Thinking Anglicans

Women Bishops – summit next week

Madeleine Davies writes in the Church Times: Women-bishops summit next week. She reports that ““Intensive” facilitated discussions are to be held on Tuseday and Wednesday next week by the working group on women bishops”.

The chair of the working group has sent a statement to all General Synod members (GS Misc 1041), and this is copied below.

GS Misc 1041
Women Bishops: Working Group on new legislative proposals

Please see below a statement which the Chair of the Working Group has asked to be circulated to Synod members.
William Fittall
Secretary General
31 January 2013

Synod members will have seen that, on 11 December, the House of Bishops established a working group drawn from all three Houses of Synod to advise it on the preparation of fresh legislative proposals to be brought before the Synod in July. The Archbishops announced the names of the ten members of the Group on 19 December.

We held our first meeting on 3 January and met again yesterday. At our first meeting we decided to invite 15 people to join us for intensive facilitated discussions on 5/6 February. We sought nominations for some of these places from interested groups and issued some invitations to named individuals.

We thought long and hard about the best arrangements and came to the conclusion that an event of this kind, at which we could do intensive and focused work with the help of outside facilitators, would be what was most productive at this stage of the process.

After our conversations conclude at the end of Wednesday afternoon the Working Group will be meeting the Archbishops and other members of the House of Bishops Standing Committee that evening in preparation for a special meeting of the House of Bishops on Thursday 7 February.

It will be for the House to decide what should happen thereafter in the light of the conversations that have happened. My expectation is that the House will issue a statement and give the working Group a fresh mandate for the next phase of its work. I would also hope that, shortly thereafter, there will be an opportunity to circulate a consultation document enabling all Synod members to make a contribution. Given the timescale to which we are working we shall probably need to seek responses by the end of February.

The ten of us who have been appointed to serve on the Working Group – 4 bishops, 3 clergy and 3 laity – are very conscious of the weight of expectation and responsibility placed on us. Do pray for us and for all those involved in the various discussions during the week of 4 February

+Nigel St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

We reported on the establishment of the working group here and here; the second link includes a list of the group’s members.


Justin Welby interview

Justin Welby and his wife were interviewed at the Trent Vineyard Church in Nottingham on Sunday. The church website has this description

John Mumford talks to Archbishop of Canterbury Elect, Justin Welby, and his wife Caroline. They discuss their faith, the ‘journey to Canterbury’, and their hope for the Church.

and there are links to audio and video of the hour-long interview here.

Ed Thornton reports on the interview for the Church Times as Welby told CNC: ‘appointing me would be absurd’.


Retiring Bishops

As well as the Bishop of Liverpool, another diocesan bishop has announced his retirement this month. This is Michael Langrish, the Bishop of Exeter, whose announcement came on 6 January.

Exeter and Liverpool therefore join the queue of dioceses (behind Blackburn, Manchester, Durham, and Bath & Wells) awaiting consideration by the Crown Nominations Commission. In addition, if and when reorganisation of the three West Yorkshire dioceses is finally agreed, the new diocese will also have to join the queue. There is only one unallocated slot in the CNC’s programme for 2013, so at least one out of Exeter and Liverpool will have to wait twelve months or more for their new bishop to be chosen, and then probably several more months before he actually takes up his post.

I maintain a list of vacant diocesan sees.

Suffragan bishops also announce their retirements, most recently Christopher Morgan, the Bishop of Colchester, and I keep a list here.


Developments in South Carolina

Updated again Friday

TEC Agrees to Injunction that Prohibits Them From Using Diocese of SC Identity
South Carolina lawsuit parties agree to temporary injunction

I last reported on South Carolina on 8 January. Since then there have been significant developments.

A South Carolina Circuit Court judge Jan. 23 issued a temporary restraining order preventing any “individual, organization, association or entity” from using registered names and marks that are claimed by Mark Lawrence and other leaders who led some Episcopalians in that state out of the Episcopal Church.

