Thinking Anglicans

Who is going to the Primates Meeting?

Updated again Tuesday morning

The previous roundup of news on this topic was here. Since then there was also this announcement.

This week’s Church Times reports that There could be sandwiches to spare in Dublin.

At the end of last year, it was announced that ten Primates from the Global South intended to boycott the meeting, in protest at the inclusion of the US Primate after rows over gay bishops and same-sex blessings (News, 26 November).

The Church Times understands that this number might have risen to 14 out of the possible 37 Primates eligible to attend. (There is one vacancy.) The general secretary of the Anglican Communion Office (ACO), Canon Kenneth Kearon, believes, however, that those who stay away, “in protest after developments in the Episcopal Church” in the United States, will number “less than ten”. There might be other absentees because of health or visa issues, he said.

He admitted, however, that numbers would be unknown until the meeting began on Tuesday. “Given that most Primates make their own travel arrangements, and that plans can change at the last minute, it is impossible for anyone to say for certain how many Primates will travel to Dublin for the meeting.”

The ten Primates in the original boycott are understood to be those of Jerusalem & the Middle East, the Indian Ocean, South-East Asia, the Southern Cone, Rwanda, West Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya. A Global South spokesman suggested that another four were likely to stay away. One of these, the Primate of Sudan, has other matters demanding his attention in the wake of his country’s referendum…

The Anglican Communion News Service reports that Primates not attending Dublin meeting “have reiterated their commitment to the Communion”.

…The Primates who have turned down the invitation to this week’s Primates’ Meeting because of developments in The Episcopal Church are still committed to the Anglican Communion.

In an interview today with BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence programme, Anglican Communion Secretary General Canon Kenneth Kearon told presenter William Crawley that at Communion meetings there are always a number of participants who cannot come for a variety of reasons including health or diary commitments.

Canon Kearon gave as an example of those who would likely leave their decision to attend until the last minute the Primates of Sudan and Australia whose countries are dealing with major issues including a referendum and flooding respectively.

He added that on this occasion some Primates had written to say they would not be attending the Dublin meeting because of the presence of the Primate of The Episcopal Church and recent developments in The Episcopal Church.

“About seven or possibly eight have written to me directly to say that’s the reason why they cannot come,” he said. “About two can’t come because of health reasons and there are a few we are not yet sure whether they are coming or not.

“Those Primates who said they’re not coming as part of an objection to the Episcopal Church and other developments have reiterated their commitment to the Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury in their writing to me…”

There was a Mere Anglicanism conference this weekend in South Carolina, at which the Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East has been speaking. He made some comments about the forthcoming meeting reported as follows:

…With the regard of the upcoming Primate’s meeting, (Dublin, Ireland Jan 25-30, 2011) we are not boycotting. Many have said that we are boycotting this meeting. We however are not attending.

Why? Because we did ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to follow up on the recommendations of the previous meeting (Dar es Salaam, 2006; no meeting was held in 2008 because of the Lambeth Conference). At that meeting we discussed, decided and recommended actions. This was never done. It is time for decisions after comprehensive discussion.

For this meeting, we received an invitation to sit in 2 separate rooms: the revisionists in one and the Global South in another. This is a joke. We were not given a chance to affect the process and have some ownership of the meeting. When we are given that opportunity, we will attend.

Update there is a full transcript of these remarks now available here.

The text of the article in Evangelicals Now by Chris Sugden is now available over here.

…The clear implication of Bishop Fearon’s case ( which is also Archbishop Rowan Williams’ case) is that even though Anglicans have been persecuted and driven from their homes, buildings and jobs in the USA and Canada, other Anglican leaders should meet yet again with those responsible for these outrages and thus legitimate the presence of those who completely contradict the teaching and practice of the Christian churches. Once decisions were made at the Early Church Councils Bishop Fearon has referred to, Arius and others were declared to be and treated as heretics. Similar clear decisions taken by the succession of meetings since 1998 have not been followed through…


Giles Fraser's sermon at Westminster Cathedral

The Sunday Telegraph carries a story by Jonathan Wynne-Jones headlined Pope’s offer was an ‘insensitive takeover bid’, say senior Anglicans. Reference is made to remarks by the Bishop of Guildford, the Bishop of Lincoln, and Canon Giles Fraser.

