Thinking Anglicans

South East Asia endorses the Anglican Covenant

George Conger reports for the CEN that South East Asia endorses the Anglican Covenant. Here’s an extract:

…The province noted that “our accession” to the covenant was based on the understanding “that those who accede” to the agreement “will unequivocally abide by Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 in its spirit and intent,” and would honour the moratorium on gay bishops and blessings.

Churches that accede to the covenant should also “bear authentic witness to the orthodox faith by an unequivocal commitment to the standards of moral and ethical holiness as set by Biblical norms in all aspects of their communal life.”

And South East Asia stated that it saw the primates as the body to oversee the implementation of the covenant, as it was the group “responsible for Faith and Order” in the Anglican Communion.

The language of the covenant that called for “common commitments and mutual accountability” among Anglicans to “hold each Church in the relationship of communion one with another,” echoed the “closing appeal” of the Kuala Lumpur statement. The 1997 statement called call for new structure to “guard the internal unity of our Communion,” and “strengthen the bonds of affection between our provinces, and especially, make for effective mutual accountability in all matters of doctrine and polity throughout the Communion.”

The province said the “similarities” between the documents were “not accidental” as the covenant was “the culmination of a decade of intense disputes over ethical teaching and church order in the Communion. The Kuala Lumpur Statement, in fact, marked the beginning of a united stand, spearheaded by churches in the southern continents, for the faith that was once delivered to the saints across the Communion.”

Those too young to remember it will find the Kuala Lumpur Statement here.

The full text of the Preamble to the Letter of Accession can be read here.

The Living Church has a report on this at S.E. Asia Adopts Anglican Covenant which contains the inital paragraphs.


Church press reports on GAFCON 2

The Church Times has a sober news article, ‘Disappointed’ Primates announce GAFCON 2 by Ed Thornton.

THE leaders of GAFCON, a global network of conservative Anglicans, said this week that the decision to “reduce the status” of the Primates’ Meeting in Dublin earlier this year (News, 28 January) was “unacceptable.” Those who organised the meeting had been “misled”. The GAFCON leaders announced plans for a second conference in 2013, and the opening of new offices in London and Nairobi.

A 13-point communiqué, issued on Wednesday after a meeting of GAFCON Primates in Nairobi last month, said: “The fabric of our communion life has been torn at its deepest level and until the presenting issues are addressed we will remain weakened at a time when the needs before us are so great.”

The Church of England Newspaper has an exuberant report from George Conger headlined Gafcon throws down gauntlet to Dr. Williams.

The formation of the Anglican Ordinariate was a natural consequence of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s mismanagement of the crisis facing the Anglican Communion, the leaders of the Gafcon movement said in a statement released on May 10.

In a strongly worded communiqué summarizing the work of their April 25-28 meeting in Nairobi, the archbishops of the Gafcon movement, representing a majority of the church’s members, voiced their displeasure with the usurpation of authority by Dr. Williams and the staff of the Anglican Consultative Council and laid upon their door responsibility for the de facto schism within the communion.

While the 13-point communiqué touched on administrative issues for the Anglican reform movement, including the creation of a Nairobi and London offices, the appointment of Bishop Martyn Minns as Deputy Secretary, and the calling of a second Jerusalem conference in 2013, the heart of the letter came in a sustained attack on the actions taken by London-based instruments of the Anglican Communion.

While Pope Benedict XVI’s offer of an Anglican Ordinariate was “a gracious gift” to those Anglican clergy and congregations “alienated by recent actions in the Communion,” it should not have been necessary, the archbishops said.

“Our own Communion has failed to make adequate provision for those who hold to a traditional view of the faith. We remain convinced that from within the Provinces that we represent there are creative ways by which we can support those who have been alienated so that they can remain within the Anglican family,” they said…


Update on the Ugandan bill

Updated again 11 am Friday morning

The US Government has issued an extremely strong denunciation of the legislative proposals, see CNN U.S. State Department condemns ‘odious’ Ugandan anti-gay bill.

The State Department Thursday condemned a proposed bill in the Ugandan parliament that could make engaging in homosexual acts a capital offense punishable by death. The bill may be debated Friday by the Ugandan parliament.

