Thinking Anglicans

Anglican Covenant: some other views

Savi Hensman writes today at Cif belief about The Anglican power play.

The proposed Covenant is the culmination of a conservative and homophobic drive for power in the Anglican Communion

The Church of England’s House of Bishops is urging it to accept an Anglican Communion Covenant. This would give top leaders of overseas churches more power over the C of E and (strictly in theory) vice versa. The Archbishop of Canterbury has been a champion of greater centralism among Anglicans worldwide, supposedly to strengthen unity. But recent events have exposed the tawdry reality behind talk of “interdependence” and “bonds of affection”.

The Communion has long been a family of churches in different parts of the world, with a common heritage of faith but able to make their own decisions. The 1878 Lambeth Conference resolved that “the duly certified action of every national or particular Church, and of each ecclesiastical province (or diocese not included in a province), in the exercise of its own discipline, should be respected by all the other Churches” and “no bishop or other clergyman of any other Church should exercise his functions within that diocese without the consent of the bishop thereof” .

This was repeatedly affirmed at international gatherings, as were the value of freedom and human rights. (While the Archbishop of Canterbury, the most senior C of E cleric, was expected to convene such events, he had no authority over other provinces.)

Adrian Worsfold wrote for the Daily Episcopalian a little while ago about The slow-motion car crash.

…Once again, and to be clear: if you don’t want the consequences, don’t vote for the document. To remove the Covenant is to finish Windsor too. This applies far wider than for The Episcopal Church and The Anglican Church of Canada, the latter of which is dragging its feet somewhat in its aching movement from its desire to be agreeable in the Communion and its realisation that this document is a disaster.

The Archbishop of Canterbury believes in the bishops as people of a body, as in traditional authority, so policies are in the end sacred and personal. He is attached to this road, the only road, and in detail. I see him as a person, let’s say, in the passenger seat of a rally car with all the maps, the details and the documents, handed to him by the bureaucrats on the back seat according to tasks he set them. And then he’s the one who gives the instructions to his Secretary General, whose foot is slammed on the accelerator and whose hands are held fast on the steering wheel. They are in a rally and they are deciding the route for all the following Anglican cars. The fact that everyone sees this in slow motion should not alter the reality that there is an almighty car crash about to take place, with the lead car, and every other car following behind, generating a pile up for which ambulances are to be needed in numbers. Some rally driver, somewhere behind, needs to apply the brakes and radio the others.

And yesterday, Marshall Scott wrote in the same venue about Cowboy poker and the Anglican Communion.

Several years ago I began describing our Anglican struggles as “cowboy poker.” For those who have never heard of it, cowboy poker is a unique game. It’s a competition held in some rodeos in the United States, and perhaps elsewhere (yes, there are rodeos elsewhere). A card table and chair are set in the middle of the arena. Contestants sit around it playing poker. There is money on the table, but it isn’t won by playing cards. In fact, the cards aren’t the game. Instead, a fighting bull is released into the arena, looking for something to attack. The expectation is that the bull will charge the table, and the pot will go, winner-take-all, to the last person seated at the table.

I’ve had that thought again and again through the past few years. There have been many ways of looking at our struggles – differences over the limits of welcome and inclusion, over the interpretation of Scripture, over theological anthropology. However, it has also been a family argument over patrimony. That has included arguments over who would be the “true heirs” of the Anglican tradition; but also who would be recognized as Anglican by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The difference would fall between those who measured it by official recognition by the Church of England and the Anglican Consultative Council; and those who measured it by invitations to the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meetings, and “representative bodies.” Granted, there have been, as I said, disagreements about interpretation, but those have been in the context of remarkable agreement, included even in the draft Covenant, that Scripture and the Prayer Book tradition are fundamental to the Anglican tradition. So, I think there’s something to be said for the thought that this is about being recognized – being accepted, officially if grudgingly – by Canterbury (and if possible by the current incumbent)…


Mexico adopts Anglican Covenant

Mexico has become the first Communion Province to adopt the Anglican Communion Covenant following its VI General Synod in Mexico City on 11 and 12 June.

Secretary General Kenneth Kearon said he was delighted at the decision and labelled The Anglican Church of Mexico’s decision as a “significant step” in the life of the Communion.

The Anglican Communion Covenant, a document that outlines the common life and values of the Communion, was described by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams as “Something that helps us know where we stand together and also helps us to intensify our fellowship and our trust.” It includes a section that proposes how to address significant disagreements within the Anglican Communion.

The idea of a Covenant was first raised in 2004 and member churches are currently reviewing the latest and final version. “We are delighted to hear that Mexico has agreed to adopt the Covenant,” said Canon Kearon. “Provinces were asked to take their time to seriously consider this document, and we are glad to hear from recent synods that they are doing just that.”

Read the press release here: Mexico adopts the Anglican Communion Covenant.


