Thinking Anglicans

Toronto: Same-sex Unions

The bishops of the Diocese of Toronto are proposing to respond pastorally in the matter of committed same-sex relationships.

See the press announcement: Bishops propose pastoral response to committed same-sex relationships.

See the Draft Discussion Document for Consultation (PDF).

The press statement includes:

The bishops’ proposal in offering a pastoral response is as follows:

  • Episcopal permission be given to a limited number of parishes, based on Episcopal discernment, to offer prayers and blessing (but not the nuptial blessing) to same-sex couples in stable, long-term, committed relationships, as an extension of the current pastoral norms.
  • Episcopal guidelines on the nature of the prayers/blessing will be established. A particular rite will not be authorized.
  • Episcopal permission for blessings will be required.
  • Evaluation of this pastoral response will be undertaken after one year.
  • No parish or clergy will be required to participate.
  • A Bishop’s Commission will be formed to create the guidelines, monitor activity and review.

Episcopal Church response to Covenant

The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church has published its latest response to the St Andrew’s Draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

The response is in a PDF file available here.

There is also a covering press release. Some excerpts:

[Episcopal News Service — Stockton, California] The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council said January 30 that the church “remains committed to the Communion-wide process of conversation towards an Anglican covenant.”

“At the same time, TEC wants to emphasize that matters of moral authority and interdependence amongst churches result from mutuality, not regulation,” the council wrote its response to the St. Andrew’s Draft of the proposed covenant.

“Care needs to be taken that our conversations around an Anglican covenant do not draw us necessarily toward a hierarchical model of a church union or even the perception of Anglicanism as a singular global church,” the response said…

…Council’s covenant response reiterates the Episcopal Church’s stance that participation in the covenant development process “does not implicitly commit” the church to ultimately approving a covenant. And it makes clear that only the General Convention can sign the church onto such a document. It predicts that such approval would not come until at least 2012 and not until at least 2015 if such approval was deemed to require changes to the Episcopal Church’s constitution…

…In response to the Joint Standing Committee’s question about what changes are needed in the St. Andrew’s Draft, the council offered nearly five pages of section-by-section comments. It raised the most concern over the process (that begins to be described in Section 3.2.5) to be employed when any proposed or enacted measures at the provincial or local level “are deemed to threaten the unity of the Communion and the effectiveness or credibility of its mission.”

Calling it “the most problematic section,” the response said the process that involves consultation, mediation, and communion-wide evaluation is “overly juridical.” The council said that from the time an Anglican covenant was proposed in an appendix to the 2004 Windsor Report, there has been a movement “calling for the beginnings of inter-Anglican canon law or, if not that, inter-Anglican processes for negotiations and settlement of disputes and concerns.” Council summed up its comments by asking, “How does the covenant help us look like Christ?” and asked how it helps Anglicans recognize Christ in each other…

The recent Church of England response to the same draft was reported here.


opinions before Candlemas

Stephen Platten writes in The Times about Edwin Muir, in Beauty and hope born in poems of dark desolation.

Stephen Timms writes in the Guardian about Harnessing the power of faith. The full text of his speech is available from Ruth Gledhill’s blog, Labour ‘does God’ (scroll down for link to file).

John Madeley writes in the Guardian about the theology of enough.

John Barton writes in the Church Times that The BBC should not be impartial.

Giles Fraser writes in The Times about Cape Coast Castle in Cry out for mercy in the grey zone.

Paul Laity interviews Blair Worden in the Guardian about his new book The English Civil Wars, see A life in writing: Blair Worden.


General Synod – more press reports

Here is a follow-up to our first round-up of press reports on the agenda for next month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod.

First, two subscriber-only items by Bill Bowder in last week’s Church Times are now generally available.
Synod to discuss ban on BNP membership
Diocesan motion expresses concerns after Eweida case

Synod will be debating the Financial Crisis and the Recession on 12 February. A report on what effect the crisis might have on the Church itself was sent to synod members a few days ago. The Church’s own finances will be debated by the synod in July.
Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Church of England calls for increased donations as recession hits finances
Bill Bowder in the Church Times Parishes hit for millions by crunch
The Church Times also has Leader: reasons to spend fatly in the lean years
The paper GS Misc 913 Financial Prospects for the Church of England is available here as a PDF, and also here as a web page.

