Thinking Anglicans

Another woman dean

The Prime Minister’s office has announced that the next Dean of Guildford is to be the Revd Canon Dianna Gwilliams. The official press release is here, and is copied below the fold.

Canon Gwilliams will be the fifth woman to become a cathedral dean in the Church of England.

The diocese of Guildford has this announcement.

Canon Gwilliams is currently working in the diocese of Southwark, which has its own announcement here.



West Indies bishops issue statement on same-sex unions

The House of Bishops and the Standing Committee of the Province of the West Indies have issued a Provincial Statement on Same-Sex Unions.

The full text of this statement is copied below the fold. The Diocese of Jamaica has this press statement:

The House of Bishops and the Standing Committee of the Church in the Province of the West Indies (CPWI) have stated that the idea of same-sex unions is totally unacceptable on theological and cultural grounds. And they have urged leaders of government, civil society, and the people of the English-speaking Caribbean “to resist any attempt to compromise our cultural and religious principles regarding these matters.”

In a statement issued on April 25 from their meeting at the Provincial Secretariat at Bamford House in Barbados, the Bishops and Standing Committee noted trends in developed nations and the international forums in which these nations exercise control “in which matters related to human sexuality have been elevated to the level of human rights and are being promulgated as positions which must be accepted globally.” The statement further noted that frequently, failure by developing nations to conform, results in the threat of various sanctions, including the withholding of economic aid.

However the Bishops and Standing Committee cautioned that “the dangling of a carrot of economic assistance to faltering economies should be seen for what it is worth and should be resisted by people and government alike.”

While acknowledging the diversity of family patterns within the Caribbean region, they noted that these have been understood by Caribbean people to be between a man and a woman. The Bishops and Standing Committee argued that if human rights are being invoked as the basis for same-sex unions, that same principle should be applied to allow Caribbean people the right to affirm their cultural and religious convictions regarding their definitions of marriage.

The House of Bishops includes some 23 Bishops (in service and retired) from the eight Dioceses in the English-speaking Caribbean, who meet twice a year to reflect on issues concerning the mission of the Anglican Church in the Region. The Standing Committee comprises clergy and laity elected to represent their Dioceses at the Provincial Synod which meets every three years. The last Provincial Synod was hosted by the Diocese of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands in November 2012.

The eight Dioceses in the CPWI are: The Diocese of Barbados, the Diocese of Belize, the Diocese of Guyana, the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the Diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Diocese of the North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba, the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago and the Diocese of the Windward Islands.



Dean of Jersey apologises and is reinstated

We reported on 10 March that: Dean of Jersey suspended for safeguarding failure.

Subsequently, we omitted to report that on 26 March the Diocese of Winchester published terms of reference for a Visitation.

Yesterday, the diocese published this press release: Dean of Jersey Apologises and Confirms Commitment.

THE VERY REVEREND ROBERT KEY, the Dean of Jersey, has today apologised for mistakes in the handling of a safeguarding complaint and added his own apology to that of the Bishop of Winchester and Archbishop of Canterbury to the vulnerable person at the heart of this matter.

He has confirmed that he shares the Bishop of Winchester’s and Archbishop of Canterbury’s stated commitment to safeguarding in the Diocese and the wider Church. The Dean was speaking following meetings with the Bishop last week.

The Bishop acknowledges that, although mistakes were made, the Dean believed he was acting in good faith. Following the commitment that the Dean has made, the Bishop has decided that he will issue a new Commission to the Dean with immediate effect. The Bishop and the Dean have also agreed that, in the light of these recent events, there are areas in Jersey Canon Law which would benefit from further review and they are committed to working together as necessary to revise them.

The Dean said: “I regret mistakes that I made in the safeguarding processes and I understand that, upon reflection, it would have been more helpful if I had co-operated more fully with the Korris Review. I now add my own apology to that of the Bishop of Winchester and Archbishop of Canterbury to the vulnerable person at the heart of this matter. I will be cooperating with the Visitation and Investigation announced by the Bishop on 26 March. Together, the Bishop and I are committed to the importance of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults in Jersey and to working to ensure the safeguarding procedures of the Diocese achieve this as part of the whole Church’s mission.”

