Thinking Anglicans

worthy of their hire

The Cash section of today’s Observer has an article by Jon Robins on clergy and UK employment law:
Doing God’s work, but denied rights as employees.
As the article makes clear, the issues are not specific to the Church of England, but affect clergy of all religious bodies.


columns this weekend

In The Times Jonathan Sacks has Tragedy unites us but blame divides, in the aftermath of disaster.

Ian Bradley writes in the Guardian Let’s hear it for the union (this is about Britishness) and Karen Armstrong writes about Old world order.

The Tablet has a very interesting report on an aspect of New Orleans not reported elsewhere in After the deluge by Nicole Pepinster Greene and and also an article about Christians, Muslims and Jews in London studying scriptures together, in Three in one by William Taylor.

Giles Fraser discusses The benefits of Babel in the Church Times.


a look back to 1997

At York in 1997, General Synod debated a motion on Issues in Human Sexuality put forward as a Private Member’s Motion by the Archdeacon of Wandsworth, David Gerrard:

That this Synod

(a) commend for discussion in dioceses the House of Bishops’ report “Issues in Human Sexuality” and acknowledge it is not the last word on the subject;

(b) in particular, urge deanery Synods, clergy chapters and congregations to find time for prayerful study and reflection on the issues addressed by the report.

This motion was eventually passed, unamended. The voting was:

Bishops 44 0
Clergy 187 38
Laity 150 88

Before that, three amendments were due to be considered. None was passed, and this outcome was ensured by the 44 members of the House of Bishops present voting unanimously against all amendments.

The details of the amendments and voting thereon is below the fold.


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Doctrine in the Church of England

Where is the Church’s doctrine to be found? As far as the Church of England is concerned, the answer is at first glance simple. Canon A5 states that:

The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures.

In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.

Furthermore the Worship and Doctrine Measure 1974 notes that “references in the Measure to the doctrine of the Church of England shall be construed in accordance with the statement concerning that doctrine contained in the Canons of the Church of England.”

But it’s not as simple as that, and there is a good section on “Doctrine in the Church of England in an Historical Perspective” in GS 1554. This document contains the proposals for updating the procedures for clergy discipline in matters of doctrine, ritual and ceremonial that were defeated at General Synod in July 2004. I think that one of the reasons for this defeat was the difficulty of saying just what the CofE’s doctrine is.

Article 7 of the General Synod’s constitution requires any “provision touching doctrinal formulae or the services or ceremonies of the Church of England or the administration of the sacraments or sacred rites thereof” to be voted on at final approval in a form submitted by the House of Bishops. Voting must be by houses so bishops, clergy and laity must each approve. As GS 1554 puts it:

All doctrinal and liturgical matters are brought to the General Synod by the House of Bishops in virtue of their role as guardians of the Church’s faith and teaching. The Synod as a whole determines whether or not to give assent. This reflects the relationship between bishops and laity which was clearly set out by Richard Hooker four hundred years ago.

In particular this means that, unless the Article 7 procedure has been followed, a motion passed by General Synod supporting, for example, a resolution of a Lambeth Conference, is no more that a statement of opinion by those present.


Akinola in the news

Update Saturday
Stephen Bates reports in the Guardian on all this: Church in new row after Nigerian primate bans Brazilian archbishop from conference
Also, here is Homosexuality’s Destructive Effect on Church & Culture apparently written by Peter Akinola and published on the website of the Kairos Journal that gave him (and others) the award mentioned below.
later note I have added the content of that extraordinary Kairos webpage below the fold here, to ensure the full text gets safely archived.

Update Sunday
Trevor Grundy Scotland on Sunday Africans set to found rival Anglican church
Somewhat to my surprise, the New York award event is reported on ACNS Digest Archbishops honoured.

First, some correspondence has been published concerning the attendance of the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil at the upcoming III Global South Encounter scheduled for Alexandria, Egypt October 24-29 this year.

There is a letter from Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria to Archbishop Orlando Santos de Oliveira of Brazil, and his response. Also a letter from Bishop Jubal Neves, another Brazilian bishop.

For the full text of these letters, see here.

Mark Harris has already commented about this exchange in Let Brazil Through the Door!

