Thinking Anglicans

more Nigerian stuff

From the official Nigerian website:

To refresh your memories, in Onitsha we took a number of actions to clarify our commitment to the apostolic faith. One of the things we did to strengthen this position was to amend our constitution.

Our amended constitution deleted all such references that hold colonial intonation defining us with the See of Canterbury and replaced them with a new provision of Communion with all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

This action has been largely misrepresented by those who think that schism in the Anglican Church has become inevitable following the disarray the United States and the Canadian Churches brought on the Communion because of their revisionist agenda on homosexuality. And most recently the House of Bishops of the Church of England’s apparent double-speak on the Civil Partnerships Act that comes into force by December 5, this year.

There is also this paragraph towards the end of the much earlier release MESSAGE TO THE NATION


The Synod condemns the position the House of Bishops of the Church of England has taken regarding human sexuality which runs contrary to the decision taken at the All Primates Meetings, and commends the untiring effort of our Primate and other like-minded Primates for maintaining their stand on Christian orthodoxy, and calls on all doctrinally alert Anglican to stand up in defence of New Testament Christianity, as opposed to the revisionist theology of ECUSA, the Church of Canada and the Church of England.

And this Open Letter from the Archbishop of Nigeria to his Fellow Anglican Leaders (which I haven’t yet found on the official website)

The press briefing (first item above) has resulted in press reports such as:
Mail & Guardian Online Nigerian archbishop warns of break with mother church
Washington Post Nigerian Warns of Split From British Church
Reuters Nigeria archbishop sees pro-gays leaving Anglicanism

An earlier report, in the Church Times of last week, is here: Nigerians distance themselves from Canterbury


Nigeria critiqued

An article appeared in last week’s Church Times:
Why Archbishop Akinola is wrong.
This was written by Francis Bridger and Graham Kings of Fulcrum.
They had originally titled it “From Communion to Association: Nigerian disconnections”. The article deserves careful reading.

A letter appeared in the Church Times the following week and is now available on the Fulcrum website. The letter is from Dr Philip Giddings, Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Canon Ben Enwuchola, and Canon Martyn Minns and can be read here (scroll down a bit).

Further Update
An interesting response by Ephraim Radner to the article (and the letter) can be found here.


Responses to the Windsor Report

A book has just been published which is entitled Gays and the Future of Anglicanism but which is in fact a series of 22 essays (plus an Introduction and an Afterword) all of which are critical responses to the Windsor Report.

The book information can be found here, from the publisher, and from Amazon (American version of that page here).

titusonenine has already mentioned it here and here and also Fr Jake here.

Ekklesia has this report.

The full text of what Archbishop Barry Morgan said about it can be found below the fold.



Some weekend reading

In The Guardian
Mark Rudall Face to faith
Highly motivated prison chaplains and dedicated visitors are helping to bring faith to those behind bars.

In the Church Times
Giles Fraser Nature, red in tooth and claw

In the Telegraph
Melanie McDonagh There is more to religion than sexuality
Christopher Howse, in his Sacred mysteries column, writes about the new Pope’s coat of arms.

In the Times
Mark Vernon Friendship provides a foretaste of the everlasting love of heaven
Jack Shamash A modern, greener way of death takes root


Bishop Chane on the ACC and Archbishop Akinola

Last week’s report in the Church Times contained quotes from Bishop John Chane, of Washington DC. These came from his column in the September issue of Washington Window, the diocesan newspaper of the Diocese of Washington. The full article by Bishop Chane is now on the web as a PDF file here.
Update The article is now also online as a web page here

The column is reproduced in full below the fold.



Anglican Mainstream yet again on civil partnerships

Anglican Mainstream has today issued a further response, Letter to English House of Bishops.

Members of the public – apparently without restriction – are invited to sign it too. Although addressed “Dear Bishops”, the AM front page says:

Anglican Mainstream has issued a letter to all Bishops, Archdeacons and Deans of the Church of England, calling on them to rethink their statement on and response to UK Civil Partnerships. The letter calls on the Bishops to “publicly, courageously and consistently hold out to society the teaching of the Bible and the Church and the implications of it for holiness of life”.

