Thinking Anglicans

Covenant/GAFCON update

Updated again Friday

The BBC Radio programme, Sunday had two items about this.

The programme can be found here including a downloadable podcast.

First, Stephen Bates of the Guardian gave a brief outline of the significance of the GAFCON announcement. This is 6 minutes into the programme, and lasts for about 4 minutes.

Then, starting at about 33.5 minutes in, and running to the end of the programme, i.e. for about 10 minutes, there is a longer discussion about this. It features in turn the retired archbishop Lord Carey, then Bishop Martyn Minns of ACNA and GAFCON, and then Bishop Graham Kings of the Church of England.

This should be listened to in full.

Bear in mind that ACNA is not a member of the Anglican Communion although it is a member of GAFCON.

Graham Kings noted that GAFCON is not the same as the Global South Anglican movement, and at least three GSA primates (Chew of SE Asia, Anis of Jerusalem and the Middle East, and Ernest of the Indian Ocean) are themselves moderates in favour of the Covenant. He also argued that the GAFCON primates cannot speak for their provinces until their provinces have actually considered the Covenant themselves.

It also appeared from what he said that the Sudan province, whose primate was a member of the GAFCON council (is he still?), has already voted at least once, if not yet definitively, in favour of the Covenant.

Confused yet? You should be.


See the Comments below for links to some partial transcripts.

Anglican Mainstream has very helpfully transcribed more of the programme, see BBC interview with Bishop Minns on Gafcon Primates’ Statement.

And Fulcrum has transcribed the whole of Bishop Kings’ remarks at Interview with Graham Kings.

There is now an even fuller set of transcripts in the Comments on an article at Titusonenine, starting here (and in the following comments).


Primates meeting update

This week’s Church Times carries a report of the recent GAFCON primates statement, which was linked here on Wednesday, while the General Synod debate on the Anglican Covenant was still in progress, but which was not known to synod members prior to the voting. (The GAFCON/FCA Primates’ Council met in Oxford from October 4th through October 7th, 2010.)

The story, Empty seats in Dublin as Primates opt out, by Ed Beavan lists a total of ten primates who will not be attending.

AT LEAST ten Primates from the Global South are now expected to boycott the Primates’ Meeting in Dublin in January.

In a statement released on Wednesday, five African Primates, members of the GAFCON Primates’ Council, confirmed that they would not attend the two-yearly meeting. In addition, it is understood that the Primate of South-East Asia, Dr John Chew; the Primate in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Dr Mouneer Anis; and the Primate of the Indian Ocean, the Most Revd Ian Ernest, will not go to Dublin.

Furthermore it is expected that two new Primates, Presiding Bishop Tito Zavala, Primate of the Southern Cone, and the Most Revd Onesphore Rwage, Primate of Rwanda, will also boycott the meeting…

The names appearing on the GAFCON statement are (my annotations added)

The Most Rev’d Gregory Venables, GAFCON/FCA Chair former primate of the Southern Cone
The Most Rev’d Justice Akrofi, Archbishop, Anglican Province of West Africa
The Most Rev’d Robert Duncan, Archbishop, Anglican Church in North America not a primate of the Anglican Communion
The Most Rev ‘d Emmanuel Kolini, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Rwanda former primate of Rwanda
The Most Rev’d Valentino Mokiwa, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Tanzania
The Most Rev’d Nicholas Okoh, Archbishop, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
The Most Rev’d Henry Orombi Archbishop, Church of Uganda
The Most Rev’d Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya

The Most Rev’d Peter Jensen, Archbishop, Diocese of Sydney, Secretary not a primate

The Church of England Newspaper carries this report by George Conger Canterbury rejects African call to postpone Dublin primates meeting.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has rejected Africa’s call to suspend the Dublin primates meeting, a spokesman for Dr. Rowan Williams’ tells The Church of England Newspaper, and the meeting will go on as scheduled.

On Nov 17 Lambeth Palace confirmed that Dr. Williams had received a letter from CAPA chairman Archbishop Ian Earnest. This letter raised a “concern about the planning process for the Primates’ Meeting and request[ed] that it be postponed.”

