First, there are two reports so far of a London press conference yesterday about GAFCON, and it appears there may be a third one to come in the Church Times.
The Telegraph reported it this way: Church facing divide over blessings for same-sex couples
The Church of England is facing a split over proposals to offer a formal blessing for gay couples.
Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester, warned on Tuesday that a move to celebrate same-sex relationships in church would be a “red line” for traditionalist parishes.
Clergy and lay members of the Church opposed to any relaxation of the rules could reject the authority of any bishops who supported the move, he warned…
The Guardian commented on it this way: It started as a split over gay clergy. But now the Anglican Communion is dead.
What, you gave a schism and nobody came? When six people hold a press briefing and three journalists attend, you know the story is over, and on Tuesday morning that is what happened when the evangelical wing of the Church of England announced – yet again – its plans to rebel against any open accommodation with gay people.
There were two retired bishops. There were three vicars and one of their wives. They talked to three journalists for an hour about their experiences at a conference of conservative Anglicans, called Gafcon, which met in Nairobi last week. This was set up as a protest against the reluctance of the official Anglican Communion to expel the Americans (who pay for it) as a punishment for their enthusiasm for openly gay clergy.
Once upon a time, this would have been a story. We heard threats to withhold money from the central bodies of the Church of England, threats to ignore the authority of other bishops, threats of defections to their grouping from the mainstream of opinion here. All these things will no doubt happen, as they have been happening in a small way for the past 20 years. What’s new is that no one any longer cares. The split has happened, and it turns out not to matter at all…
The Telegraph report refers to a blog post by Peter Ould concerning the contents of the forthcoming Pilling Report. That can be found here: The Path After Pilling.
I have now confirmed from a number of sources what the Pilling Report is going to recommend. The final draft is ready and it will propose that the Church of England introduce some form of liturgy that will bless same-sex relationships. There is absolutely no doubt that this is what the outcome of the committee’s deliberations will be – This is not spin, it is not trying to influence the outcome, it is the real deal. Whilst the committee will not recommend adapting our services of Holy Matrimony to include same-sex marriages, I am led to understand that it will propose a formal rite that will provide an alternative for those in a formal same-sex union (Civil Partnership or Marriage) on the basis that we cannot presume such a relationship is sexual. Once that happens we will have formally declared same-sex unions to be holy. In the Church of England our liturgy is our doctrine and the moment we have a rite that in any way affirms same-sex relationships then we will have fundamentally changed what we believe…
Arun Arora has commented about this on Twitter, see Response from Church of England:
@thechurchmouse @PeterOuld @edwardmalnick @John_Bingham its pure nonsense. all drafts to date have recommended against liturgy for these.
@PeterOuld @thechurchmouse @edwardmalnick @John_Bingham Also final draft is not written so your blog -whilst a good read-is pure conjecture
Colin Coward has a blog article too: Is Pilling going to recommend the blessing of gay relationships?
Update 3 pm
And today, the Church of England has issued this statement: Pilling Commission on human sexuality. The full text is copied below the fold.
The Church of England has announced that the Revd Libby Lane, Dean of Women in Ministry in the Chester Diocese has been elected by the NW region as their female representative in the House of Bishops.
This completes these elections. The full list of representatives is:
Ven Annette Cooper, Archdeacon of Colchester (East Anglia)
Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of York (North East)
Ven Joanne Grenfell, Archdeacon of Portsdown (South and Central)
Revd Libby Lane, Dean of Women in Ministry, Chester Diocese (North West)
Ven Nicola Sullivan, Archdeacon of Wells (South West)
Revd Preb Dr Jane Tillier, Preb of Lichfield Cathedral (West Midlands)
Ven Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney (South East)
Ven Christine Wilson, Archdeacon of Chesterfield (East Midlands)
The representatives will take up their roles on 1st December.11 Comments
The Catholic Group in General Synod has also issued a statement:
STATEMENT FROM FATHER SIMON KILLWICK, CHAIRMAN OF THE CATHOLIC GROUP IN GENERAL SYNOD
on the report of the Steering Committee on Women in the Episcopate to General Synod for November 2013 Group of Sessions
“The Catholic Group recognises that a huge amount of work has gone into producing a comprehensive and detailed legislative package, work which has been costly in spiritual and emotional terms, as well as in time – we are deeply grateful to all the members of the Steering Committee for all that they have done for the Church.
