Thinking Anglicans

Rowan Williams on Christian unity

This week’s Tablet has an article by the Archbishop of Canterbury which looks forward to next month’s centenary Week of Christian Unity.

His article is titled No common language yet. It starts this way:

A hundred years on from the establishing of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, how much further forward are we? And what exactly are we praying for during this week of prayer? On the whole, it’s become a fixture for most “mainstream” denominations, a few days when the more enthusiastic or more biddable members of the congregation turn up to someone else’s church for a well-mannered but often rather lukewarm joint service or two, or perhaps for a talk by a prominent local leader.

The aspiration that we end up relating better with each other, or even that we end up more willing to engage in witness and work together is entirely worthy, and is probably widely fulfilled. But are we praying for anything more than this?

For some people, the answer is clearly “no”. To look beyond this fostering of local goodwill, they would say, is always in danger of slipping towards the yearning for some universal institution with clear central control – at worst, a Pullmanesque Magisterium, some people’s nightmare of Roman Catholicism…


Central Florida's protocol

The Diocese of Central Florida published A Protocol for Those Desiring to Disaffiliate From The Episcopal Church.

Bishop John Howe wrote this letter to his clergy.

Episcopal News Service published this report, CENTRAL FLORIDA: Leadership outlines ‘disaffiliation protocol’.

The diocesan convention meets in late January and will be asked to approve the constitutional change [PDF file] which adds wording relating to the Anglican Communion but does not remove the wording relating to The Episcopal Church.

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learners not warriors

Anglicans need deep learning not cheap victory is the title of an article published by Ekklesia and written by Savi Hensman.

Some church leaders caught up in the sexuality row not only refuse to consider scholarship which does not conform to their own perspective but also demand the right to prohibit others from acting on the fruits of study. Anglicans need to be learners not warriors.

Read the article here.


Common Cause Partnership

Updated again Monday morning

This organisation has launched a new website here. Its homepage features a rotating comment from one of its leaders, but to save you time, the full set of quotes and photos is here.

They held a meeting on 18 December and issued a Communiqué. The text of it is here.

ENS has a report on this, Common Cause Leadership Council outlines plans for an ‘Anglican union’.

Anglican Communion Institute has “We Know What Hour It Is”: A Comment on the Advent Pastoral and Common Cause (h/t Fulcrum)

Update Monday
The comments thread to the ACI article shown above is especially interesting. For example, Dan Martins writes:

This makes my blood run cold. In January 2004 I was present at a meeting that was apparently a direct result of the one referenced by Dr Radner. It took place at Christ Church, Plano, and I was there as an official representative (appointed by Bishop Schofield, along with another cleric and two lay persons) of the Diocese of San Joaquin. It was at this meeting that the Network charter was “perfected” in debate, and adopted–so far as I can recall, unanimously–by those present. It was also at this meeting that Geoff Chapman, who was there, was rebuked formally–and he apologized formally–for circulating the now infamous memo outlining a “replacement” strategy. The assembly disavowed the Chapman Memo, and I recall that such a disavowal was a condition laid down by Bishop Howe for his continued participation in the meeting. The ACN charter that was adopted, of course, pledged to operate within the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. There were some others present as well–non-Episcopalians –who were seated at a special table in the back of the room and referred to as “common cause partners.”

Many Reappraisers have spoken of a Grand Conspiracy to effect a coup d’eglise within American Anglicanism. I have always resisted such talk because I believed myself to be enough of an insider to know that it was unfounded. After all, I raised my hand in assent when the motion to disavow the Chapman Memo was made. I am now beginning to wonder whether I have been duped and played…

And William R MacKaye writes:

…As a journalistically trained observer of the present Episcopal unpleasantness (though scarcely a disinterested observer), it has been obvious to me for some years that a portion of those in the conservative camp were not debating in good faith. To the contrary, they were colluding to create a separate North American jurisdiction that would displace the Episcopal Church as the recognized Anglican presence on this continent. And even more important, they had secured financial resources that would generously support their activities despite the modest number of their supporters.

