A week ago the Trustees of Changing Attitude England wrote to every bishop and elected senior woman in advance of the meeting of the College of Bishops from September 15-17 when they will start the process of Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.
The change in attitude and practice which the shared conversations are designed to explore has already taken place. The change is not universally acknowledged and has not been formally approved by the House of Bishops or the General Synod. Lesbian and gay clergy have married and are intending to marry. Many lesbian and gay lay couples have already married. Their families and friends and congregations welcome them and celebrate their marriages.
The attitude and practice of many bishops has already changed. Many already affirm that the Church of England is a Church which should include LGBTI people equally in ministry and relationship. Some bishops give their blessing and approval to civil partnered lesbian and gay couples without asking whether the relationship is sexually intimate.
The Reverend Colin Coward MBE, Director of Changing Attitude England, said:
“The internal divisions in the House of Bishops over the Pastoral Guidance and the policy about same-sex marriage are all too obvious. The Pastoral Guidance issued in February never had sufficient support from the whole House and was unworkable from the start.
“The change is not sudden or superficial. It has been evolving for decades as the secular movements for justice for LGBTI people and the Christian campaigns for equality have developed and matured.
“There is a noticeable increase in despair and depression among LGBTI clergy. Partnered clergy are unwilling to marry and those in civil partnership are reluctant to convert their CP to marriage fearing hostile action from their bishop. LGBTI clergy conclude that they will never be able to move to a new post if they marry and that there is effectively no future for them in the Church of England. Potential ordinands are dissuaded from pursuing a vocation.
“People are angry at what they perceive to be the hypocrisy in the incoherent practice of the House of Bishops and the failure to honour lesbian and gay clergy who marry, are in a civil partnership, known to be living with a partner or in a relationship. The teaching of the House of Bishops is now effectively that lesbian and gay clergy couples should live in an unmarried state rather than committing themselves publicly to one another in fidelity and love. Men and women in ministry no longer want to work in an environment which is deceitful and dishonest.”
Changing Attitude England urges a change of policy and practice on the House of Bishops in response to the high levels of anxiety and insecurity being felt LGBTI clergy, licensed lay ministers, and ordinands and the anger and frustration being felt by gay and straight Anglicans.
We urge the House of Bishops to review the Pastoral Guidance document:
- There are strong theological arguments for accepting and celebrating same-sex partnerships, including marriage.
- Clergy and congregations should be free to conduct services of thanksgiving and blessing for married same-sex couples.
- The threat of sanctions against clergy who marry should be removed to enable LGBTI clergy and lay ministers to participate in the mutual conversations.
The full text of the letter is copied below the fold.5 Comments
Laurie Brock who blogs at Dirty Sexy Ministry discusses dating and the single priest: Eat, Priest, Love.
Ian Paul asks What kind of leader is Justin Welby?
Eric Pickles The Telegraph The fight against intolerance begins at home9 Comments
|Anglican Social Theology: Renewing the Vision Today London: Church House Publishing, 2014 ISBN 978-0-715-14440-4. pp.240. £19.99 pbk.|
Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool, reviews Anglican Social Theology.
Anglican Social Theology gives an overview of the theological traditions and ideas underlying the Church of England’s involvement in the public affairs of the nation since the late 1930s. Interesting essays on the legacy associated with Archbishop William Temple, and on more recent “post-liberal” ideas, are joined by helpful insights and reflections from evangelical and Roman Catholic perspectives.
It is “offered as a resource for parishes and church members who are responding in numerous practical ways to widening social divisions and other problems in contemporary society.” It “looks to develop strong theological foundations for social action initiatives by churches”.
I myself badly need the book and I’m very grateful for it, though I cannot pretend to understand all of it. I need the book because I need to discover and develop “strong theological foundations for social action”.
Any new Bishop of Liverpool stands on giants’ shoulders and from that perspective sees the horizon slipping and sliding. I see David Sheppard who spoke courageously for the urban poor in his own speeches and books and through “Faith in the City” which he inspired. I see James Jones who was asked by the Government to chair the Hillsborough Independent Panel because he was seen as a leader in and beyond the community of faith, and to have the wisdom and credibility to do the job well.
But the horizon is slipping and sliding. “Faith in the City” was addressed by the Church to the nation, in the secure belief that the two had a language in common and a platform of mutual respect on which to stand. It assumed an unruffled process by which groups of clever, (mostly) middle-aged (mostly) men would meet together in a room and by thinking carefully about things would come to agreement, and would make progress together for everyone’s benefit. That way of working is described in this book as the “Royal Commission” approach.
