Thinking Anglicans

East Barnet PCC writes to the Bishop of St Albans

Here is the full text of the letter mentioned in a news item in the Church Times today. That news item, North-London PCC votes against Bishops’ same-sex marriage guidance, is available only to subscribers.

To the Bishop of St Albans

from the Rector, Churchwardens and Parochial Church Council of East Barnet.

1. In partnership with our bishops, we are committed to upholding the Established ministry of the Church of England in this parish. We believe that the church exists for the benefit of all: people of all faiths and none.

2. Gay, lesbian and bisexual people, and others who do not identify as heterosexual, live in our parish, as they do in every parish in the land. [note 1] The Church of England’s bishops stand firmly against homophobia. [note 2] It is implicit, therefore, that the church exists for everyone, to enfold the lives of all into our parish communities and incorporate them into the Body of Christ, whatever their sexuality.

3. The ongoing prohibition upon the public blessing of same-sex couples implies that the church has reservations about those who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. It suggests that the church does not cherish them so much as fully to embrace them. We believe this is at odds with the bishops’ firm rejection of homophobia.

4. The House of Bishops states “the proposition that same sex relationships can embody crucial social virtues is not in dispute” and it wishes to see virtues of “genuine mutuality and fidelity” in all relationships “maximized in society.” [note 3] This implies that same-sex relationships can be positive and can contribute to the common good.

5. By limiting our ability publicly to bless and recognize God’s grace in same-sex relationships, the House of Bishops implies that the church does not view them as positive and does not wish to encourage them. We believe this contradicts the bishops’ desire to see the virtues of these relationships maximized in society.

6. If we cannot publicly recognize God’s grace in same-sex relationships, we do not believe we can fully incorporate people in these relationships, or those who might enter into these relationships, into the community of faith. We believe this is
dissonant with the mission of the church.

7. We urge the House of Bishops to adopt the Pilling Report’s recommendation that “a priest with the agreement of the relevant PCC should be free to mark the formation of a permanent same-sex relationship in a public service.” [note 4]

2 March 2014
Quinquagesima

Notes

1 2011-12 Integrated Household Survey, Office for National Statistics

2 “We are united in welcoming and affirming the presence and ministry within the Church of gay and lesbian people, both lay and ordained. We are united in acknowledging the need for the Church to repent for the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke and affirming the need to stand firmly against homophobia wherever and whenever it is to be found.” Statement from College of Bishops, 27 January 2014

3 House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance, 14 February 2014

4 The Pilling Report, Church House Publishing (2013), pp. 149

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Anne2Revd Laurie RobertsAlanSimon KershawLindsay Southern Recent comment authors
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Andrew Wilshere
Guest

Excellent. I anticipate being deafened by the silence of the official non-response.

Concerned Anglican
Guest
Concerned Anglican

I hope this is but the first of many parishes voting against the Bishops’ guidance.

As I understand it under the ‘guidance’ celibate civil partnerships for clergy are all right but ‘marriages’ (unclear whether celibacy is required or not) are not. This is the most nonsensical advice possible, no wonder the great public find the Church out of touch and irrelevant at best or hypocritical and evil at worst.

Tobias Haller
Guest

The Bishops are plagued with the condition of Laodicianism, or “Let your Yes be Perhaps, and your No, Maybe.”

What is astonishing is their classification of mutuality and fidelity as merely “social virtues.” Either the acts and relationships in question are virtuous, or they are vicious — both for God and country.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

In the same edition of the Church Times there is a report of the encounter between Fr Andrew Cain and his bishop, Peter Wheatley, in which the latter is reported to have suggested that Fr Cain and his partner have a civil partnership rather than a marriage. The ignorance and insensitivity of this proposal is staggering. One might also comment that should they so do the Bishop would be entitled to enquire about the sexual nature of their relationship. Also in the same report it is stated that a Director of Ordinands ( or may be more than one, it… Read more »

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

One almost believes that Lewis Carroll is the head of the church. After all, its leadership seems able to believe as many self-contradictory things as possible before breakfast. And seemingly even more by lunch….

June Butler
Guest

“The ongoing prohibition upon the public blessing of same-sex couples implies that the church has reservations about those who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. It suggests that the church does not cherish them so much as fully to embrace them. We believe this is at odds with the bishops’ firm rejection of homophobia.”

