Thinking Anglicans

more on Episcopal Resignations

GRAS (Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) has issued this press release.


Press briefing for immediate release 9 November 2010

Departure of “flying bishops”

The announcement that the PEVs (Provincial Episcopal Visitors – known as flying bishops, since they have no dioceses and minister only to parishes which oppose ordination of women) are leaving to join the Ordinariate has not been a surprise.

Only 2.8% of parishes in the Church of England have opposed the ordination of women and requested the ministry of a flying bishop. These bishops are considered acceptable because they will not ordain women. This has been described as a “theology of Taint” which undermines the dignity of every woman and should hold no place within the Church.

The question arises as to whether there is any need to replace these bishops by new appointments. The General Synod of the Church of England, after lengthy consideration and debate has prepared legislation for the admission of women to the episcopate. The legislation does not envisage the use of PEVs. As their future is uncertain GRAS questions the wisdom of replacing these bishops for what could be a short duration.

Provision has been made within the legislation that will enable those opposed to have the ministry of a male priest or bishop. It is those in favour who have made concessions out of a spirit of generosity. As an interim measure the small number of parishes opposed to women’s ordination and episcopacy could be covered by existing bishops.

It is hoped, therefore that any future Episcopal appointment will be in keeping with the spirit of the legislation.

The Church Mouse writes Bishop of London to set up Society for those who oppose women bishops.

The Parish of St John the Baptist in Sevenoaks has this impressive list of relevant links on its website: From today’s news…

The Guardian has Steve Bell on the Anglican bishops who are converting to Roman Catholicism. [The banner reads “Ban the babes”.]

Channel 4 News has this video report, with both Bishop John Broadhurst and Canon Giles Fraser interviewed. See Anglican bishops defect to Roman Catholic Church.


Earlier, another bishop had resigned…

The Bishop of New Hampshire announced last Saturday that he intended to retire in January 2013. The New York Times has a detailed report by Laurie Goodstein at First Openly Gay Episcopal Bishop to Retire. This includes the information that:

The church in New Hampshire suffered less fallout under Bishop Robinson than the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion. Only one New Hampshire congregation departed during his tenure, a congregation long unhappy with the direction of the Episcopal Church, according to diocesan leaders.

The number of active members in New Hampshire fell 3 percent, from 15,259 in 2003 to 14,787 in 2009. In that period, the Episcopal Church, like most mainline Protestant denominations, lost about 10 percent of its members. (It had about two million in 2008, the last year for which statistics are available.)

And the same report summarises the international consequences of his election thus:

The election of Bishop Robinson in a church in Concord, N. H., in 2003 was the shot heard round the Christian world. It cracked open a longstanding divide between theological liberals and conservatives in both the Episcopal Church and its parent body, the Anglican Communion — those churches affiliated with the Church of England in more than 160 countries.

Since 2003, the Communion’s leaders have labored to save it from outright schism, not just over homosexuality, but also over female bishops and priests.

The current strategy, pushed by the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, is for each regional province to sign a “covenant” of common beliefs.

The covenant has been slowly making its way through laborious writing and approval processes, which could take years.

Late last month, an international coalition of liberal Anglicans started a campaign to reject the covenant, saying, “The covenant seeks to narrow the range of acceptable belief within Anglicanism.”

The group, Anglicans for Comprehensive Unity, said, “Rather than bringing peace to the Communion, we predict that the covenant text itself could become the cause of future bickering and that its centralized dispute-resolution mechanisms could beget interminable quarrels and resentments.”

This news got extensive coverage in the Guardian:

The Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen issued a statement in his capacity as General Secretary of GAFCON/FCA, see Statement on retirement of Gene Robinson.

The agonising dispute in the Anglican Communion is not about Bishop Robinson personally. It is true that his consecration as a Bishop seven years ago was one of the flashpoints for a serious re-alignment of the whole Communion. But many things have happened since then. GAFCON is about the future. It is dedicated to the future of a renewed Anglican Communion centred on the orthodox teaching of the Jerusalem Declaration.

