Thinking Anglicans

Bishop says faith schools must tackle homophobic bullying

The Bishop of Manchester, Nigel McCulloch, has sent a message of support to the Exceeding Expectations Initiative, which is a project in Manchester aimed at tackling homophobic bullying in schools. Here is the full text of his statement:

“Bullying, of whatever kind, is always completely unacceptable. At its worst it leads to atrocities such as the Nazis’ persecution and extermination of people on the grounds of their race, religion or sexuality.

That is why faith schools must, as many do, lead the way in combating bullying – and not least the bullying of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, be they young or old.

I am very sad about the homophobic attitudes of some people. The exclusion, intolerance, prejudice, hatred and fear that homophobia feeds must be eradicated from our society – as I have strongly and publicly said on many occasions.

It is vital that the Church does as much as possible to keep dialogue going between all God’s people. That means everyone – whoever, whatever, wherever we are – including of course the gay community.

So much that goes wrong in our sad and divided world is because we do not listen or try to understand each other. Bullies never want to listen or understand – and so, in the end, damage themselves and their own quality of life.

Unfortunately, in the process, all of us who belong to a society in which bullies are allowed to flourish become sufferers. And, as projects such as Exceeding Expectations have shown, in its efforts to get rid of homophobic bullying in our schools, the children who are bullied can be deeply scarred for life.

That is why school staff should know how to challenge homophobic remarks – including the use of the word “gay” as a term of abuse. Teachers may need specific advice about this aspect of their role, because it is their job to affirm all pupils. That includes gay, lesbian and bisexual pupils, who, like everyone else, have a right to be themselves without being bullied.

One of the blessings that I frequently use at the end of worship includes the important command: “honour all people”. That is fundamental to the Christian faith. That is why Church schools – and schools of other faiths too – should always be places that encourage a climate of honour and respect.

Of course, as everyone realises, not everyone agrees about homosexuality. But that can never become an excuse for bullying.

I urge all faith schools to make sure that every pupil is fully included as part of the school community and encouraged in his or her studies. Each of us is made in God’s own image; and every one of us is precious to God. That should be the motivation of all our faith schools: to honour all people, including those who identify themselves as lesbian and gay.”


Relishing faith's contradictions

When many years ago I stopped being a research mathematician and began to study theology, one of my few regrets was that my new discipline was much poorer than my previous in handling contradictions. For mathematicians to discover a contradiction is a delight; it sends us off in a fresh direction; makes us examine our underlying axioms; leads us to a deeper understanding. By contrast I have found theology sees contradictions as difficulties to be explained away, tests (like the queen in Alice) to prove our ability to place faith above fact, or embarrassments to ignore.

At the heart of the accounts of Holy Week in the Four Gospels lies just such a contradiction. Whilst the common account in Matthew, Mark, and Luke has Jesus sharing the Passover Meal tonight with his disciples, St John has tomorrow’s crucifixion taking place at the time when the Passover lambs are being slaughtered. Even a longstanding vegetarian like me knows that if you are going to eat meat you kill it beforehand, not the day after. I’ve read some bizarre suggestions that maybe for some long lost liturgical reason Israel celebrated a double Passover that year, but mostly, this bare-faced contradiction at the heart of the central narrative of Christianity has been ignored; and by ignoring it theology fails to ask the vital question of what our Gospel writers were doing that led them to offer such irreconcilable narratives.

To Matthew, Mark and Luke this is the Passover meal that inaugurates a new Exodus. The journey will take Jesus and the disciples not through the waters of the Red Sea, but the deep waters of death itself on their way to the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed as their new Promised Land. Written at a time when Church and Synagogue were finally and irrevocably splitting from each other they want to make the point that God’s new covenant is with the Church, the whole Church and nothing but the Church. It all fits with the theology in which Jesus adds to, and completes, what the Old Testament began.

John is scarcely on the same planet.

The whole of his Gospel to this point has been about what he calls “signs”. Signs are things that point towards Jesus, so that looking in the direction to which they point we see the one who, raised up high on the cross, brings salvation to all who look upon him. In John’s theology the big stories of the Old Testament are themselves no more and no less than earlier signs pointing to the same, single central focus. The great Old Testament covenants, with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David, are (some implicitly, some explicitly) subjected to this overreaching theme — all point to Christ on the cross. What neither the sacrifice of Isaac nor the yearly sacrifice of Passover lambs could achieve is now being accomplished through the sacrifice of God’s own son, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. John’s church is not the sign of a new covenant but the sign of the only covenant, to which all that appeared before was no more than pointing towards.