The Bishop of Winchester, the Right Reverend Tim Dakin, said: “Safeguarding must always be of paramount concern and is a vital part of the Church’s mission. We will now press ahead with the Visitation and Investigation and see them through to their conclusions, as we all have important lessons to learn. At the heart of this matter is safeguarding the vulnerable who have frequently been let down by the Church. The Dean’s apology is a welcome one, and I am glad that he has joined with me in reaffirming our commitment to safeguarding. I am also glad that the Dean has promised his full cooperation with these inquiries. I wish to assure the Dean and the people of Jersey of my prayers as we go forward together.”

And the Jersey Evening Post reports Dean of Jersey is reinstated.

THE Dean of Jersey has been officially reinstated after apologising for mistakes made in the handling of a complaint from a parishioner about sexual misconduct.

Almost two months after being effectively suspended by the Bishop of Winchester after an independent review found that he did not follow proper practice or take the complaint seriously, the Dean, Very Rev Bob Key, returned to normal duties at 9 am this morning. The decision from the Bishop, the Right Rev Tim Dakin, followed meetings between the two men last week.

Mr Key led Sunday’s 10 am service at the Town Church, which was attended by the Bailiff, Sir Michael Birt, and the Lieutenant Governor, General Sir John McColl, and has said he will cooperate fully with an on going investigation into the matter.

There is discussion of all this by Frank Cranmer at Law & Religion UK Church Safeguarding in Jersey – Progress.


"Church of England diocese asks for gay-friendly bishop"

Updated Sunday afternoon

Edward Malnick and John Bingham in The Telegraph tonight report that Church of England diocese asks for gay-friendly bishop.

The Diocese of Manchester has instructed the official panel appointing its new bishop to select someone who can establish “positive relationships” with gay Anglicans and non-worshippers.

The panel, which met on Friday, was told that the successor to the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, who retired earlier this year, should build on “significant engagement” with “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities” in Manchester…

If the usual timetable has been followed, this week’s meeting of the CNC will have chosen a name to send to the Prime Minister, but we will have to wait for a month or so for the official announcement of who is to be the next Bishop of Manchester.

Manchester published its Profile and Statement of Needs of the Diocese of Manchester 2013 on 15 March 2013. It can be downloaded as a 26 page pdf.


Profile of Anglicans

Updated Saturday evening

Yesterday’s Church Times has an article by Linda Woodhead about a survey that “suggests that non-churchgoing Anglicans may be much more important to the Church and its future than the dismissive word “nominals” implies.”

The article is only available to Church Times subscribers, but British Religion in Numbers (BRIN) has a summary in Profile of Anglicans and Other News. The survey shows that self-identifying Anglicans divide into four categories.

Godfearing Churchgoers (5% of Anglicans)
Mainstream Churchgoers (12% of Anglicans)
Non-Churchgoing Believers (50% of Anglicans)
Non-Churchgoing Doubters (33% of Anglicans)

The BRIN article also reports on surveys on St George’s Day and Student faith.

Jonathan Clatworthy has written about the survey of Anglicans for Modern Church: On not going to church.



Jonathan Chaplin writes for Fulcrum about The Church of England and the Funeral of Baroness Thatcher.

Christopher Howse writes about Thomas Traherne in The music made by grains of sand in his Sacred Mysteries column in The Telegraph.

Jonathan Brown reports for The Independent that single Christians feel unsupported by family-focused churches.

David Cloake (the Vernacular Vicar) blogs about The ‘Hit and Miss’ of Funeral Ministry.

Theo Hobson writes in The Spectator that The Church of England needs a compromise on gay marriage. Here it is.

Premier Radio has interviewed Rowan Wiliams about Love, Liberty and Life after Canterbury.

Scott Stephens for ABC Religion and Ethics asks Can a religious believer be a serious journalist? Richard Dawkins and the unbearable smugness of tweeting.
On the same topic The Heresiarch blogs about Dawkins and the Flying Horse and Andrew Brown writes for The Guardian that Richard Dawkins’ latest anti-Muslim Twitter spat lays bare his hypocrisy.

And here’s one that I missed from a few weeks ago.
Paul Goodman in The Telegraph asks Does religion still have a place in today’s politics?


Church Times: Selling marriage short

The Church Times has ignored its own advice and published a second leader further criticising the CofE marriage report: Selling marriage short.