Judge Diane S. Goodstein’s order is in effect until Feb. 1 when a hearing is scheduled.

See ENS report South Carolina court temporarily restrains use of diocesan names, seal and also this diocesan press release
Circuit Court Blocks the Use of Diocese of South Carolina Identity By Anyone Outside of the Diocese.

And on 26 January a provisional bishop for those remaining in The Episcopal Church was elected, see this ENS report South Carolina continuing Episcopalians meet to plan their future.

See also:

Presiding bishop preaches to Episcopalians in South Carolin

House of Deputies president supports South Carolina Episcopalians

New bishop provisional addresses South Carolina Episcopalians


IF campaign

I reported on the launch of the Enough Food For Everyone If campaign last week. Here are a few reports on and reactions to the launch.

Liz Ford in The Guardian Anti-hunger campaign ‘If’ launches with call for G8 to act

Ed Thornton in the Church Times There is one direction: ending world hunger

Luke Harman for Christian Aid IF campaign launches

Zahid Torres-Rahman in The Guardian Business should be part of solution in enough food for everyone campaign

Leni Wild and Sarah Mulley in the New Statesman Is the new IF campaign trying to ‘Make Poverty History’, again?

Maria Caspani for AlertNet IF campaign to end hunger seems a bit iffy

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RC bishops respond to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

The Roman Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales has issued, via this page, a Briefing to Members of Parliament on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. (PDF)

Another copy is available from the Catholic Herald as a normal web page over here.

Catholic Voices has its own summary of their arguments at Bishops to MPs: this Bill will radically alter meaning of marriage.


Free Church of England orders recognised by CofE

This press release: Free Church of England Orders recognised.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have recognised the Orders of the Free Church of England under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967. The Measure gives the Archbishops authority to determine whether the Orders of any Church are ‘recognised and accepted’ by the Church of England.

The recognition of the Orders of the Free Church of England follows approximately three years of contact between the bishops of the Free Church of England, the Council for Christian Unity and the Faith and Order Commission, which recommended that the Orders of the Free Church of England be recognised. That recommendation was subsequently endorsed by the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops…

Much information about the Free Church of England can be found on its websites:

The Free Church of England

The Northern Diocese

The Southern Diocese

The following pages may be of particular interest:

One FAQ is this:

Is the Free Church of England an Anglican Church?

The Free Church of England is required by its Constitution to ‘conform to the ancient laws and customs of the Church of England’. Our doctrinal basis, structures, organisation, worship, ministry and ethos are therefore recognisably ‘Anglican’. Anyone coming from an Anglican background would find much that was familiar to him or her – including the layout of our Churches, robes, churchwardens, church councils and the like. Our worship is that of the Book of Common Prayer or conservative modern-language forms that belong to the Anglican tradition.

The Free Church of England is not a member of the Anglican Communion – though the Provinces that make up the Communion are currently re-defining their relationships with each other and with the See of Canterbury. Since the 1870s the Free Church of England has been in full communion with the Reformed Episcopal Church in the United States and Canada. The REC is a full member of the recently-formed Anglican Church in North America. The fact that the ACNA has been recognised by some Provinces of the Anglican Communion means that the Free Church of England now stands in some degree of relationship with them, though the precise details have not yet been worked out.


Bishop of Liverpool to retire

The Rt Rev James Jones has announced that he will retire as Bishop of Liverpool on his 65th birthday in August.

The bishop has released this letter.


Church Times feature on women bishops


The 18 January issue of the Church Times carries an eight-page supplement: “women bishops theological debate” with this introduction:

CLEARING the way for women to be consecrated bishops in the Church of England is unfinished busi­­­ness after the defeat in the General Synod last November. In the pause before the fine detail is discussed yet again, we thought to answer readers’ questions about what exactly were the theological objections. We commissioned four main pieces, for and against women bishops, from Evangelical and Catholic viewpoints (encountering a few refusals along the way). We invited the contributors to consult whom they wished, and most filed in time for us to show the pieces to the others, to allow emendations and additions. There are also a few other pieces we thought illuminating. These are, of course, not definitive. As Edward Dowler suggests in the final piece, there are vaster areas of theological reflection about authority and gender with which the Church ought to engage. But, for the time being, we hope that these pages might provide a useful insight into the most pressing issues in the debate.

