Updated Friday morning
Press Release from Modern Church, Inclusive Church and the No Anglican Covenant Coalition
First English diocesan vote rejects Anglican Covenant
Modern Church, Inclusive Church and the No Anglican Covenant Coalition are pleased with the result of the first diocesan vote on the proposed Anglican Covenant.
Both clergy and laity (the latter overwhelmingly) rejected the Covenant at the Wakefield Diocesan Synod meeting on Saturday 12th March.
While recognising the need to avoid the bitter controversies of recent years, we are glad that this Synod does not believe the Covenant is the way to do it.
We believe we should retain the traditional Anglican openness in which provinces govern themselves and disagreements are resolved by openly debating the issues free from threats of sanctions or schism.
The proposed Anglican Covenant offers instead a process for suppressing disagreements by establishing a central authority, with power to pass judgements and penalise dissident provinces by excluding them from international structures.
We trust that other Church of England Dioceses will have the courage to follow Wakefield’s example.
Rev Giles Goddard, 07762 373674, www.inclusivechurch2.net
Rev Jonathan Clatworthy, 0151 7276291, www.modernchurch.org.uk
Rev Lesley Fellows, 01844 239268, www.noanglicancovenant.org
The Church Times has a report, Wakefield synod votes against the Covenant.
THE first English diocesan synod to debate the Anglican Covenant has rejected it. On Saturday, in Wakefield diocese, the vote was lost in the Houses of Laity (10 for, 23 against) and Clergy (16 for, 17 against, 1 abstention). Both Bishops voted for its adoption…
Updated again Thursday morning
The Archbishop of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai The Most Revd Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu has issued a statement via the ACNS, see A statement from the Archbishop of the Anglican Communion in Japan.
…Since the earthquake the Provincial office has worked very hard to find out about the people and the churches in Tohoku diocese. However, we could neither contact them by phone nor email. Only yesterday were we able to start to see a picture of the devastation in the affected areas. I had been most concerned that I could not contact the Bishop of Tohoku diocese [The Rt Revd John Hiromichi Kato], but on Saturday he rang me and I was able to find out more about what had happened to the churches in Sendai City.
Bp Kato explained that he himself had not been able to find out much about the other churches in the diocese of Tohoku. This was largely due to the fact that neither power supplies nor telephone lines had been restored in areas most badly hit by the tsunami. There is particular concern for two churches: Isoyama St Peter’s Church in Fukushima Prefecture and Kamaishi Shinai Church and the kindergarten in Iwate that were close to the sea. Priests have been frantically trying to confirm that their parishioners are safe. We also know that it is not only Tohoku diocese that has been affected, some churches in Kita Kanto diocese have been reported to have been damaged also…
An earlier report: Bishop of tsunami-hit diocese is safe, but uncontactable.
From Shinya Samuel Yawata – Secretary, PIM NSKK, based upon reports from the dioceses of Tohoku, Kita Kanto, Yokohama and Tokyo
15 March, 2011
The earthquake/tsunami affected areas include the dioceses of Tohoku and Kita Kanto, and a very small area of the Diocese of Yokohama in Chiba prefecture.
The Diocese of Tohoku covers the prefectures of Aomori, Akita, Miyagi, Yamagata, and Fukushima, and the last three have been hit hard, particularly Miyagi prefecture. Membership of diocese of Tohoku is about 1,500 people and there are 29 churches, chapels and missionary stations. Its Cathedral is in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture.
The Diocese of Kita Kanto covers prefectures of Ibaragi, Tochigi, Gunma, and Saitama. The membership of the diocese is about 2,100 people and there are 31 churches, chapels, and missionary stations. Its Cathedral is located in Maebashi-shi, Gunma prefecture.
It was the biggest earthquake in recent history, followed by a big tsunami, and fires. Now the nuclear reactor is in danger. The death toll continues to rise and as I write this there are 3,100 or more deaths and 550,000 people are living in temporary shelters (according to [Japanese newspaper] Asahi Shimbun).
This update includes the latest information about the situation in Kita Kanto. I am still awaiting for official information from the diocese of Tohoku. There are no casualties among clergy.
