Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Edinburgh on "Approaching Lambeth"

The Diocese of Edinburgh has launched a new website today. It contains a lecture given by the Bishop of Edinburgh on 17 June concerning current conflicts in the Anglican Communion.

The prefeace to the address reads:

This address was given to members of the Diocese of Edinburgh on 17 June 2008. Drawing upon earlier addresses and Bible studies given in the diocese, it argues that the church should allow the category of ‘the tragic’ to shape its perspective on the world, and should place more emphasis on what is highlighted as ‘ethical transcendence’ in its understanding of God. Doing this creates the possibility of articulating a circumscribed and limited pluralism, totally different from simple relativism. The paper concludes by suggesting that much in current approaches to Anglican difficulties rests upon a too limited approach to the doctrine of the Trinity. The heart of the paper is a plea that Anglicanism recaptures elements in the traditions which lie at the heart of its life, brings them to the fore and addresses our current disputes in their light.

The address appears in the ‘News’ section of the website. Or you can download it directly as a pdf or Word file.


Pittsburgh: a new corporation formed

Episcopal News Service has Bishop gets state approval for new corporation.

Bishop Robert Duncan has established this new corporation. He initiated this action some eighteen months ago.

The Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church, Harold Lewis has written all about this in his newsletter. Read the full details here (PDF).


GAFCON: Monday evening

Dave Walker continues to round up the links about GAFCON at the Church Times blog.

Andrew Brown wrote about it, at Comment is free in The Anglican culture wars.

Jonathan Wynne-Jones wrote at the Telegraph that The conservative Church’s desperation to stop the liberal tide could be damaging.

Martin Beckford wrote there also, from Jerusalem, Gafcon: Hardline Anglicans to split church over homosexual clergy.

Iain Baxter’s latest report is below the fold.

Ruth Gledhill has written about him here, in a post with an improbable title.



GAFCON: press conference transcript

Iain Baxter has provided a full transcript of the responses of Archbishops Peter Akinola of Nigeria and Henry Orombi of Uganda, and also of Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia to questions concerning homophobia asked at the GAFCON press conference yesterday. This is reproduced below the fold.



GAFCON: unheavenly silence

Comment is free has published An unheavenly silence on homophobia by Riazat Butt.

…Last night, the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, said the Gafcon movement would liberate people from religious bondage and would offer a spiritual haven for those who could not live under a “revisionist leadership”. It sounds appealing to the millions of Anglicans disillusioned with western churches. But a press conference revealed acute differences of opinion between the bishops, especially, and most worryingly, on the subject of raping and torturing homosexuals.

A question from Iain Baxter, a media representative from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, aroused expressions of disbelief and outright denial from the primates. The name of his organisation raised a discomfiting titter. Homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya and is punishable by a fine, imprisonment or death.

Archbishops from these countries were on the panel. They said they could not influence government policy on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) legislation, nor could they condone homosexual behaviour because their churches would be shut down. They added one could not break the taboos of African society without suffering the consequences.

Presumably, these cultural constraints justify the punishment meted out to Prossy Kakooza, Baxter’s example of someone tortured because of her sexual orientation. She was arrested, marched naked for two miles to a police station, raped and beaten.

Akinola did not condemn these acts. Neither did the other African archbishops. Orombi said he had never heard of people being tortured because of their homosexuality, that when he learned about incidents – from the western media – he was at a loss to understand why he had not heard of them. He refused to accept that persecuting and torturing gay people was done openly in Uganda…

Read the whole article.


GAFCON: 'The Banned'

Ruth Gledhill reports from Jerusalem that:

The eight men and women pictured here are on the official list of those to be denied entry to Gafcon shouldthey try to show up. They are Colorado Bishop Robert O’Neill, Nigerian gay activist Davis MacIyalla being embraced by the Church of England’s Rev Colin Coward, Louie Crew, Susan Russell, Scott Gunn and Deborah and Robert Edmunds…

Read the full entry and see the picture.


Liverpool tribunal: church press reports

Religious Intelligence has Bishop of Liverpool in call to resign after tribunal ruling by Toby Cohen

Church Times has Press officer who accused bishop of lying wins case by Pat Ashworth

Earlier reports here and also here.


still more on GAFCON

Earlier reports here.

