Thinking Anglicans

before the hour

In a short while the Windsor Report will be published and we will be able to form our own opinions.

In the meantime there is plenty of coverage and comment on what the report is expected to say. No one seems to have disputed the accuracy of the story published in The Times last week.

The BBC has Splits feared in Anglican Church. The Times has Church report to spark gay debate, the Guardian carries a PA story Church report ‘set to fuel gay row’, and the Independent Gay rights report threatens to shatter unity of Anglican Church.


A binding covenant?

The Times claims a scoop today on what the Windsor Report will say. Acccording to Ruth Gledhill:

A commission set up to save the Church from schism will propose a binding covenant.

Anglican provinces are to be told they must sign an unbreakable unity agreement which would prevent dioceses and provinces from ordaining bishops such as Gene Robinson in the US again. A “star chamber” will adjudicate when provinces are accused of breaking the agreement.


Reform apologises

We noted an article in Wednesday’s Guardian reporting comments about the Archbishop of Canterbury made by the Dean of Sydney at Reform’s national conference. Reform has now felt it necessary to apologise to the Archbishop for what was said.

Church Times Reform is sorry for Dean’s jibe

Here are some other reports and reactions to the Dean’s comments.

ABC Online (Australia) Anglican Church leaders bewildered by Dean’s outburst
and Australian Anglican Church distances itself from Philip Jensen’s comments
The Sydney Morning Herald Anglican turmoil over Dean Jensen’s attack
and Dean Jensen lays into Prince and church leader
The Star (South Africa) Dean causes Anglican spat


York Advert

Since early last year, the Archbishops’ and Prime Minister’s appointments secretaries have been placing notices in the church press inviting comments and suggestions about filling vacant diocesan bishoprics. The one for York has appeared this week, and is reproduced below.

The Telegraph and BBC picked this up yesterday, but their stories give the impression that the reporters had not actually seen a copy of the notice.

Telegraph Worshippers invited to nominate archbishop
BBC Archbishop job ad in newspapers

The Church Times carries the notice in its paper edition today, but apparently does not consider it to be a job advertisement and so has not added it to its online listing of job vacancies.

The Church of England Newspaper, the other paper to carry the notice, has not yet updated its website to include this week’s classified ads.


Following the announcement of the resignation of Dr David Hope, Archbishop of York, the See will fall vacant on the 1st March 2005. The main meeting of the Vacancy in See Committee will be held on 30th October 2004.The Crown Nominations Commission will meet on 28th February/1st March 2005 and 10th/11th May 2005.

Any person wishing to comment on the needs of the diocese, the northern province or the wider church, or who wishes to propose candidates, should write before the 12th November to

Caroline Boddington
Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments
Cowley House
9 Little College Street

or to

William Chapman
Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary
10 Downing St

Any letters received will be shared by the two Secretaries.


'Evangelicals call Williams a prostitute'

That’s the headline over a story by Stephen Bates in today’s Guardian, reporting on the Conference of Reform.

Conservative evangelicals flexed their muscles yesterday by denouncing the Church of England and its leader, the Most Rev Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, as sinful and corrupt, and threatening to refuse to recognise the authority of liberal bishops.


Dr Williams was denounced as a theological prostitute by the Very Rev Phillip Jensen, the controversial Anglican dean of Sydney, addressing the 200 clergy and lay members attending the conference.

Dean Jensen was applauded as his sweeping denunciation of the Church of England took in the Prince of Wales — a “public adulterer”; King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, attacked as a “temple to paganism” for selling the records and compact discs of its famous choir in the ante-chapel; and women priests because, “as soon as you accept women’s ordination everything else in the denomination declines”.

More coverage of the Conference in the Telegraph.


Ethical Investments

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Church of England may review its policy on ethical investments. Currently, the Church Commissioners are unable to invest in companies involved in pornography, arms, tobacco, gambling and alcohol.

The Church Commissioners, who manage assets worth £3.9 billion, are reviewing their ethical investment policy to ensure that they are maximising their returns. Clerical insiders admitted that any significant changes could prove controversial among the General Synod, who are sensitive about the size and use of the Church’s holdings.

A copy of this Telegraph article also appears here.


Noddy Land

Anthony Howard writes in The Times today about the forthcoming Rochester report, due next month, on women bishops. And he doesn’t like what he thinks it will say.

The Bishop of Rochester’s 15-strong working party has come up with what is, in effect, a shopping list. And a pretty ludicrous one it is, too.


Its suggested courses of action for the future range from a kind of ecclesiastical Noddy land in which women could become suffragan bishops but not diocesan ones, through an even greater fantasy world in which they could hope to be full-scale diocesan bishops but never Archbishop of Canterbury or Archbishop of York, to a somewhat dismal and defeated maintenance of the status quo under which our present crop of women priests may become deans or archdeacons but never break through the stained-glass ceiling to sit on the episcopal bench.

(For the benefit of readers outside Britain, ‘Noddy’ is a character in a simplistic children’s storybook.)

