Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 13 February 2019

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller The Episcopal Café Noticing Every Day

David Walker ViaMedia.News A Special Place in Hell….and the Road to Heaven

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Revisiting Institutional Narcissism

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Opinion – 9 February 2019

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of inclusivity, offence and rejection

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Why do Christians seem preoccupied by sex?

Ted Harrison Church Times Beware the use of banal and meaningless slogans
“Think carefully before creating one, … and make sure to avoid these common pitfalls”

Marcus Walker Catholic Herald Why Anglo-Catholicism appeals to millennials

Meg Warner ViaMedia.News Elephants, Penguins, Procreation & Japanese Knotweed

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Lambeth Conference and GAFCON

From an ACO press release: The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, has called on Anglican bishops to attend the next Lambeth Conference despite differences within the Anglican Communion.

Lambeth Conference: Archbishop of Cape Town calls on bishops to “express your difference”.

…”I know people talk about the fabric of the communion as torn”, he said, “but we are all fallible human beings in need of God’s love and grace, and we need each other.”

Archbishop Thabo made his comments in a video on the Lambeth Conference website. In it, he says: “As said in Sepedi [the language of Northern Sotho]: one bangle doesn’t ring, two bangles will make a beautiful noise. So we are never alone in this journey.

“Whether you agree with where the communion is, whether you don’t agree, come and express your difference in this beautiful space which is a gift from God. Don’t just stay at home and say ‘I’m not going’.

“We want to hear that voice. It’s not a conference of like-minded people; it is a conference of Anglicans. I mean, for God’s sake, Anglicans, from our inceptions, we’ve always had push and pull. So push and pull should not be a distraction, but it should be celebrated.

“It’s what I call at home, ‘celebrating the gift of difference’. So I encourage all bishops and their spouses to make every possible effort to come and see what God is doing through us in his world…”

The Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, has issued a statement which is headlined simply Warning from the Chairman, headed by a photograph of the marriage last year of Toronto suffragan bishop Kevin Robertson, who has been invited to attend the Lambeth Conference in 2020. Bishop Robertson was also among those who this week attended this: New Anglican Communion bishops receive induction in Canterbury, Lambeth and the ACO.

Archbishop Okoh eventually concludes that:

…With great sadness we therefore have to conclude that the Lambeth Conference of 2020 will itself be an obstacle to the gospel by embracing teaching and a pattern of life which are profoundly at odds with the biblical witness and the apostolic Christianity through the ages…

This was promptly reported in Christian TodayGAFCON leader says Lambeth Conference ‘will be an obstacle to the gospel’

Andrew Goddard had earlier analysed this situation: Lambeth 2020: what is the future of the Anglican Communion?

Last September, the Church of Nigeria had issued a communique which included this:

…It supports the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria in reaffirming the Statement of GAFCON 2018 that the Archbishop of Canterbury should invite as full members to Lambeth 2020 the Bishops of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America and the Province of the Anglican Church in Brazil, and that he should not invite those Provinces that have endorsed by word or deed sexual practices that are in contradiction to the teaching of Scripture and Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, unless they have repented of their actions and reversed their decisions. In the event that this does not occur the Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) unanimously resolved that they will decline any invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of the Communion.

Even earlier, the Church of Uganda had made a similar decision: Ugandan bishops pledge to boycott Welby’s landmark Lambeth Conference 2020.

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Open letter supporting bishops on transgender pastoral guidance

The Church Times reports on a letter received, containing 599 signatures: Support for House of Bishops’ trans rites guidance. The letter was written by The Reverend Dr Jo Kershaw.

THE House of Bishops’ decision to offer transsexual people a way to recognise and celebrate their transition in church should be welcomed, not retracted under the pressure of a “fear-mongering and ungracious response” from conservative Christians.
This is the view expressed by 599 lay people and clerics, including a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams, in a letter to the Church Times this week.
“We write in support of the guidance provided by the House of Bishops to help those wishing to celebrate their gender transition,” the letter says, before thanking the group that is co-ordinating the Bishops’ sexuality project, Living in Love and Faith (LLF). This includes the Revd Dr Christian Beardsley, a transgender priest who resigned last week (News, Comment, 1 February).
The letter continues: “It is right and proper that the Church should make a loving pastoral response to trans people who are looking for a way to recognise and celebrate their transition in church, and surely the use of the affirmation of baptismal vows is a powerful statement of faith.”

Full text of letter as published

Full list of signatories. (up to Tuesday morning)

Original text of letter (still open for signatures to be added- see the comments following)

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Opinion – 6 February 2019

Andrew John, the Bishop of Bangor, Bishop Andy’s new Episcopal Letter
“I have come to believe that the Church should now fully include without distinction those who commit to permanent loving unions with a person of the same sex. I further believe that the best way to do this is for the Church to marry these people as we do with men and women.”