No mention of the Anglican Covenant there.


Pastoral Letter from the Bishop of Fulham

The Bishop of Fulham has published this pastoral letter on his website, following the announcement of his resignation.

Pastoral Letter from the Bishop of Fulham

My resignation has been formally announced. I know that for many of you this will be not unexpected but for others it will be a shock. I have thoroughly enjoyed being your Bishop and have thought it a great privilege. I remain utterly committed to our Catholic and Anglican heritage.

The Bishop of London intends to replace me and I hope that you will get a Bishop who is able to minister to you faithfully in the deteriorating situation in the Church of England.

It has been my great joy to work in three different Dioceses and in each of them I have felt welcomed and affirmed. I will miss many colleagues and the priests and parishioners of the parishes it has been my privilege to serve for more than 14 years.

My personal future is that I intend to enter the new Catholic Ordinariate being set up by the Pope. For 40 years I have been committed to the ARCIC process in which the Church of England seeks to unite with Rome. Recent decisions in our own church have made a positive outcome to these talks less and less likely. The Holy Father has made what seems to me a positive and generous offer to Orthodox Anglicans and I do not feel any choice but to accept. The consequence of this will be that our Catholic and Anglican heritage exists in two different places. It is important that we all remain friends and do not do anything to undermine or criticise each other. I am very grateful for the affection and love which Judi and I have both found in all the parishes. Many thanks for everything that you have done over the years and for all that we have achieved.

My final act as a Bishop will be to celebrate the Mass at Gordon Square on the eve of Christ the King, Saturday 20th November at 12 noon. I hope to see many of you there.

Every Blessing,
Yours as ever,


Episcopal Resignations – press reports

In the Telegraph
Damian Thompson:
Five Anglican bishops resign to convert to Rome: statement

and A one-way pilgrimage to Rome
Tim Ross: Five Anglican bishops quit Church of England for Rome
Church of England in crisis as five bishops defect to Rome
and Church of England is ‘like a coffee chain going out of business’, defecting bishops warn

In The Guardian
Riazat Butt: Archbishop of Canterbury accepts resignation of Anglican bishops
Alan Wilson comments: The flying bishops crash to earth.

In the Catholic Herald : Anna Arco: Five Anglo-Catholic bishops resign

At the BBC: Five Anglican bishops join Catholic Church

At the Press Association: Anglican bishops join Catholics

WATCH (Women and the Church) has issued a press briefing.

Women and the Church (WATCH)
Press Briefing for immediate release 8th November 2010
Two Flying Bishops depart

The decision of the flying Bishops of Ebbsfleet and Richborough, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton to join the Ordinariate has been widely anticipated. WATCH welcomes the clarification that this announcement brings.

Since the days of Cardinal Newman there have been members of the Church of England who have discovered that they would be more at home within the Roman Catholic Church. It is right that those who hear God calling them to a different church should follow that call.

continued below the fold



Bishop of London writes about Fulham

Diocese of London press release

New appointments in the Diocese of London

The Bishop of London has today confirmed the arrangements following the resignation of the Bishop of Fulham and has also announced the Revd Luke Miller as the next Archdeacon of Hampstead.

In his letter to the Diocese, Bishop Richard said:

“The Bishop of Fulham has signed his resignation deed and is set to retire on December 31st after well over 40 years service in various roles within the Diocese of London.

“After consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, I intend with the assistance of representative figures in the Diocese, to appoint a successor to the Suffragan See of Fulham. I envisage that any new Bishop of Fulham will be more closely related to me as the Bishop of London in serving the Two Cities Area.

“Earlier today I met with the College of Bishops to discuss the way ahead. With immediate effect the Bishop of Edmonton has agreed to assume responsibility for the pastoral care of those clergy and parishes who before today related to the Bishop Fulham.

“In addition Bishop Peter will work on the constitution and other issues involved in establishing a Society both for those already identified as ‘Fulham Clergy and Parishes’ and for others, whatever their position on the churchmanship spectrum, who are loyal to the Church of England and share similar concerns about its theological direction alongside a commitment to growth in co-operation with the majority in the Church who support the consecration of women to the episcopate.

