Thinking Anglicans

Good News in the CofE

Diarmaid MacCulloch writes in today’s Observer:

Why we should be thankful for Rowan Williams and his church of common sense

The Church of England has taken a pounding from critics, but Rowan Williams has reasons to be cheerful as Christmas approaches, says a leading Anglican historian and commentator.


O Clavis David

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Back to the Future

The Key of David figures twice in the Bible: once in Isaiah 22, when Eliakim is told that God, ‘will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open;’ and then in Revelation 3 where the Church in Philadelphia is told ‘the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. … See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.’

Jerusalem and Philadelphia both faced uncertain futures. Each in their own way is challenged neither to be hopeless, nor hope in hopeless things, but to put their trust in God.

Our own society has issues too about the future and hope. We oscillate between what can be an ostrich-like preoccupation with our present prosperity, and apocalyptic angst about the future that we find hard to turn into effective action. One of the reasons no political party seems to cut the mustard at the moment for me is that none of them seems to have a real grasp on giving us a future.

Can the Christian Gospel do it? Can a hope that is ‘steadfast and certain’ not dissolve into other-worldly post-mortem escape on the one hand, or doctrine-driven tyranny on the other, but lead us into a coming of God’s kingdom that is both good news now for all God’s children, and good news that in the end all shall be well?

I think it can. Committed faith in Christ matched with an equal commitment to live in a Christ-like way can release the resources of the past into the passion of the present, and unlock the door of the future. We see it happening all the time in very practical actions by people we know, and when the time is right we see it breaking through and changing society itself.

This, I sense, is such a time. Faith is returning rapidly to the public stage. Let’s make sure it speaks in a way that gives us all back our future.

David Thomson is the suffragan Bishop of Huntingdon in the diocese of Ely.


opinions at Advent 4

Cif belief asked this week, Is the Bible anti-gay?
Responses came from:
Theo Hobson: Ours is not the same homosexuality
Davis Mac-Iyalla: A terrible use of the Good Book
John Richardson: Evasive answers don’t help
Judith Maltby: Not much to do with the Bible

Giles Fraser wrote in the Church Times that Perhaps the politicians really value Christians.

Jonathan Sacks writes in The Times Thank God for the Courage to live with uncertainty.

Nesrine Malik writes in the Guardian about usury.


O Radix Jesse

O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.

As a teenager I helped in coppicing woodland. Even the mightiest trees were felled. But the intention, rather than simply destroying the wood, was to allow the old roots to put out new growth. It wasn’t a replacement of the original trees, but something potentially just as useful. With careful management we had chestnut and hazel for woven fencing, cover for pheasants and even willow for cricket bats.

Isaiah saw the great family tree cut down. The legacy of King Solomon, a magnificent temple crowning the royal city, had been destroyed, and the rulers of the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah were taken captive. Surely nothing could arise from this, yet the prophet saw the survival of the stump as a sign of hope. Isaiah’s vision of what it might produce kept the hope of Israel alive through long generations in spite of conquests by foreign powers. However, rather than wondering about what the possibilities of new growth might be, people may have longed for a return to the old days, with a clone of Jesse’s son who might once more slay the new Goliath and throw out the Philistines again.

The descendant whom the nations would seek was no clone. The man who came, humble and riding on an ass, didn’t fit with the expectations of either the zealots or the temple elite. He neither restored the military power of Jerusalem nor added to the glory of the city’s temple.

But how people long to relive former greatness! There is in Britain today a similar longing to recapture the days of former glory, when London was the capital of an empire which reached every continent and included a quarter of the people of the world. In those days Britain was expected to take a leading role on the world stage and indeed did so. But the mighty tree is no more. It will not grow back as it was, and the coppice needs to be valued for what it can produce today.