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Releasing the feral essence of God to flow in our beings

Ryan P Bonfiglio The Christian Century It’s time to rethink our assumptions about where theological education happens
“Until 1565, the local church was also the seminary.”

Marcus Green ViaMedia.News Living in Love & Faith – The Challenge of Getting Heard

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Opinion – 2 February 2019

Tina Beardsley ViaMedia.News A Trans Priest’s Response to the “Harmful” Open Letter

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of baptismal rites. It’s time for the bishops to stand firm.

Ann Reddecliffe LGBTQFaithUK Why the bishops are right.

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love On leaving in Love and Faith

Madeleine Davies interviews Paul Bayes for Church Times An interview with the Bishop of Liverpool
“Bishops are allowed to have opinions, Paul Bayes tells Madeleine Davies”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The John Smyth affair two years on. Has anything changed?

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House of Lords considers removal of clergy exemption on same-sex marriage

On Friday, in the House of Lords, three Labour peers proposed an amendment to the Civil Partnership, Marriage and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill which would remove the clergy exemption in relation to same-sex marriage. This amendment was later withdrawn after the Government stated that it could not support it.

The exact wording of the amendment was as follows:

2: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause–

“Removal of exemption for clergy under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013

(1) The Secretary of State must make regulations to amend the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 to remove the exemption for members of the clergy to solemnize the marriage of a same sex couple.(2) Regulations under this section must be in force by the end of the period of 6 months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.”

The episode was reported by both the Anglican Communion News Service and The Church of England in Parliament:

The latter reports at length the response of the Bishop of Chelmsford. This. is worth reading in full.

Readers may also care to read the compete text of the debate which can be found in Hansard.  The relevant section starts here, and the whole record of the committee debate on the bill starts back here.

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February General Synod – papers and press release

Updated Friday evening to add press report

The second batch of papers for this month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod have been released. I have updated my list of these papers here. There is also a press release about some of the items on the agenda which I have copied below.

Press report

There was a press briefing on the agenda this morning. Madeleine Davies writes about it for Church TimesEvangelism and estates to occupy General Synod at February meeting.

Press release

Evangelism at heart of General Synod agenda

The need to mobilise the whole Church of England to reach out to others with the Christian message is set to dominate discussions at next month’s General Synod in London.

Papers published today set out how “small behavioural changes” by the around one million people who regularly attend Church of England churches could make a “huge difference”.

(more…)

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LLF project loses transgender member

Today’s Church Times has an exclusive report: House of Bishops’ sexuality project loses transgender member

A TRANSGENDER priest, the Revd Dr Christina Beardsley, has pulled out of the group that is co-ordinating the House of Bishops‘ sexuality project, Living in Love and Faith (LLF).

In an article in this week’s Church Times, she argues that not enough attention is being paid to the experiences of LGBTI+ churchpeople. And she questions the neutral stance that the LLF process has been taking: “There’s an assumption that LLF is handling equally valid views about sex and gender on which we can, in the end, agree to disagree.”

The report quotes reactions from both Dr Eeva John and the Bishop of Coventry:

The co-ordinating group was surprised and saddened by her departure, the project’s enabling officer, Dr Eeva John, said on Tuesday. She felt that the group had “always been very aware of how deeply personal and painful these matters have been”, and attempted to listen to people without skirting round issues, “but we do that imperfectly”.

She disputed the contention that not enough weight was being given to LGBTI+ voices. As part of the wider participation, which will be fed into the LLF process in the coming weeks, Dr John had held interviews with 22 individuals, 15 of them LGBTIA+, including five transsexual people.

There were eight openly LGBTI+ people in the LLF working groups, 12 if the Pastoral Advisory Group was included. Dr Beardsley would be replaced, she said. “We’re going to find another trans person. We need that voice.

“The Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, who chairs the co-ordinating group, said on Tuesday that LLF was not simply about balancing different views. “We cannot regard it as impossible in a Christian community to enable people to understand each other’s heartfelt perspectives; and it is our hope that, in a deeper understanding, there will develop a greater level of respect between those who hold differing views — and a greater possibility of assessing the validity of those views and whether they fall into the Christian spectrum.”

The newspaper also carries a lengthy Comment article by Dr Beardsley, which deserves to be read in full.

Dr Christina Beardsley: Why I left the Bishops’ sexuality project

…Deciding to leave has been hard. I have loved and been loved by the other members. I admire and respect them, and know that they are doing their best, though with their hands tied by the constraints of “the Church’s current teaching”. Praying together as a group has brought us close.

But the moment came. At our meeting in the second week of January, two triggers, in quick succession, brought matters to a head. An LGBTI+ person known to me was demonised. It was as if a mask had suddenly dropped.

Shortly afterwards, the principle of “no talking about us without us” was diluted, yet again, in relation to someone else I know. It was all too much.

My concerns about process, however, have existed for months. I can list these under three headings beginning with the letter “p”: power, parish, and practical theology…

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