“No amendments, no changes, would justify the passage of this odious bill,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters. “Both (President Barack Obama) and (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) publicly said it is inconsistent with universal human rights standards and obligations.”

The State Department, he said, is joining Uganda’s own human rights commissions in calling for the bill’s rejection.

“We are following this legislative process very closely,” Toner said. “Our embassy is closely monitoring the parliament’s proceedings and we also are in close contact with Uganda’s civil rights and civil society leaders, as well as members of the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community there.”

Warren Throckmorton has this analysis of the current position: Possible amendments to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Human Rights Watch has Uganda: Parliament Committee Backs Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

The Ugandan parliament’s Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee has regrettably recommended passage of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, including retaining the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” Human Rights Watch said today. The committee’s report, as seen by Human Rights Watch, recommends amendments deleting some provisions but adding criminal penalties for “conduct[ing] a marriage ceremony between persons of the same sex.”

The committee’s report is likely to be presented to parliament on May 13, 2011, as part of a debate before the bill could be up for a vote. Such reports are required under parliamentary procedure…

Box Turtle Bulletin has HRW: Uganda’s Parliamentary Committee Backs Retaining Death Penalty and Other Expanded Penalties.

Friday morning updates

Box Turtle Bulletin Uganda’s Death Penalty Appears Firmly In Place
Warren Throckmorton Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill: Is the death penalty off the table or not?

Warren Throckmorton Breaking: Ugandan Parliament stalled on technicality, fate of anti-gay bill uncertain

Despite being called to business today by Speaker Edward Ssekandi, Uganda’s parliamentary session has been stalled today and may adjourn without taking any action on pending legislation, including the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. According to parliamentary spokeswoman, Helen Kawesa, Parliament is stalled on a “technicality.” She said there is no Cabinet in place because it was dissolved in preparation for the end of the 8th Parliament in advance of yesterday’s Presidential inauguration. It is unclear who raised the issue of the necessity for Cabinet to be place for business to be conducted. However the effect is that the session is winding up, with members discussing how to proceed before the end of the 8th Parliament on 18th…

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Will there be a cull of bishops in the Lords?


A report in today’s Guardian by its Political Editor, Patrick Wintour suggests that this is likely to feature in the forthcoming proposals.

In today’s paper, he wrote Plans to reform House of Lords could include a lottery to cull peers.

…A lottery could be used to decide which peers are thrown out of the House of Lords under one method being discussed to cut the second chamber down to as few as 300 members.

Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, will seek to re-energise his political reform agenda next week when he publishes a white paper on an elected second chamber that will set out plans to cull remaining hereditary and appointed peers.

The government is expected to leave open the question of which peers are selected to stay, but a favoured option being canvassed is for each party group to hold a random draw for each phase of the removal of peers.

The draft bill will suggest slashing back the number of existing peers from 790 to 200 by 2015, with 100 elected in 2015, bringing the total size of the chamber to 300, half the size of the Commons.

Clegg will also canvass a softer option in which no peer is forced to leave until 2025, the point at which the reforms are complete. Numbers would fall as peers die or chose to retire, but this option has little support within the Liberal Democrats. Only bishops can currently retire, though others can take leave of absence. The aim is for the new Lords to be complete by 2025. Twelve bishops will be retained with full voting rights. Clegg will propose the second chamber is either 80% or 100% elected, saying a totally elected chamber is his preferred option…

These proposals are likely to meet opposition from all kinds of people. See for example, Clegg’s Lords reform plan ‘unprincipled’ by Ned Simons at

Today’s Church Times has this report by Ed Thornton Let other faiths in, Lords are urged and there are two further articles on the topic, available only to subscribers until the next week.

LEADERS of non-Christian faith groups should be invited to sit alongside bishops in the House of Lords, a historian who contributed to a commission on reform of the Second Chamber has suggested.

Writing in the Church Times today, John F. H. Smith, an architec­tural historian who made a sub­mission to the Royal Commis­sion on the Reform of the House of Lords, argues that, although bishops should re­main “in the majority”, “an interdenominational and inter­faith college” would “broaden faith repres­en­tation”.