One item on the synod agenda next month is a private member’s motion on church water bills. There have been several press reports on this topic recently.
Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Churches, Scout troops and sports clubs celebrate as water firm freezes ‘rain tax’
and ‘Rain tax’ means churches pay many times more than neighbouring businesses
Three items at the BBC
Churches fight drain on finances
Church begins ‘rain tax’ protest
Ministers fight church ‘rain tax’


An Issue of Biblical Proportions

I recently attended a discussion on biblical inerrancy. More precisely, the gathering in question consisted of a number of people who hold firm to the view that every part of the Bible is a literal and accurate historical document, containing teaching that cannot be questioned, and some other people whose views varied from those who valued the Bible as a holy scripture without buying into the idea of the book as a literal record of all it contained, to those who didn’t think much of it at all.

But actually no, this is not going to be a post about inerrancy or the little battles between the fundamentalists and the rest. My point here is a different one. During the conversations (or maybe I should say declarations, there wasn’t much give and take) every so often someone would quote from the Bible. And what struck me was that people were quoting from different versions and translations, some of which were familiar to me and some of which definitely were not. One person used the following quote: ‘Those who want to come with me must say no to the things they want’. I guessed that this must be from Matthew 16, but the particular form of words was entirely new to me. By googling it later I discovered that it was from a version called ‘God’s Word’, which I suspect is a paraphrase rather than a translation.

Whatever views we may have on the relative merits of this or that version of the Bible, what strikes me is that we no longer have a common language for scripture. It is not just that we have our own preferences in terms of the style and language of different translations, we also have versions that base themselves on a particular theological outlook that has helped to fashion the text (such as the New International Version).

When I was growing up there was only one Bible I would come across — the Authorised Version. At that time the New English Bible had made an appearance, but (at least in the circles I moved in) it was not normal to see it used in worship; it was more a study aid. And so my generation of young people had a significant fund of biblical passages which we could quote easily from memory.

Nowadays that is not so. Clearly part of the reason is that our society has a much more tenuous relationship with organised religion than it did back then. But I suspect that scripture is something less direct for us because, when we hear it, it can take any number of quite different forms. For a while I had begun to think that, perhaps, the New Revised Standard Version might become the dominant Bible, but I suspect this is not happening, and if I am honest, I have to admit that I am going off it somewhat; it, too, has too much of an agenda.

Maybe I am being nostalgic about something that had to come to an end anyway and that cannot be restored. But at least part of me regrets that we have lost the idea of scripture as a common property that is not just somewhere in the background but that is part of us and is, in large passages, remembered by us. I think we have lost something.


Election of Church Commissioners

This press release was issued by the Church of England yesterday.

Elections to the Church Commissioners
28 January 2009

In its current round of quinquennial elections to the Church Commissioners, the General Synod has appointed three clerical and four lay members.

They are:

House of Clergy
The Revd Canon Bob Baker
The Revd Jeremy Crocker (St Albans)
The Revd Stephen Trott (Peterborough)

House of Laity
April Alexander (Southwark)
Peter Bruinvels (Guildford)
Gavin Oldham (Oxford)
Jacob Vince (Chichester)


Four members of the House of Bishops and two Deans were duly nominated for election as Commissioners. In both cases this was the number required and it was announced in December that the following therefore stood elected to serve as Church Commissioners from 1 January 2009 – 31 December 2013:

The Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham
The Rt Revd Mike Hill, Bishop of Bristol
The Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester
The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dr Richard Chartres, Bishop of London

The Very Revd Adrian Newman, Dean of Rochester
The Very Revd Dr Christopher Hardwick, Dean of Truro

The other Church Commissioners are

The Archbishop of Canterbury (chairman)
The Archbishop of York

The three Church Estates Commissioners (appointed by Her Majesty)
Andreas Whittam Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner
Sir Stuart Bell MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner
T E H Walker, Third Church Estates Commissioner

Three people nominated by Her Majesty
R H Powers
Canon J A Spence
J Wythe

Three people nominated by the Archbishops
P Harrison QC
Peter Parker
Nicholas Sykes

Three people Nominated by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York after consultation with the Lord Mayors of the Cities of London and York and the Vice-Chancellors of Oxford and Cambridge Universities
B Carroll
Sir Robert Finch
Revd Rachel E Harrison

Ex Officio
The First Lord of the Treasury
The Lord President of the Council
The Secretary of State for the Home Department
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
The Speaker of the House of Commons
The Speaker of the House of Lords


Bishop Henry Scriven

Updated again Saturday morning

There have been several confusing reports about Bishop Henry Scriven’s status as a bishop.

ENS reported Presiding Bishop accepts two bishops’ voluntary renunciation of orders.