“Naturally, such a complex package will need careful study and prayer by all, rather than instant responses, and we will comment further in due course. However, as important as the detail of the proposals themselves, will be the spirit in which they are received and taken forward – a spirit of reconciliation and trust, which we believe has been growing this year, by the grace of God; it is in that light that we shall study them.”
Forward in Faith has issued this response:
Women in the Episcopate: Initial Response to the Proposals
Forward in Faith thanks the members of the Steering Committee for their work.
The proposed combination of a House of Bishops’ Declaration with a Mandatory Disputes Resolution Procedure represents a new and different approach which deserves careful consideration.
In line with the resolution passed at our National Assembly, we shall be examining the proposals closely over the coming weeks to see how far they would ensure that our parishes and their clergy and people have continued access to a ministry that will make it possible for us to flourish within the life and structures of the Church of England. We shall also be attentive to the responses of others within the Church.
After discussion, prayer and reflection, we envisage commenting further during November, in the run-up to the General Synod debates.
Women and the Church has issued this response:
WATCH encouraged following publication of WiE Steering Group’s draft legislation
The Women in the Episcopate draft legislation put forward for General Synod next month by the Steering Group contains much to encourage those campaigning for the full inclusion of women at every level of the Church. WATCH’s thanks and prayers go to those on the Steering Group working hard to achieve this and who worked under the principles of simplicity, reciprocity and mutuality.
There is much in the report that is welcomed by WATCH. Firstly, that the legislation put forward is simple and General Synod’s desire to resolve the issue as quickly and as simply as possible has been reflected in the draft legislation. WATCH also supports the recommendation of the Group to legislate on this issue through a Bishops’ Declaration, not an Act of Synod, and the wholehearted endorsement of women’s ministry in the five guiding principles. It is particularly encouraging that every diocese will have a bishop, whether the diocesan or suffragan, who ordains women to the priesthood with emphasis on consultation between diocesan bishops and parishes and diocesan bishops and PEVs.
The appointment of an Independent Reviewer is a new proposal and one which allows a forum for all sides to raise issues and concerns. As a new development, it will be interesting to see how this is received by all groups involved.
WATCH has noted the proposed arrangements for those opposed to women holding leadership roles in the church. The church will rarely be unanimous about the appointment of particular people as bishops but it is important that the leadership of bishops is widely recognized and respected amongst those they are appointed to lead.
WATCH thanks those involved in the Steering Group for their hard work and commitment to this issue and remains committed to working towards the highest possible degree of communion.
Anne Stevens, a WATCH vice chair said, ‘It’s good to see draft legislation that is so clear and concise, and we look forward to a day of great national rejoicing when women are finally made bishops. We’re grateful to the Steering Committee for all their hard work on the Bishops’ Declaration, which offers people on all sides of the debate a new opportunity to move forward in a spirit of trust and openness to one another.’
There was an earlier press release containing the text of a resolution agreed by an unspecified number of GAFCON bishops: GAFCON votes to expand.
Much other material is available from this page. English readers may be particularly interested in the following contributions:
Baptism has been in the news this week, prompting these opinions.
Bosco Peters writes about CofE baptism inconsistency.
Creede Hinshaw writes for the Albany Herald that Coverage misses the mark on baptism.
Joanna Moorhead writes for The Guardian that Prince George is being baptised – if only more children were.
Edward Green offers these Top 10 facts about Christenings.
Rachel Held Evans asks Will the real complementarian please stand up?
This has prompted Richard Beck to write this series of articles.
Let’s Stop Calling It Complementarianism
Hierarchical Complementarianism Implies Ontological Ineptitude
Some Contrasts Regarding Gender Roles in Evangelicalism and Catholicism
Andrew Brown writes for The Guardian about The archbishop, the duchess and the politics of poverty.
