Thinking Anglicans

LEAC: more reports

For earlier articles go here and here.

Next, two reports in the Church Times by Doug LeBlanc:
Survey is part of anti-liberal bid on 17 March and
Low-budget fight-back begins in Maryland on 24 March.

Then, this report by Sarah Dylan Breuer in the Witness Inside LEAC.

And now, the LEAC website at This contains several pages which make clear the mission and objectives of LEAC, together with The LEAC Difference and The Call for Lay Help, and the LEAC Response, not to mention Less Talk, More Education, More Action.

Unsurprisingly their press release on the website reports that:
Bishops responding to LEAC survey reject key homosexual agenda items.
The version of this sent to others appears to be rather shorter, see Episcopal Bishops, If Voting Secretly, Would Oppose Church’s Stance on Homosexual Agenda Items Adopted in 2003, a Lay Poll Reports.

They sent surveys to about 298 bishops, and got 80 responses. Of these responses, they report that:

56.25% of respondents now would disapprove of the 2003 General Convention resolution which led to consecration of Bishop V. Gene Robinson, and 57.5% would oppose provisions for church blessing of same-sex domestic partnerships, another of the convention’s historic resolutions.

Considering the first of these two resolutions, this means that 45 bishops recorded to LEAC that they would now have voted against and that 35 recorded that they would now have voted in favour. The actual numbers of bishops who voted in 2003 was 43 against, and 62 in favour with 2 not voting. (Only active diocesans had a vote on the matter, whereas this survey went to all current members of the house.)

Voting by bishops on the second resolution at GC 2003 is not known as it was done by a voice vote.

Magic Statistics has weighed in again with ECUSA survey results released. He comments in detail on the differences between the two press releases, and shows how misleading the public press release is.


Rowan Williams on climate change

On the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme last Tuesday 28 March, the Archbishop of Canterbury expressed his concerns over the issue of climate change.
A full transcript of the interview is available on the CofE website. (Also on Lambeth Palace and ENS sites.)
You can also listen to the interview (Real Audio required) on the BBC website – 17 minutes total, but the archbishop comes first in sequence, and this lasts about 9 minutes. The other person interviewed is Margaret Beckett who is the UK Secretary of State for the Environment.

Church Times Dr Williams: Billions could die from climate change by Pat Ashworth

BBC Archbishop urges emissions cuts

A few nuggets on what the Church of England is doing about this itself can be found here.

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Bishop of Exeter's speech to ECUSA HoB

The recent remarks of Bishop Michael Langrish in the USA previously mentioned here have been published in full on his diocesan website. You can read them at Some Reflections offered to the House of Bishops of ECUSA.

(*Addendum* This diagram, included in the article by Andrew Goddard mentioned below in a comment, may also be useful for readers of the original article.)

This has been reported today in the Church Times by Pat Ashworth as ECUSA could wreck it all, envoy warns US Bishops.

The Episcopal News Service reported this also, in Exeter bishop, South Indian scholar offer texts from House of Bishops’ meeting.

The other speaker whose remarks are published by ENS is Sathi Clarke, a priest of the Church of South India and a professor at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D. C. who delivered a paper on biblical interpretation: Sathi Clarke’s speech at Spring 2006 House of Bishops meeting .


Nigeria in the news again

The Church Times take on the Guardian interview is broader, as revealed by the headline over the report by Rachel Harden: Dr Williams defends Akinola on anti-Muslim riots. The CT press column also deals with the interview at length, but that will not be available on the web for another week.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Peter Akinola, acting as President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has issued A Call to National Mourning as explaine in this press release: CAN declares Two-Day National Mourning.
The Living Church reported this together with some comments from Canon Popoola, in Nigerian Strike Will Protest Sectarian Violence.

And for completeness, here is the defence of the archbishop’s earlier remarks that was made by Bishop Robert Duncan.

Added Friday afternoon
However, there is further news via Blog of Daniel about how others outside the church view the Nigerian legislative proposals in Human rights in Nigeria. And Peter Akinola says “Amen.”

