Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 31 May 2017

Richard Beck Experimental Theology How to See an Old Church

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The insidious nature of systemic homophobic prejudice at the heart of the respectable church

Justin Gau a sermon preached at St John’s College Cambridge Kingdom Values…Mercy
There is an audio recording and a transcript.

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Interested ObserverMichael MulhernIain McLeanFr John E. Harris-WhiteStanley Monkhouse, the artist formerly known as Fr William Recent comment authors
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Father David
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Father David

“How to see an old church” I used to think that Long Melford parish church was the finest in the realm that is until I visited Sherborne Abbey! Since then I have seen St. Mary’s Redcliffe in Bristol. I also served my Title in the late 1970s at Boston Stump and now minister at a church which was founded in 772 by King Offa the Mighty. So, we are indeed spoilt for choice when it comes to uplifting fanes in which to worship the one true God. Having recently returned on Sabbatical leave from Iran I also found the architecture,… Read more »

Pam
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Pam

I hope to visit England again in the not too distant future and, if I do, I’d very much like to attend a service at the Church of St Michael, Coxwold, North Riding, Yorkshire. There’s an extraordinarily beautiful wooden altar rail there.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

I loved Colin Coward’s piece and I loved Jusin Gau’s sermon.

I wonder if anyone else here picked up on Justin Gau towards the end of his sermon, when he said that on the day he had been asked to preach this sermon, he also received a letter from the lawyers of the acting Bishop of Southwell informing him that if his client, Jeremy Pemberton, appealed against his decision to have his license revoked for marrying his husband, the church will bankrupt him.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Pat, when you are next in North Yorkshire I would also recommend a visit to St. Mary’s, Lastingham where you can go down into the wonderful crypt and see the shrine where St. Cedd (brother to St. Chad) is buried. He who in the 7th century travelled from Lindisfarne in order to convert the East Saxons of Essex to the Christian Faith.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

What a wonderfully inspiring sermon from the Chancellor of the diocese of Bristol. His points – about the excessive caution of the Church of England’s bishops to preach by example the mercy of God towards ALL his children – is well enunciated.
We need more clergy to become more explicit about the ‘quality of mercy’ shown by Jesus to sinners like ourselves. The Gospel is still being preached in some places. Thanks be to God, Alleluia!

Michael Mulhern
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Michael Mulhern

Justin Gau’s sermon needs much wider circulation, if only to expose the abysmal behaviour of the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham’s lawyers. It’s pretty rich given their Chancellor has just been jailed for embezzlement. Above all, what Justin Gau says reminds me of Simon Tugwell’s The Way of Imperfection in which he says: ‘The Church has known many different moods in the course of history … And it is not necessarily in her “best” moments, when she is most confident and clear, that she is most true to herself. There is a kind of unsatisfactoriness written into her very constitution,… Read more »

Fr John E. Harris-White
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Fr John E. Harris-White

On St Justin’s day I have just read Fr Justin’s sermon, and simply say ‘Thank you’ to him for an illuminating and strenthening word. He is right that at parochial level we see the gospel preached, and lived out by priest and people. It reminds me yet again of Fr Potter of Thameside. I’m proud to be a good old fashioned Anglo Catholic. Yes, Catholic and gay like many of my brothers and sisters. I’m proud that Fr Justin is Chancellor of the Diocese of Bristol, a diocese in which I grew up, and was ordained by dear Oliver Tomkins.… Read more »

Pam
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Pam

Thanks, Father David. I have a photo of the crypt at St Mary’s, Lastingham in a book and the text says “The most perfectly preserved part of the interior is the crypt, shown here, which is supported on four rugged piers of stone.” It is simple and beautiful.

Andy Macqueen
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Andy Macqueen

JG: “… I received a letter from the Bishop of Southwell’s solicitors informing me that if we continued to appeal his decision to remove Jeremy Pemberton’s licence for marrying his husband then they [i.e. the acting Bp’s solicitors, contra Erica’s reading] would bankrupt him.”

A question of fact: PCC members are indemnified against claims arising from a wrongful act, including the cost of defending such claims, so long as we act lawfully and with a duty of care, excluding reckless or wilful wrongdoing.

Are decision-making senior clergy similarly indemnified, I wonder?

Susannah Clark
Guest

A stunning and profoundly moving sermon by Justin Gau.

It saddens me greatly that the Church threatens to bankrupt someone for appealing for the right to look after the sick and frightened in hospital, because in some way that person’s tender love and relationship with their partner invalidates their ministry and care to dying women and men.

David Lamming
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David Lamming

I regret to say that I cannot agree with those who have made approving comments on Justin Gau’s ‘sermon’. I read it as a tendentious lecture – appropriate for an address at an conference when seeking to argue his case (or, perhaps, a speech to a synod), but not appropriate for a sermon at evensong (or any other service) whether at a Cambridge College or elsewhere. (I see that in the footer on each page Gau describes it – accurately, I suggest – as ‘a paper’.) I also consider Gau’s reference to the letter he said that he had received… Read more »

Lavinia Nelder
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Lavinia Nelder

Would crowd funding or something similar be an option for Jeremy Pemberton’s appeal? In addition to preventing him from being bankrupted it might demonstrate he strength of feeling about his situation. It’s been used for quite a few other high profile defense funds – just a thought.

Steve Morgan
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Steve Morgan

David Lamming’s comment manages to miss the point of Justin Gau’s sermon entirely whilst simultaneously proving it for him. Quite an achievement!