Speaker's Chaplain – official announcement

Updated again Friday morning
Updated Thursday morning with Westminster Abbey press release

Here it is from the Parliament website: New Speaker’s Chaplain appointed.

The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow is delighted to announce the appointment of Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin as the new Speaker’s Chaplain.

Rev Hudson-Wilkin is currently Vicar of the United Benefice of Holy Trinity with St Philip, Dalston, and All Saints, Haggerston, in the London diocese.

She will combine this role with the position of Speaker’s Chaplain and as a Priest Vicar at Westminster Abbey. Her appointment will begin in September following the retirement of the Rev Robert Wright after 12 years in the role…

There is no press release yet on any new appointments at the Westminster Abbey website

Update Thursday morning

Westminster Abbey press release: The Reverend Andrew Tremlett appointed Canon of Westminster

Includes the following:

…The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said: ‘We are delighted at the appointment of Andrew Tremlett as a Canon of Westminster and look forward to welcoming him and his family to the Abbey. The Dean & Chapter will appoint him Rector of St Margaret’s Church within the Abbey precincts. An announcement about the appointment of a new Sub Dean will be made in due course.’

Meanwhile The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, has appointed the Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin as the new Speaker’s Chaplain.

Ms Hudson-Wilkin is currently Vicar of the United Benefice of Holy Trinity with St Philip, Dalston, and All Saints, Haggerston, in the London diocese. She will combine this role with the position of Speaker’s Chaplain. She is also an honorary Chaplain to HM The Queen. The post of Speaker’s Chaplain, which dates from 1660, has for most of its history been combined with another ministerial post away from Westminster. The Dean of Westminster will also appoint her as a Priest Vicar of the Abbey. Dr Hall said: ‘Rose Hudson-Wilkin will be very welcome as a member of the Abbey community and to worship in St Margaret’s Church and in the Abbey. Together the appointments of Andrew Tremlett and Rose Hudson-Wilkin will greatly enhance the Church’s ministry to the Palace of Westminster.’

The Chapel of St Mary Undercroft at the Palace of Westminster will remain under the jurisdiction of the Dean of Westminster as Ordinary.

Friday morning update

The Church Times reports, ‘No row’ over new Speaker’s Chaplain

…But, Dr Hall said, although the Abbey had advertised for someone to fill the combined position, his­torically this had not always been the case. “Technically, the appointment to the canonry of Westminster is by the Crown, while the appointment to Speaker’s Chaplain is the re­sponsibility of the Speaker, and that’s been the outcome on this occasion. There was no row between us, and relations between the Abbey and the Palace of Westminster and the Speaker continue to be constructive and productive.

“Mrs Hudson-Wilkin will be a Priest-Vicar at Westminster Abbey, and these two appointments will enhance the Church of England’s ministry in the Palace of West­minster.”


another bishop resigns from a standing committee

For an earlier resignation see a bishop resigns from a committee.

Now comes the Bishop in Iran, Azad Marshall.

Read George Conger’s report in the Church of England Newspaper Battle over ACC Standing Committee looms.

The Bishop in Iran has quit the Anglican Communion’s ‘Standing Committee’.

Bishop Azad Marshall’s decision to stand down will come as a blow to the Archbishop of Canterbury who has sought to vest an unprecedented degree of authority in the new entity—formed by the merger of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting…


Welcoming women's ministry?

Savi Hensman has written an article for Ekklesia Welcoming women’s ministry, which discusses the archbishops’ recently proposed amendment to the women bishops legislation.

…Not surprisingly, some have felt hurt and undermined, and if the Archbishops get their way, some women who might make excellent priests and indeed bishops, may be put off from pursuing the ordained ministry. There is evidence that already the Church of England’s image (along with that of some other churches) is driving sizeable numbers of lay women away and putting off potential members. In 2008, the sociologist Dr Kristin Aune, estimated that 50,000 women a year were leaving congregations because they felt the church was not relevant to their lives: “Young women tend to express egalitarian values and dislike the traditionalism and hierarchies they imagine are integral to the church.” Men and boys unwilling to be in spaces where women are unequal may also be put off.

The damage however may be even more far-reaching. Quite apart from the unfairness of treating women as inferior, to some Christians the problem touches on the very nature of the church and Christian faith. To treat some people as second-class is to dishonour a Creator who made all humankind in the divine image, a Redeemer whose self-giving love offers fullness of life to all and a Spirit who, like the wind, cannot be tamed, generously bestowing sometimes unexpected gifts.