Here is the full text of the sermon that Canon Giles Fraser preached at Westminster Cathedral on 18 January 2011.

The task of preaching for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity presents a very particular sort of challenge – especially for an Anglican priest and especially in this building where, last Saturday, a number of former Anglican Bishops were ordained into what is now to be called the Personal Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham.

For some, this venture describes a unique form of unity, a way of folding aspects of the Anglican tradition into the broader Roman Catholic family. For those who have always dreamed of coming together with Rome, the Ordinariate is a generous answer by the Holy Father to generations of prayer and longing from Catholic Anglicans desperate to be recognised as a part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church as Roman Catholicism has traditionally understood it. During his sermon on Saturday, Archbishop Vincent Nichols referred to the Ordinariate as a contribution “to the wider goal of visible unity between our two churches.”

Now I don’t suppose it will be a surprise to anyone to hear that there are some – and indeed in both churches – who do not see it like this at all. For from the Anglican perspective, this new invitation to swim the Tiber can sometimes have a slightly predatory feel; in corporate terms, a little like a take over bid in some broader power play of church politics. And if Anglicans do feel a little like this, I wonder if things really are all that rosy in the ecumenical garden.

But sometimes it’s when things look at their most bleak that the real opportunity presents itself. Why, for instance, does so much of the Christian tradition seem to be nurtured by trips into the desert? Why the continual reference – here in both our readings tonight – to forty days in the wilderness? Because, I suggest, it is in the desert that one can begin to get one’s priorities sorted out. In the desert, we discover what is most important. And that may be just as true of the ecumenical desert that some people now fear is upon us.

I happened to be chatting to the editor of The Tablet yesterday. And she told me something I found terribly interesting. When in the desert, she said, one needs to watch where the birds are flying to, for eventually they will fly towards water, that is, towards the very source of life itself. This got me thinking. For perhaps it is only in the desert that we, as Christians, can rediscover what really holds us together: our common commitment to the source of life itself and our need to share this life with others. And indeed, it is not so much the birds that we need to follow, but that divine dove, the Holy Spirit, that is God’s call to each one of us to seek out the waters of life – both for ourselves and for our world.

During the Pope’s visit last September he spoke at Lambeth Palace of our country’s “deep and widespread hunger for spiritual nourishment.” This, he rightly emphasized, is where we find common cause. Here is our deeper source of unity. For those of us who can’t really understand the Ordinariate or are anxious about its purpose, this is something very much worth holding on to.

It would, of course, be wrong for us simply to ignore many of the big issues that divide us. Like the majority of people in the Church of England, I believe strongly that the ordination of women as bishops, priests and deacons is a part of God’s will for his whole church. And yes, although we cannot set this and other differences aside, what we still need to remember is that, as a church, we are called to respond to the needs of the world – a world that, as the Pope properly reminded us, continually cries out for spiritual nourishment. This is where we stand together, as one. What binds us is that common life that is brought to fruition in the waters of baptism and presided over by the Holy Spirit. And if we can remind ourselves of this, then the desert can become a place of hope and indeed a place of transformation. Amen.


A Covenant in Canada

The Diocese of Qu’Appelle in Saskatchewan will enter into a Covenant with the RC Archdiocese of Regina.

Here is the press release: Anglican & Roman Catholic Bishops to Sign Historic Covenant.

Roman Catholics and Anglicans in southern Saskatchewan will mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity by establishing and celebrating a closer relationship between their two dioceses. Roman Catholic Archbishop Daniel Bohan and Anglican Bishop Gregory Kerr-Wilson will sign A Covenant between the Archdiocese of Regina and the Diocese of Qu’Appelle at a joint service of worship at St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral this Sunday, January 23.

The formal agreement commits the two dioceses to specific initiatives, including annual shared services with the two bishops, each church keeping and upholding the other church and its leaders in prayer, working together on various issues and jointly working with First Nations elders to promote reconciliation and healing. Each bishop commits to maintaining communication when new developments in one church present challenges for the other. Anglican and Roman Catholic parishes are encouraged to undertake joint activities in worship, mission, education and social justice.

For more than forty years, the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion have engaged in serious theological dialogue at an international level, resulting in agreed statements on key issues such as authority in the Church, ministry and ordination. In Canada, the two Churches enjoy substantial areas of practical cooperation. Here in Saskatchewan, friendship and understanding have steadily grown between the two dioceses over the past four decades…

And here is the full text of the Covenant agreement.



