Thinking Anglicans

General Synod: Emergency debate on violence in Nigeria

There is a change to the agenda for Wednesday morning. See GS 1861 which contains a background briefing note by the Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby.

Recent violence in Nigeria
In view of the recent serious violence in Nigeria the Bishop of Durham travelled to the country at short notice on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury to meet members of the Anglican Church in Nigeria and others caught up in the deteriorating situation there.

Following the Bishop’s return we have decided, in the exercise of our powers under Standing Order 4 (b) in relation to urgent or other especially important business, to direct the addition to the agenda for the February Group of sessions of a short debate. This will enable the Synod to hear from the Bishop of Durham, to reflect on the attached briefing note and, if it agrees, to pass a short motion that the Bishop will move on our behalf in the following terms:

“That this Synod, gravely concerned at the desperate plight of Christian communities in parts of Nigeria as described in GS 1861, request the British Government to do all it can to support those in Nigeria seeking to protect religious minorities of all faiths and enable them to practise their religion without fear.”

+ Rowan Cantuar: + Sentamu Ebor:
3 February 2012

1 Comment

LGB&T Anglican Coalition Act of Witness

The LGB&T Anglican Coalition will hold an Act of Witness at General Synod on Thursday 9 February. The poster advertising this event can be downloaded here.

1 Comment

Procedures when debating diocesan synod motions

On Wednesday General Synod will be holding a debate on two diocesan synod motions relating to women bishops. The details of this have already been explained here.

There were several other dioceses that passed resolutions in support of the Archbishops’ Amendment, although many more dioceses rejected such an amendment. However, it turns out that all those who did will get some preferential treatment in the debate, as revealed by this Question and Answer from tonight’s Questions session. As this was the very last question on the list, it was not reached during the session, which is why I am reporting it now.

The Revd Hugh Lee (Oxford) to ask the Clerk to the Synod:

Q. As it is normal practice, where more than one diocese has submitted a DSM in identical or similar terms, for the diocese(s) concerned to be invited to nominate someone who could speak on behalf of their diocesan synod in the General Synod debate on the DSM and then to draw this to the attention of the person chairing the debate, is it also normal practice to invite the diocese(s) whose synods had rejected a motion in identical or similar terms to those of the DSM to nominate someon who could speak on behalf of their diocesan synod in the debate on the DSM and then to draw this to the attention of the person chairing the debate?

Dr Colin Podmore to reply as Clerk to the Synod:

A. The reason for the practice to which the question refers is that a motion moved at the instance of a diocesan synod can only be moved once in the same, or a substantially similar, form, yet it would be discourteous to a diocesan synod that submitted a motion listed in Special Agenda IV if it (or a motion in a substantially similar form) were debated without a representative being called to speak.

That consideration does not apply in the case of motions that diocesan synods have rejected, or have passed without submitting them for inclusion in Special Agenda IV. However, individual members may of course seek to speak in the debate.

In any event, the overriding duty of the Chair in all debates is to ensure that there is a balance of speakers for and against the motion and any amendments.


General Synod – Monday's business

The Church of England General Synod opened this afternoon. I will update this page with reports of the Synod’s business during the day. The full agenda is here.

There is a live audio link from Synod here.

The Church of England’s own summary of the day’s business is here.

Monday’s Business

Order Paper 1

The Archbishop of Canterbury moved a Loyal Address to the Queen to mark her Diamond Jubilee; Synod members were all in favour.

Synod debated the report of the Business Committee. This is largely an opportunity for members to complain about items that are not on the agenda, eg same-sex marriage, and how the debate on the Manchester and Southward motions on women bishops has been arranged.

The dates of Synod sessions in 2014-2015 were agreed. I have posted these dates here.

The Archbishops’ nomination of Rebecca Swinson for a five-year term on the Archbishops’ Council was accepted. Andrew Britton’s membership of the Council was extended for twelve months to 30 September 2012.

Independent Commission on Assisted Dying

Mrs Sarah Finch (London) moved her private member’s motion:

That this Synod express its concern that the Independent Commission on Assisted Dying is insufficiently independent to be able to develop proposals which will properly protect the interests of vulnerable and disabled people.

Mr Philip Fletcher (Archbishops’ Council) proposed this amendment, which was carried.

After the words “That this Synod” insert “(a)”.
After the words “Assisted Dying” leave out “is” and insert “was”.
After the words “disabled people” insert
(b) endorse the responses to the Commission on Assisted Dying referred to in paragraphs 7 and 8 of GS 1851B;
(c) affirm the intrinsic value of every human life and express its support for the current law on assisted suicide as a means of contributing to a just and compassionate society in which vulnerable people are protected; and
(d) celebrating the considerable improvement in the quality of care of the dying brought about by the hospice and palliative care movements and by the input of clinicians, clergy and others, encourage the Church’s continued involvement in the wider agenda of the care of those approaching the end of their lives and the support of those caring form them.”.

