Thinking Anglicans

Nigeria proposes new legislation on same sex marriage

Updated Wednesday afternoon

Changing Attitude reports on this, see New Bill prohibiting same-sex marriage placed before Nigerian Parliament.

For the third time in five years the Nigerian parliament is considering a law seeking to prohibit same sex marriage after a new bill was presented to the House. The Nigerian Vanguard newspaper reported on Wednesday September 28, 2011, “The bill had its second reading yesterday September 27, just as senators described the act as ungodly, morally and religiously unacceptable”. The bill is sponsored by Senator Domingo Alaba Obende, Edo North senatorial district and had its first reading in July…

Box Turtle Bulletin has the text of the bill, see Here It Is: Nigeria’s Proposal To Criminalize Same-Sex Marriage:

A BTB reader found a copy of Nigeria’s latest proposal to not just ban same-sex marriage (it’s already illegal in Nigeria), but to impose criminal penalties on anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage — as well as for anyone who “witnesses, abets and aids the solemnization of a same gender marriage contract.” The penalty for entering into a same-sex marriage under the proposed measure would be three years’ imprisonment. The penalty for witnessing/aiding/abeting a marriage would bring five years imprisonment or a fine of ₦2,000 (2,000 naria, or US$13 in a country where the average annual income is US$1,200). If a group of persons witness/aid/abet a marriage, the fine is ₦50,000. It’s unclear whether two people at a wedding would be considered two individuals or a group. The bill also does not define what constitutes witnessing, abetting or aiding in the solemnization of a marriage.

This bill is a considerably scaled down from an earlier bill that was being considered as late as 2009…

Meanwhile, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Nicholas D. Okoh, spoke recently on this subject, see this report from Anglican Primate Launches Attack against Gay Marriage, Homosexuality.

Peeved by the growing malaise of sexual immorality in the country, Primate, Church of Nigeria, the Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh, has described the practice of homosexuality, lesbianism and gay marriage as great evils that must neither be condoned nor allowed to further exist in our society…

But Changing Attitude also reports that Nigeria Human Rights Defenders condemn 2011 Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill.

Wednesday updates

Savi Hensman has written Nigeria’s anti-gay Bill: remembering human rights at Ekklesia.

Some Nigerian politicians are again trying to push through legislation to further criminalise lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people and their friends.

Sex between people of the same gender is already a crime, and in some parts of the country, men who have sex with each other can be put to death – but certain people seem to believe this is not harsh enough.

The Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2011 is a scaled-down version of earlier anti-LGBT bills. These were dropped after strong protests by human rights advocates at home and abroad., “We as a country need to act very fast for this trend not to find its way into our country,” the Bill’s main sponsor, Senator Domingo Obende, reportedly said. “Same sex marriage cannot be allowed on moral and religious grounds. The Muslim religion forbids it. Christianity forbids it and the African traditional religion forbids it. It should not be allowed because it will lead to a breakdown of the society.”

Apparently he warned that the results would be catastrophic if action was not taken to prohibit same-sex marriage: “With the legalisation of same sex marriage, every school in Nigeria would be required to teach that this perversion is the moral equivalent of traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Textbooks would have to depict man/man and woman/woman relationship and stories written for children as young as kindergarten would have to give equal space to homosexuals…

And Changing Attitude reports that Changing Attitude Nigeria will campaign against the prohibition marriage between persons of the same sex bill.


Zimbabwe prepares for Rowan Williams to visit

Updated again Sunday morning

The Zimbabwe press contains reports of Bishop Kunonga’s statements about the forthcoming visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

New Zimbabwe Kunonga scorns Williams visit

REBEL Anglican cleric Nolbert Kunonga claims the Archbishop of Canterbury is visiting Zimbabwe in October to “lobby for homosexuality” and “represent neo-colonialism”.

Kunonga, who was banished by the main Anglican Province of Central Africa and the worldwide Anglican Church in 2007, charged that Archbishop Rowan Williams was a “civil servant on a mission”.

“The Anglican Church is a political organisation when it is in England,” said Kunonga, who denied he was a Zanu PF “puppet”.

He added: “Rowan William was appointed by the Queen and the Prime Minister and he is a civil servant of Britain. In a political and economic environment, the civil servant represents and symbolises with his State…

Zimbabwe Guardian Archbishop Kunonga: I’m no Zanu-PF puppet

…Speaking to journalists yesterday, Archbishop Kunonga said he supported democracy that involved the passing on of natural resources to people.

He said he spoke his mind in his capacity as a church leader and not as a Zanu-PF activist.

“I do not need any favours from anyone. I am fighting for this land, mines, natural resources of this land and economic power, which is in the hands of the whites. That’s my fight with the British.

“I am not a puppet of Zanu-PF and if I am a puppet, then I am a proud and educated puppet,” he said…

And according to the Telegraph in London in a report by Peta Thorneycroft Rowan Williams is ‘lobbying for homosexuality’, claims Mugabe-backed bishop:

Reverend Admire Chisango, the secretary for Mr Kunonga’s “diocese”, told The Daily Telegraph: “We have not received an invitation to attend the Archbishop’s service.

“You know Lambeth is just a club, the Lambeth Conference is a fellowship and the Archbishop of Canterbury marries women marrying women and men marrying men.

