Thinking Anglicans

Two views of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans

The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme had an excellent segment on the recent conference, by Gavin Drake. Available as a podcast from this page. The segment starts about 4 minutes into the programme.

Here’s the BBC blurb:

The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, meeting in London, say they’ll offer alternative spiritual leadership to dissaffected members of the Church of England. They also want an alternative to the Archbishop of Canterbury as chairman of the Anglican primates meeting. Is this a way of keeping the Anglican communion together or splitting it asunder?

Paul Bagshaw has written an analysis on his blog, at Reading the FoCA tea leaves. He concludes the article thus:

…Therefore there will be no schism in the sense of one organization separating itself out from another on a certain day, followed immediately by either or both bodies setting up new structures and legal identities.

Instead there will be a steady continued tearing of the fabric as distinct ecclesial units (parishes, dioceses and provinces as well as individuals) align themselves explicitly with the FoCA. The legalities will depend on the law of each country (property and pensions being governed by secular law) and on the ecclesiastical structure of each Church.

I anticipate that the FoCA churches will thrive, purposeful and enthusiastic for at least the medium-term foreseeable future. It will thus be self-legitimating.

On the other hand I guess the remaining churches will flounder for a while before accepting the reality that there will be no accommodation between the two Anglican entities. Then they too will revise their own relationships, structures and communications and will settle into the new geography of Anglicanism where, in most places, there will be one dominant Anglican Church and a minority owing allegiance to its mirror image.

I don’t think who is appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury will make much difference to this process – except, perhaps, to the timing.


Bishop Mark Lawrence & Bishop John Guernsey

From Titusonenine:

A Crucial Apr. 25 Presentation—Bishop Mark Lawrence, S. Carolina, and ACNA Bishop John Guernsey

The Guildford Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship invite you to an An evening with Bishop Mark Lawrence (TEC Bishop of South Carolina) and Bishop John Guernsey (ACNA Bishop of Mid-Atlantic) On 25th April 2012 at 8 pm At Holy Trinity Claygate, Church Road, Claygate, Surrey, KT10 0JP

We are delighted that Bishop Mark Lawrence, the Episcopal Church Bishop for the Diocese of South Carolina, and Bishop John Guernsey, the Anglican Church in North America Bishop for the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, have agreed

  • to bring us up to date with developments amongst Anglicans in North America;
  • to tell us why some orthodox Anglicans have considered it appropriate to work within TEC whilst others have considered it appropriate to work within ACNA; and
  • to explain to us how people within the two organisations who hold similar views are generally able to continue to support each other in spreading the Gospel.

Kendall Harmon adds:

Please note this is is a long evening of some 1 hour and 40 minutes. During the introduction the following people are mentioned—it is opened by Philip Plyming, vicar of Holy Trinity, Claygate, and then chairman, Stephen Hofmeyr, QC. There is then a message from Bishop Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford given by the Ven. Julian Henderson, Archdeacon of Dorking. Both Mark Lawrence (who goes first) and John Guernsey then give presentations of some twenty minutes which takes you to approximately one hour. After that there are questions from those present to the two bishops about the matters at hand. Archdeacon Julian Henderson then offers brief concluding remarks.


More on the government's equal marriage proposals

Last week, the Church Times carried this article by Linda Peace: Treat them like other couples

AS A committed, Bible-believing Chris­tian, I am ashamed and ap­palled by the debate about gay marriage. My views are not those of my son, who is gay and who is now an atheist, but result from some ten years of reading, prayer, dis­cussion, and serious thought.

My son came out at the age of 20, having spent much of his previous ten years knowing that he was not growing up to feel attracted to girls, but to boys. I don’t think he even knew the word “gay” at the be­ginning of this process, but he knew that he was growing up differently.

I am now convinced that homo­sexuality is a developmental condition that is not amenable to change at any psychological level; it is not a matter of choice; and is something that has caused many boys and girls to live in shame and fear from their early teens onwards. I know that my son had no access to other gay people through his adolescence, and that it was only at university that he was able to talk this through with hetero­sexual friends, finally coming to the conclusion that he was gay.

We, the Church, over centuries have perpetrated a great wickedness on these children and developing adults, forcing many to live by deceit, in failed heterosexual marriages, and even in an inability to form rela­tionships because of their own private hell.

At least the gay-rights cam­paigners have had the courage to stand up and work on some sort of social change. It is a pity that the Church did not do this in the first place…

The Bishop of Norwich and his suffragans have written a letter about the consultation. See Pastoral letter on marriage to all clergy. It concludes:

…We believe it important to avoid ill-considered and bellicose reactions to the Government’s proposals and to think through how such reactions are heard by gay people themselves. It is surely to the benefit of the whole of our society if gay people live in faithful, stable and publicly recognised relationships. Indeed, some gay relationships are a model of faithfulness compared with the serial monogamy so prevalent among heterosexual people. Civil partnerships were introduced less than six years ago and seem to have won rapid acceptance in wider society. They are frequently referred to as ‘marriage’ but there is a significant distinction since the registration of a civil partnership is not accompanied by any formal promises as in marriage. The Government proposes retaining civil partnerships (but not extending them beyond same sex relationships) as well as introducing same sex marriage. The rapidity of these developments makes us wonder how well considered they are.