Jane Williams continues her Comment is free belief series: The Book of Genesis, part 6: Patriarchs and others. “What is to be made, theologically, of the unabashedly male-dominated, hierarchical world of Genesis?”

Derek Olsen writes a three-part article for Episcopal Café about Communion without Baptism.
Part I Part II Part III

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about Seeking out unity in the wilderness

Baroness Warsi delivered a lecture about Islamophobia on Thursday this week: University of Leicester Sir Sigmund Sternberg lecture. The Guardian has published these three responses to the lecture.

Giles Fraser: Islamophobia is the moral blind spot of modern Britain
Andrew Brown: Lady Warsi and the concept of extremism
Ghaffar Hussain: Lady Warsi is right to confront anti-Muslim prejudice

At the beginning of her lecture Lady Warsi refers to an earlier speech to the College of Bishops; we linked to that here.

Ralph McMichael writes for The Living Church about God’s Mission is the Eucharist.


more about the B&B judgment

Updated Monday morning

Here are two articles from religious sources that express criticism of the judgment previously reported here.

The Tablet has an editorial headlined Not equal before the law.

…Compelling people to act against their conscience, or for­cing them out of business unless they are prepared to do so, can never be regarded as an unqualified victory for human rights. When rights clash, the appropriate way to resolve the issue is before an objective tribunal, which will weigh up the pros and cons on either side. That means there ought to be occasions where the right to religious freedom prevails, and the right not to be discriminated against on grounds of sexual orientation has to give way. But the latest case confirms, and as County Court Judge Andrew Rutherford said in his judgment, the balancing of one right against another is not what the law requires. In effect, gay rights trump religious convictions every time. There is something wrong with such a law. Judges should have discretion to probe further. Did the gay couple in this case, for instance, have a convenient alternative? Were the religious convictions merely a mask for homophobic prejudice? Above all, the court should be obliged to give due weight to the undesirability of overriding deeply held religious convictions, which is at least as wrong as offending the feelings of gay people. Religious believers have human rights too.

The Guardian has published a column by Jonathan Chaplin director of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics titled Law can be influenced by religion.

…But quite apart from the merits of the case, judges should be warned off any future reliance on the ill-considered opinions about law and religion ventured last year by Lord Justice Laws. Laws rightly asserted that no law can justify itself purely on the basis of the authority of any religion or belief system: “The precepts of any one religion – any belief system – cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other.”

A sound basis for this view is Locke’s terse principle, in his Letter on Toleration, that “neither the right nor the art of ruling does necessarily carry with it the certain knowledge of other things; and least of all the true religion”.

But Laws seemed to ground the principle instead on two problematic and potentially discriminatory claims…

This is a continuation of Chaplin’s earlier argument against what Lord Justice Laws said in the McFarlane case.

Update Monday morning

Here are two further articles, from a legal perspective, about the case:

In yesterday’s Observer Afua Hirsch the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Guardian wrote Gay couple’s hotel battle is latest case of religion clashing with human rights

She mentions the trend of “Religitigation” and she concludes with this:

the Bulls’ case confirms that, in the meantime, Christians will have to accept that civil partnerships are intended to be its equivalent as far as the law is concerned. But the interesting issue in this case lurks in the judge’s commentary. “It is no longer the case that our laws must, or should, automatically reflect the Judaeo-Christian position,” said Rutherford, that is in regarding marriage as the only form of legally recognised binding relationship.

It is this issue that concerns religious groups – the ability of the law to move on from its religious roots to a more equitable formula of guaranteeing fundamental rights, including the right against discrimination. Of course where those rights come into conflict, a more nuanced exercise of balancing takes place – one that the judiciary has so far approached with the utmost seriousness. Rutherford confessed he found the Bulls’ case “very difficult”, and Lord Phillips – president of the supreme court and the UK’s most senior judge – said earlier this year that the Jewish school decision had been the hardest of his judicial life.

That has been of little consolation to religitigants, however. What they seem to want is a trump card that puts them above the subtle considerations of fairness. And that, the courts have repeatedly said, is not going to happen.

