Thinking Anglicans

News from Rwanda and the AMiA


The Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda which sponsors AMiA recently elected a new primate.

ACNS Bishop Onesphore Rwaje elected Archbishop of the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda.

A news story in The New Times was headed Anglican Archbishop-Elect Vows to Fight Gay Marriage.

George Conger writes about it today in the Church of England Newspaper: Rwandan revamp of Anglican ecclesiology.

The paper by Kevin Donlon mentioned in the above can be found as a PDF over here. (Paul Bagshaw commented on it in 2008.)

Meanwhile, one of the largest AMIA congregations, Christ Church Plano is switching to ACNA, see Christ Church Making Canonical Transfer to ACNA.

Update see also Christ Church, Plano, TX Transfers to Anglican Church in North America, Joins Diocese of Pittsburgh


Instruments of Unity?

Support for the Anglican Covenant (at least in its present form) is becoming increasingly hard to find.

The latest commentary from Ephraim Radner is titled Can the Instruments of Unity Be Repaired? includes this passage:

…Instead of the Primates’ Meeting, the leaders of the Global South – whether they are Primates or not — along with their mutually supportive colleagues, need to order their lives according to some other provisional gathering point: the Covenant sits there waiting. Its adoption in some form under the auspices of a definable group would allow other non-Global South Anglicans in the world in less coherent or even friendly settings to join in and have some visible linkages and mutual relations that formally sustain their continued witness and mission. Should the current text be revised? In an obvious sense, yes: Section 4 is no longer rational, given the role it gives to the ACC and through it a now clouded “Standing Committee”. But a gathering on the basis of Sections 1-3 is possible (altering little), with a view to revising Section 4 in a simple manner by replacing the Standing Committee with some provisional group representative of the Covenanting churches’ leadership, however that is determined. Those who have already adopted or confirmed the current Covenant text have shown their ability to deal expeditiously with any such simple revisions…

Bishop Christopher Epting of the Episcopal Church USA has written an article To “Covenant” or Not to “Covenant”.

I continue to be of two minds about the wisdom of the proposed Anglican Covenant. On the one hand it could be helpful, ecumenically, and otherwise, to have a fairly accessible summary of “the Anglican ethos” and what binds us together as members of this Communion. I don’t think there is a real threat here of us becoming a “confessional Church” in the ways Anglicans have not been in the past. The proposed Covenant falls far short (thankfully) of a Westminster or Augsburg Confession. The first three sections are not perfect, but I could certainly live with them as a short-hand way of stating who we have been and are historically.

On the other hand, I have a good deal of sympathy with those who remind us that Anglicans have been loathe to state that we hold or teach anything other than the creedal Faith of the “undivided” Church and that the Creeds, the Baptismal Covenant, and perhaps the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral should be all we need by way of “confessional” statements. But are they today?

Obviously, the most problemmatic portion of the proposed Anglican Covenant is Section Four which deals with processes and procedures should one Province or “instrument” of the Communion feel that another Province has failed to live into the implications of the Covenant and caused serious stress and strain for sisters and brothers elsewhere, stretching or even breaking the bond of Communion the Covenant is supposed to enhance…

Meanwhile, scepticism rules in English comments. See for example The Covenant: Antarctic Study Guide by Paul Bagshaw or Not a Coward by Adrian Worsfold.

And there is The Guide to the Anglican Covenant for Dummies at Lesley’s Blog, along with The Anglican Covenant – Monty Python Style?

Today’s Church Times has the headline If Jefferts Schori is at meeting, I won’t come, says Primate.

PRIMATES from the Global South are contemplating a boycott of the next Primates’ Meeting because the US Presiding Bishop, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, will be present.

The Archbishop of the Indian Ocean, the Most Revd Ian Ernest, has confirmed that he will not attend the meeting, due to take place in Dublin, 25-31 January…


Diocese of Southwark: Christopher Chessun nominated

From No 10:

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Christopher Thomas James Chessun, MA, Area Bishop of Woolwich, for election as Bishop of Southwark, in succession to the Right Reverend Thomas Frederick Butler, BSc, MSc, PhD, on his retirement on the 5th March 2010.