The amended motion then read:

That this Synod
(a) express its concern that the Independent Commission on Assisted Dying was insufficiently independent to be able to develop proposals which will properly protect the interests of vulnerable and disabled people;
(b) endorse the responses to the Commission on Assisted Dying referred to in paragraphs 7 and 8 of GS 1851B;
(c) affirm the intrinsic value of every human life and express its support for the current law on assisted suicide as a means of contributing to a just and compassionate society in which vulnerable people are protected; and
(d) celebrating the considerable improvement in the quality of care of the dying brought about by the hospice and palliative care movements and by the input of clinicians, clergy and others, encourage the Church’s continued involvement in the wider agenda of the care of those approaching the end of their lives and the support of those caring form them.

The amended motion was carried with 284 votes in favour and none against. There were 4 recorded abstentions.

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke in this debate and has published this summary of his speech.

Background papers for this debate: GS 1851A and GS 1851B

Synod then moved onto the final business of the day: Questions.

Some live blogs from Synod

General Synod blog
Jeremy Fletcher
Riazat Butt


reports of Bishop of Salisbury interviews

There have been several recent reports of an interview in The Times given by the Bishop of Salisbury, Nick Holtam. The original newspaper articles remain behind a paywall. The bishop also spoke on the BBC radio programme Sunday yesterday.

The BBC programme can be found here (available on iPlayer or as podcast).

The Diocese of Salisbury has these reports:
Briefing note following the interview published in The Times on Friday 3 February
Bishop urges open debate – Bishop Nicholas said on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ programme this week that there are more views on civil partnerships in the church than have been expressed officially.

Changing Attitude has The Bishop of Salisbury first to make public his support for gay marriage and Pete Broadbent predicts Synod will be talking about gay marriage in the tea room this week


Anglican Covenant: opposition grows in England

Updated 11 Feb to add Gloucester voting figures

On Saturday both Derby and Gloucester dioceses voted decisively to reject the proposed Anglican Covenant. Canterbury voted strongly in favour.

In Derby the voting was:

Bishops: 0 for, 1 against
Clergy: 1 for, 21 against, 2 abstentions
Laity: 2 for, 24 against, 2 abstentions

In Gloucester the voting was:

Bishops 1 for, 0 against, 1 abstention
Clergy: 16 for, 28 against, 1 abstention
Laity: 14 for, 28 against, 6 abstentions

Update: from the comments below, we now have figures for Canterbury:

Bishops: 1 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions
Clergy: 26 for, 14 against, 0 abstentions
Laity: 39 for, 13 against, 0 abstentions

Recently, the No Anglican Covenant Coalition announced the appointment of Oxford University Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, DD, as a Patron of the Coalition. The full press release is here (PDF).

…“Anglicanism was born in the Reformation’s rejection of an unwarranted and unhistorical over-centralization of ecclesiastical authority,” according to Professor MacCulloch. “This pernicious proposal of a Covenant (an unhappy choice of name if you know anything about our Church’s history) ignores the Anglican Communion’s
past, and seeks to gridlock the Anglican present at the cost of a truly Anglican future…

Also a paper written by Peter Doll, Canon Librarian of Norwich Cathedral, in support of the Covenant, was comprehensively critiqued by Jonathan Clatworthy and also by Lionel Deimel.


Petition: allow CofE clergy to bless civil partnerships in church

This petition has been organised by Changing Attitude:

House of Bishops and General Synod: Allow priests in the CofE to choose to bless civil partnerships in church

We support the growing number of Church of England clergy who wish to bless civil partnerships in their churches.

Many lesbian and gay Christians wish to have their civil partnerships registered in their parish church by their parish priest in the presence of their community. They wish to affirm their love and commitment in the presence of God in their spiritual home.

Since December it has been legally possible to bless civil partnerships on religious premises. It is time for the Church of England to openly affirm the love, ministry and fidelity of all LGBT people, supporting them in their journey in faith.

We ask the General Synod of the Church of England to allow churches wishing to register civil partnerships the freedom to do so under the new legislation.

We ask the House of Bishops to give clergy the freedom to register civil partnerships in church followed by a service of prayer and dedication.

For more background on this, see Changing Attitude launches petition to allow priests to bless civil partnerships in church and also this earlier article: London clergy challenge Civil Partnership ban.


Lords Spiritual: a problem of transparency and legitimacy

Scot Petersen has written at OpenDemocracy about the bishops in the House of Lords. See Lords Spiritual: a problem of transparency and legitimacy.

