cost of Conscience Listen with Real Audio
It is a decade now since the Church of England began ordaining women priests. It is easy to forget what passion the debate generated during the 1980s and 1990s; it was one of those issues which really tested the way Anglicans understood the essence of their faith. It has also turned out to be rather expensive. The Church of England this week released the final cost of paying compensation to clergy who resigned because they couldn’t accept the change; a cool 26 million pounds. Christina Rees was one of the leading campaigners for women’s ordination and we are also joined by Dr Gill James, who is a member of the group Forward in Faith.
Synod Condemns Exploitation of Asylum Seekers
Synod condemns people traffickers
Synod criticises report on primacy of Pope
Christopher Howse’s Sacred Mysteries column has a historical perspective on attacking bishops.
Several speeches at synod by Rowan Williams are available on his website:
General Synod Debate on the Agenda - Archbishop’s remarks (this is about the Eames Commission and about ECUSA)
General Synod: debate on the Mission-Shaped Church - Archbishop’s remarks
General Synod: debate on the Future use of the Church Commissioners’ Funds - Archbishop’s remarks
Archbishop of Canterbury welcome to the Secretary of State for International Development
Telling the story: being positive about HIV/AIDS - Archbishop of Canterbury’s remarks
Debate on The Gift of Authority - Archbishop of Canterbury’s remarks
Debate on Asylum - Archbishop of Canterbury’s remarks
More on yesterday’s sexuality debate:
Introduction to the General Synod debate by the Rt Revd Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford
ACNS General Synod endorses sexuality debate guide
CofE Press Release Church policy on gay relationships unchanged
BBC Synod revisits familiar divides
Related to today’s debates:
Press Association Union Steps Up Campaign for Clergy Rights
Church Times latest report here
Help fight Aids in Africa, says Williams
Clergy should get workers’ rights by law, says Church
Added Friday morning:
Telegraph Clergy to get more job security
Aids: Minister to Address General Synod.
Church Times latest report
Church Postpones £5.5M Mission Plans
Forced Celibacy for Clergy ‘Abhorrent’. Synod Told
Synod Agrees Non-Marriage Relationships Need New Legal Rights
Religions Invited to Discuss Clergy Job Rights
Associated Press via Guardian
Church of England Heads Seek Harmony
Anglicans clash over gay rights
Synod debates gay marriages
Earlier stories not yet reported here
Blessed are the poor including Bishops
Dear father-mother, please deliver us from this gender-neutral history of the world
Newspaper reports this morning mostly ignore the news reported here last night. The Telegraph has this squib.
Only Ruth Gledhill in The Times reports about what Rowan Wiliams said earlier in the meeting: Williams supports Americans who oppose gay bishop
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has offered his support to a network of traditionalist churches being set up in America to oppose the gay Bishop Gene Robinson.
Dr Williams, addressing the General Synod of the Church of England, said that he had been following “sympathetically” the discussions about setting up a network to operate within the Episcopal Church of the United States.
Many report on the new Alternative Collect for the Epiphany.
Mystery of the magi Guardian
We three queens of Orient are? Press Association via Australia
There were three, but were they wise - or even men? The Times
Three Wise Men might have been women, church rules Independent
The Three Fairly Sagacious Persons Telegraph
The Telegraph reports on changes at the Royal Peculiars
Queen loses historic direct control of Abbey
See also Her Majesty the Queen approves recommendations for Westminster Abbey.
The columnist Philip Howard in The Times discusses women bishops
The church’s last glass ceiling.
Here is the Church Times overnight report.
Reports from synod that I write myself (one so far) will be found on Thinking Anglicans here.
Reports from other sources will continue to be linked right here.
Another BBC story Vicar condemns ‘racist’ voting.
The business committee of the synod arranged today to give this motion a higher priority in the agenda than initially provided, to ensure that it got a hearing this week. In fact, it got a hearing at the end of today’s session.
The Press Association has reported part of the remarks Rowan Williams made at the start of the synod about the Eames commission, which starts work this week in Windsor. Gay Priests Commission Faces ‘Unprecedented Difficult Challenges’.
