Thinking Anglicans

three dioceses learning together

The Living Church ran an article at the beginning of last week which reported Trio of Bishops Seek to Strengthen Communion Ties.

The initial meeting between Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of the Diocese of El Camino Real and Bishop Michael Perham of Gloucester, England, at the 2008 Lambeth Conference was an auspicious one. When a protester jumped up and called Bishop Gray-Reeves “a whore of the church,” Bishop Perham stepped in to help his new American acquaintance around the protesters and on to safety.

This frightening encounter brought together two parts of what has become a trio of bishops — the third is Bishop Gerard Mpango of the Western Tanganyika Diocese in Tanzania — who have linked up as companion dioceses. The combination of American, British and African dioceses is intentional. The three locations encompass three regions of discontent in the Anglican Communion. By meeting, talking and working together, the three bishops hope to show that people of different cultures, and these three cultures in particular, can maintain civil relations and look for answers to divisive issues…

A week later, ENS has also published an article on the same topic, EL CAMINO REAL: Visit from African, English bishops deepens partnerships.

Three bishops who met by chance during last year’s Lambeth Conference spent a week in California recently, planning very intentional, international ministry together.

At first glance their dioceses — Western Tanganyika, Tanzania; Gloucester, England; and El Camino Real, California — couldn’t have seemed more different.

And then each decided to take a closer look.

“We have more in common than might first appear,” said Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real, who hosted Bishop Gerard Mpango of Western Tanganyika and Bishop Michael Perham of Gloucester September 20-25 in the Central California diocese…

You can find reports and pictures of the most recent event over here.

Diocese of Gloucester and read more about their international links here

Diocese of El Camino Real and their companion dioceses page

Diocese of Western Tanganyika (This is a page from the Tanzania provincial website, no diocesan website yet.)


thinking about establishment

Alan Wilson has a post today about Church Establishment and Freedom, which considers the situation in Denmark.

It’s interesting to see Denmark extolled by a thoughtful commentator as the freest country in Europe, most open to humane debate, with the world’s most atheist-friendly culture. Many believe you can’t pass go in becoming a free society until you have separated church and state. So how do they handle religion in Denmark?

The Oxford Centre for Ecclesiology and Practical Theology in conjunction with Affirming Catholicism and the Theology Faculty of Oxford University is holding a day conference on The Established Church: Past, Present, Future.

A Day Conference at St John’s College, Oxford 24th October 2009

Day Chair: Canon Prof Sarah Foot (Christ Church, Oxford)

  • Session 1: Theology and Establishment Canon Prof Nigel Biggar (Christ Church, Oxford): ‘Why the Establishment of the Church of England is Good for a Liberal Society
  • Session 2: Case Studies Dr Matthew Grimley (Merton College, Oxford): ‘The dog that didn’t bark: the Prayer Book Crisis and the failure of disestablishment’
    Rev’d Dr Mark Chapman (Ripon College, Cuddesdon): ‘“A Free Church in a Free State”: Anglo-catholicism and Establishment’
  • Session 3: Contemporary Issues Canon Dr Judith Maltby (Corpus Christi College, Oxford): ‘Gender and Establishment’
    Prof Elaine Graham (University of Manchester): ‘Establishment, multiculturalism and social cohesion’
  • Session 4: Comment and Roundtable Comment: Revd Prof David Martin (Emeritus Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics)
    Roundtable responses, opening to a Q&A/Discussion session.

Full details and the application form are available here.


comment on the Pawleys Island case

Lionel Deimel has published some comments written by a Pittsburgh lawyer, Ken Stiles.
See A Perspective on the Pawleys Island Case.

Anglican Centrist has published comments by another lawyer, Eric Von Salzen.
All Saints Church Waccamaw – Abuses of the Statute of Uses?

1 Comment

thoughts related to an Anglican Covenant

Tobias Haller has written about a shift in the understanding of subsidiarity, from the time of the Virginia Report until now.