…Also writing in the Church Times today, the former Bishop of Chelms­ford, the Rt Revd John Gladwin, says that reform of the Lords pre­sents “an opportunity to recover some ground for the Christian inheritance in our democratic public life.

“The Church of England, with 26 bishops sitting as Lords Spiritual, has both a particular responsibility and an opportunity to make a con­structive contribution to the current debate over what needs to be done.

“Hoping that the whole issue will go away and praying it into the long grass is not good enough for a Church carrying such national res­ponsibility. Nor will it do simply to defend the 26 seats.”


Canadian Ordinariate has difficulties

Updated Monday

Several reports of this have emerged today. The “Traditional Anglican Communion” in Canada is not, it seems, getting what it wants.

Ordinariate Portal has TAC Archbishop on Canadian Ordinariate.

Anna Arco at the Catholic Herald has Ordinariate talks stall in Canada.

As the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has been gaining deacons in the last few weeks and continues to take shape, expectant eyes begin to focus on the other side of the Atlantic. A decree establishing personal ordinariate for the United States is rumoured to be announced any day now. Things are looking good for the further implementation of the Pope’s 2009 Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus which reached out to Anglo-Catholics.

But this morning we learned that the leader of the Traditional Anglican Communion has thrown his toys out of the pram and warned that the British structure may well be the first and last ordinariate, as negotiations in Canada have come to a standstill.

Archbishop John Hepworth – a flamboyant and outspoken former Catholic turned Anglican who leads the TAC – wrote a letter to Bishop Peter Elliot, a former Anglican who is the Vatican’s appointed delegate for the Australian ordinariate, in which he accused the Vatican’s Canadian point man for the ordinariate of derailing the process. He said he would put talks with the Church on hold. He added that the Canadian development would have an effect on the potential establishment of ordinariates around the world, including in Australia. The TAC is the largest umbrella group for Anglo-Catholic continuing churches around the world who have broken with the Anglican Communion…

The bulk of membership of the TAC is to be found in Africa and in India, as originally reported by me in the Church Times, see my statistics here.

The RC Archbishop of Toronto has issued a Statement re: Implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus in Canada.


Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill is far from dead

I wrote an article this morning for Cif belief that was published with the title Uganda’s anti-gay bill is far from dead.
It may be temporarily off the parliamentary agenda, but local Anglican support for the Ugandan anti-gay bill continues

The infamous Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill, which earlier this week was thought likely to be voted upon on Wednesday as the current session of the Uganda parliament draws to a close, does not now appear on the order paper for the day. The bill, which is technically still at the committee stage, could, however, be carried forward into the next session of parliament…

The article includes this analysis of the Anglican angle:

Sadly, local Anglican support for the bill continues, even though on Tuesday of the archbishop of Canterbury issued a statement in which he opposed it, saying: “Overall, the proposed legislation is of shocking severity and I can’t see how it could be supported by any Anglican who is committed to what the Communion has said in recent decades. Apart from invoking the death penalty, it makes pastoral care impossible – it seeks to turn pastors into informers.”

This was not, in fact, a new statement, but rather a quotation from the interview in the Telegraph that he gave in December 2009 to George Pitcher, who has since become his secretary for public affairs. Pitcher also wrote: “He adds that the Anglican Church in Uganda opposes the death penalty but, tellingly, he notes that its archbishop, Henry Orombi, who boycotted the Lambeth Conference last year, “has not taken a position on this bill.”

That lacuna was remedied in February 2010, when the Anglican church of Uganda issued a detailed statement offering strong support for the bill. It has not made any further public statements on the bill since that time. Archbishop Orombi has continued his boycott of Anglican Communion events, including the latest primates meeting in Dublin, and to support the rival church body Gafcon, which has announced plans for expansion. There can be little chance of a change of heart on homosexuality by Orombi.

Since I wrote this morning, the situation – which was changing rapidly then – has developed even further. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was restored to (a revised) Order Paper. However, it was not reached during the Wednesday session, and may now be considered in the additional session that has been scheduled for Friday. For the latest reports see Warren Throckmorton here, and also Box Turtle Bulletin here.

