Thinking Anglicans


Christopher Middleton writes in The Telegraph about the Faith in World essay competition winners and says “The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Faith in the World essay competition showcases fresh thinking about life’s biggest issues.”

Nick Baines writes in Cif belief about Parallel lives? Not in Church of England schools.
“As the experience of Bradford shows, church schools serve all faiths – and are therefore a lesson in diversity, not division.”

Christopher Howse writes a Sacred Mysteries column in The Telegraph about A link to heaven held in the palm. He is “is bowled over by a British Museum exhibition that is something else than art”.

In one of my reports on General Synod I linked to an article on parochial fees by David Green. He has had these further thoughts on the matter: Synod, wedding fees and the other side of the story.


more about the Anglican Mission in England

Richard Coekin has written a long article, titled We rejoice in the emergence of the ANGLICAN MISSION IN ENGLAND.

In this piece he explains in detail about the purpose of AMiE and why it was/is unhappy with both the previous and current bishops of Southwark. It needs to be read in full.

…For example, in the liberal Southwark Diocese where I work as a senior pastor and director of the Co-Mission church-planting network, we have been pushed into “temporarily impaired communion” with our Diocesan Bishop since 2005. This is because, despite Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (declaring that homosexual activity is wrong) he would offer us no assurance that he would teach that homosexual practice is sin and therefore something not to be tolerated among the clergy. As a matter of conscience under the Biblical command to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” with those “who change the grace of our God into a licence for immorality”, we cannot accept the oversight of a Bishop who refuses to teach such fundamental Biblical doctrine. The Bible is clear that un-repented wickedness (including homosexual practice) prevents us from inheriting the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). The refusal of church leaders to teach this truth with compassion and clarity imperils the salvation of gay people we seek to love in our community by suggesting that repentance isn’t necessary. In this conviction we have enjoyed warm fellowship within many Evangelical networks but have longed for orthodox Episcopal oversight within the Church of England that will support Biblical teaching in our church-planting movement…

Richard Perkins, of Christ Church Balham has written at The Urban Pastor about AMiE. This article reflects on a BBC radio interview from last week.

Robert Piggott, the BBC Religious Correspondent, got it about right on Saturday on Radio 4. In his piece on the Today Programme he commented that, in launching the AMiE, conservative evangelicals had parked their tanks on the front lawn of Lambeth Palace.

It’s obviously the case that the establishing of this new mission society is seen by some as unnecessarily provocative. Even by some of those who are orthodox on the issue of human sexuality. But it’s worth asking why some evangelicals thought that such a drastic move was necessary. A ‘conversation’ is supposed to be taking place between, if I may simplify, the liberal revisionists and the evangelical reformers. But clearly one side doesn’t feel that they’re being listened to. They are now, I’ll wager…

Some historical background can be found in this presentation by John Richardson.


Questions about the CofE Legal Opinion

Three Questions were asked at General Synod last Friday about the Legal Opinion issued as GS Misc 992. They were answered together.

Question 7
Mrs Sue Johns (Norwich) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q. Has the House considered the issues addressed in GS Misc 992?

Question 8
The Revd Canon Simon Butler (Southwark) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops”
Q. Given the legal opinion offered in GS Misc 992 (‘Equality Act’) can the House indicate the following:
a. Which individuals or bodies are responsible for weighing and, if appropriate, adopting this opinion as policy;
b. The process by which this opinion shall be weighed and, if appropriate, adopted;
c. How these deliberations will be communicated to this Synod and candidates for episcopal appointment?

Question 9
The Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett (Southwark) to ask the House of Bishops:
Q. As we have in effect debated paras 14-18 of GS Misc 992 regarding divorce and remarriage at the February Synod, what process does the House envisage to ensure that a debate on the complete paper takes place, recognising that the circulation of a paper to Synod by the Legal Office does not create policy?

The Bishop of Norwich to reply:

A. With permission, I shall answer this and the related questions from Simon Butler and Rosemarie Mallet together.

The Legal Office note was produced in December and made available to members of successive Crown Nominations Commissions and to all diocesan bishops in connection with episcopal appointments. It explains the implications of the legal framework created by the Equality Act so that those making appointments understand the parameters within which they now have to operate. It offers no policy advice. The relevant policy documents are the well known texts referred to in the document, to which must now be added last Friday’s modest supplement from the House.