And such unequal treatment undermines the whole church’s calling to care for the needy and challenge the world by witnessing to the possibility of a new way of life in which none are exploited or marginalised. To behave as if a cleaner struggling to get by on low pay and care for her children or elderly relatives is as important as a millionaire banker, or that a destitute survivor of domestic violence or a boy trying to break free of macho gang culture matters as much as a top politician – or wealthy potential donor – is hard. A clear stance on women’s acceptability in all forms of ministry can empower lay women, men and youth in our own vital ministry and mission…


CofE proposes a new Faith and Order Commission

GS 1782 (PDF) contains the detailed proposals for this. A webpage version of the entire document is now available here. As the press release about the forthcoming meeting of General Synod explains:

Synod will be asked to agree the setting up of the new Faith and Order Commission, in succession to three bodies: the Doctrine Commission, the Faith and Order Advisory Group and the House of Bishops’ Theological Group. This represents a streamlining and concentration of the Church of England’s theological resources at national level.

Here are the web pages of the Faith and Order Advisory Group.

The paper explains the current situation and proposed changes this way:

1. This paper sets out a proposal that the current theological resources of the Church of England at the national level should be brought together to form a new Faith and Order Commission of the General Synod (‘the Commission’). As well as consolidating the present arrangements, the proposal offers scope for a more focused and streamlined handling of work in this area in the future.

2. The proposal has been prepared in discussion with the chairs of the Council for Christian Unity, the Faith and Order Advisory Group (‘FOAG’) and the House of Bishops’ Theological Group. The idea has also been considered by FOAG, the House of Bishops Theological Group, the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops and the House itself, and has been supported, with minor amendment, at each stage. The Archbishops’ Council has been kept informed and we endorse the proposal.

3. Theological resourcing for the Church of England at the national level is currently provided by the Doctrine Commission, the House of Bishops’ Theological Group, and FOAG.

4. The Doctrine Commission has provided extensive theological resources in the past, normally in the form of major set piece reports, published every five years or so, but has been in abeyance for several years.

5. The Theological Group advises the House of Bishops and its Standing Committee on theological issues that arise within the work of the House or the College, offering reflection on all theological aspects of the House’s agenda. This provision would continue under the new arrangements.

6. FOAG provides theological resources and reflection for the House or College of Bishops and the Council for Christian Unity and through them for the Synod. Over the years, FOAG has produced a number of reports and other documents which have been adopted by the House of Bishops and made available to the wider Church. FOAG’s main strength is in ecclesiology and ecumenical theology, though it currently also contains expertise in biblical studies, liturgy and ethics, and this sort of expertise will be needed in the new Commission. FOAG normally has several bishops among its membership. It scrutinises draft ecumenical agreements and other ecumenical and ecclesiological texts involving the Church of England. The members and the episcopal chair of FOAG are appointed by the Archbishops. It receives commissions of work from either the House of Bishops or the CCU.

7. The current proposal is for the establishment of the Commission, which will incorporate FOAG, the House of Bishops’ Theological Group and the Doctrine Commission. The Commission will therefore have a special relationship to the House of Bishops and to the Council for Christian Unity (as FOAG has now)


trouble at Westminster?

Both the Sunday Telegraph and the Mail on Sunday carry stories about a row between the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Dean of Westminster.

Simon Walters and Jonathan Petre Mail on Sunday Speaker snubs Church to appoint first black Vicar of Westminster

The Queen was last night dragged into a bitter row over the appointment of a black woman as ­Chaplain to the House of Commons.

Commons Speaker John Bercow has refused to give the job to the candidate picked by the Dean of Westminster Abbey, the Very Rev Dr John Hall, who answers to the Queen.

He has chosen instead the Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, a Jamaican-born vicar in one of the ­poorest parts of East London. Sources say he objected to appointing ‘another predictable ­middle-aged white man’.

Mr Bercow was so determined to win the power struggle that he has cut the ties between Parliament and the Abbey, where state ­funerals, weddings and coronations take place – effectively splitting the Chaplain’s ­historic role in two.

The Abbey authorities have responded by refusing to give Mrs Hudson-Wilkin the palatial grace-and-favour apartment in the Abbey cloisters where the current Commons Chaplain lives.

The man snubbed by Mr Bercow, 46-year-old Andrew Tremlett, currently a Canon at Bristol Cathedral, is to be made a Canon at Westminster Abbey as a ‘consolation prize’ by the Queen.

But he will have to make do with half the salary of the Commons Chaplain…

Jonathan Wynne-Jones Sunday Telegraph Clash over historic promotion for female cleric

…A spokesman for the Speaker said: “We can’t make any comment until an announcement is made.”

A spokesman for the dean said: “It is absurd to suggest there’s any kind of rift between the Dean of Westminster and the Speaker of the House of Commons.

“Relations between them have been and will always remain cordial and constructive.”


CofE bishops commend Anglican Covenant

The latest batch of General Synod papers includes HB(10)M1, the Summary of Decisions from the recent (17-18 May) meeting of the House of Bishops.