Sixteen human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have urged Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo in this Letter to President Obasanjo Regarding Bill to Criminalize Gay Rights to withdraw what the groups characterize as a “draconian” measure that not only “contravenes international law” but violates the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which “ensure(s) rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly.”

The bill also undermines Nigeria’s struggle to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, as a further story from Human Rights Watch points out: Nigeria: Obasanjo Must Withdraw Bill to Criminalize Gay Rights.


options and scenarios

Updated Friday morning and again Friday evening

Ruth Gledhill has a blog entry today that is mostly about the Recife situation. While not wishing to minimize the significance of that topic, I did find the second part of her article even more interesting:

…The Anglican Communion is in deep crisis. The General Convention in the US could see the ratification of the election of a gay or lesbian Bishop of California. Convention will also debate where Ecusa goes now in response to the Windsor Report. The outcome will determine whether Gene Robinson and the bishops who consecrated him are invited to Lambeth 2008. My guess is that when the invitations go out later this year, some of the US bishops and suffragans might be invited with observer status only, rather as the Ecusa delegates attended the ACC meeting in Nottingham. But beyond not inviting people and issuing public rebukes, there is very little Dr Williams can do with respect to Ecusa if the North Americans do decide to follow their liberal consience, as seems likely.

Meanwhile, work is going on to examine the ACC constitution for a way forward. The constitution is framed to allow new members to be elected into the Anglican Communion but there is no mechanism for expelling anyone or inviting them to leave.

It is to debate issues such as this that Dr Williams has convened a meeting at Lambeth Palace on 24 April to examine the ‘options and scenarios’ for the ‘post-General Convention period’ in the Anglican Communion. Those invited include the Bishops of Durham, Winchester, Exeter, Manchester, Norwich, Bristol and the Dean of St Paul’s as well as representatives from the Church’s mission agencies and Anglican Mainstream. They will discuss the implications for the Church of England and how the ‘Instruments of Unity’ should respond to whatever happens in Ecusa this summer.

In his letter of invitation, leaked to me, Dr Williams’ head of staff Chris Smith says the roundtable discussion concerns the ‘next critical months’ in the life of the Anglican Communion. ‘This is too important a set of issues to allow events to overtake us,’ he says.

My source, who is not one of those invited, interprets it this way: ‘The wording of the invitation makes it fairly clear that Lambeth is expecting no backtrack from Ecusa and is therefore working out how to manage the oncoming schism.’ …

The Bishop of Exeter was present at the recent ECUSA House of Bishops meeting, as noted here. No doubt the July General Synod meeting will be hearing more about all this. (General Convention dates are 13-21 June, General Synod dates are 7-11 July.)

Update 1 The Living Church has also noticed Ruth’s report, see Bishop of Exeter Represents Canterbury at House of Bishops Retreat.

Update 2
Ruth Gledhill has published more, see Schism looms, Exeter warns US bishops

Update 3
On Saturday, The Times had this short piece Archbishop holds talks over fear of a schism.


ECUSA: press reports

Following the recent meeting of the ECUSA House of Bishops, there have been American press reports which attempt to put the forthcoming General Convention into context:

Reuters Michael Conlon U.S. Episcopal church faces another showdown over gays

Associated Press Rachel Zoll Episcopal leader: concern on gay candidates for California bishop

The House of Bishops itself issued this: A Word to the Church which includes the following:

The unity, mission, and faithfulness of the Church are matters very much in our prayers. We strongly affirm our desire for the Episcopal Church to remain a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, and we recognize that the gift of communion requires generosity and restraint on the part of all. We were blessed by the presence and presentation of our guest from the Church of England, the Right Reverend Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter, who encouraged and challenged us in respect to our relationship with the larger Anglican Communion. On behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Ms. Sue Parks, the Manager of the Lambeth Conference, briefed us on the plans for the Lambeth Conference 2008.