The policy issue on civil partnerships is now for the review of the 2005 statement and the Church’s stance on same sex relations more generally will be addressed in the consultation document that the House will produce in the light of the listening process in 2013.

Supplementary Question from Simon Butler:
While I welcome the House of Bishops clarity that GS Misc 992 isn’t the policy of the Church, nevertheless it is the legal opinion of the church’s lawyers. Can the Bishop confirm then what freedom the House of Bishops has to depart from this legal opinion?

A. Well, I think what the legal opinion seeks to do is to explain for those involved in episcopal appointments what the law permits. It simply refers back to formal statements of the Church of England’s policy, including statements by the House of Bishops on divorce and civil partnerships, and of course that’s been amended in the light of what the synod decided last February, but it actually offers no policy advice. And the House of Bishops statement is about policy reviews, not prejudging their outcome.

Supplementary Question from Rosemarie Mallett:
Again, we thank you for the clarity of your answer. As part of the review process that will be now ongoing, can we be assured that the House of Bishops will consult with members of the House of Clergy and the House of Laity, before bringing the final consultation document to synod in 2013, so that we have a truly dialogic as well as listening process between now and 2013.

A. Well I think that what we hope for in the 2013 review, which will cover matters related to human sexuality, is to try and create an account of what’s gone on in the listening process, which has included clergy and laity over the course of the past decade or more. And there is a sense in which quite a lot of that work of course has already included clergy and laity, and how that review group will go about its work I can’t say, but it would be very surprising if it did not include consultation with clergy and lay people, to produce the sort of document that we hope would be representative of the mind of the church as a whole.


Civil Partnerships and the Episcopate

A Question was asked at General Synod last Friday about this. (The deadline for filing Questions was several days prior to the issue of GS Misc 997.)

Question 6.
The Ven Jan McFarlane (Norwich) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:

Q. What consideration has the House given to the eligibility for the episcopate of those in civil partnerships?

The Bishop of Norwich to reply:

A. As Synod members will now have seen from GS Misc 997, which was issued last Friday, the House of Bishops has decided to review the pastoral statement on civil partnerships that it issued in July 2005 before the Civil Partnership Act came into force. That review will, among other things, address an issue on which the 2005 statement was silent, namely whether those in civil partnerships should be eligible to become bishops. To avoid breaking new ground while the review is in progress the House has concluded that clergy in civil partnerships should not at present be nominated for Episcopal appointment. The review will be concluded next year.

Supplementary Question from Mr John Ward (London):

In welcoming GS Misc 997 most sincerely and the review of the civil partnerships statement, will the House engage with the whole People of God when reviewing this statement, including lesbian and gay people in civil partnerships, and if so how?

A. Well, that will be a matter for the review group when it is established, how it goes about its work, and I think I wouldn’t want to say more than that. But your point is well made.


ACNA and the Church of England

Several Questions were put down for answers at Question Time last Friday relating to the Anglican Church in North America. Only one of them was reached during the session, but the written answers prepared for the others were issued afterwards (and are reproduced below the fold).

Question 40.
Ms Susan Cooper (London) to ask the Chairman of the Faith and Order Commission:

Q. Father Thomas Seville CR, ‘of the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England’ was welcomed as a ‘participant and observer’ at the Provincial Council 2011 of the Anglican Church of North America in Long Beach, California. What was the status of his attendance from the point of view of the Faith and Order Commission?

The Bishop of Chichester to reply as Chairman of the Faith and Order Commission:

A. Fr Seville attended the ACNA Provincial Council as an observer at my request following a resolution of the General Synod in February 2010.

The Archbishop of Canterbury had subsequently highlighted certain questions on which he and the Archbishop of York would value the thinking of the Faith and Order Commission in preparing the requested report.

As Fr Seville is one of the two members of the Faith and Order Commission most closely associated with its work on “continuing churches” in the light of a resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, he attended as an observer on behalf of and reporting to the Commission in order to assist our work in advising the Archbishops.

Supplementary Question by Ms Cooper:
Would the bishop clarify how the visit… was funded?

A. It was entirely funded by the Anglican Church in North America.



BBC challenges accuracy of Chichester sex abuse report

Updated Wednesday 20 July

The BBC has reported that:

A review of how the Church of England dealt with two paedophile priests contains significant inaccuracies, a BBC investigation has found.