Update Box Turtle Bulletin also reports LA Times Not Withstanding, Uganda’s Death Penalty Has NOT Been Dropped.


GAFCON expands its organization

GAFCON has a press release: Plans announced for GAFCON 2 and London and Africa offices.

GAFCON primates meeting in Africa have announced plans for another international conference as well as opening offices in London and Nairobi.

The council of Anglican leaders was established by the Global Anglican Future Conference in 2008, representing more than 35 million Anglicans.

Now, the Primates are planning for a second GAFCON in 2013 preceded by a leadership conference in New York in 2012…

…In a 13 point statement issued after their Nairobi meeting, the Council said “if we are offer adequate support to our member provinces, sustain our various initiatives, and strengthen our communications capabilities we must add capacity to our current secretariat.”

A Chairman’s office would be established in Nairobi, Kenya and a GAFCON Global Coordination office would be established in London under the direction of the Rt. Rev’d Martyn Minns, Missionary Bishop of the Church of Nigeria, serving as Deputy Secretary and Executive Director.

The meeting discussed the challenges confronting the Anglican Communion and the Primates said they were “disappointed that those who organized the Primates meeting in Dublin not only failed to address these core concerns but decided instead to unilaterally reduce the status of the Primates’ Meeting. This action was taken with complete disregard for the resolutions of both Lambeth 1978 and 1998 that called for an enhanced role in ‘doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters’. We believe that they were seriously misled and their actions unacceptable.”

“We continue to be troubled by the promotion of a shadow gospel that appears to replace a traditional reading of Holy Scriptures and a robust theology of the church with an uncertain faith and a never ending listening process. This faith masquerades as a religion of tolerance and generosity and yet it is decidedly intolerant to those who hold to the “faith once and for all delivered to the saints”.

The thirteen-point statement is available in full via the above link, and also as a PDF. It includes:

9. Confident of the power of God’s Word to renew His church we are creating a network for theologians and theological educators who embrace the Jerusalem Declaration to give further support for our seminaries and Bible Colleges. We have also reviewed and approved plans for the leadership conference now scheduled for April 2012 and the beginning preparations for an international gathering of Primates, Bishops, Clergy and Lay Leaders now scheduled for the first half of 2013 and provisionally designated “GAFCON 2”.

10. We are delighted in the election of the Most Rev’d Eliud Wabukala, Primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya to serve as Chairman of the Primates’ Council and also the Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh, Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) to serve as Vice-Chairman. We were pleased to appoint Bishop Greg Venables and Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini as trustees. We also welcomed the Most Rev’d Hector Zavala, Province of the Southern Cone and the Most Rev’d Onesphore Rwaje, Anglican Church of Rwanda as new members of the Council.

11. We also recognized that if we are offer adequate support to our member provinces, sustain our various initiatives, and strengthen our communications capabilities we must add capacity to our current secretariat. Consequently it was agreed that a GAFCON/FCA Chairman’s office would be established in Nairobi, Kenya and a Global Coordination office would be established in London under the direction of the Rt. Rev’d Martyn Minns, Missionary Bishop of the Church of Nigeria, serving as Deputy Secretary and Executive Director.



updated to add another answer to The Question

Jerry Bowyer writes for Forbes about The Seminary Bubble.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has published the text of a recent lecture: ‘Cloven Tongues’: Theology and the Translation of the Scriptures.

Giles Fraser writes for the Church Times about A Church for sinful addicts.

This week’s The Question in Comment is free belief is What choice for faith schools? “On what basis should faith schools choose children when they are oversubscribed – and who should decide?” There are answers from Andrew Copson, John Pritchard and Maeve McCormack.

David Briggs writes for The Association of Religion Data Archives about ‘Free riders’ and the recession: Churches face hard economic choices attracting new members.


NT Wright and American Exceptionalism

The former Bishop of Durham, NT Wright, has written about the death of Osama Bin Laden. Versions of his writings have appeared in at least three places so far.

This article is in the Church Times The US plays with myths of heroism.

Another version is on Ruth Gledhill’s blog (scroll down for it).

And at Cif belief there is America’s exceptionalist justice.

