Thinking Anglicans

LGB&TI Anglican Coalition Response to the House of Bishops

Press Release

The LGB&TI Anglican Coalition is appalled by the House of Bishops’ recently-issued Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage, especially in the light of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential address in which it was stated that differing views should be accepted in a spirit of ‘good disagreement’. In this document we see no acceptance of disagreement at all, but instead a heavy-handed and legalistic imposition of discipline.

The new guidance emphasises the well-known fact that same-sex couples will not be able to marry in Church of England churches even when equal marriage takes effect. Furthermore, despite the recommendation of the Pilling Report, the prohibition on blessing same-sex couples is reinforced. While these iron exclusions are in place it is simply ludicrous to speak of the Church ‘Welcoming’ lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGB&TI) people, or to pretend that this statement is in any sense ‘pastoral’.

The guidance also excludes people married to members of the same sex from ordination, and forbids LGB&TI clergy to marry same-sex partners. This is cruel and unjust to clergy who have faithfully served the church, hitherto with the full knowledge and support of their bishops, and it will impoverish the ministry by driving away LGB&TI ordinands. Only those who are prepared to lie will remain.

The statement was made without any consultation with openly gay people, and fails to acknowledge that some of the bishops who are signatories are understood to be gay themselves. This heightens the corrosive sense of hypocrisy and cynicism with which this issue is surrounded in the Church.

We are aware that the position taken in this statement was partly or even mainly driven by fears about the unity of the Anglican Communion, and that bishops who wished to take a less harsh line were told that the Communion would not stand for it. In some large African provinces which are threatening to secede over this issue the Anglican Church helps supply the theology which backs the violent persecution of LGB&TI people. We believe that it is simply immoral for the Church of England to appease these provinces by sacrificing the rights and freedoms of LGB&TI people in this country or any other, or to place the cause of institutional unity above the cause of justice and humanity.

This guidance is wrong in tone and content, and will further damage the Church’s mission, not only to LGB&TI people, but to all people of goodwill who respect justice and truth. It may seek to carry disciplinary authority, but it has no moral authority and cannot command respect. We hope and pray that it will be swiftly withdrawn.


More reactions to the House of Bishops statement

Updated third time Monday evening

Earlier items are in the preceding article.

Changing Attitude Transcript of Bishop Steven Croft on R4 ‘Sunday’ on church penalties for same sex marriage

Cif belief Andrew Brown Gay marriage: I don’t dismiss bishops’ dishonest compromise out of hand

Bosco Peters When is blessing not a blessing

Modern Church Jonathan Clatworthy Gay marriage: the bible is not perspicuous

Jeremy Fletcher Same Sex Marriage and the House of Bishops

Archdruid Eileen Painted into a Corner

Peter Ould Some Thoughts on the Statement

Tobias Haller Incoherent Hypocrisy


The Suffragan Bishop in Europe writes about the application of this statement in that diocese: House of Bishops on Same Sex Marriage. He notes, inter alia, that

…We in the Diocese in Europe have lived for a number of years with the reality of same-sex marriage in many of the countries where we serve, in Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, for instance, (even though in very few countries are our clergy legally permitted to conduct marriages)…

Sam Norton The Lego movie and the House of Bishops Statement on gay marriage

Christina Beardsley ‘One of gayest churches in Christendom’?

Pink News How can the Church of England be ‘welcoming’ when it bans priests from marrying gay people?

Ian Paul The real challenge after Pilling that no-one is talking about

Anglican Mainstream Statement commenting on the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage

Church Society Lee Gatiss responds to House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage

Peter Saunders C of E Bishops say church members should ‘welcome’ ‘married’ same-sex couples into the church community

Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement LGCM appalled by the House of Bishops Pastoral Letter

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) tentatively welcomed the Pilling Report recognising the positive recommendations contained therein and was pleased that it was positively received by General Synod, in a discussion which recognised the need to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) people more fully. This was further supported by Archbishop Justin Welby’s presidential address.

It is hard to believe that following on from these events that the House of Bishops could publish a document called ‘Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage’ which is anything but pastoral.

The House of Bishops needs to wake up and realise that it can not recommend blatant discrimination and expect lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people to feel welcome in the church.

The Rev Sharon Ferguson, Chief Executive, said ‘Church of England leaders are under pressure from some in their church and wider Anglican Communion to continue to discriminate, but this should be set against the demands of the Gospel. Whilst it is positive that clergy can pray publicly for same-sex partners following civil partnership or marriage registration, it is a pity that the House of Bishops letter takes such a negative stance, fails to show appreciation for the ministry of LGB&T clergy and seems unaware of the powerful theological and pastoral arguments put forward in recent decades for celebrating committed loving relationships, including marriage.’