…By taking its cue from the same-sex-marriage debate, and being drawn into tendentious pronouncements about men and women, the report wastes an opportunity to say something positive about marriage in relation to what would once have been termed “living in sin”. The authors elevate marriage above other forms of relationship without ever defining it: are couples deemed to be married if they have not passed through what the report calls “the regulation of formalities”, for example? It argues that the Church’s permitting marriage after divorce has not materially changed its teaching. Yet the prevalence of divorce has done more damage than any other factor to the concept of marital fidelity. Finally, the lack of attention given to relationships before marriage means that the report fails to address the source of the greatest pressure on young people: the severance of sex and commitment.

It is generally unfair to criticise a work for not being something else. We have not dwelt on the sins of commission – the obscure language, the unsupported pronouncements – but in this instance, the sins of omission have created the greatest disappointment. Marriage is a precious element in our society, and it needs a more robust defence.

There is also an excellent article by Jane Shaw titled Men, women, and difference which discusses the complementarity of the sexes as a a comparatively new invention. Sadly this is subscriber-only but for those who can read it the link is here.


Christian Legal Centre throws down the gauntlet

Shirley Chaplin, Gary McFarlane and Lillian Ladele are to appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights against the rejection of their claims by the Fourth Section.

For previous reports on these cases, see here, and for subsequent commentary, go here, and follow the links back to earlier articles.

News of the appeal was reported by the Telegraph in Christians launch landmark human rights case.

…Papers in the three cases are to be submitted this week that will claim British courts are applying double standards towards Christians for “political” reasons, and that human rights rules have been used to effectively outlaw beliefs which have been held for millennia while affording special recognition to minority opinions on anything from fox hunting to climate change.
Meanwhile “self-evidently absurd” health and safety rules are being used as a “ruse” to prevent Christians wearing crosses while outward expressions of other faiths are welcomed, they say.
An overzealous and one-sided interpretation of rules has brought human rights law itself into disrepute and exposed the British judiciary itself to “ridicule”, they argue.
The open attack on the judiciary and escalation of rhetoric is a high-risk strategy supporters believe is necessary to “draw a line in the sand”…

Now there are press releases from Christian Concern and the Christian Institute.

…In a written submission to the chamber, it has been argued that the margin of appreciation has been applied in these cases so as to render the protections under Article 9 meaningless, and that UK courts were effectively outlawing Christian beliefs through a one-sided application of human rights law in favour of minority groups.
“The United Kingdom has an overall good record on human rights; in recent years this has come into sharp contrast due to a number of decisions made against Christians,” the submission says.
“Christian views on the upbringing of children by two parents have not been recognised as a religious view at all; whilst views on global warming, fox hunting, and even the BBC as a public broadcaster have been recognised.”
In Gary and Lillian’s case, the ECHR ruled that an infringement upon their religious freedom was necessary in order to protect the freedom of others, whilst in Shirley’s case it said that a similar interference was justified on the grounds of “health and safety”.

The submission argues that Gary “was dismissed for his ‘thoughts’ and ‘religious beliefs’ on a wholly theoretical basis”. Whilst “self-evidently absurd” health and safety rules were being used as a “ruse” to stop Christians from wearing the cross at work, whilst those of other faiths were free to manifest their beliefs.
Meanwhile, lawyers in Lillian’s case have argued that the ruling will have “huge implications” for the freedom of teachers and social workers to practice traditional beliefs on marriage and sexual ethics should same-sex ‘marriage’ be introduced.

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Gary and Shirley, said: “We are throwing down the gauntlet to David Cameron to decide once and for all whether he is in favour of religious freedom or not.
“These are cases where the only victims were the Christians trying to live out their faith in the workplace but who were driven out for doing so.
“As the pleadings in Gary McFarlane’s case make clear, Christians are now being punished for ‘thought crimes’.”


update on same-sex marriage in Scotland

The Church of Scotland has published a report for its General Assembly. Here’s the press release: Church Theological Report published and here is the full report (PDF).

David Pocklington has a good summary at Men and Women in Marriage, and the Church of Scotland.

The report was in response to a decision of the General Assembly of 2011 which appointed a Theological Commission to bring a Report to the General Assembly of 2013, which was to provide:

  • ‘a theological discussion of issues around same-sex relationships, civil partnerships and marriage’;
  • an examination of whether the Church should permit ministers to bless same-sex relationships ‘involving life-long commitments’, and to provide a ‘form of a blessing’, or liturgy, if so agreed, and;
  • ‘an examination of whether persons, who have entered into a civil partnership… should be eligible for…ordination… as ministers of Word and Sacrament or deacons in the context that no member of Presbytery will be required to take part in such ordination or induction against his or her conscience’.