St. Stephen’s Church in Mito-city, Ibaragi prefecture has lost its bell tower although not completely destroyed with a big crack in the tower, and the church building and rectory suffered substantial damage, cracked and fallen walls and ceiling. Shimodate Anglican Church in Ibaragi prefecture also has sustained significant damage with walls and ceilings damaged. Other churches sustained cracked walls, ceilings and damage to shelves, but it is limited to minor damage.
In other areas within diocese of Tokyo and Yokohama there is no substantial damage to church buildings except broken or cracked window glass, cracks in walls and fallen shelves.
Five days ago, on March 11 at 2:46 PM, there was a major earthquake followed by a tsunami and fires. Now we are facing potential disaster caused by the malfunction of nuclear power plant. On the day of earthquake it was snowing. Today it is expected to get colder. The tsunami and the fires it caused have made us miserable. We are now experiencing a lack of food supply. Over the past five days there have been as series of worrying aftershocks. Essential services are disrupted, particularly the phones with many people unable to recharge their cell phones. There is now a petrol shortage in the immediate area. We were simply not prepared for problems on this scale. In the central part of Sendai City there does not appear to be major damage to the buildings; it almost appears as if there is no problem, but in reality the lack of essential services—gas, electricity and water—is particularly hard for people.
What we are experiencing in our city does not compare to what we have seen in the media, particularly those areas directly impacted by the tsunami. According to the Asahi newspaper, life for the between 400,000 to 500,000 people living in temporary shelters is getting worse. The affected area is very wide and diocesan staff have not been able to visit all areas…
Third Sector Online reports that Catholic Care’s exclusion of same-sex couples ‘unjustified’, charity tribunal hears.
The Charity Commission has defended its decision not to allow the charity Catholic Care to prevent gay people from using its adoption service, at a charity tribunal hearing.
During the hearing, which finished on Friday, the commission argued it would be a “serious and demeaning act of discrimination” for the charity to restrict its adoption services to heterosexual, married couples.
The charity appealed to the tribunal to quash the commission’s ruling, made in August last year, that it could not change its objects to prevent same-sex couples from using its adoption service. Catholic Care argued that failing to change its objects would force it to close its adoption service because it would lose its funding from the Catholic church.
The commission’s barrister, Emma Dixon, said at the hearing: “The exclusion of same-sex couples is a particularly serious and indeed a demeaning act of discrimination. Weighty reasons would be needed to justify discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.”
… Alison McKenna, principal judge of the charity tribunal, said it would make its decision in about a month.
Updated to include Committee for Ministry of and Among Deaf and Disabled People result.
The Church of England has released more results of elections to General Synod boards and committees. I have listed the names of the successful candidates with links to the detailed results below the fold.0 Comments
A new edition of the Church Representation Rules of the Church of England has been published: Church Representation Rules 2011. The previous edition was dated 2006, and since then changes have been made to the rules by the Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure 2007 and the Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution 2009.
I have listed below the fold a summary of these changes.
It is important to note that there is no fully up-to-date copy of the Rules available online.
The Rules originated as Schedule 3 to the Synodical Government Measure 1969, but they have been amended many times since then. Although the online text of the Measure is updated to incorporate amendments, there is a timelag, and the notes at the beginning of the online text of Schedule 3 list changes dating back to 2003 that have not yet been made.
It should also be noted that the rules in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are not necessarily the same as in England.262 Comments
Mark Vernon writes for Ekklesia about Having faith in the importance of doubt.
Tamie Fields Harkins, at her blog the owls & the angels has a step-by-step plan for how to get more young people into the church: ah, the church.
Jeremy Nicholas writes in Gramophone about Hymns Ancient and Modern rejected.
Phil Zuckerman and Dan Cady in The Huffington Post explain Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus.
Stanley Hauerwas writes for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about The place of the church: locality and catholicity.
Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that Many things might not get better.
Bagehot writes about the British 2011 census for The Economist: There is a difference between lacking faith, and having no religion.
There were several articles and reflections for Ash Wednesday.
Mark Vernon in The Guardian: On Ash Wednesday, consider the gift of death
The Postulant: Remember
Penny Nash: Are You a Christian Giving Up Social Media for Lent? Please Don’t.