See The Upside-downity of Subsidiarity.

Pierre Whalon, Bishop in charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, has written an article about the need for a covenant.

See Covenant, shmovenant?


A post-secular age?

Updated Tuesday morning

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres preached last week at the installation of Giles Fraser as Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s.

Comment is free: belief has published a shortened version of his sermon here. Some of the comments left by readers are interesting…


George Pitcher reflects on the service at Faith is not an accessory – it’s an alternative.


opinions before Michaelmas

In The Times Jonathan Sacks writes Holy days are an annual check to mission drift.

In the Guardian Naftali Brawer also writes about Yom Kippur.

In the Church Times Giles Fraser tells us What’s right with the neo-cons.

Cif belief this week posed the question Have extremists retaken American Christianity? Answers came from Harriet Baber, Stephen Bates and Sarah Posner.

The CofE’s College of Bishops issued a statement about climate change.

George Pitcher wrote Assisted suicide: The worm has turned.


Back to Church?

The Bishop of Reading Stephen Cottrell got a lot of media coverage this week when he said, in a Church of England press release:

“Even today I meet people who think you have to be highly educated or suited and booted to be a person who goes to church. That’s so frustrating. How did it come to this, that we have become known as just the Marks and Spencer option when in our heart of hearts we know that Jesus would just as likely be in the queue at Asda or Aldi?

See reports in the Guardian, Times, Telegraph, and Mail, not to mention International Supermarket News.

And this on Cif belief.

The Church Times had a leader column about it, see Where would Jesus shop?

Heresiarch wrote a perceptive blog article, More tea, vicar. Not so much rap.

This in turn caused Andrew Brown to write Snobbery with godlessness.

As for Back to Church Sunday, which is what this was originally about, George Pitcher critiques that in Patronising bishops want ‘ordinary people’ back at church.

Paul Bayes’ podcast (mentioned by George) is here.

A Church Near You is here.


Assisted Suicide: Church views

Keir Starmer the Director of Public Prosecutions [for England and Wales] has issued an Interim policy for prosecutors in respect of cases of assisted suicide. The background to this action is explained in this government press release.

He also wrote an article in the Telegraph Why I am clarifying the law on suicide, by Keir Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions.

Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff issued this statement on behalf of the Roman Catholic Bishops Conference.

The Bishop of Exeter, Michael Langrish, issued this statement on behalf of the Church of England.

The CofE website has this section: Protecting Life – opposing Assisted Suicide:

The Church of England is opposed to any change in the law, or medical practice, to make assisted suicide permissible or acceptable.

Suffering, the Church maintains, must be met with compassion, commitment to high-quality services and effective medication; meeting it by assisted suicide is merely removing it in the crudest way possible.

In its March 2009 paper Assisted Dying/Suicide and Voluntary Euthanasia [PDF], the Church acknowledges the complexity of the issues: the compassion that motivates those who seek change equally motivates the Church’s opposition to change…

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu wrote this article, also in the Telegraph: Assisted Suicide: There must be no slippery slope.


A History of Christianity

Last week’s Church Times had a feature article by William Whyte entitled The Church: ‘appalling, yet wonderful’.

Diarmaid MacCulloch has just completed a sweeping history of Christianity. William Whyte dragged him from his indexing to talk about it. A History of Christianity: The first three thousand years (Allen Lane, £30 (CT Bookshop £27) is published on 24 September.

The Guardian published a review of the book, written by Rowan Williams last Saturday. See A History of Christianity by Diarmaid MacCulloch.

The Economist also published a review, under the heading The greatest story, or the trickiest?

The BBC television series can be previewed here.


news from South Carolina

Updated yet again Wednesday evening

A very long-running lawsuit in South Carolina has reached a decision. This one goes back to 2000 when the Diocese of South Carolina first tried to record its interest in the parish property of All Saints, Pawleys Island. That parish decided in October 2003 that it wished to leave the Diocese of South Carolina and affiliate with what is now the Anglican Mission in the Americas.

