Updated Friday morning
Savi Hensman has written for Cif belief When is Gafcon going to start listening?
Religious ultra-“conservatives” have launched an Anglican Mission in England (Amie). This is “dedicated to the conversion of England and biblical church planting”.
Leaders of Gafcon (Global Anglican Future Conference) and FCA (Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans) see themselves as championing traditional Anglicanism. Others regard them as out of step with church tradition, and object to their attempts to undermine others in the family of churches making up the Anglican Communion.
In May, a statement was issued by the council of primates (most senior bishops) of Gafcon/FCA, which lamented “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”. Yet for many, the “listening process” on sexuality never truly started…
In this week’s Divine Dispatches Riazat Butt writes about AMiE:
If You Seek Amie then you’ve come to the right place. Amie is of course an acronym for the Anglican Mission in England – not to be confused with Amie – The Associate Member of the Institute of Engineers. And what a misnomer of an acronym it is. What’s that saying? Beware of strangers bearing gifts. Amie states, not at all ominously, that its intention is to support “those who have been alienated so that they can remain within the Anglican family. Churches or individuals may join or affiliate themselves with the Amie for a variety of reasons. Some may be churches in impaired communion with their diocesan bishop who require oversight. Others may be in good relations with their bishop but wish to identify with and support others.”
So, in non-Anglican parlance, this means if you don’t like your bishop you can have another one that fits more neatly with your world view. They don’t even have to be a bishop in the Church of England. I have three words for you – cross-border intervention. I also have four words for you – church within a church. What do the sages at Lambeth Palace and Bishopthorpe have to say about this parking of tanks on the CoE lawn? I’ll tell you – nothing! What should they say? Get off my land, that’s what.
The Church Times has the headline: Group names five bishops ready to defy diocesans.
…The three unnamed clerics were ordained in Kenya on 11 June by the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, who chairs the GAFCON Primates’ Council, formed after the Global Anglican conference in Jerusalem in 2008. All three come from the diocese of Southwark. The diocese said on Wednesday that it had received no request for permission to officiate there.
Dr Williams was in Kenya last week. A Lambeth spokeswoman was unable to say this week whether the two had discussed this development.
The Revd Charles Raven, the director of the Society for the Propagation of Reformed Evangelical Anglican Doctrine, wrote on the organisation’s website on Thursday of last week that the three men had gone to Kenya to be ordained “because the English diocesan bishop concerned had refused to give any assurances that he would uphold biblical teaching on homosexual practice”.
The chairman of the AMiE steering committee is the Revd Paul Perkin, Vicar of St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, and the group’s secretary is Canon Chris Sugden.
Dr Sugden said that the group was awaiting a response from Dr Williams to Dr Wabukala’s request that the three clergy be granted permission to officiate under the Overseas Clergy Measure. The chairman of Reform, the Rt Revd Rod Thomas, said that “episcopal oversight” of the three men “has been delegated to the AMiE bishops”…
Following on from this announcement, the Sunday Times carried an advertisement for a new Communications Director which you can see here. Further information about the post can be found here and then here.
This is no ordinary Communications Director job. We are looking for somebody who will share our values and whilst not necessarily an Anglican, is a practising Christian (this post is subject to an occupational requirement that the holder be a practising Christian under Part 1 of Schedule 9 to the Equality Act 2010 because of its representational role and its responsibility for maintaining a Christian ethos within the national Church, as one of its senior officers).
Now, this has been assumed by some people to be a reference to Clause 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 9. That clause is the one which contains all the exemptions relating to gender, marital status, sexual orientation and so forth.
However, I do not believe that is what they meant to reference. I believe the intention was to reference Clause 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 9. This reads (scroll down at the previous link):
Other requirements relating to religion or belief
3 A person (A) with an ethos based on religion or belief does not contravene a provision mentioned in paragraph 1(2) by applying in relation to work a requirement to be of a particular religion or belief if A shows that, having regard to that ethos and to the nature or context of the work—
(a) it is an occupational requirement,
(b) the application of the requirement is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, and
(c) the person to whom A applies the requirement does not meet it (or A has reasonable grounds for not being satisfied that the person meets it).
This is the clause that transposes into the Equality Act 2010 the exemption formerly contained in The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003. This exemption was, and is, entirely separate and distinct from others which were formerly contained in the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, as amended and The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003. All of these are now bundled into Clause 2.
So, why have other interpretations been put upon this advertisement? I think there are two causes.