Scott Gunn: Blogtastic Lent or Lentastic blogs?
Colin Coward: Ash Wednesday
Scott Gunn is writing about the 39 Articles of Religion, one per day (except Sundays) during Lent. Here is his introduction: Of the 39 Articles of Religion and the first two articles.
Article I: Of faith in the Holy Trinity
Article II: Of the Word, or Son of God, which was made very man
The Archbishop of Canterbury has published a letter to the Primates of the Anglican Communion.
The portion of the letter dealing with Communion internal politics is copied below the fold.7 Comments
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has issued a statement: Commission statement on Preddy and Hall legal case
11 March 2011
John Wadham, Legal Director at the Commission, said:
“This morning we withdrew our cross appeal in this case. It was filed initially because of an error of judgment on the part of our legal team.
“They submitted the cross appeal in an attempt to clarify the law around how damages are calculated in cases such as this. This resulted in it appearing that Steve Preddy and Martyn Hall were seeking to increase the amount of damages they receive because Mr and Mrs Bull’s Christian beliefs had led them to break the law. This was not our intention and it was certainly not the intention of Steve and Martyn.
“I would like to confirm that public money will not be spent funding a claim for increased damages in this case…”
That’s the second retraction the EHRC has made in recent days. See also Johns v Derby City Council.
The Press Association report is available at Gay couple end hotel payout claim.33 Comments
A(nother) lawyer wrote Foster care and religion: the legal debate.
Bishop Alan Wilson writes again today: Munchausen loses Court Case.
…Ah, but you may say, there are people out there who don’t like Christianity. There are, and there always were. Some English Christians seem hell bent on behaving like a persecuted minority, and who am I to try and stop them? They’ve obviously never been to Pakistan or anywhere else Christians really are persecuted as Christians.
Historic Christianity does have massive historic, cultural and legal influence in the UK, not least in the pursuit of ancient rights founded on the principles of Equity that gave rise to our human rights law in the first place. The surest way to destroy this influence is for a group of zealots to take upon themselves the role of being the “one prophet left,” and indulge in the legal equivalent of Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy…
Andrea Minichiello Williams at Christian Concern wrote Permanent Exclusion and the Johns.
…I hope that the highlighting of the issue in the press will shatter the misconception that the Equality Act means equality for all. Some are very much more equal than others. We are currently living in ‘Animal Farm’ days; “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.
And Paul Diamond wrote Why the Johns Case will not be appealed.
…I have reluctantly advised the Johns not to appeal; such an appeal would normally be expected but now, in my opinion, futile – a waste of resources. The Courts are so set against religious freedom for Christians that an appeal is likely to only make matters worse.
The problem is a combination of bad laws and, in recent years, a number of poor judicial appointments by the previous Government. Where there are excellent Judges they are restricted by bad laws. Unfortunately, there are also Judges making law based on personal predilections. Parliament must remedy this situation as a matter of urgency.
The ideals of the Equality Acts and the Sexual Orientation Regulations have much to commend them in so far as all civilised people would not accept overt discrimination against any person based on irrelevant considerations as to their sexual orientation or faith. However, the laws are bad. They are poorly drafted leaving too much discretion to the Courts; they are contradictory in so far as one cannot have a society without substantive values. Finally and most importantly these laws are political laws seeking a political objective.
The laws are currently being used to eradicate Judeo Christian morality and usher in secular values. The secular movement is but a variant of the Utopian ambitions that have inspired man from the beginning of time. However, the end game of such programmes is always the same. To repeatedly promote a failed ideology is base ignorance or at its worst criminal. Coerced morality or coerced immorality (depending on one’s perspective) is not the hallmark of a free society…
Mr Diamond was interviewed this morning, along with Lord Falconer, a former Lord Chancellor, on the BBC’s Today radio programme, listen at Are courts enforcing a ‘new morality’?16 Comments
Ghanaian bishop Festus Yeboah-Asuamah told a recent meeting of Ghanaian theologians that while the challenges facing the Communion were “complex”, and that the answers may yet be “far away” there was hope in unity.