…For purposes of the upcoming synod debate, however, the following question by Baroness Young of Hornsey merits attention:

If someone says, in relation to the appointment of Bishops, that the Bishops come from a relatively narrow spectrum of society and that they have separate rules of appointment, separate discipline and no women, does not all that undermine the notion of legitimation either through democratic election or through a rigorous independent appointments procedure? (p. 14)

The archbishop’s response was a restatement of the passage quoted above. But recent events have shown that the episcopal appointments procedure is neither legitimate, rigorous nor independent. In fact, the appointments procedure, which is conducted in secret by the Crown Nominations Commission, is not fit for purpose. A single case study will illustrate the point…

The synod debate in question is discussed in this earlier TA article.


Early Day Motion on Women Bishops

An Early Day Motion has been filed in the House of Commons by Frank Field, MP.

Early day motion 2688

That this House welcomes the moves by the General Synod of the Church of England to pass legislation permitting women to be bishops; notes that the Synod has now concluded its consultation with the dioceses on the Women in the Episcopate: draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure; further welcomes the result of those consultations, with 42 out of 44 dioceses voting in favour; is encouraged by the overwhelming support shown by 85 per cent. of bishops, 76 per cent. of clergy and 77 per cent. of the laity voting in favour; encourages the House of Bishops to commend the Measure for final approval as currently drafted; and calls on Her Majesty’s Government to work with the governing authorities of the Church of England including the Archbishops’ Council, the House of Bishops and the General Synod to ensure that the express wishes of the overwhelming majority of those consulted across the Provinces of Canterbury and York are met by expeditiously tabling the Measure in Parliament for its approval.

A press release from Frank Field gives background information:




Simon Jenkins writes about his Epiphany in a bookshop. His article prompted this editorial at Anglicans Online.

Giles Fraser compares his new surroundings in the Guardian newsroom with his former workplace at St Paul’s Cathedral: Thinking Aloud podcast: a period of noisy reflection.
And in his weekly Church Times column he writes that Atheists can’t borrow the clothes of true faith.

Savi Hensman writes for Ekklesia about Women bishops and the church’s core purpose.

Martin Beckford in The Telegraph asks Will the Church of England ever find peace? “Arguments about women bishops will dominate public proceedings of the Synod, but gay marriage is one of the burning issues behind the scenes.”

Andrew Brown writes for The Guardian about Anglican Mainstream and the enemies of Christianity. “The anti-gay group deserves the censure it has received – unlike a small Evangelical Christian group in Bath.”


LGBTAC: 'Embrace Civil Partnerships' – Bishops told

Press Release from the LGB&T Anglican Coalition

‘Embrace Civil Partnerships’ – Bishops told.

2nd February 2012 – for immediate use

The time has come for a change in stance on Civil Partnerships is the message from pro-gay groups in the LGB&T Anglican Coalition.

In its submission to the House of Bishops review group on Civil Partnerships, (made public today) the Coalition calls on the Church of England to allow churches to register Civil Partnerships, authorise services of Thanksgiving and Dedication, and end the ban on Bishops in Civil Partnerships.

With over 47,000 Civil partnerships had been registered by the end of 2010, the submission notes that “As social attitudes towards those in same-sex relationships have become increasingly open and accepting, the Church of England is becoming increasingly isolated. This is in turn damaging both our mission and our ability to provide pastoral care to those in our parishes, congregations, and clergy.”

On offering Civil Partnerships in Parish Churches, the Coalition has already identified 95 churches who want to press ahead but General Synod would need to approve the application. Although negative statements have been made by the Church of England’s Press Office,

“the fact that there has been no possibility of discussion within the Church about whether individual churches should be allowed to register their for Civil Partnerships is in itself a retrograde position for the Church of England to be in.”

On services of Thanksgiving and Dedication, the Coalition has called for an experimental liturgy to be introduced in the same way that such services were permitted following marriage after divorce in the 1990’s.

“The present situation where services of blessing are proscribed and the creation of public liturgies deemed to be wrong, is creating pastoral tensions, ecclesiastical ambiguity, and a culture of double standards… As a minimum step, therefore, the Church should permit services of thanksgiving and dedication to take place in pastoral response to the large number of civil partnerships. To refuse to respond in such a way would confirm fears that the present ban is motivated by prejudice rather than theology or religious belief. “

On the current ban on appointments of openly gay clergy to be Bishops the Coalition calls for an immediate end to the moratorium:

“One of the most pressing needs is to see an end to the moratorium on appointment of bishops in civil partnerships even if celibate. There is no justification for the current moratorium and it should be repealed immediately.”

The submission also warns against putting up barriers to such appointments:

“Furthermore, any attempt to deter or exclude such candidates by singling them out for intrusive questions is not only unjust and hurtful to the individuals concerned but also damaging to mission and ministry.”