At the UK Human Rights Blog Catriona Murdoch wrote A Cornish hotel and the conflict between discrimination law and religious freedom.

The judgment itself is now available as a web page here.

And, as Catriona reminds us, the Northern Ireland version of these regulations was the subject of a high court challenge, see An Application for Judicial Review by the Christian Institute and others [2007] NIQB 66). We reported the outcome at the time: Northern Ireland: judicial review of SoRs. Among other things the judge said at that time:

“The applicants contend that the regulations treat evangelical Christians less favourably than other persons to the extent that they are subject to civil liability for manifesting the orthodox religious belief in relation to homosexuality. I am satisfied that the Regulations do not treat evangelical Christians less favourably than others.”


Fort Worth: Judge rules against Bishop Iker

Updated Saturday evening

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Judge rules for national Episcopalians, against Iker’s group

A state district judge on Friday ordered the group of Episcopalians headed by Bishop Jack Iker to “surrender all Diocesan property as well as control of the Diocese Corporation” to Episcopalians loyal to the national church.

Judge John Chupp’s ruling in 141st District Court came after months of legal arguments over who owns church buildings and other property in the 24-county Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Chupp heard arguments for both sides Jan. 14 and granted a summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs — Episcopalians who have remained a part of the U.S. Episcopal Church.

Chupp wrote that they have legal claim to diocesan property. He ordered the defendants to “provide an accounting of all Diocesan assets within 60 days…”

The Diocese of Fort Worth has this press release: Judge Grants Episcopal Parties’ Motions for Summary Judgment and Orders Surrender of Diocesan Property.

On Friday, January 21, 2011, the Hon. John P. Chupp of the 141st District Court, Tarrant County, Texas, granted the Local Episcopal Parties’ and The Episcopal Church’s Motions for Summary Judgments. He denied the Southern Cone parties Motion for a Partial Summary Judgment The orders can be seen here.

The Court orders provide in part that the defendants, including Bishop Jack L. Iker, “surrender all Diocesan property, as well as control of the Diocesan Corporation, to the Diocesan plaintiffs and to provide an accounting of all Diocesan assets within 60 days of this order.” Additionally, “the Court hereby orders the Defendants not to hold themselves out as leaders of the Diocese.”

The parties are ordered “to submit a more detailed declaratory order within ten days of the date of this order” or by January 31…

The judge’s order is available as a PDF file.

There is as yet no press release from Bishop Iker.

Update Saturday evening

There is now a press release from Bishop Iker, Diocese and Corporation announce intention to appeal trial court ruling.

On Friday afternoon, Jan. 21, attorneys for the Diocese and Corporation received two orders from the Hon. John Chupp in the matter of the main suit against us, in which a minority of former members has been joined by The Episcopal Church in an effort to claim diocesan property. Judge Chupp signed an order drafted by the plaintiffs’ attorneys, from which he struck several points with which he did not apparently agree. The order does find that TEC is a hierarchical church, and on that basis the judge has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The judge’s order can be read here.

Friday’s ruling from the trial court is a disappointment but not a disaster. The plaintiffs have offered no evidence, either in the courtroom or in their voluminous filings, supporting their claim that the Diocese was not entitled to withdraw from The Episcopal Church, as it did in November 2008. Nor have they demonstrated a legal right to our property, which is protected by Texas statutes regulating trusts and non-profit corporations.

On the contrary, it is our position that the judge’s order does not conform to Texas law, and we are therefore announcing our plans to appeal the decision without delay. We believe that the final decision, whenever it is signed by Judge Chupp based on these orders, will not be sustained on appeal. According to our lead attorney, Shelby Sharpe, “These orders appear to be contrary to the earlier opinion from the Second District Court of Appeals in Fort Worth and current decisions from both that court and the Supreme Court of Texas.”

In response to the ruling, Bishop Iker has said, “We are obviously disappointed by Judge Chupp’s ruling and see it as fundamentally flawed. We are confident that the Court of Appeals will carefully consider our appeal and will rule in accordance to neutral principles of law as practiced in the State of Texas. In the meantime, we will continue to focus on mission and outreach in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, while praying for the judges who will take up our appeal.”

We give thanks to God in all circumstances, and we trust in His plans. While we disagree with the judge’s ruling, we offer our sincere appreciation for the time and study he has given to the case.