Guardian Riazat Butt Williams accused of leading church into crisis and Profile: Michael Nazir-Ali

The Guardian has also published the full text of Archbishop Akinola’s speech.

The Times Ruth Gledhill Rebel bishop accuses Dr Rowan Williams over ‘apostasy’ and on her blog, Archbishop Akinola on error and apostasy

BBC Bishops criticise Anglican leader


GAFCON starts

There are numerous reports from GAFCON. The official GAFCON site has: Archbishop Akinola’s Opening Address in full.

The subsequent news conference is reported in “We Have No Other Place to Go” – Akinola confims there is no break away. An audio clip is available. And Stand Firm has a fuller record of questions and answers.

And there is also GAFCON Leadership Meets Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem. Another version of this encounter can be found in the ENS report, Jerusalem bishop calls GAFCON participants to reconciliation, not division.

First media reports:

Reuters Ari Rabinovitch Conservative Anglicans to discuss Communion split

Jerusalem Post Matthew Wagner Anglicans gather in Jerusalem to protest secularization

BBC Robert Pigott Rival meeting deepens Anglican rift

Telegraph Martin Beckford Primate of Nigeria vows to rescue Anglican church from crisis over sexuality

In a rallying cry to the hundreds of traditionalists who have gathered in Jerusalem for a critical summit, the Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, said many in the Communion were “apostates” who were going against their religion by tolerating homosexuality.

He poured scorn on the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for his “misleading” comments on Islamic law and claimed he was not interested in what he and other African leaders had to say.

But Archbishop Akinola pledged that he would help Anglican worshippers break free from the spiritual “slavery” they had been placed in by the liberal West, and said the Gafcon conference would answer important questions about what should happen next in the church.

The Times Ruth Gledhill Rebel Anglican bishops plan refuge for orthodox views

Anglican bishops meeting in Jerusalem are planning to form a “church within a church” to counter Western liberalism and to reform the Church from within.

Senior sources told The Times that the most likely outcome of the divisions over homosexuality and biblical authority was an international “Anglican Fellowship” that would provide a home for orthodox Anglicans…

…The new fellowship could have a leadership of six or seven senior conservative bishops and archbishops, such as the Bishop of Pittsburgh, the Right Rev Bob Duncan — who chairs the US Common Cause partnership that acts as an umbrella for American conservatives — Archbishop Henry Orombi, Primate of Uganda, and the Church of England’s Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali.

The aim is not to split the worldwide Anglican Communion, which has 80 million members in 38 provinces, but to reform it from within. Formal ties would be maintained with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, but fellowship members will consider themselves out of communion with the US and Canada…

The Church Times blog has a good roundup of links here.

And Iain Baxter has emailed us a summary of the first day, which is below the fold.



more on the London church service

Riazat Butt wrote a profile of Martin Dudley for the Guardian.

Barbara Bradley Hagerty did a piece for National Public Radio Angst Bubbles in the Anglican Communion.

Barbara McMahon reported for the Guardian that Gay priests back in New Zealand after wedding row. reported that Priest’s Anglican gay marriage “not the first”.

The Times carried an article by Richard Haggis The Church of England starts at home. He argues that “The faithful in London should not allow foreign Anglican bishops to dictate how they should treat gay clergy and their civil partnerships”.


Midsummer opinions

Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times that Christians read the handwritten word differently.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about The bare and desolate SPCK bookshops.

Chris Hardwick writes in the Guardian that It’s healthy for Christians to disagree, but we really must learn to ‘quarrel peacefully’.

Also in the Guardian this week:

Rowan Williams wrote about Henry Chadwick.

Riazat Butt wrote about The ‘pope’ of hope.

Giles Fraser wrote about Me and the secular police.

And over in the Church Times he wrote about Saying ‘no’ to distant government.


Women Bishops latest

Pat Ashworth writes in today’s Church Times Synod urged in two different directions on women bishops. Two quotes from this article:

The chairman of the Catholic Group on the General Synod, the Revd Canon Simon Killwick, has described as “insulting” and “offensive” the motion on women bishops which the House of Bishops will put forward at the July sessions.

Christina Rees, who chairs Women and the Church (WATCH), described “dire predictions” of an exodus of 500 clergy if the Measure were passed unamended as “unfounded and untrue” on Tuesday.