Miroslav Volf asks What’s in a name? Christians, Muslims and the worship of the One God at ABC Religion and Ethics.4 Comments
Madeleine Davies Church Times ‘Trust but verify’ summarises new women-bishops package, says Fittall
Sam Jones The Guardian Church of England could have female bishops by 2014, says committee
Edward Malnick The Telegraph Ombudsman could rule on Church of England disputes
Thomas Penny Bloomberg Church of England May Back Women Bishops as Soon as Next Year
The Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, chair of the Steering Committee was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme this morning. You can listen to the programme here; the interview starts at 01:47:54.
Kevin Rawlinson The Guardian Church of England ombudsman could resolve disputes over women bishops5 Comments
Updated Friday 1 November
General Synod meets next month from 18 to 20 November, and the papers are starting to appear online. Most became available today and others will appear on 1 November.
There is a zip file of all the papers issued today (25 October).
This list is in numerical order, with links to the individual papers and a note of the day on which debate is scheduled. It will be updated as more papers become available.
GS 1906 – The work of the Elections Review Group: Second Report from the Business Committee [Wednesday]
GS 1915 – Agenda November 2013
GS 1916 – Report by the Business Committee [Monday]
GS 1917 – Intentional Evangelism [Monday]
GS 1918 – Draft Diocese of Leeds Resolution [Monday]
GS 1920 – The Church School of the Future [Tuesday]
GS 1923 – Forty Eighth Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Tuesday]
GS 1924 – Report of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate [Wednesday]
GS 1925 – Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure [Wednesday]
GS 1926 – Draft Amending Canon No.33 [Wednesday]
GS 1925-6x – Explanatory Memorandum [Wednesday]
Synod members have also been sent these other papers.13 Comments
The agenda for next month’s meeting of General Synod was released this morning. It was accompanied by this press release.
NEWS from the Church of England
For Immediate Release
Agenda for November 2013 General Synod
The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London in November for a three day meeting from 1.45 pm on Monday 18th November until 5.30 pm on Wednesday 20th November.
The agenda for the meeting is published today with the progression of legislation for enabling Women to become Bishops predominating. During its meeting Synod will consider the package of proposals drawn up by the Steering Committee for the draft legislation on women in the episcopate. There will also be debates on Evangelism and Church Schools.
Synod’s first debate on Monday will be on Intentional Evangelism, with the Archbishop of York proposing a motion reflecting the Church’s priority of evangelism and making of new disciples. The motion seeks to establish a new Task group on Evangelism with its first priority being a new call to prayer in June 2014.
On Monday evening the Bishop of Rochester will give a presentation of its proposals to admit women to the episcopate to aid discussion in small groups on the morning of Tuesday 19th November. This group work follows on from the generally well-received group work which took place at the July 2013 General Synod. There will then be two debates on Women in the Episcopate on Wednesday 20th November. In the morning there will be a debate on the Steering Committee’s Report which describes the package of proposals that the Committee has prepared in accordance with the mandate set by the Synod in July and includes the first draft of a House of Bishops declaration and a disputes resolution procedure. The Synod will be invited to welcome the proposals and the five guiding principles, already agreed by the House of Bishops, which underpin them.
Then before lunch Synod will move on to give first consideration to the draft Measure and draft Amending Canon prepared by the Committee. The Chair of the Steering Committee will move that the legislation should be committed for revision in full Synod without a prior Revision Committee Stage. The expectation is that the Revision Stage would be held in February.
On Monday afternoon, there will be a debate on Intentional Evangelism. The motion being debated supports the formation of an Archbishops’ Task Group on Evangelism. The debate is co-sponsored by the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council.
On Tuesday afternoon there will be a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York. This will be followed by a debate on a report from the Board of Education on the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the 2012 Chadwick Report on ‘The Church School of the Future’. The Bishop of Oxford, as Chair of the National Society and the Board of Education will present the progress report and invite Synod to endorse the next phase of the implementation process.
Other items of business on the synod’s agenda include the system for elections to the House of Laity and a debate on a Diocesan Synod Motion from London Diocese on the Review of the Workings of the General Synod which will look at the frequency and length of groups of sessions, the ways in which debate takes place and decisions are made and ‘whether…the current synodical framework and representative structures are still fit for purpose.’