Ordinariate roundup

The Bishop of Rochester has issued a pastoral letter on The Ordinariate and related issues.

Update, now available as a PDF from the Rochester site.

The Bishop of Chelmsford and the RC Bishop of Brentwood have jointly issued a letter. See press release, Roman Catholic and Anglican Bishops pledge to continue to work together, and the letter itself is in a PDF file.

The Church Times has a leader: In God’s deep counsels, some better thing. There is a news report at Ordinary time begins for ex-Anglicans at Westminster Cathedral.

The transcript of the press conference given last Monday by Fr Keith Newton can be read here.

Cardinal Walter Kasper gave a speech last Friday. The full text of it is available at His Eminence Walter Cardinal Kasper’s address to the Archbishop.

So I know well, that the day of tomorrow is not an easy one for you. It is not a day of victory for one side, it should be for both a day of penance, that though all good will on both sides till today we were not able to fulfill the will of our Lord as we should. But I want to assure you, the Holy Father, my successor in the Pontifical Council and the Roman Catholic Church as a whole are willing and decided to continue the way of sincere dialogue we started after the Second Vatican Council now more than almost fifty years ago.


General Synod – February 2011 – more on the agenda

Margaret Duggan has a detailed preview of next month’s General Synod agenda in the Church Times: Synod to debate Mary, and divorced bishops.

In my earlier article on pre-synod press reports I linked to two articles about a motion on Common Worship baptism texts. The one in the Mail Online in particular has come in for much criticism, as the following examples show.
Doug Chaplin in his Clayboy blog: Today’s English Baptism and the nasty net
The Church Mouse: Baptism lite – the low God version?
Ann Fontaine at the Episcopal Café: New language for baptismal rites requested


Primates Meeting: a Global South Editorial

Global South Anglican has published this: On the Dublin Meeting: GSA Editorial.

The full text is copied below the fold.



Another Anglican Covenant roundup

Ronald Stevenson, QC, the former Chancellor of the Anglican Church of Canada, and a retired Court of Queen’s Bench judge, has written another article (see here for his earlier one): Some History of Resistance to Centralizing Authority in the Anglican Communion.

Paul Bagshaw has recently written Creeds, orthodoxy and the Covenant.

Caroline Hall has published three articles so far about the Anglican Covenant:

Lesley Fellows wrote a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury.


Archbishop Hiltz on the Primates Meeting

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, has given an interview to the Anglican Journal and has issued a letter to the church, asking for prayers.

The interview can be found here, and also (more easily readable format) over here.

The letter is available as a PDF from here.

Excerpt from the interview:

The 38 primates, representing Anglicans in 164 countries, will be asked to share their thoughts on two questions: What do you think is the most pressing challenge or issue facing the Anglican Communion at this time? What do you think is the most pressing challenge or issue facing your own province?

Rather than seeing this process as an attempt to sidestep the issue of sexuality, which has deeply divided Anglicans, Archbishop Hiltz sees it was a way forward. “If there’s any hope of some sense of renewed relationships with one another, it’s through conversations like these,” he said.

Reports that some primates with more conservative theological views are planning to boycott the meeting “does nothing to model for the church what it means to try and live with difference,” he added. “To simply say, ‘I refuse to come’ is anything but exemplary of the office and ministry to which we are called.”

Excerpt from the letter:

On the subject of primacy, each of us received a number of documents, ancient and modern, Anglican and ecumenical addressing the role, function and authority of this ministry within the Province and within the Communion as a whole. There is a real need for clarity with respect to the place and influence of the Primates’ Meetings and the nature of their service as one of the Instruments of Communion.

As challenging as this meeting will be, it does have real potential for respectful conversation and a renewed commitment to partnerships one with another in the service of the Gospel. I hope we will not be so consumed with tensions in the Communion that we fail to address the real global issues that demand our attention as leaders of the Church.

I ask your prayers for all who attend and serve this meeting and most especially for Archbishop Rowan Williams who said of this gathering, “As with every such meeting we must approach it asking what gifts God will give us through our experience together, seeking honesty and clarity and better ways of serving God’s will.”


Archbishops' Council elections – laity

The results for the election of two members of the General Synod’s House of Laity to serve on the Archbishops’ Council have been announced; the successful candidates were Christina Rees and Paul Boyd-Lee. The detailed voting figures can be downloaded from here.