We believe that the most effective way to foster communion is to be present for each other, as often as possible, so that we may learn from each other, be corrected by each other, and discern the mind of Christ together. In this regard we were encouraged by the report of the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. We welcomed the Commission’s overview of the report that it is preparing in order to assist the General Convention in addressing the critical issues and concerns raised in the Windsor Report, in the Primates’ Communiqué, and by the Anglican Consultative Council. The report, which will be completed and issued early in April, affirms our commitment to the Anglican Communion, and will include a number of resolutions to be proposed for consideration by the General Convention. We commend to the prayerful reflection and legislative process of the General Convention this report of the Special Commission as a way forward in faithfulness to our Lord, to the Episcopal Church, and to the Anglican Communion.

The House of Bishops also issued this pastoral letter: The Sin of Racism: A Call to Covenant.


some press reaction to the Guardian interview

Updated Thursday evening

Some blog reactions also:
Jeff Jarvis on Comment is Free First church of media
PZ Myers
on Pharyngula Archbishop of Canterbury, anti-creationist, hat tip to Andrew Brown who has on helmintholog written Rowan, PZ, creationism

Other newspapers have followed up on the creationism aspect of the original interview:

Telegraph Jonathan Petre reported: Clarke opposes creation teaching which came twinned with a leader Intelligent by Design.  The Mirror seemed not to understand at all, with BAN BIBLE SCIENCE IN SCHOOL’.

The BBC gave more background with Fears over teaching creationism.

The Scotsman found another supporter: Scots church leader joins row over teaching of creationism in schools. In Glasgow, the Herald tried to explain all this in a feature article by Ron Ferguson: A battle that is all of their own creation

Sarah Lyall in the New York Times had Anglican Leader Says the Schools Shouldn’t Teach Creationism while the Associated Press had Archbishop Opposed to Teaching Creationism

Reuters Paul Majendie said Anglican leader opposes creationism in schools.

The Guardian itself had a number of letters to the editor


women bishops: the ten-minute rule bill

The Hansard verbatim record of this debate starts here and concludes here.

For the short amusing version, read sketch writer Ann Treneman in The Times Spiritual debate is divine comedy.


The Guardian interview

Alan Rusbridger editor of the Guardian interviewed Rowan Williams last Friday. The results are:

A front page news story by Stephen Bates Archbishop: stop teaching creationism
An article, based on the interview, in the G2 section of the paper:
‘I am comic vicar to the nation’

A complete transcript of the interview: Interview: Rowan Williams
Selected audio extracts of the interview: Listen to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s interview


ECUSA and the Windsor Report

Updated 23 March
The Living Church now has a report on this with more detail, Windsor Report Response Presented to Bishops.

The ECUSA House of Bishops is currently holding one of its regular meetings, this time at the Kanuga Conference Centre in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

They have received a preliminary report from the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion announced last September – for backstory see ENS Special Commission on Episcopal Church, Anglican Communion to meet and TLC Special General Convention Commission Appointed.

See the latest ENS report: Special Commission members brief bishops on progress.

The Commission will offer a full report, relating to the Windsor Report, Primates Meeting, and the Anglican Consultative Council, to the 75th General Convention approximately 60 days prior to Convention, i.e. about 10 April.

Then, as the General Convention of ECUSA approaches, a separate official commission will prepare formal resolutions for the Convention to consider. Membership of this commission was recently announced, see ENS Special committee on Church and Communion named. Although this is a separate body, there is a significant overlap of members between the two groups. The Convention meets from 13 to 21 June in Columbus, Ohio.

In a separate development, the Presiding Bishop has written to the other primates about the Listening Process:
see ENS Interview: Presiding Bishop supports listening process, writes to primates
Transcript: Presiding Bishop supports listening process, writes to primates.
This has been reported by the Living Church magazine as Presiding Bishop Writes to Primates.
The actual text of this letter has not (yet?) been published.