The false perception wasn’t helped when the rapidly won victories in the Falkland Islands and in Kuwait lulled the nation into thinking that all that was needed on the foreign stage was a continuation of sabre rattling and gun boat diplomacy. We are now seeing that Bush and Blair only thought they needed to give a final kick to a regime in Iraq that was already beaten, and everyone would rush to congratulate them. The ‘special relationship’ with the USA appealed to Blair’s vanity and bounced us into an expensive illegal war with no plan for securing the peace. He clearly thought it was Britain’s role to act as the major player alongside the USA rather than acting alongside our more cautious and larger neighbours such as Germany and France.

But if governments can learn to move from conquest to co-operation, then the churches need to do the same. The stock of Jesse did not ask for Constantinian triumphalism, crusades, inquisitions and holy wars. This tender shoot announced a kingdom which did not require the trappings of worldly power in order to proclaim his universal message. Churches which appeared as temporal powers in nations and empires are increasingly irrelevant to the lives of many, and the wars between the remaining Christians bring faith into disrepute.

If we are truly to offer what the nations seek, then we need to model ourselves more closely on the shoot from the stock of Jesse, whose mission was to the bruised reed and whose message proclaimed justice for all. We need to be seen as the bearers of that hope, offering new life. ‘Come and deliver us’, we cry this Advent – that we might offer this deliverance to all. He offers us a new creation open to everyone, not a return to the past glory of a few.

Tom Ambrose is a priest living in Cambridge.


Standing Committee Communiqué

From the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion

The following resolution was passed by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion meeting in London on 15-18 December, and approved for public distribution.

Resolved that, in the light of:

i. The recent episcopal nomination in the Diocese of Los Angeles of a partnered lesbian candidate
ii. The decisions in a number of US and Canadian dioceses to proceed with formal ceremonies of same-sex blessings
iii. Continuing cross-jurisdictional activity within the Communion

The Standing Committee strongly reaffirm Resolution 14.09 of ACC 14 supporting the three moratoria proposed by the Windsor Report and the associated request for gracious restraint in respect of actions that endanger the unity of the Anglican Communion by going against the declared view of the Instruments of Communion.

For those who haven’t been keeping up, this body was formerly known as the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) of the Primates and Anglican Consultative Council.


Anglican Communion Covenant – final version

More links added

The final version of the Anglican Communion Covenant has been released and sent to the member Churches of the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury has this evening issued a message to go with it.

A message from the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Anglican Communion Covenant

Thursday 17 December 2009

As the final version of the Anglican Communion Covenant is sent to the member Churches of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury has given the following message explaining the purpose of the Covenant and the processes surrounding its adoption.

[On the Archbishop’s website a 4 minute 37 second video follows here.]

A transcript of the Archbishop’s video message is below:

After several years of work, the proposed covenant for the Anglican Communion has now reached its final form and is being distributed to the provinces for discussion, and I hope it will be adopted by as many provinces as possible.

It’s quite important in this process to remember what the Covenant is and what it isn’t, what it’s meant to achieve, and what it’s not going to achieve. It’s not going to solve all our problems, it’s not going to be a constitution, and it’s certainly not going to be a penal code for punishing people who don’t comply. But what it does represent is this: in recent years in the Anglican family, we’ve discovered that our relations with each other as local churches have often been strained, that we haven’t learned to trust one another as perhaps we should, that we really need to build relationships, and we need to have a sense that we are responsible to one another and responsible for each other. In other words, what we need is something that will help us know where we stand together, and help us also intensify our fellowship and our trust.

The covenant text sets out the basis on which the Anglican family works and prays and lives and hopes. The bulk of the text identifies what we hold in common, the ground on which we stand as Anglicans. It’s about the gift we’ve been given as a Church and the gift we’ve been given specifically as the Anglican Communion. All those things we give thanks for, we affirm together, and we resolve together to safeguard and to honour.