“He is on the wrong side of the scriptures and commits blasphemy.”

Meanwhile, the Voice of America reports that Evictions of Anglican Clerics Continue as High Court Rebuffs Application.

Evictions of Zimbabwean priests from properties owned by the Harare Diocese of the Anglican church continued following a High Court decision late last week refusing to stop the removals by a faction led by the former Harare Bishop Nolbert Kunonga.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku recently gave Kunonga control of all church properties until a final ruling is made on control of the church’s assets. On Friday, High Court Judge Tendai Uchena dismissed an application in which Bishop Chad Gandiya of the Church of the Province of Central Africa – the regional branch of the worldwide Anglican Church – sought protection for clergy against evictions from their rectories and houses. Explaining his ruling, Uchena said Chidyausiku was expected to deliver a final judgment so there was no need for a lower court to rule in the case.

Chidyausiku had promised to deliver a judgment on Friday, but did not do so.

Saturday updates

Some further reports have appeared.

Newsday Kunonga dubs self ‘life Bishop’

Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga who has called himself “life Bishop” remained defiant and claimed ownership of 3 800 properties in and outside Zimbabwe. He argues there is nothing to apologise for.

On Friday, Kunonga evicted two families from St Luke’s Church in Rhodesville.

The latest eviction precedes a wave of evictions targeted at those refusing to recognise Kunonga’s authority.

On Thursday Kunonga described the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who is set to visit Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia in October, as a non-entity and said there was nothing to stop him from being “Bishop forever”.

“I would prefer not to meet him because I will not be in solidarity with him. I am taking things from Williams because I am indigenising…”

ZimEye Chief Justice speaks on Anglican row

CHIEF Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has blasted the Bishop Chad Gandiya-led faction of the Anglican Church for seeking political intervention in the long-drawn property ownership wrangle still pending before the courts.

This, the Chief Justice said, was tantamount to interference with the independence of the judiciary…

Sunday update

Standard Kunonga speaks on Anglican chaos

…Kunonga told journalists on Friday that as long as he was alive, all the 3 800 Anglican properties in the country would remain in his custody. He said whoever wants to use the property should rejoin his group, because it was impossible to have him and Chad Gandiya as bishops. “There is always one diocese, one bishop and one throne, not two,” Kunonga said.

“People simply walked out in thousands, they simply walked out on their own after being misled by nonentities. If they want to come back, they are free to do so and we are not going to ask them anything.

“Those who ran away from the church and do not want to come back just have to rest their case, because they donated the properties to the church, they donated to God,”

He said a lot of people had begun retracing their steps back to his faction. “There was a time when there were only five of us in the hundreds of churches, but now the situation is improving and some churches now have 300 parishioners, and these are the same people coming back after realising they had been lied to,” he said.

While extending a conciliatory hand to ordinary members of the church, Kunonga dismissed possibilities of reconciliation with the Gandiya faction. “We call for reconciliation, everybody is free to come and worship with us. We invite people and we don’t chase them away,” he said. “The dispute of bishops has nothing to do with worshippers, as has been said in the media, some people choose to politicise the dispute, others choose to be judgemental.

“The dispute is between ourselves and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and bishops of the Province of Central Africa and it is purely doctrinal and has nothing to do with politics.”


Church of England publishes latest statistics

The Church of England has announced the publication of its latest finance and ministry statistics with the following press release.

Church of England publishes latest statistics on web
29 September 2011

– parish giving holds up; younger vocations increase

The Church of England has today published its latest information about parish income and expenditure and trends in ministry numbers in Church Statistics 2009/10. The attendance statistics included were published in February 2011.

This year’s financial statistics show that the 2008 credit crunch began to affect church income in 2009, though not in terms of parish giving nor as hard as many charities.

Parish income

Despite the difficult economic times, parishioners’ tax-efficient planned giving continued to increase in 2009, topping an average of £10 a week (£10.06p) for the first time. The total income of parishes dropped to £889 million, mainly due to a fall in restricted income from £204 million to £176 million and a fall in one-off donations. Restricted income is monies given for specific purposes designated by the donor. Unrestricted voluntary income, mainly the regular and plate giving in churches plus the tax recovered through Gift Aid, rose from almost £505 million to more than £511 million. At the same time, total parish expenditure rose to £886 million, with nearly £49 million of this being donations made by parishes to external charities.

Dr John Preston, the Church’s National Stewardship and Resources Officer, said:

“Whilst figures for giving to the wider charity section showed a dip following the credit crunch, giving to parishes in 2009 saw a further increase, albeit a small one; a sign of the high level of commitment that so many have to supporting the mission and ministry of their local parish church. Gift Aid reclaimed on donations also reached a new high.”

Ordination candidates

Another 515 candidates were accepted to train as future clergy in 2010, with those aged 20-29 showing a 45 per cent increase from 74 to 108. In total, 563 new clergy were ordained in 2010. Of those, 284 were entering full-time paid ministry.

Revd Preb Lynda Barley, Head of Research & Statistics for the Archbishops’ Council, comments: “It is encouraging that the Church is responding confidently to the challenge that the changing age profile of our nation brings, with one in five future clergy entering training being under 30 years of age.”

