Updated again Tuesday evening
This communiqué from the GAFCON primates, meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, has been issued. Here’s an extract:
A Missionary Bishop
During our meeting, we considered how best to respond to the voice of faithful Anglicans in some parts of the Global North who are in need of biblically faithful episcopal leadership. Of immediate concern is the reality that on 8th June 2017 the Scottish Episcopal Church is likely to formalize their rejection of Jesus’ teaching on marriage. If this were to happen, faithful Anglicans in Scotland will need appropriate pastoral care. In addition, within England there are churches that have, for reasons of conscience, been planted outside of the Church of England by the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE). These churches are growing, and are in need of episcopal leadership. Therefore, we have decided to consecrate a missionary bishop who will be tasked with providing episcopal leadership for those who are outside the structures of any Anglican province, especially in Europe.
A Word of Encouragement to Faithful Anglicans within European Provinces
We wish to reassure all faithful Anglicans in European provinces that they also have our prayers and our support. We are aware that some Christians within these provinces who are contending for the faith may at first perceive the news of a missionary bishop as a threat to their hopes for reform from within.
We believe that the complexity of the current situation in Europe does not admit of a single solution. Faithful Christians may be called to different courses of action. We bless those whose context and conscience have led them to remain and contend for the faith within the current structures. If you are successful, you will not need a missionary bishop; if you are not successful, an alternative is at hand. The only true failure would be to waste time through inaction.
We also pray for those who are not yet clear about what faithfulness requires. May God give you the wisdom and courage of the Reformers to stand firm wherever the Lord calls you to stand…
GAFCON UK has issued this statement in response to the [GAFCON] Primates’ Communique. Again, here’s an extract:
… The Primates go on to talk about the challenges in the Global North, “the increasing influence of materialism, secularism, and the loss of moral foundations” which are “spiritually dangerous”. We recognize the need to repent of our participation in a weak version of the Christian faith which has too often failed to point out these dangers or even made accommodation with them.
This accommodation and ‘cultural captivity’ is seen in the failure by many Anglican leaders in the UK to hold to the key principles of Holy Scripture as speaking clearly to God’s will for human flourishing, and of requiring unequivocal obedience whatever the cost. It is shown, for example, in unwillingness to be clear about the uniqueness of Jesus and the authority of the Bible, and rejection of clear biblical teaching God’s gift of sex and marriage, and of celibate singleness.
This has contributed to the increasing concern that many faithful clergy and lay people in the Church of England, the Episcopal Church of Scotland and the Church in Wales feel about the revisionist trajectory of these churches. As the Communique points out clearly, some Anglicans are already outside of these structures and need Episcopal oversight; others may do so soon.
So we warmly welcome the decision of the Primates to consecrate a missionary Bishop who will fulfil this function. We appreciate the way GAFCON has recognized that this intervention is giving global support to one of a number of initiatives being taken by biblically orthodox Anglicans in Britain; others include the work being done to strengthen the Free Church of England. Meanwhile the Primates have generously expressed respect for and continued warm fellowship with those who for the moment are choosing to remain within the official structures and contend for orthodox biblical faith there, while warning that inaction in the face of revisionist pressure is not a faithful option.
We understand that more will be revealed about the plans for the consecration in due course. We commit ourselves to prayer about this and invite all who hold to the historic and trustworthy teaching of our faith to join us.
The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, David Chillingworth has responded, as follows:
“In June, the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church will reach the final stage of consideration of changes which would make possible same-sex marriage in our churches. The news that GAFCON intends to send a missionary bishop to Britain is regrettable. The Anglican Communion functions as a global communion on the basis of respect for the territorial integrity of each province. This move is a breach of that understanding.
“The outcome of the synodical process which will take place in June is not a foregone conclusion. The voices of clergy and lay people from across Scotland will be heard both in debate and in the voting process. The Scottish Episcopal Church is working closely with those who find this proposal difficult to accept. Whatever the outcome may be, it is our intention to be and to remain a church which honours diversity.”