As soon as it became clear that the archbishop of Canterbury could not support such a strategy, sharing communion with the see of Canterbury ceased to be a sine qua non for being Anglican, so far as these advocates were concerned….

Read them all and others too.


reactions to the Advent Letter

Updated Friday evening

I was away when the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter first appeared, so I will refer to the Episcopal Café roundup of press reports, rather than create a new one. See The press reads The Letter.

Episcopal Café also has this excellent roundup of blog reactions, Reactions to the Archbishop’s letter. Most of these are from Americans.

Here’s an English reaction from MadPriest.

Changing Attitude has issued this Changing Attitude England response to 2007 Advent Letter.

Conservative websites do appear to be divided in their opinions:

Kendall Harmon quite liked it, see his detailed initial response.

Anglican Mainstream (i.e. Chris Sugden) doesn’t like it, see The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent Letter.

Fulcrum liked it: Fulcrum Response to the 2007 Advent Letter.

CANA Suffragan Bishop David Anderson didn’t like it at all: Lambeth Palace/Anglican Communion Office Anglicanism has failed – Bishop David Anderson.

The Anglican Communion Institute has, as one would expect, an inordinately detailed analysis. Update Make that TWO inordinately detailed analyses, second one here.

The Ugley Vicar thought it was really rather good, see Leadership and Lambeth – Dr Williams’ Advent challenge to the Communion. He had further thoughts, see The Archbishop’s Egg — what is good (and what is not so good) about the proposals in Rowan Williams’ Advent letter?


Bishops’ office and working costs

The Church of England has published the office and working costs of its bishops for 2006. Here is the press release.

The 2006 office and working costs of bishops in the Church of England are published today. Figures for individual bishops were first published, for the year 2000, in December 2001. Bishops’ office and working costs were previously published as a total figure.

In 2006, the Church Commissioners funded the ministry of Church of England bishops by some £15.9 million, figures from the House of Bishops show. Of that sum, £4.6m related to stipends, National Insurance and pension contributions for the 44 diocesan and 69 suffragan/full-time assistant bishops. The remaining £11.3m related to bishops’ office and working costs, most of which pays for the salaries and pensions of office staff, as set out in this report.

Copies of Bishops’ office and working costs for the year ended 31 December 2006 are available from Bishoprics and Cathedrals Dept, The Church Commissioners, Church House, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3AZ, tel 020 7898 1058.

The booklet includes a full description of the important role played by bishops locally, regionally and nationally.

The booklet for 2006, and for previous years back to 2000, can be downloaded from here.


update on San Joaquin

The Presiding Bishop wrote again to Bishop Schofield. Read her letter in full at Episcopal News Service San Joaquin bishop asked to confirm status after vote to leave the Episcopal Church.

Bishop Schofield wrote a pastoral letter to the diocese of San Joaquin. Read that letter in full at SAN JOAQUIN: Pastoral letter says diocese is no longer part of Episcopal Church.

Meanwhile, the Stockton Record continues to cover the story. See Episcopal split in California has some historical precedent. And also this and this.

El Bohemio News has A Church in Conflict – Update – AN ALLEGATION OF MANIPULATING THE VOTE.

The Church Times had this report by Pat Ashworth: San Joaquin moves to ‘assured place’.

The Bakersfield TV station, KBAK-TV has Local church members want to “Remain Episcopal” which includes a video report.

National Public Radio had an audio report here: Episcopal Diocese Secedes over Role of Gays.

The BBC earlier had an audio report here.


Weekend opinion

The Archbishop of York writes in the Observer I ripped up my dog collar to help topple this brutal tyrant.

Mark Vernon at Comment is free asks “Is philosophy just tinkering around the edges of science, or can a meeting of the disciplines give us deeper insghts into the universe?” in God and the multiverse.

