Thinking Anglicans

Anglican Church Bans Polygamy

Anglican Church Bans Polygamy is the headline of a news article at PM News by Kazeem Ugbodaga:

The Anglican Communion in Nigeria has banned polygamy among members of the church.

The ban was handed down by the Archbishop and Primate of the Church, Most Reverend Peter Akinola.

Worried by the proliferation of marriages in the church among polygamous members, Akinola wrote to all Anglican Communions in the country to desist from such practice, which he described as unscriptural.

According to him, the integrity of the Christian faith is far more important than the reputation of those who turn their backs on the word of God.

“Those of us who are in the forefront of the prophetic call for a return to Biblical truth, cannot close our eyes to the increasingly blatant disregard for the teaching of the Bible on family life.

“The observation will destroy our witness if not firmly addressed. We cannot claim to be a Bible-believing church and yet be selective in our obedience,” he added.

Akinola stated emphatically that whosoever is involved in polygamous marriage, no matter how highly placed, must come under authority of the Bible.

He warned that any attempt to trivialise the Bible’s teaching on monogamy as the ultimate standard for the Christian family “will make a mockery of whatever else we stand for.

“Sadly, sometimes, even our leadership has looked the other way on this matter.”

The Anglican Communion Nigeria, during the crisis on whether to ordain gays (homosexuals) as preachers in the Anglican Communion overseas, stood against it…

Update Saturday

The BBC has a report on this, Warning for Christian polygamists.


Religious attendance statistics in dispute

Updated again Friday evening

A body called Christian Research has made a number of claims that have been reported by newspapers:

The Times Ruth Gledhill Churchgoing on its knees as Christianity falls out of favour and also commentary at God-shaped hole will lead to loss of national sense of identity.

Daily Telegraph George Pitcher Practising Muslims ‘will outnumber Christians by 2035’

Daily Mail Ben Clerkin ‘More practising Muslims than Christians in Britain by 2035’

But are these claims true? And why are quotation marks used in the headlines?

The Church of England issued a statement Latest Religious Trends publication ‘flawed and dangerously misleading’. This says:

…Across Christian denominations and other faiths, the research does not compare like with like. The number of active Muslims, for example, is an estimated projection based on halving the number of people who said they were Muslim at the last national government census in 2001. The same process for those who said they were Christian at the last census would yield about 20 million active Christians of whom around 14 million are active Anglicans (based on recent national surveys).

Instead, this research estimates Christian ‘membership’ using, for example, the number of adults on the Church of England’s local parish based formal voting lists as the sole measure of its active ‘members’. Huge numbers of people worshipping every week and involved in their churches in all sorts of other ways are consequently missed…

David Keen has a blog post Why Christian Research is Wrong and Dave Walker has more at Is the church in decline?

Update Thursday evening

Andrew Brown has published an article on Comment is free titled Prayers for the fearful in which he criticises this research:

…These extrapolations are all based on present trends continuing, which tells us that they are certainly wrong. It is an absolutely safe bet that society will have changed drastically in the next 40 years and in ways that we can’t foresee. Present trends will not continue. They may get worse, of course, for Christianity, but I doubt it.

The real lesson of these figures is not that the Church of England may cease to exist, or even that Islam is on the rise. It is that religion does not exist as a distinct mode of thought or existence. Religious allegiance is not a matter of theology; it’s not even, really, a matter of spirituality.

What really drives it is its function of ritualising and dramatising moral values and stories about society. This means that any church, any mosque, and so on, serves as a focus for a particular community and is embedded with all sort of extra-religious cultural assumptions and practices. If the community disappears, so does the church. The community will disappear when it no longer has an economic or political function and when the cost of membership seems to exceed the benefits…

And now, the author of the original research is disputing the Ruth Gledhill article:

The Times has ran a double page feature from Ruth Gledhill on declining church attendance, and compares it to the rising number of Muslims and Hindus attending worship. Benita Hewitt is the new director of Christian Research Association, whose Religious Trends have been quoted, describes the article as very misleading. Church attendance once a week is compared to mosque attendance once a year, and no allowance has been made for once a month, once a year, midweek and FX church attendance…

Update Friday morning

David Keen has drawn attention in the comments to this sample article featured in the March 2008 issue of Quadrant, which contains data that doesn’t match the newspaper reports. See David’s own blog article about this here.