Notes for Editors

The Right Reverend Christopher Chessun (aged 54) studied for the ordained ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. His first curacy was at St Michael and All Angels, Sandhurst in Oxford Diocese between 1983 and 1987, and he become a Senior Curate at St Mary, Portsea in Portsmouth Diocese from 1987 to 1989. He then became Minor Canon and Chaplain of St Paul’s Cathedral from 1989 to 1993 and between 1991 and 1993 he was also a Vocations Adviser in the Diocese of London. From 1993 to 2001 he was Rector of St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney and Area Dean of Tower Hamlets from 1997 to 2001. He became Archdeacon of Northolt in 2001. Since 2005 he has been Area Bishop of Woolwich. In May 2010 the Archbishops of Canterbury and York appointed him Bishop for Urban Life and Faith in addition to his other Episcopal responsibilities.

Christopher Chessun has an identical twin, and his interests include music, history, travel, deaf – hearing integration, reconstruction in Zimbabwe and links with Churches overseas.

From Southwark: Tenth Bishop of Southwark is announced includes more details

Bishop Nick Baines writes: Bishop of Southwark


Interviews for diocesan bishops

The Crown Nominations Commission is now interviewing candidates. This was done for the first time last week, when candidates for Bradford were interviewed. This was announced by the Archbishop of York at General Synod in February this year, but we failed to pick it up at the time. The Archbishop’s statement is included in the Report of Proceedings: Volume 41 No.1 (February 2010) (pages 97 and 98). I have copied it below the fold. My thanks go to the Archbishops’ Senior Appointments Adviser for drawing my attention to this.

I have described the full process for appointing diocesan bishops here.

There is also a very useful Briefing for Members of Vacancy in See Committees prepared by the Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary which also describes the process, although this has not yet been updated to include the interviews.



Women in the episcopate: Code of Practice drafting group

NEWS from the Church of England
PR 87.10
For immediate release

Women in the episcopate: working group for preparation of draft statutory code of practice

The membership has been announced today of a working group established by the House of Bishops’ Standing Committee to advise the House on the preparation of a draft statutory code of practice.

The members, three of whom served on the former Revision Committee on the legislation, are:

  • The Right Revd Nigel Stock, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich (Chair)
  • The Right Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry
  • The Right Revd Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Whitby
  • Dame Averil Cameron, retired Warden of Keble College, Oxford and former chair of Cathedral Fabrics Commission
  • The Venerable Christine Hardman, Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich
  • The Reverend Angus MacLeay, Vicar of St Nicholas Sevenoaks
  • The Venerable Jane Sinclair, Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey
  • Mrs Caroline Spencer, Chair Canterbury Diocese House of Laity

The working group has been asked to conclude its report for the House by next autumn having consulted the House and the legislative Steering Committee first.

The expectation is that the House will bring a draft of the code to Synod in February 2012, though the final version of the code cannot be drawn up by the House and approved by Synod until the legislation itself has received Royal Assent (which cannot in practice be before 2013).



Catholic Care appeals yet again

According to a report from Catholic News Service by Simon Caldwell English Catholic adoption agency appeals Charity Commission’s decision:

The last remaining Catholic adoption agency in England has filed an appeal against a decision by the Charity Commission for England and Wales forbidding it to turn away same-sex couples as potential adopters and foster parents.

Catholic Care lodged the appeal with the charity tribunal against a ruling by the commission rejecting its application to change its constitution so it could comply with church teaching prohibiting gay adoption and civil laws stopping it from discriminating against same-sex couples.

The agency, which serves the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough and Hallam in northern England, had sought to continue its policy of assessing married heterosexuals and single people as potential adopters, which means it will not deal with gay couples.

But on July 21, the Charity Commission turned down its application on the grounds that it was discriminatory toward homosexuals and in breach of European and British equality and human rights laws.

Catholic Care lodged an appeal against the decision Sept. 28, arguing that commissioners ignored the opinion of a High Court judge, Sir Michael Briggs, who in March ruled in favor of the agency when it first appealed against the commission’s decision.

Benjamin James of London-based Bircham Dyson Bell Solicitors, representing Catholic Care, told Catholic News Service Oct. 4 that the “commission is wrong in its decision.”

He said, “We have lodged an appeal with the charity tribunal and the charity tribunal will request that the Charity Commission responds within 28 days.

“Once the commission has responded, there will be a directions hearing deciding how the case will be managed going forward,” he said.

“The actual appeal is whether the Charity Commission correctly interpreted Sir Michael’s (Briggs) judgment,” he added…

Previous TA reports on this subject are here and also here.


still more on the Times interview

Benny’s Blog has The Sin of Honesty.

