Thinking Anglicans

Hereford Diocesan Synod calls for liturgies after same sex marriages

Updated twice Saturday

The Hereford Diocesan Synod tonight passed the following resolution:

‘That this Synod request the House of Bishops to commend an Order of Prayer and Dedication after the registration of a civil partnership or a same sex marriage for use by ministers in exercise of their discretion under Canon B4, being a form of service neither contrary to, nor indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter, together with guidance that no parish should be obliged to host, nor minister conduct, such a service.’

The voting was

In favour 41
Against 18
Abstentions 4

A copy of the briefing paper approved by the Bishop’s Council can be found here.

Updates

The BBC Radio 4 Today programme interviewed the Bishop of Hereford, Richard Frith. Listen here: Bishop Richard interview on BBC R4 Today about Diocesan Synod motion asking for same sex prayers (preceded by interview with Susie Leafe of Reform).

Law & Religion UK CofE service after same sex marriage?

BBC Church of England to discuss same-sex blessing

Guardian Church of England to debate blessings for same-sex couples

Telegraph Church of England to debate services for same-sex couples after bishop backs diocese call

Christian Today Bishops under pressure to act as Hereford Diocese calls for official services for gay couples

Hereford Times Church of England to debate blessings for same-sex couples after diocese motion

The Church of England has issued this press release: Hereford Diocesan Synod Motion. The full text is copied below the fold.

There is further comment at Law and Religion UK Hereford Diocesan Synod Motion – CofE Statement.

Hereford Diocesan Synod Motion
21 October 2017

Following the passing of a resolution at the Diocesan Synod in Hereford, a spokesperson for the Church of England said: “We are aware of the resolution passed by Hereford Diocesan Synod calling for the General Synod to debate a motion on services of prayer and dedication for same-sex couples.

“The diocesan synod’s decision does not change the teaching or practice of the Church of England, whether in Hereford or anywhere else in the Church.

“Under the Standing Orders of the General Synod, the motion will fall to be debated at the Synod at a time to be decided by its Business Committee.

“Clergy of the Church of England are unable to marry couples of the same sex and, under the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement on Same Sex Marriage, ‘services of blessing’ should not be provided for those who enter into civil partnerships or same-sex marriages.

“It is recognised, however, that there is real and profound disagreement in the Church of England over questions relating to human sexuality and the House of Bishops has recently embarked on the preparation of a major new teaching document on marriage and sexuality.

“We are seeking to find ways forward rooted in scripture and the Christian faith as we have received it and which values everyone, without exception, not as a ‘problem’ or an ‘issue’, but as a person loved and made in the image of God.”

end

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Jeremy
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Jeremy

Well done, Hereford!

Recalling their narrow opposition to the so-called Anglican Covenant:

Bishops: 2 for, 0 against
Clergy: 15 for, 15 against, 1 abstention
Laity 21 for, 23 against, 1 abstention

…could sentiment in Hereford Diocese have changed substantially?

Neil Patterson
Guest
Neil Patterson

Readers may like to know that the Bishop of Hereford both spoke and voted in favour of the motion.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Without wishing to be a rural-ist, one cannot help thinking that if Herefordshire is ahead of the CofE hierarchy on SSM issues, then the game is up for Welby’s triangulation policy. Herefordshire is hardly Brighton, after all.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly happen” – My Fair Lady –

HOWEVER, not so in Hereford. Here, at last, is a Church of England diocese stepping up to the plate on ‘The Issue” – the encouragement of Same-Sex Couples to place their relationship under the protection and Blessing of God and the Church.

What a wonderful example to the rest of us in the worldwide Anglican Communion who are still poised on the brink of fully accepting the fact that Gay people need meaningful relationships – just like our heterosexual sisters and brothers. Bravo!

Andrew Lightbown
Guest

Does this mean that the motion will have to be brought before GS and voted on?

Fr Rob Hall
Guest
Fr Rob Hall

Interested Observer,
What is ‘Welby’s triangulation policy’?

Will Richards
Guest
Will Richards

Looks like at least a couple of archiepiscopal bloody noses are looming on the horizon, given the current composition of the General Synod. And, if this gets to GS, how long before certain bishops are being ‘encouraged’ to vote ‘the right way’?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Time for other Dioceses to see if they can follow suit. Otherwise this might grow mould in the General Synod’s Business Committee for a long long time.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Interested Observer,
purely anecdotally – I believe rural parishes and are frequently more tolerant and accepting than the much more polarised churches in towns and cities. When there is little choice for worshippers, it’s less easy to gather in like-minded bubbles and minds can change more easily.

In my sexuality talks to Deanery Synods, I frequently discovered that representatives from rural parishes were much more affirming or genuinely questioning than those from the towns.

Ann Reddecliffe
Guest
Ann Reddecliffe

Whoever drafted the motion and the briefing paper did a good job. It doesn’t pull its punches, but is very well balanced and this is the sort of leadership that is needed if we are to move forward from the current impasse. ‘…being a form of service neither contrary to, nor indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England…’. This is the tricky part and I agree with the briefing paper that it is possible to draft liturgy in such a was as to make this possible, but that is best done by experts and commended.… Read more »

Graeme Buttery
Guest
Graeme Buttery

Erika,

while an understandable sentiment, can I just suggest it is a little unfair on the Business Committee. They are not free of any standing orders, rules , commitments and procedures when it comes to deciding business: just ask the chair!