The Times has a report by Ruth Gledhill on Cathedrals condemn plans for cut in funding.
THE deans and canons of England’s 42 cathedrals have said that Church of England plans to cut their funding were disappointing and destructive.
They are calling for the proposals to be withdrawn because they say that the ideas could devastate the most successful arm of the Church.
The plans are to cut £500,000 from cathedral grants and to withdraw the stipends for two canons, leaving only the dean of each cathedral to be financed from central funds. The proposals were announced last month by the Church’s spending review group in a report that examined use of the Church Commissioners’ historic assets.
The review group wants to divert the £500,000 cathedrals cash as well as £5 million given to bishops each year towards a new £9 million fund for mission in deprived areas of the Church. The proposals will be debated by the General Synod at Church House, Westminster, this week.
The BBC has a report by Alex Kirby headlined Anglicans challenge asylum policy which starts on that topic but also covers the synod session in general.
This is the first synod meeting since the seismic row in the worldwide Anglican Communion over homosexuality erupted last year, and the failure of a meeting of archbishops in London in October to find a solution.
The row threatens to split the communion, with some churches refusing to have anything more to do with those US Anglicans who supported the consecration of a gay man, Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire.
The English church had already experienced a similar upset, when Jeffrey John, another gay man, was chosen to be the Bishop of Reading but agreed under pressure to stand down.
The synod will debate a discussion document produced by the English bishops, Some Issues In Human Sexuality: A Guide To The Debate, but a vote is unlikely, and observers say nothing will change.
However, a campaign called Inclusivechurch plans to present a petition to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, on 10 February, urging him to resist “those bent on dividing the church in response to the consecration of Gene Robinson”.
The group says the petition, calling for a church “open to all, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation”, has been signed by more than 8,500 people and over 100 parishes.
One debate which may generate some controversy is on cohabitation.
Although the church upholds marriage as the ideal, the motion accepts as a fact of modern life that some couples who could marry will prefer to live together instead.
First, the Sunday Times Atticus column has a story Rebellion in the pulpits as clerics threaten archbishop with a pay cut about the motion in General Synod to cut clergy differentials. As already noted in connection with the earlier story in The Times on this, there is no certainty that this motion will be debated at all, as it is listed as a contingency item, to be taken up only if a gap appears in the Agenda during the week. And the headline is anyway seriously misleading, as the proposal is not for pay cuts but merely for the elimination of differentials by freezing the pay of all dignitaries at their current levels until the National Stipend Benchmark for Incumbents has caught up.
Second, the Observer reports this in the Pendennis column:
Just when Rowan Williams thinks he’s kicked the thorny issue of gay clergy into the long grass, up pops a double whammy. This week’s General Synod, the Church of England’s parliament, will hear a motion welcoming the appointment of Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion. To compound matters, Robinson will soon visit these shores to speak at the Oxford Union. How Williams, desperate not to go down in history as the Archbishop of Canterbury who presided over the break up of the Anglican Communion, must long for the days of the love that dare not speak its name.
Update: more details about this General Synod motion below.
And the BBC Sunday radio programme had a substantial feature (12 minutes) on Church of England funding. Listen with RealAudio here.
The Church of England faces some major decisions this week - about the nature of its work, and how to pay for it. A new report called Mission Shaped Church to be debated by the General Synod, proposes a new structure of “network churches” to sit alongside the traditional parish system. Meanwhile a working group of the Archbishops’ Council and the Church Commissioners has come up with radical proposals about how to fund these new projects, in part by taking money away from richer Cathedrals. Not surprisingly the proposals face widespread criticism. Sunday obtained a copy of a document written by the Archbishop of Canterbury, which summarises the corporate opposition of the Church of England’s bishops to this report in its current form. And its not just Bishops who are opposed. England’s cathedrals deans also say that they’ve been largely ignored in the consultation process. Christopher Landau reports. Roger then spoke to Phillip Giddings, a member of the Spending Review Working Group.