“Bishop Peter will also continue his oecumenical work as Chairman of the London Church Leaders Executive with a special emphasis on co-ordinating the work of the Diocese of London in the field of social justice and responsibility and making a constructive response to the Big Society agenda.

“With this very significant shift of emphasis in his ministry it is obvious that the ministry of oversight in the Edmonton Area needs reinforcement. In these exceptional circumstances I have asked the Reverend Luke Miller, Vicar of St Mary’s Lansdowne Road to succeed the Venerable Michael Lawson as Archdeacon of Hampstead. Not only is the need pressing but most unusually Luke has already served a successful probationary term as an acting Archdeacon during Michael Lawson’s Sabbatical.

“During the past ten years the Church in London has responded strongly to the London Challenge, to grow in order to serve the great city of which we are a part. In education, in prayer and in outreach of all kinds we have sought to stay close to the agenda of our fellow Londoners while not neglecting the needs of our friends in Mozambique, Angola and the wider world. I would ask for your prayers and support as we navigate the next few months confident that the Spirit of Jesus Christ will guide us while we maintain our partnership in His gospel.”


Five bishops and FinF issue statements

Forward in Faith has published the following two statements:

Statement from five bishops
Nov 8, 2010

LIKE MANY in the catholic tradition of Anglicanism, we have followed the dialogue between Anglicans and Catholics, the ARCIC process, with prayer and longing. We have been dismayed, over the last thirty years, to see Anglicans and Catholics move further apart on some of the issues of the day, and particularly we have been distressed by developments in Faith and Order in Anglicanism which we believe to be incompatible with the historic vocation of Anglicanism and the tradition of the Church for nearly two thousand years.

The Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum cœtibus, given in Rome on 4th November 2009, was a response to Anglicans seeking unity with the Holy See. With the Ordinariates, canonical structures are being established through which we will bring our own experience of Christian discipleship into full communion with the Catholic Church throughout the world and throughout the ages. This is both a generous response to various approaches to the Holy See for help and a bold, new ecumenical instrument in the search for the unity of Christians, the unity for which Christ himself prayed before his Passion and Death. It is a unity, we believe, which is possible only in eucharistic communion with the successor of St Peter.

As bishops, we have even-handedly cared for those who have shared our understanding and those who have taken a different view. We have now reached the point, however, where we must formally declare our position and invite others who share it to join us on our journey. We shall be ceasing, therefore, from public episcopal ministry forthwith, resigning from our pastoral responsibilities in the Church of England with effect from 31st December 2010, and seeking to join an Ordinariate once one is created.

We remain very grateful for all that the Church of England has meant for us and given to us all these years and we hope to maintain close and warm relationships, praying and working together for the coming of God’s Kingdom.

We are deeply appreciative of the support we have received at this difficult time from a whole variety of people: archbishops and bishops, clergy and laity, Anglican and Catholics, those who agree with our views and those who passionately disagree, those who have encouraged us in this step and those who have urged us not to take this step.

The Right Revd Andrew Burnham
The Right Revd Keith Newton
The Right Revd John Broadhurst
The Right Revd Edwin Barnes
The Right Revd David Silk



Two Provincial Episcopal Visitors resign

Press release from Lambeth Palace

Monday 8th November 2010

For immediate use

Archbishop accepts resignations of suffragan bishops of Ebbsfleet and Richborough

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, today gave the following statement in response to the resignations of the suffragan bishops of Ebbsfleet and Richborough:

“I have today with regret accepted the resignations of Bishops Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton who have decided that their future in Christian ministry lies in the new structures proposed by the Vatican. We wish them well in this next stage of their service to the Church and I am grateful to them for their faithful and devoted pastoral labours in the Church of England over many years.”

The Archbishop will now set in train the process for filling the vacant sees. In the interim, arrangements have been made for pastoral care to be provided by Bishops John Ford, Mark Sowerby and Lindsay Urwin for those who formerly looked to Bishops Burnham and Newton for their episcopal support and have decided to continue ministry in the Church of England.