The report considers issues of human sexuality from two opposing points of view:

  • The “Revisionist position” that the Church ought to regard as eligible for ordination as ministers of Word and Sacrament or deacons those who have entered into a civil partnership; and
  • “The Traditionalist position” that the Church ought not to regard as eligible for ordination as ministers of Word and Sacrament or deacons those who have entered into a civil partnership.

The seven members of the Theological Commission represented a broad spectrum of the views within the Church of Scotland, with those supporting Revisionist and Traditional points of view being equally represented…

Last year the Scottish Episcopal Church also produced a document, which is available via this page: Grosvenor Essay No 8: Marriage and Human Intimacy and the report itself is here (PDF).

This document did receive some criticism when it was published. See for example, this essay by Beth Routledge and these comments by Kelvin Holdsworth.


update on same-sex marriage laws

The French legislature gave final approval today, with a vote of 331 to 225 in the National Assembly.

While we await the scheduling of Report Stage in the House of Commons for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, there have been developments in several other countries recently.

Starting close to home, the Irish Constitutional Convention has voted strongly in favour of introducing legislation in the Republic of Ireland. Religion and Law UK summarises it this way:

The Irish Convention on the Constitution, established by Resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas to consider and report on various possible constitutional amendments, has recommended in favour of making constitutional provision for same-sex civil marriage. 79 per cent of delegates voted in favour, 19 per cent voted against and 1 per cent abstained. The Convention further voted that any amendment should be directive (“the State shall enact laws providing for same-sex marriage”) rather than permissive (“the State may enact laws… ”). Delegates also agreed that the State should enact laws incorporating any changed arrangements in regard to the parentage, guardianship and the upbringing of children.

A report will now be drafted and the Convention’s recommendations will go to Government – which is committed to responding within four months with a debate in the Oireachtas and, if Parliament agrees the recommendation to amend the Constitution, with a time-frame for a referendum. If Ireland does at some future date enact legislation for same-sex marriage and if it survives the necessary referendum, the likely outcome is that same-sex marriage will become possible in three of the jurisdictions in the [?British ?North-West European] Isles but not, for the foreseeable future, in the fourth: Northern Ireland.

The legislation in France has now passed both houses of the legislature and is expected to obtain its final approval on Tuesday, see this Guardian report: Violence grows as gay marriage bill divides France.

Not all religious bodies in France are totally opposed to this legislation, see this document from the Council of the Fédération protestante de France:

A Declaration on “marriage for all” by the Council of the Fédération protestante de France – 13 October 2012

About « marriage for all »

Since their birth in the sixteenth century Protestant Churches have never included marriage among the sacraments. It follows that they did not adopt the principle of placing marriage, which establishes the couple and the family, under the control of the church.

That means that they do not question the right of the state to legislate about marriage. Although everything contributes to making marriage of people of the same sex a matter for basic disagreement, the Fédération protestante de France does not intend to join a campaign, in view of the fact that it is not an issue at the heart of the Christian faith.

That does not prevent the giving of an opinion. In expressing a point of view on “marriage for all”, la Fédération protestante de France is not trying to a close a debate that has been running for some years between its member churches or within the Churches themselves, a debate which certainly concerns everyone. It refuses to engage in confrontation or relativism and sets out to affirm a process of dialogue…

Elsewhere, both Uruguay and New Zealand have recently completed legislative approvals. The situation in Uruguay is summarised by Pew Forum this way:

On April 10, the lower house of the Uruguayan Congress passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, just one week after the country’s Senate did so. The measure now goes to President José Mujica, who is expected to sign it into law. Once the law takes effect, Uruguay will become the second Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, following Argentina. Civil unions have been permitted in Uruguay since 2008, and gay and lesbian couples were given adoption rights in 2009.

Uruguay is among the most secular countries in Latin America. A Pew Research Center study on the global religious landscape as of 2010 found that roughly four-in-ten Uruguayans are unaffiliated with a particular religion. About 58 percent of Uruguayans are Christian; in the Latin America-Caribbean region as a whole, 90 percent of the population is Christian.

And the New Zealand report from the same source is here:

On April 17, the New Zealand Parliament gave final approval to a measure that legalizes same-sex marriage, making the Pacific island nation the 13th country in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region, to allow gays and lesbians to wed. The measure won approval by a 77-44 margin in the country’s unicameral legislature, including support from Prime Minister John Key. The bill still must be signed by the country’s governor-general (a process known as royal assent), but that step is considered a formality. The bill is expected to take effect in August 2013.