The second is the fact that during the passage of the Equality Act, Secretary General William Fittall gave evidence to a parliamentary committee in which he specifically cited this job as an example of a senior post, likely to be held by a lay person, which he considered should fall within the ambit of the Clause 1 exemptions. Here is what he said at the time. The context of his remarks was a Labour government proposal incorporated in the draft bill to modify the wording of the Clause 2 exemption to be more explicit about who was to be included. This was fiercely resisted by the CofE, and was the reason why a large number of bishops turned out to vote in the House of Lords in favour of an amendment which deleted the proposed changes. The amendment passed, and so the scope of the exemption today remains exactly what it was before.
It is therefore understandable that some would now be suspicious. And, if my interpretation of the intention to invoke only Paragraph 3 is correct, it might be helpful if future advertisements were worded more precisely.
The official CofE response to queries on this is as follows:
‘The occupational requirement that the postholder be a practising Christian means what it says, neither more nor less. Staff are appointed to senior positions in the national institutions of the Church of England by fair and competitive processes. They have to be able to show that they can serve it in all its diversity and operate its equal opportunities policies. Suggestions that appointments are made in pursuit of a particular cultural or partisan agenda are completely unfounded.’
The Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church has issued a report on the Anglican Covenant.
See this ENS news report: Task force releases report on Anglican Covenant.
“The SCCC is of the view that adoption of the current draft Anglican Covenant has the potential to change the constitutional and canonical framework of [the Episcopal Church], particularly with respect to the autonomy of our Church, and the constitutional authority of our General Convention, bishops and dioceses,” says the report.
The full text of the report can be found here as a PDF.
Mark Harris has commented on it: The Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons’ report. There it is.11 Comments
Two more diocesan synods have voted on the legislation to allow women to be bishops. On the main motion to support the legislation both synods voted in favour in all three houses.
Several following motions all failed. See details in the comments below.
Southwell & Nottingham
At Southwell & Nottingham a following motion seeking greater provision for the opponents of women bishops was defeated (For: 8 Against: 68 Abstained: 4).
WATCH is maintaining a list of all the votes on the main motion.30 Comments
Press release from Fulcrum:
Fulcrum Statement on Interventionist Anglican Mission in England
Fulcrum expresses serious concern at the launch of the Anglican Mission to England (AMIE) and calls for immediate dialogue within the entire evangelical constituency over this development, for reasons including:
- A name reflecting breakaway movements in the USA inviting the conclusion that this is the true purpose of the new society
- The creation of a society with a conservative evangelical ‘political’ agenda not simply mission
- The creation of a panel of bishops that signals the intention of offering alternative oversight without collaboration with senior leaders of the Church of England
- Indications that the society will take its own path in the authorisation of ministry, as evidenced by its approval of the recent secret ordinations in Kenya, which is an escalation of the earlier regrettable Southwark ordinations
For the full statement, go to the Fulcrum website.32 Comments
Margaret Duggan has a detailed preview of next month’s General Synod agenda in the Church Times: Small groups and a ‘big idea’ for Synod in York.
My list of online synod papers is now, I think, complete.
One item of synod business is the order setting parochial fees for 2012 to 2014. As well as the draft order itself there is an explanatory memorandum and a rationale.
Amendments to the Order are permissible. Any member who wishes to give notice of an amendment must do so in writing to the Clerk to the Synod not later than 5.30 p.m. on Thursday 7 July 2011.
The Fees Order will only come into effect if it is passed by Synod; if it is not passed the current scale of fees will continue to apply.
There has been some not necessarily totally accurate reporting of these proposals.
Steve Doughty in the Mail Online: End of ‘Ryanair’ fees for church weddings where choirs and organists are extra
John Bingham in the Telegraph: For poorer: cost of church weddings to rise 50pc
Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that To be alive is to be more than physical.
Mark Vernon writes for Cif belief that If you want big society, you need big religion.
Faith communities may encourage their members to contribute to society – but can politicians harness their benefits?
Also for Cif belief Nick Spencer writes for that Trevor Phillips is muddled on faith and equality.
The EHRC cannot have it both ways – faith communities are either right or wrong to adhere to their beliefs.
Greg Carey writes for The Huffington Post about What The Bible Really Says About Slavery.