Americans appear to be fairly united in their disagreement with his views: see comments at The Lead and also at TitusOneNine.


Archbishop of Canterbury on Osama bin Laden

Lambeth Palace press release: Archbishop on Osama Bin Laden

Q: Do you believe that the killing of Osama Bin Laden is justice for the 9/11 attacks and indeed other attacks? And was the US morally justified in shooting him even though he was unarmed as the White House now admits?

A: I think that the killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling because it doesn’t look as if justice is seen to be done, in those circumstances. I think it is also true that the different versions of events that have emerged in recent days have not done a great deal to help here. I don’t know the full details anymore than anyone else does but I do believe that in such circumstance when we are faced with someone who was manifestly a ‘war criminal’ as you might say in terms of the atrocities inflicted, it is important that justice is seen to be observed.

Press reports:

See the video of this, from Ruth Gledhill Archbishop of Canterbury condemns the manner of Osama bin Laden killing

Press Association via Independent Archbishop ‘uncomfortable’ over Bin Laden killing

Telegraph Tim Ross Osama bin Laden dead: Archbishop of Canterbury criticises White House

Guardian Riazat Butt Bin Laden killing left ‘uncomfortable feeling’ – Rowan Williams

BBC Archbishop ‘uncomfortable’ over Bin Laden unarmed death

Channel 4 News Osama bin Laden killing leaves Archbishop ‘uncomfortable’


Church Commissioners' full report for 2010 issued

The publication of the Church Commissioners’ full report for 2010 has been announced today with this press release (now online).

Church Commissioners continue to support the Church in ‘challenging financial times’

The Church Commissioners have today published their full Annual Report and Accounts for 2010.

It follows publication of their 2010 annual results on April 15th, when they announced a 15.2 per cent return on their investments during 2010 and confirmed the fund’s strong long-term performance. The fund has now outperformed its comparator group over the past 10 and 15 years.*

Andrew Brown, Secretary to the Church Commissioners, said: “These are challenging financial times for all charities and public bodies, and the Church is not immune from these pressures.

“Although the Commissioners provide around 17p in the pound towards the costs of the Church’s mission, the vast majority of the remainder comes from the generosity of today’s worshippers. Parishes and dioceses rely on their continued support. Our contribution is biased towards supporting poorer dioceses.”

The Commissioners – who contributed more than £200 million in 2010 towards the cost of maintaining the mission of the Church of England – grew their fund to £5.3 billion (from £4.8 billion at December 31, 2009). More than half of their contribution meets the cost of clergy pensions earned before 1998.

Today’s report shows that the Commissioners are able to distribute £26 million more each year to the Church than if their investments had performed only at the industry average over the last ten years, while pursuing their policy of maintaining the real value of the fund.

Writing in the report’s foreword – full text below – Andreas Whittam Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner, expresses his caution for the future:

“The reason we are cautious is that for some time to come the world will struggle with the consequences of the financial crisis. Many governments, including our own, are heavily in debt and are striving to reduce public spending. Consumers, too, have total borrowings that are above their comfort levels. In addition, the banks, burnt by the very crisis they themselves caused, have restricted their lending.

“The upshot is that the Assets Committee is working on the assumption that while 2011 may well prove to be the third year in a row when equity markets, helped by low interest rates, deliver strong gains, conditions are not in place for the development of a multi-year bull market. We are also conscious that the task of meeting our pension liabilities, albeit under a scheme that closed in 1998, becomes more onerous during the next ten years. This reduces our margin for error.”

He explains that the Commissioners’ Assets Committee is revising its investments strategy: “Our habit of maintaining a very high weighting in equities and real estate regardless of market conditions, while it had served us well, is no longer appropriate.

“We must now be prepared to vary our asset allocations in a dynamic fashion, albeit purposively rather than rapidly. Careful phasing can mitigate any risks from mistiming. As a result we have begun to reduce the proportions of our funds held in pure risk assets.

“In cutting back our holdings of equities, however, we have decided to reduce our positions in global equities rather than in UK shares. On relative valuation grounds, the British market at its current levels is one of the more attractive ones.”