She continued: ‘However, in the Church of England and other churches, Christians committed to full inclusion will continue to work towards this, so that the good news of Christ can be more effectively embodied and shared.’


Reports and reactions to House of Bishops statement

Media reports:

Telegraph John Bingham Church offers prayers after same-sex weddings – but bans gay priests from marrying

Church Times Paul Handley No blessings, no same-sex marriages for clergy: Bishops keep the door shut as Act comes into force

Independent Lizzie Dearden Church of England offers prayers after gay weddings but no same-sex marriage for vicars

BBC Gay couple blessings ruled out by Church of England bishops

Diocesan statements:

Bishop of Manchester Bishop’s pastoral statement


Archbishop Cranmer House of Bishop’s same-sex dog’s breakfast

Bishop Alan Wilson We come in Peace — Shoot to Kill?

Changing Attitude Colin Coward House of Bishops prioritise discipline not love

Rachel Mann Personal Response to the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement



Ian Paul Vicars are a bunch of self-interested, southern softies
Joanna Moorhead The Guardian Vicars needed: the Church of England’s fight to fill its vacancies in the north

George Arnett The Guardian How much of the Church of England clergy is female?

Kate Cooper The Guardian Female bishops: be wary of crude interpretations of biblical Christianity

Peter Stanford of The Telegraph has been talking to the Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin: Will Rose Hudson-Wilkin be the first woman bishop?

Jemima Thackray The Telegraph We Christians must face it: the Bible is hugely misogynistic

Rachel Held Evans If men got the Titus 2 Treatment…

David Simmons Preaching from the Rood Screen – Or How I Learned To Stop Snarking and Love the Screen

Part three of the Church Times series on the health of the Church of England includes these three articles available to non-subscribers:
Linda Woodhead Measuring the Church’s social footprint
Dennis Richards A golden age for church schools?
Malcolm Brown Living in an old country


House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage

The House of Bishops issued the statement below today (Saturday 15 February 2014).

House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage

Following their meeting on February 13th 2014 the House of Bishops of the Church of England have today issued a statement of Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage.

The statement comes as an appendix to a pastoral letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York addressed to the clergy and people of the Church of England.

The text of the letter and the statement is reproduced below

15 February 2014

To the Clergy and People of the Church of England

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

We write as fellow disciples of Jesus Christ who are called to love one another as Christ has loved us. Our vocation as disciples of Christ in God’s world is to hold out the offer of life in all its fullness. God delights always to give good gifts to his children.

The gospel of the love of God made known to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest of these gifts. The call of the gospel demands that we all listen, speak and act with integrity, self discipline and grace, acknowledging that as yet our knowledge and understanding are partial.

As members of the Body of Christ we are aware that there will be a range of responses across the Church of England to the introduction of same sex marriage. As bishops we have reflected and prayed together about these developments. As our statement of 27th January indicated, we are not all in agreement about every aspect of the Church’s response. However we are all in agreement that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged.

We are conscious that within both Church and society there are men and women seeking to live faithfully in covenanted same sex relationships. As we said in our response to the consultation prior to the same sex marriage legislation, “the proposition that same sex relationships can embody crucial social virtues is not in dispute. Same sex relationships often embody genuine mutuality and fidelity…., two of the virtues which the Book of Common Prayer uses to commend marriage. The Church of England seeks to see those virtues maximised in society”.

We have already committed ourselves to a process of facilitated conversations across the whole Church of England in the light of the Pilling Report. These conversations will involve ecumenical and interfaith partners and particularly the wider Anglican Communion to whom we rejoice to be bound by our inheritance of faith and mutual affection. They will include profound reflection on the meaning, interpretation and application of scripture to which we all seek to be faithful. They will involve particular attention to the lived experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. We believe that Christian understandings of sexuality have a vital contribution to make in our society’s conversation about human flourishing.

The introduction of same sex marriage in our country is a new reality and has consequences for the life and discipline of the Church of England. We seek to model a distinctive and generous witness to Jesus Christ in our pastoral guidance to the Church at this time which is set out in the Appendix to this letter.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for all people in all times and situations. We continue to seek God’s grace and the prayers of the whole Church as we seek to proclaim that faith afresh in this generation.

+ Justin Cantuar               + Sentamu Eboracensis

On behalf of the House of Bishops of the Church of England


The Church of England and the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013

The Church of England’s teaching on marriage

1. The Church of England’s long standing teaching and rule are set out in Canon B30: ‘The Church of England affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better for worse, till death them do part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side, for the procreation and nurture of children, for the hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections, and for the mutual society, help and comfort which the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.