(It will not escape the bishops’ notice that, of the original signatories, one has resigned his high office in the Church of England and is shortly to join a presbyterian body in the USA, and one of them is a clergy member of another Anglican province.)

This new statement of 19 September should not be confused with the previous statement of 6 August, here, or the one of 13 June, here.


BBC Sunday reports on synod elections

It’s election time within the Church of England. The members of the General Synod, the church’s legislative assembly, are up for re-election. Bishops have guaranteed seats but for other clergy and lay people hoping to sit in the new Synod, now is the time to write election speeches and canvas for votes. Over its next five year term, the Synod faces crucial decisions – not least on whether to allow women to become bishops. This issue above all others has led to fierce campaigning across the Church, as Christopher Landau reports.

Listen (6m 45s) RealAudio


Church Society on civil partnerships

Church Society has issued a press release.

A recent meeting of the Council of Church Society unanimously condemned the Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships issued by the House of Bishops over the summer.

To read the full text follow this link

To get more background on the CS view of CPs, read this page.


bishops report on countering terrorism

A working group of the House of Bishops has published a 100-page report under the title Countering Terrorism: Power, Violence and Democracy Post 9/11.

The working group, set up in October 2004, consisted of: The Rt Revd Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford (Chair); The Rt Revd Colin Bennetts, Bishop of Coventry; The Rt Revd Peter Selby, Bishop of Worcester; The Rt Revd Peter Price, Bishop of Bath and Wells.

This report is available only as a PDF file and can be found here.

No doubt a link to this will eventually appear here.
Update it now is included on that page: scroll down to “Terrorism”; the page also includes an email address to which comments can be sent, and details of how to obtain a paper copy of the full report.

A press release has been issued about it, see here

Preview comment:
Observer Richard Harries How the Church can tackle terrorism

Press reports about it:
Telegraph Jonathan Petre Bishops suggest apologising to Muslim leaders for Iraq war
Guardian Stephen Bates CofE bishops criticise US over foreign policy and war on terror
The Times Ruth Gledhill Bishops want to apologise for Iraq war
BBC Bishops suggest apology for war


weekend reading

First, the world’s largest inter-religious gathering took place in Lyons. This is organised annually by the Community of Sant’Egidio. Complete programme here. The website also includes various audio and video recordings of the sessions.

Rowan Williams made three contributions, which can be found on his website, here and also here and again here.

While there, he was interviewed by John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter
The same event is reported by Paul Handley in the Church Times who also had an editorial comment.
And Ekklesia also reported this event including what Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said.

Not entirely unrelated, Graham Kings has published a Fulcrum newsletter that deals with Jesus Christ, Salvation and People of Other Faiths.

From the Guardian two items:
Roy Hattersley on Faith does breed charity and Tim Radford on Can God know the future?

Two items in The Times
Roderick Strange Jesus is not a choice between Galileo and the Inquisition
Catharine Morris We still have belief, but where is the poetry

And finally, Christopher Howse in the Telegraph recalls the bizarre story of Cornelia and Pierce Connelly in Strange twist in the nun’s tale (Well, they were Americans.)


Fulcrum on civil partnerships

The evangelical Centre Group Fulcrum has published a very measured response to the bishops’ Pastoral Statement:
Fulcrum Response to the Bishops’ Statement on the Civil Partnership Act.

Andrew Goddard’s earlier paper, a response to the Act itself, published before the bishops document was available, is here.

1 Comment

Supporting Civil Partnerships

The Civil Partnership Act, which will allow same sex couples to register a civil partnership, will come into force at the end of this year. The House of Bishops of the Church of England has issued this statement on the subject.

The tone of the statement, and the speed with which it was issued, suggests that the bishops were fearful of the growing rift with some parts of the Anglican Communion about the issue of homosexual relationships.