Mr Whittam Smith goes on to review asset classes, including timber and other ethical investments in which the Commissioners are placing their funds.

Returns from the fund, held in a broad range of assets, pay for: clergy pensions for service up to the end of 1997; supporting poorer dioceses with the costs of ministry; funding some mission activities; paying for bishops’ ministries and some cathedral costs; and funding the legal framework for parish reorganisation.

The Commissioners manage their investments within ethical guidelines, with advice from the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group.

The Annual Report can be read in full here

There are some accompanying “Notes for editors” below the fold.



Two new "flying bishops" appointed

Updated Friday

Two press notices from 10 Downing Street:
Suffragan See of Ebbsfleet
Suffragan See of Richborough

Lambeth Palace has issued this press release:

New Provincial Episcopal Visitors announced

Downing Street has today announced the appointment of the Reverend Jonathan Baker as Bishop of Ebbsfleet and the Reverend Norman Banks as the Bishop of Richborough, both of whom will be consecrated at a service at Southwark Cathedral on 16th June.

In line with the 1993 Act of Synod, the Archbishop of Canterbury has commissioned the Provincial Episcopal Visitors to work with the diocesan bishops to provide extended pastoral care and sacramental ministry, as well as acting as spokesmen and advisors, to ensure that ‘the integrity of differing beliefs and positions concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood should be mutually recognised and respected’.

The Revd Jonathan Baker who is currently Principal of Pusey House succeeds Bishop Andrew Burnham as Bishop of Ebbsfleet.

Commenting on his appointment, Jonathan Baker said:

‘The appointment of two new PEVs for the Southern Province is a real sign of commitment by the Church of England to the growth and renewal of every aspect of its common life, particularly its catholic tradition which I know and love. I look forward immensely to serving as Bishop of Ebbsfleet and to leading the clergy and lay people in my care to have confidence in their faith and in proclaiming the Gospel to all.’

The Revd Norman Banks who is currently Vicar of Walsingham, Houghton and Barsham, succeeds Bishop Keith Newton as Bishop of Richborough.

Commenting on his appointment, Norman Banks said:

‘One of the real pleasures and privileges of being Vicar of S. Mary’s is getting to know so many of the people who visit Walsingham regularly and make the Parish Church part of their pilgrimage.
I am both delighted and honoured that for those in the Richborough area I am about to have the opportunity and privilege of becoming their bishop and visiting them where they regularly worship. From the many recent conversations I have had, I believe that there is real desire across the Church of England to find a way for us to hold together with integrity and generosity. I hope the appointment of two new PEV’s will be seen as both ‘gift’ and ‘sign’ at this crucial time in the life of our Church.’

Welcoming the news, Dr Williams said:

‘I am very happy to welcome two such faithful and gifted priests as colleagues. They are taking up a very demanding pastoral ministry at a time of much upheaval and uncertainty, and will need our prayers and friendship as we work in the Church of England for a future in which there is full mutual respect and constructive work in mission to be undertaken together.

I am deeply grateful to those who have exercised pastoral care for traditionalist priests and parishes in recent months, especially Bishops John Ford, Mark Sowerby and Lindsay Urwin.’


Notes to editors:

Revd Jonathan Baker

The Reverend Jonathan Baker (aged 44), studied at St John’s College, Oxford and then trained for the ordained ministry at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. He served his first curacy at Ascot Heath, in Oxford Diocese from 1993 to 1996. From 1996 he was firstly Curate at Reading St Mark before becoming Priest-in-Charge from 1996 to 1999, and then Vicar from 1999 to 2002. From 1996 to 1999 he was also Priest-in-Charge at Reading Holy Trinity and from 1999 to 2002 he was Vicar. Since 2003 he has been Principal at Pusey House in the diocese of Oxford and Honorary Curate at Oxford St Thomas in the diocese of Oxford.

Reverend Jonathan Baker is married to Jacqueline who is an academic publisher and they have three children, Dominic aged 16, William aged 12 and Caris aged 9.