In 2005, New Zealand enacted legislation allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. The 2013 measure not only legalizes same-sex marriage but also allows for gay and lesbian couples to adopt children.

There have been some fascinating video reports from New Zealand:

  • The public gallery in parliament breaks into song following the vote, singing the traditional Maori love song Pokarekare Ana.
  • New Zealand MP Maurice Williamson sums up his views on a gay marriage bill in hilarious fashion.

And this more serious speech at second reading stage may also be of interest, as it deals with several issues which are of equal concern here.


Do Christians really oppose gay marriage?

Updated Sunday lunchtime

Last Wednesday, John Bingham wrote in the Telegraph Gay marriage: church leaders at odds with opinion in the pews, study suggests

Despite vocal opposition to David Cameron’s plan to allow same-sex couples to marry from the leaders of almost all the major faith groups, the faithful are just as likely to support it quietly as oppose it, the survey found.
And when those who actively describe themselves as religious but do not attend services regularly are included, more Roman Catholics and Anglicans back the redefinition of marriage than oppose it, it suggests.
Notably, the polling found that within most religious groups there are also minorities who believe that same-sex marriage is wrong but still think that it should be allowed.
The findings emerge from a survey of more than 4,000 people, commissioned by the organisers of the regular Westminster Faith Debates.

The press release from the debate organisers is available: Press Release – ‘Do Christians Really Oppose Gay Marriage?’

Now Jonathan Clatworthy at Modern Church has written Gay marriage poll and Christian morality in a post that makes the detailed survey data much more accessible.

…Most churches claim to welcome everyone irrespective of sexual orientation, but only 21% of the public think they do. Given the overall balance of opinion among religious people, this is telling: clearly the opinions of church leaders are making gays and lesbians feel much less welcome than the average church thinks they would be.

Other predictors are age (the older you are the more likely you are to oppose it) and gender (disapproval is mostly a man’s thing).

Overall, the more emphasis people give to religious authority, the less they support same-sex marriage. Those most opposed are those who both claim certainty about belief in God and also make decisions primarily on the basis of explicit religious authorities. The poll sets them at 9% of the population.

So gone are the days when church leaders played an influential role in the moral debates of the nation. Now their pronouncements are only of interest to church members, and even they only treat them as authoritative if they agree with them anyway…

Update A post referencing this poll, among others, has now appeared at BRIN and is titled Politico-Religious News. The same-sex marriage topic is the first one it deals with.

…Overall, 44% of Britons disapproved of the opposition to same-sex marriage of the mainstream Christian Churches, with 33% choosing to back the Churches, and 23% uncertain. Hostility to the Churches’ stance against same-sex marriage was notable among Labour and Liberal Democrat voters (54% and 56% respectively), the 18-24s (56%), Scots (52%), degree-holders (54%), those professing no religion (60%), definite disbelievers in God (60%), and those whose lives were guided by science (55%). Agreement with the Churches’ line was concentrated among Conservatives (46%), the over-60s (51%), Baptists (60%), Muslims (52%), the self-styled religious (54%), individuals practising their faith (51%), definite believers in God (50%), and among those guided by religious leaders (65%), their religion (58%), religious teachings (57%), or God (56%).

Notwithstanding a tendency for people of faith to be disproportionately less disposed to same-sex marriage, among Christians who contended that same-sex marriage is wrong only 26% explicitly cited religion or scripture as the basis for their opposition. More common explanations of their position were the assertion that marriage should be between a man and a woman (79%), the claim that same-sex marriage would undermine the traditional family of a mother and a father (63%), and the conviction that it is not the best context in which to bring up children (52%). Christians who regarded same-sex marriage as right viewed the matter in terms of equality (77%) and the non-exclusivity of faithful love to heterosexual couples (70%).

It should be remembered that the fieldwork for this YouGov poll took place immediately before the Second Reading debate on the Bill on 5 February, when the salience of same-sex marriage was very high in respect of public opinion and the media. It is possible that views have shifted somewhat since, because either a) the salience of the issue has dropped, b) the fall-out from the Cardinal O’Brien affair in Scotland has made Church lobbying against the Bill somewhat less credible in England and Wales, or c) some Christians accept the inevitability of the Bill becoming law, given the substantial Commons majority at Second Reading.

