From the February General Synod of the Church of England, Monday evening.
Revd Stephen Coles (London) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q. In view of the blessing by a diocesan bishop of all who sail in the largest cruise liner in the world, has the House given any consideration to the question of consistency of the Church’s approach to the use of forms of blessing which endorse, or might be seen to endorse, sexual relationships of a kind which are inconsistent with the Church’s official teaching?
The Bishop of Oxford to reply as the Chairman of the House’s Group on ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’:
A. There are two aspects to the question. First, the blessing of the Queen Mary II by the Bishop of Winchester was not an endorsement of any particular behaviour amongst passengers. Secondly, as far as consistency is concerned, the church has always recognised that blessing are appropriate in some circumstances and not in others. As far as blessing of different relationships are concerned, this will no doubt be discussed during Wednesday’s debate on Some Issues in Human Sexuality: A Guide to the Debate and the York Diocesan Synod motion on cohabitation.
The Oxford branch of controversial Middle Eastern cult ‘Christianity’ has, in a surprising move, chosen a man as leader of the Reading area. This leader, or ‘bishop’, will be required to wear purple and oversee the cult in Berkshire.
Cult members in Oxfordshire were stunned by the move. Giles Fraser, a mercenary recruited during the Talk Wars of 2003, commented, ‘Purple? Leadership? That does seem a role more suited to a woman.’
Others were more welcoming. Philip Giddings, Hobbit-in-Chief of Greymalkin, Reading, smiled enigmatically and commented: ‘Lovely, just lovely, but can I have fries with that?’
‘Christianity’ began in the Middle East, but spread to the UK using trading routes, disease vectors and giant hollow whelks. Those infected with the ‘Anglican’ strain of the virus are known to display a love of cake-making, fete-throwing, floral dresses and, more recently, vicious in-fighting.
email from a journalist
Last year, Stephen Bates and Andrew Brown reported that the English Churchman still supported slavery. More recently the English Churchman published the following equally amazing comment.
Bishop of Oxford Sets Up Internet Parish
Having been blocked from his attempt to appoint a sodomite as Bishop of Reading the Bishop of Oxford is now setting up an internet parish or virtual church for those unable or unwilling to meet people face to face.
It is proposed for those wanting to learn about Christianity in a non threatening but somewhat impersonal manner. Of course it will not be able to judge people’s behaviour so if any sodomites, paedophiles or other notorious sinners want to join surreptitiously there is likely to be no hindrance to them.
Congregations without the practice of discipline are not new to the Church of England. Congregations without biblical preaching are not new either. What is new is the idea of a parish without meeting together for the sacraments or to know who our brethren really are.
While the internet has a part to play in the church it is a tragedy that it should be seen as a substitute.
Stephen Bates reported on the AM petition story in the Guardian, Evangelicals say 13m back anti-gay move which starts:
Evangelicals opposed to gay people within the Anglican communion presented an email petition yesterday to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, calling on him to provide alternative oversight for those congregations which oppose bishops supporting Gene Robinson, the gay bishop of New Hampshire.
You can see a picture of the petition being presented here and you can read the press release they issued. But you still can’t find out which are the 8 dioceses and which are the 249 “parishes and organisations” included as block signatures.
The Canadian Anglican Journal reports on the proposal to have same-sex blessings in the Lutheran Church of Sweden. (British Anglicans are in full communion with the Church of Sweden via the Porvoo Agreement).
I last posted about the AM petition statistics on 18 December, when I updated my blog entry of 17 December - this is the petition that has provoked two separate threads of ridicule on Ship of Fools (the count there is stalled at slightly over 6 billion).
Following further correspondence with Dr Giddings over the weekend, some slightly improved information is, as of 1230 GMT on the 22nd, available about the block-signups.
I noted on the 17th that I could not be sure which were the four dioceses then claimed in the numeric totals, as only two were clearly named. This situation has not improved:there are still only two clearly named and still four claimed in the numbers although the total of their “votes” has increased from 168,000 on the 17th to 184,300 on the 22nd. No doubt all will be revealed eventually.
However there is clarity about provinces. There are now four named and four counted. Although individual province counts are not revealed by AM, I believe the figures are:
South East Asia 184,000
Central Africa 650,000
What was confusing me before was that a third province was being claimed but not named as early as 1200 GMT on the 18th, and when a third name (Congo) was revealed on the 19th, a fourth one was at the same time claimed in the numbers.
Still no progress on naming 220 “parishes and organisations”, in case you were wondering if you have been signed-up without your knowledge, you’ll just have to wait.
Updated 2250 GMT
In the last hour, another province was claimed and the count for provinces increased to 9,359,000. So the additional province represents 25,000 people. Could this be the Southern Cone, whose primate’s name has been present on the list all along?
The site now carries the following disclaimer (my emphasis):
… we have received support both from individuals and also leaders of more than 9 million Anglicans around the world following the launch on November 24.
When a parish, diocese, or province is indicated as supporting the Network, their authorized spokesperson has signed on their behalf. That person can be held accountable for the use of his authority. It is of course open to members of that diocese or even parish to disagree and in some cases the numbers recorded on the website are less than the numbers on the roll.
updated again Tuesday noon
Oh yes and on the signup form it also now says to dioceses (provinces aren’t mentioned on this form anywhere):
(You may send your signatures later, or the relevant resolution of your standing committee relating to the consecration of Gene Robinson)
so a diocese (as represented by a standing committee - American term) doesn’t really even have to agree to the detailed wording of this petition at all, merely have passed a resolution relating to GR.