There is also a press release on the website of the Diocese of Chichester: Announcement from Bishop John concerning the Archbishop’s request for pastoral support for Provincial Episcopal Visitors.

And, there is a Roman Catholic press release: Statement on the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus from Bishop Alan Hopes (Episcopal Delegate) on behalf of the Episcopal Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.


consents sought for Springfield election

A new bishop for the Diocese of Springfield was elected recently. See the official announcement: The Rev. Daniel Hayden Martins elected the 11th Bishop of Springfield.

There have been objections to his election, and rather unusually a diocese in which he had previously served has been one of those raising them. See Bishop Jerry Lamb and Standing Committee send letter regarding consent of Bishop-elect Dan Martins.

This was all reported by ENS in SAN JOAQUIN: Bishop, Standing Committee raise ‘grave concerns’ about Springfield election.

Others however have spoken up in his support, starting with his current diocesan, Bishop Edward Little: see Bishop Little on Dan Martins.

And also the group known as Concerned Laity of the Springfield Diocese.

And there is another letter of support from a group of people who are deputies to General Convention and /or on Executive Council.

Fr Dan Martins has himself been a blogger for some years, see Confessions of a Carioca.

It’s all a very far cry from the hidden machinations of the Crown Nominations Commission.


Bishop of Wakefield writes about homophobia

The Bishop of Wakefield, Stephen Platten, wrote an article in last week’s Church Times in which he argued that the C of E should take a lead in engaging with gay people. Its prejudices need challenging, he said.

Read his article in full at Listen, and build a less homophobic society.

OTHER people’s problems and op­por­tunities can often remain theo­retical, until they hit us clearly in the face. I learnt this sharply when I accepted an invitation recently to visit a group in Halifax.

We arrived at the secret destina­tion (it is still seen as too dangerous to publicise the venue), both my colleague and I wearing clerical collars. We were warmly welcomed by one ebullient young man, al­though others were suspicious. In some sections of the room, conver­sation died, as glances were stolen. In a couple of cases, there was almost a hysterical nervousness, and indi­viduals bounded over to talk at us.

The event was a regular evening meeting of Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale. Half a dozen people made a presentation, aimed par­ticularly (but not uniquely) at the Christian Churches…

Colin Coward has written an article which comments on this piece. You can read that at Two cheers for Bishop Stephen Platten.

…Having re-read the article, I want to be more critical, especially since bishop Stephen wants the Church universal to take a lead in ‘real’ listening. My first message back to Bishop Stephen is that it’s a bit rich to ask the Church to take a lead in ‘real’ listening. The Church is so far behind secular society which having undertaken a process of ‘real listening’ has mostly dealt with the ethical, moral, emotional and legal dimensions of homophobia and has already transformed the landscape for LGBT people. It is primarily in the church, and in particular pockets of society, in football, in schools that homophobia continues.

Bishop Stephen says the Church is not unlike our culture in which there are a variety of views with both calls for equality and rampant homophobia. I do not meet rampant homophobia in society, but in the church I meet an all-persuasive prejudice which has a rampantly homophobic effect. Try getting appointed to a new post in the church if you are in a civil partnership or recommending to a lesbian, gay or transgender seeker a church in which you can confidently guarantee they are going to receive a prejudice–free welcome. Changing Attitude has just 30 churches out of 10,000 listed in our Welcoming and Open scheme…


Sunday programme discussion of Covenant

The Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, and Dr Lesley Fellows discussed the Covenant on the BBC radio programme Sunday this morning.

The programme is available on iPlayer for those who can receive it, or as a podcast, over here.

The BBC’s description of the item from this page:

The Church of England Synod will meet this month to discuss the proposed Anglican Covenant. But the covenant itself is now under attack from both Liberals and Conservatives. Ed speaks to Rev Dr Lesley Fellows who heads the newly formed No Anglican Covenant Coalition, and the Bishop of Asaph Dr Gregory Cameron.