Peter Selby, the Bishop of Worcester, has distanced himself from the statement, saying that a previous commitment to ‘listen to the experience of lesbian and gay people’ has not been honoured. He maintains that the new Civil Partnership Act should be regarded as ‘A source of delight, not fear’. He notes that although the General Synod in 1997 urged ‘deanery synods, clergy chapters and congregations to find time for prayerful study and reflection on the issues’ about homosexual relationships, in fact little discussion has taken place. We have been very shy of raising the issues at all.

Our local deanery synod and clergy chapter in Cambridge recently shared in some most fruitful discussions on the subject led by the vicar of St. Mark’s, the Revd Dr. Sam Wells. (He is now Dean of Chapel at Duke University) For many people this provided the first opportunity to discuss issues about homosexuality in a Christian context. For the clergy it opened the door to further preaching and discussion and this has been widely welcomed.

The Bishops, in making their statement, had been anxious to preserve what they saw as a world wide Anglican consensus on an issue which is proving divisive. But no worldwide consensus exists. Whilst in Europe the rights of homosexual people are increasingly defended by law, in many other parts of the world, notably in parts of Africa and South East Asia, the opposite situation prevails. We have a responsibility to work within the laws of our own nations as far as conscience allows. The Anglican Church does not make the law, either here, or in any other country.

In Britain the Civil Partnership Act could not have been passed unless those framing the law were convinced that what was being offered was right, good and proper. It has been done after listening to the experience of lesbian and gay people, and coming to an appreciation of their place in society. The government has clearly gone ahead of public opinion, but that is not unusual. All of society, not just homosexual people, has suffered in the past because people felt afraid to be open about their relationships. A dozen years ago even MPs were taunted just for being gay, and the Church remained silent and afraid to discuss the issue.

The Church is not being asked to allow such partnerships to be registered in church in the way that a marriage can be registered by a priest. However, these partnerships will be ‘legal, decent, honest, truthful’, to quote the line used by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Since heterosexual couples, dedicating the rest of their lives to each other, may do so with prayer in church, even if they are not married in church, then we might consider giving the same opportunity to same-sex couples.

We shall need time to appreciate the significance of the act. Some analogy with marriage has to be made, particularly in the way that the public declaration of a partnership means it should be respected by all. The partners promise to be faithful to each other, and society, represented by the witnesses, promises to respect the exclusivity of their relationship. Surely this ‘strengthens society’ as we affirm in the marriage service. More than this, as Peter Selby says, it should be ‘a source of delight’.

It is worth noting that he is not the only senior churchman to welcome the new legislation. When it came to the House of Lords eight of the Bishops who are members, Chelmsford, Manchester, Norwich, Oxford, Peterborough, St Albans, St Edmondsbury & Ipswich and Truro, took the trouble to be present and vote in favour of the measure.

It is encouraging that they felt able to do so. Perhaps the statement subsequently made by the Bishops was hasty. We might need to do some more listening, and see how the new act works out in practice.


more from the Nigerian synod

Another press release (this is from the official website of the Church of Nigeria, but the tone is far from bureaucratic) is headlined Anglican Archbishop of South East Asia lashes Western liberals.

This contains various quotes from the Archbishop of South East Asia Yong Ping Chung who addressed the synod.

The release also includes the following sentence:

…He was referring to a section of the Anglican Communion particularly the American and Canadian Churches and lately the Church of England, who condones and approves homosexual marriage…

It is not clear whether this is what the archbishop himself believes, or merely what the Nigerian Director of Communications believes, but with reference to the Church of England, this statement is quite simply untrue.

The House of Bishops of the Church of England has neither condoned nor approved “homosexual marriage”. Their recent Pastoral Statement makes it quite clear that:

It remains the case that in law, as in the eyes of the Church, marriage can be entered into only by a man and a woman. The Government has stated that it has no intention of introducing ‘same–sex marriage’. Civil partnerships are not a form of marriage.

And the bishops also clearly state that:

…What needs to be recognised is that the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics remains unchanged. For Christians, marriage- that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman – remains the proper context for sexual activity. In its approach to civil partnerships the Church will continue to uphold that standard, to affirm the value of committed, sexually abstinent friendships between people of the same sex and to minister sensitively and pastorally to those Christians who conscientiously decide to order their lives differently.