While the numbers of people being training for ordination remained buoyant across 2009, the number of retirements also remained high. Taking retirements and other losses into account, there was a net loss of 129 full-time paid clergy. The total number of licensed clergy (including part-time and self supporting ministers whose numbers increased) was down by 72.

At the end of 2010, there were some 29,000 licensed and authorised ministers, ordained and lay, active across the 13,000 parishes and a growing variety of chaplaincies (in local communities, hospitals, education, prisons and the armed forces) in the Church of England.

The latest statistics have been added to the Church of England website, alongside attendance statistics published in February, at .

It should be noted that many of the statistics are for 2009. These seem to be the ones that require data from parishes.


Women Bishops – diocesan debates

Updated late Saturday [see note at the end]
Updated Monday morning to insert Durham abstentions

Two English diocesan synods held their debates on the women bishops legislation today.

1) At Manchester the main motion

That this Synod approve the proposals embodied in the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and ordination of women) measure and in the draft Amending Canon No30.

was carried in all three houses with these voting figures:

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 3 0 0
Clergy 41 13 2
Laity 38 26 4

But this following motion was also carried in all three houses.

That this synod [ie the diocesan synod] request the general synod to debate a motion in the following form:
That this synod [ie the general synod] call upon the House of Bishops, in exercise of its powers under standing order 60(b), to amend the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and ordination of women) measure in the manner proposed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York at the revision stage for the draft measure.

These are the voting figures:

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 2 0 0
Clergy 31 21 3
Laity 47 20 1

2) At Durham the main motion was passed in all three houses.

  For Against Abstentions
Bishops 1 0 0
Clergy 34 5 1
Laity 55 6 0

I don’t have any figures for abstentions.

A following motion, seeking greater provision for opponents, was defeated with 16 votes for, 77 against, and 7 abstentions.

3) Note

The procedure for these diocesan synod debates is given in GS Misc 964. In particular I draw attention to this extract from paragraph 6.

Attention is drawn to Rule 34(1)(h) of the Church Representation Rules which provides that if the votes of the houses of clergy and laity are in favour of a matter referred under Article 8, then that matter shall be deemed to have been approved for the purposes of that Article.


Transformations: Theology and Experience of Women’s Ministry

Updated again Wednesday evening

The Archbishop of Canterbury hosted a day conference at Lambeth Palace entitled ‘Transformations: Theology and Experience of Women’s Ministry’. The conference was intended to allow honest reflection on the lived experience of women as priests. It is now over 17 years since women were first ordained to the priesthood in the Church of England.

See this Church Times report: Meeting heralds new era for episcopacy

THE House of Bishops must be ready for a change of culture now, before the final vote on accepting women into the episcopate, Dr Williams heard on Monday.

A day-long conference was hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace on Monday, after discussions with groups such as Women and the Church (WATCH), and the women Deans, Archdeacons, and Residentiary Canons group (DARC).

The day was reflective and wide-ranging in its discussions, said the Rector of St James’s, Piccadilly, the Revd Lucy Winkett. “People talked about issues like clergy couples and flexible working, and the impact on a priest’s vocation — all issues that have been highlighted by the ordination of women. “But we talked more about what it meant to be a priest in a modern age. There was a general feeling that priesthood has been bureaucratised. “There will be a great culture change for the House of Bishops if women are made bishops, and there was a strong feeling that it would be healthy for more than one woman to be appointed as a bishop at first.”

And this press release from WATCH (Women and the Church):

Press Release Wednesday 22 September 2011

Lambeth Palace Conference: Experience of Women’s Ministry
Transformations: Theology and Experience

Archbishop Rowan yesterday hosted a day conference at Lambeth Palace entitled ‘Transformations: Theology and Experience of Women’s Ministry’. The conference was intended to allow honest reflection on the lived experience of women as priests. It is now over 17 years since women were first ordained to the priesthood in the Church of England.

Participants from a wide range of experience in the Church of England were invited to discuss a wide range of issues and the conference was attended by two visiting Anglican bishops, The Right Reverend Mary Gray-Reeves, Bishop of El Camino Real, California and The Right Reverend Kay Goldsworthy, Bishop of Perth, Western Australia.

Bishop Mary gave the keynote address in which she spoke about different models of exercising power and her experience of building of good relationships with parishes that did not support the ordination of women. She counselled the conference that dealing with difference by building legal walls divides the Church and prevents healing of differences from happening.

The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said, ‘The Lambeth day provided much needed space for reflection and for celebration. We look forward to taking the conversations forward and seeing what will emerge in the longer term from this welcomed initiative. We are very grateful to Archbishop Rowan for being so generous with his time’

Tuesday Update

More reports of the conference are now available on the Lambeth Palace site, see Archbishop hosts conference on women’s ministry which includes the full transcripts of:

Audio recordings of each of these can also be downloaded from the top right of the page.

Wednesday update

ENS has published this further article by Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves In England, role of women debate continues.