“However, given the closeness of the time, and the fact that the majority of Primates have already indicated that they will attend, the Archbishop of Canterbury is not minded to postpone the meeting whose date was set two years ago,” the Lambeth Palace statement said.

Dr. Williams’ decision not to postpone the Dublin meeting, will likely cause a quarter to a third of the primates to stay away, replicating the divisions surrounding the 2008 Lambeth Conference where a majority of African bishops boycotted the meeting…


opinion for Advent

The Archbishop of Canterbury recently participated in a public discussion with Terry Eagleton on the topic Responses to the new Atheism at Great St Mary’s, Cambridge’s university church. You can download an audio file of the conversation from the Archbishop’s website.
Andrew Brown responded to the discussion at Comment is free with Rowan and Eagleton on atheism and Rowan, selfish genes, and atheism.

There are a number of articles about the Kings James (Authorised) Version of the Bible.
Christopher Howse at The Telegraph “gets Bible fever as we mark 400 years of the Authorised Version”: The global phenomenon that will never be lost in translation.
Michael White of The Guardian writes about Church and sex: what King James and his famous Bible have to teach us.
The Guardian has an editorial: In praise of … the Authorised Version.

Rosie Harper writes for The Guardian about Hogwarts for Anglicans and asks “As a new synod member, will I be able to reconcile the dark arts of church politics and the transparency of the gospel?”

Giles Fraser’s column in this week’s Church Times is Being proud of church buildings.

Cole Moreton argues in The Guardian that The Church of England must relinquish its association with power and pomp. “Anglicans must accept they no longer deserve royal privileges but are just another group of believers.”

Christopher Howse writes in The Telegraph: In the eye of the Venetian storm. “Going to church in a tourist trap exposes the heart of prayer.”


General Synod – press reports of Wednesday's business

Updated Friday

Whilst Synod was debating the Anglican Communion Covenant, news broke that the GAFCON primates had rejected it, although this was too late to affect the Synod debate. But the press is naturally reporting both stories together.

Riazat Butt writes in The Guardian that Unity document exposes Anglican divisions and that African clergy reject ‘fatally flawed’ effort to unify Anglicans.

Ekklesia has Anglican Covenant confusion reins after firm GAFCON rejection.

Matthew Davies at Episcopal Life Online writes that General Synod supports Anglican Covenant process.

Reuters reports that Conservative bishops deliver blow to Anglican pact.

At Christian Today Maria Mackay writes that Church of England affirms support for Anglican Covenant, while Jenna Lyle writes that Anglican Covenant in question after conservatives withdraw support.

The BBC has General synod step closer to Anglican Covenant.

AFP reports that Church of England backs covenant but traditionalists rebel.


John Martin has written for the Living Church about the Covenant debate: Victory for Covenant, ‘Catholic Spirit’ at English Synod.


Colin Slee

Southwark Cathedral reports this morning

The Very Revd Colin Slee, The Dean of Southwark, died peacefully at his home surrounded by his family at 1am on Thursday 25 November.

Dean Colin had been diagnosed with cancer just a few weeks ago and the spread of his illness was very rapid.

May he rest in peace!

Updated Thursday afternoon (twice)

In The Guardian (CiF), Stephen Bates writes: Liberal Anglicans will mourn the death of Colin Slee

Damian Thompson blogs in the Daily Telegraph: The Church of England won’t be as much fun without Colin Slee

The news is also covered by local community site London-SE1 where it is noted that he had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

There are now obituaries in The Guardian and The Telegraph.


General Synod – Wednesday afternoon

Here is the official summary for Wednesday afternoon: General Synod – Summary of business conducted on Wednesday 24th November 2010 PM.

More reports later.

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Gafcon primates say no to the Covenant

The GAFCON/FCA Primates Council recently met in Oxford. Today they have issued this press release: Oxford Statement of the Primates’ Council November 2010 AD.

The statement includes this paragraph [emphasis added].