All that follows, to the end of time, points equally to the only place where salvation is to be found, Christ lifted on a cross. And all church practice: liturgy; ethics; liberating engagement; pastoral ministry stands or falls by whether it lifts up the eyes of the people to the crucified Christ.

In the mathematical world we have learned to live with contradictions such as the perplexing behaviour of light — which sometimes acts as a particle and sometimes as a wave — recognising that each formulation carries an essential part of the whole truth; a truth that our limited imagery cannot fully capture in one form. The Passover story alerts us to the fact that faith contains its own integral contradictions. Explaining, enjoying and learning from them is the way to a deeper and fully balanced faith; a faith that will then be equipped to manage contradictions in moral teaching and ecclesiology as well as in doctrine. And so guard us against the fundamentalisms that are the all too often consequence of pursuing a single logical and consistent system.


Anglican Communion Covenant – latest draft

The Covenant Design Group (CDG) met between 29 March and 2 April 2009, in Ridley Hall, Cambridge. There is a press release, copied below the fold.

The main work of the group was to prepare a revised draft for the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant which could be presented to the fourteenth Meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, and commended to the Provinces for adoption.

The ACC is meeting in Jamaica from 1 to 13 May 2009.

This third “Ridley Cambridge” draft of the Covenant is online here.

The Introduction is here.

The accompanying Commentary is available here.

The Summary of Provincial Responses is here as a PDF file.

Earlier drafts and papers are online here.



February General Synod – answers to questions

The full texts of the questions asked at February’s Church of England General Synod, and their answers are now online. The file includes the supplementary questions and written answers.

The official, verbatim, transcripts of all the sessions are also available.

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news from Virginia

Updated Thursday lunchtime

The Diocese of Virginia has issued a press release: Diocese of Virginia Appeals to Virginia Supreme Court in Order to Protect Religious Liberty in the Commonwealth.

Determined to restore constitutional and legal protections for all churches in Virginia, and to return loyal Episcopalians in Virginia to their Episcopal homes, the Diocese of Virginia today filed a petition to appeal The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. Truro Church, et al.

The Diocese is appealing on a number of grounds, including a challenge to the constitutionality of Virginia’s one-of-a-kind division statute (Va. Code § 57 9(A)) and the rulings of the Circuit Court in applying the law…

The full text of the appeal petition can be read as a PDF file here.

The Anglican District of Virginia has responded with ADV Responds to Appeal by The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia.

FAIRFAX, Va. (April 7, 2009) – In response to the appeal in the Virginia church property litigation filed on Tuesday, April 7 by the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church, the Anglican District of Virginia Vice-Chairman Jim Oakes issued the following statement:

“We are saddened that The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia find it necessary to continue this litigation with an appeal filed during Holy Week. The appeal process will cost additional millions of dollars that could be spent on mission and ministry. Both sides have already spent some $5 million in legal costs, money that could have gone to helping our communities during these tough economic times. The legal victories we’ve had so far in support of our religious freedom have only encouraged us to stand firm in our Anglican faith and work together to deliver the message of Christ.

“Since our final legal victory in December 2008, the Anglican District of Virginia has added two more congregations, bringing out total to 25 congregations and three mission fellowships. This continuing growth here and around the country is tangible evidence of the hunger for orthodox Anglicanism in the U.S. Despite today’s appeal, we will continue to move on with our mission to spread the transforming news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our doors are open to everyone, especially those who thirst for transformation and renewal.”

Thursday update

The Episcopal Church has also filed a petition, see The Episcopal Church’s Petition to the Supreme Court of Virginia to Hear Appeal (PDF).

There is a full article at ENS about all this, VIRGINIA: Diocese, Episcopal Church ask state Supreme Court to review property rulings by Mary Frances Schjonberg.


a very difficult dinner party

There has been a desire amongst many Christians, at least since the time of the Reformation, when the full Gospel story became available in the vernacular, to re-create the Last Supper as faithfully as possible. The intention was to be more faithful to the Lord’s command to ‘do this in remembrance’.

Alongside this was surely a feeling that it must have been wonderful to be in the presence of the Messiah on that night, listening to his words, and receiving the bread and wine over which he had said the blessing.

