Thinking Anglicans

UK Methodists review marriage understanding

The Methodist Church in Britain has taken a further step towards changing its understanding of marriage. This press release has been issued:

Methodist Church to review its understanding of marriage and relationships

A task group established to consider whether the Methodist Church’s understanding of marriage and relationships should be revisited has reported back to this year’s Methodist Conference.

Following a decision at the Conference in 2014, people from across the Methodist Connexion have been considering marriage and relationships as part of a process overseen by the task group. The discussions show that there is a broad range of opinions held by Methodists on these matters.

The Church is to reconsider how its understanding of marriage should be expressed. This does not necessarily mean that there will be a change of definition, but that the Church wishes to re-examine the definition through a period of theological and scriptural reflection.

The task group prepared guidance and other resources to help members of the Methodist Church in their discussions on marriage and relationships.

The task group was established at the Methodist Conference in 2014 to consider whether or not the Methodist Church should revisit its definition of marriage and its understanding of family life, marriage and the single person. Its report, received by the Methodist Conference earlier today, 5 July 2016, is the result of two years consideration by the task group, along with reflection and conversation within the Methodist Church. So far, at least 8,000 members have taken the opportunity to participate in conversations across the Methodist Church, where a wide range of views were expressed.

The Church’s definition of marriage was one of those subjects discussed. The task group considered the existing 1992 “Statement on Christian Understanding of Family Life, The Single Person and Marriage”. In the Statement the Methodist Church reiterates its view that marriage is “the lifelong union of one man and one woman”. However, whilst many Methodists support this definition as it stands, there is a range of reasons to revisit it. For example, some people feel the Church’s definition should be extended to include the marriage of same sex couples. Some people feel that the definition only describes the status of marriage, not its purpose and responsibilities and revisiting the definition is important part of the process even if it remains unchanged. The Conference directed that a new Statement on marriage and relationships should now be prepared and that, as part of that process, the definition of marriage should be revisited….

Media reports on this:

Christian Today Mark Woods Britain’s Methodist Church to consider same-sex marriage

Premier Alex Williams Methodist Conference votes to re-examine definition of marriage

Ekklesia Savi Hensman Methodists welcome LGBT people and review understanding of marriage


Pre-Synod comment and news


Comment and news looking ahead to this weekend’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod

Philip Jones Ecclesiastical Law The Burden of Legislative Reform

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK General Synod: Burial of suicides, vesture

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Battle looms in Church of England over ‘blessings’ for gay marriage

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England bans mankinis in the pulpit


Harry Farley Christian Today Shared Conversations: Can the Church of England prevent a split over gay marriage?

David Walker ViaMedia.News Bishop’s Packing Essentials for General Synod

Harry Farley Christian Today Apart from a big fight over homosexuality, what else is happening at General Synod?

Archbishop Cranmer Synod ‘No Confidence’ motion looms in secret trial of Bishop George Bell (RIP)

Stephen Lynas The weekend starts here


Opinion – 2 July 2016

Archdeacon Archdruid Eileen Church-Seeking: Some Advice

Andy Walton Christian Today Time for a revolution: Why women should be leading at least half our big churches


Reflecting on the outcome of the EU Referendum

Updated again Monday afternoon

Following the initial flurry of statements from bishops, there have been several more reflective articles published by various people writing from a Christian perspective.

Anna Rowlands wrote The Fragility of Goodness: Brexit Viewed from the North East.

Nick Holtam wrote this on the Referendum Result.

Luke Bretherton wrote Brexit as Theodicy and Idolatry.

Angus Ritchie had Brexit: How can we reflect and respond?

Philip North has this in today’s Church Times: Northern foodbank Britain finds its voice

There is a lot more material in this week’s Church Times but it is behind the paywall. However, Andrew Lightbown discusses some of the points raised in his blog, entitled Bishop David Walker or Richard Lewis? Who is correct?

Michael Sadgrove has Brexit: An Open Letter to the Archbishops of the Church of England.

Earlier he had also written Brexit: how to go positively into exile and On Saying Farewell to the EU: the morning after.

Brian Castle wrote Brexit – Now is not the time for Reconciliation.


Martyn Percy has written a major essay which is summarised here: After Brexit – Can we find a broad and middle way? Senior cleric calls for new social-progressive political party and the full essay can be read by following that link.

Tanya Marlow has written Brexit, hate crime, fear: what’s the Christian response?

Bishops of the Lincoln diocese The EU Referendum: responding to the vote to leave


Crown Nominations Commission – a Report for General Synod

The central members of the Crown Nominations Commission have prepared this report on their work: GS Misc 1147. Amongst the topics covered are

  • interviews, which the members find to be “essential to their work”,
  • legal issues, ie the CNC is bound by the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests, and
  • training, which will now be extended from the central members to the diocesan representatives.

One thing that is not mentioned in the report is the use of substitutes when central members are unable to attend, and the effect this has on the work of the CNC. A question was asked about this in November 2014 (reproduced below the fold) and the answer revealed that substitutes are quite common. What it does not say is that several substitutes can be used for a particular vacancy. For instance it appears from Annex A to the question that at the CNC for St Edmundsbury and Ipswich in 2014 there were substitutes for four of the six central members. It is also common for one of the archbishops to send a substitute, as did the Archbishop of York in this case.


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