Thinking Anglicans

Reform reacts to New Orleans

According to Jonathan Wynne-Jones in the Sunday Telegraph:

Conservative Christians will throw down the gauntlet to the Archbishop of Canterbury this week by demanding that he openly disowns the American church over gay bishops.

A letter to be sent to Dr Rowan Williams tomorrow by Reform, an evangelical group representing 1,000 parishes, urges him to make it clear that he opposes the American position

The group warns that his failure to do so would split the Church of England from “top to bottom” and lead to a further demand that the US church is barred from the Lambeth Council, the annual gathering of bishops…

Read the whole article, Ultimatum on Anglican church gays.

Read a statement from Reform at Anglican Mainstream Response from Reform to New Orleans Statement by TEC Bishops.


press reports on breakaways

The New York Times has Groups Plan New Branch to Represent Anglicanism by Neela Banerjee.

Associated Press had Breakaway Episcopalians Form Partnership.

Reuters had Conservative Episcopalians plot separate church.

The Washington Times has Episcopalians plan to leave denomination by Julia Duin.


two views of New Orleans events

Two opinions on New Orleans:

The Tablet has a leader: Fragile compromise:

…Some evangelical bishops in Africa in particular seem keen to impose something akin to provincial uniformity on the American Church, where no deviation from their own hard line regarding homosexuality is permitted and those who ever thought differently are required to repent. But such intransigence is not the Anglican way, and if they push much harder it is they who will be in schism. Dr Williams will have to be as firm with these African bishops recklessly fishing in troubled Episcopalian waters as he has been with the Episcopalian leadership itself.

In the longer term, however, the New Orleans compromise itself looks unstable. The majority of American Anglicans still see discrimination against gay men and women as incompatible with the Gospel, and that includes discrimination against candidates for the priesthood or episcopacy. And they no longer accept the distinction that has helped the Catholic Church handle these tricky issues, between celibate and sexually active homosexuals. So, although a dam has been built, the rising waters may burst through again.

The Anglican Communion has often been a powerful force for good in the world and the cause of Christianity itself would be damaged if it broke up, not least because of the bitterness that would result. Catholics in particular can appreciate the belated realisation in the American Church that unity carries a price that can sometimes be irksome, and a Communion in which every part is entirely free to do whatever it thinks best is not worthy of the name. That acknowledgement now needs to be hammered home and made a central tenet of Anglican identity, not treated as a temporary local compromise to overcome a particular difficulty.

Fr Tony Clavier has a view: A Minor Miracle:

..The bishops go to Lambeth first of all as individuals, individually invited, and only secondly as provincial affiliates. This is a fact both they and the rest of us should stress and take in deadly earnest. They are given the opportunity to seek to shed for a space of time, jurisdictional and ethnic pride and to live into the baptismal promise the American Church constantly trumpets. Each bishop will go to Kent primarily as a baptized Christian, called to exercise episcopacy in a context. That context is both universal and local. As the late Eric Mascall suggested, they are Apostolically incorporated into the College of the Apostles, a rather more important concept than mere “succession.” They are locally appointed to an area in which they serve as proclaimers of the faith and unity of the church…


women bishops for Australia

The official announcement about the tribunal decision is here:
Appellate Tribunal determination on Women Bishops:

The Anglican Church’s highest legal authority, the Appellate Tribunal, has cleared the way for the consecration of women as diocesan bishops across Australia.

In a majority decision the Tribunal has ruled that there is nothing in the Church’s Constitution that would prevent the consecration of a woman priest as a diocesan bishop in a diocese which by ordinance has adopted the Law of the Church of England Clarification Canon 1992. Not every diocese has done so.

The ruling impacts only on diocesan bishops and not assistant bishops most of whom are elected and confirmed under provisions of the Assistant Bishops’ Canon 1966 which seems to retain the requirement for candidates to be male.

One of the central issues in the ruling allowing women to become diocesan bishops concerned the definition of ‘canonical fitness’. In the Church’s Constitution, adopted in 1962 it was clear at that time canonical fitness included a requirement for ‘maleness.’

The ‘maleness’ requirement was removed in a process that began in 1989 when a canon (church law) was passed that amended the Constitution to redefine ‘canonical fitness.’ The canon came into effect in 1995 after 75% of dioceses, including all metropolitan dioceses, adopted it…

The full text of the decision can be read as a PDF file here.


weekend opinion roundup

Peter Selby writes in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column and reflects on how wars have challenged the modern church.