Shelina Zahra Janmohamed argues in the Guardian’s Face to faith column that Spiritual journeys like the hajj must challenge body and soul.

Christopher Howse in the Telegraph writes on Judging when you must fight a war

Also in the Telegraph Sarah Todd hears how one Christmas congregation found room at the inn in Fathers, sons and holy spirits.

Joanna Moorhead in the Times writes that in deepest Surrey, families are flocking to watch a cast of real people in a most extraordinary nativity play O little town of Wintershall.

Also in the Times Ruth Gledhill writes about a study that argues Plagues of Egypt ‘caused by nature, not God’.

In the Church Times Giles Fraser writes about US suburbs: the home of segregation.


Archbishop slams the splitters

Today’s Guardian has an article by Stephen Bates Williams condemns breakaway bishops in gay rights row. That is an edited version and Stephen has kindly sent us his original full article which follows below.

Archbishop slams the splitters
Stephen Bates

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican communion, yesterday condemned attempts by conservative church leaders to undermine the US Episcopal Church for its support for gay rights and effectively refused calls to disinvite American bishops from next year’s Lambeth Conference of all the church’s bishops.

In a long-anticipated Advent message to the 38 primates of the communion at which the archbishop had promised to respond to the crisis, Dr Williams criticised African and other church leaders who have consecrated their own American bishops and offered to look after the small number of dioceses whose conservative American bishops have said they wish to separate from the US church and seek oversight from foreign provinces. The first American diocese, San Joaquin in California, formally announced its secession at its synod last weekend and its intention to align itself to the tiny Anglican archdiocese of the Southern Cone, which covers most of South America.

In words which directly rebuke conservatives who claim theirs is the true and only voice of authentic Anglican identity, Dr Williams stated: “Not everyone carrying the name of Anglican can claim to speak authentically for the identity we share as a global fellowship….A great deal of the language that is around in the communion at present seems to presuppose that any change from our current deadlock is impossible, that division is unavoidable and that such division represents so radical a difference in fundamental faith that no recognition and future co-operation can be imagined. I cannot accept these assumptions and I do not believe as Christians we should see them as beyond challenge.”

In a passage which will be particularly galling to conservative evangelicals, especially those who regard the archbishop as Biblically unsound, Dr Williams cited St Paul, the sole author in the New Testament to explicitly condemn homosexuality and so regarded as a definitive spokesman for orthodoxy, saying: “The gospels and the epistles of Paul alike warn us against a hasty final judgement on the spiritual state of our neighbours….The challenge is not best addressed by a series of ad-hoc arrangements with individual provinces elsewhere…this is not doing anything to advance or assist local solutions that will have some theological and canonical solidity.”

Dr Williams’s lengthy and detailed statement, which went through numerous revisions by his staff at Lambeth Palace, is likely to infuriate conservative Anglican pressure groups who have been demanding that the church should discipline or expel the Americans for electing the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. The archbishop met all the US bishops in New Orleans in September when they formulated a statement agreeing not to endorse any further gay bishops or to authorise formal blessings services for same sex couples.

His silence since that meeting has created a vacuum which has exasperated both liberals and conservatives anxious for him to give a lead. The statement now directly contradicts the assertion of the Most. Rev. Gregory Venables, the English Evangelical presiding bishop of the Southern Cone, who has made no secret of wishing to recruit disaffected American dioceses and who let it be known, following a meeting in London with Dr Williams in September that he believed the Archbishop thought the plan was “a sensible way forward”.

Lambeth Palace did not publicly criticise Bishop Venables until this week. One senior insider at the Palace told the Guardian that the idea that Dr Williams supported the move was complete nonsense.There are signs of divisions between senior members of the archbishop’s staff and frustration over his perceived dithering.

As the message makes clear that Bishop Robinson will not be invited to next year’s conference either, the official said it contained “something to annoy everyone.”

