Thinking Anglicans

Harriet Sherwood interviews Jeremy Davies

Harriet Sherwood has another major article today. In The Guardian Saturday interview she writes about Married gay priest Jeremy Davies: ‘The bishops say we’re not modelling teachings of the church. Yes we are’.

This is a long article, but do read all of it.

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Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

This wonderful book will help those struggling to appreciate all that gay folk have contribute to culture, spirituality and life; and perhaps act as an amplification to this interview.

http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300218039

Father David
Guest
Father David

I do so admire the shirt adorned with British postage stamps that Jeremy’s husband Simon is wearing in the Guardian photograph which heads this particular article. I have plenty of black clerical shirts that Jeremy is depicted wearing but would dearly love one like Simon’s which would be a splendid addition to my wardrobe when I embark upon my Canary Islands post Christmas cruise. Does any one know where such a distinctive item of apparel can be purchased?

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

“facilitated conversations” MORE of them? REALLY?

“bedroom issue” Really? Does the hierarchy really think a marriage only happens in the bedroom?

Much as I love England and the liturgy of the C of E, I will continue my personal boycott of C of E worship when I am in the UK until the church climbs out of the evasions and ignorance so completely exposed by the above two phrases, and actually deals with real life and the real people it is so embarrassed by.

James Byron
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James Byron

“… illustrating the C of E’s gay marriage postcode lottery, the bishop of Salisbury — Davies’s own diocese — merely rapped his knuckles with an obligatory letter of rebuke.” This is entirely the problem. Rebuke isn’t obligatory, and by issuing it, not to mention by putting his name to the “pastoral guidance,” Nick Holtam betrays his stated beliefs, betrays his friends and supporters, and is complicit in homophobia. He should either defy the bishops and refuse to apply this discrimination in Salisbury diocese, or resign in protest. Actions, not words. Is he a man of conscience, or a careerist? Advocates… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

Once again, if further proof were needed, this shews that the great divide within the Church of England is no longer between Catholic and Evangelical but between Traditional (Winchester) and Liberal (Salisbury).

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Fr. David, if it’s a sign of liberalism to issue a rebuke when someone gets married, liberalism is in much deeper trouble than I thought.
Isn’t it rather that we don’t have many genuinely liberal bishops? Either that, or we have liberal bishops without courage and integrity.
A truly liberal bishop would send someone a ‘congratulations on your marriage’ card.

James Byron
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James Byron

Well said, Erika! I’ve no doubt that Holtam’s genuinely liberal on affirming gay relationships: in addition to his post-consecration support for equal marriage, he can be seen forcefully defending equality in Diarmaid MacCulloch’s ‘A History of Christianity.’ The latter came when Holtam was still Rector of St. Martin Church-In-a The-Fields, London, and could’ve endangered his appointment to the bishop’s bench, so he’s clearly willing to stick his head over the parapet. The problem, I suspect, is that Holtam sincerely believes that episcopal collegiality obliges him to toe the party line, however much he disagrees with it. This may change. If… Read more »

NJW
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NJW

Is not the ‘problem’ that the Canon does indeed say (at the moment) that marriage is between a man and a woman – and marriage implies/presumes sexual activity? That means that even a liberal bishop is bound to enforce the church’s discipline or face possible action themselves – hence the ‘token’ actions of the Bishops of Salisbury and Lincoln in dealing with these matters. Until the Canons change, bishops remain bound by them as much as anyone else – taking an action is their duty within Canon Law, which has not yet been changed by General Synod, and by taking… Read more »

S Cooper
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S Cooper

James Byron is right – too many are complicit in actions they say they disagree with but they’re often not willing to risk their personal positions (pensions) in the church. Looks like hypocrisy? Perhaps they think they’re playing a long game but it seems to me Martin Luther King, Ghandi & Mandela risked a tad more personally to get change & achieved a lot more in much More difficult situations. People in TEC risked more too in the last 30 years & they achieved much more. But they can’t tell Welby they have millions in church on a Sunday and… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