There is also this related editorial: An issue of unity,

The nine articles themselves are behind the Church Times paywall and so only available to subscribers. But versions of two are available elsewhere: An Ordinary Radical Event is an extended version of the article by Judy Stowell, and Veni Sancte Spiritus – but please don’t tell us anything we’d rather not hear is an earlier version of that by Edward Dowler.

Rachel Weir, the chair of WATCH, has responded to this CT supplement with Last year’s words belong to last year’s language … And next year’s words await another voice…..

In an eight page feature, nine articles are printed only three of which take a positive line on the ordination of women (and only one is actually written by a woman). Many of the rest seem to assume that having women as priests/leaders in the church is an interesting hypothesis to which they would not themselves subscribe!

There is clear bias of content here but there also seems to be a wilful blindness to the fact that women are already ordained as priests in the Church of England. The theological ‘rightness’ of this reform was decided back in 1975 when General Synod decided that there is ‘no fundamental objection to the ordination of women as priests’ and that decision was enacted in 1994 in the first ordinations.

So why is it that the Church Times is running a series of articles this week that seem to be trying to re-open the debate?

The offense to women clergy is extraordinary. Since 1994, over 5,000 women have been ordained and have served faithfully in ministries throughout the land. Many already exercise considerable authority and ‘headship’. The Church of England simply couldn’t survive without her women priests.

Another response comes from Miranda Threlfall-Holmes who writes about Loyal Anglicans : A historical view.

A few years ago, the Church of England’s General Synod passed a resolution declaring that both those who agree and those who disagree with the ordination of women are ‘loyal Anglicans’.

Since then, this phrase has been repeatedly quoted by those who disagree with women’s ordination. Look here, the argument runs. We are loyal Anglicans – Synod has agreed – and we cannot be called disloyal just because we don’t support the church’s decision to ordain women. You have to let us have everything we feel we need to flourish. Separate bishops. Separate dioceses, preferably, but failing that certainly separate Chrism masses, separate ordination services, separate selection conferences. It isn’t disloyal or separatist to ask for these things, we are assured: how can it be, when we know everyone involved is a ‘loyal Anglican’?

Let’s leave aside, for a moment, the illogicality of basing your argument on a declaration that both sides are loyal, and then using that declaration as an excuse for disowning your opponents as invalid innovators who are not loyal to the inheritance of faith.

Instead, I want to consider the phrase ‘loyal Anglicans’ as a historian. Because from a historical perspective, this phrase ‘loyal Anglicans’ is a very richly evocative phrase.

It is hardly going too far to say that the entire basis of Anglicanism is loyalty. Loyalty to the Crown over the Pope, mainly. And secondly, loyalty to a prescribed way of doing things rather than to our own ideas.

But if Synod’s statements are to be taken as the grounds for argument, there is no getting away from the fact that Synod has said that women can be ordained. That women can and should become bishops, that there are no fundamental theological objections to women’s ordination. And since Synod has declared women can be ordained, there is no grounds for refusing to accept that your (male) bishop is a loyal Anglican, let alone demanding an alternative one with whom you can agree.

We should stop the creeping separation that we have allowed to infiltrate the Church of England since the Act of Synod. Let’s all go to the same Chrism masses, the same ordination services. Let’s enact unity, rather than talking about it. Or let’s stop, please, claiming to be loyal.


Some Initial Comments on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

The Government Equalities Office has published a range of supplementary materials here: these include a FactSheet, a Mythbuster and a Short Guide.

Frank Cranmer at Law & Religion UK has published a very helpful summary of the bill in Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill: the published text.

Adam Wagner at the UK Human Rights Blog has written Equal marriage on the way as Bill published.