The item starts about 24 minutes in.


bishops to resign on Monday

There are reports that both Provincial Episcopal Visitors in the Province of Canterbury are to resign, and that the Archbishop of Canterbury is to make an announcement about this on Monday.

This substantiates a story first published by Rocco Palmo on Twitter on 26 October.

There is a report in today’s Times newspaper which is only available online by subscription. But the following other items are available:

Telegraph Damian Thompson Report: Archbishop of Canterbury ‘to announce conversion of two bishops to Rome on Monday’ Anglican bishops set to resign over the ordination of women

And Ed Tomlinson has written about it over here, and Bishop Andrew Burnham has added a comment there too.



Updated Saturday afternoon

Richard E Helmer writes at the Episcopal Café about The vow of poverty: Reflecting on the witness of Francis.

Benjamin Guyer writes at The Living Church about Law, Liturgy, Wisdom.

Margaret Hebblethwaite writes in The Guardian about Christianity for a television age. “Can you have a christianity that has no symbols of sanctity, and no knowledge of history? That is how evangelical churches seem.”

Pierre Whalon writes about All Souls … especially your own …

Theo Hobson writes in The Guardian about Britain’s illiberal attitude to the church has driven me away. “The Anglican church’s version of Christianity is full of charming but deadly imperial ghosts. It needs an almighty exorcism.”

Bishop Alan Wilson writes about Change, Decay and Renewal and says he is “rather glad the Church isn’t the same as the one into which I was ordained 31 years ago”.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about Fresh Expressions: Mugged by Expressions of choice.
Update: Jeremy Fletcher responds to Giles Fraser: Fresh Expression, Stale Journalism.

And finally here is a report on the 2010 International Anglican Bloggers Summit Meeting.


Is the Anglican Covenant Catholic?

Fr Matthew Duckett has written an article entitled Is the Anglican Covenant Catholic?

In November General Synod will be asked to approve a draft Act of Synod adopting the Anglican Communion Covenant. This is being presented primarily as a way of dealing with disputes and living together as a family of churches. But it is also an ecclesiological statement; it expresses a particular understanding of what it is to be the church, of what “church” and “communion” mean. As the Covenant text makes clear, accepting the Covenant entails accepting this understanding of the church. But is it an understanding that Anglican Catholics can recognise and accept?

As John Riches has pointed out, the Covenant, like the Windsor Report before it, draws on different and sometimes conflicting ecclesiologies. So its vision of what the Church is, and consequently what communion is, is incoherent. Above all, it is the lack of a clear Eucharistic ecclesiology, and the prevalence of other views which owe much to the Reformation, which is a serious obstacle for anyone approaching the Covenant from a Catholic perspective…


Gregory Cameron writes to the Church Times

The Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, has written a long letter to the Church Times about the recent advertisement opposing the Anglican Covenant.

His letter is available to read in full here.

Sir, — There was a very curious document in last week’s Church Times (full-page advertisement, page 7). In it, two organisations, Inclusive Church and Modern Church, for which I have formerly had the highest regard, turned themselves into the nearest to an ecclesiastical BNP that I have encountered.

They resort to the old tactics of misinformation and scaremongering about foreigners and outside influences to whip up a campaign against the Anglican Covenant, and replace reasoned argument with a “Man the barricades!” mentality that is little short of breathtaking…

There is also a news article about this, see Ed Beavan ‘Little Englander’ jibe at Covenant advert.

A BISHOP has compared two groups opposing the Anglican Covenant to “an ecclesiastical BNP”. They are “latter-day Little Englanders”, he says…

…The Revd Jonathan Clatworthy, general secretary of Modern Church, said this week that the Covenant had come out of the debate in the Communion over gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions, but this had been “played down by the Covenant’s proponents”.

He denied the charge of scare­mongering. Conservative bishops “have made it quite clear the whole point of the Covenant is to exclude the United States”, he said.

