Thinking Anglicans

Rochester: further media coverage

Updated Tuesday morning

George Conger Religious Intelligence Bishop of Rochester’s surprise resignation

…Details of Bishop Nazir Ali’s new work have not been finalized, the diocese noted, leading to speculation that the 59 year old bishop might be preparing for another role in the Anglican Communion in light of his high profile stance within the conservative wing of the church.

However, the General Secretary of the Church of Pakistan, Humphrey Peters tells The Church of England Newspaper the news of the resignation came as a surprise. “So far we have no idea nor have we heard anything from Bishop Michael Nazir Ali. But, in case he feels like working for Church in Pakistan in these most critical times, the Church will be more than happy to welcome him.”

A spokesman for the Gafcon movement, stated while its leaders were generally aware of Dr. Nazir Ali’s wish to move on, they had no specific knowledge about his Saturday announcement.

Speculation that Dr. Nazir Ali might take a leadership role in the third province movement in the US was downplayed by its leaders, who noted that there was no shortage of bishops in the breakaway group. Dr. Nazir Ali had sought out posts in the US in the past, and in 2004 explored becoming dean of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, however US sources expect the conservative leader to lend his considerable talents to the church in the developing world…

Andrew Brown Comment is free Belief What next for the Bishop of Rochester?

…His position within the diocese of Rochester had become a difficult one. A lot of his clergy were unhappy with his decision last year to boycott the Lambeth Conference, which was meant to be a gathering demonstrating the unity of the Communion’s 800 bishops around the world. In the event, something like 230 stayed away but the only English heavyweight to do so was Nazir Ali.

Signing up for a declaration that describes the Archbishop of Canterbury as an apostate for his tolerance of liberal views on homosexuality was not a way to endear himself to his colleagues, who already regarded him as vain and ambitious. But he is also consistent about his beliefs and prepared to act on them and suffer for them. As a young man in Pakistan, the son of a convert from Islam, he became the youngest Anglican bishop in the world, in a back-country diocese from which he had to be rescued, after local fundamentalists threatened to kill him and his family.

That kind of experience shaped his view of Islam in general and Pakistani peasant Islam in particular. It lay behind his claim last year that there were already “no go” areas in British cities, although he never specified where they were. It also shaped his curiously fierce monotheistic criticism of the religion. The last time we had a serious conversation, he wanted to talk about how Sufistic Islam was corrupted by its veneration of saints. He has also been unfashionably fierce in his view of Roman Catholicism as a corruption of pure Christian virtue.

I will miss him because he was one of the few principled conservative intellectuals in the House of Bishops; while I thought he was wrong about almost everything, he spoke from a lot of knowledge and a real sense of tradition…



G20: report on PPF and today's communiqué

Dave Walker has published a comprehensive report on Saturday’s events, at the Church Times blog. He concludes his report with this:

…Overall, a worthwhile event. I personally was disappointed by the turnout at the service, but it didn’t really surprise me given the lack of interest there seemed to be from Christians on blogs and social networking sites in the week leading up to it (feel free to disagree or twll me why that is in the comments below). However, the ‘Put People First’ event as a whole seemed to be well reported in the Sunday papers and appears to have done well in terms of getting its message out. Let’s hope that the G20 leaders, meeting this week, heed that message. I will be blogging from the G20 meeting – more about that in another post.

See Report from the ‘Put People First’ service and rally.

Lambeth Palace has published a communiqué from a wide range of religious leaders in Britain. See G20 leaders must not forget promises to the poor – Religious Leaders Communiqué:

We write as religious leaders who share a belief in God and the dignity of human life. We wish to acknowledge with realism and humility the severity of the current economic crisis and the sheer complexity of the global and local challenge faced by political leaders. We pray for the leaders of the G20 as they prepare to meet in London this week. They, and we, have a crucial role to play in recovering that lost sense of balance between the requirements of market mechanisms that help deliver increased prosperity, and the moral requirement to safeguard human dignity, regardless of economic or social category…


Rochester: media coverage

Updated further on Monday morning

Ruth Gledhill The Times Bishop of Rochester steps down early

Jonathan Wynne-Jones Telegraph Bishop of Rochester is stepping down

Ruth Gledhill The Times Bishop of Rochester to resign a decade early

Jonathan Wynne-Jones Telegraph Michael Nazir-Ali steps down as Bishop of Rochester

