Thinking Anglicans

Reform and GAFCON respond to Episcopal Church marriage decisions

Updated to add Ugandan statement

Reform has issued this press release: Reform Response to the US Episcopal Church Resolution on Marriage

July 7th, 2015

The Episcopal Church in the USA redefined the definition of marriage and approved liturgy for the blessing of same-sex marriages.

Reform shares the Archbishop of Canterbury’s deep concern about the stress this action will cause the Anglican Communion. We echo his call to respond to the Lord Jesus’ prayer for his followers, that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (John 17.21).

Jesus’ prayer for unity was “for those who will believe in me through [the apostles’] message.” (John 17.20). The unity for which Jesus prays is built on the foundation of the teaching he revealed and entrusted to his apostles, recorded for us in the Scriptures. Jesus is not silent on the definition of marriage. “Haven’t you read,” he said to the religious leaders who sought to redefine marriage in his own day, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19.4-5)

In rejecting this definition of marriage, the bishops of the US Episcopal Church have rejected Jesus’ own teaching. As such, they have denied the faith they profess to teach, forfeiting any right to be regarded as true bishops of the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus warned us to “watch out for false prophets” who come in his name (Matthew 7.15, 22)

Their actions will entrench still further the division in the Anglican Communion. We are grieved at their dishonouring of Jesus’ name. We are distressed by their discouragement of faithful believers, especially those who struggle with same-sex attraction and those who live in cultures where pronouncements from liberal Western church leaders endanger their lives and discredit their witness to Jesus Christ.

We stand with faithful Anglicans in the US and around the world, who continue to pray to Almighty God: “grant, that all they who do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and live in unity, and godly love.” (Book of Common Prayer).

GAFCON has issued this press release: TEC decision ‘a mistake with serious consequences’.

TEC decision ‘a mistake with serious consequences’

A Response to The Episcopal Church of the United States’ (TEC) decision to make ‘Same – Sex Marriage’ official

The recent decision of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, to remove reference to gender in the marriage canon and introduce rites for conducting ‘same-sex marriage’, is a mistake with serious consequences.

The problems for the rest of the Anglican Communion have already been noted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. But the fundamental reason that it is a mistake – and the reason why it is so destabilizing – is that it is a significant departure from Holy Scripture. This is a departure which Christians are not at liberty to make.

With this action, TEC has officially rejected the Anglican Communion’s standard, Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which expresses the Communion’s received and historic understanding of marriage and sexual relationships. TEC has now taken the pattern of behaviour which Lambeth describes as ‘incompatible with Scripture’ and equated it with Holy Matrimony.

It may be claimed that TEC is modelling ‘two integrities’, but the Church of God finds its integrity in teaching and living according to the received Word of God. The determination of TEC to press ahead with changes which ignore the serious concerns of many others in the Communion, in some cases for their physical safety, shows very clearly the inadequacy of initiatives designed to create reconciliation without repentance.

The recent decision of the United States Supreme Court that claims ‘same sex marriage’ is a constitutional right puts pressure on all churches in the United States, but in different ways all of our Provinces face the temptation to compromise with the surrounding culture. It is within this context that we commend the Anglican Church in North America for their willingness to speak with courage, truth, and charity. Being part of a global Communion should always be such a source of mutual encouragement to faithful witness, not a source of hurt to that witness.

The GAFCON movement remains totally committed to the renewal of this global witness and the restoration of its integrity, knowing that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and that all need to hear the good news of God’s redeeming love in Jesus Christ. It welcomes and recognizes Anglicans who through no fault of their own have had to disaffiliate from their original province over serious matters of biblical truth. The struggle and spirit of the remnant church must be kept alive.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop of Kenya and Chairman, The GAFCON Primates Council

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Primate of All Nigeria and Vice Chairman, The GAFCON Primates Council

6th July 2015

The Archbishop of Uganda has also issued a statement: Abp’s Statement on same-sex marriage in TEC and USA. The full text is copied below the fold.




Jonathan Elliott The Guardian I’m gay, liberal, open-minded – and a convert to Christianity

Archdruid Eileen Growing for Growth Strategy

Andy Griffiths Being Titus: a new model for incumbent ministry

Linda Woodhead gave a lecture on What’s wrong with the Church of England – and can anything be done? at St Bride’s church in Liverpool on Monday evening. There is a recording here.

Emma Jacobs Financial Times The reverend on a showbiz mission


Church Growth

Today’s issue of Church Times has a special series of feature articles (ten pages long in the paper edition): “planned, measured – or wild? getting to grips with church growth”. All are available online, including these which do not need a subscription for access.