But if we look at the occasion it appears in many ways to have been a most uncomfortable evening. It opened, in John’s Gospel, with Peter’s refusal to have his feet washed. He almost prevented Jesus from completing this invaluable sign to his Church. Next came the moment, brought to life by Leonardo’s painting, where Jesus announced to his disciples that one of them would betray him. They all look around, wondering who has been accused. That moment was beautifully portrayed for me this year in a children’s passion play. As Jesus began to walk around the table, saying ‘It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread’, one of the disciples leapt up and fled from the table saying ‘I’m not really hungry. Don’t give it to me!’ An uncomfortable moment indeed for all. In their drama, when Jesus gave the bread to Judas there was a visible loosening of tension in the other disciples as if this idea had been going through all their minds. The departure of Judas only made the occasion worse, as everyone was filled with foreboding. Perhaps the party would be broken up in minutes.

Luke’s gospel has another tension: the dispute which broke out among the disciples about which was the greatest. Perhaps it was this rivalry which led to the sign of the washing of feet.

As we look at the way the evening unfolded, we find the disciples so wrapped up in their own personal agenda that they were hardly able to grasp the significance of what was happening. Few of us can ever have attended a dinner party among friends which actually turned out to be so difficult.

Their dispute, the anxiety not to be found in the wrong, Peter’s protestations and denials all add to make this a most painful but memorable evening. Clearly this memory of the disciples’ selfishness and lack of care stayed with them. Along with it was no doubt a profound regret that in Jesus’ hour of need they had not been able to rise selflessly to the occasion and give him their support.

Certainly, in our remembrance of the Last Supper, we would not wish to recreate the feelings which were around then. Fortunately, from the very first the Christian Church has not sought to replicate that Supper. Our holy day is Sunday, not Thursday. It is the day the witnesses to the resurrection found that the risen Christ came to them, offering from the first Easter Day the opportunity of forgiveness and a vision of their life and communion together.


Donkey Riding

They had been waiting for him. He promised so much. And he arrived, waving to those who greeted him so enthusiastically (especially the photographers and the press), and rode the beast through the great city. Some had got ahead of themselves: they were already disenchanted, already crying ‘crucify’ — or at least ‘get the bankers!’ — but for most, the hope was there, the hope of a saviour, come at a time when the old ways, the old certainties, could no longer be sustained. Surely, with his coming there would be the promise of restoration: we would again feel comfortable with ourselves, assured that our lives would again be blessed and fruitful.

Well, so much for last week’s G20, and the arrival of Barack Obama. This week, of course, it’s a different story, a different arrival. The expected Messiah comes on a donkey, and it takes a while for the mood of the crowd to change. But the fearfulness with which we seem to live because of the global economic downturn, and the hopes invested in the meeting of world leaders last week, above all in the new US President, provided a strange parallel to what might have been the mood of an expectant, fearful, hopeful Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Will we be as disappointed as those Jerusalem crowds in the outcome of last week’s deliberations? Will we turn on the politicians, the people in whom we invested those hopes, and demand reparation — not perhaps their lives, but at least their seats and their expenses, as compensation for not setting all right, not returning us to the ever-increasing affluence to which most westerners and some in the developing world have become accustomed?

In some churches, when the passion narrative was read last Sunday, the congregation will have given voice to the bystanders, the crowd. We, the gathered company, are asked to see ourselves as the fickle ones, now enthusiastic, now hopeful for the wrong things, now condemnatory. And if we are the crowd on Palm Sunday, so perhaps we should, as the spectators of the G20, ask what responsibility we have, what part we play in bringing ourselves, our economy, our environment to its current state — and ask ourselves too, just what our Easter hope is, this 2009.

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North American news roundup

ACNA has published its draft constitution and canons, see ACNA Canons Published, Comments Welcome for more detail.

The Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) has paid the Anglican diocese of Niagara $20,000, which it was awarded for legal costs by an Ontario Superior Court ruling. See Diocese of Niagara awarded $20,000 in legal costs at Anglican Journal.

The Falls Church congregation which split from TEC has issued a request to help pay legal bills. See the text of the letter sent as a PDF, and for background on the property development mentioned, see this news article in the Falls Church News-Press. (H/T Episcopal Café)

And in Colorado Springs, there are reports of the successful transfer of occupancy of Grace and St Stephens Church. See ENS report Colorado Springs parishioners celebrate Palm Sunday homecoming, and also in the Colorado Springs Gazette For two churches, a new beginning.