…So the Archbishop’s now famous phrase from last week’s interview in the Times that “He has no problem with gay bishops’ clearly needs another caveat placed alongside celibacy – the caveat that “He has no problem – as long as no-one knows!”

This is clearly a major issue for the CofE and the Anglican Communion. At a meeting of candidates for the current General Synod elections last week, 2 of the candidates openly noted that the Church of England has been ordaining gay priests and consecrating gay bishops for years, and that we need to stop living a lie!

Indeed, when I served on General Synod several years ago, I remember being part of a conversation in which a serving Bishop’s name was mentioned as being gay. The reaction was remarkable – there was shocked silence for a moment before one senior churchman (they were both men) for whom this was news, said “He’s not gay, is he?” while at the same moment another (who already knew of the Bishop’s sexuality) said, “He’s not gone public, has he?” Which was the greater crime, I wondered – being gay or being honest?

Lesley’s Blog has Balm in Gilead and the interview with Rowan Williams

…I have been musing about the pain Rowan Williams expressed in his recent interview with the Times. I had no idea that Jeffrey John and Rowan Williams were so close. I do hope that there is some Balm in Gilead to cover some of the pain that has been felt by so many people discussing the issue of homosexuality and the church. It will be my prayer…

Significant Truths has a little poem, see Nonsense.

Changing Attitude continues from its earlier posts with How to make a difference – but first, examples of dysfunction and abuse in the Church.

…How do we work towards changing this culture of secrecy and dishonesty? I maintain that it is corrosive of healthy church life, together with the behaviour of closeted LGBT people and the impact of lobby groups which are unhealthily obsessed with other people’s sexuality.

Take small steps
There are many small ways in which we can be doing something that changes the dynamic of our church life. Becoming aware, having courage to initiate conversations, remembering to question what doesn’t feel right, learning to listen to your inner voice.

Getting the current state of affairs into a better perspective, ++Rowan, ++John, House of Bishops, General Synod, would be a dramatically significant first step. The behaviour of many in the Communion (independent of their views about homosexuality) is a disgrace which is infecting and corrupting the Church.

Build relationships
Create networks, relationships and friendships at every level of church life – and across difference – don’t allow others to marginalise us in their attempt to portray themselves as victims. It’s more difficult to be secretive, to organise conspiracies and to project onto others when you are in relationship with people rather than in denial of their presence and when you allow a holy light to shine on the encounters.

Well, obviously, for a gay activist, prayer comes first, 7am every morning! Pray openly, reflectively, trustingly, quietly attentive, yearning and listening to the loving, gentle, tender, intimate presence of God in your heart and soul. Trust – trust God, trust God’s infinite variety and complexity and simplicity in creation. Tune in to your own experience of God and trust, and pray for imagination, vision and enlightenment.

And two American views:

An Inch at a Time The Promised Rowan Williams Rant

In a Godward direction Rowan’s Job Description


Do gay bishops and primates exist?

Colin Coward has followed up on his earlier post and written more on this topic at Changing Attitude.

Read the full article here.

An extract:

…The culture of secrecy and dishonesty, the inability to be open and transparent and to communicate effectively affects Lambeth Palace, Church House, the Crown Nominations Commission, the Anglican Communion Office, General Synod, dioceses and parishes. It means that people either second-guess information or are left in ignorance. The culture is rampant and is corrupting the life of the Christian community. Every dimension of Church life is affected. People are intimidated by those who I might sometimes want to describe as prejudiced, loud mouthed bigots but whose self-image is as defenders of orthodoxy and tradition. They intimidate the ability of the Archbishop of Canterbury to speak and act freely and they intimidate me – but I have far less to lose…

And he concludes:

…Until the culture of fear and secrecy in the Church of England changes, the bigotry is challenged and our Church becomes a place which is free from prejudice against LGBT people, the Episcopal Church will remain the only place where LGBT people can come out and be elected as bishops. I’m tempted to start a new campaign. The culture of secrecy, intimidation and abuse in the Church of England has got to be challenged, undermined and changed.


2011 Anglican Primates Meeting – but who is going?

The ACO has announced 2011 Anglican Communion Primates’ Meeting to be held in Ireland, and there is a similar press release from Dublin.

The next Primates’ Meeting of the Anglican Communion will be held in Ireland between the 25th and 31st January, 2011.

