Thinking Anglicans

Canadian news roundup

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada recently met, and issued this Letter to the Church.

Earlier the new primate Archbishop Fred Hiltz had visited Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office. See this report:

…Throughout these visits, Archbishop Hiltz heard encouraging feedback about how the Anglican Church of Canada is dealing with the issue of same-sex blessings.

“It’s always nice to hear someone like the Archbishop of Canterbury or from the Anglican Communion Office say you’re handling this coherently, cautiously, judiciously, and you’ve got some things I would hold up as a model for others to consider as they grapple with the issue,” said Archbishop Hiltz. “Of course that’s very encouraging and I’m looking forward to sharing those kinds of reflections at the Council of General Synod and the House of Bishops. Because we need to hear that.”

Two dioceses have recently voted on the matter of same-sex blessings, see Anglican Journal reports:

Ottawa votes yes to same-sex blessings

Ottawa synod followed process, says primate

Montreal diocese becomes second to urge same-sex blessings

“Progressive” Anglicans urge bishops to allow gay marriage

Ontario priest disciplined for marrying same-sex couple


South Carolina re-election confirmed

The Diocese of South Carolina announces that it has been notified that a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and a majority of Standing Committees have consented to the election of the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence as the 14th bishop of South Carolina.

The consecration will be held January 26, 2008 at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston, South Carolina. There is no indication in the official announcements of who will preside at this service.

More details of this in the Episcopal News Service report here.

The Diocese has also announced that:

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori has accepted our invitation to meet with the leadership of the Diocese of South Carolina February 25-26, 2008. This will give us an opportunity to state with clarity and charity the theological position of this Diocese in a manner similar to when we met with Most. Rev. Frank T. Griswold shortly after his Installation as Presiding Bishop.

An appropriate agenda will be developed after the Consecration.

Press reports:

Associated Press New Episcopal Bishop for S.C.

The State Diocese names new bishop

Bakersfield Californian Pastor named bishop after long struggle


magistrate loses appeal

A Christian magistrate who was told he could not opt out of homosexual adoption cases has lost his appeal.

Having lost an initial hearing at an employment tribunal in Sheffield earlier in 2007, Mr McClintock took his case against the Department for Constitutional Affairs to appeal in London.

However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the Department for Constitutional Affairs had not acted unlawfully and that Mr McClintock had not suffered discrimination on grounds of his religious beliefs.

Mr McClintock intends to appeal this decision.

You can read the full judgement of the appeal tribunal as a PDF file. Here is the official summary:

The appellant was a Justice of the Peace. He sat on the Family Panel which, inter alia, places children for adoption. He objected to the possibility that he might be required to place a child with a same sex couple. The reason he gave was that he considered that there was insufficient evidence that this was in the child’s best interests and he felt that children should not be treated like guinea pigs in the name of politically correct legislation.

He asked to be relieved from hearing cases which might raise these issues. Representatives of the respondent refused to allow this and he resigned from the Family Panel. He complained that this was both direct and indirect discrimination and harassment, contrary to the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003.

The Tribunal found that on the facts there was no unlawful conduct of any kind. He had not indicated that his objections were rooted in any religious or philosophical belief. There was in fact no direct or indirect discrimination for religious or philosophical reasons, nor any evidence of harassment. Even if there were a criterion adversely impacting on the appellant, the respondent was justified in requiring him to carry out the full duties of the office in accordance with his judicial oath.

The EAT rejected the appeal. The case was dismissed largely on the facts, but in addition the Tribunal was fully entitled to find that any indirect discrimination was justified.

Press coverage of the decision:

BBC Gay couple adoption appeal lost

Daily Telegraph Jonathan Petre Magistrate loses gay adoption appeal

Religious Intelligence Nick McKenzie Christian Magistrate to appeal after losing tribunal case

The Christian Institute and the LCF-sponsored CCFON are both unhappy, see here and here.