We are sympathetic to the full inclusion of gay people in our society and the provision of appropriate means to enable them to maintain stable and lasting relationships. We believe, however, that the redefinition of marriage itself in the law of the land raises other important issues about the nature of marriage itself. The way in which the Government is going about it appears to create a new and ill-defined phenomenon called religious marriage, a novelty liable to generate more problems than the present legislation will solve.

Elizabeth Fry wrote at the Independent that Same-sex couples who want to embrace marriage should be a cause for rejoicing in the Christian Church

…So we should take immense hope from the fact that some members of the Anglican church are taking the lead in embracing change for once. It seems the church is beginning to recognise that change is inevitable and that if they are to continue their good work they will have to accept the change, just as they have with contraception and divorce. Such a loud voice from such an unexpected place only emphasises how the attitudes of society towards this issue are changing…


Anglican Covenant: final two diocesan synods

Updated with final diocesan synod vote (Newcastle)

This Saturday the final two English diocesan synods voted on the Anglican Covenant motion: Newcastle and York.

Newcastle: covenant rejected

Bishops: 2 for / 0 against
Clergy: 8 for / 18 against
Laity: 14 for / 15 against

York: covenant accepted

Bishops: 4 for / 0 against
Clergy: 26 for / 5 against
Laity: 38 for / 5 against / 1 abstention

The final tally of Church of England votes is that 26 diocesan synods voted against the covenant and 18 in favour.



Huffington Post has two articles about a new translation of the Bible: ‘The Voice’: New Bible Translation Focuses On Dialogue by Bob Smietana and Taking ‘Jesus Christ’ Out of the Bible by Christian Piatt.

Theo Hobson writes in The Guardian Can liberal Christians please stop banging on about gayness?

Also in The Guardian Andrew Brown writes about The persistence of superstition in an irreligious Britain.


"Stay Together" says Bishop Greg Venables

The Church of Ireland Gazette has an audio interview this week with Bishop Greg Venables of Argentina.

The 22 minute interview can be heard via this page.

There is a major article based on this interview in this week’s Gazette, headlined Church of Ireland must stay together, Bishop Greg Venables tells Gazette. This is subscriber-only but here is an excerpt:

The Bishop of Argentina and former Primate of the Southern Cone, the Rt Revd Greg Venables, a leading theological conservative in global Anglicanism, told the Gazette last week that, should the General Synod adopt a liberal approach to the issue of same-sex relationships, those of a more conservative view should stand together but remain within the Church of Ireland, because their position was “the original Anglicanism – Prayer Book, Bible, original 39 Articles Anglicanism”.

Bishop Venables, who, along with Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, was visiting Ireland to address a ‘First Things’ evangelical conference held last Saturday (21st April) at the Jethro Centre in Lurgan, Co. Armagh, was speaking to the Gazette editor before the conference.

Bishop Venables said in the interview that if the forthcoming General Synod, which it is widely expected will address the issue of same-sex relationships, were to take a less strict approach to the subject, then “those that don’t agree have to review their position and ask themselves how they are going to respond to that situation, but do it in a collegial, consultative, gracious, united way”.

However, he also stressed the need, in such circumstances, for dialogue with those of different views on the subject.

Bishop Venables said that, in the context of the current controversy in the Church of Ireland over samesex relationships, “there must be discipline, there must be consequences, and there must also be a way for things to be put right … That implies repentance, that implies recognizing that something is wrong and repenting of what is wrong and putting things right in that way.”

He also spoke about the need for the Church generally to focus on fundamental issues, especially because of cultural shifts that had taken place in recent times, and commented on current Anglican Communion affairs, in particular in relation to the proposed Anglican Covenant.

The Bishop noted how two distinct ways of being Anglican had now emerged. The first held to scriptural authority and the second saw Christianity as “an ongoing development which is related to the Scriptures, but which isn’t founded on the Scriptures”, he said.


Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Leaders Conference Statement

The GAFCON conference at Battersea has concluded by issuing this press release: The movement begins its mission and this Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Leaders Conference Statement and Commitment (PDF).

From the press release:

…In a plenary address, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali concluded that the Anglican “Instruments of Unity” have failed dramatically and that the FCA is called to model an alternative way for the churches of the Anglican Communion to gather and relate to one another in such a way as to carry out the Great Commission in the coming decades.

In their final conference ‘Commitment’, the leaders resolved to work together in an ever-strengthening partnership, to stand by each other and to engage in a battle of ideas on behalf of the Biblical Gospel.

The next Global Anglican Future Conference was also announced. The event, with invitees including clergy and lay people, as well as bishops, is scheduled for May 2013.