The full membership of the Council is listed here. This shows that the House of Bishops have elected the Rt Revd Steven Croft (Bishop of Sheffield) and the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott (Bishop of Dover) to serve on the Council, although I have not seen the detailed voting figures.


Church Commissioners Questions

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Tony Baldry MP) answered questions in the House of Commons yesterday.

Women Bishops

7. Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): What assessment the Church of England has made of the likely requirement for provincial episcopal visitors following the entry into force of any legislation enabling the consecration of women bishops. [33923]

Tony Baldry: Provincial episcopal visitors operate under the terms of the Act of Synod, which will be rescinded if the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops is approved and brought into force. It will on any basis be at least two more years before that stage is reached and there remain important questions about how suitable episcopal oversight will be provided under the new legislation and associated code of practice for those with theological difficulties over the ordination of women.

Diana Johnson: Given the general climate of cutting costs and removing superfluous posts, if the welcome reform of women bishops is going to happen soon, which I hope it will, should not the new flying bishops be grounded now?

Tony Baldry: The provincial episcopal visitors are there under the Act of Synod. Under the Act of Synod, the archbishop is expected to take steps to secure the appointment of up to two additional suffragans in his diocese to act as provincial episcopal visitors. As I have explained, even if the Synod gives final approval to the draft legislation, the Act of Synod will remain in place for some time to come. We must keep faith with all sorts of different groups in the Church of England until there is a final decision on women bishops within the Church.

Here are links to other questions for oral answer.
Redundant Churches
Christians in Pakistan
Christians in Sudan
Parish Priests
King James Bible

There were also questions for written answer, including one on Youth Groups and this one.

Ministers of Religion: Pensions

Miss McIntosh: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what contingency arrangements the Church Commissioners have made to cover the pension liabilities of former Roman Catholic priests who moved to the Church of England in the last five years. [34163]

Tony Baldry: Figures held centrally by the Ministry Division of the Archbishop’s Council show that in the period 2005-10 the division’s candidate’s panel dealt with 14 former Roman Catholic priests seeking ordination in the Church of England, of whom 11 were accepted for ministry. As there is discretion at diocesan level over the requirements for acceptance into ministry, not all cases are centrally recorded, meaning the national figure is likely to be higher. There are, however, no pensions implications for the Church Commissioners who are responsible only for clergy pensions earned for service in the Church of England before 1998.


Court finds hotel owners discriminated against gay couple

Judgment was issued yesterday in the discrimination case brought under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 against a Cornwall hotel in Bristol County Court. As the local paper reports: Bristol gay couple win legal case against Cornwall hotel.

The full text of the judgment can be found in a PDF here.

Press coverage is considerable. Here is a sample:



The Christian Institute itself reported the judgment this way: Judge rules against Christians in B&B case, but allows appeal

The Equality and Human Rights Commission issued Court finds hotel owners discriminated against gay couple.


General Synod – February 2011 – pre-synod press reports

updated Tuesday lunchtime to include statement from William Fittall, and link to podcast.

There were rather fewer journalists than usual at yesterday’s press briefing for next month’s General Synod; a rival attraction featuring Father Keith Newton had been called at short notice.

The only articles in today’s press that I have seen are these two, about a request for additional texts in the baptism service:
Steve Doughty in the Mail Online: The christening without much Christianity: Anglican church offers ‘baptism lite’ to attract non-worshippers
A “Staff Reporter” in the Liverpool Echo: Church of England plea to make church services less baffling for non-churchgoers

Another item on the synod’s agenda is a debate on parochial fees which attracted some advance attention in the press over the weekend.
Jonathan Wynne-Jones in The Telegraph: Couples face higher fee to marry in church
Jonathan Petre in the Mail Online: Clergy anger over plan to raise church wedding fees by 50%
Sean Nash at Wedding News: Plans to raise cost of church weddings opposed by some vicars

Church House Westminster has given me the following statement in relation to the above.

William Fittall, Secretary-General of the Archbishops’ Council said:

“The General Synod agreed last summer a new and clearer framework for the future setting of fees for weddings and funerals. The present situation is unclear and unsatisfactory, and can lead to discrepancies between fees charged by churches across the country.