The last bit of the Covenant text is the one thats perhaps been the most controversial, because that’s where we spell out what happens if relationships fail or break down. It doesn’t set out, as I’ve already said, a procedure for punishments and sanctions. It does try and sort out how we will discern the nature of our disagreement, how important is it? How divisive does it have to be? Is it a Communion breaking issue that’s in question – or is it something we can learn to live with? And so in these sections of the covenant what we’re trying to do is simply to give a practical, sensible and Christian way of dealing with our conflicts, recognising that they’re always going to be there.

So what happens next? This Covenant is being sent to all the member Churches of the Anglican Communion. Each church will, within its own processes, decide how to handle it, and by the next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in three years time we hope that many provinces will already have said yes to this and adopted it into their own understanding and identity. Clearly the process won’t all be over by then, but we’re hoping to see some enthusiasm, some general adoption of the principles. We hope to see a new kind of relationship emerging. We hope to see people agreeing to these ways of resolving our conflicts.

Beyond that, what’s going to happen? It’s hard to say as yet, but the Covenant text itself does make it clear that at some point it’ll be open to other bodies, other Ecclesial bodies as they’re called, other Churches and communities to adopt this Covenant, and be considered for incorporation into the Anglican Communion. Meanwhile, it’s open to anybody that wishes to affirm the principles of the Covenant – to say that this is what they wish to live with.

So in the next few years we expect to see quite a bit of activity around this. We hope, as I’ve said, that many provinces will feel able to adopt this. We hope that many other bodies will affirm the vision that’s set out here, and that in the long run this will actually help us to become more of a communion – more responsible for each other, presenting to the world a face of mutual understanding, patience, charity and gratitude for one another. In other words, we hope and pray that the Covenant for the Anglican Communion will be a truly effective tool for witness and mission in our world.

The full text of the Anglican Communion Covenant can be found at:

The Covenant Working Party Commentary on Revisions to Section 4 contains an explanation of what they have done.

A PDF file showing the exact textual changes that have been made to Section 4 is available via this page.

An official comparison of the texts is now here in another PDF.

A cover letter from Kenneth Kearon to Primates, Moderators and Provincial Secretaries is here (PDF).


O Adonai

O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

Many years ago when I was still living in Germany, some time in the mid-1970s, I used to go on prison visits with a local priest. I was at that time a bank employee, and these visits seemed to me to balance my life in a useful way.

One of the prison inmates was a man then probably in his late 50s. He was a loner, and though he was always present in the prison’s leisure room when I was there, he never joined the group conversations and kept himself to himself. Eventually I learned from other prisoners that this man was a serial offender, usually convicted of burglaries and other similar offences. However, despite his clear inability to fit into society, he was known never to be violent towards the victims of his crimes.

One day I did manage to get him to talk to me, and I was completely taken aback by his story. Before the Second World War, he had been a Roman Catholic ordinand, but when the war started he felt he should join the German army and did so. From 1941 he was posted to Russia, and apparently was known as a courageous but also a humane soldier (a significant feature, given where he was and who he was fighting for).

In December1943, he and a group of other soldiers were instructed to ‘clean out’ a shed which had been used as a refuge and hiding place by some Jews, who had been found by the SS and had presumably been murdered. As this soldier and his comrades removed the bodies, he saw that one of the refugees had written something on the wall — the single Hebrew word ‘Adonai’. So here, somewhere in Russia, during Advent in 1943, this German soldier was reminded of his theological training, and as he put it to me, the shout of the people yearning for their God amidst this terror reached him through this one Hebrew word written on a barn wall. He was not able to fight any more after that day, and was in fact relieved to be wounded a few days later and, as a result, transported back to Germany.

After the war he was unable to return either to his seminary, or indeed to an ordered life, and he drifted in and out of petty crime. I ended my prison visits a short while later, as I was moving to Ireland, and I have no idea what happened to this man. But I think of him from time to time.

O Adonai has been described as the most Jewish of the O Antiphons, and it reminds us that the people of the law that was handed down on Sinai are the people to whom the Messiah was to come, and that we are also possessors of their heritage and are their brothers and sisters. And it reminds us that the Lord’s outstretched arm reaches through the torments and cruelties of this world and can touch us when we least expect it.