Grace Davie Not fade away: the challenge for the Church

Leader: A work of the Spirit

David Goodhew Numbers have always mattered

My tips: Pete Broadbent
Linda Woodhead
Philip North and Dan Tyndall


Alison White consecrated Bishop of Hull

In a service today (the feast of Thomas the Apostle) in York Minister, Alison White was consecrated bishop by the Archbishop of York to serve as suffragan bishop of Hull in the diocese of York. She is the second female bishop to be consecrated, after Libby Lane, suffragan bishop of Stockport.

York diocese has this report Bishop Alison’s Consecration:

Two thousand people, including sixty bishops from across the globe, gathered at York Minster on Friday 3rd June [Ed: actually 3rd July] for the Consecration of the Rt Revd Alison White as Bishop of Hull.

The Bishops attending the service included the Rt Revd Ingeborg Midttømme (Bishop of Møre in Norway) the Rt Revd Garth Counsell (Bishop of Table Bay in our twin Diocese of Cape Town) the Rt Revd Helen-Ann Hartley (Bishop of Waikato in New Zealand), and the Rt Revd Terence Drainey (Roman Catholic Bishop of Middlesbrough).

Also attending the service were children from Broomhaugh C of E First School in Riding Mill, where Alison was vicar, and students from Archbishop Sentamu Academy.

Speaking before the service, the Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of York, said this was “a day of celebration for the Northern Province”. This was especially the case for the Diocese of York as we not only welcomed Bishop Alison to the Diocese, but also marked the first anniversary of the consecrations of Bishops Paul and John!

Alison was presented for consecration by the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd John Inge, and the recently retired Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Martin Wharton. The Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Revd James Bell, preached the sermon.

During the service, a one minute’s service [Ed: silence] was held at noon for the victims of the attack in Tunisia.

At the end of the service, Alison was presented with her pastoral staff, made with a traditional Northumbrian ram’s horn by Neville Straker of Amble.

There are more pictures on Flickr.

BBC news has Second woman bishop Alison White consecrated.


House of Bishops responds to Communion Partners

The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church adopted the following statement unanimously, in response to the statement of dissent reported earlier.

Mind of the House of Bishops Statement: ‘Communion Across Difference’

We the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church wish to express our love and appreciation to our colleagues who identify as Communion Partners and those bishops who have affinity with the Communion Partners’ position as stated in their “Communion Partners Salt Lake City Statement.” Our time together in Salt Lake City, in conversation and in prayer, has demonstrated how profoundly the love of God in Jesus binds us together and empowers us for service to God’s mission. As we have waited upon the leading of the Holy Spirit in our deliberations, we have been reminded that the House of Bishops is richly gifted with many voices and perspectives on matters of theological, liturgical, and pastoral significance. This has been shown in our discernment with respect to doctrinal matters relative to Christian marriage. We thank God for the rich variety of voices in our House, in our dioceses, in The Episcopal Church, and in the Anglican Communion, that reflect the wideness of God’s mercy and presence in the Church and in the world.

We give particular thanks for the steadfast witness of our colleagues in the Communion Partners. We value and rely on their commitment to The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. We recognize that theirs is a minority voice in the House of Bishops in our deliberations with respect to Christian marriage; and we affirm that despite our differences they are an indispensable part of who we are as the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church. Our church needs their witness. Further, we appreciate that each of us will return to dioceses where there will be a variety of responses to Resolutions A054 and A036. The equanimity, generosity, and graciousness with which the Communion Partners have shared their views on Christian marriage and remain in relationship is a model for us and for the lay and ordained leaders in our dioceses to follow. We thank God that in the fullness of the Holy Trinity we can and must remain together as the Body of Christ in our dioceses, in The Episcopal Church, and in our relationships with sisters and brothers in Christ in the Anglican Communion. The bonds created in baptism are indeed indissoluble and we pray that we have the confidence to rely upon the Holy Spirit who will continue to hold us all together as partners in communion through the love of God in Jesus.


Twenty bishops dissent from Episcopal Church marriage actions

Twenty bishops of the Episcopal Church have issued a statement dissenting from the recent actions of the General Convention in passing resolutions A036 and A054.

News report from The Living Church here: The Salt Lake City Statement

Full text of the statement is copied below the fold. A PDF version is available here.



Bishop Michael Curry elected as the new Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church

The Rt Revd Michael Bruce Curry (Diocese of North Carolina) has been elected the 27th Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church. He is the first black Presiding Bishop. The press release is here:

The Rt. Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, was elected the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church on the first ballot on June 27.

Bishop Curry, 62, is the first African-American to be elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

The election occurred during the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

Of the 174 votes tallied, Bishop Curry received 121 (89 needed to elect).