“Fee income represents a small part of the Church’s income – the vast majority comes from parishioners’ donations. The legislation was not prepared with a view to producing any fundamental change in overall fee income.

“Next month, General Synod will discuss some principles and proposals relating to how fees are set, but will not be taking any decisions on specific fee levels. These are due to be decided by the Archbishops’ Council in a few months’ time and brought to Synod for agreement.

“The Church of England remains committed to providing ministry to all those in the nation who want it, irrespective of their ability to pay.”

I have linked to the online synod papers here, although the fees paper is not yet available.

Also now available is this podcast: Clerk to Synod David Williams takes us through the agenda for February Synod.


General Synod – February 2011 – online papers

Updated 19, 21, 22 and 24 February

Online copies of the papers for the February 2011 meeting of General Synod are starting to appear online. I have listed them below, with links, together with other papers listed in the agenda but not yet online. I will update the list as more links become available.

The Report of the Business Committee (GS 1817) includes a forecast of future business, and I have copied this below the fold.

GS 1808 Amending Code of Practice under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003
GS 1808X Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1812 Full Synod Agenda
GS 1813 Parochial Fees Policy: Report from the Archbishops’ Council
GS 1814 Draft Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Measure
GS 1814X Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1815 Challenges for the New Quinquennium
GS 1816A Common Worship Baptism Provision (Liverpool DSM)
GS 1816B Common Worship Baptism Provision (Note from the Secretary General)
GS 1817 Report by the Business Committee
GS 1818 Briefing paper by FOAG on ARCIC II – Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ

Christian Aid Report: Poverty – We’re All in this Together

GS Misc 872 FOAG Essays on ARCIC II – Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ
GS Misc 960 The House of Bishops’ Statement on Marriage after Divorce and the Ordained Ministry
GS Misc 970 Dioceses Commission: Guide to the Review Report No 2
GS Misc 971 Anglican Communion Covenant: Reference to Diocesan Synods
GS Misc 972 Affirming Our Common Humanity
GS Misc 974 Faith, Work and Economic Life
GS Misc 974B Faith, Work and Economic Life (Resources)
GS Misc 977 Central Stipends Authority report (38th)
GS Misc 979 Ordinariate: Questions and Answers

There are copies of the ARCIC report Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ on the websites of the Anglican Communion Office and the Vatican. The ACO also has a pdf version.



General Synod – February 2011

I have already linked to the outline agenda for next month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod. If normal practice is followed the full agenda and papers will soon be available online, and I will publish links as soon as possible.

Meanwhile the following press release was been issued by the Church of England this morning.

17 January 2011

Secretary of State for International Development to address the Synod.

Key debates on national Church plans for the quinquennium, Anglican-Roman Catholic relations, clergy discipline, parochial fees, baptism services, and marriage after divorce and the ordained ministry.

The Secretary of State for International Development, the Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell, will address the Synod on the scope for greater collaboration between Government and the Church on the Millennium Development Goal of partnerships for development. This will also link in with the Big Society debate at the November Synod.

The Synod has been addressed from time to time by Cabinet ministers, including the Rt. Hon Hilary Benn in 2004 and the Rt Hon Clare Short in 1998, on different aspects of international development.

The General Synod will meet at Church House from 3.00 pm on Monday 7 February until mid-afternoon Wednesday 9 February.

Plans for the quinquennium

Synod will debate a strategic report from the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops looking at the opportunities and challenges facing the Church of England over the next five years and how work done at national level can support dioceses and parishes in meeting them.

Anglican-Roman Catholic relations

The report from the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC): Mary – Grace and Hope in Christ, published in 2005, is the last of the second series of ARCIC reports to come to the General Synod for debate (the decision to initiate a third series of ARCIC studies was announced last year).

The motion from the Council for Christian Unity welcomes the dialogue between the two churches; notes the strengths and weaknesses of the ARCIC report and the areas for further work identified in the briefing paper from the Faith and Order Advisory Group; and encourages study of the report.

The debate will be preceded by a presentation by the Bishop of Guildford, Rt Rev Christopher Hill, (Chair of the CCU) and Bishop George Stack, on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Clergy Discipline

The focus of the legislative business at this Synod is clergy discipline. In July 2009, the Synod passed a motion on this subject from the London Diocesan Synod and, in the following year, the Clergy Discipline Commission assessed what changes might be needed to the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 in the light of experience over the last seven years. The Commission’s recommendations, which do not involve fundamental changes to the existing legislation, now come before the Synod by way of draft amending legislation for first consideration. The Clergy Discipline Commission is also bringing to the Synod some changes to the Code of Practice under the 2003 Measure.