Jonathan Jones writes for The Guardian No faith in flesh: art exposes Christianity’s original sin.
“For centuries, defenders of the nude in art have faced a battle against Christian fear of the naked human form.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the comedian, writer and broadcaster Frank Skinner recently “sat down for an in-depth exchange of views on the state of Christianity today”.
Archbishop Rowan and Frank Skinner in conversation

Sarah Ditum argues in The Guardian that it is Time for burial to die a death.
“We should stop treating cemeteries like a cupboard under the stairs and embrace new ways of disposing of the dead.”

John Dominic Crossan writes for The Huffington Post about The Search for the Historical Paul: How to Read The Letters of Paul [with particular reference to Philemon].

Savitri Hensman writes for The Guardian that Direct, compassionate intervention on earth is not God’s remit but ours.
“God offers no instant fix in adversity. He respects our free will and asks us to use it well.”

1 Comment

Archbishop Harper issues statement on civil partnerships

Updated again Monday

The Church of Ireland has issued this press release: Statement To The Standing Committee Of The Church Of Ireland By The Archbishop Of Armagh On The Civil Partnership Situation.

The fact that the Very Reverend Thomas Gordon, Dean of Leighlin, entered a Civil Partnership on 29th July last has created a new situation for the Church of Ireland. In many parts of the Church, the matter is seen as controversial. In such a situation it is important that great care be taken in anything that may be said.

The Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Ireland had planned to devote a significant amount of time in residential consultation on matters to do with same gender relationships in the autumn of 2011. This decision was taken in the light of changes in the membership of the House of Bishops since the bishops last discussed these matters in 2002/03, the introduction of Equality legislation and Civil Partnership legislation in both jurisdictions in Ireland, and the progress on the discussion of these issues within the Anglican Communion which led to the Anglican Covenant which the General Synod agreed to subscribe at the May session 2011. The new situation and reactions to that situation have added urgency to the work that the bishops are taking in hand. I am, therefore, requesting that general discussion of these matters in the Standing Committee should be curtailed to enable the bishops to begin their discussions and suggest a framework for future discussion at representative level.

I wish to reiterate what I have said publicly in these past days, that the Church of Ireland does not regard a civil partnership as matrimony and that there are no proposals for the provision of rites of blessing for same gender relationships. I also wish to say that, as fellow human beings, homosexual people are entitled to be accorded the same respect and dignity as others. Many are “members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of their relationships” (Lambeth 1.10) in exactly the same way as are all other members of the Church of God.

+Alan Armagh

News reports of this:

Belfast Telegraph Primate wants gay debate to be shelved

Belfast Newsletter Harper moves to end CoI split talk

Saturday update
Belfast Newsletter Archbishop plea fails to silence unhappy clergy

TWO Church of Ireland rectors have broken ranks to reject Archbishop Alan Harper’s appeal for an end to discussion of the church’s first same-sex union involving a minister.

Amid growing impatience in sections of the church which has not yet made clear whether it accepts the controversial civil partnership, three weeks after the News Letter revealed the move, there are emerging warnings that if the church does not act evangelicals may find their own bishops.

In separate statements, the Rev Neville Hughes from the rural parishes of Mullabrack and Kilcluney near Markethill and the Rev Alan McCann of the urban parish of Woodburn in Carrickfergus rejected the primate of all Ireland’s call to halt discussion about the Rev Tom Gordon’s civil partnership…

Monday update
Church of England Newspaper Broken communion for the Church of Ireland

The outcry over the Bishop of Cashel & Ossory’s support for an Irish dean’s gay civil union has forced the bishop to skip the consecration of the Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry.

Church leaders in Northern Ireland told The Church of England Newspaper that the Rt. Rev. Michael Burrows had been advised to stay away from the Sept 8 consecration of Bishop Patrick Rooke at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh. The bishop had been told his support for clergy gay civil unions had broken the collegiality of the church and his presence would cause some participants in the ceremony to refrain from receiving the Eucharist with him…


Global South Primates visit China

Updated Friday evening

Global South Anglican has published Communiqué of the Global South Primates during their visit to China in September 2011.

A large number of primates of Anglican provinces visited China from 30 August to 10 September 2011. The attendance list is:

Most Rev Dr John Chew, Most Rev Henry Luke Orombi, Most Rev Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis, Most Rev Justice Ofei Akrofi, Most Rev Bernard Ntahoturi, Most Rev Nicholas Dikeriehi Okoh*, Most Rev Stephen Than Myint Oo, Most Rev Hector Zavala, Most Rev Eliud Wabukala, Most Rev Onesphore Rwaje, Most Rev Albert Chama. (*Note: Abp Okoh left a day earlier before the Communique was finalised.)

The text of the communique deals in part with their perceptions of China, but also contains their views on the Anglican Communion. This section is copied below the fold.


Press coverage in the Church Times: Instruments lack backbone, Primates of Global South say.
And in the Church of England Newspaper: Canterbury’s international agenda in tatters.



Update on Irish civil partnership controversy

See earlier reports here, and then here.

The Church of Ireland Gazette last week published an editorial column, which can be read in full here (scroll down a little).


There has been concerned and very deep reaction to the recent revelation that the Dean of Leighlin, the Very Revd Tom Gordon, who is open about being a gay man and was appointed as Dean last year, has entered into a same-sex civil partnership. The situation gained added momentum after Dean Gordon confirmed on Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence programme on 4th September that this had been with the prior knowledge of his Bishop and without being asked for any assurances regarding lifestyle. In addition, he said that he had initially declined to be considered for the post of Dean but that, after being pressed to reconsider, had agreed to allow his name to go forward for interview on the understanding that “this is who I was and also that this would be what would be happening”.