That document includes the following (paragraph 6):

On the Anglican Communion Covenant, the House agreed

(a) to commend it for adoption by the Church of England;

(b) to invite the Business Committee to schedule the beginning of the adoption process for the inaugural Synod in November 2010, with a view to final approval in February 2012;

(c) not to propose special majorities for its adoption; and

(d) to authorise the House’s Standing Committee to oversee the production of necessary material for the Synod.


late June opinion

Jenny Taylor in The Guardian Not a question of conversion. A new C of E report is described as a call not to be embarrassed about ‘conversion’. But ‘conversion’ can’t be any Christian’s aim.

Andrew Brown in his Guardian blog A kumquat hoisted from comments. The Christian churches have moved slowly and partially away from patriarchy in the last fifty years. But every step has been contested.

John Richardson in The Guardian These compromised bishops will not fly. A conservative evangelical condemns the Archbishops’ measures to make room for opponents of women priests.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that Faith in the future is also irrational.

Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times about The faith that has been handed on to us by the apostles. (registration required)


Jane Shaw named Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

Grace Cathedral Names Jane Alison Shaw as its Eighth Dean

On June 25, Grace Cathedral’s Board of Trustees by unanimous roll call vote enthusiastically approved the nomination of the Rev. Canon Dr. Jane Alison Shaw as the eighth dean of Grace Cathedral. She was nominated by the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus after an extensive search process.

“Jane Shaw’s spiritual depth, commitment to the Gospel, theological vision and leadership skills make her uniquely qualified to help guide Grace Cathedral into its second century,” said the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of California.

Dr. Shaw joins Grace Cathedral from the University of Oxford in England where she has served as the Dean of Divinity and a Fellow of New College, Oxford. In addition, she has taught history and theology at the university.

Serving with distinction as a priest, academic theologian and historian, Dr. Shaw brings powerful preaching and deep expertise in liturgy, management and administration, program development, teaching, community building and fundraising.

Dr. Shaw is known internationally for her exceptional talents in the communication of Christianity in the public sphere. In Great Britain, she has been successful in bridging differences in governance and policies pertaining to inclusion, and has served as Theological Consultant to the Church of England House of Bishops. Dr. Shaw is Canon Theologian at Salisbury Cathedral and an honorary canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford…

Some other information is available at the Episcopal Café under New Dean named for Grace, San Francisco.

What was the cathedral looking for? Well, this link leads to detailed information about that.


Church Times on the archbishops' amendment

Paul Handley reports on this in the Church Times today, see Archbishops propose last-ditch solution on women bishops. It contains this nugget of information:

The amendment has not yet been formally submitted; so it is not known precisely how the Arch­bishops propose to change the draft legislation. They are expected to table the amendment at the last possible moment, 5.30 p.m. next Wednesday (30 June), in order to prevent its being further amended.

And there is a leader, Archbishops’ plan: can it save the day?

LAWYER’S TRICK or work of theological insight? Probably the former. Cutting the Gordian knot, or teasing out enough of a thread for people to cling on to? Probably the latter. Whatever the verdict, it was a good sign that the Archbishops’ intervention in the women-bishops saga on Monday was met, in the main, by puzzled silence. The debate has been going on so long that all the players are adept at spotting hidden agendas, sometimes even when there isn’t one: yes, this sounds concessionary, but where’s the beef? Well, in this instance, the Archbishops claim to have served a generous portion to the traditionalists without taking anything off the plate of the women bishops. Is this true?

Two further articles remain behind the paywall for another week, one by David Houlding and one by Jane Shaw. Only subscribers can read them now. As the news story says:

Prebendary David Houlding, a prominent member of the Catholic group in Synod, writes in this week’s Church Times that the statement “seeks to achieve what is necessary to maintain our unity. . . All this seems to point us in the right direction,” he concludes.

In a contrasting article, the Revd Dr Jane Shaw argues that “enshrining opposition to women bishops — what many people would call miso­gyny — into legislation” oper­ates against the forging of mutually trust­ing relationships. Such relation­ships, she says, need to be “at the heart of any way forward”.


Church Times reports on Southwark episode

Updated Friday afternoon

The Church Times reports a New twist in saga of ‘Mitregate’.

Pictures taken both at Southwark and at Gloucester cathedrals are printed side by side in the paper edition.

Some information new to TA readers is included:

Concerning Dr Jefferts Schori, the Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Colin Slee, was told that “canon law does not recognise women bishops, and women bishops cannot officiate in this country in any episcopal act”. Many believe that presiding at the eucharist is a priestly, not an epis­copal act; but mindful of sensitivities over the forthcoming Synod debate, he chose to be “hugely diplomatic and careful”.

A Lambeth Palace spoke[s]woman said on Wednesday: “This is not a ban. It was simply a recommenda­tion that has been given in the past on legal advice in similar situations.”

A Church Times reader, the Revd Elizabeth Baxter, recalls a service in Ripon Cathedral in 1994 at which the then Bishop of Dunedin, the Rt Revd Penny Jamieson, was invited to preach. She was asked not to wear her mitre by the Bishop, the Rt Revd David Young. Ms Baxter writes: “In solidarity with Bishop Penny, the many bishops who took part in that service processed without their mitres.”