Religious Intelligence reported US Presiding Bishop deposes Church of England Bishop

…On Oct 16, Bishop Scriven wrote to Bishop Schori to inform her that he was returning to the Britain to take up the post of director of South American ministry for SAMS-CMS. Ordained in the Church of England, Bishop Scriven was consecrated in 1995 as Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe by Archbishop George Carey. In 2002, Bishop Scriven became the Assistant Bishop of Pittsburgh in the Episcopal Church. Following Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan’s deposition from office as Bishop of Pittsburgh on Sept 19, Bishop Scriven’s position in the US church was terminated.

In his letter, Bishop Scriven informed Bishop Schori he was returning to the UK to take up the SAMS-CMS post and had been appointed an Honorary Assistant Bishop and would be under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Oxford.

In her response of Nov 12, Bishop Schori acknowledged that Bishop Scriven was now a Bishop of the Church of England, and said she would “release you from your orders in this Church” for reasons “not effecting moral character.” Bishop Schori added that she believed “that subtlety was lost on some of our Communion partners” over her understanding of canon law, as her action would not undo the “indelible” mark of ordination, but was a housekeeping action that would end his licence to serve in the US Church.

However, before Bishop Schori’s tenure as Presiding Bishop, bishops who left the US church to serve in other provinces were not released from their orders, but transferred to other churches…

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has issued a statement:

An article that appeared on Episcopal Life Online on January 23, 2009 reported that Bishop Henry Scriven, the former Assistant Bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, had renounced his orders and that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, had accepted that renunciation. Although the article may suggest otherwise, the Standing Committee understands that this action was not in any sense a disciplinary action or an action taken because of Bishop Scriven’s support for the attempt to realign the Diocese with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

Before he relocated to England, Bishop Scriven had submitted his resignation as a member of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, inasmuch as he was planning to return to England and serve as Assistant to the Bishop of Oxford. In order to permit that, the Canons required that he be released from his orders in the Episcopal Church for reasons not affecting his moral character, which is what occurred. This is a routine way of permitting Bishop Scriven to continue his ministry. Orders in the Church themselves are indelible, but licensing is required to exercise them.

The Standing Committee gives thanks for the gracious way in which Bishop Scriven exercised his ministry in the Episcopal Church while he served here as Assistant Bishop and we hope he and his wife Catherine will visit us in the future.

Friday morning update

The Church Times has a report by Pat Ashworth ‘Really weird’, but Scriven bears no ill will on orders.

…Bishop Scriven described the letter he received in November releasing him from his orders as “really weird”. He retained it but did not respond to it. The promised certificate releasing Bishop Scriven from his orders did not reach him personally, “though, to be fair, she might have tried as I was wandering round the world,” he said on Wednesday.

The correspondence is now in the public domain. “I had no desire to publish these letters until the thing was announced but was then very happy for them to be released,” Bishop Scriven said. “Hers was a very gracious letter but I was kind of boggled by the language really. It’s two nations divided by the same language, it seems to me. I bear no ill will, and I think it’s a storm in a teacup really…

There is a further report from ENS which notes PITTSBURGH: Standing Committee acknowledges Scriven’s service to diocese.

The Anglican Communion Institute has published Is The Renunciation of Orders Routine?

Saturday update

Andrew Carey has also weighed in, see A dangerous move by the Americans.


primates meeting approaches

Updated yet again Friday afternoon

The forthcoming meeting in Alexandria, reported earlier here, starts next Sunday.

Some further reports have appeared:

Anglican Journal Marites N Sison Hiltz to update other primates on state of Canadian church

Times Online Ruth Gledhill Anglican primates to meet in Egypt

The meeting will be held at the Helnan Palestine Hotel, “a five stars deluxe hotel with a unique location on the Mediterranean Sea”.


Religious Intelligence George Conger Primates’ Meeting to avoid divisive issues

Lambeth Palace (via ACO) Archbishop of Canterbury’s visit to North Africa

Times Online Ruth Gledhill Plans for new province in US opposed by senior Anglican

Living Church George Conger Welsh Primate: New Province is ‘Total Nonsense’

Friday morning

Church Times Pat Ashworth Primates to meet in Egypt behind closed doors

…Canon Kearon confirmed on Wednesday that no paper had so far been received from the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) Primates concerning the pro posed Anglican Province in North America. A report in The Living Church this week said: “Bishop Duncan said the GAFCON Primates will present a paper and make the case of an alternative province.”

Canon Kearon emphasised that the agenda was a draft, that it was in the hands of the Primates, and was often rearranged. “We haven’t received a paper,” he said. “If it’s an application by the new entity in the US to join [the Communion] we would deal with [put ting it on to the agenda] in a business session if appropriate, but they might decide other wise if we haven’t been notified of it.”

