Thinking Anglicans

an invitation from Dylan

Sarah Dylan Breuer has issued an invitation at Grace Notes.

…I’d love to see if the community of readers here and on ‘reasserter’ (a term often preferred for self-designation by people often designated as ‘conservatives’ by progressives) blogs such as TitusOneNine and StandFirm can come up with a list of important points we actually agree on.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to start a list of points on which I think I and many ‘progressives’ agree with the vast majority of ‘reasserters.’ Progressives and reasserters, please use the comments either to add your own points on which you think we’d agree or to let me know if you don’t actually agree with one of the points posted up here, and I’ll periodically edit the list in light of the comments…

I invite TA readers to contribute to the discussion over there, on Dylan’s blog. Comments here are therefore closed, at least for now.


more American news

Archbishop Peter Akinola is going to visit Virginia USA. Read all about it in the New York Times where Neela Bannerjee reports Visit by Anglican Bishop Draws Episcopal Anger.

Here is the place where this event will occur.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has issued this statement:

“I have only just become aware of the possible visit by the Primate of Nigeria. Unfortunately, my office has not been directly informed of his pending visit, but we will now pursue extending to him a personal invitation to see him while he is in the United States. I regret that he has apparently accepted an invitation to provide episcopal ministry here without any notice or prior invitation. That is not the ancient practice followed in most of the church catholic, which since the fourth century has expected that bishops minister only within their own churches, except by explicit invitation from another bishop with jurisdiction. This action would only serve to heighten current tensions, and would be regrettable if it does indeed occur.”


this week's columns

Christopher Howse in the Daily Telegraph has Rowan Williams on the side of the angels.

Shelina Zahra Janmohamed writes the Face to Faith column in the Guardian and blogs at Spirit21.

The Times Credo column is written by Roderick Strange.

From the Church Times Giles Fraser writes about film-making in Quarter of a million well spent.

From the Tablet Austen Ivereigh writes about irregular migrants in Plight of the shadow people.

From the Spectator The new religious right by James Forsyth.


American news roundup

Updated Friday

An open letter to Rowan Williams was issued by a distinguished group of Episcopal rectors and cathedral deans who had been staying at the Canterbury Cathedral.

You can read the full text of it at the Episcopal Café Letter to Lambeth:

We salute your stated desires to “keep everyone at the table.” Your recent call for a renewed reading and hearing of scripture, rooted in eucharistic fellowship and the Holy Spirit, is one that we eagerly accept. We note that such a call is what holds our own parishes and cathedrals together. Our local communities are full of people who have disagreements, but who yet share eucharist, scripture, and truly holy communion together. Thus, in our commitment to the resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit has continuing occasion to renew us. Thus, too, we celebrate Jesus Christ together in our Anglican heritage.

Toward that end, we urge you to continue our Anglican precedent of inviting all jurisdictional bishops of The Episcopal Church in the United States and of the Anglican Church of Canada to the upcoming Lambeth Conference. We certainly respect the fact such an invitation is yours to give; but we pray that your invitation will be as broad and graceful as the invitation Jesus offers all Christians to gather at table together.

From Jim Naughton, we learn news not published by Lambeth Palace: Rowan Williams to take sabbatical at Georgetown
Update The Telegraph has more about this: A glutton for Punishment. See also this Prospect magazine article (hat tip Episcopal Café)

The Presiding Bishop visited Boston and her remarks there were reported in the Boston Globe as Episcopal leader holds firm on gay rights:

Saying “I don’t believe that there is any will in this church to move backward,” the top official of the Episcopal Church USA said yesterday that the election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire has been “a great blessing” despite triggering intense controversy and talk of possible schism.

In an interview during a visit to Boston, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori compared the gay rights struggle to battles over slavery and women’s rights, and said she believes that it has become a vocation for the Episcopal Church “to keep questions of human sexuality in conversation, and before not just the rest of our own church, but the rest of the world.”

…The Anglican Communion has been embroiled in a debate about whether and how to punish the American church for its consent to Robinson’s election, which some Anglican primates view as a violation of biblical teachings about sexuality.