From the Statement:

…We received from Anglican leaders accounts of terrorism leading to death and destruction in Nigeria, and of persecution and ostracism of believers in Islamic and Hindu societies; we heard from a Christian prolife and pro-marriage advocate who has been maligned by the secular media in England, with precious little support from the Church establishment. We heard numerous accounts from Anglican leaders around the world who have been harassed by their own bishops and fellow clergy for their Gospel witness, yet have been grateful for the stance of the FCA. We note that The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada are proceeding post-haste to approve same-sex blessing rites with total disregard for the conscience of their own members, for the moratoria mandated by the official Instruments of the Anglican Communion, and for the broken state of communion where more than half the world’s Anglicans are represented by the FCA…

And this:

…In a plenary address on “Jesus, the Lord of the Church and his Mission,” Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali noted that St Paul presents the church as an exalted communion known to God, the Jerusalem above (Gal 4:26), and also as an earthly community of believers gathered together for the preaching of God’s Word, the sacraments duly administered, and effective church discipline (Article XIX; Second Book of Homilies). Applying this pattern to the current Anglican situation, Bishop Nazir-Ali concluded that the Anglican “Instruments of Unity” have failed dramatically and that the FCA is called to model a biblical way for the churches of the Anglican Communion to gather and relate to one another so as to carry out the Great Commission in the coming decades. This way needs to address different forms of missional leadership, gathering the church with traditional episcopal leaders as well as leaders exercising oversight in parochial and non-parochial ministries. The Primates’ Council will have responsibility for planning, directing and driving this agenda…

And this:

…Archbishop Jensen, the FCA General Secretary, challenged participants to agree on a “statement in the form of a commitment.” In affirming this statement, we commit ourselves to the following:

  • to reaffirm the Jerusalem Declaration and Statement
  • to commend the Jerusalem Declaration to others as the basis for resolving the spiritual crisis currently besetting the Anglican Communion
  • to invite Anglicans around the world to join FCA in order to serve Christ and his mission
  • to promote and fund the networks in their various aims to strengthen the Church
  • to create a network for ministry among young people
  • to pray for the work and ministry of FCA and for each other.

At the conclusion of the Leaders Conference, it was announced that a second Anglican Future Conference will be held in May 2013. This Conference will further the work of the FCA to renew and reform the Anglican Communion. This leads to a further specific commitment from leaders and their churches:

  • to gather for GAFCON 2 in May 2013
  • to obtain funding and resourcing for GAFCON 2.

More about GAFCON and AMiE

The Church Times has this report by Ed Thornton We should elect our chair, say Primates (and scroll down for sidebar on Archbishop Wabukala’s keynote address).

…The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, who was chairing the press briefing, sought to clarify that the Primates were suggesting the election of a chairman of the Primates’ Meeting, not “some sort of super-leader of the Anglican Communion. . . We’re not talking about a chairman of the Anglican Com­munion, but a chairman of the Primates’ Council, and one therefore able to gather the Primates.”

Asked if any Primate, such as the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the US, would be eligible to stand as chairman, Dr Wabukala said that the position should be open to “those who subscribe to what the Anglican Communion stands for”.

Asked to elaborate further, he said that the Jerusalem Declaration, which was drawn up at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in 2008 (News, 4 July 2008), “captures exactly what almost every­body is looking for”. When asked about Primates who would not endorse the Declara­tion, Dr Wabukala said: “That means self-exclusion. It’s not a covenant to sign to ex­clude you, but it is the faith that people pro­fess to which you may not be comfortable.” He went on: “Of course, the fact that one [chair­man] is elected, that means he is ac­cepted by all of us.”

Spokespeople for Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office both declined to comment on the idea suggested by the two Primates.

Amaris Cole reported for the Church of England Newspaper Conference: ‘It’s time for us to elect the chairman of the Primates’

…The FCA asserts this leader will not replace the traditional role Archbishops such as Dr Rowan Williams have played, a figure who will still be ‘respected’. Speaking before the conference, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said: “He will not be an Anglican Pope.” Instead they hope this figure, whom Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Chairman of GAFCON, said would have tenure of four to five years and be elected by the Primates themselves, will be the next step of the ‘forward-looking’ movement. “The Commonwealth has changed and they now elect somebody to lead without prejudice to Her Majesty the Queen and so it is the same thing,” Archbishop Okoh said. “The Church of the independent countries are no longer in the British Empire – we must make some changes.”

The Archbishops hesitated when asked what would happen if the elected chairman were to be a member of the American Episcopal Church, but it was decided as this figure would be elected by all the Primates, it’s unlikely such a chair would be selected. The conference was also used to announce that the FCA is calling for GAFCON II in May next year, although the location is unknown. This meeting has been called ‘in the face of revisionist attempts to change basic doctrines and turn Christianity merely into a movement for social betterment.’ The Archbishops did not deny that these ‘revisionist attempts’ were partly because of the handling of homosexuality, but said: “the Bible is very clear.” The FCA hopes to bring the Communion back to its primary calling – to preach the Gospel, with social action being secondary to this. The Archbishops again argued they are in Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The GAFCON website has some audio, videos and photos of the event all linked from here.

This Statement at the Celebration of the Anglican Communion at Emmanuel Centre, Westminster was issued by the Anglican Mission in England yesterday. The full text is copied below the fold.

According to this report LONDON: FCA Leaders will not break with Canterbury

Fellowship of Confessing Anglican leaders meeting at St. Mark’s Battersea heard Bishop Michael Nazir Ali say that the intention of the FCA is not to break with the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Anglican Communion but they will continue to support orthodox dioceses and parishes in liberal and revisionist provinces like the US and Canada.