At the time of writing, there is still no report of this decision on any of the websites linked above.

The actual decision is a PDF file, available here. (I have been unable to reach this site, but was kindly sent a copy of the file.)

Episcopal Café has reported it with the headline Ruling on Pawleys Island: TEC and DioSC lose, and has also published a very helpful further article, Putting the South Carolina decision into perspective which includes comments made at the TitusOneNine blog.

Late last week the Supreme Court of South Carolina issued a ruling in the ongoing legal battle between the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Chuck Murphy (of the Anglican Mission in America) and Vestry of All Saint’s, Pawley’s Island. The property dispute stems from the decision of then Rector Murphy and the Vestry to leave the Episcopal Church and become part of the AMiA (connected to the Anglican Province of Rwanda and now associate with the ACNA).

The Supreme Court ruled that the Dennis Canon, which says that diocesan and parish property are all held in trust for the Episcopal Church is not valid in this case.

There are a couple of reasons that this decision is unique. First, the parish in question, like a few others on the East Coast, predates the foundation of the Episcopal Church in 1789 so it has been argued that the Episcopal Church is more a creation of the parish than the parish of the Episcopal Church.

Second, the Supreme Court has decided to decide based primarily on neutral principles of law rather than by being guided by deference to denominations being allowed to create their own internal governance structures…

The Charleston Post and Courier reports the story: see Court rules in favor of Pawleys Is. congregation by Dave Munday.

A Pawleys Island congregation, embroiled in litigation ever since it left the Episcopal Church in 2004, has won a major court battle over land and assets that could have wide implications for others looking to break away.

The S.C. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Friday that All Saints Church at Pawleys Island belonged to the independent corporation All Saints Parish, Waccamaw Inc. and not to the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, which had staked a claim to the property.

“When a vestry of a parish in the diocese votes to take action to leave the church, they cannot then hold an office as a vestry of the church from which they have voted to depart,” wrote then-Bishop Edward L. Salmon Jr. soon after All Saints’ vestry voted to break its ties with the Episcopal Church and modify its 1902 parish charter.

But last week, the state’s highest court repudiated the diocese’s claims, overturning an earlier Circuit Court verdict.

The court rejected the Episcopal Church’s claim that “all real and personal property” used by a congregation, mission or parish “is held in trust for this church.” That rule, codified in 1979 and called the Dennis Canon, makes it impermissible for congregations to assume ownership of church property. The Episcopal Church long has argued that when individuals choose to leave the church, dioceses and parishes remain intact and available to others who choose to remain, even if they constitute a minority of the congregation…

Note that the quote in this article originally attributed to Kendall Harmon has now been corrected to show that it comes from this article by A.S. Haley.

And the Georgetown Times has Historic church property goes to Anglican Mission.

The Living Church has S.C. Decision Could Have Far-Reaching Impact.

Still no report on the websites of the parish, the diocese, or AMiA. However, Episcopal News Service now has a report: SOUTH CAROLINA: State Supreme Court rules in long-running Pawley’s Island case by Mary Frances Schjonberg:

The South Carolina Supreme Court has overturned a lower court decision in favor of the minority of the members of the parish of All Saints, Waccamaw in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina who remained loyal to the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina.

The Supreme Court said in its September 18 opinion that the majority of the parish members could retain the parish’s property after they left the Episcopal Church and the diocese in 2003 to affiliate with the breakaway Anglican Mission in America (AMiA).

A statement issued by the Presiding Bishop’s office said that the opinion was “particularly disappointing in the light of the long struggle in which the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina have worked cooperatively to preserve the property of this parish for the mission of the church and the diocese.”

“Time has not permitted a careful analysis of the opinion or of the options that confront the church and the diocese at this point,” the statement said.