The review, carried out by Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss for the Church, looked at how historic claims of abuse by two Sussex priests were handled.

Evidence obtained by BBC South East appears to show a bishop provided incorrect information to the inquiry.

The Church said the new information did not undermine the review.

Read the BBC report and watch the video: Church abuse report over Sussex sex abuse ‘inaccurate’

Earlier BBC reports are here, and here, and also here.

The Diocese of Chichester earlier issued this press release: Bishop responds to safeguarding report and the actual reports are available as PDF files:

The latest (19 July) BBC report is: Report into paedophile priests Cotton and Pritchard investigated

The Church of England is starting an investigation into how inaccurate information was published in a report on two paedophile priests.

The report, by Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss for the Church, looked at how historic claims of abuse by two Sussex priests were handled.

Lewes and Hastings Archdeacon, the Ven Philip Jones, denied there had been a cover-up.


more on the EHRC intervention in Strasbourg

The EHRC has issued a clarification of its intentions in this Q and A, which has been reproduced by the Equality and Diversity Forum. See EHRC intervention in cases of religious discrimination. This inlcudes the following passage:

The purpose of our intervention is to explain that the law should consider how it may give better respect for religious rights within the workplace than has hitherto been the case, without diminishing the rights of others. We want to change the view that there needs to be an either/or situation. The spotlight and focus is placed too frequently on conflict in place of dialogue that could help identify other acceptable workable solutions.

The accommodation of rights is not a zero sum equation whereby one right cancels out or trumps another. We believe that if the law and practice were considered more widely, then in many situations there would be scope for diverse rights to be respected.

Our view is that careful, sensitive and balanced treatment and consideration is discouraged by the approach taken by the courts to date. In turn, this hinders the development and dissemination of better practice amongst those with duties. We believe that where possible ways should be found within the law of promoting the resolution of disputes at an early stage, without protracted, costly, complex legal proceedings that irretrievably damage relations between the parties.

Philip Henson on Employment Law Update gives an extensive background briefing in The Equality and Human Rights Commission calls for ‘reasonable accommodation’ for religion or belief.

More comment articles expected soon. Meanwhile, this earlier TA article indicates the views of Trevor Phillips, chair of the EHRC.

Heresy Corner has Equality Commission outrages gays and humanists.

The Church Times carries a news report by Ed Beavan Courts have set bar too high for Christians, says EHRC.

1 Comment

EHRC applies to intervene at ECHR in religious discrimination cases

Updated Thursday morning

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has applied to the European Court of Human Rights to be allowed to intervene in several recent cases concerning religious discrimination in the workplace.

The EHRC has issued this press release: Commission proposes ‘reasonable accommodation’ for religion or belief is needed.

Judges have interpreted the law too narrowly in religion or belief discrimination claims, the Commission has said in its application to intervene in four cases at the European Court of Human Rights all involving religious discrimination in the workplace.

If given leave to intervene, the Commission will argue that the way existing human rights and equality law has been interpreted by judges is insufficient to protect freedom of religion or belief.

It will say that the courts have set the bar too high for someone to prove that they have been discriminated against because of their religion or belief; and that it is possible to accommodate expression of religion alongside the rights of people who are not religious and the needs of businesses…

The National Secular Society is unhappy, see Equality Commission determined to push religion up the hierarchy of rights.

So is the British Humanist Association, see Equality Commission’s intervention in Christian legal cases ’wholly disproportionate’.

And Stonewall is deeply disturbed, see Stonewall response to EHRC statement on religious ‘discrimination’ cases.

The Christian Institute is however very pleased, see Equality body: Courts have failed Christians and also Humanists and gays fear EHRC intervention.


Some further reactions:

Christian Concern Equality Commission decides Christians have the right to follow conscience

Andrew Copson at Cif belief The EHRC’s stance on religious rights undermines its credibility

Patrick Strudwick The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s choice is beyond belief


General Synod – Tuesday roundup

Updated to add link to official summary
Updated Tuesday night and Wednesday morning

General Synod – summary of business Tuesday 12th July 2011 AM

Synod ended its meeting in York at lunchtime today.

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave a presidential statement about Christians in the Holy Land: Archbishop launches appeal for Christians in the Holy Land, and showed this video: Christians in the Holy Land Conference 2011.