Despite a media blackout, VOL has learned that the 200 global Anglican leaders including archbishops from Australia, (Peter Jensen) Nigeria, (Nicholas Okoh) Kenya, (Eliud Wabukala), the US (ACNA Archbishop Robert Duncan) Latin America (Hector “Tito” Zavala), Congo, (Henri Isingoma), and (Onesphorus Rwaje) Rwanda and a slew of bishops from the US, Canada and the Global South, FCA’s goal is to ensure that orthodoxy prevails and those who are suffering as a result will be supported and given spiritual and ecclesial aid even though the days of cross border “violations” has ended.

Some of the US bishops included Mark Lawrence of South Carolina and Keith Ackerman formerly of Quincy. The largest contingent is from Nigeria.

While it has not been publicly raised, the intention is that the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) will, in time, be recognized as a legitimate province of the Anglican Communion…

And this:

…Asked what the group thought of the possibility of the 62-year old Dr. John Sentamu, Archbishop of York becoming the next Archbishop of Canterbury the reviews were mixed.

Sentamu is seen as a black evangelical twin of Dr. Rowan Williams, that is, he is evangelical and orthodox as well as socially conscious but he is an institutionalist at heart and he won’t rock the boat. “I don’t see him disciplining the American or Canadian Anglican provinces for their heretical acts. He will not come down on them; he will continue to support them for the sake of maintaining Anglican unity. The FCA will provide the needed support in the ongoing realignment and they will continue to support the faithful.”

Writing at Changing Attitude Colin Coward comments on the parish venue for the conference:

The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Leaders Conference is meeting from 23 to 27 April at St Mark’s Battersea Rise, South London.

St Mark’s is the next parish to St Barnabas Clapham Common where the Revd David Page was the Vicar for 17 years. David was the first chair of Changing Attitude trustees and Changing Attitude’s first office was in St Barnabas vicarage.

The congregation of St Mark’s Battersea Rise know little about the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans or the GAFCON movement. The Vicar, the Revd Paul Perkin, chooses not to inform the congregation of his key involvement with these groups. St Mark’s is a congregation which includes a number of lesbian and gay people, including couples in civil partnerships. Paul Perkin is fully aware of their presence. They worship there because at the grass roots, they experience St Mark’s congregation as being open and welcoming.

The Church is the people. The people are defining the nature of Christian ethos and witness in each parish, not the clergy (though this is a great fantasy for clergy). The people, not the hierarchy, are building in each place a church of the people and for the people, inspired by the Spirit of God working in the heart of each person…



Chair of CNC for Canterbury appointment announced

No 10 Downing Street has announced that Lord Luce is to be the chair of the Crown Nominations Commission for its selection of the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

See of Canterbury appointment

Thursday 26 April 2012

Rt Hon the Lord Luce to become Chairman of the Crown Nominations Commission for its selection of the next Archbishop of Canterbury to succeed the Most Reverend and Rt Hon Rowan Williams

The Prime Minister has appointed the Rt Hon the Lord Luce KG, GCVO to be Chairman of the Crown Nominations Commission for its selection of the next Archbishop of Canterbury to succeed the Most Reverend and Rt Hon Rowan Williams. Dr Williams has announced that he will stand down on 31 December 2012.

Commenting on his appointment, Lord Luce said:

“It is a great privilege to have been invited by the Prime Minister to chair the Crown Nominations Commission for the selection of the next Archbishop of Canterbury. I approach the task with humility and a strong sense of the responsibility that I and my colleagues on the Commission share.”

“I am very conscious of the significance of the Archbishop’s role both nationally and across the world. It is, of course, of great importance both to the Church of England and to the wider community in our country, given the Church’s contribution to our society at all levels. The Archbishop is also the head of world-wide Anglican Communion. And the appointment of an Archbishop of Canterbury also means a great deal for other Christian denominations and for other faiths.”

“Archbishop Rowan has made an outstanding contribution in all of these spheres. Finding a worthy successor will not be an easy task for the Commission.”

“The responsibility of chairing the Commission is, of course, a heavy one. But I am fortified by the knowledge that I will be supported and advised by the other members of the Commission who have a wide range of talents and experience.”

The announcement also includes some notes that are copied below the fold.



Conservative reaction to Times letter and ban on adverts

Robert Booth reports in the Guardian that Boris Johnson faces legal action over banned anti-gay bus adverts

…The groups behind the “Not gay … and proud” adverts, which were pulled by the London mayor earlier this month, said they were likely to seek a judicial review of the mayor’s decision on the grounds that it breached their rights to freedom of religion and freedom of expression as guaranteed under the European convention on human rights.

Anglican Mainstream and the Core Issues Trust, whose supporters advocate that gay Christians seek counselling and treatment to curb or even reverse homosexual instincts, said it might also take legal action for breach of contract against the advertising company that booked the adverts, CBS Outdoor.

“Since Boris Johnson intervened, there seems to be a much broader issue about freedom of speech at stake and that is weighing heavily upon us,” said the Rev Lynda Rose, a spokeswoman for Anglican Mainstream. “We feel it is not right that people are not able to express legitimate views that are not an incitement to hatred.”

In their latest press release (links below) AM and CIT state:

Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues Trust reject absolutely the accusation of Boris Johnson that they are intolerant, labeling homosexuality a disease. They affirm the right of individuals to seek change, and to reduce homosexual behaviours, feelings and desires, using both pastoral support and counselling, and psychological therapies administered by professionals. They are actively considering an action for judicial review against the Mayor on the basis that his decision was unlawful, and an interference with their rights under Articles 9 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, guaranteeing freedom of religion and expression.