“It’s really a case of allowing differ­ences of opinions to be heard and explored, and that would be pre­vented by the Covenant as the text says when there is a big controversy you can appeal to the Standing Com­mittee of the Anglican Com­munion, and they will lay down a decision that will be binding for all Anglicans.”

He said that it would lead to a “centralisation of power” and make the Church of England a “more con­fessional Church”, making “Anglican­ism more like Roman Catholicism with a mighty Magisterium”…

And the Question of the Week in the Church Times is Should the Church of England reject the Anglican Covenant?


articles about the Covenant

ENS reported yesterday on the latest development in International campaign launched against Anglican Covenant.

This evening the Telegraph has reported on developments in the English campaign in Bishop brands his liberal critics ‘little Englanders’ as new gay row hits Church by Tim Ross.

…The covenant was deemed necessary after international criticism from conservative Anglicans followed the ordination of the Rt Rev Gene Robinson, who is openly gay, as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2004.

Two liberal groups, Inclusive Church and Modern Church, have launched a campaign against the covenant plan, which they say is overwhelmingly backed by traditionalists.

The critics ran an advertisement in the Church Times claiming that the plan represented a move to install an “authoritarian leadership” and “the biggest change to the Church since the Reformation”.

However, the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Rev Gregory Cameron, who was on the committee that drew up the covenant, described the opponents as “latter-day little Englanders”.

In a letter to the Church Times, he said the two groups had “turned themselves into the nearest to an ecclesiastical BNP that I have encountered”.

He continued: “They resort to the old tactics of misinformation and scaremongering about foreigners and outside influences to whip up a campaign against the Anglican Covenant and replace reasoned argument with a ‘Man the barricades!’ mentality that is little short of breathtaking”…

Meanwhile Ekklesia has published these two articles relating to the Covenant:

And Bishop Alan Wilson has written Encouraging what engagement? How?

Note: There is a particularly good comments thread on this article.

Looking at the Covenant documentation for General Synod, it seems one laudable aim is to promote closer engagement between Churches.

Institutional structures can assist as well as impede strong and fruitful relationships, of course. Having a formal marriage certificate doesn’t stop marriage partners loving each other — indeed it ought to help, all other things being equal. What it cannot do is make people love one another.

Direct meeting is a gospel value. And if this is the aim, one way to judge the Covenant proposal will be to ask “How might it deliver what kind of closer engagement between Churches?” A new refereeing institution could bring churches together when they make decisions others abhor. That‘s the theory, rather like requiring divorcing couples to seek counselling…


Bishop Tom Wright gives interview

The Church of Ireland Gazette has an exclusive story. See Church of England should drop plans for women Bishops if major split would result, Bishop Tom Wright tells Gazette.

Speaking to [Ian Ellis] the Gazette editor in an interview while visiting Ireland, Bishop Tom Wright, former Bishop of Durham and now a Research Professor at the University of St Andrews, has said that the Church of England should not proceed to the consecration of women as Bishops if the move were to create a large division.

He said: “my own position is quite clear on this, that I have supported women Bishops in print and in person. I’ve spoken in Synod in favour of going that route, but I don’t think it’s something that ought to be done at the cost of a major division in the Church.”

Bishop Wright warned that if the Church of England were not able to resolve the matter “a ‘quick fix’ resolution” would be “a recipe for long-term disaster”…

And asked about the Anglican Covenant, he said this:

Asked if he thought the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant, aimed at keeping the global Communion together, would become a reality, Bishop Wright said: “I think so, because I don’t think really there’s any alternative.” He said the Communion could not afford to have “the kind of unstructured mess that we’ve had”.

Bishop Wright said that the Covenant “doesn’t foreclose on particular issues”. Rather, he explained, it “provides a framework within which you can have the discussion in a way which tries to keep all parties at the table. Obviously if parties decide to walk away from the table that’s their business, but without some sort of a structured framework what happens is, as always, that the loudest voices tend to win, or at least drown out the other ones, and I have seen that happen and it’s not a pretty sight.”