Jonathan Romain writes in The Times that Jews don’t have to believe – if they do what He says.

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about A (Muslim) duty to prevent wrongdoing.

Bill Countryman writes in the Church Times about A weakness in the US Constitution.

Giles Fraser spoke on the radio yesterday about the Levellers and Burma.


Fulcrum comments on New Orleans

Fulcrum has responses to what the American bishops said.

Fulcrum Response to the Statement from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church

Fulcrum Comparative Study of Statements From Dar es Salaam and New Orleans

Andrew Goddard ‘Half Empty, Half Full, Too Little, Too Late?’


Breakaways meet in Pittsburgh

The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (NACDAP) announces Anglican Bishops Take First Steps to New Structure.

Anglican bishops from ten jurisdictions and organizations pledged to take the first steps toward a “new ecclesiastical structure” in North America. The meeting of the first ever Common Cause Council of Bishops was held in Pittsburgh September 25–28.

The bishops present lead more than 600 Anglican congregations. They formally organized themselves as a college of bishops which will meet every six months. They also laid out a timeline for the path ahead, committed to working together at local and regional levels, agreed to deploy clergy interchangeably and announced their intention to, in consultation “with those Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion offering recognition under the timeline adopted,” call a “founding constitutional convention for an Anglican union,” at the earliest possible date agreeable to all of the partners…

Read on for the full text of “The Articles of The Common Cause Partnership”.

Episcopal News Service reports Common Cause bishops pledge to seek Anglican recognition and lists the bishops of the Episcopal Church, USA who took part in this:

Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan convened the meeting in his role as moderator of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (NACDP), also known as the Anglican Communion Network.

Thirteen active or former diocesan Episcopal Church bishops attended the meeting, including Keith Ackerman (Quincy), James Adams (Western Kansas), Fitz Allison (formerly of South Carolina), Peter Beckwith (Springfield), David Bena (formerly of Albany), Alex Dickson (formerly of West Tennessee), Andrew Fairfield (formerly of North Dakota), John Howe (Central Florida), Jack Iker (Fort Worth), William Love (Albany), Donald Parsons (formerly of Quincy), Henry Scriven (assistant, Pittsburgh) and William Wantland (formerly of Eau Claire).

Duncan and others compared the steps taken during the meeting to those of the Reformation, the American Revolution, the U.S. Civil War and martyrdom.

Scroll down for a complete list of participant bishops and other leaders from all jurisdictions.

The “Common Cause College of Bishops Statement” also appears on the website of the Diocese of Pittsburgh: Anglican Bishops Take First Steps to New Structure.

A list of participating bishops now appears on the Network website.


Wycliffe Hall: former staff write to church press

The following letter to the editor was published today in full in the Church of England Newspaper and in a shorter form in the Church Times.

from Eeva John, the Revd Geoff Maughan, and the Revd Dr David Wenham


Recent revelations concerning the removal of Dr Elaine Storkey and of the Revd Dr Andrew Goddard and the Revd Lis Goddard from their posts at Wycliffe Hall have ensured that this Oxford Evangelical theological college continues to attract media attention. Over the past six months, rumours have abounded regarding a shift towards conservative evangelicalism, homophobia, misogyny on the one hand, and heavy-handed management involving bullying and intimidation on the other. Until now, out of loyalty to the college and concern for its students, staff at the college have been reluctant to comment, even though the situation has been repeatedly misrepresented in the press by other stakeholders. But now the serious and distressing injustice of the forcible removal of three fellow staff members compels us to set the record straight and to let the facts of the past two years speak for themselves.

Wycliffe Hall was in a strong and healthy position, when the Revd Professor Alister McGrath stepped down as Principal in 2004. But the appointment of a new Principal in April 2005 heralded a new era and the time for various changes, especially in administrative and managerial areas of college life. Staff were open to change, and wanted to work with the new Principal in this.

Distress soon set in, however, as strategic decisions, policies, and appointments were made without due regard for the views of colleagues. Despite intense behind-the-scenes discussions, these acute management difficulties culminated in the first of many resignations: David Wenham resigned as Vice-Principal, and Geoff Maughan, Director of Ministry, left the Hall to take up a parish post.

Tensions continued and reached a new climax at a meeting of staff and student representatives, at which the Principal responded unsatisfactorily to questions from students about various issues, including future staff appointments.

Dr Elaine Storkey, the Hall’s Senior Research Fellow, spoke out forthrightly at the meeting in support of those students and staff who had questions. This led directly to the Principal’s initiating formal disciplinary proceedings against Dr Storkey, and in due course to her responding reluctantly with grievance proceedings.