5. For the sake of Christ and of His Gospel we can no longer maintain the illusion of normalcy and so we join with other Primates from the Global South in declaring that we will not be present at the next Primates’ meeting to be held in Ireland. And while we acknowledge that the efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant were well intentioned we have come to the conclusion the current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate.


General Synod: Anglican Covenant debate

updated Wednesday afternoon

General Synod is debating debated the Anglican Communion Synod this (Wednesday) morning. We will update updated this article as the debate proceeds proceeded.

There is a briefing paper (GS Misc 966) available, which includes the text of the Anglican Covenant. The text of the draft Act (GS 1809) is reproduced below the fold.

The Bishop of Bristol (The Rt Revd Michael Hill) moved

504 ‘That the draft Act of Synod adopting the Anglican Communion Covenant be considered.’

After much debate Mrs Mary Johnston (London) proposed that the debate be adjourned to July 2011. The proposal was defeated on a show of hands. Synod then immediately agreed to close the debate and move to a vote. The voting was by houses and motion 504 was carried in all three houses with the voting figures below.

Bishops 39 for 0 against 1 abstention
Clergy 145 for 32 against 11 abstentions
Laity 147 for 25 against 8 abstentions

Mr Justin Brett (Chichester) moved as an amendment [to the draft Act of Synod]:

505 In recital (1) after “the Anglican Covenant” insert
“, subject to the exception referred to below,”; and
After “GS Misc 966” in paragraph 1, insert
“, with the exception of section 4.2,”; and
Before “solemnly covenants” insert
“subject to that exception”.

Item 505 was defeated on a show of hands.

Dr Brian Walker (Winchester) moved as an amendment [to the draft Act of Synod]:

506 Insert as new recital (3) —
“The Church of England understands the Anglican Communion Covenant as a means for maintaining continuous inclusive relationships between all covenanting Churches.”; and
At the beginning of paragraph 1, insert
“Subject to paragraph 2.”; and
After paragraph 1. insert
“2. The Church of England will not participate in or support any limitations or suspensions of the kind provided for in Section 4.2.5 or sanctions effected under Section 4.2.7.”.

This amendment lapsed, since fewer than 40 members stood to ask for debate to continue.

The Revd Canon Robert Cotton (Guildford) moved a following motion.

507 That this Synod, recognising and affirming the difficult issues addressed by the Anglican Communion Covenant:
(a) request that the date determined by the Presidents for the reference of the draft Act of Synod to the dioceses under Article 8 should be no earlier than November 2011;
(b) direct the Business Committee to ensure that the documents circulated to diocesan synods for the purposes of the Article 8 reference include a range of briefing material, properly reflecting the diversity of views on the Covenant within the Church of England; and
(c) invite the House of Bishops to encourage in the dioceses a process of widespread education about, and engagement with, the substance and text of the Covenant.

The motion 507 was defeated on a show of hands.

Here is the official summary of the morning’s business: General Synod – Summary of business conducted on Wednesday 24th November 2010 AM.



The Bishop of Willesden is asked to withdraw…

There are numerous reports in the media of the action taken by the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres today in disciplining the Bishop of Willesden, Pete Broadbent.

Here is the actual text of the statement from the Bishop of London (emphasis added):

The Bishop of London has issued a statement regarding the Bishop of Willesden.

“Dear Colleague,

“I was appalled by the Bishop of Willesden’s comments about the forthcoming royal marriage. In common with most of the country I share the joy which the news of the engagement has brought.

“I have now had an opportunity to discuss with Bishop Peter how his comments came to be made and I have noted his unreserved apology. Nevertheless, I have asked him to withdraw from public ministry until further notice. I have also been in touch with St James’s Palace to express my own dismay on behalf of the Church.

“Arrangements will need to be made in Bishop Peter’s absence and further details will be given in due course.

“With thanks for your partnership in the Gospel.”

The term “suspension” is not used, although many media reports have used that word. For a suspension to occur, the Clergy Discipline Measure would have to be invoked, and this has not happened.

Earlier, Bishop Broadbent had issued a public apology for his remarks about the forthcoming Royal wedding, which he had made on Facebook.


