Thinking Anglicans

Prayer for Zimbabwe

Updated Wednesday evening

The Anglican Communion News Service has published this: World Day of Prayer for Zimbabwe on Sunday 27th April 2008

A desperate cry from the hearts of Zimbabwe screams across the world.

It calls upon all Christians of every denomination in every nation to focus their prayers, in churches, halls, homes or elsewhere, on Sunday 27th April, 2008 on the critical situation in Zimbabwe, a nation in dire distress and teetering on the brink of human disaster.

Let the cry for help touch your heart and mind. Let it move you to do what you can immediately to ensure this Day of Prayer takes place in your country and neighbourhood.

Please pass on this message right now to all the churches and Christian organisations known to you and to the media as well as to everyone anxious to rescue Zimbabwe from violence, the concealing and juggling of election results, deceit, oppression and corruption, and to bring about righteousness, joy, peace, compassion, honesty, justice, democracy and freedom from fear and want.

May a continual strong stream of prayer and supplication flow up to the Lord on behalf of all the people on this Day of Prayer, exhorting His divine intervention throughout the nation.

“It is by making the truth publicly known that we recommend ourselves to the honest judgment of mankind in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:2)

Some advice to Zimbabweans

“Who so putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” (Proverbs 29:25) “Stand fast, and do not let yourselves be caught again in the yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) “Make no mistake, you cannot cheat God.” (Galatians 6:7) “Do not be overcome by evil but overcame evil with good” (Romans 12:21)

Bob Stumbles, Chancellor – The Anglican Diocese of Harare

See also Zimbabwe, abuse and silence at Only Connect.

And a statement by the Archbishop of Cape Town is here.

Wednesday evening update

Dave Walker has a roundup of links to related stories at the Church Times blog Zimbabwean Christians call for a World Day of Prayer on Sunday.


more about that attack

This item relates to the earlier report here.

Changing Attitude has published Report on contents of syringe used in attack on Davis Mac-Iyalla. Note: the text of this article has been amended.

The report itself can be seen at Original report on contents of syringe used in attack on Davis Mac-Iyalla.


Bishop of Durham and GAFCON

In his Fulcrum lecture last Saturday, Bishop Tom Wright said this (emphasis added):

…Fourth, we have seen, predictably but sadly, the rise of the super-apostles, who have wanted everything to be cut and dried in ways for which our existing polity simply did not, and does not, allow. Please note, I do not for one moment underestimate the awful situation that many of our American and Canadian friends have found themselves in, vilified, attacked and undermined by ecclesiastical authority figures who seem to have lost all grip on the gospel of Jesus Christ and to be eager only for lawsuits and property squabbles. I pray daily for many friends over there who are in intolerable situations and I don’t underestimate the pressures and strains. But I do have to say, as well, that these situations have been exploited by those who have long wanted to shift the balance of power in the Anglican Communion and who have used this awful situation as an opportunity to do so. And now, just as the super-apostles were conveying the message to Paul that if he wanted to return to Corinth he’d need letters of recommendation, we are told that, if we want to go on being thought of as evangelicals, we should withdraw from Lambeth and join the super-gathering which, though not officially, is clearly designed as an alternative, and which of course hands an apparent moral victory to those who can cheerfully wave goodbye to the ‘secessionists’. I have written about this elsewhere, and it is of course a very sad situation which none of us (I trust) would wish but which seems to be worsening by the day…

This has been commented on at Fulcrum by Graham Kings who suggests that this is a response to what the Dean of Sydney said:

Phillip Jensen, in his address in Sydney on 14 March 2008, ‘The Limits of Fellowship’, said:

To those bishops who go to Lambeth knowing the unrepentant homosexual activity is wrong – your profession of evangelical credentials will always be tarnished.

And he also explains the reference to elsewhere in the last sentence quoted above:

…that last sentence, which refers to an earlier article. This, it seems to me, is the one written for the Church Times, 28 January 2008, and co-published with permission on Fulcrum, ‘Evangelicals are not about to jump ship’

In that earlier article, Bishop Tom had said (again emphasis added):

The rationale of GAFCON (the Global Anglican Future Conference) is: “The Communion is finished; nothing new can happen; it’s time to split.” No mention is made of the Windsor report, the proposed Anglican Covenant, or, indeed, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent letter, insisting as it does on scriptural authority, which GAFCON seems to regard as its monopoly.