NJW, there are several questions here. One is that Bishop Inwood said to Jeremy Pemberton that he had four options open to him, one of which was to do nothing. So that’s clearly an option open to bishops. That is a result from the fact that the pastoral guidelines don’t mention any consequences for priests who enter into a same sex marriage. So if you’re a liberal bishop and believe that the guidlines are wrong and that they’re just that – guidelines – and that doing nothing is an option you have (which even a conservative bishop stated), why would… Read more »

cseitz
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cseitz

“People in TEC risked more too in the last 30 years & they achieved much more. But they can’t tell Welby they have millions in church on a Sunday and are growing.” You are probably correct that the severe decline is likely a warning. A church that is 60% women over 60 isn’t going to get better. The next several years will see dioceses struggling to pay a bishop and one staff person in 45% of the case. To speak of a general decline is fine. But not when it is a matter of viability as such, which is the… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“they have an affinity with very large numbers in African Anglican churches”

Recent surveys are indicating that the number of African Anglicans is GREATLY exaggerated. It could be that people banking on those numbers are going to lose their shirts, and their souls.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Is not the ‘problem’ that the Canon does indeed say (at the moment) that marriage is between a man and a woman – and marriage implies/presumes sexual activity?” – NJW – NJW is correct, whatever we think of the situation in the Church of England on the matter of bishops licensing clergy who are ‘same-sex married’; there can be little doubt that bishops, per se, because of their sacred office, are duty-bound to toe the canonical line. What really is needed, is for the Canon of Marriage to be altered to recognise that fact that two people who love one… Read more »

Fr Andrew
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Fr Andrew

“You are probably correct that the severe decline is likely a warning.” Of what? Not that being liberal leads to decline, surely: denominations everywhere and of all traditions are in decline, and despite those who love to hold up TEC as an example of increasing liberalism leading to decreasing congregations, there is no data to back up that view. At least none that a High School stats student would take seriously. Correlation does not equal causation; nor can one predict the years ahead by simply plotting figures on a graph for the last few years and continuing the line into… Read more »

James Allport
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James Allport

I’m grateful to a clergy friend for reminding me (after I made public my outraged e-mail to the Bishop of Winchester) that, in one sense, +Tim’s actions were inevitable because Canon Davies was seeking PTO after his marriage, and the House of Bishops guidance is clear. So only a bishop looking to kick over that particular anthill (i.e. NOT Tim Dakin!) would have granted PTO. In salisbury, as far as we know, Canon Davies’ PTO hasn’t come up for renewal after his marriage, so this dilemma hasn’t yet faced the Bishop of Salisbury. Given that he chose to issue a… Read more »

Daniel Berry, NYC
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Daniel Berry, NYC

Some people opine that runaway liberalism has destroyed TEC’s chances of surviving. It’s a strange perspective, given that affirming and improving the place of women and gay people in church life may be said to mirror similar movements in the greater society. By that metric, TEC ought to be growing rather than declining. So that issue must lie elsewhere, I think. It’s worth noting that churches in my diocese (and elsewhere I think) that hold up whole and wholesome witnesses to the goodness of such changes are often not on death’s door. My parish, St Luke in the Fields, in… Read more »

cseitz
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cseitz

Obviously those over 60 are now the backbone of TEC; that was the only point. It wasn’t a criticism of them!

The question it poses is TEC’s viability, unless something dramatic changes very soon.

This is uncontroversial and agreed by the leaders of the denomination. The next several years will be critical ones.

F. D. Blanchard
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F. D. Blanchard

I think the declining numbers in the Episcopal Church are of a piece with declining numbers across the board in American Christianity from the very liberal to the hard shell fundamentalist. They are all declining (I can even see it here in my neighborhood in Brooklyn where all the churches are dying). Liberal versus Conservative is ultimately beside the point. What really matters is that large numbers of people are voting with their feet and leaving institutional Christianity entirely. “None” is currently the fastest growing religious identity in the USA (we’re rapidly catching up with the UK and the rest… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“A church that is 60% women over 60 isn’t going to get better.” Liberal parishes are far more likely to have young families than conservative ones. And 30 percent of liberal parishes are growing, like mine. And I deeply admire those women over 60 and aim to be much like them in another decade – energetic, principled, outspoken, and willing to roll up their sleeves and do the work while only God knows what the men are doing, and while young families are busy raising their children. (Blessings on those handful of men who take on responsibility without insisting on… Read more »