Asked to comment on what would happen if the Church of England rejected the Covenant proposal, Bishop Wright said: “That is always a possibility, and if that happens, then I suppose the thing would be dead in the water. But that’s a notional possibility which I don’t actually see as realistic.” Bishop Wright was visiting Ireland to give a series of talks to the 18th-21st October Down and Dromore clergy conference, held in Donegal Town.

The entire interview was recorded, and you can listen to the audio file here.


International Campaign Seeks to Stop Anglican Covenant

No Anglican Covenant Coalition

Anglicans for Comprehensive Unity



LONDON – An international coalition of Anglicans has been created to campaign against the proposed Anglican Covenant. Campaigners believe the proposed Covenant constitutes unwarranted interference in the internal life of the member churches of the Anglican Communion, would narrow the acceptable range of belief and practice within Anglicanism, and would prevent further development of Anglican thought. The Coalition’s website ( will provide resources for Anglicans around the world to learn about the potential risks of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

“We believe that the majority of the clergy and laity in the Anglican Communion would not wish to endorse this document,” according to the Coalition’s Moderator, the Revd. Dr. Lesley Fellows, who is also the Coalition’s Convenor for the Church of England. “Apart from church insiders, very few people are aware of the Covenant. We want to encourage a wider discussion and to highlight the problems the Covenant will cause.”

The idea of an Anglican Covenant was first proposed in 2004 as a means to address divisions among the member churches of the Anglican Communion on matters ranging from human sexuality to the role of women. The current draft of the Covenant, which has been unilaterally designated as the “final” draft, has been referred to the member churches of the Communion. The proposed Covenant establishes mechanisms which would have the effect of forcing member churches to conform to the demands and expectations of other churches or risk exclusion from the Communion.

Critics of the proposed Anglican Covenant, including members of the new Coalition, believe that it will fundamentally alter the nature of historic Anglicanism in several ways, including the narrowing of theological views deemed acceptable, the erosion of the freedom of the member churches to govern themselves, and the concentration of authority in the hands of a small number of bishops. Two English groups, Inclusive Church and Modern Church, ran anti-Covenant advertisements in last week’s Church Times and the Church of England Newspaper aiming to make more members of the Church of England aware of the dangers of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

“If the Anglican Communion has a problem, this is not the solution,” according to former Bishop of Worcester Peter Selby. “Whether those who originated the Covenant intended it or not, it is already, and will become even more, a basis for a litigious Communion from which some will seek to exclude others.”

The launch of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition website coincides with the commemoration of the sixteenth-century theologian Richard Hooker. “Hooker taught us that God’s gifts of scripture, tradition, and reason will guide us to new insights in every age,” according to the Canadian priest and canon law expert, the Revd. Canon Alan Perry. “The proposed Anglican Covenant would freeze Anglican theology and Anglican polity at a particular moment. Anglican polity rejected control by foreign bishops nearly 500 years ago. The proposed Anglican Covenant reinstates it.”

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition began in late October with a series of informal email conversations among several international Anglican bloggers concerned that the Covenant was being rushed through the approval process before most Anglicans had any opportunity to learn how the proposed new structures would affect them.

Revd. Dr Lesley Fellows (England) +44 1844 239268
Dr. Lionel Deimel (USA) +1-412-512-9087
Revd. Malcolm French (Canada) +1-306-550-2277
Revd. Lawrence Kimberley (New Zealand) +64 3 981 7384


pre-General Synod press briefing

Here are some press reports following today’s release of papers for this month’s General Synod and a press briefing this morning.

Riazat Butt in The Guardian: Church of England eyes £5m of state funds to combat extremism

Tim Ross in the Telegraph: Anglicans who defect to Rome ‘could share CofE churches’
and Religiously ‘illiterate’ politicians treat all faiths with suspicion, says CofE


General Synod – November 2010 – full agenda published

The General Synod of the Church of England will meet in London on 23 and 24 November 2010. The following press release was issued a short time ago.

See our item below for links to online Synod papers.