2. The Book of Common Prayer introduces the Solemnisation of Matrimony by saying, ‘Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee…

3. The Common Worship marriage service, consistently with the Book of Common Prayer, says, ‘The Bible teaches us that marriage is a gift of God in creation and a means to grace, a holy mystery in which man and woman become one flesh…’ The House of Bishops teaching document of 1999 noted that: “Marriage is a pattern that God has given in creation, deeply rooted in our social instincts, through which a man and a woman may learn love together over the course of their lives.

4. The Lambeth Conference of 1998 said ‘in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage’ (resolution1.10) This remains the declared position of the Anglican Communion.

5. The same resolution went on to acknowledge ‘that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.’ It went on to ‘condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex.’

6. In February 2005 the Dromantine Communique from the Primates of the Anglican Communion again affirmed the Anglican Communion’s opposition to any form of behaviour which ‘diminished’ homosexual people.

7. It stated: ‘We …. wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of the moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people. The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.

8. It was on the basis of this teaching that the then Archbishops published in June 2012 the official Church of England submission in response to the Government’s intention to introduce same-sex marriage. They arguments in it were based on the Church of England’s understanding of marriage, a set of beliefs and practices that it believes most benefits society. During the legislation’s passage through Parliament, no Lord Spiritual voted for the legislation.

The effect of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013

9. The Government’s legislation, nevertheless, secured large majorities in both Houses of Parliament on free votes and the first same sex marriages in England are expected to take place in March. From then there will, for the first time, be a divergence between the general understanding and definition of marriage in England as enshrined in law and the doctrine of marriage held by the Church of England and reflected in the Canons and the Book of Common Prayer.

10. The effect of the legislation is that in most respects there will no longer be any distinction between marriage involving same sex couples and couples of opposite genders. The legislation makes religious as well as civil same sex weddings possible, though only where the relevant denomination or faith has opted in to conducting such weddings. In addition, the legislation provides that no person may be compelled to conduct or be present at such a wedding.

11. The Act provides no opt in mechanism for the Church of England because of the constitutional convention that the power of initiative on legislation affecting the Church of England rests with the General Synod, which has the power to pass Measures and Canons. The Act preserves, as part of the law of England, the effect of any Canon which makes provision about marriage being the union of one man with one woman, notwithstanding the general, gender free definition of marriage. As a result Canon B30 remains part of the law of the land.

12. When the Act comes into force in March it will continue not to be legally possible for two persons of the same sex to marry according to the rites of the Church of England. In addition the Act makes clear that any rights and duties which currently exist in relation to being married in Church of England churches do not extend to same sex couples.

13. The legislation has not made any changes to the nature of civil partnerships though it paves the way for a procedure by which couples in civil partnerships can, if they choose, convert them into a marriage. The Government has indicated that it will be later this year before the necessary regulations can be made and the first conversions of civil partnerships into marriages become possible.

14. There are three particular areas on which some guidance is necessary on the implications of the new legislation in relation to our common life and ministry in England.

Access to the sacraments and pastoral care for people in same sex marriages

15. In Issues in Human Sexuality the House affirmed that, while the same standards of conduct applied to all, the Church of England should not exclude from its fellowship those lay people of gay or lesbian orientation who, in conscience, were unable to accept that a life of sexual abstinence was required of them and who, instead, chose to enter into a faithful, committed sexually active relationship.

16. Consistent with that, we said in our 2005 pastoral statement that lay people who had registered civil partnerships ought not to be asked to give assurances about the nature of their relationship before being admitted to baptism, confirmation and holy communion, or being welcomed into the life of the local worshipping community more generally.

17. We also noted that the clergy could not lawfully refuse to baptize children on account of the family structure or lifestyle of those caring for them, so long as they and the godparents were willing to make the requisite baptismal promises following a period of instruction.

18. We recognise the many reasons why couples wish their relationships to have a formal status. These include the joys of exclusive commitment and also extend to the importance of legal recognition of the relationship. To that end, civil partnership continues to be available for same sex couples. Those same sex couples who choose to marry should be welcomed into the life of the worshipping community and not be subjected to questioning about their lifestyle. Neither they nor any children they care for should be denied access to the sacraments.

Acts of worship following civil same sex weddings

19. As noted above, same sex weddings in church will not be possible. As with civil partnership, some same sex couples are, however, likely to seek some recognition of their new situation in the context of an act of worship.