Speaking at the latest Continuing Indaba ‘hub’ meeting, Bishop Festus said, “There is hope! We should try as much as possible to keep the Anglican Communion together – we are one family.”
He was one of ten theologians who met on March 4-5 to consider how Ghanaian culture and theology could shape the Continuing Indaba1 initiative taking place across the Anglican Communion.
Facilitated by Dr Victor Atta-Baffoe, Dean of St Nicholas Seminary in Ghana’s Cape Coast, the group considered a number of models of conversation from their cultural perspectives that resonate with the Scriptures and the traditions of the church.
Last November there was a meeting in Limuru, Kenya, see Continuing Indaba gives bishops “excitement and hope for the future of the Communion”.
For more background on Continuing Indaba, see here.1 Comment
According to a news release from the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds: Ripon and Leeds votes yes to a new ‘super-diocese’.
The Synod (or ‘parliament’) of the Ripon and Leeds diocese which met this Saturday March 5th at St Aidan’s Church High School in Harrogate ‘agreed in principle’ to the creation of a single diocese for West and North-west Yorkshire, but called for a full financial risk analysis of the costs involved before such a scheme could go ahead.
The meeting rejected proposals, contained in the 120 page Dioceses Commission report, concerning the name for the new diocese and the choice of the new diocesan bishop…
The proposals are explained by the diocese here.
Also, the Diocese of Bradford considered the proposals, see Synod Discusses Proposals for a New Diocese.
the Synod heard the different responses to the proposals by the Dioceses Commission last December to create a larger diocese covering the whole of West Yorkshire and a large part of North Yorkshire. The Synod agreed to a draft scheme being produced, which is the next stage in the process, and it proposed that the scheme should be drawn up with the help of all three dioceses. The Synod did not, at this stage, vote on any of the specific proposals, including the principal one of creating one larger diocese out of all three dioceses.
The Archdeacon of Bradford, the Venerable David Lee, says, “This is still very much an enquiry and consultation stage; we were not obliged to vote on anything at this point, simply to let the Dioceses Commission know whether we think it is worthwhile for them to go ahead and draw up a draft scheme. So Synod is saying that the diocese is open to change, but we think that more work needs to be done, including a financial analysis, before we can begin to vote on any specific proposal. Once the consultation period is over the Dioceses Commission will be able to see what sort of draft scheme can be produced.”
I can’t find any information on the Diocese of Wakefield website about its Diocesan Synod. But I am told that the Wakefield process involves a joint meeting with the two other Yorkshire dioceses, further consultations, and then a special synod in early May to respond to the proposals by 9 May.2 Comments
There seems to be no end to the comments on this.
Alan Wilson writes for the Guardian’s Face to Faith column, Homosexuality, Christianity and child welfare.
…So what does the case really show? First, that the customary paranoia of rightwing newspaper op-eds sounds silly in court. Courts will injunct in cases of real urgency, but they are, quite rightly, very reluctant to compensate people for wrongs they have not yet suffered, simply to make a point on behalf of a group of zealots, however sincere they may be. It is absolutely no part of a court’s job to enter into such antics, just to create a story for the press.
This case was the fourth bite at this particular cherry by the barrister Paul Diamond and his chums in the Christian Legal Centre. There is now nothing more legally to be said on this subject than various judges, especially Lord Justice Laws, a devout Christian and churchwarden, have said so far. Rightwing Christians must establish their views on their merits, not expect courts to do the job for them.
How does orthodox Christian teaching relate to the views that were seeking legal protection? When Mrs Johns averred, for example, that “having a different sexual orientation was unnatural and wrong”, she put herself well beyond what either the Church of England or the church of Rome are prepared to say on the matter of orientation. The Johnses are entitled to their views, but cannot expect them to be unquestioned insofar as they could affect the welfare of a child…
Anglican Mainstream has reproduced an editorial from the Church of England Newspaper The unique problem of Christianity for the judges.