The Church Times went to press on Wednesday, before the publication at Episcopal Café of the letter from Canon Anthony Ball to a member of the public. That letter itself is however dated Monday.

That letter is itself the subject of comment in today’s Guardian diary column with the strapline: Mitre-gate: it’s all very problematic. What’s worse, we’re to blame.


Equality Law will affect church appointments

The following article appeared in the Church Times on 11 June 2010.

Equality Law will affect church appointments

by Simon Sarmiento

THE Equality Act 2010 will apply to all Crown appointments of clergy when it comes into effect later this year, probably in October.

Until now, anti-discrimination law has not covered clerical office-holders in the Church of England. But the definition of “public office” in the new Act will bring within its scope all posts to which appointment is made on the recommendation of a minister of the Crown.

Another category of posts defined in the Act is that of “personal office”-holders. But a Church House spokesman said last month that “That definition probably applies only to stipendiary curates. It does not apply to incumbents or priests-in-charge who are not ‘appointed to discharge a function personally under the direction of another person’.”

One consequence of this change is that legislation to allow women bishops in the C of E will need specific provisions to widen the existing exemptions. As the revision committee’s report explains: “essentially, the Equality Act provides . . . that a person can be excluded from consideration for appointment to a public office altogether on the grounds of sex,” but would not “allow a woman to be appointed a diocesan bishop but on the basis that . . . she would refrain from carrying out certain functions herself (because of her sex)”.

This is not the case under the current Sex Discrimination Act 1975, which contains an express exemption in wider terms for ministers of religion. Modifications made to this exemption in 2005 included the repeal of an earlier specific provision inserted in the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993.

Clause 7 of the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure contains an exemption from relevant clauses in the Equality Act that deal with the “terms on which an appointment is made”. The Government Equalities Office told Church House staff that “We have no doubt that Parliament will consider very carefully, and with good will, any measure that the Church of England as a whole ultimately feels is necessary to achieve this objective.”

The 1975 Act will be repealed at the same time as the new 2010 Act comes into effect, but the current exemptions in the former are carried forward in Schedule 9 of the new Act.

A Church House spokesman said on Friday, however: “In so far as anything in the 1993 Measure conflicts with Part 5 of the Equality Act it is rendered lawful by Schedule 9 paragraph 2 of the Act. But not all the arrangements contained in the 1993 Measure do conflict with Part 5 of the Act because Part 5 does not cover all the clergy.”

When asked whether it agreed that many clergy were not covered by the Equality Act, a government spokesman said on Monday: “The policy is to provide protection to those in employment and employment-related positions (meaning, roughly, where someone has sufficient direction and control over another such that discriminating against them could seriously impede their ability to obtain/engage in gainful work, thereby compromising their ability to provide for themselves), implementing our EU obligations and domestic policy. It is for the tribunals to decide whether any definition is satisfied on the facts of each case.”


Catholic Group in synod responds to archbishops


From the Catholic Group in General Synod

Responding to the statement of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York Re. forthcoming women bishops debates

The Catholic Group in General Synod is grateful to the Archbishops for their suggestion of a possible way forward for the Church of England, both to enable the consecration of women bishops and to provide for those who cannot in conscience accept the ministry of women bishops. We are particularly grateful for their recognition of the need for bishops with jurisdiction in their own right to minister to us, and to all those who share our convictions.

We look forward to studying the amendments in detail when they are published. We very much hope that they will provide ‘nominated bishops’ who will be real leaders in mission and ministry. It is also be vital that the amendments provide for us to continue to hold a principled theological position, looking to the faith and order of the undivided Church. We believe that the Church will be better served by the consistency of a national scheme of provision.

The Catholic Group is wholly committed to securing provision within the Church of England.

Canon Simon Killwick

(Chairman of the Catholic Group)

As reported by Anglican Mainstream.


Lambeth Palace explains the Southwark episode

Episcopal Café reports, in Lambeth Palace on “the issue of vesture” AKA #mitregate, on an email reply sent from Lambeth Palace to an American Episcopalian who wrote to complain about the treatment of the Presiding Bishop when she recently presided and preached at Southwark Cathedral.

Follow the link above to read the comments of the Café on this reply, but here is the text of it.

Sent: Monday, June 21, 2010 1:14 PM
Subject: RE: [ID: 81888] AB Comment from an American Episcopalian

Dear Mr _____,

Thank you for your e-mail to which I have been asked to respond as, I am sure you will understand, Archbishop Rowan is not able to reply personally to as much of the correspondence he receives as he would wish. It may help if I set out some of the background to the questions you raise.