20. The 2005 pastoral statement said that it would not be right to produce an authorized public liturgy in connection with the registering of civil partnerships and that clergy should not provide services of blessing for those who registered civil partnerships. The House did not wish, however, to interfere with the clergy’s pastoral discretion about when more informal kind of prayer, at the request of the couple, might be appropriate in the light of the circumstances. The College made clear on 27 January that, just as the Church of England’s doctrine of marriage remains the same, so its pastoral and liturgical practice also remains unchanged.

21. The same approach as commended in the 2005 statement should therefore apply to couples who enter same-sex marriage, on the assumption that any prayer will be accompanied by pastoral discussion of the church’s teaching and their reasons for departing from it. Services of blessing should not be provided. Clergy should respond pastorally and sensitively in other ways.

Clergy and ordinands

22. The preface to the Declaration of Assent, which all clergy have to make when ordained and reaffirm when they take up a new appointment, notes that the Church of England ‘professes the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation.’ This tension between the givenness of the faith and the challenge to proclaim it afresh in each generation, as the Spirit continues to lead the Church into all truth, stands at the heart of current debates about human sexuality and of what constitutes leading a life that is according to the way of Christ.

23. At ordination clergy make a declaration that they will endeavour to fashion their own life and that of their household ‘according to the way of Christ’ that they may be ‘a pattern and example to Christ’s people’. A requirement as to the manner of life of the clergy is also directly imposed on the clergy by Canon C 26, which says that ‘at all times he shall be diligent to frame and fashion his life and that of his family according to the doctrine of Christ, and to make himself and them, as much as in him lies, wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ.

24. The implications of this particular responsibility of clergy to teach and exemplify in their life the teachings of the Church have been explained as follows; ‘The Church is also bound to take care that the ideal is not misrepresented or obscured; and to this end the example of its ordained ministers is of crucial significance. This means that certain possibilities are not open to the clergy by comparison with the laity, something that in principle has always been accepted ’ (Issues in Human Sexuality, 1991, Section 5.13).

25. The Church of England will continue to place a high value on theological exploration and debate that is conducted with integrity. That is why Church of England clergy are able to argue for a change in its teaching on marriage and human sexuality, while at the same time being required to fashion their lives consistently with that teaching.

26. Getting married to someone of the same sex would, however, clearly be at variance with the teaching of the Church of England. The declarations made by clergy and the canonical requirements as to their manner of life do have real significance and need to be honoured as a matter of integrity.

27. The House is not, therefore, willing for those who are in a same sex marriage to be ordained to any of the three orders of ministry. In addition it considers that it would not be appropriate conduct for someone in holy orders to enter into a same sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church’s teaching in their lives.

28. The Church of England has a long tradition of tolerating conscientious dissent and of seeking to avoid drawing lines too firmly, not least when an issue is one where the people of God are seeking to discern the mind of Christ in a fast changing context. Nevertheless at ordination clergy undertake to ‘accept and minister the discipline of this Church, and respect authority duly exercised within it.’ We urge all clergy to act consistently with that undertaking.

House of Bishops
15 February 2014



General Synod: Questions on Pilling Report

The Bishop of Sheffield replied to three questions taken together.

Mr Clive Scowen (London) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q12 With regard to the College of Bishops‟ request to the Archbishops to commission the design of (i) a process for facilitated conversations on the subject of sexuality, involving profound reflection on the interpretation and application of Scripture, and (ii) additional materials to support and enable them, will the Chair of the House of Bishops give assurances that the design will ensure that:
• the process will not be a “one way street” intended at the outset to lead to a change in the church‟s teaching or pastoral practice concerning sexuality or marriage;
• the primary purpose of the conversations will be to enable participants‟ views to be clearly articulated, heard and understood, rather than to change participants‟ views;
• the conversations will be professionally facilitated in a way which does not steer them to any particular conclusion;
• the conversations will not be premised on the proposition that scripture is not clear about these matters; and
• participants who believe that scripture clearly teaches that having sexual relationships, otherwise than within the marriage covenant between one man and one woman, is not consistent with Christian discipleship will be free fully to articulate and explain that view?

Mrs Andrea Minichiello Williams (Chichester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q13 Why, in light of the Statement on the Pilling Report by the College of Bishops (issued 27 January 2014) which emphasises upholding the Church of England‟s commitment to biblical orthodoxy on God‟s purpose for sexual expression (within marriage between one man and one woman), is a two-year process of facilitated conversation taking place, if such a process is not intended to change the orthodoxy?

The Revd John Cook (Oxford) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q14 Given the College of Bishops‟ request to the Archbishops to commission the design of a process for facilitated conversation on sexuality, can the Chair of the House of Bishops give an assurance that the process and additional materials will focus first on scripture and its perspicuity, so that experience and culture are responded to in the light of a clear understanding of Scripture?