“This is an issue for some clergy and a handful of bishops in our own church, and for a handful of primates across the communion, who believe that this issue is of sufficient importance to chuck us out, but the vast majority of people and clergy in this church, and I would believe across the communion, think that our common mission is of far higher importance,” Jefferts Schori said. “If we focus on the mission we share, we’re going to figure out how to get along together, even if we disagree about some things that generate a good deal more heat than light.”

And there is much more of this interview on video here.


Church of Scotland admits to 'historic intolerance'

A working group of the Mission and Discipleship Council of the Church of Scotland is to present the General Assembly with an in-depth report on ‘same-sex partnerships as an issue in theology and human sexuality’.

Read the official press release here:

…The report, which is entitled A challenge to unity, takes as its starting point an acknowledgement of the strength of feeling that has already been expressed on the issue of same-sex relationships. However, the considerable body of work that is to go before May’s Assembly does not seek only to study the two sides of the debate – indeed, the idea that the debate has only two primary viewpoints is specifically rejected. A challenge to unity seeks to give a flavour of the wide range of views held within the church, and to identify areas of common ground around which the church might unite…

Read the full text of the report here (RTF).

Read the Ekklesia news article: Church of Scotland admits institutional homophobia:

An influential group of ministers in Scotland’s largest Protestant church has said that its clergy and congregations have been “sinfully” intolerant of gays and lesbians in its ranks.

In a report on homosexuality, a working party has concluded that the Church of Scotland has been institutionally homophobic for much of its history…

Other news reports:
Scotsman Ten years, hundreds of hours of debate and the Kirk finally decides on homosexuality: ‘It’s up to you!’
Guardian ‘Sinful’ Church of Scotland told it must accept gays in its ranks


Wilberforce lecture

Updated again Thursday

Dr Rowan Williams today delivered a Wilberforce Lecture in Hull.

Last Sunday, the Sunday Times printed an advance extract from the lecture which you can read at Down with godless government and about which Christopher Morgan wrote Archbishop tells MPs to rediscover their moral mission.

Today, Jonathan Petre previewed the lecture in the Daily Telegraph in Archbishop attacks ‘erosion of Christian values’.

The official press release about this lecture is available on ACNS as Archbishop of Canterbury – moral vision should be at the heart of politics.

The full text of the lecture will no doubt eventually be now is available here.

Guardian People column commented:

Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, was lecturing politicians in his Wilberforce lecture in Hull last night on the importance of rediscovering their moral energy. He also stressed the necessity of C of E bishops retaining their position in the House of Lords to continue offering “independent moral comment”. Meanwhile, central Africa’s Anglican bishops have taken a different moral line by saying the west ought to give Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, a break and lift sanctions. Their number includes the Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, a Mugabe crony accused by parishioners of inciting murder and seizing land, in contrast to the call by the country’s Catholic bishops for Mugabe to stand down. No sign yet that our archbishop plans to disinvite them from next year’s Lambeth conference.

Ekklesia said Williams says democracy not enough to determine ‘moral vision’

The BBC interviewed the archbishop on Newsnight and carried this report of the interview: Williams urges political ‘morals’. The earlier BBC report of the lecture is here.
Update 5 May The transcript of the 25 April Newsnight interview is available here.


Religious beliefs give no right to discriminate

Religious beliefs give no right to discriminate against gays is the title of an article in The Times today, written by David Pannick QC. This article is concerned with the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007. (PDF of print version here.)

Mr Pannick is a barrister at Blackstone Chambers and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He writes a fortnightly column for The Times Law section.

Part of what he says:

…The regulations do not prevent anyone from believing whatever they like for whatever reason they wish. But although freedom of belief is absolute, freedom to manifest belief is strictly limited. This was confirmed by the law lords last year when rejecting the claim of the schoolgirl who wanted to wear a particular form of religious dress in defiance of the school uniform policy.

The right not to be discriminated against on the ground of sexual orientation is a fundamental right, any interference with which requires substantial justification. That the discriminator is acting by reference to his or her religious beliefs cannot of itself provide a justification, any more than if the provider of the services (perhaps Boers who emigrated from South Africa after the National Party lost power) have a religious objection to dealing with people of a different race.