Contingency business takes the form of two related Diocesan Synod Motions from Bradford and Wakefield. The Bradford Diocesan Synod calls on the Archbishops’ council ‘to introduce legislation to enable dioceses of the Church of England to be named by reference either to a city or substantial town or to a geographical area.’ The Wakefield Diocesan Synod Motion on The Nature and Structure of the Church of England asks the House of Bishops to facilitate a debate about the organisational shape of the Church.
Finally, the Synod will be considering several other pieces of legislation in addition to that relating to women in the episcopate, including a draft Measure intended to take further the reform of the faculty jurisdiction which was begun in July.
The full agenda can be viewed online here.
The new proposals to allow women to be consecrated as bishops in the Church of England were published this morning. They will be debated at General Synod on Wednesday 20 November, and comprise these four papers:
GS 1924 – Report of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate
GS 1925 – Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure
GS 1926 – Draft Amending Canon No.33
GS 1925-6x – Explanatory Memorandum
A guide to these papers [GS Misc 1061] has also been published and is copied below.
GS Misc 1061
Women in the episcopate- guide to the papers
1. In view of the significance of the material that it has produced and the fact that it is distributed across several documents the Steering Committee thought that Synod members might find it helpful to have a very short note on how they fit together.
2. The Steering Committee’s report is at GS 1924 and is the natural place to start. It gives an overview of the Committee’s work and of the package of proposals that it is recommending. It also explains the motion that the Steering Committee is bringing to the Synod in November and what the process would be thereafter.
3. Drafts of two elements of the package – the House of Bishops’ Declaration and the Regulations establishing a disputes resolution procedure – are set out at Annexes A and B of the report. In addition there is some background material on the disputes resolution procedure at Annex C. The drafts of the Declaration and the Regulations are, at this stage, proposals to the House of Bishops, which will consider them in more detail in December and then bring them, together with a motion for debate, to the Synod in February.
4. The other two elements of the package are the draft Measure and Amending Canon. These can be found at GS 1925 and 1926 respectively, together with an Explanatory Memorandum from the Legal Office at GS 1925-6X.
5. These two items of legislation are being brought for first consideration in November. The Steering Committee, with the consent of the Business Committee, is proposing that they be committed for revision in full Synod. This would enable all four elements of the package to be considered at the same group of sessions in February.
William Fittall 23 October 2013
There is also Women in the Episcopate: A Statement from the Archbishops which is copied below the fold.2 Comments
The 2013 National Assembly of Forward in Faith was held at the Church of St Alban the Martyr, Holborn, London on Saturday 19 October.
There is a press release, ‘Grow the Church and win souls for Christ’, says Forward in Faith Chairman and another which contains the full text of the resolution which was passed by the Assembly: Women in the Episcopate: National Assembly Resolution. This is copied below the fold.
There are also numerous audio files linked from this page.
One that may interest General Synod members is the recording of remarks by The Revd Paul Benfield about the recent work of the Steering Committee for the new legislation for women bishops. This can be found here.13 Comments
The Archbishop of Canterbury sent a video message to GAFCON 2013 and this is now available online: Archbishop’s message to GAFCON 2013: seek holiness and unity. The link also includes a transcript of the archbishop’s message and this summary:
Archbishop Justin sent a video greeting to the Second Global Anglican Future (GAFCON) Conference, which is taking place in Nairobi this week. He told them that it was his prayer that they would ‘meet Jesus afresh with elation and joy’.
The Archbishop was unable to attend the GAFCON meeting because of previous commitments, including the baptism of Prince George on Wednesday.
In his message, Archbishop Justin affirms the recent call by the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, who chairs the GAFCON Primates Council, for the Church to proclaim the gospel confidently.
To do this, Archbishop Justin says, ‘we need to be a Church that is holy’. That is a ‘massive challenge’ to churches in different contexts around the world, but is ‘absolutely critical to our proclamation of the gospel’.