…The three most potent decisions of the High Court of Justice, delivered by Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson, were that they were ‘secular’ judges, that they accepted that caring foster parents were not acceptable for holding sexual morality corresponding to the historic Christian ethical stance on homosexual sexual intercourse, and for denying a scintilla of place for Christianity in British law. They also implicitly accepted the dogma of the EHRC, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, that Christian beliefs taught to young children would ‘infect’ them. We have come a very, very long way from ‘Clause 4’ and the ban on promoting homosexuality in schools, now that is compulsory and Christian belief is positively harmful. In the eyes of the law homophobia is not religious, anyone of any belief can be guilty, but this raises serious questions for traditionalist Christians and the Churches in general. Doctrine must now be viewed in subordination to the country’s anti-discrimination laws…
And Paul Sims at the New Humanist writes about Fostering, gay rights and the secular law.31 Comments
Olivia Crellin writes in Varsity about Wearing faith on your sleeve.
Harry Mount writes for The Telegraph about St Paul’s Cathedral anniversary: the beauty of the domes that Wren built. “With St Paul’s Cathedral celebrating its 300th anniversary, Harry Mount wishes that more of London’s architecture would possess such lasting beauty.”
Stephen Tomkins writes in The Guardian: King James Bible: ‘Twas a work most modern. “Later versions may lack its resonance, but it’s time to let go of the King James Bible and the cod Jacobean it has bequeathed.”
Dallas Graham writes in The Guardian Don’t rebuild the Christchurch cathedral. “Yes, it was glorious, but a great weakness has been horribly exposed – stone buildings are deadly in an earthquake zone.”
Mark Vernon writes in The Guardian In praise of doubt, maybe. “Why do we have such an unbalanced attitude to doubt, demanding certainty where there is none, and pretending to doubt what everyone knows?”
George Pitcher writes in The Telegraph that The religion control freaks are telling you what to think for the 2011 Census .
Meanwhile in The Guardian this week’s The Question is What should we tell the census about our religious affiliation? with answers from Andrew Copson, William Bloom and the Church Mouse.
The National Secular Society thinks that Church-state confrontation over gay marriage could be solved with disestablishment.
Giles Fraser says I don’t see a threat in gay blessings.
Benny Hazlehurst has written: Towards a Theology of Gay Marriage.
And there was a letter in the Guardian published under the headline Toilets, insects … but not civil partnerships.16 Comments
Updated Sunday morning
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has issued a statement apologising for a mistaken in their intervention in this case:
Earlier this week the case of Johns v Derby City Council, in which the Commission had intervened, attracted some attention. Unfortunately a mistake within our legal submission led to an inference that we did not intend and which was misconstrued as suggesting that the Commission equates Christian moral views with an infection. This oversight was caused by a drafting error in our submissions to the court. This should have been picked up in our internal clearance process for the legal documentation and does not represent the position of the Commission in any way.
Furthermore, the Commission entirely rejects any view (as reported in the media) that rights in relation to sexual orientation ‘take precedence’ over religious rights. The Commission fully upholds the rights of looked-after children to be supported in their chosen religion or that of their family, in the context of the paramount importance of the welfare of the child…
Christian Concern has issued Johns Fostering Case: Effects of the Ruling and Further Analysis.
There has been huge media interest regarding the Johns ruling by the High Court. There has also been some confusion over the nature and implications of the ruling.
According to this American report, there will be no appeal of this case. See Christian couple warned not to appeal decision barring them from foster care. Some extracts are below the fold.1 Comment
The Church Times today has a news report by Ed Beavan Pentecostal couple find no comfort in the High Court.
A COUPLE’s views on homosexuality are relevant to whether or not they can foster children, the High Court ruled on Monday. The court also ruled that to ban them on these grounds would not be discriminatory, even when their views are informed by religion…
And there is a Leader: The Johns judgment: a useful corrective
…Some Christians — we do not know how many — would agree with Mr Johns’s view that, were a foster child to express the view that he or she was possibly gay, an attempt should be made “gently [to] turn them round”. Others would disagree. Neither side could claim that theirs was the exclusive “Christian” view, and thus, even within the Church, an appeal needs to be made to authorities other than the Bible. For Anglicans, these are tradition and reason. Another quote from Lord Justice Laws: “The general law may, of course, protect a particular social or moral position which is espoused by Christianity, not because of its religious imprimatur, but on the footing that in reason its merits commend themselves.”