South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence said that “there’s a long wisdom of tradition in the scriptures, and counsel in the book of Ecclesiastes that there is a time to keep silent and a time to speak, and as picked up in the letter of James, where James says, ‘Know this my beloved brothers and sisters, let everyone be quick to hear and slow to speak.’ I believe this is such a time.”

Religious Intelligence US dioceses ‘free to secede’ by George Conger

he Sept 18 decision in the case of In Re: All Saints Parish, Waccamaw ends nine years of litigation over the mother church of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA), and is the second major legal defeat for the Episcopal Church in a week.

While the ruling only affects the state of South Carolina, the legal analysis the court used in rejecting the ‘Dennis Canon’ —- the 1979 property canon that states that parish property is held in trust by congregations for the diocese and national church —- will likely have an unfavourable impact upon the dozens of other pending parish property suits prosecuted by the Episcopal Church across the nation…


A better future for the Anglican Communion?

Ekklesia has published a detailed analysis of Rowan Williams’ recent Reflections paper, written by Savi Hensman.

See A better future for the Anglican Communion?

Here’s the abstract:

Rowan Williams has recently proposed major changes in the way the Anglican Communion is organised. Because of growing willingness in the Episcopal Church (TEC) to recognise the status and ministry of lesbian and gay people, and the global disagreement on this issue, he is putting forward a “two-track” approach. Provinces such as TEC in North America would not be able to carry out certain functions such as representing the Anglican Communion in ecumenical circles, while those which signed up to a Covenant would have a more central position. This research paper describes the background, examines the evidence on which the Archbishop’s main points are based, discusses their implications, and corrects some mistaken assumptions about history and practice. Inter alia it tackles a number of key theological issues. It suggests that a two-level Communion would be practically and spiritually harmful and suggests a different approach, less focused on institutional structures, that could be more effective in addressing divisions and ultimately enabling Anglicans to move towards a deeper unity.


more on the new Nigerian primate

Updated Sunday

The Lagos Guardian has a long article New primate, same steadiness in the Anglican Church of Nigeria

From March next year when he will lead the over 18 million Nigerian Anglicans, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh will bring strict conservatism of his military background and years of close collaboration with out-going Primate Peter Akinola to bear on the Church, write Hendrix Oliomogbe (Asaba), Lawrence Njoku (Enugu) and Wole Oyebade (Lagos)

GENERALLY, Christianity is founded on strict conservatism. The heads of nearly all the old Christian groups are known for their conservatism. The heads practically take to heart the Biblical saying: As it was in the beginning, so it is now, and so shall it be, a world without end!

The world should not expect any thing less from the in-coming head of the Anglican Communion in Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Dikeriehi Orogodo Okoh who will assume office in March next year. Primate-elect Okoh will be an iron-cast conservative, given the constituency he is coming from: The military. Until 2001 when he retired from the Nigerian Army as a Lieutenant Colonel, Okoh has not known another profession since adolescence. He worked for about four years with his uncle in private business after leaving primary school at the age of 12 in 1964.

On the current issues tearing the worldwide Anglican Communion apart, Archbishop Okoh is on the same plane as the man he will succeed on March 25, 2010, the ultra-conservative Archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola who literarily looked the worldwide Anglican Church eye-ball to eye-ball and proclaimed that the Church was wrong to have looked the other side on a vital issue of spirituality. Since 2003 when Archbishop Akinola took the stand against the dilution of the priesthood with confessed gays in the United States (U.S.) and homosexuality, the Communion has not been the same again.

The worldwide Anglican Communion should not expect any deviation from Archbishop Okoh. In fact, he has been one of the greatest and most fastidious supporters of Archbishop Akinola on the Nigerian Anglican Communion’s stand against the “sins” of the Episcopal Church of the North Americas on the matter of embrace of gays and homosexuality in the Church…

Sunday The Lagos Guardian has Our Faith In Okoh, By Anglican Priests.


opinions on the feast of Theodore

Catherine Pepinster wrote in The Times about how the Relics of St Thérèse highlight the flesh and blood nature of Christianity.