Meanwhile, in yet another development, the Diocese of California will hold its election of a new diocesan bishop on 6 May. This is thought to be relevant because the nominees include several persons who are in same-sex relationships. The General Convention will be asked to ratify the outcome of the election. You can read all about the election process of that diocese on a special website which contains profiles of all the candidates as well as of the diocese and much else besides.


Archbishops' Council recruiting new members

The Archbishops’ Council is advertising this week for two vacancies among its appointed members.
The advert can be viewed here as a (very small) PDF file. Or on the Church Times website. Or on this site here.

We are looking for 2 individuals (one immediately and one in January 2007) who will be part of the leadership of the Church. Skills and experience in the areas of education, public affairs and law would be particularly welcome, but applications from people with a record of achievement in other areas are also welcome. You will have a lively Christian faith, be expected to contribute to the mission and ministry of the Church, and be able to commit at least 3 days per month.

In addition to the material provided in the application pack, available via the previous link, prospective applicants might like to peruse the CofE official website for the Archbishops’ Council pages.

Here is the current membership of the council.

The annual report for 2004 is available here (ignore the erroneous wording in the Title field of this page).

The recent synod document (RTF) Into the New Quinquennium is also very pertinent.

So also are the papers relating to the recent Service Review, in particular the 43-page report (.doc).


from the papers

Face to Faith in today’s Guardian is written by Jonathan Romain and considers prostitution in Hebrew scripture.
Diarmaid MacCulloch reviews a new book by Karen Armstrong in The axis of goodness.

The same book is also reviewed today in the Independent by Peter Stanford.

Stephen Plant writes in The Times Credo column Let all churches enjoy the feedom to teach.
There is also an extract from the new book by Edward Stourton in From the Cold War to the Council: the making of a Polish Pope and this sidebar.

Christopher Howse write in the Telegraph about the new winner of the Templeton prize, John Barrow in Space means not dread but life.

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trouble in Philadelphia

Bishop Charles Bennison of the Diocese of Pennsylvania says he won’t resign, according to the Living Church yesterday. Earlier in the week it had published this article: Church Report Concludes Reconciliation Unlikely in Pennsylvania.

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania has its own website, independently of the diocesan one. The report which triggered this latest round in the long-running dispute is available here as a PDF. The Standing Committee explains why it has published it in this covering letter. For the attachments to the report go here and scroll down.

The Bishop’s reply to this amazingly frank report is in another letter, also available as a PDF here.

Next Saturday, 25th, a special diocesan convention will meet to try and agree a budget for the diocese, which was rejected at the previous convention. The entire Standing Committee had previously called for Bishop Bennison’s resignation. Earlier, the Regional Deans had proposed mediation.

Update 24 March The Church Times has Bennison refuses to resign see.


Kunonga 'must stand trial'

Last week, the Church Times carried an edited version of the submission made by Bob Stumbles who is Chancellor of the Diocese of Harare and also Deputy Chancellor of the Province of Central Africa. This is now available on the web.

The background was explained in a news article by Pat Ashworth: Kunonga ‘must stand trial’.

Mr Stumbles’ submission is here: Malango has no right to close Kunonga’s trial.


more about the questionnaire authors

Updated Saturday 18 March
I can now also link to the Church Times report of last week:
Pat Ashworth Carey group looks to set up rival US province.

The following announcement issued by Lay Episcopalians For the Anglican Communion gives some insight into the purpose of the recent questionnaire.

No website yet for LEAC as far as I know, but the local parish church of Jim Ince is All Saints Chevy Chase.

Meanwhile, the Presiding Bishop wrote to all his colleagues about the questionnaire, see this article from the Living Church: Survey, Archbishop Carey Draw Presiding Bishop’s Ire which also reports on an interview with Mr Ince.

A professional statistician explains why an anonymous survey has technical problems.



civil partnerships: some follow-up items

First, the short version of the learned paper by Jacqueline Humphreys that first appeared in the Ecclesiastical Law Journal was published last week in the Church Times. The long version was published here previously.

The short version is Does this differ from marriage?