Stating the obvious, which the House of Bishops seems to have missed. Still, the doublespeak needs to be named as such, so kudos to the leadership at East Barnet. I, too, hope other parishes will follow their lead.

Paul Waddington
Guest
Paul Waddington

If Archbishop Welby thought he was getting an easy ride, he must be changing his mind now. One has to feel sorry for anyone who, in good faith, has taken over the leadership of such a shambles.

One consequence might be another wave of Tiber swimmers. The Ordinariate can only benefit.

peter kettle
Guest

Richard Ashby wrotes: Also in the same report it is stated that a Director of Ordinands ( or may be more than one, it is not clear) is demanding that candidates sign a document stating that they are single of celibate.

I heard some months ago that all ordinands had to actually sign up to Issues in Human sexuality.
Has anyone any further information on this?

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Many thanks to the parish of East Barnet.

As I have said before, there is power in the Church of England to resist the bishops’ immorality.

There will be no real response to paragraph 7. And after a while, inaction will become complicity. The question is, what will East Barnet, and parishes like it, do then?

Of course, after March 29, East Barnet may seem moderate in comparison to parishes that will have actually gone ahead and conducted gay-marriage services.

Jean Mayland
Guest
Jean Mayland

Peter Wheatley is perhaps envious of the fact that Father Cain has the courage to do what he believes is right.

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

“…the bishops’ firm rejection of homophobia.”

Go on, tell me another one!

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“As is stated in this report the HoB statement is being used to oppress and bully people. The witch hunt has started.” Witch hunts proceeded in an era when the population at large may not have been as enthusiastic or savage as the hunters, but had little doubt as to the existence of witches. The general public might perhaps have found some of the methods excessive, but they did not reject the basic premise that witches presented a threat to society that needed to be extirpated. And in any event, the church had such power over the population that even… Read more »

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

“One might also comment that should they so do the Bishop would be entitled to enquire about the sexual nature of their relationship.” Quite easy these days, what with webcams. There could be a whole room of monitors at each bishop’s palace – and with time maybe in heterosexual bedrooms as well, to make sure they’re not getting up to anything naughty… “If Archbishop Welby thought he was getting an easy ride, he must be changing his mind now. One has to feel sorry for anyone who, in good faith, has taken over the leadership of such a shambles.” What… Read more »

Fr DavidH
Guest
Fr DavidH

The Bishop of Carlisle has recently blessed a herd of Holstein cows at an agricultural college in his diocese. It’s a pity that cattle are looked upon with greater approval than gay people.

http://www.thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk/news/11094822.New___2_4m_dairy_unit_opens_at_Newton_Rigg_College/?ref=var_0

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

The church’s position isn’t incoherent so much as schizophrenic. Gay relationships are simultaneously “stunning” and sinful. This is, of course, because its political, and indefensible on its own merits. This cruel farce is irresolvable until the reality is admitted. We desperately need the church leadership to level and say, “Look, OK, it’s a mess. Here’s the hard truth. If we affirm gay relationships, a lot of rich parishes will walk. This could bankrupt us. It’s easy to talk about justice, but we have to think of institutional survival. How can we solve this?” Then we’d at least be able to… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Peter Kettle – As I remarked in the post on the appointment of the new Bishop of Lewes, the requirement to abide by the teaching in ‘Issues’ did not appear in his job spec. We now seem to have the situation where ordinands must but bishops don’t. More double standards?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

How very brave of the East Barnet Parish to write to their Bishop (St. Albans) to tell him what they really think of the recent double-speak from the House of Bishops on the matter of same-Sex couples in the Church. Hopefully, this will encourage other parishes that actually have an openness towards the LGBT community in their area – on the basis that the Christ they love and serve would be as openly welcoming of such people as they are, and as they wish to continue to be. The real problem is that Anglican Provinces around the world – except,… Read more »

Anne2
Guest
Anne2

Peter Kettle: In answer to your question about ordinands having to “sign up” to “Issues in Human Sexuality” … As part of the discernment process, DDOs have to ask all candidates (gay, straight, married or single) whether they will abide by the standards set for clergy in “Issues”. It is recorded in their Sponsoring Papers that they have been asked and have assented – there isn’t a specific “sign up” sheet. Bishops’ Advisory Panel Advisers are told not to ask anything further than that, though Pastoral Advisers do have to talk with the candidates about their support networks and family… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Interested Observer – if not a witch hunt then may be an inquisition?

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

My question from this is: What alliance or backing should be given to East Barnet if they are singled out for this issue? And indeed, if gay or lesbian priests of good conscience decide to marry? There really ought to be consequences, and solidarity, if any decent priests or decent PCCs are singled out for sanctions. The bishops have crossed a line in the sand. Their threat of sanctions is totally unacceptable. It is at odds with public social norms and attitudes in the pews and in society at large. But if good people do nothing… So I repeat my… Read more »

John
Guest
John

I agree with you, Susanna, but who is to organise it? Stonewall? I have no spare time but will support anything set up. (The last thing we need is yet another petition …) But on a more optimistic note, I really don’t think that individuals will be victimised, because the public stink would be too great. Then again, on a more pessimistic note, it seems possible, indeed likely, that there will be ‘anti-gay’ church people who will seek to hold the bishops to account, if necessary by the threat of withdrawal of funds. In any event, this is a fight… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“One consequence might be another wave of Tiber swimmers. The Ordinariate can only benefit.”

THAT is what you took from this (faithful&principled stand), PaulW?

I’d as much predict this is the start of a reformation in the CofE, which might prompt even Jorge Bergoglio’s conversion! 😉

Lindsay Southern
Guest
Lindsay Southern

PCC’s will be voting just for Deanery Synod reps who will in turn vote for General Synod reps who in turn will propose and vote upon Church of England legislation & policy. If we wish to avoid another debacle like the ordination & consecration of women then these are the critical yet often neglected levers for change within the Cof E – and one which is within lay peoples influence. If we want Gay blessings and Gay marriage then vote for those who will vote for those who will support it. Clearly we want good, prayerful, wise and compassionate Synod… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Guest

“PCCs will be voting just for Deanery Synod reps”

Normally it is not PCCs who choose Deanery Synod reps. These should be chosen by those on the church electoral roll at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting.

Alan
Guest
Alan

I trust the Bishop of Carlisle ascertained whether any of the cows were gay before he blessed them http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Do_cows_exhibit_homosexual_behavior?altQ=Are_cows_homosexual#slide=2!

Revd Laurie Roberts
Guest
Revd Laurie Roberts

The comment above from someone calling her or himself Anne2 is really chilling, in the hypocritical stance of the Church of England it conveys.

The Church will not fare well with such morally vacuous thinking and behaviour.

Anne2
Guest
Anne2

I’m just reporting the situation as it is at the moment, Laurie. It is the official guidance given to Bishop’s Advisers during the discernment process, and is, as far as I am aware, public knowledge. I’m not necessarily saying I agree with it or think it was the way things should be. It was a response to an earlier comment which mentioned candidates having to “sign up” to Issues in Human Sexuality. I was just expanding on what that means in practice in the discernment process. Whatever we feel about homosexuality and ordination, the fact is that the C of… Read more »

Revd Laurie Roberts
Guest
Revd Laurie Roberts

Thank you, Anne, for taking the time, to help me. ‘It is the official guidance given to Bishop’s Advisers during the discernment process, and is, as far as I am aware, public knowledge.’ It may well be ‘the official guidance given’ but that does not make it moral, good or true. Ah, I see that you regard it as discriminatory yourself. Agreed. I had never heard of this ‘guidance’. I would like to know how ‘official’ it is. I want to know who decided this guidance, and this system of inquisition into the minds and hearts of young people and… Read more »

Anne2
Guest
Anne2

Laurie, I don’t know when you were ordained, but after “Issues in Human Sexuality” made explicit that the “official” position of the Church of England was that gay and lesbian clergy (unlike lay people) were not permitted to engage in sexual relationships (nor were straight people who were not married), it was inevitable, as far as I can see, that the discernment process for ordination would include some sort of reference to this requirement. The Church’s “Person Spec” for ministry can be found on the C of E website, and I assume this was debated and passed by General Synod.… Read more »