Religion News Service Daniel Burke Anglicans Set to Consider Rival North American Church

Conservative Anglicans say they do not expect their new North American church to receive official approval from Anglican archbishops who will convene next week (Feb. 1-5) in Alexandria, Egypt.

“We do expect that our situation will be discussed,” said the Rev. Peter Frank, a spokesman for the newly established Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). “At the same time, it would be very surprising if there was some kind of quick, game-changing action.”

… To date, only five primates, most from Africa, where Anglicans lean conservative on sexual issues, have publicly sanctioned the new North American church.

Bishop Martyn Minns, a leader in ACNA, said he expects more primates to approve the rival church after it has ratified its constitution in June. “They’re going to wait until we’re up and running,” he said.

Jim Naughton, director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, said: “I don’t think there’s any chance of two-thirds of the primates expressing desire to legitimize this thing in any capacity.”

Friday afternoon

A crucial analysis of the forthcoming meeting is in the cartoon at The Primates Meeting: How personal disorganisation is splitting the Anglican Church.


reports from Virginia

The Diocese of Virginia held its annual Council meeting yesterday. A number of resolutions were passed. They included this one:

R-4a Blessedness of Covenanted Relationships

RESOLVED, that the Diocese of Virginia recognizes our responsibility to respond to the pastoral needs of our faithful gay and lesbian members in a spirit of love, compassion and respect, and in doing so seek to fulfill our baptismal commitment to respect the dignity of every human being; and be it further

RESOLVED, that accordingly the 214th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia affirms the inherent integrity of and blessededness of committed Christian relationships between two adult persons, when those relationships are “characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God.” (Resolution 2000-D039 of the 73rd General Convention of the Episcopal Church).

Two other resolutions on related topics were not passed, but were referred to an already existing diocesan Windsor Dialogue Commission. For details of these resolutions see:
R-5: Allowing Clergy To Exercise Pastoral Care In Blessing the Unions Of Same-Gender Couples
R-6: Inclusiveness in Ordained Ministry

According to Episcopal Café another highlight of the event was this:

…the longest applause came during the closing remarks of the chaplain for this year’s 214th Annual Council. Archbishop Barry Morgan, Primate of Wales, said Wales was in the same boat as The Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church and he would resist the formation of an alternative North American province with, in his words, “every fiber of my being.” The room jumped to its feet with applause and cheering.

The report of the Windsor Dialogue Commission is a PDF file here. Appendices 2 and 3 contain liturgies in Thanksgiving for a Committed Relationship and for Friendship.


opinions after an inauguration

Giles Fraser wrote in the Church Times about Obama and the devil in the hole.

Jonathan Sacks wrote in The Times that Obama renews a covenant and inspires fresh hope.

Simon Barrow wrote at Ekklesia about Re-investing democracy with hope.

Comment is free had a whole week of answers to the question: Will Obama be good for religion?

At the Telegraph George Pitcher had opinions on the inauguration speech, Barack Obama inauguration: God knows His place, and also on the accompanying deluge of prayers, We British pray better than Americans.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, Karen Pollock writes in the Guardian about antisemitism, in Face to Faith.


two American news items

Updated Sunday lunchtime

First, George Conger reports in the Church of England Newspaper that those Brazilians, who earlier had affiliated with the Province of the Southern Cone, have now decided to migrate to the new grouping being formed in North America. See Brazilian diocese links with the Americans.

The synod of the Diocese of Recife has voted to leave the shelter of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone and affiliate with the third province movement in North America.

At its Dec 4-6 meeting in Jaboatão dos Guararapes the ex-Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) diocese voted to join with the ex-Episcopal Church dioceses of Pittsburgh, Quincy, Fort Worth and San Joaquin, along with a number of continuing American and Canadian Anglican and African-led jurisdictions, to form the new province.

The move from the Southern Cone to the third province will take place in June at the Anglican Church in North America’s founding convocation in Fort Worth…

Update Sunday
Anglican Mainstream has published this Important correction from Diocese of Recife which says this is not correct.

It was a surprise to all of us from the Diocese of Recife to read the title and the internal affirmation of the article “The Synod of the Diocese of Recife has voted to leave the shelter of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone and affiliate with the third province movement in North America”. We had no debate or deliberation in the Synod of this subject…

Second, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Morgan Stanley has frozen the accounts of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh because it is unsure who should be allowed to access them. See Schism causes Morgan Stanley to freeze Episcopalian accounts.