And in relation to the letter to The Times of last Saturday the Guardian reports:

The row over the adverts blew up during the government consultation on opening up marriage to same-sex couples, which continues until June, and Anglican Mainstream and the Core Issues Trust are set against the proposals. On Tuesday, they accused liberal bishops of imposing a “neo-pagan worldview” by supporting gay marriage and claiming there should be “a recognition of God’s grace at work in same-sex partnerships”.

On Saturday, a group of Church of England bishops wrote to the Times complaining that recent statements by church leaders had given the mistaken impression that the Anglican church was universally opposed to the extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples.

“The fact there are same-sex couples who want to embrace marriage should be a cause for rejoicing in the Christian church,” said the letter, signed by the Very Rev Jeffrey John, dean of St Albans, the Right Rev Alan Wilson, bishop of Buckingham, and 13 other senior clergy and lay members of the General Synod.

In response, Anglican Mainstream and the Core Issues Trust issued a statement warning that the liberal clergy were trying to “unacceptably redefine Judeo-Christian belief”.

“They do not have the standing either to rewrite or reinterpret the clear teaching of the Bible, which the Church has always understood to prohibit any and all sexual relations outside the union for life of one man and one woman,” said Canon Dr Chris Sugden, executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream.

The press statement mentioned above is headlined Evangelical groups accuse rebel liberal bishops of bully-boy tactics and neo-paganism. It can be found at Anglican Mainstream, at Core Issues Trust and as a PDF.


GAFCON proposes to reorganise the Anglican Communion

Ed Malnick set out the background to this event a week ago in the Sunday Telegraph Traditionalist Anglican leaders to meet over homosexual bishops ‘crisis’.

This weekend, the BBC Sunday radio programme interviewed the Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen (go here for a podcast the interview starts about 10 minutes into the programme).

And the BBC reported Leaders of a dissident Anglican movement meet in UK.

The meeting opened yesterday. There is a press release, and the full text of the keynote address:

John Bingham explains in the Telegraph: Archbishop of Canterbury to lose worldwide Anglican role under traditionalist plans.

A coalition of bishops and leaders from Africa, the Americas and Australasia said it was time for a “radical shift” in how the church is structured away from models of the “British Empire”.

They criticised what they called “revisionist attempts” to abandon basic doctrines on issues such as homosexuality and “turn Christianity merely into a movement for social betterment” during Dr Williams’s tenure.

And they said it was now clear that the leadership in England had failed to hold the 77 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion together, leaving it in “crisis”.

They spoke out as 200 clergy and laity from 30 countries gathered in London to discuss what they called the “present crisis moment” in the church…

And this:

…They also outlined plans for an overhaul of church structures, replacing the Archbishop of Canterbury as chairman of the worldwide Anglican primates with an elected chair.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, leader of Kenya’s 13 million Anglicans, said there needed to be a “radical shift” in how the church is run.

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, the leader of 23 million Anglicans in Nigeria, said that while the historic position of the Archbishop of Canterbury would always be respected he should be seen as “one of” many primates.

Likening the overhaul to the way in which the Commonwealth now elects its leadership, he said: “It is the same thing, the church of independent countries – no longer the British Empire – must make some changes.”

He went on: “It is not something that should remain permanent that the Archbishop of Canterbury – whether he understands the dynamics in Africa or not – remains the chair and whatever he says, whether it works or not, is an order.

“No I think if we are to move forward we have to reconsider that position.”

He added: “At the moment it seems that the Church in England isn’t carrying along everybody in the Communion and that is why of course you can see that there is a crisis, so if we must solve the problem we must change our system.”


More analyses of Sentamu and the vacancy at Canterbury

Updated Tuesday morning

Two substantial comment articles on Archbishop Sentamu as a candidate for the post of Archbishop of Canterbury have appeared during the day:

George Pitcher wrote If Dr John Sentamu isn’t made Archbishop of Canterbury, it won’t be because he’s black.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the race card was played as candidates jostle for best position to succeed Dr Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury.

It comes from Arun Arora, who has served as Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu’s chief spin doctor and is about to take the top PR post at Church House, which houses the Church of England’s civil service.

He says that Dr Sentamu, who is from Uganda, is the victim of criticism that amounts, at worst, to ‘naked racism which still bubbles under the surface in our society, and which is exposed when a black man is in line to break the chains of history.’ Rev Arora cites an Oxford don calling Dr Sentamu ‘brutish’ as an example of this latent racism…

…I’m probably as close as anyone to Church gossip about the runners and riders for Canterbury and I’ve not heard a single racial slur, directed at Dr Sentamu or anyone else.

If anything, the situation has been rather the reverse. My impression is that those who have had criticisms or reservations of Dr Sentamu’s candidacy have largely kept them to themselves over the past couple of years, precisely because they fear that they may have been accused of racism if they expressed them. Political correctness has served Dr Sentamu well.

Lately, it’s true that some of his critics have concluded that their views are as valid and innocent as if he were a white man. And so I’ve heard these words: Capricious, impulsive, vain with the media and quick to temper (as well, I might add, as words such as prophetic, inspirational, generous and kind). None of these words has anything to do with Dr Sentamu’s ethnicity.