But “Faith in the City” was not received with agreement. It offended many in power. It was contentious and controversial and it made and continues to make an enormous difference to the Church’s self-understanding, and on the ground to help people through CUF and its offshoots, and through other practical initiatives. For many in the Thatcher years the Church was seen as a credible voice of opposition, sometimes perhaps the only voice of opposition. However that road was ending and “Faith in the City” was its terminus.
The only Church of England report to have sold as many copies as “Faith in the City” is “Mission-Shaped Church” on which I worked with Bishop James Jones. I believe the report is vital to the future of a Church that can make a difference; but it was addressed by the Church to the Church as a means of getting to grips with a changing England. Like “Faith in the City” it was contended and controversial, but only within the Church. And when Bishop James made his own enormous contribution to the Liverpool region, it was not as the patron of a church report. The Hillsborough Panel was, inevitably and rightly, far more specific and far more emotional than a Royal Commission. It was, and is, a matter of public justice in public view. Years of denial and evasion have been exposed, and the patience and perseverance of the families of the 96 who died has been vindicated. This has been a harrowing process and the Church has been at the heart of it; but it was not a Church initiative and if it had been, it would not have done what it has.
And now the horizon is slipping and sliding more and more wildly. The gyroscope of our public theology has badly slipped. The Church’s public credibility is deeply contended within and outside the Christian community. We don’t have to look far for the evidence. The Pilling report sought to stand in that old tradition of calm, magisterial reflection on difficult issues, as the Church more widely tried to do in the national debate over same-sex marriage. Readers of “Thinking Anglicans” will remember the result.
What will be next for the Church? A disaster, or a genuinely engaged conversation with surprising outcomes? Avoiding the disaster will need a rare and a key resource — good public theology, ordinary theology, designed for and understandable by ordinary Christians.
Anglican Social Theology offers a toolbox with which to make that resource. But it does not offer the resource itself. Its tone is set too high. It is introverted, academic and erudite, sometimes eye-wateringly so.
But to make such a resource; there’s a task for the Church’s theologians. Because polemic and shouting may be necessary but they are not sufficient. It is thinking together about God — corporate theology — that gives the mind a place to stand, and from that place to reflect wisely on what’s happening around. Otherwise the Church has nothing to say outside its own circle, and our internal culture wars become exchanges of insult, or clashes of popular prejudice between Daily Mail people who happen to be Christians and Guardian people who happen to be Christians.
Among the martyrs of the Hitler years were the sophisticated Bonhöffer and the simple church worker Franz Jägerstätter. Whether it was high-modern Lutheran theology or a penny Catholic catechism, both had resources to use, a place for their mind to stand. I hope that Anglican Social Theology will help us develop similar resources for our generation. On its own it is not enough and does not pretend to be. But even so I need it, and maybe you do too.
One final word. For me the most helpful chapter is that exploring “post-liberal” social thought and written by John Hughes, a wonderful young thinker and priest whose tragic death a few months ago has robbed the Church of a future leader of real stature. He will be deeply and greatly missed. I hope that any future edition of this book will be dedicated to him.1 Comment
Following up on the recent Milburn report, today’s Church Times has analysed the educational background of the bishops of the Church of England.
The detailed results are listed only on the website, below the text of the article appearing in the newspaper.
Read it all at Half the Bishops in the C of E were educated privately.
…Data collected by the Church Times shows that [Welby] is not alone in being educated privately. While he is the only Etonian, 48 (exactly 50 per cent) of the 96 serving bishops whose schooling could be determined were educated in the independent sector. Thirty-five (36 per cent) attended a grammar school; just 13 per cent attended a comprehensive school.
Analysis of the bishops’ undergraduate education shows that 43 (42 per cent) took a first degree at Oxford or Cambridge. The University of Durham was, by a large margin, the third-commonest Alma Mater: 17 per cent of bishops received their first degree from the institution…
The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced this new initiative today.
Archbishop of Canterbury invites young Christians to spend year praying at Lambeth Palace
Thursday 4th September 2014
Archbishop Justin Welby is opening up Lambeth Palace to adults aged 20-35 to spend a year living, praying and studying together as a radical new Christian community.
In a unique experiment, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is to open up Lambeth Palace in London to Christians aged 20-35 – inviting them to spend a year living, studying and praying at a historic centre of the Anglican Communion.
Launching in September 2015, the Community of St Anselm will gather a group of adventurous young adults from all walks of life, hungry for a challenging and formative experience of life in a praying community.