Central Florida saga, next episode

According to the November issue of the diocesan newspaper, one of the seven parishes that was departing has changed its mind:

*LATE BREAKING NEWS: Fr. Holsapple, St. Anne’s, Crystal River, e-mailed Bishop Howe at press time, saying he had reconsidered and would not leave, nor would his parish.

Meanwhile, the Central Florida Episcopalian published full details of the proposed protocol by which any disaffiliations will be handled: see here.

Note that this has not yet been agreed to, as the bishop explains:

How we move forward will necessarily differ from one case to another. If an overwhelming majority of the members of a given congregation were to decide to leave, we might face a situation in which disposal of the property would eventually have to be considered.

I have shared the following proposed protocol with the clergy at our annual Clergy Conference at Canterbury, and it will be presented to the Diocesan Board and Standing Committee later this month. It has not yet been adopted, but I believe that it – or something very like it – must ensure that the spiritual needs of all the members of the Diocese will be protected. (This is more detail than most of you will want, but for everyone concerned we need to be as clear as possible.)


chinese whispers on the covenant response


The Sunday Telegraph has a report by Jonathan Wynne-Jones headlined C of E to empower foreign bishops.

The Church of England is set to allow foreign archbishops to intervene in its affairs, secret papers reveal.

Under controversial plans being drawn up by the Church’s bishops, leaders from Africa and South America would be able to take over the care of parishes in this country.

They threaten to end the historic power of bishops to have ultimate control over their dioceses because parishes could ask for overseas prelates to carry out important duties, such as leading ordination services.

The proposals are part of a covenant or rule book of beliefs that has been endorsed by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, as a last ditch attempt to prevent the Anglican Church from splitting over gay clergy…

Episcopal Café has reported on this as Let’s see who salutes while epiScope has Telegraph plays telephone…?

Watch for clarifications to emerge…

Reminder: at the CofE General Synod in July the covenant draft was discussed with this outcome, and further reports are linked here.

For clarification, see both the comment by Pete Broadbent below, and his comment here on Fulcrum.


more on child protection and the CofE

Following on from here, this week the Church of England issued a press release, Church confirms principles of protocol to review past child protection cases and the press duly reported:

Guardian Riazat Butt Church pledges to root out decades-old child abuse cases

Church Times Pat Ashworth Child-protection protocol agreed

Religious Intelligence Ed Beavan Child protection review ordered

BBC Church abuse case review outlined

Transcript of last May’s radio interview with the archbishop.


weekend opinion columns

Mark Vernon writes in the Guardian that seeing scientific knowledge as limitless erodes our capacity for contemplative wonder. Read Face to Faith.

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about Women alone in Paris and Mecca.

Roderick Strange asks in The Times How many of us have given until we felt the pinch?.

And there is another article: Church’s historic home in the City.

In the Church Times Giles Fraser asks Is secularism neutral on faith or anti-religious?.

And there is a leader column: Unity agreeable to God’s will.


appointing cathedral deans

See earlier report here on the proposals for changing the way Crown Appointments are made. The full text of the document is here. The proposals relating to deans start at paragraph 31.

Three former deans wrote a letter to The Times this week:

Sir, Deans have been part of a system of checks and balances in the English Church, at least since the Reformation, when papal powers were divided between the Crown and the Archbishop of Canterbury (report, Oct 16).

Deans of cathedrals of the New Foundation (formerly monastic communities) are successors of their abbots and priors. Indeed, on the eve of the Reformation there were more abbots in the House of Lords than bishops. Canon law lays down that the government of the Church of England is by “archbishops, bishops, deans and archdeacons . . .” But suffragan bishops and archdeacons are already appointed by diocesan bishops: deans, therefore, appointed by the Crown, represent an independent focus in the life of the Church.

If the Crown wants to repudiate its responsibility in this regard, some other method of appointing deans should be found, because deans have a community rather than a purely ecclesiastical function.

Rather than abandon the appointment of deans by the Crown, consideration should be given to the appointment of all deans (including those of the parish church cathedrals, until recently called provosts) by the Crown.