The Roman Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have issued this statement opposing the bill.

Maria Miller, the Secretary of State responsible for the bill, appeared on the BBC Radio 4 programme Today on Friday morning, and the full interview is available here: Maria Miller: Churches ‘free to choose’ on gay marriage.

Colin Coward has commented at Changing Attitude on the CofE’s official statement in Church of England’s attitude to civil partnerships and same-sex marriage.

Ed Thornton reported for the Church Times that Stevens holds line as Government publishes same-sex marriage Bill.



Andrew Brown asks How can faith bodies provide welfare when their own cupboards are bare?

Andrew Goddard writes for the Church of England Newspaper about The legacy of Rowan Williams to the Church of England.

Christopher Howse writes in his Sacred Mysteries column in The Telegraph about When ravens beat their black image.


David Hope sermon

David Hope, the former Archbishop of York preached at yesterday’s consecration of Glyn Webster as the Bishop of Beverley. The full text of his sermon is online here.

Minster FM has a report of the sermon – Former Archbishop of York Attacks Church Bureaucracy – but there is much more in the sermon than that so do read the full text.

There are photographs of the consecration here, although they are muddled up with ones of the announcement of the appointment last August.


Anglican responses to Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

The Church in Wales has issued this: Marriage (Same Sex Couples ) Bill – A statement:

Marriage (Same Sex Couples ) Bill – A statement
25 January 2013

Since the Statement to Parliament by the Minister for Women and Equalities on 11 December 2012, the Government has worked to understand and accommodate the position of the Church in Wales in its equal marriage Bill. As a disestablished church with a legal duty to marry the Church in Wales is uniquely placed. The Bill provides protection for the Church whilst still enabling it to make its own decision on same-sex marriage.

Under the Bill, the duty of Church in Wales ministers to marry will not be extended to same-sex couples. However, should the Church’s Governing Body decide in the future that the Church wishes to conduct such marriages, there is provision in the Bill for the law to be altered without the need for further primary legislation by Parliament. Instead, a resolution from the Church’s Governing Body would trigger an order by the Lord Chancellor for the necessary legal changes to be made.

The Church of England has issued this: Bishop of Leicester responds to Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill:



Church Commissioners Questions – women bishops

The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry, answered several questions in the House of Commons yesterday, including these on women bishops and the related topic of how representative is the House of Laity.

Women Bishops

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): What assessment he has made of whether the informal discussions amongst General Synod members in February 2013 will lead to significant progress on enabling women to become bishops.

Sir Tony Baldry: I refer the hon. Lady to the letter from the secretary-general of the General Synod, which was placed in the Library of the House on 19 December. I understand that the working group established by the House of Bishops had a good first meeting on 3 January. It meets again next Wednesday. The facilitated discussions in early February will be followed immediately by a further meeting of the House of Bishops. I know that all concerned understand the urgency of the situation.

Diana Johnson: But does the hon. Gentleman accept that the document that was produced and put in the House of Commons Library shows no acceleration of the usual glacial way in which the Church of England operates? Does he also accept that in 2015 we could still find ourselves dealing with an unrepresentative laity stopping the Measure? Surely we can do more something more quickly.

Sir Tony Baldry: The hon. Lady is being uncharacteristically uncharitable. Anyone present at the meeting in the Moses Room with the Archbishop of Canterbury-designate would have been left in absolutely no doubt that the Church is determined to take the matter forward with all due speed and diligence. A working group was set up immediately and facilitated discussions will take place next week. It is important to try, as quickly as possible, to find a way forward that enables fresh legislation to be brought before the General Synod in July.

House of Laity

Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): What steps are being considered within the Church of England as to how the House of Laity may be made more representative of church congregations.

Sir Tony Baldry: Last year, the Synod voted to explore alternatives to the present system under which the House of Laity is elected by deanery synod members. I understand that the report, with options for change, will be discussed by the synod at one of its meetings this year.