Update Friday evening

Ruth Gledhill has posted Latest religious trends which includes two tables taken from the report (click on the tables to enlarge them). See also the comments to this blog article for more information.

Letters to The Times can be found here.

Dave Walker has obtained more comment from Benita Hewitt which is available here.


Prayers for Burma

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has written to the Anglican church in Burma following the devastation of Cyclone Nargis in the area of the Irrawaddy River Delta.

See statement from Lambeth Palace here, and for background links to relief agencies, see the ACNS copy here.

In the letter to Archbishop Stephen Than Myint Oo, Dr Williams assures the church of the prayers of the Anglican Communion and commends the rescue operation now underway:

“I am heartened to know relief efforts are underway to help hundreds of thousands of people who are without clean water, food, or shelter. Our hearts grieve with all those who have lost their loved ones, their homes and their livelihoods. In the face of such loss, all I can offer in my prayers for you is the totality of the love of God, even in the face of all that on earth is disfigured by natural disaster. ‘This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.’ (John 6.39). Please be assured that your brothers and sisters across the Communion are holding you in their prayers.”

The Anglican church in Burma is known as the Church of the Province of Myanmar. Its leader is The Most Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo, Archbishop of Myanmar & Bishop of Yangon.

Update from the Anglican Church of the Province of Myanmar


Zimbabwe: more statements

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA has issued a statement about Zimbabwe. See ENS Presiding Bishop’s statement on the Zimbabwe crisis.

For earlier statements see here and earlier ACNS had Archbishop Thabo Makgoba calls for UN arms embargo on Zimbabwe.

Also, USPG: Anglicans in World Mission has issued a statement, see ACNS Anglican Church in Zimbabwe is making a difference:

USPG: Anglicans in World Mission, has been heartened by the response to the call to prayer issued for (27th April 2008) by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

The Rt Revd Michael Doe, General Secretary of USPG today said: “USPG: Anglicans in World Mission, as the principal Anglican agency working in the Dioceses of Zimbabwe, has been overwhelmed by the response individuals, parishes and Dioceses are making to the call to prayer.

“We’d like to follow up the Archbishops’ call to ask for the prayers of individuals for the specific needs of those dioceses, and to share some of the good work that is continuing there. USPG has continued to stand by the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe, and its steadfastness is an example to us all…”

And ENS also has Zimbabwe Anglicans face ‘communist-style’ persecution, says bishop.


Pittsburgh comes to Lambeth

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has issued an announcement Pittsburgh Bishops to Attend Lambeth Conference.

Bishops Robert Duncan and Henry Scriven confirmed today that they will be attending both the Global Anglican Future Conference in Jordan and Jerusalem in June and the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in Kent, England, this July and August.

“After consulting with the people of Pittsburgh and our friends around the globe, we have come to the conclusion that it is necessary for us to be present at both gatherings,” said Bishop Robert Duncan.

The Global Anglican Future Conference is focused on moving forward with the work and witness of the church even as the crisis in the Anglican Communion over discipline and biblical authority continues. It brings together hundreds of bishops who have, as a matter of conscience, decided not to attend the Lambeth Conference, as well as other bishops who believe that global partnerships and the current conflicts necessitate their presence at both meetings. Among those going to Jerusalem and Jordan are many of the strongest supporters of orthodox Anglicans in North America. “We will be among friends, focused squarely on the Gospel, and dealing openly with how we build the missionary relationships, covenantal boundaries and responsible structures for the future of Anglicanism,” said Bishop Duncan.

Bishops Duncan and Scriven will then join some six-hundred bishops and archbishops (about two-thirds of all Anglican bishops) who will be attending the Anglican Communion’s once-a-decade Lambeth Conference of Bishops. “Given the expense and the stated-intent of the Archbishop of Canterbury that Lambeth can no longer be considered a decision making council of the church, choosing to be present was not easy,” said Bishop Duncan. In an effort to limit costs connected to the meeting, an estimated $12,000 per attending bishop and spouse for the entire two-and-a-half week Lambeth Conference, Bishop Duncan will attend July 16-25 and Bishop Scriven will attend July 26 – August 3.