The former archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, has been interviewed by Premier Radio. Read about the interview and listen to it in full here: ‘This isn’t an attempt to storm Lambeth Palace’: GAFCON not looking for split in Church.34 Comments
Simon Butler ViaMedia.News Adjectival Insufficiency12 Comments
New Bishop of Llandaff appointed
One of the most senior and experienced church leaders in the UK will be the next Bishop of Llandaff.
June Osborne, who has served as Dean of Salisbury for the past 13 years, has been chosen as the 72nd Bishop of Llandaff, a diocese which serves most of Cardiff, the South Wales Valleys and the Vale of Glamorgan.
A ground-breaking figure in the Church of England, Dean June was the first female Dean to be appointed to a medieval cathedral, having served as Salisbury Cathedral’s Canon Treasurer for nearly 10 years. She has been active in the national life of the Church of England, serving for many years on General Synod’s Standing Committee, including sitting on the Panel of Chairs.
The announcement was made today (April 27) by the Church in Wales Bishops who became responsible for the Bishop of Llandaff appointment when no candidate nominated at the Electoral College in February secured enough votes for election.
The appointment will be confirmed on July 14 at a meeting of the Sacred Synod of Church in Wales Bishops in Brecon Cathedral where Dean June will be consecrated as Bishop the following day (July 15). She will be enthroned at Llandaff Cathedral on July 22.
Welcoming her appointment, the Church’s Senior Bishop, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies, said, “In June Osborne, both the Church in Wales and the Diocese of Llandaff will find themselves to be richly blessed. June’s track record admirably demonstrates her passion for Christian ministry modelled on the Gospel imperatives of love, justice, inclusivity and openness. All of these are qualities which I and my fellow bishops warmly support and welcome. She is known as a leader with clear vision, a pastoral heart and a strategic mind, all of which commend the Church to the wider community. In this way and through her teaching, her preaching and her leadership, she reveals herself to be someone who I am confident will provide for the Diocese of Llandaff excellence in leadership and oversight. I look forward, with keen anticipation, to her arrival amongst us and to her contributions to the work of the Bench of Bishops.”
Dean June, said, “It is a very great privilege to be nominated as Bishop of Llandaff, an ancient post with many noble predecessors. It will be something of a homecoming for the family, particularly because my husband is from Cardiff and it is a place we know and love.
“Leading a diocese that is so diverse, in an area that is both historic and beautiful, will be challenging but I have an enormous appetite for the task and am deeply honoured to have the opportunity to join a diocesan team which is strong and imaginative. These are turbulent times across the world and the need for faith, and for the confident, distinctive leadership of the Church has never been more important.
“I will, of course, be sad to say goodbye to Salisbury. It has been my home, both spiritually and as a family, for over two decades. I have been surrounded by wonderful colleagues, staff and volunteers, who have made my job a joyful undertaking. It has been a great pleasure to witness how the Cathedral has developed and flourished over the years and to have shared our wonderful Magna Carta 800 celebrations. I am immensely proud of what has been achieved here and wish all at the Cathedral and its diocese well in the years to come.”
The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, described June as an “outstanding Dean”. He said, “June Osborne is one of the Church of England’s leading clerics. For the last 13 years she has been an outstanding Dean of Salisbury. She has made significant contributions to the wider Church of England including helping to organise the Leading Women group which has been massively influential in growing women into positions of leadership in the Church. I am delighted she has been appointed Bishop of Llandaff. The whole of the Diocese of Salisbury will join me in giving thanks for the enormous contribution she has made to this Diocese where she has served for 22 years. We wish her well as Bishop of Llandaff and pray for her and her family as they prepare for all that lies ahead.”
One of the first women to be ordained as a priest in England in 1994, having been a Deaconess since 1980, Dean June’s ministry has been characterised by her passion for equality and diversity and she was a founder of the Church’s Leading Women programme.
She is also deeply concerned about global poverty and has worked with the Episcopal Church of the Sudan on health, theological education and advocacy. She continues to play a key role in the Anglican Communion’s commitment to implementing the Millennium Development Goals, and is a member of the Government’s Advisory Panel for the Commemoration of WW1.