The bishops also make it clear that their position now is unchanged from what has been the de facto policy of the Church of England since 1991, when Issues in Human Sexuality was first published.

Anyone who has trouble understanding this should go back and read this summary of the bishops’ statement.


Nigeria redefines Anglican Communion

Update Saturday
Ruth Gledhill in The Times has Nigerian Church breaks with Canterbury over gay rights

The following press release comes from the Nigerian General Synod:

With a careful rewording of her constitution, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) redefined her relationship with all other Anglican Churches.

All former references to ‘communion with the see of Canterbury’ were deleted and replaced with another provision of communion with all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the ‘Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church’.

Emphasis was also placed on the 1662 version of the Book of Common Prayer and the historic Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.

The Constitutional change also allowed the Church to create Convocations and Chaplaincies of like-minded faithful outside Nigeria. This effectively gives legal teeth to the Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in Americas (CANA) formed to give a worshiping refuge to thousands in the USA who no longer feel welcomed to worship in the Liberal churches especially with the recent theological innovations encouraging practices which the Nigerians recognize as sin.

The exact wording changes are in the press release, which also details the supervisory arrangements established for the Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in Americas.


Venables on Egypt

Update Friday
The Church Times has a very full report on this by Pat Ashworth Global South won’t split Communion,says Venables. This page also contains a separate report on the Kairos Journal event in New York City. Essential reading.

Reuters has published a news report, which is datelined Lagos and headlined Anglican church is not splitting – Nigerian archbishop but which, as far as Archbishop Peter Akinola is concerned, only repeats material from the press release of yesterday.

However, it then goes on to report an interview conducted by Reuters in Buenos Aires with Archbishop Greg Venables in which he talks about the Egypt meeting, and who is invited to it. The story concludes:

Since the Anglican primates meeting in February, the Scottish church has declared its backing for gay priests and the Church of England allowed priests to register under Britain’s new civil partnership law as long as they remain celibate.

This last decision was greeted with disbelief among conservatives, Venables said.

“This is an indication that England is going to go down the same road as Canada and the U.S. and that there is going to be further division in the next months,” he said.

Orthodox groups in the United States and Canada who disagree with their liberal leaders will be invited to attend the October meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, Venables said.

But liberal clerics won’t be asked to join because Global South leaders want to avoid further polemics. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has been invited, however, despite his personal support for accepting gay bishops.

Venables said the debate tearing apart the Anglican Communion is not about human sexuality, but rather how strictly the Bible should be interpreted and whether faith principles are seen as relative or absolute — a debate he said has divided Christianity since the 19th century.


new CofE statistics

Updated Saturday
Another item added to the CofE website can be found here. It’s a comment by Grace Davie on the recently-published predictions (from others) of church attendance in the future.

See for example Churches ‘on road to doom if trends continue’. Or Bleak future predicted for declining churches.

Steven Croft also commented about this in the CEN.

A huge volume of new statistics has been published on the Church of England website.

Press Release: New statistics show the costs of church repairs.
Don’t be put off by this weird title, the statistics cover much more than building costs, as the following strap shows:

Church Statistics 2003/4

Parochial church attendance, membership and finance statistics together with statistics of licensed ministers for the Church of England

Warning: some of the pages contain graphical images which may not load in all browsers. If you encounter this problem, try using Internet Explorer instead.

1 Comment

international ecumenical poverty consultation

Updated Wednesday evening

The Washington National Cathedral has just held an international Consultation of Religious Leaders on Global Poverty, organised by the Center for Global Justice and Reconciliation, part of the new Cathedral College.

The conference was attended by Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Raphael S. Ndingi Mwana’a Nzeki, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Nairobi, Kenya, and other Orthodox, Methodist, Lutheran, Anglican, and Seventh-day Adventist leaders from North and South America, Africa and Europe, together with officials of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the World Evangelical Alliance. The conference was convened by the Most Rev. Njongonkulu Ndungane, Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa.

A delegation of five from the conference (including Abp Ndungane, Lord Carey, and Bishop Chane of Washington) visited the United Nations in New York to meet the Secretary General.