Following his election by the House of Bishops, Bishop Curry’s election was overwhelmingly confirmed by the House of Deputies, 800 for, 12 against…

Online reports include:

The Episcopal Café The Rt Revd Michael Curry elected as the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

Mary Frances Schjonberg Episcopal News Service Historic election of Bishop Michael Curry as 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

Czarina Ong Christian Today US Episcopal Church makes history by electing 1st black presiding bishop

Associated Press in The Guardian Episcopal church elects first African American presiding bishop

Associated Press in The New York Times Episcopal Church Elects Its First Black Presiding Bishop

Episcopal News Service Episcopalians, Anglicans react to historic election of Michael Curry as presiding bishop

Brady McCombs and Rachel Zoll Huffington Press Episcopal Church Elects Michael Curry, Its First Black Presiding Bishop

Robert Gehrke Washington Post Episcopal Church elects Michael Curry first black presiding bishop


More about the Episcopal Church decisions on equal marriage

British mainstream news coverage of this story is slight:

Christian Today has this report by Ruth Gledhill Episcopal Church confirms change in law to allow same-sex marriages. And here is her earlier report on Justin Welby’s earlier statement.

George Conger has the rollcall of the House of Bishops in their voting on the marriage canon.

Criticism of the decision from conservatives has begun to appear:

The Covenant blog of The Living Church carries another very detailed article, this time by Zachary Guiliano titled The substance of the argument. Like the Hylden article before it, this is well worth reading.

On the other side of this debate, there is an article at Huffington Post by Susan Russell ‘We Do!’ — Episcopalians OK Marriage for Same-Sex Couples.


Graham Tomlin to be Suffragan Bishop of Kensington

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop for Kensington: Graham Tomlin
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 2 July 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Graham Tomlin to the Suffragan See of Kensington in the diocese of London.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Graham Tomlin MA PhD, Dean of St Mellitus College in the diocese of London, to the Suffragan See of Kensington in the diocese of London in succession to the Right Reverend Paul Williams MA on his translation to the See of Southwell and Nottingham.

Notes for editors

Dr Tomlin was educated at Lincoln College, Oxford and trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his title at St Leonard with Holy Trinity Exeter, in the diocese of Exeter from 1986 to 1989.

He was ordained priest in 1987 and became Chaplain at Jesus College, Oxford in 1989. He started as a tutor at Wycliffe Hall in 1989 and went on to become Vice-Principal there from 1998 to 2005.

He took up the role of Principal of St Paul’s Theological Centre in the diocese of London in 2005 before going on to serve in his current post as Dean (now Principal) of St Mellitus College in 2007.

Dr Tomlin is married to Janet with two grown up married children. His interests include many forms of music and sport, including football, cricket, golf and rugby, and Middle Eastern politics and history.

London diocesan website Dr Graham Tomlin announced as the new Bishop of Kensington


Anne Hollinghurst to be Suffragan Bishop of Aston

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Aston: The Reverend Anne Hollinghurst
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 2 July 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Anne Elizabeth Hollinghurst BA, MSt, to the Suffragan See of Aston.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Anne Elizabeth Hollinghurst BA, MSt, Vicar of St Peter’s St Albans in the diocese of St Albans, to the Suffragan See of Aston in the diocese of Birmingham in succession to the Right Reverend Andrew Watson MA on his translation to the See of Guildford on 24 November 2014.

Notes to editors

The Reverend Anne Hollinghurst (aged 51) holds a BA from the University of Bristol and trained for the ministry at Trinity College, Bristol. She later studied for an MSt at the University of Cambridge. Prior to ordination she was a Youth Worker on the staff of the Hyson Green/ Basford Team Ministry in inner-city Nottingham. She served her title at Saviour’s Nottingham in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham from 1996 to 1999. She was ordained priest in 1997 and went on to become Chaplain at the University of Derby and Derby Cathedral in 1999. In 2005 she took up the role of Bishop’s Domestic Chaplain and Residentiary Canon of Manchester Cathedral in the Diocese of Manchester before moving to her current post as Vicar of St Peter’s Church, St Albans in St Albans diocese in 2010.

Anne is married to Steve, who is a researcher and trainer in mission and culture, and a part-time tutor for Church Army. Her interests include theatre and the arts, the environment, the history of Christian spirituality and contemplative prayer. She enjoys travel, fell-walking, and real ale pubs.

Birmingham diocesan wesbite ​The Revd Anne Hollinghurst announced as next Bishop of Aston


Episcopal Church considers new liturgical texts for marriage

Updated Thursday morning

An earlier article deals with the proposed changes to canon law. The changes described here, together with those mentioned in the earlier article will be considered by the House of Deputies of General Convention later today.