The heavy-handed disciplinary action, following all that led up to it, resulted in an appeal to the Hall Council from nine mostly senior staff (not including Dr Storkey), asking for their help in resolving the difficulties within the staff team and in bringing reconciliation. This was followed in subsequent months by a series of letters to the Council (six from groups of staff and many others from individual staff members) asking the Council to help.

The repeated pleas for face-to-face meetings with the Council and eventually for independent mediation were consistently rejected by the Council; substantive issues raised by staff were not addressed.

Eventually, the Council initiated a listening process, giving individual staff members access to two designated Council members. The outcome was a brief 140-word statement to the Hall community which reiterated the Council’s unanimous support for the Principal, and emphasised the need for all staff “to follow proper processes, to support the Principal, and to work to the highest Christian standards”.

In the mean time, resignations continued unabated. By the end of the academic year, eight staff members had resigned, two annual contracts had not been renewed, and one senior staff member had stepped down from his management responsibilities in protest.

Not all these resignations were as a direct consequence of the difficulties at the Hall, but many were. Three were staff who had been appointed by the current Principal and had been in post only two years. They could hardly be described as dead wood. Finally, the recent dismissals without grounds of Dr Storkey and the Goddards, none of whom had plans or desires to leave their posts at the Hall this year, has taken the toll of staff departures in one academic year to a total of 13. This represents more than 40 per cent of all support and academic staff.

Clearly neither Elaine Storkey nor the Goddards were alone in their unhappiness with the leadership and management of the Hall: they simply outstayed their welcome as far as the Principal and the Council were concerned.

The rough and tumble of heavy-handed and abrasive management may be the harsh reality of life in some businesses and organisations, but it is unacceptable and damaging in an institution that is first and foremost a Christian community in which future leaders are trained and mentored to imbibe the counter-cultural values of servant and team leadership. Furthermore the severance of the contracts of three members without any justification other than elimination of dissent is unjust. This is particularly the case when so many pleas for help in working towards reconciliation and understanding have been ignored.

Purported theological dimensions to the crisis at the Hall have been eagerly grasped by the press, and expressed variously as an attempt to capture the college for a narrow evangelicalism that is hostile to women’s ordination and homophobic. We are deeply distressed by, and wish to distance ourselves from such attempts to to polarize the Christian community caricature theological viewpoints. However, some of the Principal’s recent appointments, public statements, and changes to the curriculum do, however, suggest a more narrowly conservative emphasis (not to mention his signing of the “Covenant for the Church of England” without consulting colleagues). On the other hand, the appointment of two women academics can be seen as representing a broader approach.

As for the outgoing staff, any suggestion that they were uncommitted to the Evangelical heritage and emphasis of the Hall is untrue: we all held highly the Hall’s long-standing commitment to biblical doctrine, preaching and practice in a spirit of generous theological orthodoxy.

Finally, Wycliffe’s status as a Permanent Private Hall within Oxford University has been under the spotlight as a result of the recent review of all PPHs by the University. An important dimension of the Hall’s vision is to foster the pursuit of evangelical biblical scholarship within a context in which views are respectfully exchanged and heard. The Hall’s association with Oxford University is vital to this vision. We are naturally concerned that the recent events may have weakened this important relationship, but hope that the Council will support the Principal in ensuring that any damage is swiftly and unequivocally repaired.

The events we have described have caused intense pain and perplexity to many people. Although we readily acknowledge that the failures of judgement and charity have not all been on one side, we believe it is important for the wider Church, to which Wycliffe Hall is ultimately accountable, to be exposed to the voices that heretofore have been silent.

As staff who have left the Hall, we deeply regret what has happened, and the divisions that have arisen within the college and among its friends. We continue to have great affection for the Hall and for colleagues and students who have meant so much to us, and we hope and pray, still, for reconciliation, for healing of relationships, and for the rebuilding of the Wycliffe community.

Eeva John (Wycliffe Hall 2004-07); Geoff Maughan (Wycliffe Hall 1998-2007); David Wenham (Wycliffe Hall 1983-2007)


Discrimination: a lost opportunity

Last week’s Church Times contained a comment article written by me and titled Discrimination: a lost opportunity.

For previous Church Times coverage of the Archbishops’ Council response, see here. For the original response to the Discrimination Law Review, go here.


Hereford will not appeal

The Hereford Times has reported: Diocese will not appeal.