Dean June will celebrate her final Sunday at Salisbury Cathedral on July 9.
A graduate in Social Sciences from Manchester University, Dean June trained for ministry at St John’s College, Nottingham and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. She was made a Deaconess in 1980 and served at St Martin-in-the-Bullring in Birmingham before moving to the Old Ford parishes in East London in 1984. Following her ordination as a priest she served as Canon Treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral and was Acting Dean of Salisbury for two years before being appointed Dean in 2004.
In her time at Salisbury, Dean June has overseen the majority of the Cathedral’s 30-year Major Repair Programme of essential work to restore the fabric of the Cathedral and safeguard it for the future. As Canon Treasurer and Dean she was instrumental in the commissioning of Salisbury Cathedral’s much-loved and admired William Pye font. In a Cathedral that has often been pioneering and had already establish the first girls’ choir in an English cathedral, she championed the installation of the girl Chorister Bishop in 2015, another historic first for the Cathedral. She played a significant role in the Magna Carta 800 celebrations two years ago, enjoying the huge range of events delivered by the Cathedral during that year. She has also been a deputy lieutenant of Wiltshire.
Dean June is married to barrister Paul Goulding QC and they have two children, Megan and Tom. Her interests include the arts and football. A lifelong supporter of Manchester City, she is looking forward to adding rugby to her portfolio of interests.28 Comments
Updated Friday afternoon
This situation inside a part of GAFCON may be of some interest to UK readers.
Truro Anglican Church in Northern Virginia is a congregation of the Anglican Church in North America, within the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. The buildings in which it meets are the property of The Episcopal Church.
Truro recently announced the Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation as a joint venture with the local Episcopal diocese.
In this Easter season of rebirth and renewal, Truro Anglican Church is pleased to announce a new ministry of peace making and reconciliation called the Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation. The Institute represents the continued fulfillment of God’s work at Truro over many decades and is consistent with our congregational history and DNA. It is also the culmination of our outreach to and discussions with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia with whom we are joining in this exciting initiative. Years after the costly litigation and sometimes on-going animosity with the EDV, we have arrived at a new era of community building and peacemaking.
This new ministry, formed by Truro Anglican, will have equal representation on its board from EDV and Truro, along with representation from the Dean of Coventry Cathedral and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The following is a quote from Archbishop Justin Welby, regarding this ministry:
“I am deeply moved by the establishment of the Peace Centre at Truro, not least because I have looked more closely at it in the days following the terrorism in Westminster, merely 400 yards from Lambeth Palace. The kingdom of God is proclaimed in practices that develop virtues. The Peace Centre will proclaim that reconciliation is the gospel, with God through Christ, but like the Temple in Ezekiel 47, releasing a flood of water that as a mighty river becomes the place of fruitfulness and healing for the nations. Thank you for your step of faith. We too will work with you as best we can.”
The ministry will work with seminarians and other young people to seed our respective denominations with a new generation of peace makers, by teaching them and letting them live into the challenging work of reconciliation. Just the fact of the joint involvement of EDV and Truro Anglican is a living testament to the work the Institute hopes to accomplish…
The Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, Shannon Johnston, wrote about this here.
…As I noted in my Pastoral Address at January’s Annual Convention, members of the Diocese have spent the past three years building new ties of trust and friendship with the Truro ACNA congregation, which is leasing the Truro campus from the Diocese. Those efforts have helped to give birth to an Institute for Peace and Reconciliation at Truro. The governing board of this Institute will have equal representation from the Diocese and the Truro ACNA congregation.
The final pieces fell into place last week when the 18-member vestry of the Truro ACNA congregation voted unanimously to approve all documents related to the creation of the Institute. Our own Standing Committee already had given its consent to this proposal, subject to the final review of documents by our Chancellor and by me. All of this has now been accomplished.