While civil partnership is not marriage and does not necessarily involve same- sex sexual expression, there is a very wide perception that it is a form of gay marriage, and perceptions are, of course, often as important as facts. No doubt for this reason, and also because the Christian ethical aspect of same-sex expression is theologically highly contentious, Church of England bishops ask clergy entering civil partnerships to give an undertaking that their relationship is celibate. Differing views on this subject have co-existed in a relatively settled way in the Church of Ireland during the whole inter-Anglican debate over recent years, but what has now developed jeopardises that situation. While those on one side see an advance for gay rights in the Church, those on the other side feel that there has been an unacceptable, unilateral move on the subject. There is thus a sense of ‘log-jam’, and it is dangerous.

This is a time both for an honest speaking of minds and for action that displays Christian grace. Without openness, matters cannot really be confronted; without grace, the Church is untrue to itself.

Regular central meetings of the Church of Ireland are due to be held shortly and the Archbishop of Armagh has indicated that the subject in question will be considered by the Bishops in the near future. The Church now needs a breathing space and the relevant bodies should be allowed the opportunity to reflect, with urgency, leading to the best steps that can be taken to guard the Church of Ireland’s unity in truth and holiness.

The same link also contains (scroll down more) a number of letters to the editor on this topic.

Today, there are reports in the Portadown Times of a further statement from ten clergy: Clerics unite against civil partnership.


YouGov@Cambridge on Religion

Earlier this year YouGov@Cambridge did a census of British life and attitudes, using a representative sample of adult Britons. Some of the questions were on religion, and British Religion in Numbers (BRIN) has published this summary of the results: YouGov@Cambridge on Religion. It starts:

40% of adults professed no religion, 55% were Christian and 5% of other faiths – age made a major difference, with only 38% of the 18-34s being Christian and 53% having no religion, whereas for the over-55s the figures were 70% and 26% respectively.

BRIN’s conclusion is:

All in all, these data point to a society in which religion is increasingly in retreat and nominal. With the principal exception of the older age groups, many of those who claim some religious allegiance fail to underpin it by a belief in God or to translate it into regular prayer or attendance at a place of worship. People in general are more inclined to see the negative than the positive aspects of religion, and they certainly want to keep it well out of the political arena.

The full data set is available here.


AMiE explains more of its plan to subvert the CofE

Updated again Monday

The Anglican Mission in England has published an article by Vinay Samuel and Chris Sugden titled AMIE is a game-changer.

The ordinations of three young Englishmen by the Archbishop of Kenya in June and the launch of the Anglican Mission in England was a “game-changer”. It marked a turning point after four and a half years of discussions with and proposals to Lambeth Palace. These discussions were to seek a way of providing effective Episcopal oversight to those for whom this had become problematic in the Church of England.

The launch of AMIE and the establishment of its panel of bishops indicated that we would no longer play the game of Church of England politics as defined by the Church of England Establishment.

The rules of the Establishment are premised on the fact that they have the luxury of time. They hold all the cards. All they have to do is to sit where they are. Their main tactic is to weaken the orthodox ranks in two ways: by co-opting some of the orthodox into their number and second by suggesting that there is such a significant divergence of views among the orthodox that they have neither coherence nor cohesion…

The first comment on this article has appeared at Episcopal Cafe where Nick Knisely has written Speaking frankly about the Anglican Mission in England.

…Much of this is familiar to people who remember the first moves of the AMIA movement here in the US back in 2000 and the subsequent irregular ordinations of Chuck Murphy and John Rodgers to the episcopate. This latest essay makes clear that the new organization in England is also planning to ignore the rules of the Anglican Communion when they get in the way of their goals.

It will be interesting to see how the arc of this storyline parallels that of the Episcopal Church’s experience with their dissident voices over the last decade.

Lesley Crawley offers AMiE – An explanation

Vinay Samuel and Chris Sugden (pictured here with Chris on the left) have written on the AMiE web site an extremely schismatic piece, explaining what AMiE (Anglican Mission in England or St Augustine Society) is trying to achieve:

  • “It has a different view of being Anglican which embraces a global Anglican identity based on the Bible rather than a technical institutional identity.”
  • “It has a different view of episcopacy…”
  • “It has a different view of women in ministry…”
  • “we will remain Anglican but not on the current terms of the CofE establishment…

So lets get this straight – the Church of England, through General Synod (of which Chris Sugden is a member) has determined its view on episcopacy, women’s ministry and the determination of Anglicanism.

Normally when people belong to an organisation with which they disagree they leave it. But not in this case – why is it that AMIE wish to remain in the Church of England if they have such a low opinion of it?

Colin Coward offers Which game is AMIE playing?

…The astonishing thing in the statement issued by Chris Sugden and Vinay Samuel about AMIE being a game-changer is that God doesn’t get a look-in until paragraph 9, and gets just that one mention – AMIE will follow the calling to mission wherever God leads. Even more astonishing for an organisation that claims the Biblical and theological high ground is that Jesus doesn’t get mentioned at all…

I know this is an audacious proposal, but I’d like to call Chris Sugden and Vinay Samuel back to the reading of the Bible and discover there a complex narrative of humankind’s experience of and relationship with the God who calls and reveals, tenderly, intimately, infinitely in love.