Synod to debate the Big Society and the Anglican Communion Covenant
1 November 2010

Her Majesty The Queen will inaugurate the Ninth General Synod of the Church of England in Church House, Westminster on Tuesday 23 November. The Inauguration ceremony will follow the Eucharist in Westminster Abbey, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will preside and Dame Mary Tanner (a President of the World Council of Churches) will preach.

This Synod will reflect some significant changes amongst its membership: 35% of the elected members of the General Synod are starting their first ever five-year term; the proportion of elected clergy who are female has increased from 21% to 28%; and women now make up 46% of the elected laity membership (up from 40%).

The November group of sessions will continue with regular business for the afternoon of Tuesday, 22 November, until late afternoon on Wednesday, 23 November. There will be a Presidential Address from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Other key features are indicated below.

Newly elected and continuing Synod members will also be attending an induction seminar in Church House on the Monday.

The Big Society

The Big Society is a major theme of the new Government and is of considerable relevance to the role of religious bodies, including the Church of England. In June, the Bishop of Leicester sponsored a debate in the House of Lords on the concept of the Big Society. The Mission and Public Affairs Division has been in discussion with Government ministers to consider ways the Church might work in partnership with the Government to promote greater social cohesion.

The debate in Synod should enable the Church to understand the issues concerned more deeply and prepare dioceses and parishes to feel better equipped to respond at local level.

Anglican Communion Covenant

The idea of an Anglican Communion Covenant was first proposed in the Windsor report of 2004, following developments in relation to same-sex partnerships in North America. It was envisaged that the Anglican Covenant would “make explicit and forceful the loyalty and bonds of affection” which govern the relationships between the Churches of the Anglican Communion. A text of the Covenant was sent last December to all the Churches of the Anglican Communion for their approval.

The House of Bishops agreed in May to commend the Covenant to the Synod for adoption; and the Synod is now being asked to approve the draft Act of Synod which will be required to express the Church of England’s agreement. At the November group of sessions, Synod will be asked to formally consider the Covenant, before it is referred to dioceses, and (if any of them so request) to the Convocations of Canterbury and York and the House of Laity. Subject to these procedures, the draft Act of Synod would return to the Synod in due course for Final Approval, possibly in 2012.

Other Legislative Business

The Church of England Marriage (Amendment) Measure will be introduced at the November Synod to give effect to the resolution passed by the Synod in July, calling for the introduction of legislation to enable a diocesan bishop to give directions allowing those who have a ‘qualifying connection’ with a particular parish to marry in any church within the benefice of which that parish forms a part.

Two other pieces of legislation come to the Synod for approval as the remaining steps in the process of preparing for the introduction of ‘Common Tenure’ early in 2011. These comprise some amending Regulations and an amending Order.

The Clergy Discipline Commission will be bringing to the Synod an amending Code of Practice under the Clergy Discipline Measure of 2003, including amendments on which the Commission conducted a consultation in 2008.

Communicating Synod

Anyone can keep in touch with the General Synod while it meets. Background papers and other information will be posted on the Church of England website ahead of the General Synod sessions. Audio files of debates along with updates on the day’s proceedings will be posted during the sessions, which will also be live streamed by Premier Radio.


General Synod – November 2010 – online papers

Updated Monday evening

Most papers for this month’s meeting of General Synod are now online. The list below will be updated as the remainder become available. Papers are also listed when they are known to exist but are not yet online.

Outline agenda

GS 1802 Agenda

GS 1803 Business Committee Report

GS 1804 Big Society (Full Report)
GS 1804A Big Society (Short Report)

GS 1805 Draft Church of England Marriage (Amendment) Measure

GS 1806 Draft Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2010
GS 1806X Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1807 Draft Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Order 2010
GS 1807X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1808 Amending Code of Practice (Clergy Discipline Measure)
GS 1808X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1809 Draft Act of Synod – Anglican Communion

GS 1810 Draft Scheme Amending the Diocese in Europe Constitution 1995
GS 1810X Explanatory Memorandum

GS Misc 965 Constitutions of Bodies answerable to Synod through the Archbishops’ Council

GS Misc 966 The Anglican Covenant: a briefing paper