Our agreement provides for an important three-year period of discernment. You will be hearing a lot more about our activities at Truro during this period, as both the Diocese and the ACNA congregation reflect and pray on whether we have successfully launched this important Institute. If both of us agree at the end of three years that we have succeeded, the congregation will be granted a 50-year lease to the property that the Diocese will continue to own. We in the Diocese will not only participate in the Institute, but also will have continued access to the property for office space, events and services to ensure a long-term Episcopal presence at Truro…
An interview by Pray Tell Blog with Fr Michael White and Evan Ponton, both of the Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Md, USA Liturgy as Evangelization
Richard Peers Quodcumque Messy is the Mass: my experience of Messy Church
Richard Peers Quodcumque Meeting the risen Jesus at the National Gallery: Michelangelo and Sebastiano
Bosco Peters Liturgy Even Pagans are Losing Their Religion3 Comments
Paul Johnson and Robert M Vanderbeck have published a very lengthy article, entitled Sexual Orientation Equality and Religious Exceptionalism in the Law of the United Kingdom: The Role of the Church of England.
Here’s the abstract:
There is a growing literature that addresses the appropriateness and merits of including exceptions in law to accommodate faith-based objections to homosexuality. However, what has rarely been considered and, as a consequence, what is generally not understood, is how such religious exceptions come to exist in law. This article provides a detailed analysis of the contribution of the Church of England to ensuring the inclusion of religious exceptions in United Kingdom legislation designed to promote equality on the grounds of sexual orientation. The article adopts a case study approach that, following the life of one piece of anti-discrimination legislation, shows the approach of the Church of England in seeking to insert and shape religious exceptions in law. The analysis contributes to broader debates about the role of the Church of England in Parliament and the extent to which the United Kingdom, as a liberal democracy, should continue to accommodate the Church’s doctrine on homosexuality in statute law.
The full paper can be downloaded from here.4 Comments
Updated again Wednesday morning
Jonathan Petre reports in the Mail on Sunday that African and Asian church leaders threaten to ‘plant’ a bishop in Britain to defy Welby on gay Christians:
Conservative Anglican archbishops from Africa and Asia are plotting to create a new ‘missionary’ bishop to lead traditionalists in the UK – after warning that the Church of England is becoming too liberal on homosexuality.
The rebel archbishops are set to give the green light to the controversial plan at a crucial meeting in Africa this week in defiance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
Insiders said the move was the ‘nuclear option’ as it would represent a highly provocative intervention into the Church of England by foreign archbishops and a direct challenge to the authority of Archbishop Welby, who is nominal head of Anglicans worldwide…
Anglican Mainstream which has close ties to GAFCON reports that:
Anglican Mainstream understands from Gafcon UK that this article is only partially correct, and that Gafcon UK will be issuing a comment later.
We will update this article when the latter occurs.
The Church of Nigeria has this notice of the meeting.
GAFCON UK has issued the following clarification, according to Anglican Ink
“The situation in the UK is not uniform. Within England there is troubling ambiguity from diocese to diocese in their teaching and pastoral practice as it pertains to human sexuality and biblical church order. However, the situation in the Scottish Episcopal Church is of immediate concern. There has been a clear rejection of biblical truth by the Scottish Episcopal Church, and they are expected to finalise this rejection of Anglican teaching and apostolic order in the upcoming June meeting of their Synod. Alternative structures and oversight will need to be in place should that unfortunate reality come to pass. At their meeting this week, the Gafcon Primates will be considering a range of options for how to care for those who remain faithful to Jesus’ teaching on marriage.”
This page from GAFCON UK lists items from the Church of England that are troubling to GAFCON: Radical inclusion after Synod: a briefing (updated).
The Church Times has this report: GAFCON contemplates missionary bishop to support UK malcontents. It includes this quote from GAFCON UK:
…In a response clarifying a report in the Mail on Sunday, GAFCON UK, a conservative Evangelical grouping, said that some of the language in the report was misleading. GAFCON Primates were not “plotting” to create such a bishop: “This implies subterfuge and deceit, and that foreign church leaders plan to impose a solution on British Anglican churches, which is not the case.”