Covenant – Tuesday roundup

Jim Naughton wrote about it at Episcopal Café in The Anglican Covenant: a tool for the strong to oppress the weak.

So many points have been made against the proposed Anglican Covenant, which will be voted on this week by the Church of England’s General Synod, that one risks redundancy in expressing one’s own reservations. Mine have to do primarily with how the covenant would operate if approved. It is a dangerous document which takes John Adams’ famous formulation—“a government of laws and not of men”—and stands it on its head. The covenant is a document that sets forth a system for adjudicating disputes based on criteria that are almost entirely subjective and ad hoc.

In this peculiar system, one can do nothing that offends another province in the Communion, and anything that does not. Offense is judged not by analyzing the act, but in analyzing the response to the act. This is governance by hurt feelings, a system in which power flows to those who complain the loudest and the most frequently. The covenant lacks any of the safeguards, contained in most civil codes, to protect the accused from frivolous accusations. Hence there is no cost and much potential benefit in lodging complaints simply to keep one’s theological adversaries on the defensive. There is great incentive for them to behave in similar fashion.

One doesn’t have to be a lawyer to notice that the covenant contains no standards of evidence, and provides for nothing resembling due process, The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion can investigate complaints in whatever manner it sees fit. Perhaps this is unsurprising. If the only fact at issue is whether a party has given offense, the only evidence necessary is the offended party’s assertion that they are, indeed offended. Having conducted an investigation under standards of its own devising, the Standing Committee can then respond in whatever manner it chooses including the imposition of “relational consequences…”

Andrew Goddard has written yet again, this latest is titled The Anglican Covenant: Why a ‘Yes’ Vote is Significant.

As General Synod approaches its crucial vote on the Anglican covenant, recent discussions have revealed that there are at least three significant perspectives at work in the debate on the covenant and that there are some important differences between them which have not been explicitly articulated. Broadly speaking there are (1) those who, though unhappy with elements of the final text, are supportive of the covenant, (2) those who are against it and whose views are represented on the left by Inclusive Church and Modern Church and (3) those who are against it (though appear to be proposing to abstain in the Synod vote) on the right from a more conservative/GAFCON perspective. What are the reasons for the differences?

There is also an article by Benjamin Guyer at Fulcrum titled In Praise of Rhetoric? Anti-Covenantal Myths of Puritanism and Anglicanism (Part Two Richard Hooker)

Meanwhile, today the No Anglican Covenant Coalition issued a further press release, the full text of which appears below the fold.



General Synod – Tuesday press reports

Updated Wednesday morning

Dave Walker Rough notebook scribbles from the opening of General Synod at Westminster Abbey

Three articles in The Guardian:
Riazat Butt Religious do not have monopoly on virtue, Queen tells synod
Stephen Bates Reassuring presence at General Synod of the Church of England
Stephen Bates and Riazat Butt Anglican church faces ‘piece by piece dissolution’, warns archbishop

Press Association Queen warns of ‘painful’ times ahead for Church

Matthew Davies at Episcopal Life Online: The Queen inaugurates new General Synod, underscores need to communicate the gospel


General Synod – Tuesday business

We will update this page during the day.
Updated Tuesday evening


Official summary of the morning’s inauguration: General Synod – Summary of business conducted on Tuesday 23rd November 2010 – Inauguration


Official summary of the afternoon’s business: General Synod – Summary of business conducted on Tuesday 23rd November 2010 PM

Both official summaries include links to audio recordings of the sessions.

Archbishop’s Presidential Address – General Synod November 2010. This includes the full text.


General Synod – Tuesday press previews

The newly elected General Synod of the Church of England meets for the first time today and tomorrow. Here are a few press reviews.

Riazat Butt in The Guardian The Queen set to open General Synod

Robert Pigott at the BBC Queen opens Church General Synod amid signs of change
The BBC also has Queen to open Church of England general synod

Christian Today Church of England General Synod to be formally opened by Queen

Press Association Queen to open Church of England general synod


Covenant – Monday roundup

Bishop Alan Wilson has written My fluttering Pelagiometer.