Revd Norman Banks

The Reverend Norman Banks (aged 57), studied at Oriel College, Oxford and then trained for the ordained ministry at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. He served his first curacy at Newcastle Christ Church with St Ann from 1982 to 1987 and then Priest-in-Charge from 1987 to 1990 in the Diocese of Newcastle. From 1990 to 2000 he was Vicar of Tynemouth, Cullercoats St Paul in Newcastle Diocese. Since 2000 he has been Vicar of Walsingham, Houghton and Barsham in the diocese of Norwich and Rural Dean of Burnham and Walsingham from 2008. Since 2009 he has also been Chaplain to The Queen.

Press reports:

Riazat Butt Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury appoints flying bishops

…Mindful of the rows convulsing sections of the church, Williams welcomed Baker and Banks, describing them as “faithful and gifted”.

“They are taking up a very demanding pastoral ministry at a time of much upheaval and uncertainty, and will need our prayers and friendship as we work in the Church of England for a future in which there is full mutual respect and constructive work in mission to be undertaken together.”

He said they would be a permanent fixture in the Church of England, even though the draft law on women bishops does away with the positions.

At a press conference at Lambeth Palace, Williams said: “I have two new suffragans and General Synod can’t simply take them away. The pastoral need will not go away.”

Still no other UK MSM coverage of this announcement, but some reactions from church organisations:

Forward in Faith UK

A Statement from the Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod

A Statement issued by the Master General of The Society of the Holy Cross

Women and the Church (WATCH)

Two New Provincial Episcopal Visitors Announced

WATCH is deeply disappointed at the appointment of two new Provincial Episcopal Visitors. They will be bishops who do not recognise women as priests, and oppose the appointment of women as bishops. The vast majority of people inside and outside the Church of England want to see the Church led by women as well as men. The risk of these two appointments is that they will haul us back to a position where women priests and bishops are ‘nearly but not quite’ on a par with their male colleagues.

However the legislation for women bishops is currently out for consultation across the Dioceses. It contains generous provisions for those opposed to women bishops. These two new PEVs will no doubt be invited to play their part in pastoral and sacramental ministry in accordance with the provisions in the draft legislation. In appointing such bishops, who will remain permanently in place (though not as PEVs) after the legislation has been approved, the Archbishop is reinforcing the generosity and adequacy of those provisions.

Women priests, along with countless others, will have been inspired during the royal wedding last Friday when the Bishop of London, quoting St Catherine of Siena, said, “Be who God wants you to be and you will set the world on fire”. We hope that the Church of England will very soon set free women as well as men to become all that God calls them to be.

Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod – copied below the fold.



Cathedral attendance statistics

The Church of England has released statistics of attendances at cathedral services for 2010, with corresponding figures for each year back to 2000. The statistics include both Sunday and midweek services.

There is also a press release.

Attendance levels at regular weekly services in Church of England cathedrals have increased significantly again this year, by 7%, say the latest statistics from the Archbishops’ Council’s Research and Statistics Unit.

The rest of the press release is copied below the fold.



Anglican Covenant: Mostly Harmless?

Alan Perry has written an article about the Anglican Covenant, which he has titled Mostly Harmless.

I have had a number of conversations with well-informed, thoughtful Anglicans, many of them in leadership positions such as Synod members and bishops and ecclesiastical lawyers, which convince me that a large number of people have essentially adopted a narrative about the proposed Anglican Covenant, a narrative which seems to be relatively uninfluenced by anything like reading the document. Their comments typically go like this:

I don’t actually believe that the Covenant will accomplish what it is supposed to do. It won’t really address the tensions in the Anglican Communion. But I don’t believe that it is the Abomination of Desolation, either. I don’t think it’s going to have any ill effect. Recommendations of Relational Consequences are nothing to worry about.

This reminds me of the succinct description of the Earth and its inhabitants in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “Mostly harmless.” Not to mention feckless.

I’m not sure about that assessment, but let’s assume it for a minute. What amazes me is the conclusion reached based on it:

Since it’s mostly harmless, even if it’s also not likely to produce any positive effects, I will vote to support it because by doing so we can show our commitment to the Anglican Communion and our loyalty to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Now, I am committed to the Anglican Communion, and loyal to the Archbishop of Canterbury, but I don’t grasp how this conclusion follows from the assumption that the proposed Covenant is both harmless and feckless.