The Mirage of Fear

In the time before America became part of me, while I was still alive to its idiosyncrasies, I would marvel at its culture of memorial. The trail of all of our shared history marks places by events or the people that shaped them. In Europe this has mostly been the prerogative of royal houses, and it is part of the founding character of the United States that anyone’s life can be commemorated. I used to like walking over a crossroads named after an infantryman or a schoolteacher, the subtext was that people of all stations in life build our quality of life, not just those of high social rank, and so it had more of a chance of remembering talent or virtue than most of the royal or aristocratic memorabilia back in England.

But the relentlessness of it would chafe. You couldn’t just drive on an interstate in New York, it had to be the Governor Thomas Dewey Freeway, you landed at John Wayne airport on Orange County and even the swings and slides in my local park would forever immortalise Hiram J Hackenbacker (or whoever’s) whose playground it would become. At worst, you could not pray in the National Cathedral in Washington DC without considering the family names of benefactors etched in huge serif upper case stone letters, a perpetual obscenity which violates the first rule of religious philanthropy: that you are only giving back to God what is God’s in the first place.

When you consider the high reliance America’s public sector has on private philanthropy you have to ask why this arrangement is so dependable? Any dime-store psychologist will tell you that it is about the need for significance and about the fear of death and oblivion. It is a way of making sure that you have not been overlooked, it is a way of buying good memory, it is a way of immortalising your name, just in case God doesn’t deliver. It is the final testimony to the supremacy of the individual, there is no common achievement, no civic good.

It is also driven by fear, the fear of being nothing, the fear of being forgotten.

Today we rehearse a story whose power lies in living where this fear has no power. It is not a story without fear or despair. It is the sense of loss, betrayal and abandonment that makes it an heroic story. But the events of Holy Week have at its centre a man who is not driven by the fear of death. As difficult as the journey becomes, there is an underlying persistence to the end. Jesus may be the central figure in the Holy Week story, but it is not about him, he points to something beyond himself, his words and acts are testimony to God’s purpose, not his immortality. He walks towards death as if its horrors were a mirage.

We can’t begin to engage with this imaginatively unless we can conceive what it would be like to live as if our deaths were behind us. Imagine if your death were not somewhere in the future, but in the past. Think of what could be set aside.

Concerns about status, rivalry, family feud, affronts to dignity, seeking justice for a wrong done, needing to be noticed, given our proper regard, even the need to be memorialised. All these things would melt away along with all their imperatives, that intensity, because they are driven by the fear of death. With our deaths behind us, all these melt away and look trivial, even frivolous.

The Last Supper is not Jesus’s attempt at memorial, it is framing his death in a way that invites his followers to emulate, to live as if their deaths are behind us and mortality an illusion. This is the power we see unfolded in Holy Week.

It is fulfilled after Easter Day. The resurrection stories in Christian sacred texts are about a man walking among his friends whose death is behind him. He is walking a new life. He doesn’t go back to Herod or Pilate or the high priest Caiaphas or Judas Iscariot for revenge, or even vindication. He returns to the life-enhancing business of meals with friends, and his presence a testimony to their never having to fear for themselves, an invitation to put the fear of death behind them.

Paradoxically, this life becomes one of the most remembered in history, but the power of its message remains confined, hidden even from many of his followers, and seen only by those with eyes to see.

So we rehearse the final days of a man walking towards his death, surrounded by the wreckage of a world financial system, driven by a few who are compelled to acquire, profit, and rob in the futile cause of being significant, and trying to stay their mortality. This week, the way ahead is in their midst.


news from Quincy

The Peoria Journal-Star reports Top Episcopal Church bishop visits Peoria.

An unprecedented visit to Peoria on Saturday by the top leader of the Episcopal Church was welcomed by some local churches but was largely ignored by the 19 that have broken away from the national organization.

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, called a special synod at St. Paul’s Cathedral to name new leadership within the Peoria-based Diocese of Quincy and “to get the diocese back on its feet.”

More detail is available in this ENS report Joy, hope and excitement surround formal reorganization of Diocese of Quincy.

Deputies to a special synod meeting of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy acted with dispatch on Saturday, April 4 as they quickly and unanimously elected new leadership, approved a diocesan budget and elected a provisional bishop. The actions were necessary after a majority of deputies at the 2008 annual synod voted to leave the Episcopal Church and realign with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

Deputies elected the Right Rev. John Clark Buchanan, retired bishop of the Diocese of West Missouri, as provisional bishop of the Diocese of Quincy. Buchanan most recently served as interim bishop in the Diocese of Southern Virginia.

The homily preached by the Presiding Bishop is available here.

The Church of England Newspaper has a report Quincy Dioceses files lawsuit against Episcopal Church which says that:

The breakaway Diocese of Quincy has filed suit against the Episcopal Church in an Illinois Court, asking the court to clarify its rights to the name and assets of the diocese.

“We hoped from the beginning to avoid any legal action,” the President of Quincy’s Standing Committee, Fr. John Spencer said on March 31. However, preliminary moves by the national church to seize the diocese’s bank accounts prompted the court filing, he said.


Code of Practice?

The April issue of New Directions contains two articles on the proposed form of legislation for women as bishops in the Church of England.

  • David Nichol is worried that the Bishops and Synod are placing far too much hope in a Code of Practice and do not understood how opposed many of us are, see Never a code!
  • The Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, member of General Synod, explains her own understanding of the value and difficulties of a Code of Practice, see Single Clause or Code?

Rochester speaks

Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester, has expressed some opinions in the Sunday Telegraph.

See Ignore our Christian values and the nation will drift apart.

I have resigned as Bishop of Rochester after nearly 15 years. During that time, I have watched the nation drift further and further away from its Christian moorings. Instead of the spiritual and moral framework provided by the Judaeo-Christian tradition, we have been led to expect, and even to celebrate, mere diversity. Not surprisingly, this has had the result of loosening the ties of law, customs and values, and led to a gradual loss of identity and of cohesiveness. Every society, for its wellbeing, needs the social capital of common values and the recognition of certain virtues which contribute to personal and social flourishing. Our ideas about the sacredness of the human person at every stage of life, of equality and natural rights and, therefore, of freedom, have demonstrably arisen from the tradition rooted in the Bible…


ACNA does not expect recognition

Doug LeBlanc reports in the Living Church: AAC Official: Canterbury’s Recognition Unlikely

The Anglican Church in North America is unlikely to be recognized by the See of Canterbury, a leader of the American Anglican Council said on April 1.

“We do not believe that Canterbury will recognize us, at least while the current archbishop is still in office,” said the Rev. J. Philip Ashey, the AAC’s chief operating officer and chaplain, in a brief speech in the suburbs of Richmond, Va…

And Fr Ashey also said this:

Asked during a discussion period about the AAC’s relationship to Anglican Communion Partners, Fr. Ashey said the AAC had proposed collaboration more than once.

“We have been politely turned down,” he said. “We are two very different organizations.”

Fr. Ashey compared the AAC to the Special Forces of the U.S. military.

“Like Special Forces, we go behind the scenes and we blow up things,” he said, adding quickly that what the AAC blows up is principalities and powers.

American Anglican Council


opinions before Palm Sunday

Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times about The ride to salvation in lowly pomp on a donkey.

David Monkton writes in the Guardian that The events of Palm Sunday remind us that spin is no modern invention.

Savi Hensman writes at Ekklesia about Resisting the urge to scapegoat.

Paul Vallely writes in the Church Times that The light of spring symbolises hope.

The Church Times leader is about changing the Act of Settlement and the Royal Marriages Act: The insults of the past.

Earlier in the week, before the announcement of the appointment of Vincent Nichols to be Archbishop of Westminster, Andrew Brown wrote Can we build a society without myths? in response to Britain has sold its soul to pursuit of ‘reason’ over religion, Catholic Archbishop warns in the Telegraph.

In connection with that appointment, Andrew Brown wrote A new combative style in the Catholic church. (See also here, and here.)


The CofE and the BNP

The Church Times carries a report by Pat Ashworth BNP puts Jesus on its poster.

There have been several strong responses recently to the BNP, including:

Jonathan Bartley at Ekklesia has been critical of those who sometimes take a different tack, such as the Archbishop of York. See his piece on Ekklesia Responding to the BNP over ‘What Would Jesus Do?’.

…The advert asks: “What would Jesus do?”. Of course the BNP don’t have a clue about the answer, but the answer from John Sentamu’s office, as recorded by the Daily Telegraph seems to be that perhaps Jesus wouldn’t say anything. “A spokesmen for the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu and for the Church of England refused to comment saying the BNP was mounting a ‘publicity stunt’ designed to give the party the ‘oxygen of publicity’” the paper said…

…Silence certainly hasn’t been the response of other churches. The Methodists. Baptists and United Reformed Church all put out a statement condemning the adverts. Indeed, Christian denominations and church groups have been making strident denouncations of the BNP ahead of the impending elections. On the same day as the BNP launched its advert, the major church denominations in West Yorkshire issued a press release announcing resources to combat the threat from the British National Party at the 4 June European elections. In fact there isn’t a church to my knowledge that has failed to condemn the BNP.

So what is really behind the Archbishop of York’s reticence to be quoted (which many in the Church of England might mischievously suggest is a rarity!)

There is a tactic employed by many, to try and freeze the BNP out in the hope that they will be marginalised. This is what the Archbishop’s office was perhaps attempting to do. But such tactics don’t seem to be working as Hazel Blears amongst others has recently suggested.

And there is another dimension to this issue which makes it increasingly hard for the church to engage in the way that it has done previously – and that is that the BNP has put the Archbishop and many others within the Church of England in a rather awkward position. The BNP is now using exactly the same rhetoric about ‘persecution’ and defending ‘Christian Britain’, that John Sentamu and others within the Church have been using…

The Telegraph report on which his criticism rests is here: BNP uses Jesus in advertising campaign.

A forthright response to Ekklesia appeared in the unlikely venue of the Archbishop Cranmer blog, in the comments to The Church of England and the BNP. Arun Arora who is Archbishop Sentamu’s press officer wrote:

…As the spokesperson for the Archbishop of York may I correct you on your assertion that:
“A spokesman for the Archbishop of York said: ‘Jesus wouldn’t say anything’.”
That particular inaccuracy is being propagated by the Director of the Ekklesia think tank who was rather put out that I refused to comment on a story that only came to the media’s attention through his press release.
The BNP themselves did not press release the billboard and in fact have admitted that they have put up “only one or possibly two” such posters.
Unfortunately in their haste to promote their own comment on the issue, Ekklesia effectively effectively acted as the BNP’s PR agency through their naive promotion of the BNP’s campign, which has given the poster the kind of media attention they could otherwise never have hoped (or paid) for.
Ekklesia unfortunately compounded this basic PR blunder by misquoting my response to their story.
In fact the comment I gave to the Press Association was: “this is clearly designed to seek the oxygen of publicity. We refuse to provide it”.
There is clearly a big difference between refusing to engage with a poster campaign (providing publicity) and taking every other opportunity to reiterate that the BNP is an odious and racist organisation against which the CofE stands firm.
Certainly for any organisation, such as Ekklesia, to question the Archbishop of York’s commitment to racism from the safety and security of their own offices is quite absurd when one considers that when he was vicar in South London John Sentamu’s house was firebombed by the National Front.
Whilst we can all share in a common united opposition of the BNP, the cause is not helped by the basic errors of “think tanks” which seem to be keener on self-promotion than working together against fascism.


ACC to meet in Jamaica

Updated Friday evening

ACNS announces Top Anglican legislative body Anglican Consultative Council to meet in Jamaica.

The Anglican Consultative Council, made up of lay people, clergy and bishops from the 38 Anglican Provinces of the Communion, meets in Kingston Jamaica May 1 – 13, to consider among other things, mission in the 21st century, the future structure of the worldwide Church, and theological education.

The ACC meets approximately every three years under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who will give a presidential address on May 11.

Foremost on the agenda for this, the 14th meeting of the Council, will be consideration of a Covenant for the Provinces of the Anglican Communion and reception of the final report of the Windsor Continuation Process. Both of these documents are key to discerning a way forward for the Anglican Communion in light of recent stresses cause by differences over matters of human sexuality…

ENS reports Design Group works on Anglican covenant revision.

The group charged with “designing” a covenant that could be used as a unifying set of principles among the provinces of the Anglican Communion met March 30-April 3 in Cambridge, England to work on a new revision of the text.

“A completed revision of the proposed covenant has been finished, along with a commentary explaining our work,” the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, one of two Episcopal Church members on the Covenant Design Group, told ENS at the conclusion of the meeting. “We have taken seriously the array of responses received from the provinces and from around the communion and larger church.”

The latest incarnation of the Anglican covenant, along with the design group’s commentary, is expected to be “posted on the Anglican Communion website sometime next week,” said Radner…

And also ENS has Windsor process, covenant to top Anglican Consultative Council agenda.