The motion tabled at the General Synod mentioned above reads as follows:
“This Synod commends the 2003 General Convention of the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) for approving the decision of the Diocese of New Hampshire to consecrate Gene Robinson as a bishop in the Church of God; noting in particular that this was the democratically expressed wish of the majority of Episcopalians, a Church in which we have full confidence and in which we, members of the General Synod of the Church of England, gladly remain in full communion.”
This is a Private Members Motion tabled by the Revd Anthony Braddick-Southgate (Southwark). There will be no debate on it this week. It will be on a notice paper and will be available for members to sign this week. Private member’s motions are normally debated in order of the number of signatures. If it gets enough signatures to rise to the top of the list it could get debated in York in July. Alternatively, it will lapse if it attracts less than 100 signatures after three groups of sessions. The pay differentials motion mentioned above reached the top of the list with 122 signatures.
This was aired on the BBC’s Sunday programme on 1 February. Listen with RealAudio here (7 minutes).
This week Rowan Williams, the present Archbishop has been making a pastoral visit to the Diocese of Jerusalem, visiting church and community projects in Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. Amanda Hancox talked to him on Friday, just as he was leaving lake Tiberius at the end of his visit and asked him whether there was anything he could do to stop the haemorrhaging of Christians from the region.
Richard Chartres has made news: Pay parents to raise children, says bishop.
Jonathan Petre reports that Women priests cost the Church £26m in payouts (the previous estimate was £23m). The money you understand does not go to the women priests but to those men who object so strongly that they resign.
The meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, which comprises 120 senior clergy including the Archbishop of Canterbury, is to be moved to Britain after America was deemed a “no-go area” for many members.
Such are the anti-terrorism regulations now enforced by US Customs - including the extensive vetting of travellers from Africa and the Middle East - that many organisations no longer consider America suitable for international conferences.
Matthew Davies, of the Anglican Communion [Office], said that the immigration and visa difficulties which some senior clergy were expected to experience had forced the Church to move the triennial meeting from North Carolina to Europe.
“The US regulations for foreign visitors have been getting more and more difficult and we just thought better of it,” he said. “You have to think twice about holding anything in America, because if it means that half your delegates from Africa can’t attend, whether they’re archbishops or not, then it’s just not worth having the meeting.”
In the Guardian Giles Fraser writes about the forthcoming Mel Gibson film in
Crucified by empire.
In The Times, Alan Webster, once Dean of St Paul’s, writes about his grandson, Today the young are drawn by choice to a changing faith.
Nick Wyke writes about How art and religion are enjoying a renewed partnership in A new vision of divine inspiration.
Ruth Gledhill describes a café-style church at the Church of the Ascension in Balham, South London, in At Your Service.
First, the Diocese of Pittsburgh joined the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. See picture here of the network charter being signed.
See this report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Episcopal diocese here joins anti-gay group.
By a 16-4 vote at a diocesan council meeting Tuesday night, members ratified inclusion in the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, chartered last month by lay and clergy representatives from 12 dioceses to “constitute a true and legitimate expression of the world-wide Anglican Communion.”
Pittsburgh is the third diocese — joining Central Florida and Fort Worth — to join.
Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh issued a press release, Pittsburgh Episcopalians Deplore Affiliation with ‘Orthodox’ Network which said in part:
Diocesan Council, following the lead of Pittsburgh bishop Robert W. Duncan, Moderator of the Network, has voted to associate this diocese with an organization whose aim is to divide the Episcopal Church, USA, and to create a new fundamentalist church to replace it as the sole true representative of Anglicanism in the United States.
Following the issue of this statement about the network by Anglican primates from 13 “Global South” provinces, containing:
We re-affirm our solidarity with faithful Bishops, clergy and church members in North America who remain committed the historic faith and order of the church and have rejected unbiblical innovation. We offer our support and the full weight of our ministries and offices to those who are gathering in a “Network of Confessing Dioceses and Congregations” now being organized in North America. We regard this network as a hopeful sign of a faithful Anglican future in North America. We invite those who are committed to the preservation of historic Biblical faith and order, to join that work and its essential commitment to the Gospel.
the Bishop of Pittsburgh then issued this statement which includes:
We seek humbly to serve Christ as faithful Anglicans and to offer hope to those in North America devastated and disenfranchised by actions of the Episcopal Church, a Church of which we are a part. This recogntion by 14 Primates, representing 45 million Anglicans worldwide, gives us great encouragement and affirmation of our mission, and is a clear sign that the Anglican realignment in North America is moving forward.
