Thinking Anglicans

What were the bishops doing?

Dave Walker has the answer:

Cartoon: What the bishops were doing whilst civil partnerships in church were being voted on


AAC view of Anglican Communion governance

The American Anglican Council (a body which is closely associated with ACNA) has published a document entitled COMMUNION GOVERNANCE The Role and Future of the Historic Episcopate and the Anglican Communion Covenant by Stephen Noll.

The document itself is a PDF file available here or as web pages here.

There is an introduction and explanation of it by Phil Ashey which can be found at Introduction to “Communion Governance”. The key summary is:

1. The conclusion of this essay is that the one matter of principle that cannot be abandoned without abandoning our particular catholic and Anglican heritage is the responsibility of the ordained and bishops in council in particular, to rule and adjudicate matters of Communion doctrine and discipline.

2. If this is true, then the Lambeth Conference and the Primates’ Meeting (with the Archbishop of Canterbury presiding as primus inter pares) must be seen as the primary organs to deal with articulation of the faith, as happened at Lambeth 1998, and with breaches of the faith, as has not happened since then.

3. There must be only one track: those who adopt the Covenant are members of the Communion; those who do not adopt it are not. Bp. Mouneer Anis is right: when a sufficient number of Provinces have adopted the Covenant, the ACC and its Standing Committee should stand down and be constituted solely from Covenant-keeping Provinces. (pp. 48-49)


Equality Bill: Lord Alli's amendment succeeds

Updated again Wednesday afternoon

The amendment proposed by Lord Alli was passed in the House of Lords by a vote of 95 to 21.

News reports:

PA Civil partnership church ban lifted

The Times Peers vote for church civil partnership ceremonies

Daily Mail Gay couples now able to marry in church after House of Lords lifts ban

Telegraph Peers vote to allow homosexuals to marry in church

Ekklesia Parliament votes to recognise religious same-sex partnerships

BBC Church gay ceremonies ban lifted

The Bishop of Bradford spoke against the amendment and voted against it.
The Bishop of Newcastle voted in favour of it.

Others voting in favour included Lord Harries of Pentregarth, who also spoke.
Others voting against included Lord Eames.


Hansard report of the debate on this amendment starts here. For the PDF version go over here.

For the official news report see this page.

And for an official analysis of the voting patterns see this.

Afternoon update

Reuters Gay activists welcome vote on religious civil partnerships

Independent Gay weddings to be allowed in church

Ruth Gledhill Bishop of Winchester slams gay marriage in church ‘fudge’ headline changed to: Bishop of Winchester warns clergy could be sued over gay marriage

Andrew Brown Civil partnerships win in the Lords

George Pitcher Lords vote for “gay weddings” – so what?

Colin Coward Civil Partnerships in religious buildings – at last, ‘moderate’ dissent among the bishops, and dishonesty from one who should know better

Peter Ould Lord Alli’s Amendment Passes

Evangelical Alliance Churches must be free from fear of lawsuits over civil partnerships, says Evangelical Alliance

Stonewall House of Lords votes by majority of 74 for civil partnerships in religious premises

Ekklesia Same-sex partnership change highlights need to overhaul marriage law

Quakers in Britain Quakers welcome debate on equality

Christian Institute Homosexual unions allowed in churches

LGCM Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement celebrates the decision by the House of Lords to allow civil partnerships to be performed in places of worship

CCFON House of Lords vote to allow Civil Partnerships to take place in Church


civil partnerships: still more on the amendment

Updated twice

Several articles opposing the Equality Bill amendment proposed by Lord Alli have appeared.

Fulcrum has an article by Andrew Goddard Civil Partnerships and Religion:Some Cautions and Questions.

Andrew Carey has written in the CEN and republished by Anglican Mainstream Bishops facing real issues.

Peter Ould has written Blessing Civil Partnerships in Church.

All of these were written before the revised amendment text was published, although Andrew Goddard has made some changes to take account of it.

Peter has now also commented on the new amendment here.

On the other side of this debate, Colin Coward has written Civil Partnerships in religious buildings – at last, ‘moderate’ dissent among the bishops, and dishonesty from one who should know better.

Second Update

Gavin Drake has weighed in with Let’s all play ‘Pin the tail on the law’ with Lord Alli.


US Supreme Court denies certiorari

From a press release by the Los Angeles diocese:

The U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it has denied a petition to hear an appeal from a breakaway congregation seeking claim to the property of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church of La Crescenta, California. The court posted its action, together with dozens of other petitions denied, on its web site.

Meeting in conference on Feb. 26, the high court declined to hear the petition filed by St. Luke’s Anglican Church of La Crescenta, whose members voted in 2006 to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Go here to read a statement by the Bishop of Los Angeles.

ENS report: LOS ANGELES: U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear La Crescenta petition on property case


civil partnerships: more on the amendment

There was a letter in the Guardian this morning from the three denominations seeking this change: Church partnerships.

Richard Harries has written an article, now available at Cif belief Commitment we should encourage. Here is part of what he says:

…Some Church of England bishops, who were hardly enthusiastic about civil partnerships in the first place, fear that if this is allowed it would blur the distinction [between] them and marriage. But this is a fundamental issue of religious freedom. On what grounds can any body claim religious freedom for itself but deny it to others? The bishops may or may not approve of what Quakers, Liberal Jews and Unitarians want, but that is beside the point. What these bodies want would harm no one, and it accords with their deepest religious convictions. Religious freedom is indivisible. The only reason for denying it must be that of John Stuart Mill, namely if some public harm would result.

The harm to be taken into account need not be only physical, as race relations legislation shows. So it could be argued that allowing some faith communities to perform civil ceremonies on their premises was harmful in the sense that it undermines the institution of marriage in our society. But just the opposite is true. If we accept the argument that we need to retain both the term marriage and the term civil partnership, and that they are not identical, it seems to me clear from a Christian point of view that a ceremony in which two people commit themselves to a faithful, lifelong relationship before witnesses, partakes of the nature of a marriage. As such, from a Christian point of view, it can also express the biblical truth that such a relationship reflects the undeviating faithfulness of God towards us and which, according to St Paul, has its prototype in the relationship of christ to his church…


Equality Bill: revised amendment on civil partnerships

from here

53* Insert the following new Clause—

Civil partnerships

Civil partnerships on religious premises
(1) The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is amended as follows.
(2) Omit section 6(1)(b) and section 6(2).
(3) In section 6A, after subsection (2), insert—
“( ) Regulations under this section may provide that premises approved for the registration of civil partnerships may differ from those premises approved for the registration of civil marriages.”
(4) In section 6A, after subsection (3), insert—
“( ) For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Act places an obligation on religious organisations to host civil partnerships if they do not wish to do so.”


This is a substantially changed amendment. The original version read (changes marked by lining through):

(a) section 2(5) is omitted;
(b) section 6(1)(b) is omitted;
(c) section 6(2) is omitted;
(d) section 93(3) is omitted;
(e) section 137(5) is omitted.

The main effect of the changes is to retain the requirement that “No religious service is to be used while the civil partnership registrar is officiating at the signing of a civil partnership document”. Also the scope is now limited to England & Wales.