As for next week’s Windsor Report he comments:

punitive action hardly looks like an essentially Christian activity and it is impossible to see anything but damage coming out of this particular piece of reprisal. Conceived in panic, it seems doomed to end in recrimination. No situation is ever surer to delight the outsider than the sight of those who purport to uphold standards of forgiveness and charity failing to live up to them.


Easy Rider

A few years ago I had a funeral which involved a burial in an unfamiliar churchyard. The morning October mist was still over the graves and I went quite a way ahead of the procession to find the grave, and to stand as a marker in the cloud to ensure it would be occupied by the one for whom it was intended. As I stood sentinel the quiet was pierced by a scream, and I caught the red eyes of a stoat, his teeth deep into the neck of a struggling rabbit. I took off after the stoat which persisted, eyeing me from behind successive gravestones before vanishing into the mist.

As one raised as an urban kid, my images of rabbits came from the stuffed variety, and the crimson glare of the stoat lent itself readily to looking demonic, which convinced me of what I thought was the right thing to do. I failed the rabbit in the end by not finishing it off humanely, which I would have done if my instincts had been properly country.

Six years later, I am accustomed to being told the name of the chicken I am eating, and am well adjusted to rural life being about the sharp end of life and death.

So when Old Labour is baying for blood in calling for the abolition of the hunt, its instincts are as skewed as any townie who serves food on the table, the provenance of which is lost in a trail that ends on the supermarket shelf.

The ban against hunting with hounds has to be the most misguided and wasteful cause our representatives can pursue. Old Labour is urban, its roots are industrial, just like my own. While the anti-hunting lobby claims to be caught up in the fate of a fox, what is driving it is a deep disdain for the culture of the people who ride with the hounds.

I think, if Old Labour is still wanting to build a new and fairer world, it can be more effectively occupied.

The hunt is only partly about the fox, it is mainly rural ritual. Like any ritual there is a beginning, middle and end, there are conventions to follow, costumes to wear and patterns of deference to observe as you enjoy, for a brief season, the freedom to ride across the land unfettered and free. In the past, the hunt leader was at the head, and those who followed were in their appointed order according to their position in the rural community. The hunt was a ritual rehearsing the social makeup up the community.

The very fact that it is possible to even consider the demise of the hunt is not because we want to be kind to foxes, but because the social hierarchy which it depicts is fading quickly from country life. More often these days, whether you ride at the head or the tail of the hunt, you are likely to be found in your grey pinstripe on the platform waiting for the 0610 to Liverpool Street.

This is the 100th year of the Harley Davidson, the steed of choice for the classic biker pack. Fifty years ago, bikers had the same fantasy of riding free, the road coming to meet you, and an open horizon. The biggest and meanest dudes rode at the front, while the weakest followed behind. These days, the only people who can afford Harleys are middle-aged accountants in mid-life crisis. I’m certain that, after the bike is in the garage, today’s bikers check to see their grey pinstripe is where they can find it when they all stagger for the 0610 on Monday morning.

Old Labour should leave the hunt alone, it is already a changing institution, and can safely be left in the hands of history. In the meantime, Old Labour would be more true to its vocation if it turned to championing the cause of the availability of public services for the rural elderly and poor.


the Windsor Report

ACNS reports that the Lambeth Commission report will be published on Monday, 18 October, 12.00 midday in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral. The report is named the Windsor Report after St George’s, Windsor, where it was drafted.

ACNS expects a large media frenzy to surround the report, which will also be available online at midday BST (i.e., GMT +1) on 18 October.

Update 18 October — for more reports and comments on the Windsor Report see the main page at Thinking Anglicans


new Deputy Secretary General

ACNS reports that the Anglican Consultative Council is to have a deputy Secretary General, a new position. Canon Gregory Cameron has been appointed to this position with immediate effect.

Canon Cameron is currently Director of Ecumenical Affairs and Studies at the Anglican Communion Office, and he has been secretary to the Lambeth (or Eames) Commission.

(As an aside, it’s interesting to note that in this announcement Canon John Peterson is described as ‘Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council’, and not as ‘Secretary General of the Anglican Communion’, a phrase which has been used frequently over the last few years.)


Gladwin for York?

Bishop John Gladwin

The House of Bishops of the Church of England is having one of its regular private meetings today and tomorrow. Michael Brown in the Yorkshire Post reports that they will discuss who they would like to see chosen as the next Archbishop of York and that their first choice will be John Gladwin, Bishop of Chelmsford. The paper describes him as a “tolerant liberal”, a “tilter at Thatcherism” and a “friend of gays”. He is also a former Provost of Sheffield Cathedral, which explains the paper’s particular interest.

This weekend’s Sunday Times also tipped Gladwin, but did not go so far as to say that the bishops as a whole were supporting him.

The York diocesan vacancy-in-see committee will be holding its first meeting on Tuesday 12 October. Can anybody tell me when the Crown Nominations Commission will meet to consider the York appointment?