The Dean of Southwark first issued an invitation to Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori before the Lambeth Conference in 2008 – one in what I understand to be an ongoing programme of invitations to Primates of the Anglican Communion. She was not able to accept the invitation at that time and last Sunday’s date was subsequently agreed. Initially the invitation was to preach, however, earlier this month it became clear that the Presiding Bishop would be asked to preside at the Eucharist too. As the intention was for her to ‘officiate’ at a service the Archbishop’s permission was required under the provisions of the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967. This is a matter of English law. The Archbishop’s permission under the Measure is the means of confirming a person’s eligibility to exercise their ministry in the Church of England and applies to any clergy ordained overseas. The application form (an example of which is at asks the necessary questions – although in the Presiding Bishop’s case it was explicit that the ‘letters of orders’ were not required. The Archbishop’s permission was sought and granted, although the legal and canonical framework of the Church of England prevents the Archbishops granting permission for a woman priest to exercise a sacramental ministry other than as a priest. The agreed approach of the English bishops [not all*] is that women bishops celebrating under these provisions should do so without the insignia of episcopal office so as to avoid possible misunderstandings.

As you might imagine, I am not in a position to answer the questions about what permissions or evidence of orders the Episcopal Church require of clergy from other parts of the Anglican Communion.

Please be assured that the Archbishop, and those of us who support his ministry, had no intention to slight the Presiding Bishop. Indeed, by ensuring that the legal formalities were observed it was hoped that she, and the Dean of Southwark, might be spared the embarrassment that might have flowed from any challenge to her presiding and preaching at the cathedral. The media interest provoked over the issue of vesture has, of course, undermined that hope – as your letter makes clear.

Yours in Christ,

Anthony Ball
Sent by Jack Target on behalf of:
The Revd Canon Anthony Ball
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Chaplain
Lambeth Palace, London

* these words not in original email (see comments below)


An open letter from a curate to the Archbishops

An open letter to the Archbishops regarding their proposed amendments

Dear Archbishop Williams and Archbishop Sentamu,

It is with great dismay and disappointment that I read your proposed amendments to the Women Bishops draft legislation issued on Monday 21st June. I doubt there are many who will feel this offers good news. Far from being attentive to the full diversity of voices within the Church of England, these amendments suggest that you, our Archbishops, are primarily concerned with a particularly vocal minority. Neither do you seem to trust that the Legislative Drafting Committee have, in fact, been extremely attentive to the diversity of voices for the past year and have worked hard to come up with the current proposals. There is nothing to suggest, for example, that you are listening to the voices of those who signed petitions in 2008 requesting a single clause measure. Or those, like WATCH, who have made it clear that the proposed legislation already demands many concessions and compromises from the simple single clause measure they requested and which has been favoured by all other Anglican provinces who have chosen to open the episcopate to women.

There will be many who will be unable to support the proposed transfer arrangements and continual public undermining of women’s spiritual authority implicit in these amendments (paragraph 6), even if it means proceeding sooner rather than later.

The smoke and mirror strategy of giving jurisdiction by virtue of the Measure, rather than transfer or delegation in effect implies that the Church of England as a whole is ambiguous about the identity and authority of both Bishops who are female and male priests who accept their ministry. This is a dangerous precedent to set and leaves women in ministry vulnerable as they, along with every Christian, continue the battle against the principalities and powers of darkness but without the full support of the Church that recognised and authorised their divine calling to ordained ministry. It is a poor consolation prize to offer consecrated women fuller legal rights with one hand (para 15.1) while continuing to set up structures that call into question their spiritual authority (paragraph 13). The interpretation of the Lambeth Conference resolution (1998) which undergirds this proposal (para 2) fails to recognise that both those who assent to and those who dissent to the ordination of women to the priesthood are loyal Anglicans because what we hold in common; our love for Christ, our common identity as brothers and sisters in Christ, takes precedence over our disagreement over differing understandings of the Episcopal authority. Status as loyal Anglicans is not a carte blanche to demand special provisions.

I refute completely that the Church of England has managed to operate a practical polity (para 13). The practical polity is in fact extremely dysfunctional, cripples the ministry of women, in some diocese more than others, and has done nothing to bring about greater communion, but instead fosters division and discrimination and continues to damage the Church.

Many people on both sides of the debate have struggled with the Act of Synod because they are committed to making it work and will continue to wrestle with whatever General Synod manages to agree upon, because of their love for the communities this Church serves, often despite the toxic legacy of the Act. This is illustrated by the fact that Prayer Vigils will take place around the country, in Ripon, Guildford, Newcastle and Lichfield Cathedrals, during the General Synod debates, genuinely drawing together the diversity of voices to which you refer, but to whom you clearly have not listened.

Wherever the solution may lie to the question of how to bring about Women Bishops, I think it is unlikely to manifest itself in the creation of Church of England ghettos that will further isolate those who are opposed and fatally undermine the ministry of those who assent and have the unenviable task of making such convoluted proposals work.
Where are the proposals that will in fact ensure that we simply have Bishops? Consecrated because we have discerned God’s calling and gifting within them, regardless of those things that are declared unimportant in relation to our identity in Christ; race, gender, social status? Where are the proposals that will enable them to fulfil that role with joy, confidence and the minimum of hindrance?