Press Association via the Guardian Controversial bishop quits Rochester diocese

Damian Thompson Telegraph The resignation of Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is a victory for Islamism

Kent Online Bishop of Rochester resigns

BBC Bishop of Rochester stands down

Jonathan Wynne-Jones Sunday Telegraph Bishop of Rochester resigns to become defender of persecuted Christians

Ruth Gledhill Sunday Times Radical bishop quits early for new mission

Sunday Times leading article A troublesome priest in a timid church

Mail on Sunday Church of England’s most outspoken and only black Bishop is to quit

Note This headline was changed some time after 8 am Sunday, but here is the evidence of the earlier version.

The new headline is Bishop Nazir-Ali, scourge of Church liberals, steps down.

Independent Bishop of Rochester retires

United Press International Pakistani bishop in England resigns

Sunday Mirror I quit: Islam row bishop headline changed to Islam row Bishop of Rochester to step down.

Associated Press of Pakistan Bishop Ali to quit his post: a report

George Pitcher Telegraph Bishop Nazir-Ali retires; a rebellion fizzles out

Riazat Butt Guardian Michael Nazir-Ali steps down to focus on helping persecuted Christians

Ekklesia Anglican bishop resigns and announces plan to support harassed Christians

Melanie Phillips Mail When a bishop has to leave the Church of England to stand up for Christians, what hope is left for Britain?
and a Mail Comment article, We’re losing our faith in a desperate bid to appear inclusive and tolerant


Bishop of Rochester resigns

There was still no sign of this release on the Rochester diocesan website at 6.00 pm Saturday, last website update was on 20 March, it says.
Monday lunchtime
A copy of the press release has at last appeared on the Rochester diocesan website, as a PDF file.

Bishopscourt, Rochester, Kent ME1 1TS
01634 814439 / 07791 968819

Bishop Michael announces his intention to step down as Bishop of Rochester

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has announced his intention to step down as Bishop of Rochester as from 1st September 2009. He will have been Bishop in the Diocese for nearly 15 years and during this time has played a major part in the life of the church.

Bishop Michael is hoping to work with a number of church leaders from areas where the church is under pressure, particularly in minority situations, who have asked him to assist them with education and training for their particular situation. Details of this arrangement are still being worked out.

Bishop Michael, who will be 60 in August, is the 106th Bishop of Rochester. He is originally from Asia and was the first non-white Diocesan Bishop in the Church of England. He was appointed to Rochester in 1994. Before that he was the General Secretary of CMS from 1989-1994 and before that Bishop of Raiwind in Pakistan and theological Assistant to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Since 1999 he has also been a member of the House of Lords where he has been active in a number of areas of national and international concern.

Bishop Michael says, “We thank God for his blessings and for friends we have made in the Diocese in the past 15 years. I am so grateful to God for the friendship and loyalty of those around us and ask for people’s prayers as we take this step of faith ‘not knowing where we are going’ (Heb 11:8).



opinions as the clocks spring forward

Jonathan Sacks writes in The Times that Darwin pointed the way to an unselfish evolution.

Oliver Rafferty writes in the Guardian that: The ideas that led to George Tyrrell’s excommunication still confront Christianity.

For extra measure, Catherine Robinson writes in the same paper that Tim Berners-Lee’s invention symbolises Unitarian desire to foster communication.

In the Church Times John Packer argues in The West needs to understand faith that there is a dangerous ignorance of religion in the West’s foreign policy.

Giles Fraser writes there about Philip Blond, in Behind the allure of the Red Tory.

The best comment I saw about the parliamentary debate yesterday on the Royal Marriages and Succession to the Crown (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill 2008-09 was the Channel 4 News interview with David Starkey. There is a link to the video clip from this page. (For the best background briefing paper see this – H/T Ruth Gledhill.)


US Religious Landscape Survey

The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey is available on the web in a variety of formats.

From the Summary:

An extensive new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life details statistics on religion in America and explores the shifts taking place in the U.S. religious landscape. Based on interviews with more than 35,000 Americans age 18 and older, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey finds that religious affiliation in the U.S. is both very diverse and extremely fluid.

One of the key findings is that:

More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion – or no religion at all. If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, 44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether.

Another of its findings is that Most Mainline Protestants Say Society Should Accept Homosexuality.