One additional proposed change to the legislation results from a motion passed by the Synod in February 2009 and would allow disciplinary proceedings to be brought against clergy who support organisations which have aims that are inconsistent with the Church’s teaching on race equality.

Parochial Fees Policy

Last year, Synod gave final approval to new legislation (which is now completing its parliamentary stages). The legal framework for setting fees will in future be significantly different and before the Archbishops’ Council draws up the first Fees Order under the new legislation the Council has decided that the new Synod should have a general debate about principles and their practical outworking.

Baptism Services

The motion from the Liverpool Diocesan Synod asks for additional texts to be prepared as alternatives for passages in the Common Worship Baptism Services, which would be expressed in more culturally appropriate and accessible language than is perceived to be the case with the present services.

Marriage after Divorce and the Ordained Ministry

This provides the opportunity for a take note debate on the House of Bishops’ statement on Marriage after Divorce and the Ordained Ministry which was issued in June. The statement clarified the position on a number of matters including the possible appointment of bishops who may have married again after divorce or have married someone who has been divorced.

Other business

There will be a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York; and a celebration of Holy Communion at which the Archbishop of Canterbury will preside and preach.

The Business Committee has also scheduled for debate the following motion from Mr John Ward that was not debated at the November Synod during the discussions on the Anglican Communion Covenant, for lack of time. The motion seeks to specify two-thirds majorities (rather than simple majorities) in the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity at the Final Approval Stage for the draft Act of Synod adopting the Anglican Communion Covenant. The Covenant was referred to dioceses in December and is expected to return to the General Synod in 2012.

There will be two presentations: on ethical investment policy, from the Ethical Investment Advisory Group; and on the Weddings Project.

The Synod will also be asked to approve the appointment of the new Chair of the Synod’s Business Committee (following the Synod elections), and the new Clerk to the Synod (upon the retirement in March of David Williams).

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Suffragan see of Reading

From the Number 10 website

Monday 17 January 2011
Suffragan See of Reading

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Andrew John Proud, BD, MA, AKC, Area Bishop of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa (in the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa), to the Suffragan See of Reading, in the Diocese of Oxford, in succession to the Right Reverend Stephen Geoffrey Cottrell, BA, on his translation to the See of Chelmsford on 6 October 2010.

Notes for editors

The Right Reverend Andrew Proud (aged 56), studied for the ordained ministry at King’s College London and Lincoln Theological College. He served his first curacy at Stansted Mountfitchet, Chelmsford Diocese from 1980 to 1983. From 1983 to 1990 he was Team Vicar in Borehamwood in St Albans Diocese. From 1990 to 1992 he was an assistant priest in the Hatfield Team Ministry. From 1992 to 2001 he was Rector of East Barnet. He took a Masters at the London School of Oriental and African Studies in 2001. From 2002 to 2007 he was Chaplain at St Matthew’s in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 2005 he was made Canon of All Saints Cathedral, Cairo. Since 2007 he has been Area Bishop of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa in the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

Andrew Proud is married to Janice, a plant physiologist. They have two grown up children and one grandchild.

His interests include Africa and African affairs, walking in vast open spaces, writing narrative poetry, contemporary and classic music, cooking and eating with family friends. He is a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Weavers of London.

The Oxford diocesan website has this report: New Bishop of Reading Announced.


Press comment on the Ordinariate

The Observer newspaper has a leader column, The faithful lose in this victory for misogyny.

There is also a news report by Peter Stanford under the headline
History overturned as Anglican bishops are ordained as Catholic priests.

Other news reports can be found here, and other comment articles are linked here (but not the Observer leader).

See also Photographs.

The Ordinariate was discussed on the BBC radio programme Sunday available from here. The coverage starts about 31 minutes in.


Ordinariate established by Pope

The following announcements have been made:

Holy See press statement about the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England and Wales

Message from the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Statement from Keith Newton, First Ordinary for the Personal Ordinariate in Great Britain

Background information: Establishment of Personal Ordinariate

Other materials can be found via this page.