In his Sacred mysteries column in the Telegraph Christopher Howse discovers how Westminster Abbey had a narrow escape: When they put a shell on the Abbey.6 Comments
According to the remarks of the Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, Robert Duncan, speaking on 21 June:
Our global commitments remain strong and we continue to be seen as “gospel partners” and bearers of “authentic Anglicanism” (South-South Encounter IV) by most of the world’s Anglicans. The GAFCON Provinces accord our Province status as the North American Province and I am seated as a Primate in the Primates Council. I was privileged to be present at Archbishop Ian Earnest’s invitation at the All Africa Bishops Conference (of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa) last August in Entebbe and was accorded a seat there for public and state events as one of the archbishops of the provinces. It is the greatest of joys to welcome Archbishop Ian Earnest – Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean and Chairman of CAPA – to this Provincial Council as speaker, observer and friend, and to our College of Bishops as Bible teacher and consultor. It is also a privilege to welcome Fr. Thomas Seville, CR, of the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England here as participant and observer, in partial response to the action of the General Synod of the Church of England in February 2010 regarding consideration of an appropriate form of recognition or relationship with the Anglican Church in North America.
Mark Harris has commented at length about this, in So, explain again just what the Church of England is up to in America?
…Participant and observer….sounds like more than just an exploratory visit. What in the world is the Church of England proposing to do “regarding consideration of an appropriate form of recognition or relationship with the ACNA”?
I presume the Archbishop of Canterbury, not in communion with ACNA as yet, knows that the Archbishop of ACNA is not the Archbishop of a Province of anything, much less a Province of the Anglican Communion. So it must be that in sending Fr. Seville over to participate and observe, the CofE is feeding the optimistic fires of ACNA’s Archbishop for recognition…
Tony Baldry MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner, answered five Written Questions from Diana Johnson MP in the House of Commons yesterday (23 June).
They covered the length of time to appoint and then consecrate new bishops, the ratios of bishops to parishes and the powers of PEVs.
The full text of the questions and answers from Hansard is reproduced below the fold. The not entirely appropriate headings are Hansard’s.12 Comments
Today the Church Times has this leader: Gay bishops again.
After summarising the non-story aspect of last weekend’s reports, it comments on the content:
In May, our view was a negative one, since the document listed several reasons why the appointment of a gay bishop could be blocked. This week’s positive spin has not changed our opinion. As the leaders of the “gay-led” Metropolitan Community Church in Manchester wrote to Dr Williams this week, “We note that [unlike a gay candidate] heterosexual candidates for bishoprics are not asked to repent of any sexual activity with which the Crown Appointments Commission may be uncomfortable.” More than one serving bishop has said that he would have considered it an impertinence had he been asked about his sexual history.
The legal advice has no more weight now than before it was circulated to Synod members. It was not approved by the Bishops when they discussed it in May, not least because, to many, the brief was not how to remove discrimination within the Church, but how to continue it untroubled by the law.
The earlier report in the Church Times was House of Bishops divided on keeping out homosexuals.4 Comments
Updated Friday evening
This press release from GAFCON New Anglican Mission Society announced
The Anglican Mission in England (AMIE) held its inaugural event on Wednesday June 22 during an evangelical ministers’ conference in central London.
AMIE has been established as a society within the Church of England dedicated to the conversion of England and biblical church planting. There is a steering committee and a panel of bishops. The bishops aim to provide effective oversight in collaboration with senior clergy.
The AMIE has been encouraged in this development by the Primates’ Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON) who said in a communiqué from Nairobi in May 2011: “We remain convinced that from within the Provinces which 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.”
The AMIE is determined to remain within the Church of England…
This society is, it appears, a renaming of this one.
There is more information, including a list of names of bishops, in this: The Anglican Mission in England – Seeing the Church of England Again for the First time.
Church of England press release:
The Church of England has today submitted its response to the Government’s consultation on Civil Partnerships in Religious Premises.
A Church of England spokesman said: “Given the decision that Parliament has already taken to amend the Civil Partnership Act 2004 in the Equality Act 2010, the response focuses on the need to assure that the forthcoming regulations continue to provide unfettered freedom for each religious tradition to resolve these matters in accordance with its own convictions and its own internal procedures of governance.
“That means that there needs to be an ‘opting in’ mechanism of the kind that the Government has proposed. In the case of the Church of England that would mean that its churches would not be able to become approved premises for the registration of civil partnerships until and unless the General Synod had first decided as a matter of policy that that should be possible.”
The full text of the submission that addresses the specific questions raised by the consultation is set out below.
Some key passages relating to whether the Church of England will allow its premises to be so used are copied below the fold (emphasis added).33 Comments
The Tablet had an article last week by Francis Davis entitled Players in the public square.