Jonathan Romain wrote that Rosh Hashanah opens a season of fruitfulness and reflection.

At the Guardian Musab Bora asked Is it reasonable to describe Eid al-Fitr as the Muslim Christmas?

In the Church Times Giles Fraser asks us to Respect the mystery of risk.

Barry Morgan’s presidential address to the Church in Wales Governing Body concerns the role of the church in the public square. Press release here.

Alan Wilson reported on what the CofE College of Bishops learned this week. See Sleepwalking over a cliff? and also Bishops roles in context.


update on swine flu advice

Updated Saturday

This is not very prominently linked on the CofE website, so is copied below.

The Church Times has a report Chalice is returning to the people. This includes the news that

Among the dioceses where advice favours the administering of the chalice to the congregation are Wake­field, Lincoln, Hereford, Gloucester, and St Edmundsbury & Ipswich.

And also this tidbit:

It is understood that at the College of Bishops’ meeting in Oxford this week “the president gave each person the option of receiving the wine or not. All bar less than a handful drank from the chalice.”

Text of Statement

Feast of St Ninian, Bishop of Galloway, Apostle of the Picts
16th September 2009

Dear Colleagues,


At the end of July the Department of Health advised us that the pandemic had reached the stage at which ‘it makes good sense to limit the spread of disease by not sharing common vessels for food and drink.’

In the light of this we felt it would be irresponsible not to alert parishes and dioceses to this advice, and to recommend the suspension of the administration of the chalice while the Department of Health information and advice remained as it was. To date the advice we have been given has not changed.

Of course national advice given by Archbishops is just that – advice – as indeed is any separate advice that Bishops may decide to give to parishes.

Judgments about the best course of action in particular contexts may vary, but it remains important
a) to encourage everyone to recognise that the Church has a responsibility to take public health considerations seriously, and
b) to ensure that communication around the Church is good so that we don’t appear to be at sixes and sevens, and
c) to remember that responsible practice in this area is not primarily about protecting ourselves, but about avoiding transmitting infection unwittingly to others.

We are keeping regular contact nationally with the Department of Health and all relevant information and advice will be passed on.

We have decided to review our own advice towards the end of October, in the light of the information, statistics, and guidance coming by then from the Department of Health. By that time the progress of the vaccination programme and the effects of schools and universities having started back will be assessed.

If at that stage the perceived risk is significantly lower than when we issued our advice at the end of July, then fresh guidelines will be given. We would urge patience and vigilance until we have reached that point.

+ Rowan Cantuar + Sentamu Ebor:


Fort Worth legal ruling

There are conflicting reports on this from either side in the dispute over who is the “real” diocese.

Living Church reports Both Sides Debate Significance of Fort Worth Ruling

Episcopal News Service reports FORT WORTH: Continuing diocese has right to sue breakaway group, judge rules.

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has published a PDF of the actual ruling made by the judge, see here and issued these two statements:

What the legal language of the order means

What the legal language of the order (click here to read it and note that the hand-written portions of the order are in the judge’s own hand) means is this: essentially the court refused to strike the pleadings i.e. it ruled that the reorganized Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the Corporation had the right to continue to sue the defendants and establish our right to seek declarative judgment. The defendants lost on their main argument that we should not be able to sue the defendants because they are the rightful diocese. This was the main objective of former Bishop Iker’s attorneys, and they did not achieve it. The court left that determination for a later hearing.

The order also barred our attorneys from appearing on this suit as attorneys for the entities associated with Jack Iker. Our attorneys have, of course, never asserted that.

As is clear in the order, no other rulings were made. The judge did make comments and he did ask questions, but he made no other rulings.

We now await the October 15 hearing.