Jonathan Clark offers The Anglican Mission in England

…I’m not prone to getting seriously cross, but the tendentious mis-representation of the Church put out by AMiE in their recent statement has brought me close to the brink. It’s not just that they want to set up a church based on the myth of doctrinal purity, nor that they seem to want to do so from within the Church of england, rather than doing the decent thing and leaving. It’s that they have the temerity to claim that they are the true inheritors of Anglican identity.

No-one with any knowledge of history could claim that the Anglican history has been characterised solely by the desire for peace and inclusivity. There have always been plenty of people who wished to purify it of those who were different. But they have never quite succeeded, at least not up till now.The DNA of Anglicanism has been too much wound together with the geography of dioceses and parishes, with the knowledge that we were the church for all the people of the place, if they wished to come to us. That’s what we’re for. We’re a church full of diversity, for a diverse nation. That is the Anglican mission in England – always has been, still is…



Lucy Chumbley writes for the Daily Episcopalian that Isaac and Ishmael were brothers.

Michael Potemra writes for the National Review about a sermon given by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori last Sunday: Serendipity at St. John the Divine.

Robert W Prichard writes for The Living Church about The Anglican Communion: A Brief History Lesson.

Simon Jenkins (the editor of Ship of Fools) writes The resurrection goes to court.

The Tablet has this editorial: Dr Williams’ dilemma.

Gary Gutting writes for The New York Times: Beyond ‘New Atheism’.


Same-sex Marriage

This morning’s papers are reporting that the UK government will begin a formal consultation on equal civil marriage for same-sex couples with a view to making the necessary legislative changes before the next general election.

Alan Travis in The Guardian Gay and lesbian marriage to be considered in spring legal review
“Consultation will only cover civil marriage for same-sex couples, not religious weddings – nor heterosexual civil partnerships.”

Christopher Hope in The Telegraph Gays to be given right to marry
“Plans to give same-sex couples the right to marry will be published next year, ministers have announced.”

Jonathan Brown in The Independent Hope for new law to allow gay marriage

Daniel Martin and Tim Shipman in the Mail Online Gay marriage ‘to be made legal in Britain by 2015’

Gavin Cordon in The Scotsman Same-sex marriage may be on statute book soon


Promises — kept, broken or never made?

The Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod (GRAS) published a report earlier this week: Promises – kept, broken or never made? by Rosalind Rutherford. In their press release GRAS says

A report released today provides an insightful analysis of the promises made to opponents of women’s ordination as priests. As the Church of England moves towards legislating for women bishops, opponents are appealing to promises made in the past they claim have been broken. GRAS, the campaigning group for an end to gender discrimination in the Church of England, published the report which seeks to set the record straight over claims made in the debate around provision for those opposed to women’s ordination as bishops.

The Revd Rosalind Rutherford, Team Vicar in the Basingstoke Team Ministry and author of the report, says,

“My research reveals what was actually proposed and promised when the legislation was debated in General Synod in 1993 and shows that these promises have been kept. I have also identified a case in which commitments made to preserve church unity have been overstepped, in an attempt to create a separate diocese for opponents to women’s ordination.”

The report comes as the Church of England discusses how to implement the 2010 General Synod vote to move towards the ordination of women as Bishops. The legislation is being discussed by representatives across the Church’s 44 dioceses, requiring the approval of a majority of diocesan synods. So far all 15 dioceses who have debated the proposed legislation have voted in favour.

Ed Thornton writes about, and summarises, the report in today’s Church Times: No promises were broken, says GRAS.

A new report published by the Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod (GRAS) says that promises made to opponents of women’s ordination “have not been broken”. Traditionalists should be confident that provisions in the draft legislation for women bishops will be upheld, it argues…


Civil Partnership: Changing Attitude Ireland responds

Updated Tuesday morning

Changing Attitude Ireland has published the following statement:

Changing Attitude Ireland Responds to Dean Gordon’s Civil Partnership and Resulting Statements in the Media

Firstly, Changing Attitude Ireland would like to extend its hearty congratulations to Dean Tom Gordon and his partner on their civil partnership, and wish them God’s continued blessing on their life together as it enters a new phase.

We would also like to commend them on their courage. It is never easy to be a path-breaker, and some of the reaction to the news of their partnership was singularly lacking in charity; it must have been quite bruising to be on the receiving end of it. We assure them of our gratitude and our prayers.

In the Church of Ireland, we have always lived with profound differences in our understanding of issues of significant theological weight, such as the nature of God’s revelation in Holy Scripture and our understanding of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. We have lived with significant differences in our approach to personal sexual morality, for example in our approach to divorce and remarriage. Despite these differences, relations within our Church have always been characterised by tolerance, charity and good humour.

The decision of a priest in the Church to enter into a civil partnership is certainly of no more theological significance, and arguably of considerably less, than other issues where the Church of Ireland has accommodated diversity with mutual generosity and grace.