Concerning the Archbishop of Canterbury, he has this to say:

And as to demonstrating loyalty to the Archbishop of Canterbury, surely supporting a proposed Covenant which we believe will eventually just sit harmlessly on a shelf gathering dust is equally ineffective. Do we participate in a charade simply to avoid hurting the Archbishop’s feelings, or to cheer him up by giving him something in the win column? Is that not to play the role of the royal advisers, praising the Emperor’s new clothes to his face whilst trying to avoid sniggering behind his naked back? In what way is that loyal to the Archbishop?

And he includes this specific reference to the Church of England:

What will happen when a woman is appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury, if some churches can’t accept her authority as an Instrument of Communion? Could a question be raised as to whether the Church of England in making the appointment was not sufficiently cautious, or failed to obtain sufficient consensus? How harmless will the Covenant look then?


How is the Christian Legal Centre funded?


Last Sunday’s Observer newspaper carried an article titled Christian Legal Centre fights more than 50 religious discrimination cases by Jamie Doward and Seb Wheeler which discusses how this organisation is funded:

Questions have been asked about from where the centre – and its sister organisation, Christian Concern For Our Nation – obtain funding. Accounts show both organisations have little in the way of income.

Williams said all of the centre’s work was done on a pro bono basis by committed Christian lawyers and that what money it had came in small donations from more than 30,000 people who received its regular email updates. “We never ask clients for money,” she said. “Very often they fear losing their case and having to pay the costs of the other side. Part of our ministry is to ensure they are not burdened with that.”

Close observers of the centre believe it is adopting the tactics of wealthy US evangelical groups, notably the powerful Alliance Defence Fund, which, through its Blackstone Legal Fellowship, trains an army of Christian lawyers to defend religious freedom “through strategy, training, funding and direct litigation”.

The ADF, which according to filings had an income of almost $40m last year, is funded by prominent benefactors including Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater private security giant, the Covenant Foundation, which is financed by a leading member of the Texas Christian right, James Leininger, and the Bolthouse Foundation, a charity that rejects evolution, insisting “man was created by a direct act of God in His image, not from previously existing creatures”.

The ADF has joined forces with the Christian Legal Centre and Christian Concern For Our Nation to launch the Wilberforce Academy in the UK, which aims to train delegates “for servant-hearted, Christ-centred leadership in public life” having equipped them “with a robust biblical framework that guides their thinking, prayers and activity in addressing the issues facing our society”. Several of its delegates have already gone on to work for the legal centre and Christian Concern.

Update Wednesday

Joshua Rozenberg has written for the Guardian website that Belief is not always a good thing in an advocate.

Should advocates believe in the causes they argue in court? Generally speaking, it’s a bad idea.

Barristers who own up to their profession at dinner parties are often asked how they can defend someone who is guilty of a crime. The stock answer is that it’s not the lawyer’s job to decide whether a defendant is guilty: that’s a matter for the court.

Of course, if your client tells you he committed the crime and instructs you to tell the court he didn’t, you must withdraw from the case: a lawyer must never mislead the court. But the advocate’s job is to put forward his client’s case as effectively as possible, however implausible it may seem. That’s well understood by the court; indeed it’s welcomed. What judges don’t like are advocates who are so committed to a case that they lose their objectivity.

These thoughts are prompted by an Observer report that the Christian Legal Centre has some 50 claims of religious discrimination on its books. Many of those that come to court are likely to be argued by Paul Diamond, the centre’s standing counsel.


Birnam Wood comes to Westminster

The Marriage Service from the book commonly referred to as The 1928 Prayer Book has been getting a lot of attention recently.

This has, in more recent times, also been known as Alternative Services, Series One: The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony which was first authorized in 1966. (Since July 1929 it had been in widespread use despite Parliamentary defeat of ‘The Deposited Book’.)

It should not be confused with The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony in The Book of Common Prayer which was authorized in 1662.

The most usual form now used in the Church of England is neither of these, but rather the Common Worship Marriage Service.

Here is a collection of views about the church service last Friday: