Thinking Anglicans

Changing Attitude responds to the Pilling Report

Changing Attitude England’s initial reaction to the Pilling Report was published this morning.

Some brief extracts

This report does not herald radical change and does not therefore fulfil the expectations of Changing Attitude. There are no practical proposals which will begin to dismantle the present culture of secrecy, denial of reality, suppression of identity and the maintenance of unhealthy attitudes. The group has met people and listened and the unhealthy attitudes remain unchanged as the report demonstrates…

Changing Attitude is disappointed that the Report deals so superficially with transgender (198) and intersex people (197) despite having received a submission from the Sibyls…

4 Homophobia
The most serious failings of the report are to be found here…

The report doesn’t understand that so-called orthodox, traditional teaching, which is literalist and fundamentalist, using the seven texts as proof texts of God’s judgement against homosexuality, underpin and are the source of prejudice against LGB&T people and personal and systemic homophobia in the Church…

Our Christian conviction is clear – homosexuality is not harmful. Christian homophobia and prejudice is deeply harmful and results in anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicide, violence and murder, the result of social prejudice based on false Christian teaching.

The Director of Changing Attitude England has separately published Colin’s reaction to the Pilling Report. [This is an extended version of the text originally linked here.]



The Archbishop of Canterbury preached in Truro Cathedral earlier this month: ‘Everything changes’: a sermon on the cross.

Church Times Leader A hope of flourishing.

Adrian Alker writes in the Church Times Tell it with meaning.

Justin Welby and Peter Price write in the Church Times about Modern slavery: now you know.

Hilary Cotton, the newly elected chair of WATCH, writes about WATCH’s priorities for the next three years.

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Methodists hold consultation on same sex marriage and civil partnership

The Methodist Church in Britain has announced this consultation: Methodist same sex marriage and civil partnership working party – consultation:

Legislation is now in place which will allow people of the same sex to marry each other in England and Wales (and similar legislation is likely in Scotland). The Government has promised that the first same sex marriages will take place before summer 2014.
This is at odds with the Methodist Church’s belief (found in Standing Order 011A, and its marriage services): “The Methodist Church believes that marriage is a gift of God, and that it is God’s intention that a marriage should be a life-long union in body, mind and spirit of one man and one woman.”
There have also been other significant changes in society concerning sex and relationships. Divorced people marry in Methodist Churches as do many who have been co-habiting. The Methodist Conference has established a working party to consult Methodists as to whether the Church’s understanding of marriage should be looked at again.
This consultation is not a poll on the views of homosexuality amongst Methodists, nor is it asking Methodists to decide whether same sex marriages should take place in Methodist churches.
Instead it seeks views about the implications of the new legislation for our church, and whether, as a consequence, we need to revise our understanding of marriage…

See also the Frequently Asked Questions which explains exactly where Methodists currently are on this issue. Question 18 reads as follows:

What is the Methodist Church doing about this now?

The Methodist Conference in July 2013 set up a working group “to consider whether the Methodist Church’s position on marriage needs revising in light of changes in society, undertaking this consideration with reference to scripture, tradition, reason and experience. The terms of reference would be:

a. To consider the implications for the Methodist Church of a change in legislation covering same-sex marriage;

b. To consider whether the Methodist Church’s position on marriage needs revising in the light of changes in society;

c. To undertake the work directed by the reply to Memorial 29(2012) [a Memorial from the Birmingham Synod seeking for a review of the Conference’s ruling that blessing of civil partnerships should not take place on Methodist premises]

d. To make recommendations for any changes in practice or polity.”

The working party is mindful of what was said to the Conference about the relatively limited ambit of the working group’s remit at this stage: “to consider whether the Methodist Church’s position needed reviewing in light of changes in society rather than to make substantive proposal for change. If a revision is thought potentially necessary, it is expected that a further working party would be appointed to examine the substantive issues.”

The working group has therefore identified a range of possible areas for consideration, and intends to test out by wide consultation whether these are indeed the issues about which it should make recommendations to the 2014 Conference that they be explored more fully. Before going out to full consultation however, there will be a short pilot exercise with a small number of selected groups during the next few weeks, designed to clarify how to frame the consultation questions.


Pilling Report – opinion

Janet Henderson blogs Pilling – Initial Reactions.

Simon Reader writes for the Westminster Faith Debates: A Blessing in Disguise?

Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon, blogs Welcoming Pilling.

Rachel Mann blogs on The Pilling Report and Trans People.

Bishop Alan Wilson offers these Resources for your very own Pilling Report Party.

Dave Young blogs Let’s talk about love not sex: Thoughts on the Pilling Report.


Worcestershire tribunal case is remitted for fresh hearing

We reported on the case of Mark Sharpe, the former Rector of the Teme Valley South benefice (near Tenbury Wells) in February 2012: here, and also here.

This week, the Employment Appeal Tribunal finally issued its judgment in the appeal of this case.

The full text of the judgment can be found here (.doc format) or as a webpage here.

In brief, the EAT made no decision on the substantive issues, but remitted the case to a fresh hearing before the ET in accordance with various legal principles set out in the judgment, some of which depend on other recent cases involving ministers of religion, including in particular this one.

The trade union UNITE issued this press release: Unite calls for clergy employment talks after landmark decision.

Media coverage:

Telegraph Rector to sue church over harassment from parishioners

Birmingham Mail Vicar wins appeal in battle to sue church

BBC Church of England ‘harassed vicar’ case to be heard again


Frank Cranmer has published this analysis: Clergy employment: Church of England rector wins appeal on jurisdictional issue

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New statement on Civil Partnerships from the Scottish College of Bishops

Kelvin Holdsworth draws our attention to this statement from the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which was sent to clergy today as part of a regular electronic clergy mailing.

Blessing of Civil Partnerships

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church in 2012 agreed not to adopt the Anglican Covenant. Since then, and within our own context, the College of Bishops has, on a number of occasions, considered how our church should best engage with those underlying questions of human sexuality which had given rise to the original idea of a Covenant. The College looks forward to the Church undertaking discussion of such matters as part of the process currently being designed by a group set up for that purpose by the provincial Mission and Ministry Board. The College in no way intends to pre-empt the outcome of those discussions. At the same time it recognises that the entering into of civil partnerships is a regular occurrence in Scottish society today.

In a previous statement the College indicated that it was the practice of the individual Bishops at that time neither to give official sanction to blessings of civil partnerships, nor to attend them personally. The Church does not give official sanction to informal blessings but each Bishop would nevertheless expect to be consulted by clergy prior to the carrying out of any informal blessing of a civil partnership in his diocese. The College is of the view that a decision as to whether or not to attend such an informal blessing should be a personal decision of the individual Bishop in question.
College of Bishops

November 2013

Kelvin comments on its significance here, and contrasts it with what the Pilling report has to say to the Church of England.


Synod Voting on women bishops

The electronic voting results from last weeks meeting of General Synod are now available. They include the vote to proceed with the current proposals to allow women to be bishops (item 11) which was passed by 378 votes to 8 with 25 recorded abstentions.

I have further analysed the votes by house, and added those who were absent and the vacant places on Synod. For this purpose I have used the list of members that was given to members of the press last week.

  For Against Abstain Absent Vacant
Bishops 35 0 1 9 7
Clergy 177 2 5 15 3
Laity 166 6 19 16 5
totals 378 8 25 40 15

Within the category “Absent” it is impossible from the available data to distinguish those who were genuinely absent from Synod at the time of the vote from those who were present but failed to vote or record an abstention.

My raw data is available as a spreadsheet. For each house it lists all members (grouped by diocese etc) and shows how each one voted.


Pilling report – statements from campaign groups

Updated again Saturday evening

Inclusive Church
Inclusive Church responds to the House of Bishops Human Sexuality Commission Report

Accepting Evangelicals
Pilling recognises Evangelical diversity


Church Society
Lee Gatiss responds to the Pilling Report on sexuality

Christian Concern
Pilling Report – Statement from General Synod Member & Christian Concern CEO Andrea Williams

Anglican Mainstream
Statement from Anglican Mainstream on the release of the Pilling Report

Church of England Evangelical Council
Statement of the Executive Committee of the Church of England Evangelical Council

Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement
A Small Step Forward

Changing Attitude
Changing Attitude England’s initial reaction to the Pilling Report

Fulcrum interim response to the Pilling report


Pilling Report – press reports

Updated several times

John Bingham Telegraph Churches should perform gay blessings, CofE says

Sam Jones The Guardian Church should allow blessings of gay relationships, CofE report says

Anglican Communion News Service Report on sexuality: “Hold Church-wide facilitated conversations”


Church of England Newspaper Same sex ‘blessings’ recommended in report

BBC News Same-sex blessings backed by Church of England report

Carey Lodge Christian Today Church of England report on human sexuality: Clergy should be able to bless same sex partnerships

Pink News Church of England report on sexuality recognises tension on gays in church but urges for understanding

Madeleine Davies Church Times Pilling opens door to gay blessings in church

Sam Jones The Guardian Anglican church should lift ban on blessings for gay couples, report says

Andrew Brown The Guardian The Pilling report: a blessing for gay people but not for conservatives

John Bingham Telegraph Church of England considers ‘weddings in all but name’ for same-sex couples

And for those who are still confused there is The Pilling Report – Your Questions Answered.


Pilling Report published

Update There is an audio recording of this morning’s press conference by Sir Joseph Pilling here and a video here.

The Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality (the Pilling Report) has been published this morning, and can be downloaded from here. Print copies (ISBN: 978-0715144374) are available from Church House Publishing and other retailers.

There is an accompanying press release.

Pilling Report published
28 November 2013
Publication of the Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have today published the Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality.

In a statement thanking the working group – chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling – for its report, the Archbishops commented that the report “is a substantial document proposing a process of facilitated conversations in the Church of England over a period of perhaps two years. The document offers findings and recommendations to form part of that process of facilitated conversations. It is not a new policy statement from the Church of England.”

Noting that “the issues with which the Report grapples are difficult and divisive” the Archbishops recognise Sir Joseph’s Pilling’s comment that ‘disagreements have been explored in the warmth of a shared faith’. The Archbishops continue “Our prayer is that the process of reflection that will now be needed in the Church of England, shaped by the House of Bishops and the College, will be characterised by a similar spirit.”

Commissioned by the House of Bishops of the Church of England in January 2012, the working group included the bishops of Gloucester, Birkenhead, Fulham and Warwick. The group invited three advisers to join in the work. They were: Professor Robert Song, The Ven Rachel Treweek and the Revd Dr Jessica Martin.

The report considers the rapidly changing context within which the group undertook its work. It examines the available data about the views of the public in our country over time. The report considers homophobia, evidence from science, from scripture and from theologians. During their work, members of the group not only gathered evidence from many experts, groups and individuals but also met a number of gay and lesbian people, often in their homes, to listen to their experiences and insights.

The report offers 18 recommendations. The first recommendation is intended to set the context for the report as a whole. It warmly welcomes and affirms the presence and ministry within the church of gay and lesbian people both lay and ordained.

Three recommendations look at the report’s proposal for ‘facilitated conversations’, across the Church of England and in dialogue with the Anglican Communion and other churches, so that Christians who disagree deeply about the meaning of scripture on questions of sexuality, and on the demands of living in holiness for gay and lesbian people, should understand each other’s concerns more clearly and seek to hear each other as authentic Christian disciples.

Further recommendations call on the church to combat homophobia whenever and wherever it is found, and to repent of the lack of welcome and acceptance extended to homosexual people in the past.

The recommendations do not propose any change in the church’s teaching on sexual conduct. They do propose that clergy, with the agreement of their Church Council, should be able to offer appropriate services to mark a faithful same sex relationship. The group does not propose an authorised liturgy for this purpose but understands the proposed provision to be a pastoral accommodation which does not entail any change to what the church teaches. No member of the clergy, or parish, would be required to offer such services and it could not extend to solemnising same sex marriages without major changes to the law.

The report notes that the church’s teaching on sexuality is in tension with contemporary social attitudes, not only for gay and lesbian Christians, but for straight Christians too. In relation to candidates for ministry, it recommends that whether someone is married, single or in a civil partnership should have no bearing on the assurances sought from them that they intend to order their lives consistently with the teaching of the Church on sexual conduct.

The report includes a ‘dissenting statement’ from the Bishop of Birkenhead who found himself unable to support all the recommendations made by the group as a whole. The main part of the report is supported and signed by all the other members of the group, including the advisers.

The House of Bishops will discuss the report for the first time in December 2013, and it will be further debated by the College of Bishops in January 2014.


Note to Editors

The Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality is published today by Church House Publishing in Paperback and Ebook formats (ISBN 978 0 7151 4437 4, 224pp, £16.99) and is also available to view online,-family-and-sexuality-issues/human-sexuality/pilling-report.aspx

An audio interview with Sir Joseph Pilling is available on

A video of the news conference with Sir Joseph Pilling is avaiallbe on

The full text of the statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York can be found below

Earlier this month, the Review Group established in 2011 by the House of Bishops under the chairmanship of Sir Joseph Pilling delivered to us its Report.

This is a substantial document proposing a process of facilitated conversations in the Church of England over a period of perhaps two years. The document offers findings and recommendations to form part of that process of facilitated conversations. It is not a new policy statement from the Church of England.

The House of Bishops will be meeting next month and the College of Bishops the following month to consider the Report and decide how such a process might best be shaped. In view of the interest in the Report we have decided that it should be published now, without delay.

As the chair notes in his foreword, the issues with which the Report grapples are difficult and divisive. We want therefore, on behalf of the House of Bishops, to express our sincere appreciation and gratitude to the members of the group, its advisers and to the staff who supported it, for the investment of time, intellect and emotion that they have made in order to produce such a wide ranging and searching document.

In Sir Joseph’s words their ‘disagreements have been explored in the warmth of a shared faith’. Our prayer is that the process of reflection that will now be needed in the Church of England, shaped by the House of Bishops and the College, will be characterised by a similar spirit.

+Justin Cantuar +Sentamu Eboracensis

28 November 2013

I have copied the Findings and recommendations from the report below the fold.



Supreme Court dismisses B&B appeal

Updated 11 December

The case of Bull and another v Hall and another [2013] UKSC 73 was concluded in the Supreme Court this morning.

See earlier reports here, and here.

(See also here, but this other case has not, in the event, gone forward to the Supreme Court.)

Here is the Press Summary.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismisses the appeal. The leading judgment is given by Lady Hale, with supplementary judgments from all other members of the Court. On point (i) direct discrimination, Lady Hale, Lord Kerr and Lord Toulson hold that the Appellants’ policy constituted direct discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. On point (ii) indirect discrimination the Court unanimously holds that if (as Lord Neuberger and Lord Hughes consider) the Appellants’ policy constitutes indirect discrimination, it is
not justified. On point (iii) the ECHR issue, the Court unanimously holds that EASOR engages Article 9 ECHR, but is a justified and proportionate protection of the rights of others. There is therefore no breach of Article 9 ECHR which would require EASOR to be read down in the way the Appellants suggest.

And here is the full Judgment.


UK Human Rights Blog Gay discrimination and Christian belief: Analysis of Bull v. Hall in the Supreme Court

Law and Religion UK Double rooms, gay couples, Christians and the clash of rights

Mark Hill Unlikely Bedfellows? The Supreme Court Considers Christianity and Homosexuality


House of Lords debates report on Holistic Mission

We reported back in July on the publication of a report by the ResPublica think tank, Holistic Mission: Social action and the Church of England.

This was the subject of a recent debate in the House of Lords, for which the Hansard record can be found starting here. Alternatively ResPublica has published it as a PDF file.

The speakers were not uncritical of the report. The following passage illustrates:

Lord Elton: …Like my noble friend Lady Berridge, who made a very good speech, I attended a meeting recently in the Jerusalem Chamber, where the final version of the authorised version of the bible was agreed, to hear Professor Linda Woodhead of Lancaster University give a PowerPoint presentation. She gave a most illuminating account of the position, outlook and membership of the Church of England. I strongly recommend that account to my episcopal friends and ask them to distribute it as it was a suitable forerunner to the great declamation by George Carey in Shropshire, which nobody has yet had the bad manners to mention, which warned of the end of the church unless something changed. We now have to look at whether what is being proposed is the right change. A good deal of reservation has been expressed about that, not merely because it puts everything in the hands of one church but because of its rather obscurely articulated union with government. The union of government and church is a very dangerous institution, indeed. If the church is seen to co-operate with the Government, de facto it is not co-operating with the Opposition and it is likely to get all the flak that the Government get for things that go wrong which are not the fault of either of them…

The presentation, Telling the Truth about Christian Britain, mentioned in the above quote can be found as a PDF file on this page.

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Bishop of Winchester issues update on Jersey safeguarding

The Diocese of Winchester has issued this press release:

22nd November 2013: The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Tim Dakin has today issued the following statement, providing an update on the ongoing Jersey safeguarding inquiries:

“Earlier this the year I commissioned an Investigation into a safeguarding complaint in the Deanery of Jersey, conducted by former High Court Judge Dame Heather Steel. The purpose of the Investigation was to advise me if there was any reason for disciplinary action to be taken against any member of the clergy.

“Dame Heather has informed me that she is finalising her investigation report. However, I have received legal representations from an interested party requiring me to undertake not to release the report to any person. On legal advice I have agreed to comply with the request and this means that I am currently unable to publish the report or provide further information about the representations that have been made.

“What I can state at this point, based on Dame Heather’s findings to date, is that I will not be taking disciplinary action against any member of the clergy in relation to the handling of the safeguarding complaint in question or the subsequent review process.

“The purpose of launching the inquiries in March was to understand fully the handling of the original complaint and to learn lessons for the future. I am all too conscious that questions remain about safeguarding best practice as well as the effect that this issue has had on Jersey’s relationship with the rest of the Diocese. I believe Bishop John Gladwin’s Visitation will help in the long-term, but in practice I feel that more immediate steps must now be taken in order to achieve progress.

“Given the current circumstances, and in order to move us forward, I have sought the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury to initiate a pastoral visit to the Channel Islands, so that a fresh perspective can be taken on safeguarding. The visit will be conducted next month jointly by the Rt Rev Nigel Stock, Bishop at Lambeth, and the Rt Rev Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover, and has the Archbishop of Canterbury’s full support. Bishop Trevor is a former Bishop of Basingstoke and so I feel his previous knowledge of the Channel Islands will be of significant benefit. On the visit, the Bishops will meet with local church leaders and Island authorities from both Deaneries, in order to help understand how the current situation may be progressed. Their visit will enable further conversations to be held which I am sure will benefit the Islands and the wider diocese. They will report back to me by the end of the year.

“I am informing the Dean and Lt Governor of Guernsey of this as well. Although some of what has led to this proposal has more directly arisen on Jersey, the Islands will be bound to have many common interests in both the process and the outcome, and I wish them to be fully engaged in the relevant actions and interactions.

“In all of this, the victim at the heart of the original complaint should not be forgotten. As a Church, we are called to reach out to the least, the last and the lost, even though at times they may reject the help we offer. In HG’s case, that rejection has been entirely understandable, given how she sees her experience of the Church of England. A number of people across the Diocese have been working hard to find a way of helping that could be acceptable to her. Having sought expert advice from health professionals and specialist charities, we have made provisions to help support HG, through a third party. We pray that she will be able to accept what is being offered.


News from the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda

See our report of September 2010 about the formation of this organisation.

The organisation now has a redesigned website.

The front page says:

The Society is an ecclesial body, led by a Council of Bishops. The purposes of the Society are:

  • to promote and maintain catholic teaching and practice within the Church of England
  • to provide episcopal oversight to which churches, institutions and individuals will freely submit themselves
  • to guarantee a ministry in the historic apostolic succession in which they can have confidence

The Society is supported by Forward in Faith and administered by its Director.

A letter has been sent to all its supporters, which can be read as a pdf here. The full text is copied below the fold.




Pierre Whalon writes for Anglicans Online about Finding Faith?

Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian: The Church of England: a church that’s sick of itself. “If the CofE is doomed, as former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey insists, it’s down to the damage he did in office.”

Ed West writes in The Spectator The CofE doomed? Only because it’s surrendered to phony soullessness.

The Guardian published these Church congregations – readers’ pictures.

Benny Hazlehurst blogged on Law and Order.

Janet Henderson writes about Urban Ministry; Not the End of an Era.

Church Times leader: Not so privileged

Jon Kuhrt blogs Women Bishops? I think the jury is still out on male bishops…

Giles Fraser asks in The Guardian Why does Doctor Who escape modern scepticism in a way the Bible doesn’t?


Homophobic bullying in the CofE: responses

Anglican Mainstream has published a lengthy statement, apparently in response to information about what the Church of England is doing to combat homophobic bullying:

All bullying is wrong but C of E and Church Schools “should not promote Stonewall”

It is right that the Church of England should address issues of bullying and make schools ‘safe’ places for all children and young people. However, we are astonished that Stonewall has been chosen to deliver this service…

Changing Attitude has responded to Anglican Mainstream:

Anglican Mainstream’s homophobia

Anglican Mainstream has issued a statement criticizing the Church of England for working with Stonewall to target homophobic bullying in Church Schools.

The statement is a prime example of the homophobia that is institutionally present in the Church of England. Homophobia is personal or institutional prejudice against lesbian, gay and bisexual people rooted in a conscious or unconscious irrational fear of, aversion to, dislike of or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals (see dictionary definitions at the end)…

Read both articles in full to comprehend them.