Discussions were taking place “in response to requests from Anglicans in the UK”.
The statement, provided by the Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream, on behalf of GAFCON UK, explained: “The GAFCON Primates recognise the existence in England, Scotland and Wales of faithful Anglicans who are already distanced from their local structures because of revisionist teaching and practice in the Church of England leadership, and they are ready to provide assistance. One option is to consecrate a missionary Bishop to give oversight if necessary.
“That the GAFCON Primates are considering consecrating a bishop with particular responsibility for these Islands is not a secret and should not come as a surprise. . . Many of the world’s senior Anglican leaders, including the Archbishops who lead the GAFCON movement, have for some time been concerned about the Church of England’s drift from orthodox, Biblical Christianity.”
David Walker ViaMedia.News Why Should the Devil Have All the Best Tunes (and Words)?
Adrian Harris, the Church of England’s head of digital communications, has been talking to Helen Dunne of CorpComms Magazine: How the Church of England is extending its congregation
Madeleine Davies Church Times Exporting the Brompton Way
“An HTB church-plant is now widely expected when a well-situated urban church’s numbers are low.”
Joanna Ruck The Guardian Easter Sunday around the world – in pictures
Nick Spencer The Telegraph Our politicians are more devout than ever – so it’s time we started taking their faith seriously
Melanie McDonagh The Spectator If you want to save the CofE, then get stuck in (and go to church)
a few Easter sermons
Archbishop of Dublin [There is a link to the full text at the end.]
Archbishop of Canterbury
Bishop of Chichester
Bishop of Durham
Bishop of Jarrow
Bishop of Leeds
Bishop of Lincoln
Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham
The following press release from the Church of Scotland has been issued today:
The latest report from the Theological Forum on human sexuality to come before the General Assembly has been published.
The comprehensive document will be considered by Commissioners in Edinburgh next month.
The document has found its way into the public domain ahead of schedule, before all the General Assembly reports are published in the Blue Book on Thursday.
In light of the report appearing in the national press, the Principal Clerk has authorised its immediate publication to allow Commissioners, members of the church and members of the public to understand fully the content and context.
The General Assembly is being asked to consider two key issues.
- Authorise the Legal Questions Committee to undertake a further study on the legal implications of conducting same-sex marriages and report back to the General Assembly in 2018. *
- Invite the Church to take stock of its history of discrimination at different levels and in different ways against gay people and to apologise individually and corporately and seek to do better.
In releasing the report the Convener of the Theological Forum, the Very Rev Professor Iain Torrance, said: “The Report addresses what has been a long running argument in all the churches.
“In years past there has been an idea that in time one side in this argument would emerge as the sole victor.
“We don’t think like that now.
“That is why we are arguing for what, last year, the Forum called ‘constrained difference’.
“This is saying that within limits we can make space for more than one approach.
“It is closely similar to what the Archbishop of Canterbury calls ‘mutual flourishing’.
“This is a centrist report, aimed at encouraging mutual flourishing.”
The Principal Clerk, the Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, said: “It is unfortunate that this report has found its way into the public domain before this year’s volume of Assembly Reports has been published.
“However, it is important that people are now able to access the full report.
“It will now be for the Assembly to decide whether it wants to ask the Legal Questions Committee to pursue further research on the matters which would require to be addressed in any new legislation permitting Ministers and Deacons to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies.
“If the General Assembly does move in this direction a further report will be heard in 2018.”
The full text of the report is available here.
The previous report published in 2013 is still available here. As we reported at the time the best analysis of that report was by Law & Religion UK: Men and Women in Marriage, and the Church of Scotland.7 Comments
The Diocese of Gloucester has this morning announced that Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester between 2004 and 2014, died on the evening of Monday 17 April.
In the announcement, Bishop Michael’s successor as Bishop of Gloucester, Bishop Rachel Treweek writes:
It is with great sadness that I am writing to inform you that Bishop Michael died peacefully at home on Monday evening, April 17, following a special Easter weekend with all the family.