This important point is repeatedly overlooked by those who cite scripture (or their interpretation of it) and then feel hard done by when they are ignored. It is not a new requirement that the Church, or a section of it, marshall evidence to demonstrate that what it proposes or defends is for the general good. This is the day-to-day task of bishops in the House of Lords. What is new, perhaps, is the laziness of Christians when it comes to reasoning their case, with the result that rationality is now thought, erroneously, to be the preserve of secularists. In such an atmosphere, the lack of investment by the Church in research and education has severely weakened its intellectual centre, leaving the field to be occupied by lobby groups of various persuasions. When these go to law, it is no surprise when their emotive, partial arguments are given short shrift. This is emphatically not the defeat of Christian principles or teaching. A few more press releases and a little more lazy journalism might, however, convince people that it is so.
There is a press release, Anglican Communion bishops: “We really need one another. We are stronger together than apart.” Full text below the fold.
And there is a statement A Testimony of Grace from the Consultation of Bishops in Dialogue, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Full text here.
Copies also available at ACNS here.7 Comments
The Evangelical Alliance has issued a press statement: Response to Derby City Council Fostering Case.
It is not true that Christians are being prevented from fostering and adopting children in spite of increasing evidence that they are being marginalised in public life, says the Evangelical Alliance…
…While the outcome is unhelpful for Christians and other religious believers with orthodox beliefs, it is unlikely that the case will carry any major landmark implications.
It is highly questionable whether British courts of law should be used as forums for debating the pros and cons of conflicting human rights created by equalities legislation. Instead, they should only be used to resolve disputed points of law based on evidence.
The Evangelical Alliance expresses doubt about the wisdom in bringing such cases to the High Court in the first place. While there is no doubt that equality laws appear increasingly controversial in the way they seem to disproportionately impact against Christians, there is a clear need for a more cautious and strategic approach when deciding to take matters to court…
Andrew Brown comments on this at Evangelicals reverse the ferret.
The Evangelical Alliance has disowned the tactics of the Christian Legal Centre, the fringe group which brought a case against Derby Council on behalf of a Pentecostal couple who feared that their views on gay people would prevent them from fostering children.
The Evangelical Alliance’s statement stands in sharp contrast to the hysterical coverage in some right-wing papers. Many reported without question the claims of the CLC that the ruling meant that orthodox christian views were now enough to bar anyone from fostering children…
The position taken by the EA is very clear. Less clear but also interesting was the distancing from the CLC that the Christian Institute took in its full statement earlier:
The Johns’ case was supported by The Christian Legal Centre, an entirely separate organisation to The Christian Institute.
Updated again Wednesday afternoon
Stephen Bates reports for the Guardian Anti-gay Christian couple lose foster care case
John Aston and Jan Colley, PA via Independent Anti-gay Christian couple lose battle to become foster parents
The Telegraph has huge coverage, including this Leader Foster parents defeated by the new Inquisition
and the following additional articles:
Foster parent ban: ‘this is a secular state’, say High Court judges
Foster parent ban: ‘we have not received justice’
Fostering row commentary: would-be parents must be non-judgmental
Foster parent ban: Lord Justice Munby ‘avid supporter of open justice’
Foster parent ban: Mr Justice Beatson ‘UK’s best academic lawyer’
Peter Ould has written Breaking – Christians with Traditional Moral Views can still be Foster Parents
The Christian Institute has published Christian Institute responds to foster carer court case and there is a fuller statement available as a PDF over here in which the Christian Institute is at pains to note that it is a completely separate organisation from the Christian Legal Centre.
Ruth Gledhill has posted a video on UTube which contains comments from Eunice and Owen Johns and also from Andrea Minichiello Williams of the Christian Legal Centre. See it here.
Symon Hill has written at Left Foot forward Lazy journalism surrounds the latest foster parents furore
Melanie Phillips has written for the Spectator The judges’ atheist inquisition
The UK Human Rights Blog has an analysis by Rosalind English Analysis: the place of religion in foster care decisions23 Comments