The remaining three Church Times articles from 23 January, about next week’s General Synod, are now online.
A new Dioceses Commission “with teeth”, which would “keep under active review the diocesan structure of the Church of England”, and could keep a tight rein on the number of suffragan bishops, is among the recommendations of the Toyne report, to be debated by the General Synod next month.
The Pastoral Measure 1983 and the Dioceses Measure 1978 would be replaced by a new Mission and Ministry Measure in three sections: Dioceses; Neighbourhood and Network; and Church Buildings. The authors of the report hope to “give coherence to procedures which to many at present seem disparate and inflexible”.
The report, A Measure for Measures: In mission and ministry, is by a review group chaired by Professor Peter Toyne, who is a former Vice-Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University, and a member of the Archbishops’ Council. The present map of the dioceses “bears little resemblance to the reality of the present distribution, structure and mobility of population”, Professor Toyne says in his introduction.
“Having considered this situation carefully, we concluded that there is a clear prima facie case for taking a fresh look at the distribution of dioceses and their boundaries.”
The General Synod will be invited to express reservations about the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), when it has a full debate on an ARCIC report for the first time since 1986.
The draft Common Worship Ordinal, a revision by the Liturgical Commission of the Ordinal in the Alternative Service Book (ASB) 1980, is to be given first consideration by the General Synod next month.
The draft text is not available online. It is available on paper here.
The Times has a column today about the proposals coming before Synod to grant new “employment rights” to clergy. In Heaven only knows how Church will cope with employment rights two lawyers write:
Could a vicar be sacked for failing to reach his performance targets
IF A clergyman is sacked, he has no legal redress. Clergy are considered to be office-holders answerable to God rather than any terrestrial authority. This spiritual, instead of temporal, relationship means that they cannot take their employers to court.
But now the Church of England is considering granting the rights enjoyed by most other employers to its clergy. If accepted by the Government this would mean ministers becoming entitled to redundancy payments, holidays and protection from unfair dismissal and having access to employment tribunals to resolve disputes.
The article goes on to discuss discrimination:
The proposal to bring the clergy within the employment fold raises interesting issues. Laws introduced in December prevent discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation. The issue of clergy who are practising homosexuals is already a hot topic. Where the employment is “for the purposes of an organised religion”, the new laws do allow discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the faith’s followers. The Church will now have to satisfy these criteria if it seeks to justify discrimination against homosexual applicants.
They do not make clear that this is already the case, as the new employment regulations mentioned already apply to all clergy (despite the doubts expressed by Church House officials) and this situation is unaffected by the new proposals. Nor do they make clear that the new proposals will not alter the “office holder” status of many clergy, but instead will confer these “Section 23 rights” upon them as office holders, in exchange for them accepting various responsibilities.
Episcopalians hoping to steer the diocese of North Carolina back to its traditional understanding of sexuality left the annual convention Saturday disappointed and discouraged after delegates soundly defeated a dozen resolutions proposed by the dissident group.
The defeat signaled that the diocese — spanning 39 counties in the Piedmont — is squarely behind the national church, which in August voted to confirm its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
It was also a vote of confidence in North Carolina Bishop Michael B. Curry. Some had challenged his authority after he voted to ratify Robinson’s election.
Meanwhile in the liberal-minded Diocese of Washington which covers parts of Maryland as well as DC, the annual convention passed this resolution on Conscience
The Archbishop of Cape Town, Njongonkulu Ndungane preached this sermon.