In response to the submission, the House of Bishops review group has invited members of the Coalition to meet with them to discuss the issues further.

The Coalition is also organising an Act of Witness at General Synod drawing attention to the many hundreds of LGB&T clergy who minister in the Church of England despite the discrimination and suspicion which they often suffer. The Act of Witness will take place on Thursday 9th February, 8:30-10am in Deans Yard, Westminster.

The full text of the submission is available as a PDF file from here.


more reactions to the Sentamu interview

There is a news report in the Church Times of reactions to the Archbishop of York’s interview by Madeleine Davies headlined Sentamu’s words on gay marriage backed by MPs.

Benny Hazlehurst, who is quoted in that news story, has published God, Marriage and the State giving more background on how marriage has changed.

For more on the demonstration outside York Minster, see local press reports here, and here.

The Church Times has a leader: In the end, it comes down to a word.

…It is good that the C of E is examining its earlier reserva­tions about civil partnerships. Experience has proved them to be serious affairs, with many qualities — dedication, nurture, love, faithfulness — that look like marriage. Libby Purves has quoted the saying: “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck… it probably is a duck… People who want to marry and treat one another properly should not be made second-class.” If Dr Sentamu and others wish to argue differently, they need to make a stronger case for discriminating against same-sex couples than merely appealing to “tradition and history”.

The Spectator has splashed out with a cover story headlined Sentamu for Canterbury!


Two area bishops appointed in Southwark diocese

From the Diocese of Southwark: Two new Area Bishops for Southwark Diocese.

Downing Street has announced this morning that the Rev Jonathan Clark has been appointed the 10th Bishop of Croydon and the Venerable Dr Michael Ipgrave OBE has been appointed the 12th Bishop of Woolwich. The Revd Jonathan Clark succeeds the Rt Rev Nick Baines who is now the 10th Bishop of Bradford and the Venerable Dr Michael Ipgrave OBE succeeds the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun who is now the 10th Bishop of Southwark. They will be consecrated in Southwark Cathedral on 21 March 2012…


Full transcript of Sentamu interview with Telegraph

The Archbishop of York has published this transcript of his interview with Martin Beckford of the Daily Telegraph.


London clergy challenge Civil Partnership ban

Updated again Friday morning

A group of clergy in the Diocese of London have signed a letter calling for the Church of England to reverse its ban on civil partnership ceremonies being held in churches.

This is reported fully today in The Times but that material is all behind a paywall. Here are some other reports:

BBC Church of England clergy challenge civil partnership stance

AFP Church of England clergy rebel on gay ceremonies

Mail Online Nearly 100 clergy revolt over Church ban on ‘gay weddings’

Text of letter to The Times:

We, the undersigned, believe that on the issue of holding civil partnership ceremonies in Church of England churches incumbents / priests in charge should be accorded the same rights as they enjoy at present in the matter of officiating at the marriage of divorced couples in church. Namely, that this should be a matter for the individual conscience of the incumbent / priest in charge.

We would respectfully request that our views in this regard are fully represented in Synod.


Changing Attitude has now published the full list of signatures to the letter, along with a covering letter sent to the clergy members of General Synod from the London diocese. See Signatories on the letter to The Times and clergy proctors of London Diocese.

The Bishop of London has issued this: Clergy letter about civil partnerships in our churches

I am of course aware of the letter that a number of clergy in this Diocese has signed regarding civil partnerships in our churches. Their request to General Synod is based on very proper pastoral concern and it is right that this matter continues to be discussed openly…

The Church Times has a report: London clergy seek right to choose together with the full list of signatories.

…The letter challenging this ban originated at St Luke’s, Chelsea, where the Rector is Prebendary Brian Leathard. On Wednesday, he said that his motivation had been pastoral: “More and more people are coming to us, and feel that we are turning them away without being able to hear their story. They have a genuine desire for the Church’s fullest ministry, for us to bless their loving relationships.”

His request is for “something akin to the remarriage of divorcees when, under guidelines and in consultation with the bishop, priests act in accordance with their con­sciences”. The letter asks for permis­sive legislation: “There will be priests who do not want to do this, and I would respect their desire not to.”

He disagreed with the view that the present system spared the clergy from the responsibility of rejecting individual couples. “For those of us at the front line, there is no sense of hiding behind a blanket ban: we are still turning people away.”

St Luke’s has not approached all the London clergy; none the less, Prebendary Leathard said: “This is a substantial proportion. We should like our General Synod represent­atives to hear this groundswell, and represent those views in the Synod.”

Guardian Riazat Butt Bishop of London dismisses calls for civil partnerships in churches