Both bishops believe it is important that the diocese be represented throughout the Lambeth Conference, if for no other reason than to provide an alternative perspective on the situation in The Episcopal Church. “Those who accuse us of abandoning the Anglican Communion will certainly be present and vocal. It is important for us to be able to respond directly to their claims about the situation in The Episcopal Church and our place in the Communion,” added Bishop Duncan. As with the Global Anglican Future Conference, both Pittsburgh bishops will also work to strengthen missionary partnerships with bishops from every corner of the world.

Bishop Scriven asked that Pittsburgh Episcopalians pray for both meetings. “We hope that many join us in praying for God’s clear presence and guidance in the Holy Land and Canterbury. With God, all things are possible,” he said.


Canadian developments

Updated Tuesday evening

In Ontario, the civil court has ruled that church buildings must be shared pending the outcome of litigation.

Canadian Press Breakaway Anglicans to share churches with diocese, Ont. judge rules

Hamilton Spectator Anglican churches awarded joint custody

Toronto Globe & Mail Diocese, parishes to share churches

The Anglican Network in Canada issued a press release, which appears on the sydneyanglicans site, Parishioners disappointed by court decision.

Earlier, in Alberta the Diocese of Athabasca passed resolutions supporting Canadian breakaway churches. The Anglican Journal reported that:

The archbishop of Athabasca has issued a letter confirming his diocese’s commitment to the Canadian church and the Anglican Communion after its synod passed motions supporting churches that have left the Anglican Church of Canada and criticizing bishops who have gone to court over property issues…

Updates about Niagara
The Diocese of Niagara has issued this press release (PDF).

The court decision is available here (PDF).

The Anglican Church of Canada also has a press release.

The Anglican Journal has Churches must share buildings with Niagara diocese, court rules.

And there is a later Canadian Press report Breakaway Niagara Anglican churches consider appealing order to share with diocese.


Canterbury visits Rome

Updated Tuesday evening

The Lambeth Palace press release was titled Archbishop to convene the 7th Building Bridges seminar in Rome.

Reuters reported it as Pope discusses Islam relations with Anglican head.

Vatican Radio had an interview: Pope Meets with Head of Anglican Communion.

The entire interview (8 minutes) can be downloaded from here. This is worth listening to in full.


The Guardian has Vatican lends hand to Williams in battle to shore up Anglican unity.

Update Tuesday afternoon
Another Lambeth Palace press release is headed Archbishop – ‘friendly meeting’ with Pope Benedict and this page, headed Interview with Vatican Radio in Rome, links to a shorter audio recording and transcript of what was actually broadcast.

See also Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Benedict discuss ecumenical, Muslim-Christian relations from ENS and Archbishop of Canterbury – ‘friendly meeting’ with Pope Benedict from ACNS. $5 minimum deposit casino canada

Tuesday evening
There is also this report in the Catholic Herald based on an interview with Cardinal Kasper, and this interpretation of it by Ruth Gledhill.


Religious faith and human rights

Last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury delivered a lecture at the London School of Economics. The title was Religious faith and human rights.

You can read the full text of the lecture here.

Natalie Hanman has written at Comment is free about this lecture. Her article is titled Cross purposes. In the article she asks which comes first: gender equality before the law, or religious liberty?

This article also explains about the current UK legislation imposing a “public sector equality duty” and the proposals to extend this duty into more areas.


opinions for Ascensiontide

Jonathan Sacks writes in The Times Teach your children well the power of Passover.

Steve Parish writes about zeal for the social Gospel in the Guardian’s Face to faith column.

Christopher Howse writes about Furnishings that cost Laud’s life in the Daily Telegraph.

In the Church Times Giles Fraser writes about how The battle of good and bad religion hots up.