Anthony Keller
Guest

These, and many other stories show how the church remains inward looking when it should be outward in its leadership and example. When the Jesus movement began, it was a movement based on radical equality, and total acceptance of individuals. After 325 C.E. when the church was handed power from the Emperor, it began its long and slow slide towards perpetuating its own power above, and in place of Jesus and Paul’s true teachings. The CofE should be a driving force for change in Parliament and the nation, but it has not accepted this task. The reverse has happened. Parliament… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

Father Ron, English bishops are not powerless to force change, and on its face, no canon of the Church of England obliges them to discipline clergy who contract same-sex marriages. The marriage canon doesn’t require discipline: it merely defines marriage.

Even if a canon did oblige a bishop to discipline clergy in same-sex marriages, the bishop could conscientiously disobey it, publicly ask General Synod to change it, or resign in protest.

S Cooper
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S Cooper

Cynthia, I don’t think your post casts any serious doubt on the large numbers in Anglican churches in Kenya and Nigeria. TEC numbers and demographics are a matter of record by TEC. Again, little doubt regarding its stats and trajectory. In England, Welby knows HTB and its thousands of members, it’s African links and its many self-sustaining church plants. Why should he risk their support when he is from them? Especially while liberals actually discipline people they agree with and take nearly no personal risks, Welby has got little incentive to leave his home constituency and see the Anglican communion… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Speaking of the need for ‘women over 60’ at the heart of the Church. Are we not speaking here of the ‘Anawim’, some of them elderly women – like Anna the Prophetess, and Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist? Each of them called to a specific witness to the power of God in an unbelieving world. I say, give us MORE women over 60 who are, like them, looking forward to the Kingdom of God on earth.

Kalo Epiphania!

James Byron
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James Byron

Wow, S. Cooper, and I thought I laid it out starkly! 😉 Not that I disagree, well said. There’s some hope of holding the Church of England, and wider Anglican Communion, together: but liberals and other affirming Anglicans will have to defend themselves and, crucially, others; just as traditionalists must accept that their beliefs can’t be imposed on all, even if we want to. The best solution I can see is a loose coalition, in which provinces and churches that depart from traditional teaching are tolerated, and in turn, some kind of provision is made for traditionalists to pretend that… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

James Byron: “Even if a canon did oblige a bishop to discipline clergy in same-sex marriages, the bishop could conscientiously disobey it, publicly ask General Synod to change it, or resign in protest.” Quite. There is no law under God that makes it a sin to disagree with church canons or to challenge them. Sometimes I think Church of England culture is beset by infantilism, with obeisance to our betters. However, when over half the congregation in Church of England pews actually affirms and accepts gay and lesbian sexuality – in clear defiance of episcopal dictats and sanctions – there… Read more »

Daniel Berry, NYC
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Daniel Berry, NYC

@ Susannah Clark: one word: Bravo!

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“Why can’t we have TEC(UK)?”

Well, I hear that our pensions are much better.

I’m not really ambitious for TEC to have any appearance of “striking back” or colonizing liberal parishes everywhere. Perhaps in the post modern world, choice is appropriate… I don’t know. That’s above my pay grade.

I do think that CoE leadership needs to get their act together, morally. Clearly, it’s a charade to believe that a homophobic, discriminating bishop is a “focus of unity.”

Kate
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Kate

I think people are debating symptoms, not causes. For the first time in centuries, the church, I suggest, is facing what to do about gnosticism (and I have deliberately not capitalised that). For centuries, the church has been able to control what the majority think. (And African churches still can.) There have obviously been exceptions, but the critical mass of the majority has been aligned to the tenets set by church hierarchy and change has been slow. In 21st century Britain, the majority have their own sense of morality – gnosis – which is different to CoE teaching. So the… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

And a Merry Christmastide to you too, S Cooper!

“Why can’t we have TEC(UK)?”