When will the Church of England accept that to set up structures that implicitly infer that some people are less a child of God than others is just poor theology and a stumbling block to our proclamation of the gospel?

I realise that the sound of our church in great pain as it labours to bring something into new birth is difficult for you both, as our Archbishops, and for many others to hear. But it would be good for you to recognise that the expression of pain is not necessarily an indication that something is fundamentally wrong. The Church of England, through Synod, declared many decades ago that there were, in fact, no theological objections to women’s ordained ministry. I would like to see it support its statements with clear and unambiguous actions.

Your sister in Christ,
Lindsay Southern
22nd June 2010

This letter is written by a national committee member of WATCH.

Ruth Gledhill has written about it at her blog (registration now required) under the heading Archbishops of Canterbury and York in hoc to ‘principalities and powers of darkness’ as they fail to understand ‘pain’ of giving birth Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the ‘principalities and powers of darkness’: the vehement disagreement of a woman curate..


more about women bishops

First, Alan Wilson has commented on the Southwark Cathedral episode, see If you want to get ahead get a hat:

…This bizarre story indicates, as has been told, that unlike previous visiting female bishops from the US, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church was banned from wearing a Mitre in Southwark Cathedral. Forrest Gump’s mum used to say, stoopid is as stoopid does, and the whole mentality of such a request, if it was ever made, is profoundly stoopid. The whole thing smacks of hypocrisy. It bears the fingerprints of blind officialdom rather than the Archbishop himself.

I’m an optimist, however, and can see positive learning from such loonery:

1. The C of E has a lot of getting real and growing up to do. Seeing the problem presented in a stark form presents a good opportunity to recognise it and resolve to do better in future.

2. All God’s promises are “yes” and “amen” in Jesus Christ, who taught his disciples to say yes or no. Anything else comes from the evil one. The Spirit has always called the church to a form of ministry that was real within the sociology of the world we serve. Therefore we respond to the Spirit’s call obediently, not half-heartedly. The Puritans used to talk about the “Devil’s Martyrs” — people who lost out all round, because they messed with Mr In-Between, depriving themselves of the advantages of being Puritans, or Libertines. Simply framing the Spirit’s call to ordain women in terms of the problems it raises is boring, weedy and faithless, as well as hypocritical…

Second, Maggi Dawn has commented on the archbishops’ intervention in the forthcoming General Synod debate on Women in the Episcopate. See The archbishops, evangelism and the status of women.

…Me? I’ve never been attracted to the bullying variety of evangelism, but neither have I ever been embarrassed to talk about the claims of Christianity, or to invite other people to check it out for themselves. I am not much of an evangelist by nature, if by that you mean someone who bangs on about Christianity in the belief that I have got all the answers. My sense of wonder, my intellectual curiosity and my genuine appreciation for the human race disallows me from wanting to think I already have all the answers: how appallingly boring that would be. But Christian theology, per se, is interesting and wide ranging if you take it seriously, and don’t allow yourself to be taken in by those who insist it has no intellectual credulity.

The more pressing problem for evangelism, it seems to me, is the ongoing debacle about women in the Church, this week of all weeks. Yesterday we learned that the Archbishops seem OK with proposing a compromise on women bishops that downgrades the status of all the women in the Church. It beats me how you can put that together with an upbeat view of evangelism. They might feel fine about evangelising people into a Church that continues to give women second class status. I do not. You don’t have to go back that many decades to find a church that disallowed people from becoming priests or bishops because of the colour of their skin, or because they had a disability. Those barriers have been broken down in the name of justice, and rightly so; no-one would dare uphold such an idea now, and even if they thought it privately they wouldn’t dare to say it out loud. It seems outrageous to me that we continue to believe that it’s OK to delay indefinitely the active acceptance of women at all levels in the Church. Its patently obvious that the world at large thinks so too, and this unacceptable injustice towards women is far more of a blight on evangelism than shyness.


women bishops: Parliamentary questions

The new Second Church Estates Commissioner took questions in the House of Commons yesterday. The first was about women bishops.

Here is the verbatim Hansard report.

Church Commissioners

The hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked-

Women Bishops

2. Diana R. Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): What progress the Church of England has made on proposals to enable women to be consecrated as bishops. [3388]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Tony Baldry): Before I answer that question, may I pay tribute to my predecessor, the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Sir Stuart Bell)? He has been the longest serving Second Church Estates Commissioner ever, and he did an excellent job. The legislation to enable women to become bishops reaches the General Synod’s equivalent of Report early next month in York. Depending on what is decided there, the legislation will then go to the 44 diocesan synods, and I understand that the earliest date that the General Synod can take a final decision, and when the matter can eventually come before the House, is 2012.