The Bishop of Sheffield replied:

The Church Times’ headline – ‘Pilling report-Bishops accept recommendations’ – would have been less inaccurate if it had said ‘accept recommendation [singular] for facilitated conversations.’

There is no predetermined outcome to these conversations nor is there any intention on the part of bishops collectively to steer them to a particular conclusion. In our statement of 27 January the one aspiration we articulated was for ‘good disagreement that testifies to our love for one another across the church in obedience to Christ’.

The statement made clear that the Church of England’s ‘pastoral and liturgical practice remains unchanged during this process of facilitated conversation’ and that ‘no change to the Church of England’s teaching on marriage is proposed or envisaged’. It also stresses that our task, in taking counsel together, is ‘to read and reflect upon the Scriptures and to continue to discern together the mind of Christ.’

What is the point of all this reflection and conversation, some ask, if Scripture is clear and the truth unchanging and unchangeable? The answer is that the substantial shift in attitudes in society to same sex relationships inevitably raises significant questions for the Church of England. In every generation the Church is called to proclaim the faith afresh, not refashioning it but nevertheless wrestling with the interpretation and application of Scripture as the Spirit who inspired it continues to lead us into all truth.

Mr Scowen asked a supplementary question:
May I take it therefore that the answer to each of the five points of my question is Yes?

Answer: i think I would refer Mr Scowen to the answer I have already given, if I may. I think it is fair to say that there was some wrestling in the College of Bishops meeting about whether we should use the term ‘facilitated conversations” for the process which we had in mind, and which we agreed to take forward. Partly because it was pointed out within the conversation, that the only experience we have had corporately of facilitated conversation, is of a process which is designed to lead to a particular outcome, and set of conclusions. A counterargument was that the term is one used by the Pilling process and the Pilling report, it’s not… and we couldn’t easily think of a better substitute for it. But we did want to find a way to communicate clearly that no two sets of facilitated conversations are exactly the same, and that this set is not designed to reach a premeditated, already determined conclusion.

There was a further supplementary question (or was it two?) asked by Professor Richard Burridge about the involvement of Scripture scholars in the process.


Church Commissioners Questions

Sir Tony Baldry answered Church Commissioners questions in the House of Commons yesterday (Thursday). He prefaced his first answer with remarks on the progress made at General Synod towards allowing women to be consecrated as bishops.

Church Property (Community Use)

1. Laura Sandys (South Thanet) (Con): What plans the commissioners have to make their buildings and other church property available for wider community use. [902578]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): With your permission, Mr Speaker, before I answer this first question, it may be convenient to the House if I make a short comment on the progress made by the General Synod this week on the Church of England being able to consecrate women as bishops. On Tuesday, the General Synod completed the revision process for a new draft measure to enable women to become bishops. The Synod also agreed to shorten the consultation period with the diocese to consider this new measure, so the measure is now likely to come for final approval at the July meeting of the General Synod. If the measure is approved then, I would hope that the Ecclesiastical Committee would be able to give it early consideration and that both Houses would then separately consider it so that, if it is approved, the Synod might then be able to promulge the canon in November. That would mean that it would be possible for the first woman to be nominated as a bishop in the Church of England this year.

Turning to my hon. Friend’s question, the Church of England has changed legislation to make it much easier for church buildings to be used for a wide range of community and cultural uses. The Church of England encourages all parish churches to be open where possible for as long as possible.

Laura Sandys: Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating the congregation of volunteers at St Peter’s church in Broadstairs? He very kindly visited an award-winning tourism project called the St Peter’s village tour. Will he encourage other churches to use their facilities in order to open up to the community and develop tourism propositions?

Sir Tony Baldry: I much enjoyed my visit to my hon. Friend’s constituency. She is absolutely right. The church of St Peter’s in Broadstairs is an excellent example of a church that is a hub of the community, hosting local clubs and services to the elderly, as well as toddlers groups and young people’s clubs, and, as my hon. Friend says, organising popular tours of the village for visitors to Broadstairs. May I also draw the House’s attention to Holy Trinity Margate, which is another fantastic example of a church delivering almost 24/7 social action?



General Synod – Church Times reports

Today’s Church Times has these two reports.

Dioceses given three months to vote on women bishops

Oil-less future looms for Synod


General Synod: Pilling Report

The audio recording of the final session on Wednesday dealing with the Pilling report is now available here.

The official report of the session says:


Sir Joseph Pilling made a presentation to the Synod on the report from the House of Bishops’ Working Group (GS 1929).

The Bishop of Sheffield, Steven Croft, then spoke to the Synod about the process on the basis of the report.

Synod then asked questions to the process, which were answered by Bishop Steven Croft and Sir Joseph Pilling.