Also in the Church Times (as already noted here) Glyn Paflin writes Women bishops issue may dominate Synod.


Church Services after Civil Partnerships

InclusiveChurch press release

Church Services after Civil Partnerships

20th June 2008

InclusiveChurch today publishes a paper by Revd Brian Lewis, a member of General Synod and of IC’s Executive Committee on the law in relation to services after Civil Partnerships. The paper demonstrates that under the laws of the Church of England – especially Canon B5 – clergy have far greater liberty in this area than is commonly thought. They are permitted to carry out services of prayer and dedication following a civil partnership so long as they are not deemed to be “Services of Blessing”. The paper is available here, or here as a PDF file.

Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of Inclusive Church, said “We very much welcome this long overdue clarification of the law. It makes the distinction between marriages and civil partnerships and sets out what is permissible within the terms of Canon B5. We hope it will be helpful for clergy wishing to provide public services which respond prayerfully and pastorally to the needs of their congregations.”

The Revd Brian Lewis makes the comparison with the Service of Prayer and Dedication following a Civil Wedding (popularly described as a “A Church Blessing”). In these services the individuals are blessed without the service becoming “a Service of Blessing”.


GAFCON: Friday update

Updated again Saturday evening

The latest official bulletin is this: Still laughing, despite GAFCON trials.

More news reports this morning:

New York Times Laurie Goodstein Conservative Anglicans Plan Rival Conference as Split Over Homosexuality Grows.

This report says that Archbishop Drexel Gomez also had a visa problem:

…The news conference was called in haste, after the conservatives abandoned a preliminary strategy session in Jordan because two of their most influential members, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, and Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies, were denied visas…

The Telegraph has Orthodox sect justified by gay clergy row, say Conservative Anglicans By Tim Butcher and Martin Beckford.

The Times has a much shorter article: Anglican conference moves to Israel after Archbishop of Nigeria ban by Ruth Gledhill.

The ENS report is headlined Conservative Anglicans, former Episcopalians arrive in Jerusalem for GAFCON.

Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press filed this: Anglican Bible conservatives hold strategy summit.

The Telegraph has another swing at GAFCON, in Hard-line bishops make a mess of it in the Holy Land by George Pitcher

And the Guardian had this in the People column.

David Van Biema in Time has Are the Anglicans About to Split? He ends up with this:

What’s more, the GAFcon conference itself has been a bit of a Keystone Kops affair. Several key conservative bishops who were slated to appear chose not to travel to the Mideast, leaving open the possibility that they will attend Lambeth instead. The group even had trouble finding a location for its conference. At first it was scheduled for Jerusalem, but then the Anglican bishop there said he had enough problems without a divisive conference on his turf. The site was switched to Jordan, but on Wednesday the Jordanian border authorities delayed Akinola and another bishop from entering the country. The reasons were not stated, but opponents suggest that the Jordanians finally caught up with some of the remarks Akinola made in Nigeria a few years ago that may have contributed to violence between Christians and Muslims.

James Naughton, a Canon with the Episcopal diocese of Washington and one of his church’s more outspoken liberals, says, “I don’t think these guys have the juice to pull off a genuine schism. I don’t think Archbishop Akinola speaks for Africa. The coalition he once touted as the ‘global south’ has shrunk to three hard-line provinces [Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda] and [some] Western culture warriors.”

Observers will be counting very carefully the number of bishops who actually shown up in Jerusalem for the conservative conference on Monday. But even if the group does not manage to force Williams’ hand in Lambeth, its statement marks a seemingly irrevocable step toward either a split or a redefined Communion that could have a huge impact on the already turbulent state of Anglican religion in the U.S.

And yet again (is this a record) the Telegraph has an article, this one is headlined Archbishop of Canterbury’s control over Anglicans ‘is ending’ by Martin Beckford.


The Living Church has Anglican Leaders Gather for Mideast Conference, in which it says:

…A conference spokesman said that contrary to some reports, Jordanian authorities did not bar two archbishops from entering the kingdom from Israel to participate in a pre-meeting planning session. The Rev. Arne Fjeldstad told the Jordan Times that Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria was not denied entry into Jordan on June 18, but that Archbishop Akinola gave up and returned to Jerusalem after remaining in bureaucratic limbo for several hours at the border.