That last point is crucial. To say “scripture is our authority” does not commit anyone to joining the small group represented by Chris Sugden, Martyn Minns, and Peter Jensen. It is clear that they are the prime movers and drafters, making a mockery of Canon Sugden’s claim (Comment, 11 January) that GAFCON is about rescuing the Churches from Western culture. But they have marshalled impressive support, particularly from great leaders like Henry Orombi of Uganda.

And later:

Our Communion has for the past five years been living through 2 Corinthians: the challenge to re-establish an authority based on the gospel alone and embodied in human weakness. Inevitably, “super-apostles” then emerge, declaring that such theology is for wimps.

To them I would say: Are they Evangelicals? So am I. Are they orthodox? So am I. Do they believe in the authority of scripture? So do I (including the bits they regularly downplay). Are they keen on mission? So am I, and on the full mission of God’s kingdom which an older Evangelicalism often ignores.

Those who want to be biblical should ponder what the Bible itself says about such things. There are many in the GAFCON movement whom I admire and long to see at Lambeth, but the movement itself is deeply flawed. It does not hold the moral, biblical, or Evangelical high ground.

To say no to GAFCON is not to say yes to the revisionist agendas prevailing in much of the Episcopal Church in the US. It is to say yes to a Lambeth Conference based on and taking forward the Archbishop’s agenda of Windsor and the Covenant, in pursuit of what Dr Williams refers to in his recent letter as “an authoritative common voice”.

Anglican Mainstream has responded to the recent lecture by publishing an article by Charles Raven Gospel Grip and Fulcrum Fantasy – a response to Tom Wright’s Fulcrum Conference Lecture ‘Conflict and Covenant in the Bible’. (Mr Raven is now Senior Minister of Christ Church Wyre Forest.)


opinions at Passover

Abraham Pinter writes that Passover is a good time to think about freedom of religious education in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column.

In The Times Roderick Strange writes that The resurrection of Jesus was real and physical.

In the Daily Telegraph Christopher Howse reports on Doing God in the land of Mammon.

The Church Times has an article by Jonathan Clark explaining why The C of E is losing its own history.

And last week in the Church Times Elaine Storkey wrote about Taking on the moral high ground.

Simon Barrow writes for Ekklesia about an issue in British parliamentary democracy, see Power to which people, exactly?


Society Still Needs Religion

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave a lecture in which he acknowledges the rise in interest in spirituality, particularly in the Western World, but underlines the crucial role traditional religious allegiance continues to play in a genuinely plural society.

Read the press release Archbishop’s Lecture – Society Still Needs Religion and read the full transcript of the lecture, The Spiritual and the Religious: Is the Territory Changing?


Archbishop Kwashi responds to Changing Attitude

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has published Response to alleged attacks on Changing Attitude leaders in Nigeria: Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi.

This is in response to the material reported earlier here and here.



The Church Times has a cover story on Darfur.

The complexities of Darfur are no excuse for the West’s refusal to act, says Giles Fraser in an article, The people cry out for action now which also has some illustrations that should not be missed.

More on these pictures can be found here on the Waging Peace website.

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more on parish bullying

Two items on this today in the Church Times, both by Pat Ashworth:

A detailed report of the Trumpington case is headlined Ambrose caused parish breakdown, says tribunal.

And there is a preview of the guidelines on bullying that are to be published soon by the Archbishops’ Council, Parish guidelines aim to end bullying.

Elsewhere Alan Wilson has written a highly informative article on his blog at Bully pulpit — On baiting of the Clergy. (The comments there are also interesting.)


faith and reason discussed

Lord Harries of Pentregarth, aka Richard Harries, former Bishop of Oxford had a discussion with Simon Jenkins in the Guardian last weekend, see Atheist versus Bishop.

As religious objections to the embryology bill mark the latest skirmish between faith and reason, Simon Jenkins and Richard Harries confront their differences head-on.


Paul Vallely lecture

The full text of the recent lecture given by Paul Vallely to the London Newman Association can be found here.

The title of this lecture was On being an English Catholic: from minority to mainstream – and back again? English Catholicism 1951 – 2008.

Paul explained this title in his Church Times column of 4 April, I am English Catholic, not Roman. The previous week’s article, to which he refers, is This does not violate a deep taboo. That article is germane to the debates here concerning the embryology bill.


Bishop of Durham on the BNP

Several press reports from North-East England about this:

Northern Echo Bishop’s warning over threat of BNP

Newcastle Journal Bishop joins fight against nationalists

Sunderland Echo Bishop warns people ‘giving up hope’ by voting BNP

Northumberland Gazette BNP voters disaffected with main parties – Bishop

Here is the full text of the email that Tom Wright sent to his clergy:

13 April 2008
Subject: Local elections and BNP from Bishop Tom

Dear Friends

With local elections coming up, we face again the unwelcome news of the BNP making potential inroads in our region. Splendid work has been done to counter this by several clergy working with local community leaders, for instance in distributing the pamphlet, ‘Hope Not Hate’. I want to urge all of you to get involved in this effort in whatever local sphere you can.

However, we should also be aware that the reason the BNP can even gain a foothold in people’s affections is because many people in our region feel so disaffected after the last thirty years of national politics that they are in danger of giving up hope in our regular main parties. This isn’t anybody’s fault in particular. But when a party like the BNP seems to be gaining ground we should all ask the question, Why is there a vacuum there that the other parties aren’t filling? What frustrations are there that the BNP are exploiting, and what are the wise ways of reacting to, or even meeting, those needs?

It is one thing to point out, as many have already done, the neo-Nazi tendencies of the BNP, and to warn with a shudder against our society even taking a small step in any such direction. It is another to say, How can we drain the swamp so that this kind of ideology won’t breed again?

None of us (in other words) can be complacent. Opposing the BNP isn’t simply a matter of saying ‘the status quo is working fine, so please reject these idiots’. It should be a matter of saying, What does a healthy society look like and how can we make it clear to our whole population that we are working in the best ways towards that goal? Part of the calling of the churches, following Jesus in his work of bringing God’s kingdom, must be to help communities ask that question and to work with them towards finding robust and positive answers.

Warm greetings and good wishes,
Bishop Tom

The Bishop of Durham, Auckland Castle.


Parish bullies

The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme carried an item with this title.

Parish bullies
Earlier this week the Rev Tom Ambrose, Vicar of St Mary and St Michael Church at Trumpington, was ordered to leave his post by the Bishop of Ely. The Bishop wrote “I am astonished and dismayed that there are two recorded occasions on which it is said that Dr Ambrose spat at parishioners, allegations which were not challenged in cross examination”.

But, according to the General Secretary of the trade union Unite, Rachel Maskell, it is often clergy who are being victimised by their parishioners, and she claims that the church, its structures and its Bishops don’t help their priests. Rachel Maskell joined Sunday along with one of those Bishops, John Packer, Bishop of Leeds and Ripon, who chairs the committee of the Archbishops’ Council which deals with clergy conditions of service.

Listen (7m 29s)

See also these media reports:

BBC Clergy ‘bullied by parishioners’

Religious Intelligence Trade Union claims parishioners are bullying clergy

Independent Union accuses bishops of failing to help bullied vicars and a leading article: Unholy rows

Cambridge Evening News Vicar backs attack on ‘disloyal’ bishops

Here are some links to earlier articles on this topic:

December 2006 Ruth Gledhill Evil-minded parishioners making life hell for clergy

February 2007 Rachel Harden What price priesthood?

May 2007 Ruth Gledhill The parishioners who won’t spend a penny

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Fulcrum conference talks

Updated Tuesday afternoon

The talks given on Saturday by the Bishop of Durham and by Andrew Goddard are published in full:

Conflict and Covenant in the Bible by Tom Wright

Conflict and Covenant in the Communion by Andrew Goddard

Episcopal Café and Pluralist have drawn attention to one point made by Bishop Tom. See What is Bishop Wright talking about? and Repressive Letters Go Out.

Update Monday morning

The Advent Letter can be found in full here. The relevant passage appears to be:

I have underlined in my letter of invitation that acceptance of the invitation must be taken as implying willingness to work with those aspects of the Conference’s agenda that relate to implementing the recommendations of Windsor, including the development of a Covenant. The Conference needs of course to be a place where diversity of opinion can be expressed, and there is no intention to foreclose the discussion – for example – of what sort of Covenant document is needed. But I believe we need to be able to take for granted a certain level of willingness to follow through the question of how we avoid the present degree of damaging and draining tension arising again. I intend to be in direct contact with those who have expressed unease about this, so as to try and clarify how deep their difficulties go with accepting or adopting the Conference’s agenda.

And what Bishop Wright said was:

…After a summer and autumn of various tangled and unsatisfactory events, the Archbishop then wrote an Advent pastoral letter in which he reiterated the terms of his initial invitation and declared that he would be writing to those bishops who might be thought particularly unsympathetic to Windsor and the Covenant to ask them whether they were really prepared to build on this dual foundation. Those letters, I understand, are in the post as we speak…

Emphasis added in both quotes.

Tuesday afternoon update

Ruth Gledhill has been talking to Lambeth Palace and to Tom Wright and she reports all that here.

Update Wed And now also here.

Some other bloggers who have written about this are listed in the comments below.


Parish of Trumpington

The Cambridge Evening News reported this week:

Vicar of Trumpington ordered to leave parish and

I’ll see you in court, axed vicar tells bishop and

Opponents of ‘spitting vicar’ glad he’s going.

The Diocese of Ely published the following items:

Press Release 9 April The Parish of Trumpington

Report of the Tribunal (PDF) December 2007

Reasons for the Decision of the Bishop (PDF) April 2008

In June 2007 the Bishop of Ely had made this statement to the Diocesan Synod.

And this press release was issued in January 2008: Trumpington Tribunal.


Perth to have female bishop

Updated Sunday morning

The Diocese of Perth, in Western Australia, will have the first woman bishop in Australia.
See the announcement from the diocese (PDF) KAY GOLDSWORTHY APPOINTED AUSTRALIA’S FIRST WOMAN BISHOP and also Archbishop Roger Herft’s Statement… on the appointment of Australia’s first woman bishop.

There is a nice background piece about Kay Goldsworthy in the local newspaper, Bishop Kay Goldsworthy – up close and personal.

And the Sydney Morning Herald has Mum of twins becomes first female bishop.

The Age in Melbourne has From epiphany to bishop.

And the ABC interviews Bishop Rob Forsyth from Sydney who explains why he does not agree with the idea.

Sunday update

There is some more background in the ENS report by Matthew Davies.

The Perth newspaper West Australian has a further report of some opposition, here.


from the newspaper columns

Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times that We need faith, and reality points us to a belief in God.

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about The burial of the heart.

Sunny Hundal writes about meaningless rituals in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about Why faith always asks questions.

The TLS carried this review of Rowan Williams’s Wrestling with Angels recently: Inside the mind of the Archbishop of Canterbury by David Bentley Hart. (h/t KH)


update on open letter to GAFCON

Changing Attitude reports on blogosphere attacks made against it following its recent press release and letter. That was reported, along with numerous earlier follow-ups here.

See Changing Attitude urges GAFCON leaders to repudiate violence.


Affirming Catholicism on the Welsh vote on women bishops

Affirming Catholicism has issued this press release:

10/04/08 – for immediate release

Vote on women bishops in Church in Wales exposes a key issue for the Church of England too.

Affirming Catholicism shares the disappointment of most members of the Church in Wales that the move to ordain women as bishops did not receive a large enough majority to be passed. We regret that the God-given gifts that women have to offer as bishops for the Church in Wales continue to be refused.

Hendrik Haye, convenor of Affirming Catholicism South Wales, said: ‘Although we are saddened by the result, we are glad that there was no compromise on the principle that women bishops must be accepted on exactly the same terms as men’.

Rev’d Jonathan Clark, a member of the General Synod of the Church of England and of Affirming Catholicism’s Board, said: ‘We believe that the church can and should include, as it does now, people who disagree about this issue. But the debate in the Church in Wales has highlighted the problem also facing the Church of England: some members don’t believe their own church has the right to make decisions about who will be ordained. The issue was fudged when women were ordained as priests: now it has come out into the open.’

The Church of England’s General Synod is expected to debate the ordination of women as bishops at its meeting in July.

• Affirming Catholicism is ‘a movement of inspiration and hope in the Anglican Communion, seeking to bring together and strengthen lay and ordained people who recognize the positive, inclusive and joyful currents in the Catholic tradition of Christianity.’


two more follow-ups on the embryology row

Simon Barrow wrote this article for the Wardman Wire: Flexing the Faith Muscle: Thinking Aloud. In it he looks at the style and tenor of church engagement with public life and the realm of politics – arguing that flexing the faith muscle in an overbearing way ends up being profoundly counter-productive.

Mary Warnock who among other things is a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s advisory group on medical ethics, wrote an article for the New Statesman which has been titled The politics of religion. In this she argues that religious belief is no basis for law-making.


Tom Wright interviewed in New Statesman

The New Statesman carries a major article by Sholto Byrnes which has been given this title: ”Jesus will appear again as judge of the world and the dead will be raised”. The magazine introduces the article this way:

Tom Wright’s literal belief in the Resurrection makes him a hero to conservative Christians worldwide. Here he declares war on militant atheists and liberals, and explains why heaven is not the end of the world.

Accompanying this is a background article on Christianity in Britain by Stephen Bates and published under the title Fundamental change:

Both politically and theologically, conservative Christianity is now a militant and rapidly growing force, in Britain and globally.