Earlier, on Monday, a number of other Questions relating to the report were answered by Bishop Steven Croft.

Answers given will be transcribed from the Monday afternoon audio recording soon.


General Synod – Wednesday – press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph
Welby tells Church refusing gay blessings will be viewed like racism
[The headline on this article was changed after publication to “Justin Welby says ‘Church viewed liked racists over homosexuality’”.]
Girl Guides offers concession to Christians in row over dropping God from pledge

David Pocklington of Law &Religion UK The Church and the Environment

Sam Jones The Guardian Church of England vows to fight ‘great demon’ of climate change

Michael Trimmer Christian Today Climate change is ‘great demon of our day’


Church Society calls for 12 Conservative Evangelical Bishops

Church Society issued a press release this afternoon. In it the director of Church Society calls for the appointment of 12 Conservative Evangelical Bishops.

News Release from Church Society
12 February 2014

Lee Gatiss looks to Archbishop for credible action after positive words

‘I welcome Archbishop Justin Welby’s Presidential Address to General Synod this morning, particularly his important reminder to us all that ‘where God is involved, there is no limit to what can happen, and no limit to human flourishing.’ He is absolutely right that if the Church of England is to live out its commitment to see conservative evangelicals flourish ‘there is going to have to be a massive cultural change’ that some may find threatening. I deeply sympathise with him when he confesses that this may be a hard course to steer, but am heartened when he says ‘Yet I know it is right that we set such a course and hold to it through thick and thin.’

After this candid speech, we are looking to him, in a positive and hopeful way, to make the claim that he wants evangelicals like us to flourish in the Church truly credible. He could do that in two ways: first, by engaging conservatives in real dialogue, listening in detail to our concerns; and second, encouraging and ensuring the appointment of 12 Conservative Evangelical Bishops.

A commitment in this area would convince us, including many young evangelicals exploring vocations, of the sincerity of the House of Bishops’ claim that they wish to provide for our flourishing. It would be a welcome game-changer in creating trust from our constituency. In an episcopal system, to which we are happily committed, this would be a very persuasive sign that we have a future.’

Lee Gatiss
Director, Church Society.


General Synod – Wednesday

Order paper for the day

Official summary of the morning’s business: General Synod – Wednesday AM

Official summary of the afternoon’s business: General Synod – Wednesday PM

Press release on the environmental issues debate: General Synod re-affirms the Church of England’s commitment to play a leading role in the effort to prevent dangerous climate change

Press release on the girl guides promise debate: Synod approves motion to support girl guides promise action


WATCH and Forward in Faith respond to yesterday's votes on women bishops

WATCH press release

Women and the Church (WATCH)

Press Release Tuesday 11 February 2014 2.00pm

Women in the Episcopate Legislation

WATCH is very pleased that the legislation to enable women to become bishops in the Church of England is now proceeding. We look forward to having the first woman bishop being nominated by the end of the year.

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH, said, “There was a real sense of wanting to move forward today”.

Forward in Faith statement

The Act of Synod and the House of Bishops’ Declaration
Feb 12, 2014

As part of the package of proposals regarding the ordination of women to the episcopate in the Church of England, the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 is to be replaced by a House of Bishops’ Declaration and a Resolution of Disputes Procedure (to be established by Regulations made under a new Canon).

Yesterday the General Synod welcomed the draft Declaration and Regulations and included the text of the new Canon in the legislation that will now be referred to the diocesan synods for approval. It also voted in favour, at the preliminary stage, of the draft Act of Synod that will eventually rescind the existing Act of Synod. We note that this will only come into force when the new Canon is promulged, thus ensuring continuity.

We welcome the fact that the new House of Bishops’ Declaration refers to the Sees of Beverley, Ebbsfleet and Richborough by name. It notes that they will remain in existence as one of the means by which episcopal ministry is provided to parishes that pass resolutions under the Declaration.

We welcome the following statement by the House of Bishops in paragraph 23 of its most recent report (GS 1932):

‘The title and role of the “provincial episcopal visitor” are currently set out in the 1993 Act of Synod. There is no reason why these – or the financial arrangements for the three sees – should change when the 1993 Act of Synod is rescinded, given the House’s wish for there to be continuity. As noted in paragraph 30 of the Declaration, the three sees and their occupants remain an integral part of the new dispensation.’

We welcome the fact that, once the new Declaration has been finalized, the House of Bishops will only be able to amend it if the amendment has been approved by two-thirds majorities in each House of the General Synod. This gives us assurance as we approach the new era that the legislation will initiate.

The Act of Synod has served the Church of England well. We are confident that the Declaration will enable us to flourish within its life and structures for generations to come.