Ferdinand von Prondzynski is President of Dublin City University.


Ugandan legislation update

Updated Friday morning

Christianity Today reports that David Zac Niringiye, the Church of Uganda’s assistant bishop of Kampala, says that American Christians should cultivate relationships before condemning the proposed legislation.

Read Ugandan Bishop Pleads With American Christians on Anti-Homosexuality Bill by Sarah Pulliam Bailey.

And there is a related article by the same author, Anti-Homosexuality Bill Divides Ugandan and American Christians.

The Times has just published this Leading Article, Uganda’s Inhumane Bill.

The European Parliament approved a resolution criticising the Ugandan legislation. See this press release.

Friday morning update

The Episcopal Church of Brazil has published an Official Note on the Proposed Ugandan Bill.

Today’s Church Times has a report by Pat Ashworth headed Dr Williams ‘shocked’ by Ugandan Bill.

According to Episcopal Café the Church of Scotland has issued a statement which is copied below the fold.



O Sapientia

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

O Wisdom. When God speaks, he speaks wisdom. But what is formed by his mouth is not words, but The Word. God is love, and when he speaks, what he speaks is a person. We usually think of ‘person’ as a human category, but God is much more a person than we ever are. Surely the Platonists were right in this instance at least. We are people because we are made in his image.

This person, who is God’s Wisdom, is the order and the purpose of creation, the strength which fires up super novae, and sends glaciers scraping through granite mountains, and is the desire which kindles the fawn in the deer. And all of this is very poetic and beautiful and moving. Inspiring, even.

Until we get to Jesus of Nazareth, who is Wisdom and shows us the way of prudence. Yes, right. We get to Jesus who is an extraordinary way of showing either of these two virtues. As Kenneth Bailey’s books show (Poet and Peasant: Literary-cultural Approach to the Parables in Luke; Through Middle-Eastern Eyes), he spent most of his public ministry firmly committed to a path guaranteed to exasperate and distress the religious and civil hierarchies. A path which alternately delighted and appalled the crowds, and which was, much of the time, clearly a mystery to his closest followers, never mind his family. The Wisdom of God in person.

And actually I believe he was. Wisdom does not lie in dodging conflict, or trying to escape it. It lies in just how you confront it. Jesus does not confront conflict by blaming others. It is striking how rarely in the Gospels he ever blamed individuals. He blamed that which creates false barriers between people: the mix of closed minds, impossible purity standards and bumptious self satisfaction which has people hiding behind masks which disguise their inner failings, and their inner selves. Faced with individuals, typically he asked for hospitality, or offered forgiveness, without ever seeking an admission of guilt. So Jesus accepted Simon’s hospitality (Luke 7.36ff.). Simon failed to offer Jesus the usual courtesies, and Jesus made no accusation then. Later, he took an opportunity to comment on what actually happened.

Jesus’s very reaction to others sparked more anger and more controversy. In my experience, it still does. When we are hurt, or despised, we very naturally want to hit back, to prove our worth, and to point out the failings in our attacker. To be pulled up short in the enjoyable pursuit of seeing all the failings in the other is painful. Naturally we want to aggrandise our own virtues by contrasting them with their failings. To forgive, and to advocate forgiveness, is generally misunderstood. People think one is condoning the failing, or admitting one’s own guilt.

Naming sins, wrongs done to self or others, is healthy. It always needs to be balanced by an awareness of the humanity of the other and a lively sense of one’s own weaknesses. Otherwise one gets dragged into a spiral of accusation and counter accusation. You don’t even need to believe that Jesus is the wisdom of God to see how pointless that soon becomes.

Jesus avoided tit for tat, dodging it by wit, or evasive answers or silence. He did not do much spelling out of what is and is not the right moral code, and gave his followers few chances of scoring against others. He did not give simple, clear and easy to follow moral codes. He would not make his people into ‘the good guys’ and he would not turn any of the expected figures of hate into the bad guys. On the other hand, he was impossible to turn from what he believed to be true. He would not keep silent and he did not take a path which lead to appeasement. He kept right on speaking the truth. He had no discernable interest in keeping others on board, and less in keeping any faction of the Jewish faith together.