Financial services firm Morgan Stanley has frozen the accounts of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh because it is unsure who should be allowed to access them.

In a letter Jan. 13, the firm said it would not allow any further distributions until it received a court order listing those authorized to use the accounts…

Related to this, the diocese has published Information On Recent Court Filings by Southern Cone Group.

On January 20, 2009, the attorneys for former Bishop Duncan and other former leaders of the Diocese who now regard themselves to be affiliated with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone filed three motions with the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County seeking to oppose the “Request to Special Master” that had been filed jointly by the Diocese and Calvary Episcopal Church on January 8, 2009…


General Synod agenda – press reports

The Church Times has published a detailed report by Margaret Duggan on next month’s General Synod Agenda Financial crisis and ARCIC report feature on Synod agenda

One item was picked up by the secular press.
The Guardian Church of England may ban clergy from joining BNP
Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Vicars could be banned from membership of British National Party

And then there are two reports on an item that will not be debated this time because of a lack of interest from synod members:
Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Fix date of Easter to prevent ‘confusion and disruption’ over holidays, says clergyman
Steve Doughty in the Mail Church of England clerics want Easter date fixed for every year



It took my daughter, who tells me she no longer believes in God, to pick up on the unthinking and unchristian words coming out of my mouth. I was deploring the death of ‘innocent civilians’ in Gaza. Of what possible relevance was their innocence to the value of their life? she enquired. How many in that literally bloody mess could possibly refrain from hatred of Israel, and the desire to break its iron grip? How many who were offered the chance to strike at Israel would resist the temptation, and how could peace ever be reached while we took this into consideration. Guilt and innocence are too often mere matters of chance in such a situation.

And she is right. The sight of children killed by adults is an outrage and a horror. That does not mean that there are clear divisions into guilty and innocent. The secular world likes the idea that some are guilty, some innocent, and it has responded to the outrage of Gaza with a concept of ‘proportionality’. Gaza is wrong because it is disproportionate. A disproportionate number of the innocent are suffering. No Christian believes themselves innocent. Each believes they must offer unconditional forgiveness to those who injure them, that they must forgive and rebuild relationships of all kinds on the knowledge of this guilt in themselves and others. Our faith offers a way out of conflict by accepting pain and allowing it to die with us, or rather to die in our God. We are committed to a path where we suffer and forgive, and leave justice to God. There is no proportionality in such a path. There is no proportionality in God’s love for us, either.

Proportionality ought to be a taboo word to those whose founder roundly condemned seeking an eye for an eye. Proportionality is another word for a childish desire for ‘tit for tat’. I am liable be told that this is high minded nonsense, and that in international situations we must lay to one side our faith and our ideals, and be practical. I make two answers.

The first is that ‘proportionality’ is doomed to failure. While extremists on either side can derail any possible peace process by a single act of outrageous violence, which is liable to create a proportionate response, there can never be peace. Peace can come only when one side, or better, both sides, can swallow outrage and not react to it.

The second, I make in the words of President Obama, in his inauguration speech. ‘We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.’ He is right. If our ideals are true, and if our faith is right, we cannot expect any other path to succeed. We Christians have to believe, and I write ‘have to’ advisedly, that Jesus’s core teaching is right for us, and for everybody. If this is God’s world, where we are to work his will, no other path will arrive at his destination. The only safety lies in our being prepared to offer his advice to others, and to live it ourselves.


CofE and the Covenant

The Church of England General Synod will be considering the Covenant again in February.

The two relevant documents are:

GS 1716 Anglican Covenant available here as a PDF, and also here as a web page.

GS Misc 910 The Governance of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion by Colin Podmore, available here as a PDF, and also here as a web page.

Last November, Mr Justin Brett asked a (written, electronic) Question, which is reported here:

Mr Justin Brett (Oxford) to ask the Secretary General:

Q2. What research has been undertaken to establish the effect of the Church of England’s participation in an Anglican Communion Covenant upon the relationship between the Church of England and the Crown, given the Queen’s position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and the consequent tension between her prerogative and the potential demands of a disciplinary process within the proposed Covenant?

Mr William Fittall to reply as Secretary General:

A. The Church of England response of 19 December 2007 to the initial draft Covenant noted on page 13 that ‘it would be unlawful for the General Synod to delegate its decision making powers to the primates, and that this therefore means that it could not sign up to a Covenant which purported to give the primates of the Communion the ability to give ‘direction’ about the course of action that the Church of England should take.’ The same would be true in relation to delegation to any other body of the Anglican Communion. Since as a matter of law the Church of England could not submit itself to any such external power of direction, any separate possible difficulties in relation to the Royal Prerogative could not in practice arise.