Catholic bishops are often overshadowed in the national debate by their Anglican counterparts, as shown in the furore caused by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s critique of the Coalition Government last week. A Catholic academic and political adviser asks why this may be…
A sample of the analysis:
…For a start, there are more than 100 Church of England bishops across 43 dioceses compared with 29 Catholic bishops across 19 dioceses in England. Catholic bishops in these dioceses shepherd around 4,000 clergy in England while the Anglican tally is double that number, bringing with them spouses and children whose joys and sorrows have direct consequences for the success of diocesan ministry.
The Anglicans have more than twice the number of schools – 4,820 with more than a million pupils – giving them greater presence in communities and opportunities for encounter. These schools are mainly primaries while the Catholic Church has far more secondary schools. There are 2,000 Catholic schools altogether in England and Wales educating 860,000 children.
I have also selected for closer examination the 19 Church of England bishops whose dioceses most closely compare with their Catholic counterparts. In these dioceses, Catholic bishops are generally older and remain in post longer than the Anglicans. The average Catholic episcopal age is 66 and their average service a decade at the diocesan helm compared to 60 and just over seven years for the Anglicans. Church of England bishops normally retire a decade younger than their Catholic counterparts.
This contrast in institutional reach and episcopal age is mirrored by matters of formation and experience. Each of the 19 Church of England bishops I surveyed had at least one degree from Oxford, Cambridge, London or another leading university. Only nine Catholic bishops in England have degrees from outside Catholic institutions, with some having pursued all their studies from secondary age in a seminary. Four of the current Anglican bishops have published more books between them than all English Catholic bishops combined since the Second Vatican Council. This is not only a question of class, as half of both groups surveyed were schooled in grammar or other state schools…
Third Sector reports:
The charity Catholic Care has been refused permission to appeal against a ruling that it cannot exclude gay couples from using its adoption service.
That earlier ruling was reported here on 26 April: Charity Tribunal rejects appeal from Catholic adoption agency.
This latest ruling can be found at Decision on Application for Permission to Appeal (7 June 2011).
…In the document, Alison McKenna, principal judge of the charity tribunal, wrote: “I have concluded that the grounds of appeal before me do not identify ‘errors of law’ in the decision.
“In the circumstances, I conclude that there is no power for the tribunal to review its decision in this case and I have also, for the same reasons, concluded that permission to appeal should be refused.”
Benjamin James, a solicitor at the law firm Bircham Dyson Bell, acting on behalf of Catholic Care, told Third Sector the charity could appeal to the Upper Tribunal for a review of the charity tribunal’s decision not to allow the appeal. He said trustees had not decided whether to do so.
A review of research evidence commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission indicates there are different perceptions about the legal protections for religion or belief and about the level of discrimination towards different religions or beliefs.
Evidence in the report shows that people’s understanding of their rights around religion or belief is not always matched by recent changes to equality law. The Commission is concerned that this could be preventing people from using their rights…
View the report: Religious discrimination in Britain: A review of research evidence, 2000-10 by Paul Weller of the University of Derby.
(The Commission’s statistical briefing paper on Religion or Belief is also available.)
Read the interview with Trevor Phillips in the Telegraph: Trevor Phillips wades into debate on religion in modern society by Jonathan Wynne-Jones. This interview has provoked a lot of reactions from all sides, and I will add some further links to these later.
Christian Concern Equality Commission questions Christian ‘integration’
British Humanist Association Humanists call for EHRC Chair Trevor Phillips to apologise, following ‘sectarian and divisive’ statements3 Comments
Updated twice on Monday evening
There has been an outburst of media reports yesterday all based on the release by the Church of England of a legal opinion prepared by the Legal Office, with this title. Many of them are wildly inaccurate.
As the cover note shows, this is published to synod members for information only. No synodical action is planned in respect of it.
I attach for the information of Synod members a copy of a note on the Equality
Act prepared by the Legal Office in connection with episcopal appointments for
members of Crown Nominations Commissions and diocesan bishops and their
The document is identical to the one leaked over three weeks ago to the Guardian and published in full by them. See the links in this report on TA dated 26 May: House of Bishops tied in knots over gay bishops and in particular this link to “legal document”.
The regular pre-synod press briefing
is scheduled for this morning. There may be more to report following that event. took place this morning. It was confirmed that this document is being issued for information only (due at least in part to having been previously leaked by the Guardian) and that it presages no synodical action and proposes no change from recent past practice in selecting bishops.