“They claimed that, as a diplomatic passport holder, he had to give advance warning that he was coming,” Fr. Fjeldstad said, as quoted by Reuters.

Because of the densely-packed agenda, leaders decided not to delay the start of the meeting until all participants were cleared to enter Jordan, but decided to move the planning meeting to Jerusalem after they learned that additional rooms had become available there.

Peter Frank, director of communications for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, said that Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh is one of several members of the GAFCON leadership team who chose to remain in Jordan. Bishop Duncan and a handful of other participants to the Jordan portion of the meeting have decided to remain in Jordan until the scheduled end of that meeting on June 22.

“This was really not a big deal,” Mr. Frank said. “For most it meant that they went on a five-hour bus ride on one day rather than on another.”

Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone also did not attend the planning session in Jordan because he was remaining with his wife after her recent surgery. He is hoping to join the conference later in Jerusalem, Mr. Frank said.


London church service: Church Times comments

The Church Times has this news report of the matter, Archbishops reprimand priest who blessed gays by Pat Ashworth.

And it has this leader: Let no man put asunder which starts like this:

THE ARCHBISHOPS are clearly worried about how Anglicans in different provinces might interpret the recent service at St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, at which the partnership of two gay priests was celebrated. This can be the only reason they produced their brief but erroneous statement on Tuesday that clerics in the Church of England are “not at liberty simply to ignore” the Church’s teaching on sexuality, which they define, interestingly, as: the 1987 Synod motion, the 1991 Bishops’ statement Issues in Human Sexuality, the 1998 Lambeth Conference motion 1.10, and the House of Bishops’ 2005 statement on civil partnerships…

and ends like this:

…The service is [in] Smithfield is a little thing, not deserving of pronouncements by archbishops. Its only political purpose is to show the impossibility of carving up the Anglican Church into conservative and liberal provinces or dioceses. Or even parishes: some of those interviewed at St Bartholomew’s at the weekend approved of the Rector’s actions, others did not. The challenge for the Lambeth Conference, and for GAFCON before it, is to demonstrate how Christians can disagree profoundly and yet recognise the working of the Holy Spirit in those with whom they disagree.


further comment on the London church service

The New Statesman had A discreet wedding… by Brian Cathcart

The Economist has Two weddings and a divorce

America has A Turbulent Priest and the Anglican Headache by Austen Ivereigh

The Evening Standard had The Anglican ‘gay wedding’ and a distinctly turbulent priest by David Cohen

The Daily Mail had Gay priests, marrying, a smirking Prince and this insidious cult of self by Stephen Glover

1 Comment

more GAFCON reports

Reuters reports that Rebel Anglican summit hit by leader’s visa problem.

Fjeldstad said Akinola was not denied entry into Jordan but gave up after several hours’ delay at the border.

“He was kept in bureaucratic limbo,” he said. “They claimed that, as a diplomatic passport holder, he had to give advance warning that he was coming. He decided to go back to Jerusalem.”

Planned for four days, the Amman meeting “wound up early” when GAFCON leaders learned “that previously granted permission for the Jordan consultation was deemed insufficient”, Fjeldstad said in a statement late on Wednesday announcing the move.

Laurie Goodstein has Rival Conferences for Anglican Church in the New York Times. In her view, the cause of the split is not Robinson but Minns:

The conservatives decided to hold their own meeting after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, announced last year that he would not send an invitation for the Lambeth Conference to a leading conservative leader, Bishop Martyn Minns, a rector in a Virginia church who was ordained a bishop in the Church of Nigeria. The role of Bishop Minns is to minister to conservatives alienated from the Episcopal Church, but his ordination was seen by the Archbishop of Canterbury as a violation of established boundaries.

In a recent interview, Bishop Minns said of his exclusion by the Archbishop: “I didn’t’ feel it was a well-informed political move. Instead of removing the distraction, as he claimed to do, he’s actually created a massive distraction.”

The Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, declared that if Bishop Minns could not attend the Lambeth Conference, then none of his bishops would attend.

The Telegraph has a leader: The Anglican Church is divided, but not fatally.