The bishop John Chane said in his address the following:
The genius of Anglicanism has always been that it is theologically roomy, respectful and tolerant. The European struggles of the 16th Century between Catholicism and the Protestant Reformers literally gave birth to the Church of England and Anglicanism. Precision in doctrine was not our Anglican founders’ desire, but rather it was the writing of magnificent liturgy, the creation of a beautiful Prayer Book language and poetry, the adherence to the discipline of the daily reading of Holy Scripture and sound preaching. As many have said far more eloquently than I, Anglicans enter theological reflection from practices rather than doctrine. For those of us who continue to work toward a definition of what makes Anglicans Anglicans, I can only say that our theology holds that our primary responsibility is to help people to know and to love God. Our theology is a pastoral theology! For any of us to focus on fostering disunity within our branch of the Anglican Communion by using a theological hammer as the tool of choice at the expense of our own pastoral, Episcopal domestic and global mission imperatives is, in itself, a tragedy that claims the original sin of a divided and broken humanity above the promise of our unity in the Body of Christ. Our mission as a diocese is about healing, building, growing, reaching out, and believing that our ministry can make a difference and that in all things we place Christ and the teaching of the Gospels ahead of our own personal agendas. Our mission strategy must be based on the direction set for us by the Gospels, as we know them. It is time now to seriously get on with the mission of this diocese and the larger church. Remember the words of Jesus to his disciples; 2As you have done it to the least of these my friends so have you done it to me.”
I was fascinated by this report from South Carolina. Under the headline Tough to say ‘enough’ with some stories a reader of the Post and Courier, Charleston, complained:
This week, several readers said they have read more than enough, thank you, about a handful of topics: … the Episcopal Church, ….
The reader who took issue with the amount of Episcopal Church reporting in The Post and Courier wonders if anyone but Episcopalians are interested in the stories about the rift in the denomination. The staff has had lots of discussions about the same questions over a long period of time. Religion reporter Dave Munday outlines reasons he has covered the story so closely.
— The denominational rift took root here in this diocese, and local church leaders are at the forefront of the international debate.
— The division goes beyond the 2 million-member Episcopal Church. “What’s at stake is the future of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church’s parent group.”
— The bigger story that is facing or is likely to face other denominations is whether Christians of different stripes can find a way to worship together despite their differences.
— The issue of homosexuality, one of the key issues being debated in the Episcopal Church, has taken a prominent role among national figures including presidential contenders.
Still, in 2003, The Post and Courier published at least 58 news stories about the Episcopal Church split and dozens of letters to the editor — a number of which offered Scriptural interpretations.
To one reader, that was too much. “My husband and I do not go to the editorial page for a daily sermon,” she said.
The Archbishops’ Council published guidance for dioceses, parishes and places of worship in November 2003.
This can be found in a Word file titled Implementation of the Employment Equality Regulations 2003 on the website of the National Society for Religious Education, not the most obvious place for dioceses, parishes and places of worship to look. You can download the Word file here. Alternatively the full text is reproduced here as a web page for easier reading.
The introduction says:
“The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 and the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 outlaw discrimination in employment and vocational training on the grounds of sexual orientation and religion or belief and come into force on 1st and 2nd December 2003 respectively.
There is much in these regulations that is of central interest and some things that need to be clarified by case law (e.g. the definition of a religion or an ethos). The Council has prepared this advice for dioceses, parishes and places of worship as a general guide to the new regulations and in the hope that it will assist those concerned with employment decisions in thinking through their implications. It is not an attempt to be comprehensive nor is it designed to provide definitive legal advice.”
In addition, and as explained in the guidance document, the Council has prepared two further documents, which are available only as pdf files of about 200K each, downloadable from:
The foreword to them says that these guides provide some help with applying the requirements of the law e.g. in recruitment processes, writing job descriptions etc and gives examples of it in practical situations. See below for more.
UPDATE 4 FEB 2004
The documents listed above (well, not the schools-specific one) are now also available from this page on the CofE website itself. Cause and effect?
The foreword also discusses the topic of Christian ethos:
“The second half of this foreword gives some pointers about:
As stated in the paper from the Archbishops’ Council, the legislation says that if an employer wishes to advertise for, select, employ or promote, in our case, a Christian in preference to another equally qualified candidate who is not a Christian, the employer must be able to justify the decision. In the first instance, such an employer must have a Christian ethos.