The Anglican Covenant may well not end up accomplishing as much bad or good as it is cracked up for, but the discussion around it has been worthwhile and fascinating, and at last something of a broader debate seems to be starting up, for example Andrew Goddard and Jonathan Clatworthy, here and here. People are still, however, often picking over the bones rather than addressing the big questions around having such a thing in the first place, and it seems to me those are where the action is. Many thanks to all who have offered comment on this blog for their clarity, honesty, and will to try and understand the whole picture.

If Christians are alienated from each other, culturally, sociologically and psychologically, how high a formal fence should they erect between themselves? Enough, surely to give reflective space to both and a chance to relate their partial interests in the whole gospel picture whilst they live in tension and await, in joyful hope, a new heaven and a new earth. But temporary fencing, as low and light as possible, has to offer the best way forward if it’s relationships that count…

Episcopal Café had a useful roundup of some of yesterday’s media coverage.

In case anybody still thinks this Covenant is acceptable to conservatives, this FCA blog entry makes the position clear.

The recently retired Chancellor of the Anglican Church of Canada has written about the Covenant. See Canadian judge questions lack of clarity in Covenant language.

And for some light relief, see UFO Mission to Rescue the Archbishop.


Covenant – something to covet?

Bishop Pierre Whalon, who is Bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, has written an article which is published at Anglicans Online.

You can read it at Covet a covenant?

…The Covenant Design Group tried their best to satisfy the demands of those who wanted to restrain local provinces from actions that would disturb, as well as those who insisted on maintaining complete independence. In that sense, the document is interesting, and I maintain that the process of discussing its proposals throughout the Communion is healthy for us all.

However one frames it, the Covenant does provide a mechanism for eventually determining who is “in” and who is “out.” Do I want, say, the Diocese of Sydney “in” or “out”? Based on what? Their peculiar ecclesiology, which lies well outside the usual range of Anglican options? Their desire to have lay people presiding at the Eucharist under certain conditions? That it often seems to be too much of a family affair? What benefit would there be to them and the rest of us in ostracizing them? Or any Anglican church you think has placed itself outside the pale?

Also, the weekly front page essay at Anglicans Online is about the Covenant. You can also read that over here (permalink).

We decided it was a two-letter night. Like to read about the Covenant, to be voted on this week by the Church of England? See the left side.

If you’ve had quite enough of the Covenant, have a look at the right side.


The Big Society

The Church of England General Synod will be debating the “Big Society” on Tuesday afternoon this week. As background material to this debate the Mission and Public Affairs Division has produced a report: GS1804 “The Big Society” and the Church of England. There is also a summary of this report: GS1804A. The debate will undoubtedly extend to the government’s cuts in public expenditure.

Jonathan Wynne-Jones writes in today’s Telegraph: Bishops warn David Cameron’s Big Society will be undermined by welfare cuts

Today’s Diary of a civil servant column in The Observer is Welcome to the ever-diminishing world of the ‘big society’.

The Common Wealth (Christians for Economic and Social Justice) network has been launched with Christians say cuts-based Big Society is ‘a Big Lie’. The network has issued a statement with this abstract.

In the face of sweeping public spending cuts and a UK government economic strategy which targets the poor to pay for a crisis produced by the wealthy, a group of Christians in public life (activists, ministers and theologians) have issued this statement calling for Christian unity with others in the movement to resist the cuts in public and welfare provision. It urges the churches to be wary about being co-opted into the Big Society initiative – which it calls ‘a big lie’ in economic terms. The document articulates a radical theological critique of government policies and the social and economic order they seek to maintain. It is rooted in an alternative vision based on strong Christian roots and wide solidarities, arguing for a Common Wealth that expresses the central dynamics of the Gospel message. The statement is also a call to form a network of discernment, resistance and creativity in the generation of fresh approaches to the shared life of people and planet.

Savi Hensman has written for Ekklesia about Cuts that divide and devalue

The Church in Wales has issued this press release: Count the human cost of the cuts – Bishop responds to Draft Budget.