Dr Williams put forward two proposals to keep the American Church inside the Anglican communion: “professionally facilitated conversations” between US leaders and their American and outside critics to see if they can achieve better mutual understanding, reduce tensions and clarify options and the setting up of a group of primates to produce proposals to put to next year’s Lambeth Conference on the issues that the gay crisis has thrown up. Neither last night seemed likely to satisfy the church’s conservatives who have maintained for several years that the time for listening is past.


Other press reports
Ruth Gledhill in The Times Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, warns American church leaders to curb their pro-gay agenda
Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph Williams warns bishops in gay rights row


Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent Letter to the Primates

The Archbishop of Canterbury has released an Advent Letter to the Primates of the Anglican Communion & Moderators of the United Churches.

It starts:

Greetings in the name of the One ‘who is and was and is to come, the Almighty’, as we prepare in this Advent season to celebrate once more his first coming and pray for the grace to greet him when he comes in glory. You will by now, I hope, have received my earlier letter summarising the responses from Primates to the Joint Standing Committee’s analysis of the New Orleans statement from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church. In that letter, I promised to write with some further reflections and proposals, and this is the purpose of the present communication…


Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas Message

The Archbishop of Canterbury has released a Christmas Message to the Anglican Communion.

The Christmas Message is also available for the first time as a podcast.

One of the strangest yet most moving expressions in the New Testament is a verse in the Letter to the Hebrews (11.16): God ‘is not ashamed to be called their God’. The writer is talking about the history of God’s people. When they have been faithful to God, faithful in keeping on moving onwards in faith rather than settling down in self-satisfaction, when they are true pilgrims, then God is content to be known as their God…

Full text below the fold.



Hereford: policy on recruitment

Here is what the Diocese of Hereford told me on Tuesday 11 December when I asked them to clarify the comments made by the Bishop of Hereford at the employment tribunal hearing in Cardiff on Friday 7 December:

“Given the judgement of the tribunal the only “safe” option to avoid future discrimination claims is for the Diocese to express a Genuine Occupational Requirement and claim exemption from the Sexual Orientation Regulation 2003.

This we do not wish to do as we wish to encourage people of any sexual orientation to play a full part in the life of the Church and to apply for all Diocesan posts.

However, we also require those in leadership positions within the Diocese, and the DYO is such a position, to uphold, support and promote the doctrine of the Church of England. We are therefore seeking advice on how we can maintain the teachings of the Church without transgressing the law.”

The Church Times has a story on this, Priddis ‘sorry for hurt’, but it is only available to subscribers at present.


more from the Chicago Consultation

Marilyn McCord Adams delivered a paper entitled “Shaking the Foundations: LGBT Bishops and Blessings in the Fullness of Time”.

Read the full text on Daily Episcopalian over here.

Read the Episcopal News Service report here.

Check at Episcopal Café for more papers soon.


The Chicago Consultation

Here’s the press release from: The Chicago Consultation

International Anglican group initiates “strategy of inclusion”

Chicago Consultation celebrates contributions of gay Christians, urges blessing of same-sex relationships, calls homophobia “a sin whose end time is now”.

(Evanston, Ill.) Anglicans from around the world met near Chicago last week to build international coalitions and develop a strategy for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in the life of the Church.

Meeting at Seabury-Western Seminary, Dec. 5-7, the 50-member group known as the Chicago Consultation urged leaders of the Episcopal Church to permit the blessing of same-sex relationships and to remove barriers that keep gay candidates from being elected as bishops.

“Some people call it the gay agenda, but we call it the Gospel Agenda,” said the Rev. Bonnie Perry, rector of All Saints Church, Chicago, co-convener of the Consultation. “We are asking our Church and our Communion to see what God has created and know that it is good.”

The Consultation also called upon the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, to invite Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as a full participant to the Lambeth Conference. Robinson, a member of the Consultation, is the only diocesan bishop in the Anglican Communion living openly in a same-sex relationship.