We are therefore saddened and perplexed by the joint statements released by four Conservative Evangelical and Charismatic groups following the announcement of Dean Gordon’s civil partnership. These have only served to raise the temperature within the Church of Ireland, and have not contributed to reasoned discussion; and their content raises a number of other concerns.

Dean Gordon’s partnership of 20 years has been widely known in the Church of Ireland for almost that entire period. These statements have not been a consequence of a Church of Ireland clergyman living in a same-sex partnership per se, but of a Church of Ireland clergyman choosing to formalise that partnership in law.

The attitude of the four Conservative Evangelical and Charismatic groups seems, therefore, to be that it is alright to be in a same-sex relationship as long as one is not public about it. Previous generations of gay people in Ireland were forced to hide their love for fear of prison. When Irish society has become overwhelmingly tolerant of homosexuality, it is distressing that these groups seem primarily interested in perpetuating a culture of secrecy in the Church.

The intrusive, public, questioning of Dean Gordon’s private life in the two statements displayed incredible arrogance and poor taste. More seriously than that, it seems to violate the Scriptural command to turn judgement first on ourselves before we judge our neighbour. It also displayed un-Christlike double standards – it is inconceivable that the private life of any other clergyperson in the Church of Ireland would be subject to such impertinent prurience.

But this is only the tip of an iceberg of an unhealthy obsession with the subject of homosexuality from Conservative Evangelical groups in the Church of Ireland. Seven of the eight statements published on the homepage of the Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy, for example, concern the issue of homosexuality. As Christians, we worry that this elevates dogmatic legalism above spreading the good news of salvation in Christ. Those looking in from outside the Church are more likely to see a weird fixation on what gay men and women get up to in the privacy of their own homes.

The people of this island, especially our young people, are fearful of the future, cynical about church and state leaders who promised much but betrayed their promises, and unwilling to give credibility to anyone who has not earned it. Our people have seen church leaders who imposed their view of sexual morality on others and bullied and abused those who disagreed revealed to be corrupt and corrupting. Is an obsession with homosexuality really likely to bring them to Christ?

There are also issues of personal sexual morality where those on all wings of the Church could work together. The advertising industry sexualises our children at a frighteningly young age. In this internet age, the temptation to look at pornography is only a mouse-click away, and yet we do nothing to build up our people to resist. Indeed, these are issues where we could work with groups who are often deeply cynical about the Church, such as secular feminists, and break down misconceptions that frustrate mission. With so many areas where we could work together, it is all the more sad that some seem intent on driving people apart.


Changing Attitude Ireland is a Church of Ireland group with ecumenical friends, campaigning for the full acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and intersex people in the Church.

updates Tuesday

Church News Ireland has published a report of the radio discussion on Sunday Sequence last Sunday, see BBC airing of clergy and civil partnerships issue.

The Belfast Telegraph has published Bishop under fire over cleric’s gay marriage.


Women Bishops – diocesan debates

Updated Sunday morning to add voting figures.
Updated Monday morning to enter correct total of abstentions on the main motion.

Since we last reported on diocesan debates on the women bishops legislation Hereford, Bristol, Worcester and Leicester have all voted in favour. The voting figures are all on the WATCH website.

Sheffield had its debate today. It too voted in favour, although in the house of clergy the majority was only one vote, with five abstentions.

The Sheffield synod also passed a motion “to ensure that those unable on theological grounds to accept the ministry of women bishops are able to receive Episcopal oversight from a bishop with authority (i.e. ordinary jurisdiction) conferred under the Measure rather than by delegation from a Diocesan Bishop”.

Once we have confirmed voting figures I will add them here.


The voting figures are now available on the Sheffield diocesan website and are copied below.

On the main motion

That this Synod approve the proposals embodied in the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure and in draft Amending Canon No30.”

the voting figures were:

  For Against Abstentions
Total 37 28 6
Clergy 13 12 5
Laity 23 16 1
Bishops 1 0 0

And on the following motion “to ensure that those unable on theological grounds to accept the ministry of women bishops are able to receive Episcopal oversight from a bishop with authority (i.e. ordinary jurisdiction) conferred under the Measure rather than by delegation from a Diocesan Bishop” they were:

  For Against Abstentions
Total 42 23 4
Clergy 22 8 0
Laity 20 15 3
Bishops 0 0 1

Williams to quit?

Updated again on Sunday evening

Tomorrow’s Sunday Telegraph will publish this article by Jonathan Wynne-Jones: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan William set to quit next year.
“The Archbishop of Canterbury is planning to resign next year, nearly a decade before he is due to step down, it can be revealed.”


It seems only fair to point out that some of this information appeared in the Guardian diary column written by Stephen Bates a few weeks ago, scroll down to second paragraph.

…Word is that John Sentamu, the archbishop of York – who has been severely ill with appendicitis this summer – would be ambitious for the job, a thought to make many bishops blanch, since they rate his abilities rather lower than he does himself. And it is said that Richard Chartres, bishop of London and third in line of seniority, might back Sentamu if only to make sure he is not appointed, and Chartres himself would then gain the primacy. Positively Trollopean and surely wrong-headed, except that it is being circulated by some senior clergy…

And Riazat Butt now reports that Bishop of London denies suggesting Rowan Williams should retire early.