Riazat Butt of The Guardian has blogged the final day.

Tim Ross writes in The Telegraph Christians should learn how to be a ‘minority’ from Muslims, bishop says
This refers to the Bishop of Bradford, who responds on his blog with Minority matters.

The Star has Church could train clergy.

Ekklesia has C of E seeks to change ‘pale, male and stale’ leadership.

Ruth Gledhill has written this blog article about Monday’s motion on elections to the House of Laity: General Synod in York: Church of England votes for fairer votes [also online here].

Tuesday night update

Tim Ross in The Telegraph News of the World: Church of England retains stake in Murdoch empire

Press Association Bishop: Apply values to all lessons

Wednesday morning update

Tim Ross in The Telegraph Ageing Church of England ‘will be dead in 20 years’

Martha Linden in The Independent Church of England faces extinction, says cleric


General Synod – Monday press roundup

Rosie Harper looks back at the recent meeting of General Synod for Cif belief: General Synod: saved by an archbishop on fire.
“The unspeakable tedium of General Synod was enlivened by Rowan Williams’s rallying call for a new language of faith.”

The Independent has this story from the Press Association: Church votes to recruit minorities.

Riazat Butt has blogged Monday’s business for The Guardian.

Tim Ross in The Telegraph Church of England bishops meet ministers over ‘chilling’ effect of equality laws.


General Synod – official summary of Monday's business

General Synod – summary of business Monday 11th July 2011 AM

General Synod – summary of business Monday 11th July 2011 PM

This will be updated later with the evening session summary.
The PM summary now includes the evening session.


General Synod – chair of the business committee

Updated Monday evening
Updated Tuesday morning

Synod was due to vote on a motion to appoint the Bishop of Dover as the chair of its business committee this morning. This followed the adjournment of a debate on a similar motion in February. There is a lot of opposition in Synod to any bishop chairing this committee.

But instead the Bishop of Dover made a personal statement to Synod saying that he was withdrawing his name from consideration. The Archbishop of Canterbury then effectively told Synod off for putting the bishop in this position.

Pete Broadbent, the Bishop of Willesden, has written about the background to choosing the chair of the business committee and why it should not be a bishop. Do read his article.
On Chairing the Business Committee.

Monday evening updates

Riazat Butt has obtained the full text of Rowan Williams’ remarks this morning, and they can be found at the bottom of this page of her live blog of the Synod. See item timed at 6.11 pm.

There is another transcription of both the Bishop of Dover and the Archbishop of Canterbury over here at TitusOneNine.

Tuesday morning update

Tim Ross writes in the Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury rebukes senior Anglicans in row over Bishop of Dover appointment


General Synod – Sunday roundup

Today’s business

The members of General Synod joined the congregation at York Minster for the 10.00 am Eucharist today (Sunday). The preacher was the Rt Revd Peter Skov-Jakobsen, the Bishop of Copenhagen. Alastair Cutting has published the text of the bishop’s sermon: The Bishop of Copenhagen’s sermon.

Official summary: General Synod – summary of business Sunday 10th July 2011 PM

Riazat Butt’s blog for Sunday

Comment on yesterday’s business

David Green writes on his blog about yesterday’s vote against the new Parochial Fees Order: Synod, wedding fees and allowing some churches to rake it in.


some criticisms of episcopal statements

Savi Hensman has written about the presidential address given on Saturday by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

See Romanticising the church?

The Church is “the visible sign of a faithful God”, declared the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was speaking at the Church of England’s General Synod on 9 July 2011, in York. He expressed the view that those present were “entrusted with the strength not to abandon and the joy of knowing ourselves not abandoned.”

Rowan Williams made many valuable points in his presidential address to Synod, the Church of England’s key decision-making body. Yet his lack of acknowledgement of the Church’s mixed record raises some concerns…

Changing Attitude has published some comment about the note sent to synod members from the House of Bishops about the Equality Act and the appointment of celibate people in a civil partnership as a bishop.

See Bishops in the church and the Equality Act.

The House of Bishops sent a note to Synod members about the Equality Act and the appointment of celibate people in a civil partnership as a bishop. The legal advice is discriminatory and unworkable. No priest who is gay, let alone in a civil partnership, is going to reveal their sexual orientation when confronted by five such intrusive questions.