I last saw Bishop Michael on Tuesday 11 April during Holy Week. Not only was it good to share together in the Eucharist on that occasion but also to preside at the Chrism Eucharist on Maundy Thursday knowing that the Dean would then be taking Bishop Michael bread and wine from our service in Gloucester Cathedral with the love and prayers of the Diocese.
It was Sunday morning in Jerusalem and the staff at Temple House, administrative headquarters for Religious Affairs, were making their way back to their desks after the short Passover break. They were doing so with some reluctance; last week had been particularly tough across all departments.
It had started in Finance; temple money changers had demanded compensation after someone had been allowed to run amok, overturning their tables. Next, Stewardship had complained that queues of impoverished widows carefully placing single small coins in the treasury were putting off the more prestigious High Value Donors; important men who appreciated neither the wait nor the smell. Around midweek, HR got wind that a man called Lazarus, whose sisters had just claimed welfare payments following his death, was apparently alive and well and walking the streets of Bethany.
Across the corridor, Safeguarding were investigating rumours that an unknown rabbi had been, in the words of a reliable informant, “suffering the little children to come unto him”. There was no documentary evidence of him completing the necessary training. Legal had spent half the week looking into what powers they had to restrict him.
Communications had faced their own problems, when local media published a survey claiming an alarmingly high proportion of Sadducees did not believe in a physical resurrection of the dead. Getting out their rebuttals wasn’t helped by a meltdown in IT. Half the messenger pigeons had come down with bird flu and Maintenance couldn’t promise spares until after the holiday. To top it all, the secretary to the Buildings Committee had spent hours refuting claims that somebody had submitted an application to tear down the Temple and replace it in just three days. “Does nobody realise how many months it takes to approve moving a candlestick, let alone throw up an entire new building, and with unconventional construction techniques?”, she’d exclaimed.
Anyway, today was the start of a new week. Much of the trouble had been traced back to a single maverick preacher. With some help from the Romans, he had been appropriately dealt with. After that the Passover had been fairly quiet.
Actually, like most Passovers they could remember, it had been a bit of a let down. Every year, in the build up to the festival, there was at least a frisson of hope that this would be the time when God would act to save his people. Maybe this Passover would not simply be a remembrance of long ago but the moment when a new deliverance would be accomplished. It never happened, but the annual tinge of post-festival disappointment could not quite be expunged.
And the new week wasn’t shaping up well. Reports coming in suggested unauthorised removal of a body from a grave; was it a matter for Faculty administration? Some witnesses implied there had been violence against the troops guarding the tomb; did this make it a Discipline matter? A woman now claimed to have seen the deceased; perhaps it was a ghost, as he hadn’t allowed her to touch him. Maybe Deliverance were the people to handle it. Still, in every office there’s a place where the complex and difficult problems nobody wants to deal with get dumped, and Religious Affairs was no different. After all, if somebody was wandering around the city carrying a three-day old corpse that had lost its burial wrappings, it just had to be a case for Health and Safety.
David Walker is the Bishop of Manchester.13 Comments
Bishop of Basingstoke
Bishop of Bath and Wells
Bishops of Blackburn, Burnley and Lancaster
Bishop of Chichester [3½ minute video]
Bishop of Coventry
Bishop of Dorking
Bishop of Dover
Bishop of Dudley
The Bishop of Durham has two different messages written message video message
Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe
Bishop of Leeds
The Bishop of Liverpool has two different messages written message video message
Bishop of Manchester
Bishop of Newcastle
Bishop of Norwich
Bishop of Oxford
Bishop of St Edmundsbury And Ipswich
Bishop of Sherborne
Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham [4 minute video]
Bishop of Warrington
Bishop of Worcester
Two pieces from The Spectator:
Rod Dreher The Benedict option “Believers must find new, more radical ways to practise their faith.”
and in response
Matthew Parris Why I admire the Church of England “Some disapprove of the church’s frequent accommodations with secular society. I do not.”