Even more wonderful. Marvellous. Whatever.
On 5 December I published schismatic statistics, questioning the reliability of the numbers claimed by the petition on “Anglican Mainstream” website. After three attempts to invite Dr Giddings to reply to this criticism I have now received an answer which is reproduced in full below.
Update 18 December
Meanwhile, a coalition of ECUSA groups issued this press release
Anglican Mainstream Christmas Petition Effort Criticized as Deceptive which says in part:
Questionable counting. Most petition signatures are assembled the old-fashioned way, one signature at a time. Electronic websites now permit worldwide sign-up, such as this world-wide effort. Still, one should be able to assume that each signature represents one person. But in this counting, it seems one signature can sign up the whole family, a whole parish, or even a whole diocese. Is this honest? Do all members of such communities really want to be counted?
…Many may not even know that they are being counted as supporters. It matters not whether a bishop has limited the numbers of “signatures” to the proportion he believes support his position. The count was made without asking the individuals where they stood on this statement. Such “mass signatures” account for over 97% of the total signatures on this “petition.”
There is at the time of writing this not even list of the (currently 4) dioceses currently claimed as mass signatures, never mind a list of the (currently 196) parishes.
Further comment 16.00 GMT 18 Dec
Clearly the arrival of precisely 8 million signatures from Uganda has caused some confusion: the number of provinces has now increased from 1 to 3, and the number of dioceses has decreased from 4 to 3. Presumably some poor province was previously regarded as a mere diocese. But there are still only 2 provinces listed (South East Asia, Uganda) and the names of the 3 dioceses are still not clear: Fort Worth, Kitale Kenya, and ???
Dr Giddings writes:
Sorry - I don’t recall receiving the previous e-mail.
I invite you to re-visit the web-site. On the ‘signing up’ part you will see
< ** Please note - to enter corporate details for a parish / diocese you must be the authorised spokesperson for that community. If submitting for a diocese please enter a contact email>.
Individuals who object can therefore take the matter up directly with the authorised person of the body concerned (which is always the recommended route for complaint-handling). Incidentally you should not assume that ‘the entire membership roll’ was signed up. I know of a number of instances where the number of signatures is lower than the roll number because people have been given, and taken, the opportunity not to be included in the signing-up.
You will also see on the web-site a break down of the signatures received to date: on 12 December it was:
9,909 in 2,751 families
54,881 in 182 parishes
168,000 in 2 dioceses
184,000 in 1 province
We have therefore made clear the basis on which the numbers are being counted. Not being a statistician I don’t know what qualifies as < schismatic statistics > but the purpose of inviting people to sign up to the statement is not just to signal the breadth and depth of opposition to the New Hampshire consecration but also to express sympathy and solidarity with orthodox Anglicans in North America who are being intimidated and persecuted by lawsuits, threats of disciplinary action and other means.
Update see reply from Dr Giddings here
Considering that one of the key movers in Anglican “Mainstream” is an academic political scientist (and leading General Synod member) who specialises in ombudsman systems, it’s intriguing to see what is happening there with a public petition, designed to show something that everyone already knows, that millions of Anglicans hate the idea of an openly homosexual bishop. But in this case you don’t have to send your name in to get subscribed. Your bishop, or even your archbishop can do it for you, without your knowledge. The subscribed total of names currently includes 168,000 signed up by their bishop in 2 dioceses (Forth Worth, USA and Kitale, Kenya) and another 184,000 in 1 province (South East Asia). Not to mention another 31,467 in 95 parishes whose leaders have signed up their entire membership roll. What’s surprising given their approach is that they have only set a target of 1 million names, when a single transaction from Nigeria or Uganda can easily exceed that figure many times over. But is there any mechanism for aggrieved individuals to seek redress against the misuse of their names in this way, Dr Giddings?
And those are not the only funny figures being used. Elsewhere on that very same web page, we find:
“We in the Network of Confessing Dioceses and Congregations are deeply grateful to our Anglican brothers and sisters around the globe for your support and prayers. We are now thirteen [emphasis mine] dioceses stretching from coast to coast and from Canada to Mexico. We are congregations in another 36 dioceses. A million signatures by Christmas will make an extraordinary difference to us as we seek an unhindered witness to the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.”
+ Bob Pittsburgh
Now, the Anglican American Council website shows a list of only three affiliated dioceses (Dallas, Fort Worth and Quincy), so this Network must be something else again. And the AAC site lists congregations in many more dioceses than 36. So who exactly are the thirteen dioceses in this network which the petition applauds as follows:
Applaud the action of those Bishops in North America
- Who are forming a Network of Confessing Dioceses and Congregations as suggested by the Archbishop of Canterbury, within ECUSA and in good faith with its Constitution.
- Who have designated Bishop Robert Duncan as Convening Bishop (Moderator)
- Who will no longer be at the Lord’s Table with those who have consecrated Gene Robinson (see below).
This is of interest outside the USA because the petition calls on the ABC and other primates individually and severally to do a number of things, including:
- To recognise Bishop Bob Duncan (Pittsburgh) as the duly elected Convening Bishop (Moderator) of the Network and invite him to all events to which the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA is invited.
- To recognise the Convening Bishop (Moderator) in opening ecumenical conversations with other Christian churches.