He saw the need of the people, and also their desire for him to be a leader and a ruler of a kind he had no intention of being, and he refused to fulfil it. He took his own chosen and principled path. That is how one acts out the Wisdom of God.

He sparked a huge anger, and a mix of disappointed hopes and unreal expectations. Mere common sense suggested his death, which was facilitated by one of his own followers whom he had failed to keep on board. O Wisdom. He died in agony.

Christian leaders would do well to bear all this in mind. Easy moral codes are not wisdom. Wisdom lies in taking a principled path, which does not blame others, but holds to what is true. Not yielding one’s own agenda, but not heaping blame on those who do not follow it. The only trouble is that this is also the path for all of us, and it leads to various kinds of crucifixion, although it is actually the only path that really works.

Many will rightly comment that the distinction between boldly naming wrong done, and not getting drawn into recrimination, is at best a fine line, and very hard to maintain. But that is the trouble with having a Wisdom which is not words, but a person.

Rosemary Hannah is a historian and writer who lives near Glasgow.


Equality Bill – Lords Second Reading

You can read the entire debate here at Hansard and continued here, or at TheyWorkForYou it starts here, and then continues here (the debate was interrupted for a discussion of the Defence Statement).

The following individual speeches are interesting:

Archbishop of York and also this.
Bishop of Chester, and also this.
Lord Alli
Lord Harries of Pentregarth
Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen (questions about women bishops)

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, summing up the debate for the government.

More about this later.


Islington registrar loses appeal

Updated Thursday morning

The Court of Appeals (Civil Division) has today dismissed the appeal of Lilian Ladele from the Employment Appeal Tribunal decision of December 2008, which found in favour of the London Borough of Islington.

The full text of today’s judgment can be found here. A printable version here is in .rtf format.

Initial press reports:

Press Association Registrar loses discrimination case

Reuters Christian registrar loses gay wedding appeal

Islington Tribune Registrar who refused to carry out civil partnership ceremonies loses appeal

Ekklesia Partnerships registrar loses case in Court of Appeal

BBC Christian registrar loses same-sex partnership case


Press Association Pressure groups welcome same-sex discrimination ruling

Symon Hill Cif belief A judgment Christians should celebrate

Christian Institute Court rejects appeal in Christian registrar case

Christian Concern for our Nation Court of Appeal rules against Christian Registrar who refused to conduct civil partnerships


What does the Church of Uganda think?

Episcopal Café has an article Does the Church of Uganda really have no position?

Evidence continues to accumulate that the Church of Uganda supports the anti-homosexuals bill before parliament.

And the article proceeds to give chapter and verse in some detail.

Meanwhile, Ecumenical News International reports Anglican church warns on homosexuality

[Bishop] Onono-Onweng in his interview with ENI said he did not wish to comment on the draft law until he had more time to study it…


More on that Telegraph interview

This one by George Pitcher in case you missed it yesterday.

On the one hand, there is the bit about Uganda:

Andrew Brown Rowan denounces Ugandan law

There is a passage a long way down in the Daily Telegraph’s interview with Rowan Williams which deserves celebration and quotation:

“Overall, the proposed legislation is of shocking severity and I can’t see how it could be supported by any Anglican who is committed to what the Communion has said in recent decades,” says Dr Williams. “Apart from invoking the death penalty, it makes pastoral care impossible – it seeks to turn pastors into informers.” He adds that the Anglican Church in Uganda opposes the death penalty but, tellingly, he notes that its archbishop, Henry Orombi, who boycotted the Lambeth Conference last year, “has not taken a position on this bill”.