Senior bishops from Churches across the Communion will be invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams to attend the meeting taking place at the Emmaus Retreat & Conference Centre in Dublin, Ireland…

Writing in the Church of England Newspaper George Conger reports:

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori stated on Sept 21 that she had received notice of the meeting, and was planning on attending. The primates of the Global South coalition will meet next month and are expected to take up the issue of whether they will attend the gathering.

Other reports have appeared suggesting that several primates may not attend.

ACNA bishop David Anderson, who serves as a suffragan bishop within CANA as well as President and CEO of the American Anglican Council, has expressed his opinions what should happen:

Dr. Williams is being advised that numerous provinces won’t attend the Primates Meeting if Jefferts Schori attends. Having booked the venue, he might as well have the meeting since he is committed to paying for it, but without the orthodox Primates in attendance it could be a dangerous meeting, giving opinion and credence to teachings and beliefs that are not representative of orthodox Anglicanism.

If asked my opinion, I would strongly advise the orthodox Primates to 1) organize before the Primates’ meeting, and 2) attend and remove by force of numbers the Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church (not physically, but by either voting her off the “island,” or recessing to another room and not letting her in). The meeting is a place to gather and potentially to settle some of the issues that are pulling the Anglican Communion apart, and to begin to restore health to a most wonderful communion.

In the above case, if Dr. Williams did not go along with Jefferts Schori’s exclusion, then I would suggest having the next-door-meeting without him. I just don’t believe staying home from the field of battle helps win a war over the truth and nature of Christianity within Anglicanism. The Christian Church needs a spiritually strong and muscular Anglicanism to re-evangelize the West; are we willing to make the sacrifices in order for this to happen?



This week’s instalment in Alan Wilson’s Guardian series on the BCP is The Book of Common Prayer, part 6: Fencing the table. “The BCP’s approach to eucharistic access was informed by seeing holy communion as the supreme instrument of inclusion.”

Susan McCarthy writes in The Guardian about Noah’s raven: whose flight of fancy? “The ‘tracks’ of Noah’s raven found in 1802 smack of slipshod Biblical literalism, but the slapdash historical research is worse.”

The Archbishop of York has given a lecture on Prison Reform, Restorative Justice and Community to the Prisoners Education Trust; full text here.

Andrew Brown asks in The Guardian What does prayer achieve? “If praying for someone else does them no good, what is the point of all those words and all that longing?”

Philip Goff writes in The Guardian that Stephen Hawking has not yet disproved God’s role in creation. “The existence of the universe cannot be explained by science alone.”

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times Sandwiched between gluttony and vanity.

Christopher Howse has been to Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and writes about his visit in the Telegraph: Sacred Mysteries: An appointment with an angel at Hagia Sophia.

Nick Baines writes about the local structures of the Church in Keeping our eye on the ball.


Anglican Covenant: Southern Africa favours

Updated Monday evening

ENS reports: SOUTHERN AFRICA: Province favors Anglican Covenant; decision to be ratified in 2013

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa on Oct. 1 voted in favor of adopting the Anglican Covenant, a decision that will need to be ratified by the next meeting of provincial synod in 2013.

A resolution adopting the covenant was passed by an overwhelming majority of the bishops, clergy and laity meeting Sept. 29-Oct. 3 in Benoni, Gauteng for the triennial meeting of the church’s provincial synod…

Update ACNS carries the exact text of the resolution:

This Synod,

1. Noting that:

1.1. The Synod of Bishops, meeting in September 2009, agreed that Provincial Standing Committee be asked to support the Covenant and that a resolution be brought to that body to that effect;

1.2. PSC passed a resolution at its September meeting that, “This PSC agrees in principle to support the adoption by ACSA of the Anglican Covenant subject to ratification by the Provincial Synod of 2010.”

2. Resolves that ACSA adopt the Anglican Covenant as approved by the Bishops; and

3. Requests that it be ratified at the next sitting of Provincial Synod.

Earlier reports from Southern Africa:

Synod of Bishops Statement issued on 29 September 2010 (this is not to be confused with the provincial synod meeting which followed immediately)

ACNS Southern Africa bishops disturbed by Swaziland’s rights abuses

Episcopal Café The continuing damage of apartheid
South African primate wants to consecrate women bishops


A reflection on the papal visit

The following article appeared on pages 26 and 28 in last week’s edition of The Tablet

Anglican encounters

by Simon Sarmiento

Anglicans will be wondering what Benedict himself made of his two encounters with the Church of England on day two of his papal visit, first when he went to Lambeth Palace, where the Great Hall was filled with diocesan bishops of both churches, and later in Westminster Abbey, where the ecumenical service of Evening Prayer deployed the full resources of the “Anglican Patrimony”, with glorious music and clouds of incense.