Members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, two mainline Protestant denominations, are considering whether to allow the ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians as members of their clergy. The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that majorities of both denominations say that homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society. Among mainline Protestants overall, 56% say homosexuality should be accepted, compared with only about one-in-four evangelical Protestants and four-in-ten members of historically black Protestant churches.


G20 climate change and the churches

First, several British churches, but not the Church of England, published a statement this week, in advance of the G20 conference meeting in London next week.

Churches challenge G20 leaders on real leadership:

Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Church leaders have challenged the G20 heads of government, meeting in London next week, to show real leadership and ensure that solutions to the current economic crisis lead to action on global warming. They want the G20 nations to grasp the opportunity for investment in new technology, which will save energy and reduce carbon output. In particular, they are urging the richer nations to agree generous support for developing countries, so they can afford the initiatives they need to take.

Second, in connection with the Put People First rally in central London for jobs, justice, climate, there will be a Church Service at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster on Saturday 28 March at 11 a.m. Speakers include Richard Chartres, Bishop of London.

Church Times blogger Dave Walker will be reporting on the day’s events.

Third, Archbishop Rowan Williams delivered the Ebor Lecture earlier this week in York Minster, on the subject: Renewing the Face of the Earth: Human Responsibility and the Environment. Full text and audio here. Press release here.

Dave Walker reported it as Religious communities “failing profoundly” in climate change response. and he has comprehensive links to secular press coverage of the lecture, which was extensive.

Jim Naughton criticised the archbishop in The Archbishop of Canterbury’s own shortcomings on climate change:

…Until he states clearly that powerful people in his own Communion don’t believe human activity contributes to global warming, and that he appeases these people so that they won’t split the Communion over the issue of homosexuality, he has little credibility on this matter.

If one examines the funding sources of the organizations behind the attempted Anglican schism, and the funding sources of the organizations that deny human activity contributes to climate change, one finds that they are sometimes one and the same…


Word on the Street

Inclusive Church is delighted to announce its next residential conference on Monday 5th – Wednesday 7th October 2009.

“Word on the Street – reading the Bible inclusively” will be a three day conference at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire to help us see how Holy Scripture does indeed:

  • call us to a faith in God which draws all people to God
  • root and ground our call on the Anglican Church to live out the promise of Jesus’ inclusive Gospel within its three-fold ministries of deacon, priest and bishop
  • celebrate the gifts of all members of the Body of Christ, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation

With Workshops, Bible studies, Worship, Plenary, Meals and Bar

The keynote speakers are:

  • Revd Prof Richard Burridge, Dean of King’s College, London
  • Dr Paula Gooder, Freelance writer and lecturer in Biblical Studies
  • Dr Robert Beckford, Educator, author and award-winning broadcaster
  • Speaker to be confirmed
  • Canon Giles Goddard, Chair, Inclusive Church

The cost is £195. Students and those on low income £130. Residential ordinands and stipendiary curates £90.

For a flyer and booking form follow this link. Book early to avoid disappointment!


What shall we say?

Inclusive language is a contentious issue still. Inclusive Church and WATCH (Women and the Church) jointly organised a day conference on 9th Feb 2009. The speakers were

  • Canon Lucy Winkett
  • Dr Steven Shakespeare
  • Revd June Boyce-Tillman
  • Revd Elizabeth Baxter

Links to their presentations and related materials can all be found here, or as follows:

Speak to us of liturgy – Lucy Winkett

Speak to us of prayers, by Steven Shakespeare

Elisabeth Baxter – Inclusive Language for a therapeutic church – handout (PDF)

June Boyce-Tillman – Hymns for today’s church – handout (PDF)


Revision Committee membership announced

A press release from the Church of England announces the full list of names of those who will constitute the Revision Committee for the draft legislation enabling women to become bishops in the Church of England.