For what it’s worth, my feeling is that the moment has passed for John Sentamu and Canterbury. He celebrates his 63rd birthday in about seven weeks’ time, meaning that he would be pushing compulsory retirement age by the next Lambeth Conference in 2018. He’s not been blessed with the best of good health lately and, most importantly, I really don’t think he wants it anymore. We really shouldn’t have another Archbishop of Canterbury who doesn’t want to be…

Andrew Brown wrote The fight to become the new archbishop of Canterbury is getting dirty.

…The style that people object to is autocratic, and prelatical. The idea that God blesses success, and that might therefore shows forth righteousness, is embedded in a lot of African religious culture. Sentamu’s younger brother, for example, is a hugely successful “Prosperity gospel” preacher in Kampala, with a mansion, a Mercedes, and a church where journalists are searched on entry. Authority, in such a church, is fawned on sooner than questioned.

There’s nothing essentially African about this. For one thing it is the opposite of Desmond Tutu’s manner; for another, it was the natural behaviour of archbishops of Canterbury up until about the retirement of Geoffrey Fisher, in 1961. But it hasn’t worked in England since then. It suited all the instincts of George Carey, but without an audience prepared to suspend its disbelief, he just looked pompous and absurd. The Church of England has never suffered from a lack of leadership. What it has quite run out of now is followership.

Carey has now emerged as one of Sentamu’s backers. Orotund to the last, he told the Times that “I am quite appalled. If there is a besmirching campaign then it is abhorrent and I, for one, will challenge this”.

Carey’s memoirs revealed his angry hurt at the sneers of metropolitan smoothies who couldn’t understand the obstacles that he had overcome or admire him for doing so. Sentamu and Arora both in their different ways share this sense of exclusion and hostile distrust of the establishment…

…But as a journalist I dislike people who cannot decently conceal their ambition to manipulate the press. When “sources close to the archbishop” told the Telegraph that “he has only stepped down [from the committee choosing the archbishop of Canterbury] as he did not want to be seen to be influencing the appointment”, I wonder what kind of idiots the “sources” takes us for.


This analysis by Paul Vallely was published much earlier in the month, but is highly relevant: Dr John Sentamu: Next stop Canterbury?

…The big question is whether his style is suited to coping with the polarised camps in the Church. “He’s established a court at Bishopthorpe,” said one senior insider. “He’s trebled the staff, which has caused unease among senior churchmen at the amount of money he’s spending. But he lacks the diplomatic skills to be Archbishop of Canterbury. He’s autocratic and doesn’t like to be contradicted. He has a temper. His senior staff of bishops and archdeacons in the Diocese of York haven’t found him an easy man to work with, or for. He’d be a disaster managing Anglicanism’s factions.”

All that has not been lost on the powers at Lambeth Palace, which is run more like a chief exec’s office in a major corporation. There the Archbishop of Canterbury has so much in his diary set by the formularies of diocese, nation and international Anglican Communion that the incumbent has nowhere near the scope to follow his own agenda as York does. Lambeth officials have been leaking their fear of a Dr Sentamu succession.

There is another problem. The Anglican Communion gathers every 10 years at the Lambeth Conference. At the next, in 2018, John Sentamu will be just months from compulsory retirement at age 70 and unable to implement the programme the decennial conference decides. But the younger generation – Stephen Cottrell, Nick Baines, Stephen Croft and Stephen Conway, bishops of Chelmsford, Bradford, Sheffield and Ely respectively – are not seen as quite ready, according to someone with close contacts inside the Crown Nominations Commission which makes the decision.

That said, all bishops under the age of 66 have been told to get their CVs up to date and send them off to the CNC. Insiders there are tipping James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, as a more judicious option than the volatile Dr Sentamu. But it is the Bishop of Norwich, Graham James – “very competent and a safe pair of hands” – who is the real favourite…


House of Lords Reform and the Church of England

Today, the Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill issued its report, which can be read in full, starting here.

The report makes the following recommendations:

  • The Committee, on a majority, agree that the reformed second chamber should have an electoral mandate, provided it has commensurate powers (para 6.1).
  • If the reformed House is to be elected, 80% of members should be elected and 20% nominated. The size of the House should be 450 and members should serve for 15 year non-renewable terms (6.17-19, 6.31-34).
  • The Committee agrees with the government’s proposal for election under the STV system. In addition, it recommends that voters who wish to vote for candidates by political party rather than individually should be free to do so. The Committee recommends that the STV system currently used in New South Wales should be adopted. This allows voters not only to rank individual candidates, but to vote by party and also to rank the parties so as to control where “excess” party votes are allocated (6.25-6.26).
  • A majority of the Committee recommends that the decision to elect members of the House of Lords should be submitted to a referendum(6.87).
  • Election of 80% of a reformed House will make the House more assertive and affect the balance of power between the Houses in favour of the House of Lords. But a majority of the Committee consider the existing conventions and other pillars on which Commons primacy rests would suffice to ensure its continuation (6.3, 6.10-6.11).
  • The Committee agrees that conventions governing the relationship between the Houses cannot be legislated for and that such conventions will evolve further once the House of Lords is reformed (6.6-6.7, 6.13-6.16).

More from the official summary can be found here.