Statement on hearing that concluded on September 16

The Hon. John Chupp, judge of the 141st District Court of Tarrant County, Texas today ruled that attorney Jon Nelson and Chancellor Kathleen Wells are not authorized to represent the diocese or the corporation that are associated with Jack L. Iker. These attorneys have never claimed to do so. The judge denied the motion by Bp. Iker’s attorneys to remove the diocese and the corporation from the lawsuit filed April 14, 2009.

While the judge did make some off hand remarks in court and asked many questions, he made no other rulings.

A hearing is set for Oct. 15 on the motion for partial summary judgment in this same court.

The Southern Cone diocese has published a statement as a PDF:

Court Issues Decision on Rule 12 Motion

FORT WORTH, Texas – In a hearing today in the141st District Court, Judge John Chupp granted the Diocese partial relief under Rule 12 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. He ruled that attorneys Jonathan Nelson and Kathleen Wells do not represent the diocese or the corporation which have realigned under the Province of the Southern Cone. He denied a second aspect of Rule 12 relief which would have removed the plaintiffs’ diocese and corporation from the lawsuit filed April 14, 2009.

The judge also ruled that neither the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church nor the Constitution and Canons of this diocese prohibit withdrawal from TEC and realignment under another province. Further, he found that the Diocese had done so at its November 2008 annual convention, saying that “they [the members] took the diocese with them.” The action of the November convention was not, he said, ultra vires and void, as the suit’s plaintiffs have argued. He declared, too, that the Diocese had taken its property with it in realignment. He said he did not consider any court ruling concerning a realigning parish to be applicable in the present case, and he said that he considered it “self-serving on [the part of TEC] to say that [Bishop Iker] abandoned his job.”

The hearing on the Rule 12 motion began Wednesday, Sept. 9. At that time, the judge denied a motion for continuance filed by Nelson and Wells. Each party filed a supplemental written statement in the period between the first and second portions of the hearing. The statement submitted by attorney Shelby Sharpe is available on the diocesan Web site.

Commenting on today’s ruling, Bishop Iker said, “We are pleased that Judge Chupp has recognized the legitimacy of the vote of our Diocesan Convention in November 2008 to withdraw from the General Convention of The Episcopal Church and has ruled that we had the legal right to amend our Constitution in order to do so. This a positive step in support of the position we have taken. We will continue to keep our concerns before the Lord in prayer.”

The date for a further hearing to take up the remaining Motion for Leave to File a Third-Party Petition will be set shortly. A date of October 15 has been set to hear the plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgement.


new Nigerian primate chosen

Updated again Wednesday lunchtime

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has issued this announcement:

New Primate for Church of Nigeria


A new Primate has emerged for the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) in the person of Archbishop Nicholas Orogodo Okoh. (57 this November ) He is presently the Archbishop of Bendel Province and bishop of Asaba.

The news of his election was announced today 15th September, 2009 by the Dean of the Church of Nigeria, Most Rev. Maxwell Anikwenwa immediately after the election by the Episcopal Synod held in Umuahia, Abia State.

And another longer press release says:



A new Primate has emerged for the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion. He is the 57 year old rtd Lt colonel, Archbishop of Bendel Province and Bishop of Asaba Diocese the Most Rev. Nicholas OROGODO OKOH.

The news of his election broke today after a hitch free voting exercise by the house of Bishops at the Cathedral Church of St. Stephen’s Umuahia Abia State.

Archbishop Okoh came out tops after securing two-thirds majority of the total votes cast. Three other Clerics contested with him.

By today’s Election Archbishop Okoh has become the fourth (4th) Primate of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion. He is taking over from the Most Rev Peter Akinola the incumbent Primate who vacates his office on March 25, 2010.

The atmosphere was suspense filled as the Bishops engaged in the secret ballot election. Immediately after the peaceful election, the Dean of Church of Nigeria the most Rev Maxwell S. C. Anikwenwa

(O. F. R.) issued a statement that the most Rev Nicholas Orogodo Okoh has been duly elected Primate in succession to the most Rev Peter. J. Akinola (CON) and has been issued with a Certificate of return.