Press release: Women in the episcopate draft legislation: Revision Committee announced

We already knew the names of the members of the Steering Committee:

  • Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch (Bishop of Manchester) (Chair)
  • Very Revd Vivienne Faull (Dean of Leicester, Deans)
  • Dr Paula Gooder (Birmingham)
  • Ven Alistair Magowan (Archdeacon of Dorset, Salisbury)
  • Revd Canon Anne Stevens (Southwark)
  • Mrs Margaret Swinson (Manchester)
  • Mr Geoffrey Tattersall QC (Manchester)
  • Rt Revd Trevor Willmott (Bishop of Basingstoke, Southern Suffragans)

And we already knew the name of the Chair of the Revision Committee:

  • Ven Clive Mansell (Archdeacon of Tonbridge, Rochester)

What is new is the names chosen by the Appointments Committee:

  • Mrs April Alexander (Southwark)
  • Mrs Lorna Ashworth (Chichester)
  • Revd Jonathan Baker (Oxford)
  • Rt Revd Peter Broadbent (Bishop of Willesden, Southern Suffragans)
  • Ven Christine Hardman (Archdeacon of Lewisham, Southwark)
  • Revd Canon Dr Alan Hargrave (Ely)
  • Rt Revd Martin Jarrett (Bishop of Beverley, Northern Suffragans)
  • Revd Canon Simon Killwick (Manchester)
  • Revd Angus MacLeay (Rochester)
  • Mrs Caroline Spencer (Canterbury)

Judgement in Colorado Springs

Updated again Thursday morning

Thursday morning update
Colorado Springs Gazette Judge orders Anglican parish to vacate Grace church by April 3

A judge on Wednesday ordered the Anglican parish that’s been meeting at Grace Church, 631 N. Tejon St., to vacate the building by April 3 at 5 p.m., setting the stage for the exiled Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal parish to hold its first service in the gothic church on Palm Sunday.

Judge Larry Schwartz also ordered the Anglican parish priest, Donald Armstrong, to vacate the rectory, where he lives on Electra Drive in the Skyline Way area, by May 8. This revised the original order issued on Tuesday, which stated that Armstrong would have to vacate by April 1.

Earlier report:

The property dispute in the Diocese of Colorado over Grace and St Stephens parish property has been resolved in favour of the diocese. Many members of the congregation have affiliated with CANA.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports it this way: Armstrong camp loses Tejon Street church report written through extensively and new headline is One group leaving Grace church, one moving in — but when?

From the earlier version:

According to a press release issued by the Rev. Alan Crippen II, a member of the breakway group, Judge Larry Schwartz issued a 28-page ruling that concluded , among other things: “The Diocese over most of its 135 years existence demonstrates a unity of purpose on the part of the parish and general church. … The trust created through past genereations of members of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s prohibits the departing parish members from taking the property with them.”

Crippen said the group is considering an appeal, but is already preparing to move from the historic property.

“We will meet at a new location,” he said in an interview.

Because of the ruling, the congregation’s leader, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, is also losing his rectory, and the church loses its name because it’s so similar to the Episcopal congregation, Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal.

Martin Nussbaum, attorney for the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, expects the move to go quickly.

“We will be in possession of the property no later than next Wednesday,” he said.

The press release from the Diocese of Colorado is available here as a PDF. The content as a web page can be found here at Episcopal Café:

The Bishop and Diocese of Colorado, and the more than 500 members of Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church rejoice today that the members of the Episcopal parish will be returning to their church home as a result of a decision issued by District Court Judge Larry Schwartz. In that ruling, Judge Schwartz found that the historic property is held in trust for the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church and ordered the breakaway congregation that wrongfully took possession of the property two years ago to leave…

There is also a press release from the continuing parish.

The full text of the judgement is on the website of the continuing Episcopal parish as a PDF file.

The website of the CANA-affiliated congregation has its press release here as a PDF file:

“For two years we have been praying for justice in this case, and the Court has now ruled. Judge Schwartz is a fair and honorable man and we appreciate his own sacrifice and considered effort in hearing our case. Our congregation will take some time to review his ruling with our attorneys before we make a formal response.

There is much yet to be settled even with this significant ruling now issued,” said Father Donald Armstrong, rector of Grace Church & St. Stephen’s.

“As to the future of our congregation, it’s the people and not the building that is at the heart of our life in Christ,” Armstrong said. “This decision is one major step out of the ambiguity in which we have lived these past two years and will allow us to more readily refocus on gospel work and service. At the very least this is an occasion for renewal and recommitment to the essential things of gospel work. Our Plan B is well-developed, exciting, and will be announced shortly.”


“This is a new beginning for Grace Church & St. Stephen’s in its partnership with CANA,” said the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, missionary bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA).