Conversely, why can’t you have NigerianChurch(UK)? You can build yourselves shiny new edifices befitting your heirarchs. Ancient Norman&Gothic churches, w/ all their darkness and mystery, really isn’t the Evangelical style. Fundamental certitude demands nice, bright clear churches, the better for preaching that “sin is SIN!!!”

The rest of the CofE will then just have to get along w/ TEC-style muddling through (trusting God, no matter what “numbers and demographics …stats and trajectory” say).

Vaya con Dios!

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

Please don’t get caught up in numbers-rattling – TEC, at least, can be better than that. The whole thing started with a notorious enemy of progressives doing his usual “Surrender Dorothy!” nonsense. Fox News shows that fear-mongering is the conservative’s bread-and-butter. Keep in mind that these are the same people who have used their declines, in the natural ebb-and-flow of any organization, as a sign of their special chosen status and of their great purity and counter-cultural nature. It’s all an attempt to demoralize and do psychological harm to progressives and the TEC. Don’t buy into it, and don’t feed… Read more »

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

James Byron – the coalition you describe is what we have had in England – institutionalised hypocrisy; misery for all with liberal bishops issuing rebukes to people they agree with to protect their own positions? Even with English confrontation aversion, the coalition is falling apart with the tiny number of ssm cases which have been out of the closet. We don’t have anyone showing much personal courage. There aren’t a few bishops and a few hundred clergy willing to resign if Davies and Pmberton aren’t given PTO; the result is nothing will change. If the Church of England, where people… Read more »

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

“which leads to English bishops disciplining people they agree with rather than risking their pensions for their beliefs.” S Cooper If a Bishop really was risking his or her pension or continued employment I could understand their actions. I wouldn’t be terribly impressed, but I could understand it. But a Diocesan Bishop’s position is all but bomb-proof – would either of the Archbishops *really* dismiss a Bishop from their post for not issuing a rebuke or withdrawing a PTO, even if the CDM allowed them to? No, the worst that could happen is that a Bishop would receive a rebuke… Read more »

MarkBrunson
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MarkBrunson

JCF, I think (and I may be mistaken) that S Cooper is much more in the liberal end of the spectrum, and wouldn’t regard the Nigerian, Ugandan, etc. primates “theirs” at all. Like me, the harshness that may come across in tone is from being, as the younger folks say, “so over this” politeness and pretense that a communion is possible with a conservative wing that demands nothing less than total capitulation of both conscience and local practice. I’ve been trying to moderate my tone, but it is frustrating, hurtful, and a true temptation to spiritual despair to see people… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Since the ultimate authority in the Church of England is the Crown in Parliament undergirded by the Church Commissioners and parochial patronage rights etc a negotiated split is scarcely likely. Better perhaps for exasperated conservative evangelicals to emulate their fellow evangelicals in the Church of Scotland and ” disrupt” as they did n the 1840s

Kate
Guest
Kate

Perry
Calls for disruption or withholding of parish contributions serves nobody other than Satan because both sides – liberal and traditional – can use the same tactics. All it would achieve is disruption and a greater sense of distrust.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

No bishop would risk their pension by supporting lgbt people. It’s not a firing offence.
That’s what makes it so infuriating. Not liberal bishop would risk anything at all, other than being a little more isolated at bishops gatherings.
Or not – if others also found a spot of courage behind the sofa.

Susan in Georgia
Guest
Susan in Georgia

In the 1979 BCP, TEC instituted a baptismal covenant which asks, in addition to resisting evil and proclaiming the Gospel: “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?” and “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” The reply to both is, of course: “I will with God’s help.” My parish renews this covenant at Easter, on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, at All Saints, and at all baptisms. (See pages 304-305 of the 1979 BCP for the full covenant.) As… Read more »

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

Mark Brunson, I share your frustration with the institutional unity focus at the cost of integrity. It’s sick, really.

Laurence C – yes. Apartheid would still exist if Mandela had the bravery of a liberal bishop. He might not have achieved as much if he’d taken a nice government job and argued for change from inside (while accruing pension rights).

Perry Butler – why would they disrupt when even Lincoln & Salisbury discipline people they agree with?