The Community will initially consist of 16 people living at Lambeth Palace full-time, and up to 40 people, who live and work in London, joining part-time. The year-long programme will include prayer, study, practical service and community life.
Members of the Community will live in a way the ancient monastics would recognise: drawing closer to God through a daily rhythm of silence, study and prayer. But, through those disciplines, they will also be immersed in the modern challenges of the global 21st century church.
Lambeth Palace is in the process of recruiting a Prior to pioneer this new venture and direct its worship and work. The Prior will work under the auspices of the Archbishop, who will be Abbot of the Community.
Archbishop Justin Welby said: “Stanley Hauerwas reminds us that the church should always be engaged in doing things that make no sense if God does not exist. The thing that would most make no sense at all if God does not exist is prayer. Living in a praying community is the ultimate wager on the existence of God, and is anything but comfortable or risk-free. Through it people subject themselves to discipline, to each other in community, and, above all, to God.
“I expect this venture to have radical impact – not just for the individuals who participate but for life at Lambeth, across the Church and in the world we seek to serve. This is what we expect in following Jesus. I urge young people to step up: here is an open invitation to be transformed and to transform.”
The Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Revd Dr Jo Wells, said: “Archbishop Justin is passionate about prayer and about community. The renewal of prayer and Religious Life is the first of his three priorities, and that is what the Community of St Anselm is all about.
“We are inviting people from all around the Anglican Communion – and beyond – to live a year in God’s time. There are no qualifications for joining the Community except a longing to pray, to learn, to study together the things of God, and so to be stretched in body, mind and spirit.”
“Archbishop Justin longs that Lambeth Palace be not so much a historic place of power and authority, but a place from which blessing and service reach to the ends of the earth.”
We have also been sent these notes.
John Bingham The Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury offers monastic gap year at Lambeth Palace15 Comments
Updated Thursday morning
Madeleine Davies writes in the Church Times Welby invokes Holocaust at vigil for Middle East minorities
CHRISTIANS in the Middle East have not been treated so badly since the invasion by Genghis Khan in 1259, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Wednesday. He later invoked the Holocaust when addressing an interfaith vigil at Westminster Abbey.
At a press conference at Lambeth Palace in the morning, the Archbishop said: “It took the barbarism of the jihadist militants to wake us up. But this . . . is a new thing. There has not been treatment of Christians in this region in this way since the invasion of Genghis Khan in 1259, 1260. . . I think we find it hard to believe that such horrors can happen.”
He was speaking after a meeting and prayer service with representatives of Middle East Churches, many of whom had just come from the region. In a joint statement, read out by Archbishop Welby, they warned that the region was “in desperate danger of losing an irreplaceable part of its identity, heritage and culture”…
Lambeth Palace releases:
Channel 4 News Simon Israel Archbishop: we must counter the ‘obscene simplicity’ of IS ideology
Christian Today Ruth Gledhill Iraq: What influence does Justin Welby have in bringing British Jihadists to justice? and also Carey Lodge This evil must stop: Archbishop of Canterbury on Iraq
Huffington Post jessica Elgot Archbishop Of Canterbury Joins Jewish And Muslim Faith Leaders To Declare #WeAreAllHuman
Guardian Ruth Gledhill Archbishop of Canterbury condemns Isis persecution of Christians
Telegraph John Bingham Prince of Wales ‘heartbroken’ for Christians in Iraq [story does also refer to the archbishop]2 Comments
The Archbishop of Perth, the Most Reverend Roger Herft is preaching at Southwark Cathedral on Saturday 13 September at the Anglican Catholic Future national festival Life Abundant.
Here is a talk he gave in July to the Diocese of Melbourne ministry conference, entitled Chutney and Chow mein – making disciples in a multicultural Australia. There is much food for thought here for Anglicans in other countries, including the Church of England.
(Other materials from that conference can be found here.)3 Comments
Our friends at Anglicans Online have drawn our attention to this survey that the Church of England is about to carry out in a representative sample of parishes.
Everyone Counts is a congregational survey with a focus on diversity. In October around one in six churches will take part in the survey, answering a few simple but important questions about how they identify and their connection to the church.
Currently, volunteers across the dioceses are getting ready for the survey. This page provides additional information for the churches and coordinators involved. Later we will post updates on the project, additional materials and interim findings.
These papers are available.
Celebrating Diversity in the Church of England [a background paper presented to the Archbishops’ Council]8 Comments