“Grace Church has a glorious heritage and an exciting future ahead of it. Although this decision is disappointing, the congregation and its leadership in Don Armstrong are strong in their commitment to gospel work and the renewal of Anglicanism in Colorado Springs and beyond. I fully expect that its members will quickly recover
from the sad loss of their historic place of worship. Knowing the people of Grace Church and their buoyant optimism, I anticipate that the parish’s best days are yet ahead.”



Scottish responses to Anglican documents

Two documents are available from the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The bishops have published a response to the letter issued in February by the meeting of Anglican primates in Alexandria.

College of Bishops Respond to Anglican Primates’ Letter of February 2009 is available as a PDF file.

The Faith and Order Board has responded to the St Andrews Draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

A Response from the Faith and Order Board of the Scottish Episcopal Church is also available as a PDF file.


other Nigerian stories

Comment is free has an article No change in attitudes by Davis Mac-Iyalla.

CANA and ACNA both have press releases about the Nigerian response to the latter:

The matter is also referred to in this report from the Living Church ACNA Expects at Least Five Inaugural Dioceses.

There is no mention on either of these websites of the support given by the Church of Nigeria (and other Christian churches) to the proposed Nigerian Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Act. Do CANA and ACNA support the Church of Nigeria’s position?

The story is attracting comment from secular sources in Africa, see for example:

Lagos Guardian Homosexuality and the lawmakers What has Africa done to organised religion to deserve this…

IHEU Leo Igwe condemns Anglican Archbishop’s homophobic outburst


Pastoral letter from Archbishop Akinola

The Standing Committee meeting on which previous reports have been made, has yielded a further document Standing Committee Meeting:Pastoral Letter signed by Archbishop Peter Akinola. It concludes:

We are especially concerned about those who are using large sums of money to lure our youth to see homosexuality and lesbianism as normative. We must consistently and faithfully teach about God’s commands on this ungodly practice and help those with such orientation to seek deliverance and pastoral counsel.

It was also our great delight to welcome to our meeting, the Rt. Rev Bob Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh in the USA, and Moderator of the Common Cause Partnership which is a fellowship of about 11 Anglican groups that are determined to maintain the Biblical and historic convictions of our faith, including CANA (also represented at this meeting by our own Bishop Martyn Minns). We have declared ourselves to be in full communion with the emerging province of the Anglican Church of North America, praying that they will remain solidly rooted in the foundations of our faith.

We have expressed our grave concerns over the relentless aggression against Christians in the North of Nigeria and have again drawn the attention of our governments to this unhappy scenario. We are calling for a national conference of all stakeholders to deal with the issue of religious intolerance and guarantee a peaceful and just future for our beloved country. We especially call on our members in the National Assembly to keep alert to this threat to our corporate existence. Most of all we call on our churches to pray earnestly about the future of our nation.


opinions during Lent

Christian peacemakers must play a major role in healing Northern Ireland’s pain, says Roy Searle in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column.

Morals: the one thing markets don’t make said Jonathan Sacks yesterday in The Times.

Roderick Strange writes in The Times today about Embracing the precious gifts of our Lenten practice.

At Total Politics Andrew Hawkins reports on a survey to answer the question, Is the Church of England still the Tory Party at prayer?

Tony Blair wrote an article for the New Statesman on Why we must all do God, and Andrew Brown wrote a critique of this at Comment is free titled Doing God – the vague way.

Giles Fraser wrote in the Church Times that Humankind needs limits for reality.

The Church Times has a leader headed God as father and mother.


The Serpent on a Pole

For all of its beauty and joy, this world is founded on pain and loss. Darwin is not a challenge to Christian belief because he shows how species arise over time (rather than being created at one fixed point) but because he makes it impossible to imagine a time before death and pain entered the world. They have been the constant companions of creation, in all their nastiest forms. Even creationists cannot believe that Adam brought death into the world.

Whatever the theological problems this raises, the solution does not include running away. The Israelites in the desert tried that, and died. The cure they were offered was staring at the very thing they feared. They were to stare hard at the serpent death which terrified them so, according to Rabbi Arthur Waskow and Rabbi Phyllis Berman in Red Cow, Red Blood, Red Dye: Staring Death & Life in the Face.