No doubt the State should interfere with the manifestation of the religious beliefs of others only where that is justified. But the religious objector is entitled to no special protection in this respect. If I run an adoption agency and believe that it is wrong for children to be adopted by homosexuals, the fact that my views are based on logic, careful study of reports, and an expertise in child psychology cannot make my beliefs less entitled to respect than if they are based on a belief that God told Moses or Muhammad the right answer…


Leaven in the Lump of Lambeth

Updated Friday

The Reverend Professor Marilyn McCord Adams delivered a lecture with the above title last Saturday. Its subtitle was Spiritual Temptations and Ecclesial Opportunities.

The occasion of this was the LGCM Annual Conference in London.

You can read the text of this at Episcopal Café the new version of Daily Episcopalian.
It is here at Leaven in the lump.

You can also listen to it by downloading a podcast file that is 17 Mbytes (large, but then it took 42 minutes to deliver). That file is here.

My report of the lecture is in Friday’s Church Times at Primates seen as dictatorial.


Zimbabwe: Anglican bishops support Mugabe

Updated yet again Sunday

The bishops of the Province of Central Africa have issued a Pastoral Letter. The text of the letter can be read here.

This news has been reported widely, see Associated Press African Anglican Bishops Support Mugabe and the Angola Press African Anglican bishops support Mugabe.

Magic Statistics has plenty of background links in Anglican bishops support Mugabe after Catholics call for his departure.

Here is what the Roman Catholic bishops said: Repent And Listen to the Cry of Citizens as reported in the Zimbabwe Independent.

The pro-Mugabe Herald in Zimbabwe reports it this way: Anglican Bishops Support Mugabe.

Episcopal News Service has republished this report from Ecumenical News International
ZIMBABWE: Anglican bishops want sanctions on country’s ruling elite lifted

Some further reports related to this:
The Zimbabwean Trevor Grundy Not in our name say Anglicans
Anglican Mainstream The Director of Zimbabwe Christian Alliance speaks of their role in Zimbabwe

There is a report by Pat Ashworth in the Church Times Anglican statement not meant to be pro-Mugabe, says bishop

…light has since been thrown on its context by a respected signatory, the Bishop of Botswana, the Rt Revd Trevor Mwamba, and by the Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, who returned on Wednesday from a diocesan visit to Zimbabwe.

… Bishop Mwamba, who gave a keynote address to senior judges and others at the Ecclesiastical Law Society Conference in Liverpool earlier this year (News, 2 February), said on Tuesday that the letter had to be seen in the context of the Anglican situation in Zimbabwe. The spirit in which it had been sent was to support the progressive forces and the need for change, and was not in any way meant to be pro-Mugabe, he said.

Choosing his words carefully, the Bishop commented: “As you can imagine, in Zimbabwe there are divisions within the Church itself, and so there was a need to wean certain hearts and minds to be able to put forward a statement all the bishops could subscribe to.

“In that sense, yes, it does not appear as sharp as the pastoral letter from the Catholic bishops. It took a middle-of-the-road pastoral approach. Nevertheless, the sting is there in calling for drastic change, for the government to be called upon to create a conducive environment for that, and for the Church to stand forward and speak sharply in the context of its calling and prophetic ministry.” The Bishop described it as “the beginning of a long journey of bishops moving together — very gently, for need of carrying certain of our friends along”…

Magic Statistics has further detailed comment at Bishop Mwamba says Anglican statement not pro-Mugabe.


godslots this weekend

Guardian Tom Horwood Religious leaders should be hopeful, not defensive, in public debate.

The Times Jonathan Romain If thy scripture offend one of another faith, pluck it out.

Daily Telegraph Christopher Howse The orientalist of Letchworth.

The Church Times had this leader, Picking up the Bible’s tune.

And Giles Fraser argues that cars are a moral issue.

The Tablet has a feature article by Keith Ward Order out of chaos about Pope Benedict and evolution.