The legal note will simply encourage people to stay in the closet, maintaining secrecy about their sexual orientation for all gay (and eventually, lesbian) clergy who are nominated for episcopal office…


General Synod – Saturday press roundup 2

Martha Linden of the Press Association (in The Independent) Archbishop attacks self-indulgence

Tim Ross in The Telegraph Phone-hacking scandal: Church of England could withdraw £4 million from News Corp
Jodie Ginsberg and Olesya Dmitracova for Reuters Church of England threatens to pull News Corp investment

Anonymously in The Telegraph Church blocks funeral costs rise
And at the BBC Church of England wedding price rise rejected

Jonathan Wynne-Jones in The Telegraph Archbishop Williams calls for church schools to be inclusive
There is also this press release from the Church of England today about school admissions policies: Publication of new church school admissions advice


General Synod – official summary of Saturday's business

General Synod – summary of business Saturday 9th July 2011 AM

General Synod – summary of business Saturday 9th July 2011 PM


Parochial Fees Order defeated

As we reported earlier Synod debated the Parochial Fees Order this afternoon. This order proposed revised fees for weddings and funerals from 1 January 2012.

In the debate (on a motion to “consider” the order), most speeches were against various aspects of the new fees order and many alternative, often contradictory, proposals were made. At the end the motion was defeated with 134 votes in favour and 166 votes against, with 18 recorded abstentions.

As a consequence the new order cannot come into effect. Unless and until a new order is approved by Synod the current order, which has applied since 1 January 2011, will continue in force.

Note on procedure
Approval of a fees order takes three stages.
1. Consideration – a general debate
2. Consideration of amendments to the order
3. Approval of the [amended] order
Since the order was defeated at the first stage Synod did not have the opportunity to consider the amendments, of which there were 25.


News Corporation: Statement from the Church of England's Ethical Investment Advisory Group

The Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group has issued this statement.

News Corporation: Statement from Ethical Investment Advisory Group

09 July 2011

The Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group has written to News Corporation.

The following points were made in the letter, sent on Friday 8 July:

The behaviour of the News of the World has been utterly reprehensible and unethical.

While the EIAG welcomes the decision to close the News of the World, this action is not a sufficient response to the revelations of malpractice at the paper. Nor does it address the failure of News International and News Corporation executives to undertake a proper investigation and take decisive remedial action as soon as the police uncovered illegal phone hacking in 2006.

The EIAG Chairman has written to Rupert Murdoch today (8/7/11) to insist that the Board of News Corporation takes all necessary measures to instil investor confidence in the ethical and governance standards of News Corporation.

We cannot imagine circumstances in which we would be satisfied with any outcome that does not hold senior executives to account at News Corporation for the gross failures of management at the News of the World.


The Church Commissioners for England, one of the National Investing Bodies, are the beneficial owners of 344,586 News Corporation A shares worth, at Thursday’s close, $6m.


bloggers at General Synod

Updated Saturday afternoon to add another blogger
Updated Sunday

Riazat Butt of The Guardian has this live blog from York.
Update That blog is for Saturday only. There is another blog for Sunday and presumably there will be others later.

Some Synod members are also blogging.
Alastair Cutting and Justin Brett The General Synod Blog
Jeremy Fletcher Jeremy Fletcher’s Blog
Suem Significant Truths

And at Twitter several members and others are tweeting with the hashtag #synod.


opinion for a synod

Canon C K Robertson is visiting the General Synod and has written this for The Huffington Post: Independent but Connected. Canon Robertson is the Canon to the Presiding Bishop of The (American) Episcopal Church.

In this week’s Cif belief in The Guardian Andrew Brown writes about The archbishop and the prisoners.
“On a prison visit, Rowan Williams shows a wittier, humbler side – and an enthusiasm for unglamorous projects.”

Also in The Guardian the Archbishop of Canterbury talks to David Hare “about taking on the coalition, the atheists – and why life isn’t like a Woody Allen movie.” Rowan Williams: God’s boxer

Also in Cif belief Theo Hobson writes that Anglicans should throw out dry tradition.
“Churches should rip up the pews and encourage real participation, and make the act of worship again.”

John Dominic Crossan writes in The Huffington Post about The Search for the Historical Paul: Which Letters Did He Really Write?

Also in The Huffington Post Greg Carey asks What Does the Bible Actually Say About Marriage?

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times Tweet that good-news message.