Paul Bayes ViaMedia.News A Moment in the Tangle
Two pieces from ABC Religion and Ethics:
Stanley Hauerwas Naming God: The Burning Bush, the Cross and the Hiddenness of the Revealed God
Richard B Hays What Is Handed Over: Maundy Thursday, Memory and the Gospel
Peter Ould looks at a recent ComRes poll poll for Psephizo Do Christians really not believe in the Resurrection?
Richard Coles New Statesman Brexiteers and Remainers alike could learn from the life of Jesus
Alison Ray British Library Medieval manuscripts blog A hunt for medieval Easter eggs — including a 15th-century recipe for an imitation egg
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian The modern pilgrims retracing Britain’s ancient routes4 Comments
“It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back.” So wrote Sydney Carter, in a song which will be sung across the country today. (It’s also the fifth most popular copyrighted song in school assemblies according to CCLI.)
Carter himself called it “pretty far flown, probably heretical and anyway dubiously Christian,” and expected opposition. There’s some truth in his comments — it could be variously labelled as syncretist, universalist, Platonist and several other -ist’s as well — but the numbers tell their own story.
A lot of that is down to the catchy Shaker tune, but the gentle cynicism about the establishment and expansive cosmic vista catch the mood of the times too. What it nearly misses is the agony. “No real people were hurt during the writing of this song.” Nearly — if it wasn’t for the line I began with, where the real struggle shudders through.
And on Good Friday, it must. We’ll sing “Lift High the Cross”, but be careful to balance it with “it causes me to tremble.” We cannot sustain the pretence that Easter has not already happened that the liturgy properly invites; but we dare not pretend that Easter was and is without cost.
For me this Easter some of that cost and contradiction is personal — my father died just a few weeks ago. But it is also ecclesiastical. Strong feelings are swirling around us. Ten bishops out of ten would like to tidy them up. But the lesson of a certain un-noted report was that feelings like these are not to be tidied or managed but lived alongside. We will find God’s good future for us with them, through them, not by burying them and thinking they’re gone. The bench too will have to learn new ways of modelling and leading unity which do not bury its own diversity: something I’ve seen beginning in my days in the House and College, but something we still have to explore further and very tenderly together.
What this mustn’t be, though, is a surrender to the short-cuts of post-truth politics or populist power. If the dance of God is to go on, the choreography of the Kingdom requires all of us to be on the floor, sharing in the exacting task of listening, looking, learning, following, leading — in a pattern that will look very broken if part of it is missing. We will actually need each other to make it work.
As well as doing plenty of personal processing today, then, I’ll also be bringing some very different sorts of friends with me in my mind to the Cross, each of whom has a piece of my heart, acknowledging their hopes and their hurts, sensing the limb-breaking tensions, feeling the weight of the devil on all our backs that would seek to pull us apart: but feeling too the unstoppable rhythm of the dance that will go on.
David Thomson is Bishop of Huntingdon in the diocese of Ely.2 Comments
When we offer the elements at the Eucharist, in the person of the priest, Jesus takes, blesses, breaks and shares out his Body. At the same time Jesus accepts and sanctifies our sacrifice of thanks and praise. He takes each of us and blesses us. We are broken, too, as we share his suffering for the sake of the world.
And we are shared out as well. Some of us get caught up in lively debates with people who are vehemently opposed to living a life of faith, sometimes with very good reason after a bad experience of the Church. A person said to me that the Church was full of hypocrites, so I told him there was always room for one more. He came back for more and said, “Do you think you’re Jesus or something”? I told him, “In a sense, yes”. I believe it was Austen Farrar who wrote that as Jesus knew his death was drawing near and that he would be taken out of this world, he took not only bread and wine to be his body and blood; he also took those disciples to embody the continuing power of his Incarnation in the world. For if we, the Body of Christ, empowered by the Spirit of Christ, are not living out what Jesus made us at the Last Supper, the expression of his Incarnation in the world today, who else is it going to be? The world has a desperate need for his presence, in the Gospel, in the Eucharist, and in each of us. Somewhere in the complexity of their lives people are invited to discover the living God in the quality of the hospitality which we both offer and receive. If you will, it is the kind of foot washing to which we are all called. Someone has to embody God alongside everyone so that everyone can open up to the God within and around them. It takes the poor in spirit to touch and heal the poverty of the world’s fear and hopelessness. This is a job for us.