On paper, therefore, the moment of schism in worldwide Anglicanism has arrived. Many of Gafcon’s members will boycott Lambeth, and the Archbishop of Canterbury will therefore preside over a ruptured communion. But, before Dr Rowan Williams runs up the white flag, he should take a closer look at the reality of Gafcon, as opposed to its self-important pronouncements. The truth is that the conference has so far been a shambles. Its leader, the belligerent Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, has been denied entry to Jordan. Other conservative church leaders are missing because they have chosen not to attend. Significant absentees at Gafcon include the Rt Rev John Chew, Primate of South-East Asia, and Dr Mouneer Anis, Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East and treasurer of the “Global South” group of conservative provinces. And even those leaders who are attending the conference make up a volatile compound. Gafcon, in other words, is far from the united force it claims to be, and it does not fully represent Anglicanism in the developing world.

And it also has this article by Tim Butcher in Jordan and Martin Beckford Anglican church schism declared over homosexuality.

The GAFCON document to which reference is made, entitled The Way, The Truth and The Life, is available as a PDF from this location.

Episcopal Café has some comments, on the book contents, and other aspects in GAFCON gaffes continue.

Paul Handley has a detailed discussion of this book in the Church Times at GAFCON and the parting of the ways.

And the full text of the opening plenary address that was to have been given in Jordan by Bishop Robert Duncan is available in a PDF over here.


General Synod press briefing

Updated early Friday morning to add Church Times article

The press briefing for next month’s meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England took place earlier this week.

Here is the official press release.
July Synod Briefing: Key debates on women bishops, clergy terms of service legislation, climate change, church tourism, ecumenical relations, reader ministry and parochial fees

Here are press reports, although some stray into matters not on the agenda.
Glyn Paflin in the Church Times Women bishops issue may dominate Synod
Riazat Butt in the Guardian Church leaders fear summer of strife over women and gay clergy
Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Church of England faces compensation bill over women bishops
Ruth Gledhill in The Times 500 clergy set to desert Church over ‘betrayal’ on women bishops

Here is our summary of the agenda and our list of online synod papers. The official list is here.


GAFCON: Akinola denied entry to Jordan

Ruth Gledhill reports in Akinola ‘barred’ from Jordan that Archbishop Akinola was err, barred from entering Jordan.

Sources at the conference tell me that the Nigerian delegation landed in Tel Aviv and went to the northern crossing point. Archbishop Akinola was travelling on his diplomatic passport. After being questioned for four hours, he was turned back, although the rest of the Nigerian delegation was allowed in. He got his passport back, and apparently was told that they needed a particular clearance on a diplomatic passport which he did not possess.

See also ‘Alternative Lambeth’ conference forced to move to Jerusalem.

The other main Global South leader, Archbishop Gregory Venables, is also not in Jordan because his wife is in hospital after complications following a hip operation. He is hoping to join Gafcon in Jerusalem.

US evangelical blogger David Virtue, who is in Jordan, said the Gafcon leaders were thrown into “dismay” because of Dr Akinola’s role as a key player in the conservative bid to reform the Anglican church from within.

The official GAFCON explanation of this event is here.

The pre-GAFCON preparatory consultation in Jordan wound up early, and the participants moved to Jerusalem on Thursday, 19th June. Hotel and meeting rooms previously unavailable in Jerusalem became available at the same time GAFCON leaders learned that previously granted permission for the Jordan consultation was deemed insufficient.

The time in Jordan was very valuable for prayer, fellowship, and networking. The group made pilgrimages to Mt. Nebo and the Baptism Site of Jesus. GAFCON Chairman Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, and Archbishop Greg Venables of Southern Cone, were for different reasons unable to be in Jordan. Both are, however, expected to play significant roles at GAFCON in Jerusalem.

Dave Walker reminds us of why they went to Jordan in the first place: GAFCON moves to Jordan after row.

Jim Naughton reminds us of one reason why this might have happened.

Those attending GAFCON will have this additional opportunity while in Jerusalem 🙂


reports of the Chartres letter

Guardian Riazat Butt Priest rebuked for ‘marrying’ gay vicars in church

Telegraph Martin Beckford Bishop of London issues stern rebuke to vicar who conducted gay ‘wedding’ and

Gay ‘wedding’ row reveals Church’s true source of conflict by George Pitcher

Times Ruth Gledhill on her blog has Gay blessing: ‘Four bishops in the sanctuary’

and later, Bishop of London Richard Chartres attacks gay priests’ ‘wedding’