For Christians this becomes even more poignant. For us it is Christ who becomes the serpent on a pole. Looking at him, we see what horrifies us; agonising suffering and bloody death. It is easy, with practise, to become complacent about it, seeing new life springing from this agony. We do not serve our God well by doing so.

The serpent in the wilderness was offered to allow the people of God to face their terrors. They looked into the pit of the image of death. Christ offers us the image of our worst imaginings, and of all the suffering of nature. Every meadow pipit pushed out by the baby cuckoo, every caterpillar split open by the parasitic wasp who has eaten though it, each is summoned up in the image of the creator of them dragging out a slow death from suffocation. Lifted up so, he draws all to him.

Somewhere in this, I feel, lies something of a solution. It is far from an intellectually satisfying solution. Yet it is played out again and again. Suffering can demean and destroy, and yet on occasion individuals can transcend themselves through it. These last months have seen the suffering of the Cameron family and of Jade Goody. The circumstances are totally different, yet, yet… The extraordinarily moving exchange in the Commons between two bereaved fathers, both knowing the constant anxiety of having a child with a life-limiting disease was a moment of reality in the too-often artificial rhetoric of that cold institution. Jade Goody’s decision not to hide her slow descent to death has opened up conversations about facing death over the whole country.

I am not speaking of the general need to address urgent problems, true as it is that we must. There are many issues on which we are out of time, and running faster will not serve us. Unpleasant truths about the thoughts of those who are our co-religionists. Painful realisations about the financial state of many of our congregations. Nasty facts about the age structure of those congregations, and just why they are so structured. Not to mention the now fast-ticking bomb of ecological disaster.

All this is true and urgent, but it is only a weak reflection of the story of the bronze serpent and the man on the cross. That promise is about facing the terror of pain and death in the word, and being blessed in the facing of it. That story underlies all the other terrors we need to deal with, and if we do not face it, we cannot face them. We need to turn and face that serpent because only by looking steadily on its face can we hope to gain healing for our other ills.


Lambeth Conference: funding

Updated Saturday evening

This press release comes from the Church of England:

Lambeth Conference: funding

The Lambeth Conference Funding Review Group has published its report. The review was commissioned last August by the Board of Governors of the Church Commissioners, and the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England following an approach from the Lambeth Conference Company* for financial help.

The Review Group, chaired by John Ormerod, a former partner of accountancy firm Deloitte, makes a number of recommendations to be acted on by the Lambeth Conference Company and the Anglican Communion Office.

The Board of Governors of the Church Commissioners and the Archbishops’ Council each agreed, last August, to make available to the Lambeth Conference Company up to £600,000 as required to enable the Company to honour its commitments while fundraising efforts continued. Both bodies regarded these amounts as interest free loan facilities. Of the £388,000 actually borrowed by the Company, £124,000 has now been repaid, leaving £132,000 owing to each organisation as fundraising continues.

By the end of 2008, the review reports, the projected deficit had reduced from an estimate of over £1 million in August 2008 to £288,000, in part as a result of further fundraising efforts and in part due to actual costs proving lower than had been cautiously projected earlier in the year. The total cost of the event was £5.2million, as against the budget of £6.1million.

*The Lambeth Conference Company is the body given responsibility for managing the finances and administration of the Lambeth Conference 2008.

The main report is available as a .doc file.

Update Now also available as a PDF file.

Appendices are available as a PDF file.

From the Notes to editors:

The review group’s members were: (chair) John Ormerod, a former partner of accountancy firm Deloitte; the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester and member of the Archbishops’ Council; Dr Christina Baxter, principal of St John’s theological college, Nottingham and also an Archbishops’ Council member; and Timothy Walker, Third Church Estates Commissioner. The group had staff support from two people provided via the office of the Church Commissioners.

There has already been generous support from the Church of England for the Lambeth Conference. Parishes and dioceses have made donations towards the costs of overseas bishops attending and the Church Commissioners have met the fees of the English bishops and their wives attending the Lambeth Conference, the costs of some of the conference organising staff, and some of the hospitality offered by the Archbishop of Canterbury.


Decriminalisation in Nigeria

The United States government has announced it will support the UN resolution concerning decriminalisation of homosexuality.

This is a resolution that the Vatican did not support, but about which it did say:

“The Holy See appreciates the attempts made in [the declaration] to condemn all forms of violence against homosexual persons as well as urge states to take necessary measures to put an end to all criminal penalties against them.”