THE Diocese of Hereford will not appeal against a tribunal’s ruling that the bishop, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, discriminated against a gay job applicant.

An appeal is not being planned due to the high cost and length of time it would be expected to take, the diocese confirmed this week.

Diocesan spokesperson Anni Holden said: “We have taken legal advice and decided against appealing.

“Appeals can take several years and cost a lot of money. We are looking to the remedy hearing in December.”

During the remedy hearing it will be decided how much compensation youth worker John Reaney will receive…


Church Times reports on New Orleans

Today’s Church Times has two news reports on the American House of Bishops meeting, and editorial comment.

Pat Ashworth
US Bishops reach agreement over gays and blessings
House wrestles for two days to find right words

Leader: Walking together and walking apart

And also:

Conservative groups meet in Pittsburgh

Giles Fraser: The real covenant of baptism is what matters


US bishops: two more press reactions

The Economist has The turbulence of priests.

The Christian Science Monitor has Episcopal bishops move to ease clash over gays.


Wycliffe Hall: the Lucas report

The Oxford University Gazette has published the full report: Review of the Permanent Private Halls associated with the University of Oxford.

It is available as a PDF file, from here.

The whole report should be read to get the sense of it, but in response to anticipated interest Annexe E on Wycliffe Hall can be read as an html page here. (There is a similar annexe describing each of the individual halls.)


Thursday morning press coverage

Giles Fraser comments in the Guardian op-ed pages, US bishops have bent the knee to the will of the bully.

Robert Pigott at the BBC has Threat of Anglican schism still looms.

Episcopal News Service has Disaffected, breakaway bishops debate cooperation around parallel ‘Anglican’ province and also Anglican Communion’s secretary general reflects on House of Bishops’ meeting.


Thursday morning statements

Updated Thursday afternoon

Global South Anglican has “editorial comment”: Why the TEC House of Bishop’s Statement will not ‘mend the torn fabric”. This has subsequently been attributed to Terry Wong.

There is a Joint Statement on the Resolution of the House of Bishops from “three orthodox Anglican groups, the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Communion Network, and Forward in Faith North America”.
Update there is also this analysis of the HoB statement at the AAC website (small PDF file). It compares the wording to earlier documents, and finds it “non-compliant”.

Diocese of San Joaquin responds to House of Bishops’ Meeting

Afternoon updates

The Bishop of Dallas has published (as a PDF file) his Reflections on the House of Bishops meeting. This contains some very interesting detailed comparisons of wording as the communique drafting progressed.

The Primate of Australia has issued a press release, original now available here.

Affirming Catholicism UK has issued this statement: Who pays the price of our unity?. A copy of this follows, below the fold.



Wednesday evening statements

Several statements have appeared:

Statement by the Secretary General on behalf of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council.


From South Carolina: A Report on the New Orleans House of Bishops from Bishop Edward Salmon

The BBC reports that: Gay bishop move rejected by Kenya

There is a quote from the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church in this press release about an Inclusive Church event.


New Orleans: later press reports

The Times now has a more substantial report, in US Episcopal Church leaders pledge not to consecrate gay bishops by Ruth Gledhill.

Boston Globe Michael Paulson Episcopal leaders act to avert a schism

Los Angeles Times Rebecca Trounson Episcopal bishops promise ‘restraint’

The video of the closing press conference is now available here at Episcopal News Service.


New Orleans: yet more reactions

Church Society had this to say:

In some respects this is a positive move since it does show a willingness to try to satisfy the conditions laid down by the Primates. However, the problem is that at heart it changes nothing. Most of these Bishops are still committed to teach things that are contrary to Scripture (a fact which the Primates did not address) and they are determined to press ahead with their revisionist agenda. Although they have said they will not authorise services for same-sex unions, yet such services are happening in their Dioceses and nothing they have said will alter that. Their plan for episcopal visitors seems to fall a long way short of the sort of oversight the Primates envisaged and even further short of what many conservatives require. They clearly recognise nothing wrong in the fact that Gene Robinson is a Bishop and are merely biding their time.

All this is likely to mean that the whole unseemly mess continues without resolution. Moreover The Archbishop of Canterbury and the majority of the Primates’ Standing Committee are in agreement with the US revisionists, so they are going to play along with the charade and interpret the words as favourably as possible.

David Phillips

Anglican Mainstream appears to be more focused on the meeting in Pittsburgh and the comments of Bishop Duncan, which are reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in Bishop skeptical of Episcopal stance on gays by Steve Levin.