To proclaim the gospel effectively, the Church must also be ‘in unity’, the Archbishop says. ‘It doesn’t mean being unanimous, all saying exactly the same thing in exactly the same way. It means that, as Jesus prays in John 17, that we demonstrate by our love for one another that Jesus is the Son of God and therefore people are drawn to believe in him. We’ve got to find ways of doing that and I don’t underestimate the challenge that is to all of us.’
Professor Mark Hill QC has written a guest post at Law and Religion UK entitled Anglican Bishop’s refusal to consider gay man for ordination upheld by New Zealand Human Rights Review Tribunal.
On 17 October the Human Rights Review Tribunal of New Zealand handed down a judgment which will be keenly studied both by religious organisations and by LGBT groups. The case of Gay and Lesbian Clergy Anti-Discrimination Society v Bishop of Auckland  NZHRRT 36 concerned Mr Eugene Sisneros, who wished to undergo a period of discernment to test his call for ordained ministry. The Bishop of Auckland refused to allow him to do so because Mr Sisneros was in an unmarried relationship. Mr Sisneros brought proceedings on the basis of direct discrimination (on his marital status) and indirect discrimination (due to his sexual orientation).
Under New Zealand law, section 38 of the Human Rights Act 1993 makes it unlawful for employer organisations to discriminate on a number of prohibited grounds, one of which is sexual orientation. However, section 39 provides an exception in relation to a calling for the purposes of an organised religion. The substantive issue for the Tribunal was whether this statutory exception applied to the facts of the case…
Curiously that post does not (yet) contain a link to the full text of the decision, which is available as a PDF file, over here.
There is another discussion of this case (which does contain such a link) by Neil Addison at Religion Law Blog titled Gay and Lesbian Clergy v Bishop of Auckland.12 Comments
Updated Wednesday evening
On Wednesday 23 October 2013 the Archbishop of Canterbury will baptize His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge in a private ceremony at The Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace.
The archbishop has recorded a five-about minute video in which he talks about this event and the broader significance of baptism.
Here are just a few of the many articles in press.
The Guardian has this editorial today: In praise of … a right royal dunking.
The archbishop published this after the service: Prince George’s christening: read highlights from the Archbishop’s address.6 Comments
The full sermon is available as a video, here (27 minutes).
The context of this event is explained here.
Lambeth Palace has issued this press release: Archbishop Justin visits Nairobi.
The Church Times carries this news report by Madeleine Davies New structures needed, Welby tells GAFCON Primates and this additional commentary Archbishop and Gafcon Leaders size each other up by George Conger.
There is also this report by George Conger Welby backs GAFCON vision for a renewed Church which says there were some changes made to the sermon at its second delivery.31 Comments
The documents are all linked in his first paragraph:
On 3 October, the Ministry of Justice published the Consultation Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 Shared Buildings Regulations, which closes in less than a month on 1 November 2013. In addition to the Consultation, the MoJ has published Draft Regulations (as Annex A) and Revised provisions of the Marriage Act 1949 for Registration of Shared Buildings for marriages of same sex couples (as Annex B). The Consultation is in the form of an on-line survey, although the 9 questions and associated descriptive material are contained in the consultation document at pages 12 to 20.
The full text of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 can be found here in PDF format.5 Comments
Glenn Davies, the new Archbishop of Sydney, gave his first presidential address to his diocesan synod this week. ABC Religion and Ethics has published this slightly abbreviated version: Challenges for the gospel: Christian witness and the future of Anglicanism in Sydney.
Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian that To ask whether religions are rational is like asking whether they are pale green.
Shirley Pearce asks in the Church Times: Contentment or terror?14 Comments
The Church of England has published its Statistics for Mission 2012: Ministry today. You can download them here.
There is this accompanying press release.
CofE ministry playing vital role in every community, show latest stats
18 October 2013
Ministry Statistics for 2012, published today by the Research and Statistics Division of the Archbishops’ Council, show a change in patterns of ministry over the past 10 years with numbers remaining largely constant.
The overall number of diocesan licensed clergy declined by 1% in the decade between 2002 and 2012. The number of full-time stipendiary clergy was 7,798 in 2012, a fall of 2% since 2011. They now represent 69% of all licensed clergy compared to 80% in 2002. Over the same period the number of self-supporting ministers increased by 50% from 2,091 in 2002 to 3,148.
