Thinking Anglicans

Challenges to the quadruple locks?

First of all, there appeared to have been questions raised in the Sikh community. The Telegraph carried a report Religion told to halt weddings over gay rights which included this:

Sikh temples have been advised to halt all civil marriage ceremonies on their premises to protect them from possible legal challenges for refusing to conduct same-sex weddings…

The warning comes in a letter to Sikh places of worship, known as gurdwaras, from Sikhs In England, a specialist advisory body. It urges them to consider deregistering as a venue for civil weddings — which would leave gurdwaras performing wedding rites with no legal force.

Couples would have to attend a separate ceremony in a register office or other venue recognised by their local council. Although the advice is not binding, it is understood that it is being taken seriously.

But Law & Religion UK reports in Sikh Council caution on ending civil marriage ceremonies that The Sikh Council UK (SCUK) – the largest representative body of Sikhs in the UK – has issued a Press Release which is supported by advice and guidance for Gurdwaras, and other material including a letter from Helen Grant, Minister for Women and Equalities, and an email from Melanie Field, Deputy Director, Equal Marriage Team.

All of this material is excellently summarised by David Pocklington.

Second, there have been widespread media reports of a legal challenge to be made by a couple in Essex, see the original news report Gay dads set to sue over church same-sex marriage opt-out.

However, there are no details of how they think they can do this. David Pocklington writes (scroll down):

We note that a same-sex couple Barrie and Tony Drewitt-Barlow have indicated that they are “planning a legal challenge against the Church of England’s refusal to conduct same-sex weddings”: presumably, an application for judicial review of the statutory ban on the Church of England conducting same-sex marriages that was included in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 :see especially s 4(1). Barrie Drewitt-Barlow was reported as saying “‘I am a Christian – a practising Christian. My children have all been brought up as Christians and are part of the local parish church in Danbury”.

It is perhaps useful that such a challenge has come so close to the Royal Assent to the Act; and the courts will have an opportunity to give judicial consideration to the strength of the so-called “quadruple lock”. The Government’s willingness to put its money where its mouth is will be a good indication of whether the approach of Sikhs In England or of the Sikh Council UK is the more prudent.

A challenge was bound to happen, whatever the Government may have thought when the policy was first being formulated. The suspicion must be that if the case ends up in Strasbourg the ECtHR would regard the legislation as within the margin of appreciation of states parties; and the recent decision in Sindicatul Păstorul cel Bun v Romania [2013] ECHR 646 seems to suggest that the Court is reluctant to interfere in the internal affairs of religious organisations. But who knows? – With man it is impossible, but with Strasbourg all things are possible.


Chair of the Business Committee

The Revd Canon Sue Booys has been elected Chair of the Business Committee of the General Synod of the Church of England, it was announced today. The detailed election results are here.

Canon Booys is team rector of the Dorchester Team of Churches in the diocese of Oxford.



Rachel Held Evans writes for CNN about Why millennials are leaving the church.

John Flowers and Karen Vannoy write for Ministry Matters Why Worship Shouldn’t Feel Like Family.

Some of our readers may find this new blog helpful: The Low Churchman’s Guide to the Solemn High Mass.

Stanley Hauerwas asks Does Anglicanism have a future? The priority of the local and the inevitability of conflict at ABC Religion and Ethics.

Benny Hazlehurst writes for the Church of England Newspaper about Demythologising Pride.

Linda Woodhead writes for the OUP blog that Wonga-bashing won’t save the Church of England.

Giles Fraser argues in The Guardian that Far from confining itself to matters spiritual, the church has a duty to get involved in politics.

Andrew Goddard writes for Fulcrum about Sexual Revolution: Responding Reasonably and Faithfully.


New Bishop of Tewkesbury is announced

10 Downing Street has announced:

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Martyn James Snow, BSc, BTh, MA, Archdeacon of Sheffield and Rotherham in the diocese of Sheffield to the Suffragan See of Tewkesbury, in the Diocese of Gloucester, in succession to the Right Reverend John Stewart Went, MA, on his resignation on 16 April 2013…

The Diocese of Gloucester has The New Bishop of Tewkesbury has been announced.

The Diocese of Sheffield has Archdeacon Martyn Snow appointed as The New Bishop of Tewkesbury.


New Bishop of Ebbsfleet is announced

10 Downing Street has announced:

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Jonathan Michael Goodall, BMus, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Personal Chaplain and Ecumenical Secretary at Lambeth Palace, to the Suffragan See of Ebbsfleet in the Diocese of Canterbury, in succession to the Right Reverend Jonathan Mark Richard Baker, BA, MPhil, on his translation to the Suffragan See of Fulham on 13 June 2013…

Lambeth Palace has New Bishop of Ebbsfleet announced.

Forward in Faith has this welcome:

Forward in Faith welcomes the appointment of Canon Jonathan Goodall SSC as Bishop of Ebbsfleet.

In addition to his gifts as a priest and pastor, Fr Jonathan brings with him significant diocesan and national experience. As a former bishop’s chaplain, as a staff member at Lambeth Palace, and as a key participant in ecumenical relationships and dialogue nationally and internationally, he is well equipped for his new role as bishop, counsellor, spokesman and advocate. His expertise will complement that of the other Provincial Episcopal Visitors, the Bishop of Fulham, and the other bishops of the Society, with whom he will work closely.

We wish to express our gratitude to the Archbishop of Canterbury. In making this appointment, he has given a clear signal about the continuance of appropriate episcopal care for our parishes and people.

We look forward to welcoming Fr Jonathan to membership of Forward in Faith and of its Council and National Assembly.

And there is this: Society Bishops welcome appointment of Jonathan Goodall as Bishop of Ebbsfleet.

The Ebbsfleet website has: We have a bishop! (scroll down for a message from the new bishop).


London Church Census

British Religion in Numbers reported back in June on this:

…Church attendance in Greater London grew by 16% between 2005 and 2012, from 620,000 to 720,000, representing 9% of the capital’s population at the latter date, and thereby bucking the downward trend in most national religious indicators. The number of places of worship in London also rose during these seven years, by 17% from 4,100 to 4,800. Growth was especially to be found among black majority and immigrant churches, which together accounted for 27% of all Christian places of worship in London in 2012 and 24% of churchgoers. Black people were far more likely to attend services than whites (19% against 8%), and in Inner London 48% of worshippers were black.

This reliance upon ethnicity and migration also explains other facts revealed by the census, such as that 14% of all churches use a language other than English or that 52% of attenders are in evangelical churches (reflecting the evangelical proclivities of black Christians). By contrast, many traditional, smaller places of worship (with congregations under 200) are still contracting; they represent 50% of churches but just 22% of churchgoers. Overall, Anglicans are declining and Catholics only just growing. Moreover, the net increase of 100,000 worshippers from 2005 to 2012 disproportionately comprised women (82%), although the female majority in congregations as a whole was much lower (56%). The mean age of attenders was 41 years, ranging from 33 in the Pentecostal and New Churches to 56 for the Methodist and United Reformed Churches…

More recently Crossing London reported:

…The first findings from The London Church Census, commissioned by London City Mission and undertaken by the Brierley Consultancy in October 2012, indicate that 720,000 people in London attend church, nearly 100,000 more than the last time churchgoing was counted seven years ago. That’s an increase of 16% between 2005 and 2012.
“We are very encouraged to see from this census that many hundreds of thousands of people still consider ‘churchgoing’ as an important part of their lives,” said Andy Frost, Mission Director of Crossing London…

…A summary of the findings of the 2012 London Church Census can be found at

There are several interesting charts and tables in that last document.