Martin Vickers: I thank the Church Commissioner for that reply. The unrepresentative nature of the House of Laity is clearly holding the Church back, involving it in interminable, internal debates. Very few congregations are aware of the process of election and very few members of congregations get involved in election. Will he use his good offices to ensure that, as a matter of urgency, new proposals are brought forward?

Sir Tony Baldry: I think my hon. Friend’s comments will be shared by many throughout the Church, which is why it is exploring alternatives to the present system under which the House of Laity is elected by deanery synod members. I am sure that the comments my hon. Friend makes will be borne in mind when that report comes to be debated later this year.


Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill


Hansard reports:

Bill Presented
Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Secretary Maria Miller, supported by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary Theresa May, Secretary Michael Gove, Secretary Eric Pickles, Hugh Robertson, Lynne Featherstone, Mrs Helen Grant and Jo Swinson, presented a Bill to make provision for the marriage of same sex couples in England and Wales, about gender change by married persons and civil partners, about consular functions in relation to marriage, for the marriage of armed forces personnel overseas, and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 126) with explanatory notes (Bill 126-EN).

The Leader of the House of Commons announced that the Second Reading (first stage of actual debate) of the bill will take place on 5 February.

The text of the bill, and an explanatory note, are available here.

The impact assessment is also linked from that page.

Meanwhile, some news reports and comment:

BBC Gay marriage: MPs set to vote on proposals for the first time and Gay marriage support growing says Tory MP Nick Herbert

Changing Attitude Same-sex marriage bill introduced in House of Commons and earlier The legal status of marriage and equal marriage in the Church of England

Ekklesia Religious groups welcome draft Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill

Yesterday was also one of the days for Questions to be asked of the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry. In relation to this topic, and on the related topic of Civil Partnerships, here is what he said:



Enough Food For Everyone If

Enough Food for Everyone If is a national campaign, launched today, involving 100 organisations that have come together to make 2013 the year in which we make dramatic progress towards ending global hunger. The Church of England is a member of the campaign and has issued this press release about its involvement.

In today’s age of plenty there is no reason why anyone should go without, IF ….
23 January 2013

The Bishops of Hereford and Derby today challenge governments, companies and citizens to take the necessary steps to reduce the millions currently going hungry, as a coalition 100 organisations come together to make 2013 the year in which we make dramatic progress towards ending global hunger – IF.

Speaking as the Lead Bishop on rural issues, the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, said: “Today, the world produces enough food to feed all seven billion of its inhabitants, but nearly one billion still go without. The growing levels of food insecurity in an age of plenty challenge the Gospel message of abundant life.”

Bishop Anthony continues: “As a Church we are called upon both to feed the hungry and to expose and eradicate the causes of debilitating hunger. This year’s IF campaign provides us all with an opportunity to cast a spotlight on our broken food system and to press governments, companies and citizens to take the necessary steps to reduce the millions currently going hungry.”

In a podcast released to mark the launch of the IF campaign, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, who will be speaking at the campaign launch, said: “IF is a very small word but it can have enormous consequences and this campaign asks all of us to use the word ‘IF’ for ourselves – our spending, our resources, our praying, our hopes for a better world in 2013.”

Bishop Alastair continues: “It’s a national campaign, an international campaign, drawing people together – IF. IF we can join together then many more people can be lifted out of hunger. Let all of us hear that word: “If you wanted to, you could help me more.” And let each of our hearts reflect on that word: “If we tried harder we could make a huge difference.” And that’s what this year of 2013 is all about and what our endeavours are about as we join with others for this campaign.”


The Church of England is a member of ENOUGH FOOD FOR EVERYONE IF. This is a national campaign involving 100 organisations that have come together to make 2013 the year in which we make dramatic progress towards ending global hunger. For more about the campaign and its launch please visit the campaign website at

The Church of England will be using the UK Presidency of the G8 to focus on two key concerns: hunger and sexual violence in conflict. To learn more about the Church’s work in both these areas please visit this website.