Homophobic bullying in the Church of England

Questions about this were asked on Monday evening. This topic had also come up last July, and indeed the preceding November.

This time it went like this:

Question 57
Dr Rachel Jepson: Which resources does the Board of Education recommend to be used with both staff and students in all Church of England schools to address LGBT bullying?

Bishop of Oxford: The Board does not generally recommend resources to schools except those produced by itself. In this case the Board is overseeing a project to produce materials for Church schools to help them to combat homophobic bullying within the framework of Christian values and belief. The project consultant is currently writing materials prior to their being piloted in schools over next term.

Dr Rachel Jepson: What is the timescale for the project to which you referred and who is the project consultant who is writing the materials and what is their relevant expertise, please?

Bishop of Oxford: We have gone to someone who has been deeply involved in producing material in a particular diocese, so we do know we’ve got someone of expertise there, she has that previous track record. Precisely what timescale is, and indeed the name of the person, has escaped me, but I’ll make sure that you know.

Mr Robin Hall: In his July presidential address, the Archbishop of Canterbury pledged to use – and I quote – the best advice we can find anywhere. As Stonewall is the leading charity committed to tackling homophobia, is the consultant working closely with Stonewall, to make the most of their experience and expertise?

Bishop of Oxford: Stonewall is indeed involved, as one of the consultants, and other organisations too, with a good track record in this field. We are committed to having the very best consultants and experience that we can get.

Question 58
Mr Robin Hall: Given the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call in July for a “a commitment to stamp out” homophobic bullying in Church of England schools, what work has been undertaken to log or track the number of incidents of homophobic bullying in our schools?

Bishop of Oxford: There is no national collection of statistics regarding bullying in schools and the Board of Education doesn’t have the capacity at this time to engage in such a survey. The Board’s approach is rather to resource teachers and governors to create a strong anti-bullying culture with a specific focus on homophobic bullying.

Mr Robin Hall: As you know, schools are already obliged to report the number and type of bullying incidents each term, so this data I believe is readily available. If we don’t understand the scale of the problem, how will the Archbishop’s campaign to tackle homophobic bullying be targeted, and how will we know if it has been a success?

Bishop of Oxford: This will I hope come out of the work that’s being done by the group that’s looking into this, and if there is further action that the Board needs to take then obviously we’ll be ready to take it.

Mr John Ward: Would the Board take into account the useful debates in this place in February 2007, including the motion passed, proposed by The Reverend Mary Gilbert, which affirms that gay and lesbian Christians are full members of this church without reservation, and would the Board think that might be useful in its reflections on how we tackle homophobic bullying?

Bishop of Oxford: The Board is indeed fully committed to there being no homophobic bullying in any of our church schools. This is a very clear commitment that we have made, and we are not going to renege on it.


Women in the episcopate – next steps

David Pocklington has published an extremely useful article on the Law & Religion UK blog: Women in the episcopate – next steps. He writes, in the context of Wednesday’s vote, that “In the shadow of the vote, it is easy to forget exactly where one is in the legislative process of the new Measure and revised Canon”, and goes on to explain that Wednesday was just the first of several stages in this process.

He also writes about Women bishops in the House of Lords, and the Bishopric of Manchester Act 1847 and the Bishoprics Act 1878,

Do read it all.


Church Commissioners' Questions – Women Bishops

The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry, answered questions in the House of Commons yesterday on Women Bishops, Recruitment of Clergy, Credit Unions, and Metal Crime.

Here is the exchange on women bishops.

The hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—

Women Bishops

2. Andrew Stephenson (Pendle) (Con): What progress has been made by the General Synod of the Church of England on legislating to enable women to enter the episcopate.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): Yesterday, the General Synod voted by 378 votes to eight, with 25 abstentions, to approve a new package of proposals that will enable women to become bishops in the Church of England.

Andrew Stephenson: This is obviously very welcome news. Can my hon. Friend give us an idea of the likely time scale for the introduction of the change?

Sir Tony Baldry: My hon. Friend is right; this is very welcome news. As a result of the vote yesterday, I am confident that this House will have an opportunity to pass the necessary legislation in the lifetime of this Parliament.

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): While I of course welcome the progress that has been made, may I point out that if the same arrangements were put in place for a black bishop’s leadership to be challenged and for the case to be taken to an ombudsman, there would rightly be outrage?

