Thinking Anglicans

Will Brown hand back powers to the Church?

Religious Intelligence carries this report by Christopher Morgan:

Will Brown hand back powers to the Church?

…The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told senior colleagues that he intends to give the church control over its own senior appointments. At the moment the Prime Minister plays a major role in the appointment of diocesan bishops and has the sole right to nominate deans of most English cathedrals. Mr Brown himself hinted at lifting control of the ecclesiastical appointments in a speech to the Fabian Society last year. Until 1976 the church had no formal role in the appointment of bishops at all, although it was consulted as a matter of courtesy. Thirty years ago, however, James Callaghan then Prime Minister established the Crown Appointments Commission, now renamed the Crown Nominations Commission, which draws up a shortlist of two names which it may offer in order of preference. The Prime Minister chooses either of the names or seeks other names from the Commission. Tony Blair used this veto at least once in 1997 to turn down both candidates proposed for the diocese of Liverpool.

The Prime Minister’s appointment secretary plays an active role in the whole process and is a non-voting member of the Commission.

Sources close to Mr Brown, who is a member of the Church of Scotland, indicated that he will introduce the change by producing a memorandum of agreement with the Church’s General Synod. One source said: “Brown does not need to introduce any legislation or take up any parliamentary time in this matter. He is simply altering convention.”

The present Crown Nominations Commission would remain but present only one name to Downing Street which the Prime Minister would then pass on to the Queen for her final appointment. In the case of cathedral deans it is said that Mr Brown will invite the bishop of the diocese to consult with his senior colleagues to produce one name which again he will then pass on to the Queen. However the Chancellor’s advisors are not so clear about these intentions. It is expected however that he would leave untouched the appointment of deans of Westminster Abbey and St George’s Chapel, Windsor, in which the Queen still plays an active role. As “royal peculiars” the monarch remains the ultimate authority rather than a bishop…

Read it in full here.

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Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

All other arguments aside, a sensible pragmatic move – at this point in time, no British politician in his right mind would want any responsibility for the appointment of the next Archbishop of Canterbury, now would he?

“…. for the first time since the rein of King Henry VIII the church will be given the right to choose its own archbishops and bishops” might indicate a hazy knowledge of the medieval power structure.

Pluralist
Guest

Can the Church of England introduce elections for bishops?

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

In the diocese of Lincoln, it was believed by some of us that the appointment of one recent dean by the then PM, a person of the female persuasion, was an act of revenge for the ‘Faith in the City’ report, and the CofE’s opposition to the government’s piecemeal destruction of UK society.

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

Agree with Pluralist, elections for bishops; otherwise I’d favour antidisestablishmentarianism. Wouldn’t fancy the new Anglican Curia having veto-powers over CofE bishops.

NP
Guest
NP

Good move by the son of the manse

Pluralist – where does it say we should elect leaders? (the bronze age book so many here despise certainly does not teach this)

ettu
Guest
ettu

Another example of local customs or “polity”? I hope you Brits have more loving acceptance of your local structures than TEC received upon trying to work within it’s pre-existing system -such as General Convention -and the limits it places upon it’s actions.

northern_soul
Guest
northern_soul

NP,
Firstly, I don’t think anyone here actually ‘despises’ the ‘bronze age book’ (and anyway, it’s the New Testament to which we would refer if we wanted guidance on the appointment of bishops, and that’s hardly ‘bronze age’, is it?)

Secondly, you ask ‘where does it say we should elect leaders?’ I’d respond with: ‘where does it say bishops should be appointed by the crown?’.

Election of bishops has historical precedence, in that in the early church the college of presbyters ‘elected’ their bishop (often from amongst their number).

Pluralist
Guest

Bishops chosen amongst the people to be their servant, not by some feudal scheme in the dark. NP, no one is going to reorganise the Anglican Communion and have a top heavy system based on having a Book of Rules. Treating the Bible seriously and critically is not the same as having a Book of Rules. You keep banging on that the AC is going to do this – latest bit is a fantasy that CESA will join the Anglcian Communion while the South African Church will not (presumably to join your other fantasy of TEC Global) – but, see… Read more »

John Richardson
Guest
John Richardson

People might be interested in Archbishop Cranmer’s views on the subject of Church appointments, given that we owe the present arrangements somewhat to his influence: “In the apostles’ time, when there was [sic] no christian princes, by whose authority ministers of God’s word might be appointed, nor sins by the sword corrected, there was no remedy then for the correction of vice, or appointing of ministers, but only the consent of christian multitude [sic] among themselves, by an uniform consent to follow the advice and persuasion of such persons whom God had most endued with the spirit of counsel and… Read more »

Ian Montgomery
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Ian Montgomery

It seems to me that the casting of lots as in Acts 1 would be a precedent and for some this is interpreted as elections. On the other hand Matthias seems to have disappeared from the pages of church history only to be replaced by God’s choice of Saul of Tarsus as the Apostle to the Gentiles. The trouble with elections and the episcopacy is that we get too many politicians and too few theologians. My 0.02 cents

Deacon Charlie Perrin
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Deacon Charlie Perrin

How about the more ancient practice of bishops coming from the ranks of deacons rather than the non-biblical presbyterate 😉

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Bothering with careful scholarly and critical inquiry – of a bronze age or newer book or extant text – seems to demonstrate respect in my view. Else, why bother? Puh-leese don’t get me started on considering yet again how and when and whether the special presuppositional rightwing readings of scripture so often being advanced as essentially Anglican these days – actually show such scholarly and critical respect for the text(s) involved. Do we need that lesson yet again? Yes we probably do. But it is not a sound bite affair. So far as elections and church life, we do not… Read more »

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
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mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

‘Don’t vote- it only encourages them’ – discuss with respect to the election of bishops.