The Bishop of Derby’s podcast can be found at this link.


Diocese of Blackburn clergy write to the Archbishop of York

The following press release has been received:

22 January 2013
Lancashire clergy write to the Archbishop of York

Over fifty clergy from the Diocese of Blackburn have written to the Archbishop of York, urging him to ensure that the next Bishop of Blackburn will be prepared to ordain women as priests, and fully affirm their ministry.

The letter was co-ordinated by the Vicar of Lancaster, the Revd Chris Newlands, and has been signed by fifty-five clergy from across the diocese who are keen to see a supporter of women’s ministry appointed as Diocesan Bishop.

Mr Newlands said, “Many churches across the diocese have been greatly enriched by the ministry of women, and we believe that to fulfil his calling as a focus of unity, the next Bishop of Blackburn should affirm the ministry of all the priests in the diocese who hold his licence.”

The Crown Nominations Commission will be meeting at the end of January to choose the name that will be submitted to the Queen who formally makes the appointment. An announcement is expected within the next weeks.

The last two diocesan bishops have not accepted the ordination of women as priests and the signatories to the letter have urged the Archbishop and members of the Crown Nominations Commission to ensure that the 9th Bishop of Blackburn is a supporter of the ministry of women priests in the church.

For further information please contact:

The Revd Chris Newlands, Lancaster Priory.

The first meeting of the Crown Nominations Commission for the See of Blackburn was held on 10 January. The second meeting is due to be held on 30/31 January.


Succession to the Crown Bill 3

The Government’s Succession to the Crown Bill will receive its second Reading and complete its remaining stages in the House of Commons today (Tuesday 22 January 2013).

The Church of England has issued this briefing for MPs welcoming or agreeing to all the clauses in the bill, and to the way in which it is being fast-tracked.

Law & Religion UK has published a second article by Dr Bob Morris of the UCL Constitution Unit: Succession to the Crown Bill: possible untoward effects?

Amongst other things the article considers the fears expressed by some people that the clause in the bill allowing heirs to marry Catholics without disqualification would somehow open up the Crown to Roman Catholics. But Morris writes

The Bill does not disturb the requirements that no Catholic may succeed, that the heir must be in communion with the Church of England, must make a declaration on accession that swears fidelity to the Protestant faith, and must swear at coronation to uphold the Church of England. It is therefore the case that heirs who become Catholics are still barred from the throne.

I have previously covered this bill here and here.


still more comments on the European court decisions

In a guest post at Law & Religion UK Christopher Luff has written Eweida et al v United Kingdom: some thoughts on the wider ramifications.

And in a guest post at the ECHR Blog Paul Johnson has written Eweida and Others Judgment Part I – The Sexual Orientation Cases.

Erica Howard has written at EJIL TALK! The European Court of Human Rights Gets It Right: A Comment on Eweida and Others v the United Kingdom.

As a follow-up to the radio discussion of the role of the Christian Legal Centre yesterday, readers may find its briefing paper of interest.

Other views have been expressed by Cranmer in Victory for religious symbols; defeat for the religious conscience, and by European Dignity Watch in ECHR: “Obsessive political correctness” trumps freedom of conscience.


Sunday programme discusses European court rulings

The BBC Radio 4 programme Sunday today has a major feature on this.

Starting at about 27 minutes in, there is a lengthy discussion, not only of the court’s rulings, but also of the role played in them by advocacy groups such as the Christian Legal Centre.

The BBC’s own description:

In light of the European rulings on 4 religious discrimination cases this week William asks if the courts are the right place to decide what expressions of faith and belief are acceptable in the workplace. Christian Legal Centre’s Andrew Marsh, gives his opinion.

Also in the programme:

A leading Evangelical, Steve Chalke, this week published an article arguing that the Church should bless committed homosexual partnerships without requiring that they should be celibate. He debates with Dr Stephen Holmes of the Evangelical Alliance who defends their current teaching that gay sex is sinful.