Reform has issued a press statement: Reform calls for legal advice on Bishops’ Appointments to be withdrawn.37 Comments
Updated Monday morning, afternoon and evening
Updated Saturday 25 June
Update: This press release, outlining the contents of the Synod agenda, was released on Monday: Full agenda published for July 2011 General Synod sessions in York.
Online copies of the papers for the July 2011 meeting of General Synod are starting to appear online; they are listed below, with links. I will update the list as more papers become available.
The Report of the Business Committee (GS 1824) includes a forecast of future business, and I have copied this below the fold.
The Church of England’s own list of papers is presented in agenda order.
GS 1823 July 2011 Group of Sessions – General Synod – Agenda
GS 1824 Business Committee Report July 2011
GS 1827 Annual Report of the Archbihsops’ Council
GS 1828 The Payments to the Churches Conservation Trust Order 2011
GS 1830 Annual Report of the Audit Committee
GS 1831 Appointments to the Archbishops’ Council
GS 1836 Higher Education Funding Changes: a report from the Ministry Council
GS Misc 990 Higher Education funding – April 2011 report of the working group chaired by the Bishop of Sheffield
GS Misc 990A Funding ministerial training – background information for the above report
GS 1837 The Anglican-Methodist Covenant: a report from the Council for Christian Unity, to which is appended Moving Forward in Covenant: Interim Report of the Joint Implementation Commission
GS 1838 Generous Love for All: Presence and Engagement for the new Quinquennium: a report from the Presence and Engagement Task Group
GS 1839 The Reorganisation Schemes (Compensation) Rules 2011
GS 1841 Conversations with the United Reformed Church: a report from the Council for Christian Unity
GS 1842 The Archbishops’ Council Draft Budget and Proposals for Apportionment for 2012
GS Misc 981 EIAG Annual Review 2010/2011
GS Misc 983 Additional Eucharistic Prayers
GS Misc 984 The Changing Role of Deaneries
GS Misc 985 Dioceses Commission Annual Report 2011
GS Misc 986 Clergy Discipline Commission Annual Report 2011
GS Misc 987 Activities of the Archbishops’ Council
GS Misc 988 Analysis of Mission Funds
GS Misc 989 2012-2014 Fees Order – Rationale
GS Misc 990 Higher Education Funding (electronic distribution only)
GS Misc 990A Funding Ministerial Training (electronic distribution only)
GS Misc 991 Chaplains to the Synod
GS Misc 992 Choosing Bishops – The Equality Act 2010 (Our html copy is here.)
GS Misc 994E Apprendices for GS 1844 (electronic distribution only)
GS Misc 995 Challenges into the new Quinquennium: Next Steps
GS Misc 996 Background to GS 1845
see the press release: Governance Working Group analyzes Covenant.
…This GWG report is one step in the Anglican Church of Canada’s ongoing consideration of the Covenant. A resolution at General Synod 2010 (A137) requested several actions to advance this work. First, the Anglican Communion Working Group was asked to prepare materials for parishes and dioceses to study the Covenant and give feedback. These materials were released June 9 and are available online.
Both the GWG and the Faith, Worship, and Ministry Committee were asked to assess the Covenant by “providing advice on the theological, ecclesiological, legal, and constitutional implications.”
The resolution also requested that “conversations, both within the Anglican Church of Canada and across the Communion, reflect the values of openness, transparency, generosity of spirit, and integrity, which have been requested repeatedly in the context of the discussion of controversial matters within the Communion.”
After this period of consideration, the Council of General Synod will bring a recommendation regarding adoption of the Covenant to General Synod 2013.
I have reproduced below the fold those parts of the Executive Summary which are of most relevance outside Canada. A read of the full report is highly recommended, as many of the issues raised by it should be of concern to all Anglicans worldwide.13 Comments
Giles Fraser writes for the Church Times about When us-and-them can seem unwelcome.
Matt J Rossano writes for The Huffington Post about The Christian Revolution.
Graham Kings has preached the Richard Johnson annual sermon at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, London: Moral Journalism.
The Archbishop of York has written this article for the Yorkshire Post: Tackling Poverty, Wherever It Occurs.4 Comments
The Anglican Journal reports: Canada’s top court denies appeal to dissident Vancouver churches
New Westminster: Supreme Court Denies Leave to Appeal
Anglican Network in Canada: Congregations Evicted from their Church Buildings
Press reports:21 Comments