Over on Comment is free Riazat Butt writes about Our dirty little secret.


women as bishops: two opinion items

Theo Hobson wrote on Comment is free that

Church reformers must come to terms with the fact that it is a fundamentally reactionary institution…

Read O thou great irredeemable.

Andrew Brown wrote on helmintholog a piece unhelpfully titled Anglican Anorak post. It is in fact a discussion of the Manchester report including this:

The real story is that the ordination of women priests was bought on credit, and the church can’t ever pay down more than the interest on the bill. When women priests were ordained, the Church of England was only held together, to the extent that it was, by both sides making solemn promises that they didn’t believe they would ever be called on and had no real intention of delivering. In particular, the supporters of women priests solemnly promised that there would always be an honoured place for their opponents within the church, even though they thought of the arrangements as entirely transitional; in return the opponents solemnly declared that women priests were legally and validly priests, even though they did not believe this could possibly be true. They still don’t.


West Africa speaks up

ACNS has published a Statement by the Church of the Province of West Africa on the state of the Anglican Communion.

The Church of the Province of West Africa (Anglican Communion) meeting in Douala, Cameroon, on the 11th day of April, in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Eight, having considered very carefully, among other pressing and very important issues, the current general state of the Anglican Commuion in the light of same – sex relationship receiving official recognition and approval by some dioceses and provinces, an issue which is seriously threatening the unity of the Communion, do hereby make the following statement:

1 i. That we are resolved to continue to be in communion with the See of Canterbury as we unequivocally and unambiguously remain in the Anglican Communion.

ii. In this regard, we reiterate the resolution of Anglican Consultative Council, Hong Kong, August 2002 in response to Archbishop George Carey’s urging that dioceses “that are considering matters of faith and doctrine that could affect the unity of the Communion to consult widely in their provinces, and beyond before final decisions are made or action is taken.”

iii. We affirm the importance of showing concern and regard to the rest of the Communion.

2. We, however, out rightly condemn and reject the unacceptable action of some of the members of the Communion in the blessing and formal acceptance of same-sex marriages and relationships, the appointment, election and ordination to ecclesiastical offices of those persons who openly admit and declare that they are homosexuals and lesbians (cf Romans 1:26-27). That such practices of some of the members of our Communion do exist and that they are to be treated pastorally, we deny not. However, that they be given official recognition and acceptance by the Church of God as a standard form of life is quite another stand which we cannot and dare not accept.

3. We reiterate that while we remain members of the Communion, we shall continue to abhor such practices and, therefore, appeal to those members to reconsider their actions in the light of Biblical Teachings and Christian Principles.

4. We wish to commend the Leadership of the Anglican Communion for all the efforts being made in the face of many challenges to keep the Communion intact just as our forebears did down the ages in the midst of numerous controversies.

5. We further urge all members of the Communion to tread very cautiously in these trying and challenging moments of our existence even as we each try hard to uphold the beliefs and practices of the Anglican Communion especially as have been espoused by various Gatherings and recognized Organs which symbolize instruments of Unity within the Communion, and we do urge all to “make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:3)

6. In a debate, name-calling should be avoided. Reducing the conversation to Liberals versus Conservatives is not helpful; it only adds fuel to an already inflamed situation.


Covenant flow charts

If you think that some of the Manchester report’s proposals are complicated, then try this.

Paul Bagshaw has prepared diagrams to show how the proposals in the Appendix to the St Andrew’s Draft of the Anglican Covenant might work.

See them here (PDF).


women as bishops: Church Times explains

Two articles by Pat Ashworth in today’s Church Times set out to explain what the Manchester report really says. See

Women bishops: choose path you want, says group

Manchester report: the conclusions summarised


bishops interviewed

The Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone Gregory Venables is interviewed by Ruth Gledhill. See Archbishop Greg: ‘Why I’ll be at Lambeth’.

The Bishop of New Hampshire is also interviewed by Ruth Gledhill. See Lambeth: Bishop Gene and Bishop Greg.

Update Friday morning
Not only is Bishop Venables coming to Lambeth, but so also is the Bishop of Fort Worth, see this announcement.