Ethos is the distinctive identity of an organisation. It captures the shared motivation of those who belong to it. As a piece of guidance for the whole of the Christian sector, this guide refers generally to Christian ethos rather then the ethos of any one specific denomination.
Clearly, Anglicanism has its own identity and ethos which flow from the basic tenets of being an Anglican. These tenets are set out on the Church of England website www.cofe.anglican.org, see what it means to be an Anglican. When you come to develop your own ethos and values statement or to work through a recruitment process, you may wish to consider these tenets together with the advice provided in this guide, in order to help you create a more customised approach.
Hopefully, this guide will help you in thinking generally about Christian ethos and the Church of England website together with other Anglican material will assist you in designing a more tailored approach. However, the key purpose for developing an ethos statement is to describe the unique character and shared motivation of any group of people and, therefore, it is vital that your ethos statement describes who you are as a church, place of worship or Christian project. It is important that your documentation reflects the characteristics and values of your environment.
A key purpose of this guide is to help you recruit a Christian, where appropriate, fairly within the requirements of the law. There will be occasions, for example in the recruitment of a cleric, when it is necessary for the purposes of carrying out the role, to specify the recruitment of an Anglican. There will be other recruitment situations where this will not be the case. Where it is necessary to specify the recruitment of an Anglican, it will be important to demonstrate the reasons so that any potential allegations of discrimination can be avoided. In these situations, reference to the Anglican ethos will be helpful.”
In August, Gray was one of 43 bishops who did not vote to confirm the gay bishop but said he accepted the majority’s decision as “the mind of the Church at this moment in faith history.”
Since then, the bishop has held meetings throughout the state to keep dialogue open. For the council, which begins Feb. 6, he has requested open hearings for all sides to debate the resolutions before they are presented to the council for vote. Delegates include laity and clergy from each of the 82 parishes and missions.
“I hope we can openly and constructively address the deep disagreements,” said Gray, who is third in his family to be a Mississippi bishop.
He estimates less than 1 percent of the diocesan members have left the Episcopal Church over the general convention’s decisions, but he said some Mississippians are expressing their feelings by withholding their normal tithings and support.
“There is a lot of uncertainty in our church,” Gray said. “We’re in unprecedented times, and this year’s council theme, ‘Praying Into God’s Future,’ is an acknowledgement of that uncertainty but also an affirmation that God greets us. Through prayer we can learn to walk confidently through uncertainty.”
In Northern Florida, the Diocese of Florida convention met, and for procedural reasons refused to consider a motion relating to joining the Network but the bishop made his position clear as reported in the Jacksonville Times-Union Episcopal unity in state is in danger
Clarifying his own place in the disagreement after months of silence, the newly installed bishop said he would not ordain active homosexuals or allow their unions to be celebrated, but promised to oppose any limits on the diocese’s participation in the national Episcopal Church.
By the end of the day, the success of Howard’s supporters in upholding that agenda had endangered his hopes for unity. Representatives from several of the most biblically orthodox churches said they stood on the brink of divorce from the diocese because the diocese would not divorce the Episcopal Church.
After a majority of delegates voted to continue contributing to the national church, representatives from 12 of those churches, comprising about 16 percent of the diocese, withdrew their annual contributions to the diocese. Six of those were from Jacksonville, and two from Orange Park.
Most of the dissidents said they simply wished to reconsider their contributions in the wake of the decisions by the convention. But some said their very membership in the diocese was in question.
In Central Florida, the diocese has joined the network. This news story from the local Scripps-Howard newspapers, Episcopalians say conservative network lets them protest gay bishop without leaving fold comes complete with a picture of animal blessings.
By joining the network, the diocese chose not to split from the Episcopal Church, which is the American branch of the Anglican Communion, the worldwide body of churches affiliated with the Church of England.
Meanwhile, one parish left the diocese for the AMiA anyway: Melbourne Episcopal church leaving denomination
Many ECUSA dioceses are holding their annual synods (called conventions or councils) at this time of year. This weekend, that included the Diocese of Virginia, the largest diocese.