There is no reference in the new report to the point raised in this Q and A.

The report indicates that the House of Bishops believes the process of adoption of the Covenant should not involve the passing of any Measure or Canon, but rather the passing of a Synod resolution which should then be formally declared to be an Act of Synod. It also considers that such a resolution would most likely be both Article 7 and Article 8 business, and thus would require referral to the dioceses.

The Church of England’s earlier response to the (then) draft Covenant can be found here. The full text is available in html here.

The Church Times reported last year’s debate: Anglican Covenant: New Covenant draft welcomed more warmly.

The voting result at that time was reported here.


General Synod Papers

Updated Tuesday 27 January and Thursday 29 January

Most papers for next month’s meeting of General Synod are now online. Links will be added to the list below as the remainder become available.


Special Agenda I – Legislative Business

Papers for debates

The scheduled day for debate is appended.

GS 1642B Draft Amending Canon No. 28 [Tuesday]
GS 1642C Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Tuesday]
GS 1642Z Report by the House of Bishops

GS 1683B Draft Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1683Z and Report by the Steering Committee

GS 1692A Draft Vacancies in Suffragan Sees and Other Ecclesiastical Offices Measure [Thursday]
GS 1693A Draft Crown Benefices (Parish Representatives) Measure [Thursday]
GS 1692-3Y Report by the Revision Committee

GS 1699 Revised Forty-Third Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Wednesday]
First Notice Paper

GS 1707 Women in the Episcopate [Wednesday]
GS 1708 Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure [Wednesday]
GS 1709 Draft Amending Canon No. 30 [Wednesday]
GS 1710 Illustrative Code of Practice
GS 1708-10X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1712 Report by the Business Committee [Monday]

GS 1713 Church as Communion [Monday]

GS 1714 Review of Constitutions [Tuesday]

GS 1715 Ecclesiastical Fees (Amendment) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1715X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1716 Anglican Covenant [Thursday]

GS 1717 Church of England Funded Pensions Scheme (Debt Apportionment) (Amendment) Rules 2008 [Thursday]
GS 1717X Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1718 Church of England Funded Pensions Scheme (Exclusion of ineligible Persons) (Amendment) Rules 2008 [Thursday]
GS 1718X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1719 Implications of the Financial Crisis and the Recession [Thursday]

GS 1720 Inter Faith: Presence and Engagement [Thursday]

GS Misc 898 revised and GS Misc 898A Revised Diocesan Synod Motion: Voice of the Church in Public Life [Tuesday]
GS Misc 903A and GS Misc 903B Private Member’s Motion: Membership of Organisations which Contradict the Duty to Promote Race Equality [Tuesday]
GS Misc 904A and GS Misc 904B Private Member’s Motion: Church Water Bills [Wednesday]
GS Misc 905A and GS Misc 905B Uniqueness of Christ in Multi-Faith Britain [Wednesday]
GS Misc 906A and GS Misc 906B Diocesan Synod Motion: Human Trafficking [Wednesday]
GS Misc 907A and GS Misc 907B Diocesan Synod Motion: The Future of Church of England Retreat Houses [Thursday]
GS Misc 908A and GS Misc 908B Diocesan Synod Motion: Justice and Asylum Seekers [Friday]
GS Misc 909A and GS Misc 909B Diocesan Synod Motion: Climate Change and the Church’s property [Friday]
GS Misc 911A and GS Misc 911B Eucharistic Worship for Young People [contingency business]

Other papers circulated to members of the General Synod

GS Misc 900 The 36th Report of the Central Stipends Authority 2008
GS Misc 902 Update on Forecast Archbishops’ Council Expenditure 2008
GS Misc 910 The Governance of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion
GS Misc 912 Moral, But No Compass A Report to the C of E from the Von Hugel Institute Background paper from the Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, Bishop for Urban Life and Faith
GS Misc 913 Financial Prospects for the Church of England
GS Misc 914 Activities of the Archbishops’ Council
GS Misc 915 Reflections on how Decisions are Made

A Church of England Approach to the Unique Significance of Jesus Christ A paper prepared by Dr Martin Davie for the Theological Group of the House of Bishops


Are senior CofE bishops conservatives?

Andrew Brown thinks they are. Read his blog article, The conservatives take over the asylum, and the comments there.

The items to which this refers are:


General Synod – February 2009

The General Synod of the Church of England will meet in London from 9 to 13 February 2009. The following press release was issued a short time ago.