Press coverage of this event so far:

Christian Science Monitor Jane Lampman Clergy press UN on agenda

Ekklesia Faith leaders meet to step up poverty alleviation

Voice of America Christian Leaders Show Support for Poverty Reduction (this includes an audio interview with Bishop Mwamba of Botswana) has published the conference communique in full here

The Christian Post Religious Leaders Say Global Poverty Has No Borders
and World Religious Leaders Present Anti-Poverty Communiqué to U.N.

Press releases from the conference

Other material

Church Press coverage

Living Church Church Leaders Send Message to the UN
ENS Historic religious gathering sees unique opportunity to end global poverty
Anglican Journal Churches seek to work with governments, U.N., to cut extreme poverty

1 Comment

news about Egypt meeting

The Chairman of the forthcoming South/South Encounter has issued a statement, which can be found on the Nigerian provincial website:

As Anglican delegates from the Dioceses and Provinces of the South-South in the countries of Africa, Asia and South America gather in Egypt for the 3rd Encounter, we noticed a great deal of speculative journalism is in circulation and needs immediate correction.

The South/South Encounter is a gathering of like-minded Anglicans who come together to fellowship, pray, and study the Word of God. We gather to share our experiences, encourage one another and seek ways of deepening our relationship with God and between ourselves. The Encounter is not a business meeting concerned with power, politics and other such mundane things which easily distract from set goals and objectives.

A lot of the misinformation has been due to the figment of imagination of protagonist wishing to introduce alien ideas into our historic faith. Some even go as far as to suggest it is a power tussle affair. This pitiful reasoning is far from our minds as we do not seek such.

It is pertinent to state that we are not concerned with power as being published in the media. Our major concern is the upholding the integrity and sanctity of the Word of God and the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference guiding the integrity of our common historic faith. Any person or Church disregarding or flouting these are the ones to do a rethink about their status within our worldwide Anglican family.

We encourage all delegates to come to Egypt prepared to fellowship in the presence of God.

Every blessing,

The Most Revd. Peter J. Akinola, CON, DD
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria


News about Africa

Updated on Tuesday and Friday

The primate’s opening address to the 8th General Synod of the Church of Nigeria is published in full on the web here. This includes a section on Global Anglican Relations which is reproduced below the fold here.

The speech also contains the following amazingly untrue remarks about Britain (hat tip to Pat in the CT):

Britain has joined its brethren in the ‘Civilised West’ to legitimise civil partnerships which to us simply means same sex marriages. They are also debating putting a ban on public preaching because it offends Moslem minorities! Britain has of course made Sunday a working day.

Mark Harris updated his earlier blog article about the Egypt meeting, to take some account of George Conger’s remarks.

Two developments on Monday

First, over the weekend there was a story headlined Africans set to found rival Anglican church by Trevor Grundy in Scotland on Sunday. Earlier I added this link to my previous article Akinola in the news.
George Conger has now posted a lengthy comment about it on a blog entry of Brad Drell. Here is what George has to say. Basically, he thinks the article is “more creative writing than news” and he details a number of points in the article that he says are incorrect.

Second, the triennal Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) General Synod is now meeting, and reports are being published on the provincial website. Today’s report can be found here, and contains among other things the following item:

In a pre-conference briefing, the Primate announced that the Synod was likely to review the relationship of the Church of Nigeria to her sister churches in the West, particularly the Church of England, who recently approved homosexual marriages among her clergy.

The hierarchy of the Church of Nigeria has not ruled out a major constitutional amendment to give legal effect to some new positions likely to be adopted by delegates to the General Synod.


1 Comment

yet more from ND on CP

I have previously linked to earlier articles on Civil Partnerships in New Directions by Nicholas Turner. Now here is the latest, from the September 2005 issue: Blessings of silence.

The same issue also has What did they mean? by Gerry O’Brien who:

was not happy with the House of Bishops’ statement on Civil Partnerships, viewing it as too subtle and convoluted by half. He preferred the more forthright response of Archbishop Akinola