So the Eucharist which Christ instituted on the night he was betrayed is not just a memorial of the Last Supper celebrated once a year. It is not just the particular sacramental moment of our regular worship. It is the whole of our life lived in thanksgiving to God. And before we start to back out of the deal because we are unworthy, let us remember that Jesus included Judas in the foot washing and the breaking of bread. No one is left out who does not choose to absent themselves. Give thanks to the God who takes us, who loves us now, and who loves us into becoming that beautiful and holy people whom God already sees. Living as the Body of Christ, the Mass of the Last Supper reminds us, is always about being a guest before ever we are the host. That’s an important lesson about how we engage in God’s mission in God’s world.
Stephen Conway is the Bishop of Ely.8 Comments
Louie Crew Clay Episcopal Café Sass and the Gospel
Nick Spencer Theos Looking down the well at the resurrection
Philip Jones Ecclesiastical Law The Easter Offering: Duty and Charity
Jenny Sinclair The Tablet Rebuilding the Broken Body
Kelvin Holdsworth Whither the Chrism Mass?15 Comments
We reported here on the Bishop of Peterborough’s Visitation Charge to the Cathedral. In his charge the bishop urged “the Archbishops’ Council, the Church Commissioners, and the House of Bishops, to look at whether the current Cathedrals Measure is adequate, and to consider revising it”. In response to the bishop’s request, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have today announced that they have set up a Cathedrals Working Group. Details are in this press release, which is copied below the fold.
Frank Cranmer of Law & Religion UK has posted here: Review of the governance of English Cathedrals.
The announcement was anticipated by Catherine Pepinster in yesterday’s Observer: Anglicans launch rescue bid as England’s finest cathedrals battle a financial crisis.
Ruth Gledhill writes today for Christian Today: Cathedrals in England to be given management overhaul after growing cash crisis problems.32 Comments
Catherine Fox Close Encounters The Leaving of Liverpool
Tim Wyatt Church Times Dean of Liverpool named as the next Bishop of Sheffield
Robert Cumber The Star Sheffield’s next bishop vows to restore unity following row over women priests
… Dr Wilcox said: “I will be ordaining with great joy and delight both women and men as priests in the diocese but I will also be hugely supportive of Bishop Glyn (who opposes the ordination of women priests) and respect the traditional Catholic position.” …
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian No 10 names new bishop of Sheffield after row over previous appointee
Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph New Bishop of Sheffield: It’s an ‘enormous privilege’ to proof-read my wife’s raunchy Church novels
[Fifty Shades of Purple is not, as the above article might suggest, a book, but a two-part blog: chapter one chapter two.]
Harry Farley Christian Today New Bishop of Sheffield announced after ‘highly individualised attacks’ forced Philip North to stand down
Glyn Webster Bishop of Beverley Bishop of Sheffield: Peter Wilcox
Archbishop Cranmer Sheffield gets its second best bishop – Pete Wilcox, Dean of Liverpool14 Comments
J Barrett Lee Hopping Hadrian’s Wall Altar Calls: Discussing Liturgical Worship with Evangelicals
Nick Baines Diocese of Leeds Bishop Nick speaks on working with the media
N T Wright ABC Religion and Ethic Palm Sunday: Jesus Rides into the Perfect Storm
Kelvin Holdsworth Thurible Trolleys are for Supermarkets (and not for funerals).
Roger Bolton Church Times The BBC and religion: bad decisions, badly timed
“The Corporation lacks a strategy, and is dangerously out of touch with faith communities.”
Madeleine Davies Church Times Why big churches aren’t led by women
“Care for their families is a key reason hardly any women are incumbents of the Church’s largest churches, a new research paper from Ministry Division has concluded.”
The paper is here: Vocational pathways: Clergy leading large churches.