Savitri Hensman has written at Comment is free that Nigeria’s attack on human rights has no virtue. She writes:

…Yet several church leaders have spoken in favour of the bill, including Rev Patrick Alumake, who claims to represent the Roman Catholic Church, though his stance appears to defy Vatican policy. While hardly gay-friendly, this opposes criminalisation. It will be revealing to see how Rome reacts.

Another champion of the bill has been Archbishop Peter Akinola, though the international Anglican Communion, to which his church belongs, has repeatedly called for human rights for all, including homosexuals.

In a statement supporting the bill, Archbishop Akinola starts with his own (contested) interpretation of the Bible, and warns, “Any society or nation that approves same sex union as an acceptable life style is in an advanced stage of corruption/moral decay. This bill therefore seeks to shield Nigeria from the complete annihilation that will follow the wrath of God should this practice be accepted as normal in this land.” He goes on to make further extraordinary claims: “Part of the purpose of God is to ensure that human existence is sustained through procreation. God blessed them ie Adam and Eve and told them, multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1: 28). Same sex marriage is a violation of this divine injunction and will only endanger human existence.” The fact that these dire predictions have not come to pass elsewhere in the world does not deter him.

Despite the major historical contribution made by Africans (including Nigerians) in winning recognition for and defending human rights, he is dismissive of these: “We must take note of the various stages of pernicious western influence in our nation and continent … The present clamour for unrestricted human rights especially in relation to same sex union is yet another ploy to unleash more mayhem on this nation.”

The Archbishop’s portrayal of the threat posed by gays and lesbians would appear to justify even the harshest measures: “Same sex marriage… is a perversion, a deviation and an aberration that is capable of engendering moral and social holocaust in this county. It is also capable of existincting (sic) mankind and as such should never be allowed to take root in Nigeria.” In this apocalyptic worldview, it can be too risky to love one’s neighbour as oneself…


Nigerian communiqué

The Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) is much larger than you would suppose from its name and normal Western usage of that term:

The Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the leadership of the Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, met at All Souls Chapel and Oduduwa Hall at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State, from March 10-14, 2009. The Standing Committee serves as the Executive Body of the Church of Nigeria between meetings of the General Synod. One hundred and fifty five bishops, one hundred and fifty clergy and one hundred and thirty nine laity were present…

The General Synod must be truly huge in scale.

See earlier item for the Primate’s Opening Remarks.

This body has issued a Communiqué which includes the following:


For more than twenty years there has been an unrelenting religious crisis in Nigeria. The Christian Church has been the target of attack and has suffered irreparable losses in many parts of the North. At different times various reasons have been advanced: unemployment, poverty, politics and sectarian tensions. However, those who have perpetrated these destructive actions have never been brought to justice, operate with impunity and appear to be motivated by the conviction that if they persist they will be able to claim entire sections of Nigeria for their faith. We reject this claim.

We also view with grave concern the recent inflammatory statement by Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima calling for the total Islamization of Nigeria. This attitude threatens the very existence of our nation. Since this call violates specific Constitutional provision for the freedom of religion and his pubic oath to protect the Constitution we ask the leadership of the Senate to investigate as to whether Senator Yerima is qualified to continue to hold office.

We call for a national conference of all relevant stakeholders especially the National Assembly, Media practitioners, religious leaders and the guardians of our constitution to deal with these issues and plan for a peaceful and just future for Nigeria. We are convinced that unless urgent action is taken we may have no future for the next generation.


As Anglican Christians we continue to be distressed by the spiritual crisis within our own family of faith in other parts of the world. Since 2003 the unilateral revisionist actions of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church Canada have torn the fabric of our common life. While the Church of Nigeria stands resolutely and uncompromisingly on the truth of the Holy Scriptures and the Lordship of Jesus Christ endless meetings and repeated communiqués have done nothing to bring restoration of our beloved communion. In this, however, and in all these matters our hope is not in our own efforts but in the Lord Himself. We can therefore boldly declare to our nation and to the world, “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)


more on Anglican women at UNCSW

An earlier report on Anglican women at the UNCSW is here.

The links to some documents in that article are now broken, apologies.

Here are some new reports and documents:

UN Commission on the Status of Women Fifty-third session, 2– 13 March 2009

  • Agreed conclusions – The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care-giving in the context of HIV/AIDS