The section dealing with the Lords Spiritual is Section 17, which can be found here.

The conclusions of that section are:


288. The Committee agrees that, in a fully elected House, there should be no reserved places for bishops.

289. The Committee agrees, on a majority, that bishops should continue to retain ex officio seats in the reformed House of Lords.

290. The Committee agrees, on a majority, with the Government’s proposal that the number of reserved seats for bishops be set at 12 in a reformed House.

291. The Committee recommends that the Appointments Commission consider faith as part of the diversity criterion we recommend at paragraph 249.

292. The Committee recommends that the exemption of bishops from the disciplinary provisions be removed, as requested by the Archbishops.

293. The Committee recommends that any approach to the Government by the Church to modify the provision on the named bishops be looked upon favourably.

294. The Committee recommends that Clause 28(4) be left out of the Bill so as to allow greater flexibility in transition arrangements so that any women bishops and the wider pool of diocesan bishops can be eligible for appointment in the second transitional parliament.

The Church of England has issued a press release, Statement on report from Joint Committee on the Government’s Draft House of Lords Reform Bill.

…The Lords Spiritual welcome the Joint Committee’s endorsement of the Government’s proposals for continued places for Church of England bishops. We are grateful too that the Committee has accepted the Archbishops’ suggestions on how the Bill could be changed to allow more flexibility in how Lord Spiritual are chosen to serve, and to bring the bishops in line with other members on the disciplinary and tax measures.

Whilst it is disappointing that more has not been made by the Committee on how to deliver a greater breadth of representation across civil society, the recommendation to increase membership from 300 to 450 is to be welcomed, as this will provide better opportunity for those with outside professionalisms and experiences to bring those interests more to bear in the work of the House. The Church of England does not have a declared view on the merits of a referendum on House of Lords reform, though as both the Joint Committee and the Alternative Report have both recommended one, we trust that the Government will look very seriously at the suggestion…

The alternative report mentioned above can be found here. The Bishop of Leicester is one its authors.

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Archbishop Sentamu and the Canterbury vacancy

The Telegraph has a report this morning: Archbishop of York to be considered for Canterbury by Jonathan Wynne-Jones and John Bingham.

Dr John Sentamu has repeatedly refused to confirm whether or not he would be throwing his hat into the ring to lead the Church of England when Dr Williams steps down later this year.

But last night it emerged that he had stepped down from the body responsible for the appointment – meaning that he can formally be considered.

It follows mounting speculation that the 62-year old archbishop would not stand as a candidate due to his age and recent bouts of poor health.

The Ugandan-born prelate has also been the target of a whispering campaign since Dr Williams announced his resignation, which some supporters claim is partly motivated by racism within the Church.

His decision to stand aside from the Commission, the group of clergy and churchgoers who secretly choose bishops and archbishops, confirms him as a front-runner for the most senior job in the Church of England…

Yesterday the Sunday Telegraph had reported this: Archbishop of York victim of ‘naked racism’, claims ally by Richard Eden, and Edward Malnick along with this editorial comment: Toxic whispers in the Church.

…People from many different backgrounds have reached high office in the Church in recent years. But these charges are given some credence by the unfortunate phrases employed by two senior churchmen interviewed by one of our reporters. They both referred to Dr Sentamu’s ethnic background in a way which made it appear that they thought it would cause problems were he to become the Church’s primate. One suggested that Dr Sentamu had the temperament of “an African chief”.

It is an unhappy truth that allegations of racism sometimes surface during an appointment process, and can be deployed as a crude form of blackmail: “Pick this candidate, or be branded a racist.” We hope that is not happening here. But the Church of England needs to establish that the process of choosing its most senior prelate is not going to be distorted by corrosive allegations, and also that it is genuinely free of the taint of racism.

The original article by Arun Arora to which reference is made was previously reported here.

Other media reactions today to these reports:

Independent Church plays down racism claim

…A spokesman for the Church of England said: “The blog from Arun Arora quoted in the story is a month old and has already been widely quoted in a range of publications.”

Northern Echo Archbishop says he has never experienced racism

THE Archbishop of York says he has never experienced racism from fellow clergymen, despite comments from a retired bishop that he would be “unsuitable for the church’s top post because he is quite tribal and the African chief thing comes through”.

Dr John Sentamu says he will not comment on speculation following a story in a Sunday newspaper in which two bishops questioned his suitability to be the successor to Rowan Williams as the next Archbishop of Canterbury…

The Yorkshire Post has Church bids to allay racism fear over Sentamu’s hopes of top job.

…The Church of England confirmed it was aware of Mr Arora’s blog, and added: “There is a comprehensive process for selecting the next Archbishop of Canterbury, details of which are available online, and involves an extensive consultation process.”

Daily Mail Is racism damaging Sentamu’s chances of leading the church? Black archbishop ‘is facing offensive smear campaign’

…An aide said: ‘He would like to make it clear that he has never experienced racist views from within the Church – and no one within the Church has made such comments to him publicly or privately before.’

The allegations mean that the race to succeed Dr Rowan Williams as leader of the CofE and the worldwide Anglican Communion has descended into harsh abuse in little more than a month…


Bishop of Salisbury on equal marriage

Nick Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury, spoke in support of equal marriage at yesterday’s Cutting Edge Consortium conference. CEC have published the text of the bishop’s talk as a Google document, and we have made it available as a more convenient webpage.


Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced a settlement of their property dispute on 17 April and issued this joint statement.

Joint Statement from Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia


Truro Anglican Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced today a settlement that concludes five years of litigation that arose after Truro Anglican and other parishes left the Episcopal Church in 2006 to become part of what is now the Anglican Church in North America.

The settlement follows a January ruling in which the Circuit Court of Fairfax County held that all real and personal property held by the parishes at the time they left the denomination belongs to the Diocese.

Under terms of the settlement, the Diocese has given Truro Anglican a rent-free lease of the church buildings at 10520 Main Street in Fairfax, as well as two rectories, until June 30, 2013. Truro Anglican will deed the properties to the Diocese by April 30, 2012, and will pay the operating costs of the properties during the term of the lease. In addition, the Diocese has the option to use a small portion of the church building during the lease, as determined between the Rev. Tory Baucum, rector of Truro Anglican, and the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop of the Diocese of Virginia.

Additionally, Truro Anglican has agreed to pay $50,000 to resolve diocesan claims for liquid assets due under the court’s order. The parties had already agreed on division of the tangible personal property held by Truro Anglican.

In several previous settlements, Anglican parishes that leased Episcopal property agreed to sever ties with all Anglican bodies during the term of the lease. Under today’s settlement, however, the parties have agreed that Truro Anglican will maintain its affiliation with the Anglican Church of North America and its Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. Because the Diocese and Truro Anglican are part of different ecclesiastical bodies who share the Anglican tradition, they have agreed to follow a process during the term of the lease by which bishops may visit Truro Anglican with the permission of Bishop Johnston.

An important feature of this settlement is that both sides have agreed to enter into a covenant of mutual charity and respect. This document will frame the way the Diocese and Truro Anglican will deal with one another and speak of one another. The covenant is being drafted by the Rev. Baucum and Bishop Johnston.

“This is an important step for the Diocese of Virginia and Truro Anglican,” said Bishop Johnston. “What the Diocese has sought since the court’s ruling has been a ‘witness’ and not merely an ‘outcome.’ The parties have carried on a public dispute for five years and it is important that we publicly begin to make peace.”

Bishop Johnston and the Rev. Baucum have been meeting together for prayer and conversation for over a year. “Bishop Johnston and I have become friends,” said the Rev. Baucum. “In spite of our significant theological differences, we care for and are committed to each other as brothers in Christ.”

“We are grateful for the Diocese’s generosity in allowing us to continue to use the property for another 15 months at no cost,” said the Rev. Baucum. “This allows us time to make a good transition to interim facilities and then to our new church home.”

“Tory and I believe that this is an opening for a transformative witness to many across the worldwide Anglican Communion,” added Bishop Johnston.

A settlement in another property dispute also involving the diocese of Virginia was announced the previous day: Diocese Settles with St. Paul’s Church, Anglican, Haymarket.


more on tax relief cap

I wrote earlier about the cap on tax relief on charitable giving included in the Budget.

Madeleine Davies writes about this in the Church Times: One-size tax-relief cap won’t fit all, warns C of E adviser. This article copies a letter to the Telegraph which can be more easily read here: Proposed cap to charity tax relief will damage philanthropy.

Robert Watts writes in today’s Telegraph that George Osborne calls for talks on charity row.


Anglican Covenant: two more diocesan synods

This Saturday two more diocesan synods voted on the Anglican Covenant motion: Chichester, and Southwell & Nottingham.

Chichester: covenant accepted

Bishops: 2 for / 0 against / 0 abstentions
Clergy: 29 for / 9 against / 1 abstention
Laity: 39 for / 25 against / 1 abstention

Southwell & Nottingham: covenant accepted

Bishops: 2 for / 0 against / 0 abstentions
Clergy 15 for / 5 against / 0 abstentions
Laity: 31 for / 6 against / 1 abstention

25 diocesan synods have now voted against the covenant, and 17 in favour. The remaining two dioceses, Newcastle and York, will vote next Saturday (28 April).


more on VAT changes

I wrote earlier about the changes made in the Budget to VAT on alterations to listed buildings.

Madeleine Davies writes about this in the Church Times: VAT change throws spanner into works at listed churches. The Church Times has also published an editorial: Another raid on church finances.

Other press reports during the last week include these.

Philip Johnston in the Telegraph George Osborne puts the fabric of Britain at risk with the ‘heritage tax’

Nicholas Cecil and Joe Murphy in the London Evening Standard Bishops revolt over Osborne’s VAT on church improvements

Richard Waite in The Architects’ Journal Angry Bishops battle government over VAT on listed buildings

James Chapman in This is Money Ministers to make U-turn on churches compensation and VAT on caravans amid turmoil over Osborne’s Budget



Andrew Brown asks in The Guardian Are evangelical Christians on another planet?

Daniel Schultz writes in the Revealer So Long, Rowan Williams.

Diana Butler Bass writes for USA Today about When spirituality and religion collide.

Paul Oestreicher asks in The Guardian Was Jesus gay? Probably.

Giles Fraser starts his new series Loose canon in the Guardian with On a new demand-free service.

Mark Vernon writes in The Tablet Why religion is good for you.