Fulcrum had fairly detailed comment from Graham Kings which starts out:

Initial Comment on the House of Bishops Statement from New Orleans

On a first reading, this statement is very significant and seems to go further and be more encouraging than many conservatives thought to be likely. The Presiding Bishop, and others who have worked hard with her from various traditions, deserve thanks for gathering support for an almost unanimous statement.

Moratorium on Consecration of people living in same sex unions. It clarifies the surprising last minute resolution B033 of General Convention 2006 by saying:

The House acknowledges that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains.

This seems to make The Episcopal Church compliant with The Windsor Report concerning a moratorium on the consecrations of people living in same-sex unions.

Blessing of Same-Sex Unions. The pledge on ‘not authorising any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action’ is important and welcome. However it still seems to allow space for private, unofficial pastoral services of blessing, in a minority of dioceses – this is implied in the statement that the majority of bishops ‘do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions’. It also interestingly adds ‘…or until General Convention takes further action’, which stresses the autonomy of TEC polity…


New Orleans: further reports and reactions

The Church Times has published US Bishops produce compromise statement

…The Response was more conciliatory than many had feared. At the press conference after the meeting, the Presiding Bishop, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, said: “We have reaffirmed our firm desire to remain as full members of the Anglican Communion.” The statement was essentially unanimous, and a significant number of conservative bishops had a hand in its drafting.

It is unlikely, however, that the document will satisfy all the Church’s critics, and particularly the most conservative bishops in the US, a handful of whom left the meeting early to travel to Pittsburgh, where the diocesan bishop, the Rt Revd Robert Duncan, has convened a meeting of the various traditionalist groups in North America. This meeting, called the Common Cause Council of Bishops, appears to be formulating an alternative to the official Episcopal Church, possible in conjunction with one of the overseas provinces. One possibility is that up to five Episcopal dioceses will secede.

The House of Bishops statement was firm on the subject of overseas incursions. “Such incursions imperil common prayer and long-established ecclesial principles of our Communion,” they say, calling for them to end.

Critics of the Episcopal Church will find several areas of dissatisfaction in the statement…

Ekklesia reports that Changing Attitude pledges to continue struggle for an inclusive church and the Changing Attitude press release can be found here.

The response of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church ‘to questions and concerns raised by our Anglican Communion partners’ gives encouragement to members of Changing Attitude and our brothers and sisters in Integrity, representing LGBT people in many parts of our Communion…

Earlier, Ekklesia had Mixed response to US Episcopal compromise on gay issue.

LGCM issued a rather different statement:


25th September 2007

The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in the United States of America has issued a statement today 25th September 2007

The Revd Martin Reynolds of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement said:

“Our disappointment with the American Church was profound when their General Convention outlawed gay bishops in 2006, that disappointment has now been reinforced.”

“But we believe this attempt to suck up to the homophobes will come to nothing. They have already decided not to believe anything the leaders of TEC say and are quite happy to ditch Canterbury and go it alone.”

“The schism will continue and I predict by this time next year there every disappointed American cleric who wants to be a bishop will have his wish.”

“Lesbian and gay bishops, priests, deacons and laypeople will continue to love and serve God in His Church while these bishops fall deeper into malice, we will pray for them.”


Ekklesia reported that as UK gay Christians disappointed at American Church decision.


New Orleans: press reports Wednesday morning

Guardian Stephen Bates US bishops offer lifeline in effort to keep world Anglican church intact

Telegraph Jonathan Petre For now, US Anglicans give in to Archbishop

The Times Ruth Gledhill Bishops reject same-sex blessings

New York Times Neela Banerjee Episcopal Bishops Reject Anglican Church’s Orders

Associated Press Rachel Zoll Episcopal Leaders Try to Avoid Schism and earlier Bishops Pledge Restraint on Gay Bishops

Chicago Tribune Manya A. Brachear Episcopals give ground on gay bishops

New Orleans Times-Picayune Bruce Nolan Episcopal bishops decline to roll back inclusion of gays

Living Church Steve Waring Bishops Conclude Meeting With Response to Primates

Episcopal News Service Pat McCaughan and Mary Frances Schjonberg Bishops provide ‘clarity’ in response to Primates’ communiqué and also Matthew Davies ACC, Primates Joint Standing Committee adjourns, initiates report to Archbishop of Canterbury

National Public Radio Bishops Move to Ease Concerns on Homosexuality

Reuters Bruce Nichols Episcopal Church to urge restraint on gay bishops