On the other hand, there is the bit about politics:

What would he like to see from politicians in the coming general election year? He responds that we “curiously have three party leaders, all of whom have a very strong moral sense of some spiritual flavour”. David Cameron may have conceded that the Church of England is in his DNA, but Gordon Brown is a son of the manse who is notoriously secretive about his faith or lack of it, and Nick Clegg has declared his atheism. “But he takes it seriously,” replies Dr Williams. “And with all of them I think if you can get them off the record or off the platform, these convictions will come through quite strongly.”

Is the problem “we don’t do God” spin doctors? “I think it’s important for politicians not to be too protected, to be able to establish their human credentials in front of a living audience.” So our leaders need to be more open about their faith? “I don’t think it would do any harm at all. Part of establishing their human credentials is saying ‘This is where my motivation comes from … I’m in politics because this is what I believe.’ And that includes religious conviction.

“The trouble with a lot of government initiatives about faith is that they assume it is a problem, it’s an eccentricity, it’s practised by oddities, foreigners and minorities. The effect is to de-normalise faith, to intensify the perception that faith is not part of our bloodstream.”

Theo Hobson What’s Williams whinging about?

Ok, Williams is right that there is a widespread perception that religion is “a bit fishy”, but I don’t see how the government can be blamed for this. MPs who raise secularist concerns are only echoing a major sector of public opinion, and I haven’t noticed many senior ministers denouncing religion. He is fuelling a crass culture war by complaining that poor Christians are persecuted by nasty secularists. If religion is now widely mistrusted maybe he should ignore the speck in the government’s eye and consider the beam in his own.

Bishop Nick Baines has more about the interview here.


Civil Partnerships in Ireland

The Evangelical Alliance Ireland writes:

Evangelical Christians and the Civil Partnership Bill 2009

The Irish Government has published a Bill that will establish Civil Partnerships for same sex couples to give them rights, obligations and protections once they are registered with the state. Many of the rights are similar to those currently offered to married couples under Irish Law. In response to this Evangelical Alliance Ireland has just produced a four page paper. Read this document here. [PDF]

The government proposals can be found here. Or in more easily digested form here.

A recent Associated Press report: Irish lawmakers open debate on gay rights bill.


opinions in mid-Advent

Rowan Williams gave an interview to George Pitcher of the Telegraph. Read about it at Dr Rowan Williams: taking a break from Canterbury travails. An earlier news report is titled Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘Labour treats us like oddballs’.

Richard Chartres and Ali Gomaa wrote at Cif belief about the Swiss minarets decision, see An opportunity to understand.

Richard Reddie writes in the Guardian that We should understand, not fear, the rise in black conversions to Islam.

Graham Kings wrote at Cif belief about Sudan at the crossroads. Also at Fulcrum.

Giles Fraser wrote in the Church Times about Loyalty — or an obligation?

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Eucharist in the Wesleys’ hymns.

Roderick Strange writes in The Times that To follow Jesus is a cause for rejoicing.


Denmark joins Porvoo Communion

Bishop David Hamid reports from Copenhagen on something other than climate change.

Read The Church of Denmark agrees to sign the Porvoo Agreement

…the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark (ELCD) has decided to join the Porvoo Communion of Churches. A press release from the Church of Denmark has gone to all the constituencies of that Church and to the general public in Denmark, announcing this landmark decision by the state Church. Arrangements for the public signing of the Porvoo Declaration are still to be settled. The ELCD was a full participant in the theological discussions leading to the Porvoo Common Statement in the 1990s, but in the end did not sign the agreement, so the news today is a major ecumenical breakthrough. Once signed the agreement will extend the Porvoo Communion of Churches to embrace the 12 dioceses and over 2000 parishes in Denmark.


Church statistics

We reported yesterday on the release of the latest Church of England finance and ministry statistics.

Riazat Butt writes about the statistics in the Guardian as Church of England issues cash call to the faithful. Her report highlights “that churchgoers were still giving 3% of their disposable income, compared with the 5% recommended and requested by the General Synod”.