On the last point, it is certainly the case that the Churches have had to accommodate themselves to all manner of things over the years which instinctively they did not like the sound of. These include civil partnerships which, however lauded by most Church leaders now (as justification for same-sex marriage not being needed), were widely opposed by people of faith at the time of their introduction.



David Murrow explains Why traditional churches should stick with traditional worship.

The Church Times has this leader: Evidence of evil.

Christopher Howse writes in his Sacred Mysteries column in The Telegraph about The man who rewrote Bunyan.


Virginia Supreme Court rules in favour of TEC

It has been a full year since we last reported on the long-running property disputes between CANA and the Diocese of Virginia. (Previous reports here, and also here.)

This week the Supreme Court of Virginia made a ruling. Here is the Diocese of Virginia press release: Supreme Court of Virginia rules in favor of diocese.

In a dispute over the ownership of The Falls Church, the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled today in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church. The decision affirms an earlier ruling returning Episcopalians to their church home at The Falls Church in Falls Church, Va. The Falls Church Anglican had sought to overturn the lower court’s ruling in favor of the Diocese. The court also remanded a portion of the case back to the Fairfax Circuit Court for a decision to determine a minor fractional difference in funds owed to the Diocese of Virginia.

“We are grateful that the Supreme Court of Virginia has once again affirmed the right of Episcopalians to worship in their spiritual home at The Falls Church Episcopal,” said the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop of Virginia. “This decision ensures that Episcopalians will have a home for years to come in Falls Church, and frees all of us, on both sides of this issue, to preach the Gospel and teach the faith unencumbered by this dispute.”

The court also held that the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church have a trust interest in the property, in addition to the contractual and proprietary interests already found by the lower court. This provides greater certainty regarding church property ownership.

“The Falls Church Episcopal has continued to grow and thrive throughout this difficult time,” said Edward W. Jones, secretary of the Diocese and chief of staff. “This ruling brings closure to a long but worthwhile struggle, and will allow the members of the Episcopal congregation to put the issue behind them and to focus their full energies on the ministries of the Church. We hope that The Falls Church Anglican will join us in recognizing this decision as a final chapter in the property dispute.”

Bishop Johnston added, “We pray that all those who have found spiritual sustenance at The Falls Church Episcopal and our other churches will continue to move forward in a spirit of reconciliation and love.”

Nearly a year ago, the Diocese settled the conflict over property with six other congregations. The Falls Church Episcopal and the other continuing and newly formed congregations, including Church of the Epiphany, Herndon; St. Margaret’s, Woodbridge; St. Paul’s, Haymarket; and St. Stephen’s, Heathsville, spent the past year growing their membership, supporting outreach and strengthening their church communities. Members of the Diocese have joined them in these efforts through Dayspring, a diocesan-wide initiative that is bringing a spirit of vision and rebirth to our shared ministries as a church.

Read the full opinion of the Supreme Court of Virginia online.

Some press reports:

Washington Post Episcopal Church wins Virginia Supreme Court ruling

Falls Church News-Press Virginia Supreme Court Upholds Decision Conveying Falls Church Property to Diocese

There is a letter from The Reverend John Yates to the CANA congregation: The Falls Church statement on VA Supreme Court decision.


Wycliffe Hall Appoints New Principal

Wycliffe Hall announced earlier this week that their new principal is to be the Revd Dr Michael Lloyd.

Dr Lloyd is Chaplain of Queen’s College, Oxford. He brings nine years’ experience of teaching in theological colleges, as a Tutor in Theology at St Paul’s Theological Centre (a constituent part of St Mellitus College, London) and formerly a Tutor in Doctrine at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. He was Honorary Curate and Director of Training at St James the Less, Pimlico. His prior ministry was as Chaplain of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and earlier as Chaplain and Director of Studies in Theology at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He is the author of a popular-level systematic theology, entitled Café Theology, and is one of the regular voices on the Godpod (a theological podcast).

Dr Lloyd holds degrees in English from Cambridge University, Theology from St John’s College, Durham and a DPhil in Theology from Oxford University, where his doctoral thesis was on the problem of evil. He loves walking, theatre, cricket, music and Handel operas…

Madeleine Davies reports in the Church Times that Students dub next Principal of Wycliffe ‘Dr Evil’.



The CofE and Executive Remuneration

Updated Friday to add Church Times and Independent articles.

The Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group has today published its Executive remuneration policy.

The accompanying press release starts

The national investing bodies of the Church of England have today published a policy on executive remuneration adopted on the recommendation of the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG).