The bishop of London has denied suggesting it would be beneficial if the archbishop of Canterbury were to retire early, after it was claimed he was briefing against the most senior cleric in the Church of England…



Andrew Brown writes for The Guardian about Nadine Dorries’s abortion bill has exposed our squishy utilitarianism.
“Abortion is defended on the basis it diminishes suffering, but the greatest good is served by adopting unwanted babies.”

Dick Gross writes in The Sydney Morning Herald about Apostates for Evensong.

Paul Handley writes for The Guardian that The miracle at Cana’s wedding feast shows the real value of friendship.
“A happy, successful wedding can be a true test of reliance on friends – and God.”

Victor Udoewa writes for The Huffington Post about Doubt: A Scientific And Religious Perspective.


Anglican priest in Zimbabwe freed; bishop robbed

Updated Saturday morning

ACNS report the latest development: As Zimbabwe priest is freed, bishop is robbed of communications equipment.

The Bishop of Harare the Rt Revd Dr Nicholas Chad Gandiya said he is suspicious of a robbery at his house in which only money and communications equipment were taken.

On the same day that international media carried the news of the arrest and imprisonment of Anglican priest Reverend Julius Zimbudzana and of the impending visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Zimbabwe, four men forced their way into the bishop’s home on Thursday evening. They ordered him and his family to lie on the floor and then proceeded to ransack the house.

Bp Chad said, “We gave them all the money we had between us all which came to $600 to $800. They threatened to kill us if we did not give them money. They searched my son’s bedroom and ours for money and any valuables they could get. They literally trashed our bedroom. They took my laptop and my son’s two laptops and all our cell phones.

“They shoved us all into the bathroom and tried to lock us in but it did not work. They threatened to load all our property in cars and take it all away. We rejoice and thank God that none of us were hurt. We simply did what they told us to do.

“I am however, very suspicious of this robbery. It seems what they were after were just the laptops and phones.”

He added that the robbery means that his ability to communicate is now, of course, much more limited than before.

The robbery took place only hours after the priest in charge at St Mary’s Anglican Church, Reverend Julius Zimbudzana, was finally released from jail after being arrested on a charge of taking over Anglican church property worth over US$1.5 million…

Saturday morning updates

Mail Online Archbishop of Canterbury risks church split as he seeks to meet Mugabe

Telegraph More Anglican churches and properties seized in Zimbabwe

SW Radio Africa Mugabe’s Bishop Kunonga evicts nurses, school head and priests and also OUTSIDE LOOKING IN – A letter from the diaspora

Council on Foreign Relations Archbishop of Canterbury Wants to Meet with Mugabe

1 Comment

Anglican priest arrested in Zimbabwe

Updated Friday

Since the October visit of Archbishop Williams was announced, there have been further developments in Zimbabwe.

ACNS Anglican Bishop of Harare: “Priest’s arrest for ‘theft’ of US$1.5 million is baseless”

Highlands Police today (Tuesday 6 September 2011) arrested Reverend Julius Zimbudzana, the priest in charge at St Mary’s Anglican Church for allegedly taking over Anglican church property worth over US$1.5 million as police intensified their persecution of the Anglican Church, hiding behind unjust court rulings.

Dr Nicholas Chad Gandiya, the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Harare in the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) immediately dismissed the charge as persecution of the Anglicans under the CPCA by the police, acting on the instructions of the ex-communicated Dr Nolbert Kunonga.

“That [accusation against Revd Julius] is unfounded, baseless and without foundation,” Bishop Gandiya said. “This is very strange indeed as no parish in our diocese (perhaps the exception of the Cathedral Parish) has properties worth that much. He has been refused bail. The police claim they have clear instructions not to release him…”

Other reports:

Church of England Newspaper Harare eviction order appealed

SW Radio Africa via Anglican Priest Arrested By Police in Highlands

Telegraph Anglican priest arrested in Zimbabwe as Archbishop of Canterbury plans visit and also Archbishop of Canterbury ‘to meet’ Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe

New Zimbabwe Archbishop of Canterbury to meet Mugabe

Friday updates

The Church Times has this report: Zimbabwe: priest arrested for ‘taking’ his own parish which also includes this:

…The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Lang­staff, has recently returned from a trip to the diocese of Harare, which has a link with Rochester.

Bishop Langstaff attended a dio­cesan conference with clergy, and said that it was a “slightly surreal ex­peri­ence, as off-stage we knew clergy were routinely being persecuted” and churches’ property being disposses­sed. “Gradually, all of the clergy will be ousted from their own property. But, although Kunonga has the buildings, he has no people. He is only interested in making money.

“Congregations are now meeting in borrowed premises and tents, and are growing. I went to one church meeting in a tent. There was a very positive atmosphere, and people feel they are growing spiritually and are more committed — and feel good will come out of it. The congrega­tions are in really good heart, but are concerned for their clergy.”

BBC Archbishop will find Zimbabwe Church in chaos

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, will find his followers dismayed and a Church in chaos when he visits next month…

And the Telegraph has an editorial column: Christian courageous

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is right to expose himself to risk by visiting Zimbabwe, where many Christians practise their faith in fear, and meeting its President, Robert Mugabe…