Lambeth Palace job vacancy

Dave Walker has drawn attention to this Church Times advertisement in his blog article, Top job in the Anglican Communion up for grabs.

It appears that this is not a job for which any Genuine Occupational Requirement applies, either for Religion or Belief or for Sexual Orientation.

See also Diversity is the Key (H/T Hugh).


Colorado Springs: further reports


Since the last update there have been some more reporting:

Jean Torkelson in the Rocky Mountain News had Anglican bishop to make case for leaving Episcopal Church, as well as Episcopal group ditches pastor, and earlier there had been Colorado Springs rector faces supporters, critics.

Meanwhile, Paul Asay has two more blog entries, Oh, these Tangled Webs and 33 Days and Counting.

The Associated Press had Church leader rebuts financial allegations.

A further article in the Rocky Mountain News Episcopal parish in Springs invited to join breakaway group.
And also in the Colorado Springs Independent Grace’s state of confusion.

Further Update
Paul Asay has another blog entry: Breaking Up is Hard to Do.


Hereford case: hearing concludes

Updated 27 April

The employment tribunal hearing of the discrimination case against the Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance concluded on Monday in a long hearing that went from 10.20 am to 6.30 pm.

Judgement was reserved and will not be published for several weeks.

The day’s events attracted some press coverage:

Western Mail Church in a ‘shambles’ over homosexuality, says Synod member and an earlier version Church stand on homosexuality ‘a shambles’ with longer quotes.

BBC Judgement reserved at tribunal and Church’s gay policy ‘shambles’.

Norwich Evening News City diocese joins gay tribunal row and Norfolk Eastern Daily Press Anglican attitude to gays attacked.

Coventry Telegraph Bishop facing ‘gay bias’ claim.

My own report is due to appear in the Church Times on Friday. Last week’s report by Bill Bowder is here: Bishop: No extra-marital sex for leaders.

Press releases:
For the Claimant: John Reaney’s claim against the Diocese of Hereford closed today

Update The Church Times carried this report of mine on 20 April, Reaney judgment awaited. A copy of this article is reproduced below.



Canadian trip: press coverage

Many links to North American news coverage of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Canadian trip are at epiScope. See Rocket man and earlier He says he’s coming.

Here in the UK, Ekklesia has Archbishop seeks to build bridges with USA trip and Williams says the Bible invites listening not dogmatism.

The Living Church has Archbishop of Canterbury Agrees to Meet House of Bishops.

The Anglican Journal has an exclusive interview with the archbishop here: Archbishop will not cancel Lambeth Conference.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams considered cancelling the 2008 Lambeth Conference of the world’s Anglican bishops due to the sexuality debates roiling the church, but decided against it.

“Yes, we’ve already been considering that and the answer is no. We’ve been looking at whether the timing is right, but if we wait for the ideal time, we will wait more than just 18 months,” he told the Anglican Journal in an exclusive interview…

Read all of it.

And there is this Anglican Journal report: Williams bemoans loss of listening to Scripture.

Here is a transcript of the press conference: Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, speaks to the press.


The Bible: Reading and Hearing

As part of his current brief trip to Canada the Archbishop of Canterbury has given a lecture The Bible: Reading and Hearing to students at Wycliffe and Trinity theological colleges in Toronto. The full press release from Lambeth Palace is below the fold but here is the first paragraph.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan WIlliams, has told an audience of theological students that both intensely liberal and ultra conservative readings of the Bible are ‘rootless’ and are limited in what they can contribute to the life of the church. In the Larkin Stuart lecture, delivered today at an event hosted jointly by Wycliffe and Trinity theological colleges in Toronto, Dr Williams said that Christians need to reconnect with scripture as something to be listened to and heard in the context of Jesus’s invitation to the Eucharist and to work for the Kingdom.

The full text of the lecture is online here and here.



Williams to visit US bishops – early press reports

Anglican Journal (Canada) Williams will meet with U.S. bishops
Episcopal Life Online Archbishop of Canterbury announces plans to visit the Episcopal Church
Both of these report that the visit will take place during the regular autumn meeting of the US House of Bishops already scheduled to take place in New Orleans from 20 to 25 September.

Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph Williams to meet liberal bishops over gays


Archbishop to visit US Church

Lambeth Palace has announced this evening that the Archbishop of Canterbury is to visit the US Episcopal Church in the autumn. The full text of the press release follows.

Archbishop to visit US Church

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has announced that he intends to visit the United States this autumn in response to the invitation from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church.

Speaking in a press conference in Toronto, Dr Williams said he would undertake the visit together with members of the Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council:

“I look forward to some sharing of our experiences as pastors as well as discussion of the business of the Communion. These are complicated days for our church internationally and its all the more important to keep up personal relationships and conversations. ….my aim is to try and keep people around the table for as long as possible on this, to understand one another, and to encourage local churches”.


Colorado Springs: another update

It’s all a bit confusing, but here are several further articles relating to this story.

Colorado Gazette Paul Asay Anglican group cuts ties with Armstrong which reports on the meeting yesterday at which Fr Armstrong spoke.

Denver Post Virginia Culver Episcopal priest denies funds misused

Sarah Dylan Breuer the “Communion” afterthought which examines the history of the ACI website in great detail.

A letter to the editor of the Gazette (apparently as yet unpublished) from Fr Armstrong’s senior warden (scroll down)

Diocese of Colorado letter from the bishop, and press release dated 14 April: full text below the fold.



Clearly defined Anglicanism

In last week’s Church Times David L. Edwards argues that the new Anglican Covenant may already be out of date.

Read the whole article here.

WILL THE NEW Anglican Covenant, which has already been drafted, be regarded as decisive by many people over many years? The history of attempts to define Anglicanism in a long text do not suggest a “Yes” — unless the Covenant is revised substantially as well as stylistically…


Canadian press review

Update The Toronto Star had a third article: Gay rights, church’s `defining moment’

Retired Connecticut Bishop Arthur Walmsley can only watch from the sidelines as his beloved Anglican church rips itself apart over gay rights – and he couldn’t be more proud, however much the process saddens him…


…Retired Toronto archbishop Terry Finlay echoed Walmsley’s comments and called on the Canadian church to endorse same-sex blessings despite dire warnings about the consequences…

On the eve of Archbishop Rowan Williams’ visit to Canada, the Toronto Star had two articles:

Anglican heat on eve of prelate’s visit

On the eve of a visit to this country by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Canada’s Anglican leader is trying to defuse fallout from a story in the British press in which he accuses the head of the church of being “indecisive” and failing to lead through a crisis over gay rights that threatens to split the church worldwide.

Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, primate of the Canadian church, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph this week that Rowan Williams’s handling of the homosexuality crisis had been “disappointing and lacking” at critical points…

A gentle call to stay strong

OTTAWA–Choosing his words carefully, the longtime former leader of the Canadian Anglican Church opened a conference on gay rights in the church last night with a gentle, but deliberate, nudge toward acceptance and a rejection of rigid doctrine.

“Matters of doctrine become matters of control,” Michael Peers, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada from 1986 to 2004, said, breaking three years of public silence…

The Hamilton Spectator has Archbishop will hear all issues

Technically, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of the worldwide Anglican church, is coming to our diocese to lead bishops in prayer, not to discuss the fractious business of gay clergy and same-sex blessings.

“But I don’t think he’ll be praying through dinner,” says the Right Rev. Ralph Spence, bishop of the Diocese of Niagara and the official host for the whirlwind 48-hour visit next week by the Most Rev. Rowan Williams.

“You can’t get bishops together and not have them share their thoughts on everything,” Spence said in an interview this week…

The Edmonton Journal has Anglican primate visits Canadian church on brink of schism

“One of the most difficult jobs in Christendom.”

That’s how Ruth Gledhill, religion correspondent for the Times of London, describes the work of the Archbishop of Canterbury, a position of high expectations and heavy responsibility, but little or no power.

Archbishop Dr. Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world’s 70 million Anglicans, comes to Canada Sunday for a three-day visit, his first since assuming the Chair of St. Augustine, as the office is more loftily known, in 2002…