NEWS from the Church of England



General Synod: February 2009

Key debates on the international financial crisis, women bishops, the Anglican Covenant, human trafficking, asylum, Anglican-Roman Catholic relations and inter faith relations

Major debates concerning the Church’s ministry and relations with other Churches, the financial crisis and the Church’s engagement with wider society will be on the agenda at the General Synod when it meets at Church House, Westminster from Monday to Friday, 9-13 February. The Synod will be debating a considerable amount of legislative business, including the first consideration stage of the draft women bishops legislation.

The International Financial Crisis
The Synod agenda provides opportunities for members to reflect on the international financial crisis and the recession. On the Tuesday afternoon, Andreas Whittam Smith (First Church Estates Commissioner) will facilitate presentations from and engage in dialogue with Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach and the Rt Revd Peter Selby. This will be an opportunity for the Synod to hear about and discuss with the two speakers the reasons for the crisis and its wider implications.

Brian Griffiths has been Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs International since 1991 and a member of the Board since 2007. He was from 1984 to 1990 Head of Mrs Thatcher’s Policy Unit at No 10 Downing Street. He is the author of a number of books and. since 1997, has been Chairman of the Lambeth Fund. Peter Selby was, until 2007, Bishop of Worcester and a member of the Church Commissioners’ Assets Committee. He has been a member of the Doctrine Commission and has written on the subject of faith and economics.

On the Thursday afternoon there will be a debate, introduced by the Archbishop of York, examining the challenges and opportunities for the Church’s mission and ministry in communities that the international financial crisis and recession presents.

Women Bishops
Last July, the Synod agreed that draft legislation be prepared, including special arrangements for those who would not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops (or priests) in a statutory national code of practice. The Women Bishops Legislative Drafting Group (chaired by the Bishop of Manchester) has completed its work on this basis and the Synod will be giving First Consideration to the draft legislation required to admit women to the episcopate.

It will not be possible to move amendments to the draft legislation at this Group of Sessions; the issue before the Synod will be whether to agree that the draft Measure and draft Amending Canon be referred for consideration by a Revision Committee. (See PR103/08 at

Anglican Covenant
The Churches of the Anglican Communion were asked in March 2008 if they were able, in principle, to commit to the Covenant process and to say if there were any elements which in their view would need extensive change in order to make viable the process of adoption by their Synods. The General Synod will consider a take note motion, moved by the Bishop of Rochester on behalf of the House of Bishops, on a report from the House, to which is attached a draft Church of England response to these questions. The draft response welcomes the direction of travel of the Covenant while flagging up a number of points which still require attention.

Anglican-Roman Catholic Relations
The Synod will be addressed on its first day by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster. His address, together with an introduction by the Archbishop of Canterbury, will provide an opportunity for the Synod to reflect on relations between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. This will lead to a debate, requested by the Synod, on the report by the Second Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission on Church as Communion.

Inter Faith Relations
The Synod will consider a Private Member’s Motion from Mr Paul Eddy, which asks the House of Bishops to report to the Synod on their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in a multi-faith society and to offer examples of good practice in sharing the gospel of salvation through Christ alone with people of other faiths and of none.

The Synod will also be considering the inter faith and engagement programme which it launched in July 2005 when it also set up a task group, chaired by the Bishop of Bradford. This second debate provides the Synod with an opportunity to take note of what has been achieved so far and the work that is proposed for the next phase of the Presence and Engagement programme

The Church in Public Life
There are three Diocesan Synod Motions particularly concerned with the Church’s engagement in wider society. The first, from Chester, is wide ranging in its concern about the role of the Church in civic society and asks the divisions of the Archbishops’ Council to report to the Synod on their work to foster a clearer understanding of the Christian faith among the institutions and organizations of society, and to reinforce the claims of the Church to take its place in public life.

The second motion, which has been passed in identical terms by the Newcastle and Winchester Diocesan Synods, urges the Church of England to deplore the continuing evil of human trafficking, to support the work of those who seek to end human trafficking and to rescue those trapped in it, and also to support the implementation of the UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking, particularly in relation to the 2012 Olympics. The debate will be preceded by a presentation which will include an invited speaker from the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre.

The motion from the Southwell and Nottingham Diocesan Synod asks the Synod to call on the Government to ensure that the treatment of asylum seekers is just and compassionate. In particular, it calls for the conferring of a right to work on all asylum seekers, and the declaration of an amnesty for legacy cases that predate the Government’s New Asylum Model. It also asks the Government to find a practical and humane remedy to the situation of refused asylum seekers who are unable to return to their country of origin because of personal safety, health or family reasons.