Second, the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly will be considering this in May, see General Assembly to examine civil partnership implications. Whatever they decide it is likely to annoy the Scottish Roman Catholic bishops. That article Ties that bind in the Tablet provoked some correspondence there.

Mario Conti the Archbishop of Glasgow wrote to defend himself against criticism of his “reductionist notion of family” by appealing to para 2202 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Aidan O’Neill’s response to him was not published by the journal, but is below the fold here.

However, The Tablet did publish O’Neill’s riposte to another clerical correspondent who queried his use of the words “fall in love with, body and soul” as he was “not sure it offers a way to truth in marriage…”. Aidan O’Neill replied as follows:



Lambeth 2008

This week, Rowan Williams issued a pastoral letter to the 38 Primates of the Anglican Communion and Moderators of the United Churches, in which he “sets out his thinking” on the Lambeth Conference 2008 (scroll down past the press release for the full text of the letter).

Although this provoked no reportage in London dailies it was noticed by the wire services:
Press Association Archbishop keen to avoid gay row
Associated Press Anglican Leader Rules Out Gay Debate and later, World Anglican leader rules out rewrite of stand against gay sex
and these reports were widely reprinted across the UK provincial press and across the USA.

The Church Times reported it this way: No enthusiasm for sex at Lambeth by Bill Bowder

In North America, there were several press releases or reports about it:
Episcopal News Service Listening: Archbishop of Canterbury sets out thinking on Lambeth Conference 2008
Living Church Archbishop Williams Writes to the Primates
American Anglican Council Archbishop of Canterbury Says Sexuality Debate Will Not Be Reopened at Lambeth 2008

Anglican Church of Canada Williams sets out thinking on Lambeth Conference 2008


Saturday views

From The Times:
The Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali talks to Michael Binyon about Muslim and Christian relations Missionary faiths need reciprocity and detente.

Roderick Strange writes the Credo column, Temptation offers short cuts to happiness, but it is actually corroding us.

In the Guardian Fred Sedgwick writes the Face to Faith column: If we pray with brutal honesty, we might find God, and the ‘acute peace beyond the unendurable’.

Also Karen Armstrong writes a column that argues: We can defuse this tension between competing conceptions of the sacred.

Christopher Howse in his Telegraph column retells the story of Sexual politics at Lake Malawi, quoting from the Church Times.


CofE pensions crisis: more coverage

Some press reports of the recent announcements:

Church Times last week had: C of E faces new £36-million pensions squeeze

Church of England Newspaper this week has a feature article by Bishop John Packer Facing up to the pensions crisis.

The Church of England website has, in addition to the documents linked here previously has more items:

An article designed for parish magazines, which can be downloaded as an RTF file, or read here below the fold.

The Powerpoint slides used at the General Synod presentation in February can be downloaded.

You can listen to the audio recording of that presentation here.

If you want to know more about how the clergy pension scheme works from the member’s viewpoint, you need to download as a PDF the booklet Your Pension Questions Answered . Other material is available from the links on the right hand side of this page.



Nigerian legislation and the Church of Nigeria

Updated Friday 10 March
First, the text of the draft Nigerian legislation that has been under discussion here and elsewhere is reproduced below the fold.

Second, this legislation was endorsed explicitly by the following statement:

The Bill against Homosexuality:

The Church commends the law-makers for their prompt reaction to outlaw same-sex relationships in Nigeria and calls for the bill to be passed since the idea expressed in the bill is the moral position of Nigerians regarding human sexuality.

This occurs in the MESSAGE TO THE NATION / COMMUNIQUE from the meeting of the Standing Committee held in Ibadan on 22-25 February, signed by the Primate, and posted on the official provincial website. That meeting was several days before the recent claims that he had made no public statement on this matter. Amended Wednesday 15 March

The PASTORAL LETTER TO THE CHURCH from the same source, dated 25 February, does not mention this topic.
Hat Tip: Mark Harris.

Addition Friday 10 March
The US Department of State issued this Press Statement back on 1 February: Nigerian Legislation Threatens to Limit Rights of Sexual Minorities.