John Arnold
Dean Emeritus of Durham

Richard Lewis
Dean Emeritus of Wells

Edward Shotter
Dean Emeritus of Rochester

The Church Times has a report by Bill Bowder Deans question power of diocesan bishops.


Church colleges get advice on sacking staff

A report in the Times Higher Education Supplement tells about the advice given to its members by Council of Church Colleges and Universities (CCCU).

See Academia checks on faith in The Times:

Advice from the Council of Church Colleges and Universities tells universities to mention their Christian ethos in employment contracts so that staff who “openly flout” their ideals can be said to be in breach of contract.

It is thought that the rules are most likely to affect senior staff, chaplains and teachers of theology.

“If an employee acts in a way that is detrimental to the employer, by openly flouting the ethos . . . it may be possible to conclude that there has been a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence,” the advice adds…

And also Universities told how to use Christianity to sack staff on Ekklesia:

…But Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said that the advice was deeply disturbing.

“This report obliquely suggests ways of ensuring that some positions are not held by those whose lifestyle is at odds with some Christian doctrine, presumably in terms of sexual orientation, attitudes to abortion and maybe even to marriage”, the Times reports…


more follow-up on New Orleans and the JSC report

Andrew Goddard has made a very detailed analysis of the Joint Standing Committee Report which you can read at Fulcrum: The Anglican Communion after New Orleans and the Joint Standing Committee Report.

It includes an interesting description of how the report was compiled.

Kendall Harmon had A Conversation with Elizabeth Paver, member of the ACC Standing Committee.

Peter Jensen spoke to the Australian General Synod: Responding to the American House of Bishops – Archbishop Peter Jensen.

George Conger wrote in the Church of England Newspaper US House of Bishops Letter sparks debates on both sides.


more comment on the Central Florida letter

The Bishop of Fort Worth and the President of the Standing Committee of that diocese welcomed the letter.

The Living Church reported that the Letter Doesn’t Sway Central Florida Parishes who were presumably the primary target.

One blogger I omitted previously was Tobias Haller who wrote Strange Advice and then followed up with States of Things.

George Conger reported on it for the Church of England Newspaper this way: Archbishop’s Letter Angers Liberals.

Andrew Carey wrote about it in his CEN column: New direction?

Cary McMullen asked in the Lakeland Ledger Has Bishop John Howe averted Schism?


Zimbabwe update

Further developments since this report:

Living Church Two Sees in Central Africa Declared Vacant by George Conger

Anglican Communion News Service From the Dean of the Province on the withdrawal from the Province of Bishops Kunonga and Jakazi


Lam Pal clarifies the letter to Bishop Howe


The following comment from Lambeth Palace has been issued:

“It should be understood that the Archbishop’s response to Bishop Howe was neither a new policy statement nor a roadmap for the future but a plain response to a very urgent and particular question about clergy in traditionalist dioceses in TEC who want to leave TEC for other jurisdictions, a response reiterating a basic presupposition of what the Archbishop believes to be the theology of the Church.

The primary point was that – theologically and sacramentally speaking – a priest is related in the first place to his/her bishop directly, not through the structure of the national church; that structure serves the dioceses. The diocese is more than a ‘local branch’ of a national organisation. Dr Williams is clear that, whatever the frustration with the national church, priests should think very carefully about leaving the fellowship of a diocese. The provincial structure is significant, not least for the administration of a uniform canon law and a range of practical functions; Dr Williams is not encouraging anyone to ignore this, simply to understand the theological priorities which have been articulated in a number of ecumenical agreements, and in the light of this not to increase the level of confusion and fragmentation in the church.”