And there is this from The Church of Scotland: Kirk challenges Chancellor to meet the poor.

Church Action On Poverty has published Churches challenge Government over poverty and welfare.


Gene Robinson interview

Ruth Gledhill has interviewed Gene Robinson, the bishop of New Hampshire. The full interview is behind the Times paywall but there are two extracts on YouTube.

Gene Robinson Part One: the Anglican crisis
This week I [Ruth Gledhill] went to New York to interview Gene Robinson. “I have clergy friends in England who literally studied at Archbishop Williams’s feet when he was teaching and who have said to me it is almost as if aliens have come and taken Rowan away from us and they have left something here that looks like him but we don’t recognise him any more,” Bishop Robinson said. Giving his first interview since announcing that he will retire in two years, Bishop Robinson said that Dr Williams was a wonderful human being and a faithful Christian.
But he added: “I’m not at all sure that his attempts to hold us together as a communion at all costs is the kind of leadership that this time calls for. I pray for him every day.

Gene Robinson Part Two: A Boy Named Vicki Gene
Gene Robinson talks to Ruth Gledhill in New York: His parents, poor tenant farmers, were told he would certainly die. Before his birth, they had come up with a girl’s name, Vicky Jean, after his father, Victor and his mother, Imogene. “In his distress he just changed the spelling and thought it wouldn’t matter on a tombstone. So that’s the name on my birth certificate.”

1 Comment

Covenant – reply to Andrew Goddard

Jonathan Clatworthy has written a response to this recent article by Andrew Goddard.

Read it in full at Reply to Andrew Goddard.

Andrew Goddard has now provided a lengthy defence of the Anglican Covenant against the arguments in PDF our advertisement of 29 October. At over 15,000 words it bears witness to Dr Goddard’s commitment. It is not light bedtime reading, and a point by point reply would not be either. In any case our views are already available. Although he does not refer to it, at the bottom of the advertisement we printed a website address ( for further details, where we had already provided much of the further information he asks for. Since then a huge amount of additional material has been placed on websites. There is a list in the resources section at, of which is particularly worthy of note.

Nevertheless it may be helpful to respond to the substance of his points…

Note: the reply is only 3,700 words long.


Covenant – Conservatives’ concerns critiqued


Andrew Goddard has now turned his attention to this article.

Read his Conservatives’ covenant concerns: A critique.

On reading Truth or Conviction: questions over the Anglican Communion Covenant by Vinay Samuel and Chris Sugden I did not know whether to laugh or to cry. Part of me wanted to laugh, having just spent some time responding to IC & MCU. In part, that response sought to show that the covenant was not the punitive brainchild of neo-Puritans which ruled out dialogue and which if accepted automatically entailed the expulsion of North American church from the Communion. Here were two leading spokesmen often portrayed as those supporting the covenant because it is punitive and exclusionary making clear that they were far from happy with it because it did not do what IC & MCU claimed it did. But most of me wanted to cry. Here are two distinguished fellow evangelicals and friends not just taking a view with which I disagree but doing so in a manner which had so many of the hallmarks of those they are fighting – no reference to the text of the covenant, making unsubstantiated claims and even some clear falsehoods to raise doubts and fears in their constituency, and approaching the covenant seemingly driven by a wider agenda in pursuit of which the covenant could be distorted and dismissed but with no serious alternative on offer…


Chris Sugden and Vinay Samuel have responded to Andrew Goddard.


opinion for Christ the King

Lord Blair of Boughton, the former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and a practising Anglican, delivered the 2010 Theos Annual Lecture this week: The image of religion must change. Andrew Brown had this comment at The Guardian: Faith and policing.

A writer in the Irish Times says that the Simple message of Jesus has been complicated and twisted.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that Misery is not a spectacle.

The Archbishop of Canterbury delivered the Annual Isaiah Berlin Lecture this week, with the title Faith and Enlightenment: Friends or Foes?

Bishop Paul Butler writes about Sanitising the Bible for Children; he’s not in favour.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about The tomb of Jesus in central London.