Church Times Pat Ashworth Akinola blocks Brazil from Global South meeting

Second, there is an Associated Press report quoting both Archbishop Peter Akinola and Archbishop Henry Orombi, on the subject of the Church of England and Civil Partnerships, African Archbishops Fault Church on Gays (here from the Washington Post but published on newspaper websites all across the USA)

This matter is also mentioned in a report from the Daily Independent Nigeria, Anglican Church Synod begins Saturday in Onitsha

Further reports about this synod are on the Nigerian provincial website:
Akinola invites journalists to be abreast of developments in the Church
Church of Nigeria 8th General Synod holds at Onitsha. An extract:

The relationship of the Church of Nigeria with other national churches of the Anglican Communion in the wake of the controversy generated by homosexuality and same- sex unions is also expected to engage the Synod.

“Before, it was America and Canada, but now England is joining the bandwagon to say that homosexuality and same -sex unions are acceptable practices,” Akinola said, adding that the Nigerian church will review what her level of relationship will be in the Communion.



civil partnerships: another dose of IHS

First, some responses from readers of the Church Times in recent weeks:

5 August Bishops’ pastoral statement on civil partnerships

19 August Civil partnerships: the Bishops’ statement and Archbishop Akinola

26 August The Bishop of Worcester on the Bishops and the Civil Partnership Act

2 September Evolving morality and the nature of the perceived threat to marriage

Second, another extract from the 1991 document Issues in Human Sexuality, this time from the summary section at the end. The bishops insist that their more recent statement does not change their policy. So this summary shows what has been the de facto position in the Church of England since 1991.



Saturday columns

In The Times Geoffrey Rowell writes about Orthodoxy and Buddhism in being Aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway to a world of religious renaissance.

Both the Telegraph and the Guardian have columns about Islam.
Christopher Howse writes about an article on “The Remembrance of God” by a learned Shi’a Muslim, Ayatollah Muhsin Araki in The anatomy of God’s presence.
David Self writes that Christians and Muslims share a journey.

In the Church Times Giles Fraser asks Where is God at the wedding?

The CEN has a piece by Rowan Williams THE RECORD: Urbanisation, the Christian Church and the Human Project

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ACO advertises for unaligned listener

The Church Times and the Church of England Newspaper this week contain an advertisement for the Anglican Communion Office:

Church Times The Anglican Communion Office, Facilitator for the Listening Process on Human Sexuality/Permanent secretariat

The news of this is also reported in the Living Church under the headline Facilitator for Listening Process on Human Sexuality Sought (warning: the link from there to the CEN version of the advert is to a 1.2 Mbyte PDF file)

As TLC notes, the post has not been advertised in print journals outside the UK, and the key hurdle any candidate has to leap is that he or she must have: no previous public alignment on the subject of human sexuality.

It seems odd that this advertisement is not yet to be found on the ACO’s own website.


church press this week

Updates to three stories:

Lake Malawi
CEN Jonathan Wynne-Jones Bishop-elect gives reassurances over his “lodger” and liberal views
Church Times Pat Ashworth Bishop-elect quizzed
and from last week Bishop-elect in Malawi faces opposition

CofE Racism
Church Times Rachel Harden Colour still C of E issue – Sentamu
and leader comment Stepping into one another’s shoes
CEN Church still racist, says bishop

CEN George Conger US clergy charge Bishop

And two new stories:

Church Times Pat Ashworth Kunonga trial halted as judge resigns
and from last week Kunonga: no testimony by phone
CEN Harare bishop trial collapses
Living Church Trial of Zimbabwe Bishop Collapses

Some further reports on this from African papers:
Kunonga Trial: Judge Storms Out in Protest
Kunonga: On Trial for His Country
both originally in The Herald (Harare)
Drama at Kunonga trial in The Zimbabwe Independent
Anglican Church puts Mugabe bishop on trial on

CEN George Conger and Johanna Thomas-Corr Archbishop deposes 35 clergy to oust evangelicals
TLC Mass Depositions in Recife

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Dancing with Terrorists

I arrived for a six week visit to our sister diocese of Peru about 10 days after the London bombings. A few days later a second set of bombers attempted, but failed, to set off four more devices. Everywhere I went I met huge outpourings of support for Britain. And the accompanying message was always, “We know what your country is going through. We have experienced terrorism here too”.