A Private Member’s Motion from Ms Vasantha Gnanadoss asks the House of Bishops to formulate and implement a policy for the Church of England under which clergy, ordinands and such employed lay persons as have duties that require them to speak on behalf of the Church should not be a member of an organization whose constitution, aims, objectives or pronouncements contradict the duty to promote race equality.

Property Issues for the Church
Three motions explore different aspects of the Church’s property and resources.

The Private Member’s Motion from Mr Martin Dales expresses concern about the effect on many parish churches of the sudden and very large rises in water charges for churches in some areas. It asks the Government to remind OFWAT of its obligations to ensure that the water companies adhere to the guidance given in 2000 by the Secretary of State for the Environment not to treat all non-household customers (including places of worship) as if they were businesses.

The Worcester Diocesan Synod Motion calls on the Archbishops’ Council to conduct an urgent review of the Endowments and Glebe Measure and other church legislation, with a view to enabling diocesan bodies and PCCs, in disposing of land, to give weight to environmental as well as financial considerations, particularly in relation to cutting carbon emissions.

A motion passed in the same terms by both the Leicester and Peterborough Diocesan Synods asks the Archbishops’ Council to review and make recommendations for the future sustainability of the Church of England retreat houses, and encourages church bodies to make full use of these resources.

Other Business
The Archbishop of Canterbury will give a Presidential Address, which will include a reflection on the recent Lambeth Conference.

A report from the Standing Orders Committee proposes some adjustments to the Synod’s procedures. There will also be a presentation on some proposed changes to the constitution of bodies answerable to the Synod through the Archbishops’ Council.

Communicating Synod
Parishioners can keep in touch with the General Synod while it meets. Background papers and other information will be posted on the Church of England website ( ahead of the General Synod sessions. Audio files of debates, along with updates on the days’ proceedings will be posted during the sessions.



from the National Archives

Last week, the Church Times had a feature about theNational Archives at Kew, and the government documents that reveal the relationship between the state and the Church of England in the 20th century.

First, see Treasures buried in the archive by A.D. Harvey.

Then, read the full text of a 1960 memorandum from David Stephens, the Prime Minister’s appointments secretary, to Harold Macmillan about the filling of vacant sees.

A quiet word about the next archbishop.


Primates to meet in Alexandria

The Anglican Communion Office has issued several notices about the forthcoming meeting in Alexandria, Egypt from 1 to 5 February. See

History of the February 2009 Primates Meeting
Media Advisory on the 2009 Primates Meeting
Press Media Accreditation

Episcopal Life Online has vastly more information at Primates to address international concerns at February meeting in Alexandria, Egypt including this:

The primates will also hear an update from the Windsor Continuation Group and receive a report the group is presenting to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The group, which last met in December 2008, is charged with addressing questions arising from the Windsor Report, such as recommended bans on same-gender blessings, cross-border interventions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate.

The Living Church reports in GAFCON Primates Prepare Case for New Province that:

The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican), is involved in “an unanticipated series of consultations with the primates who originated the call” for a new Anglican province in North America, participants in an Anglican theology conference have been told.

Bishop Duncan had been scheduled to address “North American Anglicanism After GAFCON and Lambeth” at the Mere Anglicanism conference in Charleston, S.C. Instead, the Very Rev. William McKeachie, dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul which is the conference location, read a letter from Bishop Duncan. He said that following consultations about the proposed new province between Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and members of the GAFCON primates’ steering committee in London last month, Archbishop Williams had asked that a paper be prepared setting out the situation and the hopes for a new structure. The Archbishop invited the primates to forward the case to the Anglican Consultative Council along with their comments.

Bishop Duncan said the GAFCON primates will present the paper and make the case for an alternate province during the primates’ meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, next month…

Dave Walker’s cartoon at the time of the last primates meeting can be seen here.


columns for thought

Giles Fraser wrote in the Church Times about his visit to Ghana, see Being canny in the raw church. For a picture of this event, see the piece at the Telegraph by Jonathan Wynne-Jones Pro-gay vicar of Putney made an African canon.

George Pitcher writes in the Telegraph that Barack Obama’s faith, like Lincoln’s, is uncertain.

In the Guardian Ali Eteraz writes that The inauguration of Barack Obama will be a secular hajj for America’s collective redemption.

Nick Jowett writes in The Times about the Week of Christian Unity, see we must keep our eye on the pearl of great price.

Mark Vernon writes at Ekklesia on Making sense of Charles Darwin.

Back at the Telegraph Michael Portillo writes The British state mustn’t let go of the church.

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