Archbishop Nicholas Orogodo Okoh attended the famous Immanuel College of Theology Ibadan Oyo State between 1976 and 1979. He was made deacon in 1979 preferred a Canon in 1987, collated Archdeacon in 1991 and was elected Bishop of Asaba in 2001.

On the 22nd of July 2005 the Primate elect was elected Archbishop of Bendel Province at St Matthew’s Cathedral Benin. He was in the Army and fought the civil war. He retired as a Lt Col in 2001 after his election as Bishop of Asaba.

CANA has issued this press release:

Archbishop Okoh Primate-Elect

CANA Congratulates Archbishop Okoh as Primate-Elect of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)

HERNDON, Va. (September 15, 2009) – The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) congratulates Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, who was elected to become the primate-elect of the Church of Nigeria.

“Archbishop Okoh is a Godly leader and CANA is delighted that he will be leading the Church of Nigeria. He is a strong supporter of CANA and the Anglican Church in North America, and has been instrumental in helping to advance the orthodox Anglican GAFCON movement. Archbishop Okoh is committed to spreading the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is a personal friend, and I’m pleased that he is stepping into this leadership role during this crucial time in the life of the worldwide Anglican Communion,” said CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns.

The Convocation of Anglicans in North America ( currently consists of more than 85 congregations and 190 clergy in 25 states. CANA was established in 2005 to provide a means by which Anglicans living in North America who were alienated by the actions and decisions of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada could continue to live out their faith without compromising their core convictions. Created as a missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria, about a dozen of the congregations are primarily expatriate Nigerians. CANA is a founding member of the Anglican Church in North America, an Anglican province that includes about 700 congregations.


There is a lengthy and informative news report in the Lagos Guardian Okoh takes over from Akinola as Anglican Church Primate.

GAFCON has issued this: Gafcon welcomes new Primate of Nigeria.

The document produced by the group he chaired can be found here.

He recently visited England, see here, and also over here. (H/T Fulcrum.)


'untainted' bread redux

Readers may recall our earlier article ‘untainted’ bread?

The Diocese of Blackburn has issued this press release: Cathedral Changes Holy Communion Policy

and Blackburn Cathedral has issued this Policy Statement on Eucharistic Presidency – 12/9/2009

Mindful of our strong desire to find a way of journeying together, in a context where people cannot yet reach agreement over the ordination of women to the priesthood, we have been reflecting on the Eucharistic arrangements which we made in the light of the appointment of the first woman canon to the cathedral staff.

Though we hope that people will respect the fact that we did so for the most collegial of motives and wished to make full use of the opportunities that a cathedral offers for creative exploration, we now regret the course of action that we took.

We apologise for any hurt or pain that this has caused.

It will now be the case that the sacrament at any given celebration of the Eucharist will be consecrated by the President alone.

No alternative provision will be made when a woman presides for those who cannot in conscience recognise her Eucharistic ministry, though we continue, of course, to offer a range of Eucharistic provision on a Sunday…

WATCH has issued a statement which says in part:

WATCH (Women and the Church) is delighted that Blackburn Cathedral has overturned its decision to offer communion wafers consecrated by a male priest when a woman priest is taking a service.

WATCH is grateful to Blackburn Cathedral for acknowledging the offence this caused and for discontinuing the practice which they introduced a year ago after a female canon was appointed to the Cathedral staff. This practice harks back to beliefs outlawed as heretical in the 4th century.

The Church of England’s law-making body, the General Synod, passed the vote allowing women to be admitted to the priesthood 17 years ago. In 1994, 15 years ago, 1,500 female deacons were ordained as priests. Since then 4,000 women have been ordained and there are now almost 3,000 active clergywomen serving in the Church of England, nearly a quarter of all active clergy.