“We wanted to affirm Gene,” said Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Diocese of Washington, “but we also wanted to affirm all of the anonymous gay and lesbian Christians who have graced the Church with their God-given gifts—even when the Church has been unwilling to receive them.”

Participants from Africa, England and New Zealand joined fellow Anglicans from Central, North and South America in pledging to work against schismatic leaders who have sought to gain power in the Communion by turning marginalized groups against one another.

“Homophobia is a sin whose end time is now,” said the Rev. Canon Marilyn McCord Adams, Regius Professor of Divinity at Christ Church, Oxford University, in a paper opening the consultation.

Human institutions are riddled with systemic evils, she said. “Our calling is to discern which ones are ripe for uprooting and to take the lead in eradicating them, beginning in the garden behind our own house!”

In three intensive days, punctuated by periods of silent prayer, participants heard papers by Adams, Bishop Stacy Sauls of the Diocese of Lexington, Dean Jenny Te Paa of St. John’s College, Auckland, New Zealand and the Rev. Frederick Quinn of Salt Lake City, Utah and began to develop strategies to advance the cause of full inclusion at the Lambeth Conference in July 2008, and at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Anaheim in 2009.

Te Paa also preached at a Eucharist celebrated with members of the Consultation and the seminary community.

While developing what they dubbed a “strategy of inclusion,” participants also voiced opposition to the current draft of a proposed Anglican Covenant, which would create a centralized governing body with authority over member Churches for the first time in the Communion’s history.

“There was tremendous energy in the plenary sessions, and even more in the breakout groups,” said the Rev. Ruth Meyers, academic dean at Seabury, and co-convener of the Consultation. “It was such a talented and committed group that eventually we abandoned some of the formal presentations and started identifying our priorities and making plans.”

Participants focused particular attention on building international coalitions to work against what the Rev. Mpho Tutu, executive director of the Tutu Institute for Prayer and Pilgrimage in Alexandria, Va., called “interlocking oppressions,” the web of economic, political and social factors that determine who has access to power, resources and social approval, and who does not.

“The issue is human suffering and the attitudes that cause it,” said Bishop Celso Franco de Oliveira of Rio de Janeiro.

Before adjourning, the group made plans to:

  • publish several of the papers it received on the Web site Episcopal Café (
  • establish a Web site
  • hire a part-time coordinator
  • support working groups on communications, fundraising and organizational strategy, as well as a group to identify and produce theological resources.

The consultation includes two Primates of the Anglican Communion—Archbishop Martin de Jesus Barahona of Central America and Archbishop Carlos Touche-Porter of Mexico, who was unable to attend due to illness; 12 bishops from the Episcopal Church, including 10 diocesan bishops or bishops-elect; four members of the Church’s Executive Council; numerous General Convention deputies, and representatives of groups such as Integrity, Claiming the Blessing and Inclusive Church.

Bonnie Anderson, president of the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies, attended the consultation as an observer, and said she hopes other groups in the Church will invite her to their meetings in a similar capacity so that she can familiarize herself with their concerns.

Participants from other Churches in the Anglican Communion included the Very Rev. Victor Atta-Baffoe, dean of St. Nicholas College, Cape Coast, Ghana; Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada; Te Paa; the Rev. Jane Shaw, dean of divinity, New College, Oxford and the Rev. Giles Fraser, founder of Inclusive Church in the United Kingdom.

The steering committee was convened by Meyers and Perry and included Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta, who was unable to attend the meeting; Chane; the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Seabury-Western; the Rev. Gay Jennings, associate director of the CREDO Institute; Jim Naughton, canon for communications and advancement in the Diocese of Washington; Robinson and Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Mary Wolfe Professor of Historical Theology at Episcopal Divinity School.

The consultation was supported by several grants, including one from the Arcus Foundation of Kalamazoo, Mich., which works to “achieve social justice that is inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity and race.” Following the conference, the group received a $60,000 grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Philadelphia, Pa., to support its future work.