As ENS explains in Marriage-equality resolutions advance to House of Deputies,

…If the House of Deputies concurs with the House of Bishops-amended Resolution A054, the liturgies “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage” and “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2” from “Liturgical Resources 1: I Will Bless You and You Will be a Blessing, Revised and Expanded 2015” from the supplemental Blue Book materials of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music will be available for trial use beginning this Advent. Those rites offer the option of using “wife,” “husband,” “person” or “spouse,” thus making them applicable for both heterosexual and same-sex couples.
The bishops eliminated a third proposed liturgy from the resolution, “The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony.”

All three liturgies can be found on pages 2-151 here from the materials provided to convention by the standing commission.

The amended resolution stipulates: “Bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority or, where appropriate, ecclesiastical supervision, will make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies. Trial use is only to be available under the discretion and with the permission of the diocesan bishop.”

The resolution also says “That bishops may continue to provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.” During discussion, bishops said this was intended to address bishops’ situations in jurisdictions outside the United States, such as Italy and countries in Province IX, where same-sex marriages remain illegal.

The resolution extends the canonical provision to these resources that, “‘It shall be within the discretion of any member of the clergy of this church to decline to preside at any rite contained herein” and that “this convention honor the theological diversity of this church in regard to matters of human sexuality; and that no bishop, priest, deacon or lay person should be coerced or penalized in any manner, nor suffer any canonical disabilities, as a result of his or her theological objection to or support for the 78th General Convention’s action contained in this resolution.”

Some bishops questioned whether this meant a priest could officiate at a same-sex marriage ceremony without consequence even if his or her bishop didn’t approve of use of the trial liturgies.

The provision is intended to protect clergy in a diocese where the bishop advocates for the use of the liturgies, replied retired Virginia Bishop Peter Lee. Clergy are protected if they disagree with their bishop, but not if they disobey them, he said…

See also the detailed explanation by Jordan Hylden of the process by which these new texts can be incorporated in the American Book of Common Prayer:

…The church’s specially appointed Task Force on the Study of Marriage had originally proposed canonical changes that would have redefined marriage as gender-neutral and authorized liturgies for use. But many voices on both right and left objected to this course, since it would have placed the church’s constitution and canon law at odds with one another. The church constitution requires that worship services in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) cannot be altered at one General Convention, nor can alternatives to them be authorized except for “trial use” (Article X). To change canon law by itself, therefore, was not sufficient to provide alternative services to BCP liturgies. Therefore “trial use” was the course taken by the bishops, some of whom (such as Bishop Shannon Johnston, of the influential Diocese of Virginia) argued that precisely because same-sex marriage is so important, it needs to be passed in a way that is constitutionally beyond question. Other bishops, such as Thomas Ely of Vermont, eventually came around to this view and a consensus was reached early on in committee…

…What will happen now? Significantly, the bishops authorized the trial-use marriage liturgies “at the direction and with the permission” of diocesan bishops. If this holds up in the House of Deputies (on the docket soon), it will then mean that for the next three years bishops like William Love of Albany will be able in church law to continue their current practice of forbidding same-sex marriages in their dioceses. After that, if the liturgies become part of the BCP, it is difficult to see how that will any longer be possible….

See also this commentary by Tobias Haller Comprehension not Compromise.

…Some have characterized these resolutions as compromises. I prefer to see them as comprehensive. The resolution on liturgies authorizes trial use as provided for in the Constitution, with the mandate that bishops will see to it that all couples have access to the liturgies, while at the same time affirming that the bishop is responsible for directing and permitting these liturgies. This may be too subtle for some, but I believe it will allow the minority of bishops who are personally opposed to marriage equality sufficient conscientious cover, while at the same time requiring them to find ways to provide for couples in their dioceses who wish to make use of the liturgies. This will be a time for creativity and generosity…


ENS reports General Convention approves marriage equality.

…The House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops’ approval the day before of a canonical change eliminating language defining marriage as between a man and a woman (Resolution A036) and authorizing two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples (Resolution A054).

The resolutions marked the culmination of a conversation launched when the 1976 General Convention said that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern and care of the church,” said the Very Rev. Brian Baker, deputy chair of the Special Legislative Committee on Marriage. “That resolution began a 39-year conversation about what that full and equal claim would look like. The conversation has been difficult for many and painful for many.”

Resolutions A054 and A036 represented compromises reached after prayerful consideration and conversation within the legislative committee, and then the House of Bishops to make room for everyone, Baker said. “I know that most of you will find something … to dislike and to disagree with” in the resolutions, he said, asking deputies to “look through the lens of how this compromise makes room for other people.”

Deputies defeated an attempt to amend each of the resolutions. Following 20 minutes of debate per resolution, each resolution passed in a vote by orders. A054 passed by 94-12 with 2 divided deputations in the clerical order and 90-11-3 in the lay order. A036 passed 85-15-6 in the clerical order and 88-12-6 in the lay order.