Christina Rees, Chair of WATCH said, “Bearing in mind that the Church is now in the process of making it lawful for women to be bishops, this is very good news. It shows that treating women in ways we wouldn’t treat men is no longer acceptable. Blackburn Cathedral has got the message and has done the right thing and we are very, very pleased.”


support for the seven bishops

As happened previously with a Communion Bishops statement, a number of priests who are affiliated with Communion Partners have endorsed it. In this case, they pledged to fulfill the “non-episcopal requests” made by those bishops who met with the Archbishop of Canterbury on Sept. 1.

The Living Church reports that the 74 priests lead parishes with a collective baptized membership of 60,000.

See Communion Partner Rectors Endorse Bishops In Meeting With Archbishop of Canterbury

The undersigned Communion Partner Rectors [and] associate Clergy commend and support the initiative taken by the Communion Partner bishops in meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury on September 1, 2009 in order to discuss and clarify the present circumstances of The Episcopal Church, as well as his understanding of what entities might be eligible to sign and adopt the Anglican Communion Covenant.

We echo the commitment of the bishops “to remain constituent members of both the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church.” Our desire is also to use the present situation as an opportunity to make manifest our commitment to becoming “a part of a ‘Covenanted’ global Anglican body in communion with the See of Canterbury.”

In support of the bishops, we commit ourselves to the five non-episcopal requests listed in their report of September 7, 2009…


statements from Southern Africa

The bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa have issued a statement.

Statement by the Synod of Bishops, 9 September 2009
The Synod of Bishops meeting in Midrand, Gauteng from 7 – 9 September 2009, has been disturbed by various recent reports in the media to the effect that the world-wide Anglican Communion and the Anglican Church in Southern Africa are on the brink of schism. We want to assure the faithful that these reports are grossly exaggerated and in some cases, misrepresented.

Our Worldwide Anglican Communion has for a number of years been struggling with the issue of human sexuality without, as yet, having reached any significant consensus. There are, indeed, broken and damaged relationships within the Communion, but there is still a deep desire among the bishops throughout the world to maintain the bonds of unity in obedience to the High Priestly prayer of our Lord that “..they may be one as we are one (Jn 17:11).

To this end the Communion is exploring an Anglican Covenant which would express our Common Unity in Christ and the criteria for accountability to each other.

We the Bishops and the Anglican Church of Southern Africa have, on a number of occasions spelt out our common mind at this stage of our journey with the world-wide Communion. We believe that we are called to love others with God’s unconditional, sacrificial love and do not believe sexual orientation a barrier to leadership within the church. However, holding as we do, that Christian marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, we hold that clergy unable to commit to another in Christian marriage partnership are called to a life of celibacy.

We have also received the resolution of the Diocese of Cape Town requesting us to provide guidelines for the pastoral care of those in committed same sex relationships. Despite the misconceptions created by media reports, Cape Town Diocese is intending to proceed with the blessing of same sex unions, we recognise the request to be pastoral in nature and not in any way in conflict with Resolution 110 of Lambeth Conference 1998. The task of responding to this request has been referred to a team committee which will prepare a preliminary paper building upon the resolutions and statement made thus far by ACSA.

We remain committed to holding together the bonds of unity when we journey together through the difficult questions that confront the world-wide Anglican Communion. Differences of opinion are inevitable, schism is not.

Now to him, who by the power at work within us
is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think to him be glory in the
Church and in Christ Jesus
to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen

The resolution from the Diocese of Cape Town can be found at Resolution of the Diocese of Cape Town on Ministry to Gays and Lesbians in Covenanted Partnerships. (scroll down for the full text).


opinions for mid-September

Roderick Strange writes in The Times that Great achievements call for sacrifices and failures.

Andrew Linzey writes there about Brute creatures and the Passion.

Josh Howle writes about Yom Kippur in the Guardian.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that Evensong calm ends my fidget.

Simon Barrow writes at Ekklesia about A different way of reading the world.

Last month he wrote about Abandoning the religion and politics of exclusion.

Andrew Brown wrote at Cif belief about The origins of religion.