With the UK company AGM season getting under way, the national investing bodies will use the policy to determine their voting on remuneration reports and their engagement on executive remuneration with the companies in which they hold shares.

EIAG Chair James Featherby said: “Executive directors perform difficult and important roles that require high levels of skill, enterprise and innovation. All staff should be rewarded fairly and executive director roles understandably command good salaries. Our recommendations focus on bonuses. We want to see lower annual bonuses and greater emphasis on rewarding executives who manage ethical, social and environmental issues well and so deliver enduring corporate success over periods of five to seven years.”

The full press release is copied below the fold.

There is, not surprisingly, much press interest.

John Bingham in The Telegraph Church of England’s £8bn assault on ‘culture of entitlement and greed’ in City bonuses

In an overhaul of its own investment policy to be announced today, the Church – which controls more than £8 billion of assets – announced it will attempt to vote down any bonus worth more than an executive’s basic salary…

Rupert Neate in The Guardian CofE tells its fund managers to vote down excessive bonuses

The Church of England has instructed its fund managers to “challenge the bonus culture” and vote down pay policies that grant bosses more than 100% of their salary in annual bonuses…

Hannah Kuchler in the Financial Times Church loses faith in big bonuses

The Church of England has vowed to vote against outsized bonuses and short-term incentives as it tries to revive the spirit of last year’s shareholder spring at upcoming annual meetings…

Madeleine Davies in the Church Times Church investors urged to challenge ‘vastly unequal’ bonuses

Bonuses awarded to executive directors that exceed 100 per cent of their basic salary, should be challenged by the national investing bodies of the Church of England, a new policy published by the Church’s Ethical Advisory Group (EIAG), states.

The policy on executive renumeration has been adopted by the investing bodies, which will use it to determine their voting on the renumeration reports of the companies in which they hold shares…

John Collingridge in The Independent Church of England brings multi-billion voting clout into play against excessive City bonuses

The Church of England plans to use its £3 billion voting clout to tackle excessive City bonuses as it seeks to reignite last year’s “shareholder spring”.

The Church, which holds a significant amount of its £8 billion assets as shares in companies, said it will challenge the City’s bonus entitlement culture by rejecting soaring director pay deals as the annual meeting season gets under way.



Church Times: marriage report published earlier than planned

The Church Times has an article by Madeleine Davies headlined Committee member writes alternative marriage paper.

Much of the article is devoted to summarising that paper, which TA readers will already have seen here. But the article also contains some additional information:

…Speaking on Monday, Dr Methuen said that the article was published “as a contribution to the current debate”. The Commission’s paper was published a month earlier than originally planned, so that the publication of the two coincided.

The Commission’s paper was a response to its task to produce “a theological justification of the Church of England’s current position. This is obviously something very different from what my own piece is doing,” Dr Methuen said. “There is always a balance to be struck between the views of the individual members of the Commission, and the work the Commission produces…

And this:

…On Monday, the Revd Thomas Seville CR, a member of the Commission, said that the report was “as clear as it could be” on the question of what it refers to as “accommodations” for same-sex couples.

“The issue of producing a report in soundbites, which has its temptations, is that you end by giving people something superficial. ‘Well-designed accommodation’ is a good one, it leaves things open which we should not really have been speculating on.” The Commission had been “mindful” of the fact that the Pilling Review, which is looking at the Church’s approach to sexuality, is due to report: “We did not want to be messing up their patch,” he said.

The Commission had been “very concerned not to make judgements or condemnation about other forms of relating, but we were stating positively what the Church of England actually taught.” There was much discussion of the FAOC paper, but it was agreed that it should be sent on to the House of Bishops Standing Committee, and then to the House of Bishops.” Fr Seville said he hoped that the Commission would look at the issues raised in Dr Methuen’s paper in the future…

The article does not explain why the report was published a month earlier than planned.


Archbishop to meet LGBT Anglicans and Peter Tatchell

Updated again Saturday

The Archbishop of Canterbury will have two separate meetings today relating to LGBT issues:

First in the morning he will meet representatives of the LGB&T Anglican Coalition. There is information about this available here.