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

It is ironic to have a comment about incompetent lawyers responded to with an entirely ludicrous suggestion that the possible omission of the word “former” constitutes libel. Defamation Act 2013, S.1(1): “A statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.”. Note the word “serious”. Not a passing factual reference which arguably is ambiguous as to which holder of a post is meant, but which is quickly resolved with a Google search.

Susannah Clark
Guest

“It” [the threat] “may not have been subject to client or professional confidentiality, but it was quite wrong to mention it in a sermon.” I beg to differ, David. Mention of this threat was consistent with – and illustrated – the point Justin was making: that the Church too often is reactionary to social change and justice issues. And the threat to bankrupt someone who sought to work in a hospital providing succour for the sick and dying exactly illustrates the resistance the Church sometimes operates to justice issues (and common decency) that most of society has embraced. With regard… Read more »

Fr John E. Harris-White
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Fr John E. Harris-White

Susannah, Thank you. I read your many comments, and admire your tenacity in these columns. Your comments are so on the mark regarding Jeremy, and Fr Jason’s sermon. For many years I was a hospital chaplain. First at a county pschiatric hospital, and then for many more years at a London teaching hospital. It was a joy to minister both to staff and patients, and I very much valued the support of all staff including consultants and nurses. I was supported by my wife and son. Sadly this came to an end by a very uncharitable Bishop, who refused to… Read more »

Froghole
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Froghole

Earlier this week I wrote a comment on Justin Gau’s rather extraordinary sermon and then deleted it (as I do so often). However, having read some of the remarks above, I feel moved to add my two pennies’ worth. As usual, I cannot better Susannah’s remarks; she has articulated what I consider the correct view with her customary precision, humanity and urbanity. Law, of course, has its uses (I am a lawyer), where it is part of a system ‘which has learned to give due weight to the stability of the state and the liberty of the subject’ (Sir W.… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

God bless you, Father John. What an amazing journey you’ve been on. I think one of the wonderful things about Hospital chaplains and visitors is – that in the all too frenetic rush of nursing shifts (not helped by understaffing), people who can actually give patients *time* are like gold dust. Hospital can be a fearful and sometimes lonely place, and as a nurse one *wants* to stop and give time and listening and simple company to a distressed individual, and yet there is so much to be done in a shift. My cousin is a bishop and I didn’t… Read more »

cryptogram
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cryptogram

Half a lifetime ago, as a very raw curate I had responsibility for the chaplaincy in a major oncology unit. One day as I was in the lift on my way home the door opened to admit the senior radiotherapy consultant, who came over to me and tapped me on the chest, and said “You are the most important person on the staff of this unit, because you have TIME”. That incident has never left me, and I simply add it to what Susannah and Fr John have already written.

Fr John E. Harris-White
Guest
Fr John E. Harris-White

Thank you Susannah. God Bless you and your family.

Fr John Emlyn

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

Neither Jeremy Pemberton nor I know from whom the Church’s solicitors are receiving their instructions, but we doubt it is from anyone in Southwell & Nottingham diocese and almost certainly not from the now-retired former acting Bishop.

Stanley Monkhouse, the artist formerly known as Fr William
Guest

This exchange about Fr Gau’s sermon is remarkable for many reasons, but principally for the comments by a group of people who, to me, represent the best and wisest of TA. My comments on TA tend to be tongue in cheek or even sarcastic. This is because I am so angered by much that goes on the C of E at present, or doesn’t but should, that the rational part of my brain, if I have one, is silenced by the volley of messages that comes from my amygdala. I admire all of you who contribute to this thread without… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

Seriously, though: GoFundMe is a thing. Jeremy Pemberton is effectively fighting a test case, on behalf of not only gay people in the church but also everyone who wants to see the Church of England getting on the right side of history and not looking like Margaret Court without the racquet. If there are threats to Jeremy’s finances, people of good will should stand alongside him. In reality, the awarding of costs against plaintiffs in employment tribunals is relatively rare, and threatening to bankrupt people who take cases to appeal is a common tactic by sketchy lawyers with bullying clients.… Read more »

Fr John E. Harris-White
Guest
Fr John E. Harris-White

Stanley aka Fr William,

Yes our paths did cross. I began my chaplaincy at Kings in April 1977.

I so agree with what you write, and become at a loss for words when I find retired clergy at a loss because they have no purpose. Or are so busy filling their diaries to show they are still needed. So sad.

I now have time to grow for myself, in prayer, the sacrament, reading, gardening, and loving my partner, and great and grandchildren.

Fr John Emlyn

Iain McLean
Guest
Iain McLean

Threatening to bankrupt an appellant is a pure Donald Trump technique. Surely some Anglicans are in a position to find out who initiated this monstrous threat?

Michael Mulhern
Guest
Michael Mulhern

Thank you, David Lamming, for your correction. Of course, I forgot that Southwell & Nottingham managed the resignation of Linda Box and the appointment of her successor with their usual cloak-and-dagger efficiency. There wasn’t a whisper of it in the public sphere.

Generally, though, I am fascinated by the vehemency of your antipathy to Justin Gau’s sermon, what it reveals, and the responses to it on this thread. Anyone would think you had an axe to grind…

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

It’s also worth pointing out that organisations that _really_ want to find answers fund both sides. My one-time employer ended up as the lead for a consortium of companies that wanted to know the answer to an arcane question about holiday pay for part-time staff on temporary contracts. We didn’t care what the answer was, we just wanted there to be an answer that was generally accepted. So when we were taken to an ET and “won” (the point was so technical that gives it a weight it doesn’t deserve: the ET agreed with the interpretation we thought more likely)… Read more »