The 2012 statistics show a continuing trend of increase in the proportion of female clergy in all categories. Whereas in 2012 there were 6,017 male full-time stipendiary clergy compared with 7,920 in 2002, a fall of 24%, in the same period their female counterparts have increased by 41% from 1,262 to 1,781. Women now account for 21% or one in five incumbents or those of incumbent status. Amongst senior clergy the percentage has increased from 4% to 11%.
The number of ordinations has remained broadly stable since 2002. In 2012 22% of recommended candidates were under the age of 30, compared to 15% in both 2002 and 2007. This reflects a focus in the dioceses on encouraging vocations among younger people.
Ven Julian Hubbard, the Church of England’s director of ministry said: “These statistics reflect changing patterns of ministry, to meet the changing demands of 21st Century life, with an increasing reliance on self-supporting ministers and the spread of ministry teams. The continued commitment to ministry in the Church if England shows the importance of the Church as a Christian presence in every community.”
Confirmation of the two choices mentioned here earlier this week comes in a press release today which reveals that only the North West Region has not yet completed its election process.
17 October 2013
Further results from the elections for female representatives to attend the House of Bishops have been announced. At its meeting of 7 February 2013 the House of Bishops decided that eight senior women clergy, elected regionally, will participate in all meetings of the House until such time as there are six female Bishops who will sit as of right.
The latest four elected members are:
- East Midlands region – Ven Christine Wilson, Archdeacon of Chesterfield
- West Midlands region – Revd Preb. Dr Jane Tillier, Preb of Lichfield Cathedral
- East Anglia region – Ven Annette Cooper, Archdeacon of Colchester
- South and Central region – Ven Joanne Grenfell, Archdeacon of Portsdown
This follows a previous announcement of the first three female representatives on the 26th September.
- South West region – Ven Nicola Sullivan, Archdeacon of Wells
- North East region – Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of York
- South East region – Ven Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney
The representatives will take up their roles on 1st December.
The Notes following the text include the statement that the result for the election in the North West region is expected to be announced before the end of October.1 Comment
The Tab is a student online newspaper which functions at many UK universities.
The Tab Cambridge has this feature article in which the “Current Master of Magdalene and ex-Archbishop of Canterbury talks to JAMIE WEBB about homosexuality, gender equality, and those Game of Thrones rumours…”
Read it all at The Tab meets… Rowan Williams.
The question and answer getting the most media attention is copied below. But there are others.
On the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage, do you consider your own views and those of the church as being out of touch with the views of your students at Cambridge, and do you think that’s a problem?
I think it is quite a problem. This is the one area where there is the deepest sense of the church being out of step with what the rest of the culture take for granted. I think it’s quite difficult for some people outside of the church to recognise that there is something in the matter of several thousand years of assumption, reflection and ethical practice here which isn’t likely to be overturned in a moment. But, all that being said, I think the church has to put its hands up and say our attitude towards gay people has at times been appallingly violent. Even now it can be unconsciously patronising and demeaning, and that really doesn’t help. We have to face the fact that we’ve deeply failed a lot of gay and lesbian people, not only historically but more recently as well. I think that there is a very strong, again theological, case for thinking again about our attitudes towards homosexuality: but I’m a bit hesitant about whether marriage is the right category to talk about same sex relation, and I think there is a debate we haven’t quite had about that. But in a sense that’s water under the bridge, the decision has been taken, things move on. Looking back over my time as Archbishop I think that’s what most people will remember about the last ten years: ‘oh, he was that bloke who was so bogged down in issues about sexuality’.
The election of another of the eight women to attend the House of Bishops has been announced by the Diocese of Lichfield. She is the Revd Dr Jane Tillier and joins the three other women whose election was announced last month.
The Lichfield announcement is copied below the fold.
The official press release from the Church of England announcing the first three names was dated 26 September 2013 and stated “The results for the elections in the 5 other regions are expected to be announced over the next two weeks.” Almost three weeks later four remain to be announced.
I have heard unofficially that Annette Cooper, the Archdeacon of Colchester, was elected for the Eastern region.3 Comments