David Keen writes about the statistics in his St. Aidan to Abbey Manor blog Latest CofE stats on giving and ordinations: More is Less, Less is More.

The Church Mouse writes in his blog Church statistics – can someone create a database please. He draws attention to how long it has taken to publish these data (the finance figures are for 2007) and their “almost unusable format”. He offers suggestions for improvement and ends with this offer:

So here’s Mouse’s offer to the good old CofE. Mouse will gladly build a website for them to do these tasks, on the condition that they promise to use it.

1 Comment

Los Angeles – Friday reports

Pat Ashworth reported it all for the Church Times in Election of lesbian bishop stirs up controversy.

Riazat Butt reports in the Guardian that Archbishop Rowan Williams urged to retract comments on election of lesbian bishop.

Jeanne Carstensen at Religion Dispatches has Election of New Lesbian Bishop Reveals Tensions in Anglican World.

Daniel Burke at Religion News Service has Lesbian Bishop Aware but Undaunted by Controversy.


Los Angeles and Uganda



The LGBT Anglican Coalition warmly welcomes the election of two new suffragan bishops for the Episcopal diocese of Los Angeles, and notes:

  • that the election has been carried out with a close regard to the norms and constitution of that church;
  • that its transparency contrasts favourably with the still opaque processes by which Church of England bishops are appointed;
  • that the candour of the candidates about their personal lives and the maturity of the church they serve is a glowing example to the Church of England where such openness is not possible in the present climate of denial and double standards..

It is most encouraging to see that the elections have been conducted without regard to the sexual orientation of the candidates. The election of a lesbian bishop, following on so soon after the consecration of the new Bishop of Stockholm, gives heart to the many LGBT clergy and lay ministers in churches around the world.

In the light of this, we are gravely disappointed to see the Archbishop of Canterbury rush out a statement within twelve hours of the announcement suggesting that the Episcopal Church should not confirm this election. His repeated intervention in the affairs of that province contrasts embarrassingly with his complete unwillingness to speak publicly about the Church of Uganda bishops’ support for what is universally seen as oppressive and homophobic legislation in that country. That support is in direct contravention of recent resolutions by the Lambeth Conference and the Primates’ Meetings.

If the Archbishop is to retain any credibility at all he needs to reconsider. This double standard of justice is frankly perverse. It appears to most people in Britain to be a disgraceful acquiescence in the demands of homophobic pressure groups both in England and in the Communion.

LGBT Anglican Coalition partners look forward to working with the Diocese of Los Angeles and all others across our Communion in the service of Christ who are committed to a church which includes and welcomes all.

The LGBT Anglican Coalition – including
Revd Benny Hazlehurst – Accepting Evangelicals
Revd Colin Coward – Changing Attitude
The Clergy Consultation
Jeremy Marks – Courage
Mike Dark – The Evangelical Fellowship of Lesbian and Gay Christians
Canon Giles Goddard – Inclusive Church
Revd Sharon Ferguson – Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement
Revd Dr Christina Beardsley – Sibyls

The LGBT Anglican Coalition is a new network of groups working for the full and equal inclusion of LGBT Christians within and beyond the Church of England.


Equality Bill moves to the Lords

The Equality Bill that was passed in the House of Commons recently is now before the House of Lords. The first debate, i.e the Second Reading, will occur on Tuesday 15 December, starting soon after 2.30 pm.

Earlier reports of the Commons debate can be found here.

My own report is in today’s Church Times at Attempt to remove ‘religion’ clause in Equality Bill fails. That is currently available only to subscribers, but the full text is below the fold.

Meanwhile, the RC bishops have issued a briefing, which has been reported in a somewhat alarming tone in several places:

Catholic Herald Equality Bill threatens integrity of the priesthood, bishops tell Harman by Simon Caldwell

Catholic News Service English, Welsh bishops say Equality Bill redefines who can be priest also by Simon Caldwell

There is also a less sensational report by Isabel de Bertadano in the Tablet but that too is subscription-only.

More on this topic to follow.