The Windsor Continuation Group has been charged with addressing questions arising from the 2004 Windsor Report, a document that recommended ways in which the Anglican Communion can maintain unity amid diversity of opinions, especially relating to human sexuality issues and theological interpretations. Its report calls for the development of a “pastoral council” and supported Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ plan to appoint “pastoral visitors” to assist in healing and reconciliation within the communion.

The continuation group also addressed the moratoria on same-gender blessings, cross-border interventions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate. “If a way forward is to be found and mutual trust to be re-established, it is imperative that further aggravation and acts which cause offence, misunderstanding or hostility cease,” the group’s report states. At their February meeting, the primates called for “gracious restraint” with respect to such actions.

The final report of the WCG is available here, as a PDF.

Further background material:


Anglican news catchup

Following the conclusion of the G20 summit, we now resume our regularly scheduled programmes.

Living Church GAFCON Primates Invite Bishop Duncan

The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) primates’ council will meet in London April 13-18. The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh in the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone and Archbishop-designate of the Anglican Church in North America, has been invited to attend as a guest, according to the Rev. Peter Frank, director of communications for the diocese.

Pat Ashworth Church Times Dr Nazir-Ali steps down to work in persecuted Church

THE BISHOP of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, has announced his resignation. He is leaving to under­take a new global ministry in places where the Church is under pressure and Christians are in a minority. The Archbishop of Canter­bury has described his move as “a courageous initiative and a timely one”.

The news, which was announced in a statement on Saturday, appears to have come as a complete surprise to many. Dr Nazir-Ali has been in­creasingly outspoken on the threats posed by the rise of radical Islam — something he believes is filling a moral and spiritual vacuum left by the loss of Christian faith and the fall of Communism…

…The Bishop will effectively stand down at the end of June, when he has completed his diocesan visita­tions. His farewell service will be held at Rochester Cathedral on 12 September.

Anglican Mainstream Be Faithful! July 6, Central Hall Westminster. Book online



THE launch in the UK and Ireland of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), an orthodox Anglican movement for mission at global and local level, is to take place on July 6 in London…

… Speakers at the July 6 gathering, where around 2,300 bishops, clergy and laity are expected, will include contributors from across the Anglican Communion, including Bishops Keith Ackerman (President of Forward in Faith International), Wallace Benn (Bishop of Lewes), John Broadhurst (Chairman of Forward in Faith UK) and Michael Nazir-Ali, Dr Chik Kaw Tan plus Archbishop Peter Jensen (secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans…

Anglican Mainstream Bishop Nazir-Ali – a Christian Public Intellectual

“We wish to express warm appreciation for the ministry of Bishop Michael Nazir Ali as a senior Bishop in the Church of England, and in and beyond the Anglican Communion. He has exercised a ministry as a ‘Christian public intellectual’ and apologist for the Christian faith in our public life which has made a very significant contribution to our national life. Our prayers and good wishes are with him and his family for God’s blessing on the new ministry to which he is being called to strengthen and encourage Christians and churches in minority situations.”

Dr Philip Giddings Convenor, Anglican Mainstream
Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Executive Secretary


G20 and the churches

Updated again Friday evening

Dave Walker is providing comprehensive coverage of G20 events, and you can follow his reports at the Church Times blog and on Twitter.

For more details see his post here.

Some transcripts:

Archbishop of Canterbury Interview with Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme ahead of G20 summit

Gordon Brown PM’s speech at St Paul’s Cathedral

Friday updates

Bill Bowder in the Church Times has Agencies question G20 ‘triumph’

THE TRIUMPHAL end of the G20 leaders’ meeting in London, and its pledge of $1.1 trillion of fiscal support, was questioned by aid agencies yesterday (Thursday).

The leaders agreed that, besides fresh plans to stimulate the global economy and action to close tax havens, at total of $750 billion would be made available to the International Monetary Fund to support struggling economies. A key element of the plan was to increase the funding available to developing countries hit by the global downturn.

Who will benefit from the new plan, and how, will not be clear for some time, campaigners were saying yesterday. The Put People First Coalition, a group of 160 organisations, including the TUC, Oxfam, Christian Aid, Tearfund, ActionAid, World Vision, and Friends of the Earth, asked whether the package was enough of a break from the “failed policies that brough about the global crisis”.

Dave Walker wrote earlier: Thoughts on the final communique and has now added G20 Blog: Christian development agencies disappointed by G20 communique.

The full text of the communiqué can be found here (scroll down for links to the two annexes).