The effects of the Shining Path violence are still evident in Peruvian society. For about a decade the rural hinterland of the country was especially unsafe. Over that period millions flocked into the shanty towns or “pueblos jovenes” that surround Lima, mostly living in shacks made of matting. Economic life stagnated. Businesses failed. The Anglican Diocese itself almost collapsed totally as foreign personnel (especially targeted by the guerrillas) were withdrawn and Peruvian nationals with saleable skills headed north, to the USA or elsewhere. Priests told me of messages pushed under doors threatening to burn their churches down. Then, in the late 90’s, the government of President Fujimori (himself now in exile after fleeing corruption charges, but planning a new presidential bid next year) broke the back of the Maoist movement and Peru began to enjoy the peace, stability and economic growth that characterise it today.

Everyone I met had their stories of suffering from the Shining Path period. It was good of them to empathise with the present London experience, if somewhat overgenerous – it is unlikely that Britain will face anything remotely resembling the sustained attack on its structures and economy that Peru went through.

About a month into my stay, by which time I had been joined by 16 fellow members of the Diocese of Worcester, we were invited, with the permission of the prison authorities, to spend a day as part of our hosts’ long standing ministry to women prisoners. Sentences are undeniably harsh by European standards, particularly for women, and it is not uncommon to spend well over a year in custody awaiting trial. But the regime itself in some ways compared favourably. There are real efforts to teach skills, and mothers can have their children with them up to three years of age. The prisoners make craft goods which are then sold outside with the money returning to the producers to provide funds for extra toiletries, food etc. There was good access to outside telephones lines, though medical assistance is not as readily available as in European penal institutions. Much mirrored the conditions of life in the poorer areas of Lima itself.

With the exception of telephone kiosks the same seemed to apply in the maximum security section we visited after lunch. We were allowed, even encouraged, to take in a modest amount of cash with which to purchase handicrafts from the prisoners. There were few prison officers but the women told us there were no problems with violence. One block brought out guitars and sang songs to us and we replied with the “a capella” version of the 23rd psalm we had practised for such eventualities. Then they began a dance and invited us to join in. The women told us of how dramatically their conditions had improved in recent years. We were introduced to a tiny baby conceived during a conjugal visit to one woman from her husband who is a prisoner in another jail. We watched some of them making sculptures from clay and painting. And we learned that visitors are permitted for most of the day. Some prisoners told us that they are currently awaiting retrials because the law under which they had been convicted had been ruled unconstitutional. Then they began to speak of how they cared for each other because they were all members of the same party, and how their leader was prevented from mixing with the other prisoners. Suddenly the lack of religious pictures and scriptural passages on the walls (unusual for Latin America) struck home – these were the Shining Path members we had heard so much about on the outside.

One of the hardest things that Britain has had to cope with in these last few weeks has been the very normality of the lives of those who detonated bombs in London. We want the perpetrators of such atrocities to be radically different from ourselves, creatures of utter evil whose lives are depraved in every aspect. However, even allowing for some wrongful convictions, and for some whose offences may have been entirely non-violent, I can’t escape the fact that, in Peru, I have been dancing with terrorists. And that they were without exception pleasant, friendly, appreciative individuals.

I need to hold on to the fact that well-intentioned and caring individuals can commit appalling atrocities in the name of some cause deemed high enough to justify it. The original aim of Shining Path – to present a solution to the poverty and inequality rife in Peru by promoting a society based on the radical equality that underpins communism – is not of itself evil; indeed it has much in it that is laudable. The use of violence as part of the means to overthrow despotic regimes is the story of the liberation of Africa (and elsewhere) in the 20th century. Somewhere Shining Path lost the balance. It terrorised the general population more than it pressurised the government. And maybe it was ill-fated in presenting a communist solution at the very moment when that political philosophy was collapsing across the globe. It never succeeded in breaking out from being a small vanguardist force. Its attacks on Peru’s economy did not persuade the mass of the people that capitalism was the prime problem. Part of the tragedy of the recent bombings in London (and before that in Madrid and elsewhere) is that it is hard to see any realistic link between the political goals of the bombers and their actions.

It was a thesis of the French existentialist (and erstwhile international goalkeeper) Albert Camus that to understand all is to forgive all. For Christians I suspect that has to be a statement more about God than humanity. To understand is not automatically to forgive. Or maybe to forgive is not to exonerate from the consequences of a person’s actions. I’m glad, not least for the sake of the many friends I have made in Peru, that the Shining Path terrorism is a thing of the past, and that those who led it on its violent course are largely now behind bars. But I’m grateful that I was allowed, briefly, to see not only the scars that Peru bears from its history, but the humanity, the normality, and even the face of Christ, in some of those who bear responsibility for it, and who now serve out their sentences. And that the Anglican Church continues to minister in such places.