The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker

Dr Lindsay Newcombe
Lay Vice-Chairman


Synod votes to bring forward draft safeguarding legislation

Press release following this morning’s General Synod debate on Safeguarding

Synod votes to bring forward draft safeguarding legislation
12 February 2014

Synod voted today that proposals for draft legislation to enable the Church of England to deal more effectively with safeguarding issues be brought forward.

General Synod last July voted to endorse work on legislative and non-legislative changes to enhance the Church of England’s safeguarding arrangements following on from the Chichester Commissaries’ interim and final reports.

The proposals take into account not just the recommendations of the Commissaries but also other submissions made in the course of the Archbishops’ Council’s consultation. The intention is to introduce legislation in July 2014.

The proposed draft legislation outlined in full detail here will:

Tighten up procedures around temporary permissions to officiate in a local parish

Prevent clergy robing during a service when prohibited or disbarred

Give bishops power, where appropriate, to direct clergy to undergo a risk assessment (this is currently voluntary)

Prevent anyone who is on a barred list from serving as a churchwarden or as a member of a PCC, district council or synod

Prevent anyone with certain convictions in relation to children from serving as a member of a PCC, district council or synod.

Give bishops the power to suspend people from these posts and bodies if arrested on suspicion of committing certain offences against children.

Introduce similar provision covering lay workers and Readers.

Remove the 12 month Clergy Discipline Measure limitation period for bringing a complaint about sexual misconduct committed against children or vulnerable adults.

Extend the bishop’s power of suspension.

Three additional suggestions for reform include:

(i) The imposition of a duty on relevant persons to have due regard to the House of Bishops’ current safeguarding policies

(ii) The imposition of a duty on all diocesan bishops to appoint a diocesan safeguarding advisor

(iii) The imposition of a duty on relevant persons to undergo safeguarding training when required to do so by the bishop.

The Bishop of Durham Paul Butler, Joint Chair of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee said: “This is just one step towards the Church making itself a safer place for all while acknowledging that effects of abuse on survivors can be lifelong. We are determined to improve our procedures and policies. We recognise that simply changing these does not transform our DNA but is an important start. We can never be complacent and we continue to urge any victims or those with information about church-related abuse to come forward knowing that they will be listened to in confidence.”


July 2013 Synod safeguarding debate

May 2013 Response to Final Report of Archbishop’s Chichester Visitation


Archbishop's Presidential Address to the General Synod

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave his presidential address to General Synod this morning. The text is available here: Archbishop’s Presidential Address to the General Synod preceded by this remark “In his presidential address to Synod today, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke of the need for ‘massive cultural change’ within the Church of England so that people can flourish together despite deeply held differences on issues such as sexuality and women bishops”.


General Synod: Questions about ACNA

The Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:

Q. Has an assessment been made of any implications of the appointment of the Revd Tory Baucum as one of Canterbury Cathedral’s Six Preachers from the point of view of the relationship between the Church of England and ACNA (with which the Church of England is not currently in communion)?

The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply as Chair of the House of Bishops:

A. Careful thought and assessment has certainly been given to the appointment of Dr Tory Baucum from the point of view of the relationship between the Church of England and ACNA and also the relationship with The Episcopal Church of course with which the Church of England is in communion, and for that matter with the relationship with the Anglican Church of Canada who feel implicated in this, and also by a number of other churches around the Communion, particularly in the group known as the Global South. An invitation to be a Six Preacher is a personal appointment of the Archbishop and has no implications in itself as to ecclesial relationships. However this particular appointment is of a person who has a distinguished ministry in reconciliation, which he exercises carefully in his context. There was consultation with a number of people and the appointment has been enthusiastically welcomed by the local bishop of The Episcopal Church, bishop, Shannon Johnston, the Bishop of Virginia.

Supplementary question from Canon Goddard:

… Could you just say what steps have been taken to ensure that this appointment is not taken to mean that clergy ordained in this country by overseas bishops, without the permission of the diocesan, are nevertheless recognised in the Church of England.

A. Thank you. I’m straying slightly onto thin ice here. It is true that permission would need to be given under the 1967 Measure, which is presumably what you are thinking about, in order for Tory to preach here. But it will not be breaking new ground, because Tory having been ordained in The Episcopal Church, the permission can be given under Section 1 of the Measure. That is, on the basis that he has been ordained by a bishop of a church in communion with the Church of England. It will not therefore be based upon the recognition and acceptance of the orders conferred by the ACNA.