Diana R. Johnson: I welcome the hon. Gentleman to his new role. Does he not agree that the intervention of the two archbishops, with their proposal on the legislation to enable women to become bishops, will create a two-tier system of bishops? Women will no doubt be on the lower tier, and does that not send out completely the wrong message from the established Church of this country about the role of women bishops?

Tony Baldry: I thank the hon. Lady for her kind words at the beginning of her question. There are clear majorities in the General Synod in favour of women becoming bishops, but, as the proposals by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York yesterday demonstrated, there are still efforts to try to find ways to reconcile those who have deep-held opposition to the measure. Under legislation, it is important that the Church decides the way forward, and we should give it the space to do so. However, it is also very important that the Church hears the voices of this House about how we see those matters, because ultimately the issue will have to come back to this House.

Later there was a second question which referred to women bishops.

7. Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) (Con): When the responsibilities of the Second Church Estates Commissioner in respect of this House were last reviewed. [3393]

Tony Baldry: I am beginning to get to grips with the responsibilities of this post, which was established by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners Act 1850. I would say at this stage that I will try to have the same broad approach to answering questions on behalf of the Church as did my predecessor. I hope that I can be a helpful conduit between the Church and this House, and this House and the Church.

Peter Bottomley: My hon. Friend is admirably suited to following the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Sir Stuart Bell) in this post. Will he pass back to the Synod the fact that we look forward in this House to having bishops chosen on merit, recognising that sex is not merit and that the Synod can throw out proposals that it does not like?

Tony Baldry: As I said in response to an earlier question, it is very important that the General Synod and the Church should hear the voices of this House, and I am sure that they will have heard, and will hear, the voice of my hon. Friend.


More on Kearon's visit to the Executive Council

Some members of the TEC Executive Council have now written more about this event, which is first reported on here.

Mark Harris has written Canon Kearon on Faith and Order: It is about troublesome TEC.

In that meeting Kearon said that The Episcopal Church does not “share the faith and order of the vast majority of the Anglican Communion.” What precisely did he mean by that?

He argued that “The Commission on Unity Faith and Order is central to our way forward as a communion. and a lot of effort has gone into making it balanced.” He argued that “There is a logic which says if you do not share the faith and order of the wider communion then you shouldn’t represent that communion to the wider church.”

All of this makes matters of sexuality – particularly the matters addressed in the moratoria on same-sex blessings and episcopal ordination of partnered gay or lesbian persons – matters of “faith and order.” Now how does that happen? What precisely is this business of Faith and Order?

Katie Sherrod has written a detailed account of this event, see Canon Kearon speaks. One sample:

It began with Canon Kearon telling Bishop Katharine that he wanted the session to be private, with staff and press put out of the room. He talked about how the press was the enemy of us all and that bloggers would take anything that was said and distort it.

So Bishop Katharine said, “All those in favor of a closed session, please raise your hands.” Four or five hands went up.

“All opposed?” Hands went up all over the room. The session remained open to everyone.

There is a lot more on the substance of the discussion.


Co-ordinate Jurisdiction: WATCH responds to the archbishops

WATCH (Women and the Church) Press Statement 22nd June 2010

All bishops are equal but some are more equal than others.

WATCH has studied the outline proposals of the Archbishops’ intervention in the progress of legislation for women bishops. Despite the assurances that all will be well we are not convinced that the issues raised regarding jurisdiction will be resolved equitably when the practical steps of implementation are worked out. Will an “unacceptable” Diocesan bishop be required to share jurisdiction and how? Or will it be at her or his discretion? If the former, we are in effect back to automatic transfer.

The timing of the Archbishops’ intervention is similarly to be questioned. The Revision Committee considered all proposals put to them in great and thoughtful detail. These new proposals could have been made in similar detail to the Revision Committee. This would have enabled their practical consequences to be thoroughly considered before they came to be debated by General Synod. It is important that the Church does not re-create the unforeseen consequences of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod in agreeing to proposals that have not been thoroughly explored and explained. We ask; In what way are ‘nominated bishops’ not actually flying bishops with extended jurisdiction? Are we not creating a two-tier episcopacy of ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ bishops with all that implies about how the Church continues to view women? Have the Archbishops sought the views of the senior women who must be counted amongst “the full diversity of voices in the Church of England”? Has their support been obtained for these proposals?

WATCH has received many messages that suggest that the Revision Committee has accurately judged the amount of compromise that people are prepared to make. While we would prefer the legislation to be simpler and more straightforward we are willing to support the Revision Committee proposals for the sake of the Church. Let us move forward on that basis.

Notes for Editors

WATCH (Women and the Church) is a voluntary organisation of women and men who are campaigning to see women take their place alongside men without discrimination and at every level in the Church of England. This requires the removal of current legal obstacles to the consecration of women as bishops. WATCH believes that the full equality of women and men in the Church is part of God’s will for all people, and reflects the inclusive heart of the Christian scripture and tradition.