The Living Church has a report by George Conger that elaborates a little on this: Archbishop Williams’ Letter ‘Not a Roadmap for the Future’

Second Update
Episcopal News Service has issued a report on the whole episode: CENTRAL FLORIDA: Howe letter quotes Canterbury; Lambeth issues clarification.


reactions to the Central Florida letter

Updated Monday evening

The letter from Rowan Williams to John Howe of Central Florida (full text here) has already caused quite a stir in the blogosphere. Here are some of the early reactions:

Covenant Ephraim Radner with Chris Seitz and Philip Turner: A Statement Regarding Upholding the Ministry of Faithful Bishops (also on the ACI site)

The Anglican Scotist A Glimpse into Williams’ Ecclesiology

Fr Jake More Confusion From Canterbury

Episcopal Café Think before you leap

Ruth Gledhill Rowan tells Orthodox: ‘Stay loyal to sacramental communion’

Dan Martins A Sudden Burst of Fresh Air

Adrian Worsfold National Anglican Churches Demolished…

Nigel Taber-Hamilton The Great Betrayal – Rowan Williams and the end of the Anglican Communion as we know it

Living Church Archbishop of Canterbury Discourages Separatist Solution


Covenant Doug LeBlanc Interpreting the First Epistle to Central Floridians

The Anglican Centrist The Letter from Canterbury to Orlando


news from Central Florida


The Diocese of Central Florida has reported that a number of its parishes are discussing leaving the Episcopal Church.

See the Living Church report, Central Florida Parishes, Church Plants Plan to Disaffiliate.

Or this from the Lakeland Ledger Episcopal Leaders in Separation Talks

Bishop John Howe has issued a pastoral letter to be read today in churches. You can read the full text of it here on No Claim to Sainthood: The Bishop speaks.

The following paragraph (emphasis added) is of particular interest beyond Florida:

I have said repeatedly that it is my desire to remain both an Episcopalian and an Anglican. In that regard, let me share something with you that the Archbishop of Canterbury has written to me just this past week: “Any Diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion, whatever may be the longer-term result for others in The Episcopal Church. The organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such…. I should feel a great deal happier, I must say, if those who are most eloquent for a traditionalist view in the United States showed a fuller understanding of the need to regard the Bishop and the Diocese as the primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the “National Church.”

Addendum On some other blogs, the direct quote from the archbishop has been extended to the end of the paragraph, but this is clearly not so in the source from which I have quoted.

Amendment Bishop Howe has now released the full text of his letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury and it can be read in full here. This text shows that the quotation should indeed go to the end of the paragraph, and not as previously indicated above stop at the word “such”. However, there was a very substantial section between the two sentences which was omitted, as indicated in the correct version by an ellipsis. The source from which I originally quoted has now also been corrected (and the error there explained).

I do strongly recommend reading the full text of the archbishop’s letter, which I have reproduced below the fold.



child protection and the CofE

In the Sunday Telegraph Jonathan Wynne-Jones has a report that:

Child abuse has gone unchecked in the Church of England for decades amid a cover up by bishops, secret papers have revealed.

Read C of E child abuse was ignored for decades.

And also, Giles Fraser has an accompanying analysis: The truth must out.


Rowan Williams writes about abortion

The Archbishop of Canterbury has an article today in the Observer, Britain’s abortion debate lacks a moral dimension.

There is a related news article, British women treat abortion as the easy option, claims angry Archbishop.


Women Bishops and the Church of Sweden

The full text of the talk given by retired Swedish bishop Christina Odenberg, at a lunchtime meeting during the York General Synod sessions last July, can be found on the InclusiveChurch website.

Here it is.

And if you haven’t yet booked for Drenched in Grace in November, go here for details.


Anglicanism and Protestantism

Alister McGrath writes an article in the Church of Ireland Gazette under the title: Focus on Anglican Identity – Anglicanism and Protestantism.

You can read it all here.

This appears to have been provoked by this article from the Church Times some months ago:
Ecumenical spring is already here
by Gregory Cameron.


opinion columns on Saturday

The Times has Peter Mullen writing that Wealth creation can atone for the sins of Mammon.

The Guardian has Paul Oestreicher writing about Franz Jägerstätter.

The Daily Telegraph has Christopher Howse reviewing books: In and out of Hitler’s Reich.

Giles Fraser in the Church Times wrote about a film: This move hands the atheists a PR coup.