I can feel a mischievous moment coming on – manifestos, election promises, (“My priorities if elected will be, consecration, consecration, consecration”) ‘Cash for canonries’…..

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

Is the C of E predestined to suffer from a brownout?

Sorry, hate that when that happens…..:o)

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

But Mynster,
“I can only go one way, I have not got a reverse gear”.

rick allen
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rick allen
John Henry
Guest
John Henry

A Greek Orthodox priest friend of mine described an episcopal election in his Church as follows: The electors place a candidate’s name in a chalice. The chair of the election committee selects a child under five years of age to pick a ballot from the chalice, after prayers and invocations of the Holy Spirit by the community. The one whose name appears on the ballot is deemed elected as a bishop in Christ’s holy catholic Church.

I wish that were the process in TEC. Sadly, it is too political, having voted in four episcopal elections myself.

George F. Woodward III
Guest

How surprised most Americans are to discover that politicians are involved in the appointment of clerics! How rare and peculiar. Of course, should democracy intervene in your established polity, before long you’ll have gay and female bishops, and fall from favor with Nigeria. Do beware!
Father Woodward (elected)
St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church
San Marino, California

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

In the Church of Sweden, for 313 years the King/the Senate/the Ecclesiastical Secretary of State/the Government appointed Bishop from a slate of 3, who had got the largest number of votes among the diocesan clergy.

By the 2000 Church Ordinance the Diocese, represented by the Chapter, Diocesan Board, Priests in active service (= office holders) and an equal (to the priests) number of Vestry, elects the Bishop.

Prior to this, a preliminary election is held (nomination is free).

Cheryl Clough
Guest

drdanfee It’s a delight to find another who appreciates Stephen Jay Gould. I just love his models of punctuated equilibrium. Have you done any study of Senge – in particular what happens when an apparently open system becomes closed? That is relevant for these times as the apparently bottomless pit of oil energy disappears, the new frontiers to dump our excess populations and feed the homeland have disappeared. We need theological paradigms that suit closed systems. The assumptions that Gaia has another resource hidden somewhere that will save the day needs to be exposed for what it is – complacency.… Read more »

ettu
Guest
ettu

Wouldn’t it be refreshing for a bit of fresh air to blow through musty corridors in Canterbury? How many would sneeze? Would anti-histamines be passed around? Seriously, a bit of democracy might be illuminating.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“Sadly, it is too political, having voted in four episcopal elections myself.”

We could always meet as a diocese outdoors and select as bishop the person a dove lights on … if I’m remembering my early church history, that’s happened in the past. Not too many doves in downtown Richmond Va or in Reston [the two places we meet] – would a pigeon do?

Seriously, if the HOly Spirit can guide a child to pick the right name out of a chalice, then the Holy Spirit can guide a diocesan election. It’s just messier.

northern_soul
Guest
northern_soul

Deacon Charlie said: ‘How about the more ancient practice of bishops coming from the ranks of deacons rather than the non-biblical presbyterate ;-)’ What is un-biblical about the presbyterate? References to presbyters occur throughout the NT (leaving the Gospels aside). The author of 1 Peter even refers to himself as a presbyter: 1 Pet. 5:1. In the pastoral epistles, the terms ‘episkopos’ (bishop/overseer) and ‘presbyter’ (elder/priest) are often interchangeable, having at this point no settled role. In the sub-apostolic period, the bishop is usually elected by and from amongst the college of presbyters i na particular place- as a ‘chief… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Yes, Cheryl C let’s add Senge to the list by all means. Have I got the right one? At: http://www.psy.pdx.edu/PsiCafe/KeyTheorists/Senge.htm At: http://www.solonline.org/res/kr/leadlearn.html If so, then problem is … RW at Canterbury seems to sometimes be trying to foster a learning organization-learning environment sort of ecology with one hand, and appealing to a limited Primates Meeting top down organization-environment-leadership with the other. Quite a muddle, then. One stretch counters and tends to undo the other. And, of course, for the moment, TEC must be demonized from all rightwing Anglican angles. So much anger, it must have been boiling ever since womens’… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

drdanfee That’s the one And the tensions go back before the ordination of women. They go back to when the church first received sponsorship from a state leader and then started taking on organisational paradigms. Although the warning signs were already there with Paul’s emphasing the boundaries of masculine versus feminine, age versus youth paradigms in some of his writing. This was all reinforced by the choice of texts that were made “official” and the then blatent destruction and denouncing of the “non-official” texts. Built a great organisation – but did not necessarily stay true to the heart of God’s… Read more »