A meeting between the LGB&T Anglican Coalition and the Archbishop has been arranged for the 18th April. Major points which the Coalition wishes to put to the Archbishop are as follows:

How does the Archbishop intend to get a better understanding and appreciation of the frustration LGBT Christians are experiencing in the Church of England and what plans does he have to address this? How aware is the Archbishop that some parishes are inhospitable places for LGB&T people? Will he take a lead in helping to make it a safer place for them? If so, how and when does he propose to do this? How much experience does the Archbishop have of transgender people, and what are his thoughts and plans for greater transgender inclusion in the Church of England. What are the Archbishop’s views on the Church of England permitting churches to offer prayer and dedication (or prayer and thanksgiving) for couples who have had a civil partnership (or civil marriage) ceremony? What are the Archbishop’s views on liturgies of blessing for same sex couples? What protection can clergy who are in Civil Partnerships expect from diocesan bishops who are openly hostile to such couples and are perceived as deeply homophobic? What opportunities might there be for the care of LGB&T ordinands at theological colleges? The Archbishop’s views on the need for greater education on LGB&T issues within the Church of England. The Archbishop’s views on the House of Bishops reports on Civil Partnerships and Human Sexuality.

Second in the afternoon he will meet Peter Tatchell. There is a press statement about that also: Archbishop Welby to meet Peter Tatchell. This follows the open letter he sent to the archbishop which TA reported here.

Updates Friday

There are several reports of the second meeting in the media; the press release from Peter Tatchell is here: Archbishop Welby struggles to support gay equality.
Telegraph Archbishop backs law change to allow straight civil partnerships
Independent New Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, backs civil partnerships for heterosexual couples
Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury ‘supports civil partnerships for heterosexuals’
Reuters Anglican head holds talks on gay marriage with activist

Update Saturday

Peter Tatchell has written this further article: Discrimination is unchristian. The church must stop it.

…Archbishop Welby is clearly struggling to reconcile his support for loving, stable same-sex relationships with his opposition to same-sex marriage. I got the impression that he wants to support gay equality but feels bound by church tradition. He accepts that discrimination is not a Christian value but can’t bring himself to state publicly that banning gay couples from getting married is discrimination and wrong.

The Archbishop told me “gay people are not intrinsically different from straight people” but there is an “intrinsic difference in the nature of same-sex relationships” and this is a sufficient reason to deny gay couples the right to marry, even in civil ceremonies in register offices. When pressed to say why this “intrinsic difference” justified banning same-sex marriage he merely replied: “They are just different.”

I’m an optimist. I want to believe the best in people. That’s why I am hopeful that in time the Archbishop will resolve his moral dilemmas and encourage the church to move closer to gay equality. He struck me as a genuine, sincere, open-minded person, willing to listen and rethink his position. I’m ready to give him a chance. Time will tell…


CofE marriage report: last November's Questions in Synod

At the General Synod meeting last November, some Questions were asked about the report that has recently been published.

The full transcript of Questions and Answers is available here, but the section relating to the report (pages 43-44) is copied in full below the line.

Readers may wish to ask themselves whether the report that has now been published fits the description given in the answer:

…The Committee saw no need for a review of the teaching document issued by the House in 1999. It did, however, ask the Commission to produce a short document summarizing the Church’s doctrine of marriage and taking account of further theological work that has appeared since.

The full text of the 1999 document mentioned above can be found here: Marriage: A Teaching Document (PDF).



CofE marriage report: yet another critique

The Reverend Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente who is Vicar of St James, New Malden, has written a detailed critical article about the marriage report. You can read about it on the Inclusive Church website, here.

‘Men and Women in Marriage’ does not emanate from the church as a whole, not even from its synod. It was devised because the Faith and Order Commission suggested under their own steam to the bishops that it would be ‘timely to produce a short summary of the Church of England’s understanding of marriage.’ The bishops agreed. The document that ensued is unfortunately neither distinctly Anglican, nor a summary of anything, nor is it short. Any attempt to make sense of it needs to be a bit lengthy. I am as sorry about this as I am about the introduction’s rather disingenuous claim that the whole thing is merely offered to you for study. Issues in Human Sexuality was similarly ‘commended for study’ but seems to have acquired more authority than canon law and is still sadly used to bludgeon gay faithful and liberal clergy some 25 years later. Never lose heart however, the document is shockingly careless in its scholarship, sometimes poorly argued, but very conveniently divided into small paragraphs easy to confute…


Church in Wales Governing Body: report of meeting

See our earlier report here.

There is now a “Highlights” report of the meeting available as a PDF file.

There is further detail about the church’s position in respect of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in the (bi-lingual) report of the Standing Committee.

There are some interesting Ministry Statistics in this report.