Here are reports beforehand from the Washington Post Episcopalians to Face Major Issues
and the Richmond Times-Dispatch Meeting of Virginia Episcopalians starts today
Declining revenue and challenges to the authority of Richmond Bishop Peter James Lee will be two of the major issues on the agenda of more than 700 Episcopalians from Virginia as they gather today in Reston to begin their diocese’s annual convention.
The two-day meeting of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia takes place at a time of rising turmoil in the denomination set off by the consecration last summer of its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
That turmoil is reflected in the convention’s agenda, which includes adoption of a 2004 budget that is reeling from a drop of nearly $900,000 in parish pledges. The delegates will also deal with a resolution asking Lee to allow conservative parishes to have another bishop lead them.
The full text of the bishop’s address to the council yesterday is online. Part of it is reproduced below.
After the convention the Washington Post published this account, Virginia Episcopalians Avert Split Over Gay Bishop
Episcopalians of Virginia voted yesterday to set up a year-long “reconciliation commission” to examine ways of maintaining their unity in the face of deep theological differences over what the church’s stance on homosexuality should be.
The vote, taken on the last day of the diocese’s annual convention, had wide support among the 700 delegates gathered at a Reston hotel — a sign, many said, of the desire not to let their differences lead to an open split.
From the bishop’s pastoral address:
The church’s current debate over sexuality is a controversy we may have no desire to discuss, and we do disagree, but it is a debate that distracts us from the mission that unites us. The reality is that serious Christians in our diocese differ over numerous traditions of Biblical interpretation that underlie our differences.
I appeal to members of this Council to see the unifying power of Christ in the midst of our differences and to take no actions to exacerbate our differences.
I hear the pain and grief expressed by those angered by the election and consecration of Bishop Robinson of New Hampshire and by my role in that. And I hear the pain and disappointment of gay and lesbian members of our diocese who are frustrated at the lack of availability to them of rites of blessing.
Members of a Christian community bear one another’s burdens. Listening to each other and finding those areas of mission where we can unite are important patterns of discipleship.
I appeal also to members of our diocese who are tempted to separate from our body because of their anger at what we have done or disappointment at what we have not done to stay the course and to learn of Christ’s desire for our unity through our engagement with one another.
James I. McCord was a twentieth century Presbyterian leader and scholar who warned his students: “If you must make a choice between heresy and schism, always choose heresy. For as a heretic, you are only guilty of a wrong opinion. As a schismatic, you have torn and divided the body of Christ. Chose heresy every time!” (The Anglican Journal, January 2004, p. 15)
Now, I hope we will avoid both heresy and schism. The best protection against heresy is the breadth of the community of faith, wrestling with the interaction of scripture and tradition with the stresses and questions of contemporary life. Schism diminishes the corrective power of differing opinions.
I am aware that some of our congregations are so unhappy with my decisions at General Convention that they will not welcome my visits to them. I remind you that Christian communities often consist of solidarities not of our choosing. Our faith teaches that people with whom we differ often have important truths to teach us. So I want very much to remain in touch with those who differ with me. I am willing to ask another bishop to come into a parish for pastoral and sacramental ministries, but I believe deeply that God has called us together to ministry in Virginia, and we have gifts to offer each other. We are one body, not a federation of individual, isolated congregations, and I am committed to serving the whole body.
There is One Lord, One faith, One baptism, and we are called perhaps especially at times of difference, to affirm that our unity in Christ transcends our differences. Claim that unity and pray that God will reveal more fully the bonds that bring us together.
Communion over cappuccino? Christian worship amid the phat beats of Fatboy Slim? At the risk of causing uproar among religious conservatives, the Church of England’s parliament will next week discuss plans to draw on bar culture as inspiration for new ways of worshipping.
‘The Church has got to realise its missionary responsibilities,’ the book notes. ‘We live in a society which is now basically second, or even third-generation, pagan; we cannot simply work on the premise that all we have to do to bring people to Christ is to ask them to remember their long-held but dormant faith.’
More than 40 per cent of people have had no involvement with the Church at all throughout their lives, and the percentage of children attending Sunday school has dropped from 55 per cent in 1900 to 4 per cent today. Attendance among adult worshippers on Sunday now stands at 835,000, a 4 per cent drop on last year.