Geoff McLarney
Guest
Geoff McLarney

‘Better perhaps for exasperated conservative evangelicals to emulate their fellow evangelicals in the Church of Scotland and ” disrupt” as they did n the 1840s’

Isn’t that basically what the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion is?

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

S. Cooper, to clarify, toleration must extend to allowing same-sex couples to marry, live in loving sexual relationships, and to be protected from discrimination.

David Beadle
Guest
David Beadle

This is to echo those who say that a Bishop is not obliged to issue a rebuke to clergy marrying those of the same gender on the basis of Canon B30. The canon does not describe *every* CofE marriage. Canon B30 also states that marriage is “for the procreation and nurture of children” – the first ordinance for marriage according the BCP. And yet the Church of England has recognised for centuries that this does not apply to every marriage, allowing the omission of references to the birth of children in the marriage service (BCP and then CW). It’s absurd… Read more »

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

James Byron – i think we may be agreed that that won’t happen with the current Anglican communion….it certainly won’t happen at the next primates’ meeting (with acna invited). I don’t even see the point of TEC wanting to be affiliated with Nigeria given what it’s bishops say about TEC; even less reason for English liberals to sacrifice their integrity for the institution when they don’t even have the freedoms of friends in TEC. A split is the only solution with integrity for all but who will take even tiny risks for integrity? After all, there may be a chance… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

Well, MarkB, in re-reading S Cooper’s posts, I still think I’m reading M/Cooper correctly (who’s a big fan of HTB w/ “its many self-sustaining church plants”). [If I’m not, sort of appears like a “with friends like these…” situation.]

Kate
Guest
Kate

Since CofE claims a marriage is between a man and a woman there is no breach of Canon 30 if two people of the same sex marry [in civil terms].

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

The former ABofC, Williams, said that the question is “Is the game worth the candle?” He believed the answer was yes, but, increasingly I and others believe the answer is no, and it isn’t a game. The reasoning about being a support to poor, oppressed Christians in the Global South simply doesn’t hold water, any more, when we are shown to be unwilling even to defend our own margnalized at home. The defense – shaky from the start – that we are endangering African Christians by including glbti’s in the West is now demonstrably false. The violence has been ramped… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

JCF, You may well be right. If so, Cooper may still be right. I still won’t get involved in numbers games, but the pretense of a communion that no longer exists, desperate hanging on, not for, but despite the good of “the children,” is insane. It’s a false idol of political order and discipline, not Church. The Primates, scuttling from region to region, cut a sad, seedy and desperate figure, neglecting the real issues of their own national churches for a sort of shadow-play at Holy Roman Empire, sacrificing their (and our) ability to be relevant and transformative again for… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Local churches should stop being deferential to bishops on issues of social justice, and should live by their own consciences when it comes to issues like human sexuality. Local churches should not have conscience imposed on them. In defying episcopal demands at local level, they will be acting in grace and integrity. If they are then sanctioned, they should just keep coming to church, keep building community, keeping maintaining integrity towards gay and lesbian members of *their* local community, trans and bi- people, genderqueer, and all th diversity of human beings acting in good intentions and good conscience. Local churches… Read more »

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

Jcf, I was only saying that welby comes from htb and its size and links are public info. My point is don’t expect too much from welby – and that we need to stop the misery of sacrificing integrity for institutional unity and spirit – hence my call for TeC(uk) to be established

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“In the 1979 BCP, TEC instituted a baptismal covenant which asks, in addition to resisting evil and proclaiming the Gospel: “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?” and “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” The reply to both is, of course: “I will with God’s help.” Susan in Georgia, I’m a member of TEC who occasionally lives and worships in England. The CoE has nothing that remotely resembles our Baptismal Covenant, that I can see. I love the people and the… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“It would be far better for more CoE gay clergy to “come out” and for liberal CoE bishops to speak out. In short, it would be great if CoE leadership found a moral spine.” Also, it would be far better if CoE membership stood up and said “enough of this hateful nonsense” and took appropriate action. Lay members have no pension to lose. The Church is the Body of Christ and it has many members and each has a role to play. This isn’t a time for lay members to be passive. Comparisons with TEC keep coming up. Well, TEC… Read more »