Sir Tony Baldry: I am not entirely sure what point the hon. Lady is trying to make. The proposals put forward by the General Synod have had overwhelming support. If she looks at the figures, she will see that they have complete support throughout practically the whole of the Church. Perhaps she would like to discuss her concern with me outside, because I do not really understand the point she is trying to make.

Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): I, too, welcome the fact that the Church has at long last made progress on the matter of women bishops. I know that my hon. Friend has seen the report by Professor Linda Woodhead entitled “Telling the truth about Christian Britain”, which makes rather depressing reading for those of us who are members of the Church. Is he confident that the Church can now move on from these endless internal debates and start preaching the gospel and working for the good of society?

Sir Tony Baldry: My hon. Friend makes a good point. The sooner we can resolve the issue and have women deacons, priests and bishops in the Church of England, the sooner the Church will be able to move forward and fulfil its broader national ministry.

Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab): After the disappointment of last year, this is indeed welcome news. Perhaps those members of the clergy who still have reservations—I hope that they are few in number—should come to the House of Commons and see the exhibition in the Admission Order corridor showing the struggle that women had to get the vote and the right to be elected to the House. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, now that the Church of England is taking this welcome step, other religions and faiths that discriminate against women—I could list them, but I will not—should follow the same path?

Sir Tony Baldry: May I gently say to the hon. Gentleman that it is slightly more complex than he suggests? Some of those who are opposed to women bishops are themselves women. They are conservatives and evangelicals who have theological objections because they believe in male headship. I do not think that we can necessarily castigate people who are against women bishops as being against women. The good news is that we now have a way forward that will enable us to have women bishops—I hope by the end of this Parliament.

John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead) (Lab): The congregation of the Church of England has been in headlong decline for a long time, and that is continuing. How likely is it that that trend would be reversed were the Church of England by some chance to pursue its existing policy of barring women from being bishops, which most people think is redolent of a past era?

Sir Tony Baldry: I am glad to say that a large number of parishes are growing. The Archbishop of Canterbury has made it clear that his primary mission is growth. We want to see the Church of England grow. Hopefully, now that we have resolved the issue of women bishops, everyone in the Church of England and everyone who supports it can focus their intention on that growth.


New book on Same-Sex Marriage published: Legally Married

Edinburgh University Press is about to publish a book which examines Same-Sex Marriage from a political and historical viewpoint: Legally Married.

This is available now in the UK, and in the USA is distributed by Oxford University Press.

Here is some information from the press release:

Legally Married: New Book Separates Fact from Fiction to Examine Arguments from Both Sides of Same-Sex Marriage Debate

In their compelling new book, Scot Peterson and Iain McLean look at same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom and United States in the context of the history of marriage law. Picking through the emotion and rhetoric to give readers a vital insight into the numerous assumptions and arguments surrounding same-sex marriage, the book is poised to resonate with readers on both sides of the Atlantic.

United Kingdom – While the institution of marriage is a common global bond, the laws surrounding who can marry and how they can do it are rarely consistent from one country or one generation to the next. With the debate on same-sex marriage gripping twenty-first century society and its media, arguments from both sides work tirelessly to make their points heard.

However, same-sex marriage is rarely examined in its historical context, leading two UK authors to collaborate on a unique literary project – the first book to examine same-sex marriage in the context of the history of marriage law.

Synopsis of Legally Married: Love and Law in the UK and the US by Scot Peterson and Iain McLean

From English teenagers eloping to Gretna Green to tie the knot without their parents’ permission, to whether a wife can own property, it’s clear that marriage law is different depending on where you live and when. Now, the main debate centres on whether the law should be changed so that same-sex couples can marry.

The Scottish and UK governments, plus a number of US states, are to legislate to allow same-sex marriage, prompting both celebration and outrage. Some argue against it on religious or cultural grounds, others support it on grounds of equality and human rights, and still others disagree with the institution of marriage altogether. But amongst all the assumptions, there are few facts, and the debates about same-sex marriage in the UK and the US are taking place in an informational vacuum filled with emotion and rhetoric.

Legally Married combines insights from history and law from the UK and Scotland with international examples of how marriage law has developed. Scot Peterson and Iain McLean show how many assumptions about marriage are contestable on a number of grounds, separate fact from fiction and explain the claims made on both sides of the argument over same-sex marriage in terms of their historical context.


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