When signs signify

The text of the address given at the Drenched in Grace conference by the Revd Dr Louis Weil is now available at the Inclusive Church website.

Read it in full at When signs signify – the Baptismal Covenant in its sacramental context.


Teenagers interview Archbishop


Three teenagers from Oi! magazine recently interviewed the Archbishop of Canterbury at home in Canterbury and the text is online: Tea and Toast with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Update: This is now available on the Archbishop’s own website here.
A pdf file of the interview as it will appear in the print version of Oi! can be downloaded from here.

If the comments we receive are anything to go by TA readers may be most interested in what the Archbishop said about gay clergy but do read all of the interview.

Ruth Gledhill reproduces most of the interview in today’s Times: Family and God keep me going – even if they all think I’m an idiot.


plans to reconstitute San Joaquin

Episcopal News Service reports: Continuing Episcopalians making plans to reconstitute Diocese of San Joaquin.

Local leaders, along with those from the wider church, are already making plans for the continuation of the Diocese of San Joaquin following a vote to disassociate from the Episcopal Church.

Michael Glass, a San Rafael, California-based attorney who represents congregations and individual Episcopalians who wish to remain in the Episcopal Church, told Episcopal News Service (ENS) December 11 that he, local leaders, Chancellor to the Presiding Bishop David Booth Beers, and leaders from Episcopal dioceses surrounding San Joaquin “are coming together very soon to finalize our coordinated efforts to provide for the leadership needs, the legal and pastoral issues, and the financial concerns of our brothers and sisters in San Joaquin, and to provide for the continuation of the diocese.”

The Rev. Robert Moore will meet with the group as well. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori appointed Moore “to provide an ongoing pastoral presence to the continuing Episcopalians in the Diocese of San Joaquin,” said the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop.

Moore is the husband of Bishop Suffragan Bavi Edna “Nedi” Rivera of Olympia, the daughter of San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield’s predecessor, Bishop Victor Rivera.

But it is not straightforward. Read the rest of the report about the intimidating threats to clergy, and the problems of mission congregations.


Hereford case delayed again

The employment tribunal hearing last week in the case of John Reaney and the Diocese of Hereford adjourned without the Remedies being settled. The tribunal chairman said it would be at least mid-January before judgment would be given. That’s yet another month’s delay in a case which started over a year ago.

Some press reports:

BBC Gay row bishop ‘sorry for pain’

Wales News Bishop hurt by ‘derogatory’ comments, and in the Western Mail next day Bishop regrets gay case distress.

And in today’s Guardian, Stephen Bates has a piece in the People column.


letters about seceding US dioceses

This week, in the Church Times a letter was published from Canon Giles Goddard which is reproduced at InclusiveChurch.

See Letter to Church Times 7th December 2007. The Church Times copy is here (subscription only until Friday).

The earlier letters to the editor to which this is a direct response can be found here, at Bishops Iker and Duncan, and the Episcopal Church in the United States.

The original letters to the bishops can be found here (Duncan) and here (Iker).


Rowan Williams and the Southern Cone

Updated Tuesday morning

As noted by Episcopal Café an email from The Rev. Canon Dr. James M. Rosenthal, Anglican Communion Office, Director of Communications says:

“Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has not in any way endorsed the actions of the Primate of the Southern Cone, Bishop Gregory Venables, in his welcoming of dioceses, such as San Joaquin in the Episcopal Church, to become part of his province in South America,” a spokesman for the Anglican Communion said.


Episcopal News Service has Archbishop did not endorse Southern Cone’s invitation to San Joaquin, Anglican Communion spokesman says which includes various earlier quotes relating to this issue, and Anglican Mainstream has this report which quotes Gregory Venables himself as saying:

“I have neither sought nor claimed his endorsement for our actions in Canada or the Diocese of San Joaquin. At the same time however he has been informed of the steps we were planning in North America. If that hadn’t been the case we wouldn’t have moved ahead.”