Women bishops – press reports

BBC Women bishops: Church backs plan to fast-track scheme

John Bingham The Telegraph Women bishops plan fast-tracked after warning change ‘urgently needed’

Madeleine Davies and Tim Wyatt Church Times Women-bishops package makes brisk progress

Michael Trimmer Christian Today Church of England paves way for first women bishops

Penny Marshall ITV News Church of England moves closer to a vote on women bishops – but it’s not over yet

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has written this helpful summary: Women in the episcopate – further progress.


General Synod – Tuesday afternoon

Here is the official summary of this afternoon’s business: General Synod – Tuesday PM and the order paper.


General Synod approves next steps on Women in the Episcopate

Updated Wednesday morning
The paragraph italicised (by me) below originally referred the voting figures to the wrong item. It has now been amended by Church House.

Press release from the Church of England following today’s debates.

General Synod approves next steps on Women in the Episcopate
11 February 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England has today voted to pave the way for the legislative process to enable Women to become Bishops to be completed this year.

In a series of interrelated legislative and procedural items the Synod held four debates dealing with differing aspects relating to women in the episcopate.

The first synod discussion related to the House of Bishops draft Declaration and Disputes Resolution Procedure regulations – GS 1932.

Both the proposed declaration and accompanying regulations were drawn up by the House of Bishops at the invitation of the last meeting of the Synod.

The debate was opened by the Rt. Revd. James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, Chair of the Steering Committee, who moved “That this Synod welcomes the draft House of Bishop’s Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests and the draft Resolution of Disputes Procedures Regulations as set out in GS 1932”
The motion was passed by the Synod.

The second debate dealt with the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure – GS 1925A – and Draft Amending Canon No.33 – GS 1926A. At its meeting in November the General Synod voted to dispense with a Revision Committee Stage for the new legislation so that the Synod could conduct the Revision Stage in Full Synod.

After debate the revision stage for both the measure and the canon were completed without any amendments being made.

The Synod then gave preliminary consideration to the draft Act of Synod to rescind the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 – GS 1934.

The measure was accepted by Synod; and the amending Canon no.33 was passed by Synod by 304 votes to 33 with 45 abstentions.

The final debate on women in the episcopate in this session took the form of a procedural motion suspending Standing Order 90(b) (iii) so that the reference of the draft Measure and draft Canon to the Dioceses under Article 8 of the Synod’s Constitution can be concluded within 3 months rather than the 6 months stipulated under the standing order.

After debate the motion, requiring a 75% majority of the whole Synod, was approved by 358 votes to 39 with 9 abstentions.

The legislation now goes to the dioceses for approval. Provided a majority approve it by the 22 May deadline the General Synod will be able to hold the final approval debate in July, less than 20 months after the failure of the earlier legislation to secure the necessary two-thirds majorities in November 2012. If passed the legislation would then go to Parliament for approval and could be in force before the end of the year.

An audio interview with the Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, about the latest approval of legislation towards seeing Women in the Episcopate is available here.


General Synod – Women in the Episcopate debates

Today (Tuesday) General Synod is holding a series of debates on the legislation on Women in the Episcopate. This article will be updated as the debates proceed.

The order paper for all the debates is here and includes the text of all motions before Synod.

First debate

Synod debated and passed this motion:

That this Synod welcome the draft House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests and the draft Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations as set out in GS 1932

Second debate

This was the revision stage of the draft Measure (GS 1925A) and Canon (GS 1926A). The draft measure was considered clause by clause.

Clause 1 is the clause that allows women to be bishops. After a short debate Synod voted to include it in the measure.

The amendment to Clause 2 was withdrawn, and Synod voted to include the clause in the measure.

The insertion of the proposed new Clause 3 was defeated.

Synod then quickly proceeded to accept the remainder of the draft measure. this completed revision (without amendment) of the draft measure GS1925A.

Third debate

After a very short debate a division of the whole synod was called on the draft amending canon. There were 304 votes in favour of the canon, 33 against and 45 recorded abstentions.

Fourth debate

The final part of the package is the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993. This requires another Act of Synod. Synod voted in favour of this new Act (which will require final approval at a later Synod).

At this point Synod broke (a little early) for lunch.

The official summary of the morning’s business is here: General Synod – Tuesday AM.

Fifth debate

The draft measure must be referred to dioceses (and a majority of them must vote in favour) before the legislation can proceed to final approval. Synod’s standing orders require dioceses to be given a minimum of six months to respond. But Synod was asked after lunch to agree to a suspension of the relevant standing order so that dioceses could be required to respond in time for final approval to be taken in July 2014.

The suspension of the standing order was carried with 358 votes in favour and 39 against, with 9 recorded abstentions. Motions of this sort require a 75% majority, which was comfortably met.