At both places, he saw a self-confident Church of England, happy to extend Benedictine hospitality to him, and eager to join with ecumenical partners to proclaim the Gospel. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, later told Vatican Radio he thought it had all been “enormously happy” and “hugely positive”, but would all Anglicans agree? One Church of England bishop that I spoke to the next day had absolutely nothing good to say about the Pope and was not the only one absent from the Abbey service.

Certainly the visit got off to a bad start, for Anglicans in particular, with the revelation that Cardinal Walter Kasper, recently retired head of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, whom they had regarded as their best friend in the Vatican, was not coming. In addition to his critique of Britain (or was it just Heathrow?) as a “Third World Country”, he had told the German magazine Focus that the “Anglican Church” had nothing to offer Roman Catholics in respect of either a married clergy or the ordination of women. Clearly neither of those things represents our “patrimony”. “He is not usually so gauche,” said another C of E bishop.

The Pope’s words, however, were far more nuanced and, to assess them, one needs to lay them alongside the equally measured remarks made by Rowan Williams at Lambeth and the abbey.

During the first formal encounter, at Lambeth, Dr Williams welcomed the Pope, saying that “we do not as Churches seek political power or control”. He noted that no obstacles stand in the way of the bishops from both Churches seeking more ways to “build up one another in holiness”. In fact, joint meetings of Roman Catholic and Anglican bishops are already a regular occurrence in most parts of England today.

By contrast, the Pope declined to speak at all about the specific difficulties of ecumenical dialogue, while emphasising the “remarkable progress” of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (Arcic) during the past 40 years. Instead he focused on the need for Christians to co-operate with other faiths “in promoting peace and harmony in a world … at risk of fragmentation”.

However, he did say, that “the Church is called to be inclusive, yet never at the expense of Christian truth”, which Anglicans will interpret as a negative reference, not only to the ordination of women, and the place of homosexuals in the life of the Church (issues which of course still divide Anglicans) but also to a married clergy and remarriage after divorce.

On the other hand, he referred to John Henry Newman as one “nurtured by his Anglican background” who can serve as a model for modern ecumenical dialogue. As Dr Williams noted in his Vatican Radio interview, Anglicans do not object to his beatification, though some will certainly feel miffed by the decision not to follow Anglican use and adopt 11 August as his feast day, rather than institute 9 October, the day of his conversion to Rome.

What was undoubtedly reassuring to Anglicans was the joint communiqué issued later that “reaffirmed the importance of continuing theological dialogue on the notion of the Church as communion, local and universal, and the implications of this concept for the discernment of ethical teaching”.

At Westminster Abbey, it was the Pope’s turn to speak first. He chose to recall St Bede the Venerable (always a popular choice for Anglicans) who, he said, “understood … the need for creative openness to new developments”, perhaps an unexpected turn of phrase from this Pope. Dr Williams, in turn, recalled Sts Augustine of Canterbury and Gregory the Great, but also noted that “Christians have very diverse views about the nature of the vocation that belongs to the See of Rome” He went on to quote John Paul II’s encyclical Ut Unum Sint, saying that “we must all reflect together” on how the Petrine ministry may speak to all Christians. A partial agreement here perhaps between these two, but many Anglicans hold dissenting views.

Only at the very end of the visit did the Pope mention Anglicanorum Coetibus, the apostolic constitution to enable Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church through a special structure, and then to his own bishops, not those of the Church of England. In his radio interview, Dr Williams said: “A relatively small number of people in the Church of England have wanted to explore this. I hadn’t ever expected it to be a huge number.”

So, overall, did the Pope surprise Anglicans? Most people I asked said that his remarks were softer in tone than they expected. Does this mean that any fundamental changes are likely? No, but it might mean that dire predictions being made earlier for the future of ecumenical relations were not accurate. A more interesting question might be whether the image of the Church of England among Roman Catholics has been affected by the obvious warmth of feeling that Pope Benedict has displayed on this visit. Yet a concern remains for Anglicans that Rome does not perceive a need for any fundamental rethink of its own position on the divisive issues.