Graeme Buttery

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Welby’s triangulation policy”

Ignoring the interests of LGBTQ people by implying that anyone who supports LGBTQ rights is racist, or at least insufficiently anti-racist, because African churches don’t like it.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

This is not intended to be off topic, but Gregory Baum has died. His life and his theological contributions on issues of sexuality are a testimony that dissidents can effectively challenge what often appears to be the impregnable fortress of church power politics. He certainly is evidence that the demand for change against all odds is just not going to go away.

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/gay-ex-priest-who-pushed-canadian-bishops-to-reject-contraception-teaching

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Ref “Ruralism”.

If Hereford is anything like my experience of Church life in Wiltshire and Dorset, then a significant proportion of the active church members could not be described as “rural”. They will have have spent a large part of their adult lives working and living in London, or the Armed Forces, or other reasonably high powered jobs, and then downshifted to country life late in their careers.

Perhaps such people have the broad life experience, mixed with the wisdom and independence of mind, that (hopefully) comes from age, which would lead to them supporting such a motion.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Welby’s triangulation policy”

Delaying sacraments for people in England because he wants a smooth Lambeth Conference with the Global South.

In other words, putting international theopolitics (and his own positional interest) ahead of the pastoral needs of his English flock.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Graeme,
apologies is if I misunderstood!
I thought there is someone who decides on the order of importance of motions and when they should be tabled.

If that is wrong, I’m really sorry!

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Rod,

Thanks for the link about Gregory Baum. In my opinion it is very much on topic.

RevDave
Guest
RevDave

“If the motion is approved, it will be experienced by others as a rejection of faithfulness to Scripture, and may lead those who hold the traditional position to feel unwanted in our diocese.”

Interesting how this is always couched in terms of “faithfulness to Scripture” when in fact it is about faithfulness to the teachings of Jesus.. who condemned sexual immorality in no uncertain terms.

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Interested Observer,
“Ignoring the interests of LGBTQ people by implying that anyone who supports LGBTQ rights is racist, or at least insufficiently anti-racist, because African churches don’t like it.”
That sounds like a former American bishop I knew?
“How can you argue about GLBT people when there are so many souls to save in Africa?”

Emma Slingo
Guest
Emma Slingo

This is just so cool! Yay for lgbt acceptance – any time soon peeps!

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Rev.Dave.

Have you mistaken Jesus’ gentleness with ‘sexual sinners’ – especially ‘the woman caught in adultery’, who could have – by the Jewish Law – been stoned to death? On that occasion, Jesus challenged her judges (self-righteous Pharisees) to throw the first stone – if they were without sin. In this instance, at least, Jesus was countermanding the demands of the Scriptures!!

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“Interesting how this is always couched in terms of “faithfulness to Scripture” when in fact it is about faithfulness to the teachings of Jesus.. who condemned sexual immorality in no uncertain terms.”

But who never explicitly defined same-sex relations as immoral…

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“when in fact it is about faithfulness to the teachings of Jesus.. who condemned sexual immorality in no uncertain terms.”

Actually no, Jesus did not condemn me and my wife or any other LGBTQI people. He did condemn the religious leaders who would use the law to abuse vulnerable people, and He said “don’t judge,” in no uncertain terms. Scripture doesn’t say what you want it to say. We all have to be careful about creating God in our flawed and bigoted image, when we are actually called to see the Image of God in all people. All people.

RevDave
Guest
RevDave

Hi Cynthia, Pat and Ron, Jesus loves sinners, absolutely! He loves me!! And He forgave people who sinned – like the woman caught in adultery. And it’s absolutely true that He didn’t enforce the *punishments* prescribed in the Old Testament – instead He fulfilled the law, by dying for us sinners, so He could forgive us! But Jesus did always uphold the same personal morality that we read about in the OT – just read through the Sermon on the Mount if you don’t believe me. When He taught that “… out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery,… Read more »

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

Our thoughts and prayers are with the good folk, including their Bishop who have passed the Hereford resolution.
From the Scottish Episcopal Church we wish them well in their endeavors. Perhaps they might find inspiration by logging on to the Communicant of the Edinburgh Diocese for this past week, and read the sermon given by the Bishop of Edinburgh at the wedding of two fine male Christians of the diocese in St John’s Church Edinburgh.
May the Church of England move forward together in this moment in welcoming same sex weddings, of loving, caring Christian folk.

Fr John Emlyn

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

RevDave, I find your interpretations flawed. But worse is the fact that you feel that you are authorized to judge in God’s place. How you twist Jesus’ message of liberating love for a quasi-superstitious checklist for salvation is one of the great mysteries. It must be comforting to cling to those “truths,” but some of us see a greater truth. And it is reinforced in our personal prayer, worship, and experience of God’s Grace. In light of my experience of Grace and love from my Creator, your attacks on my being are ridiculous. It doesn’t help when you say “I’m… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

Fr Ron, he did go on to say “Go thy way and sin more!” as well.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Simon Dawson, no problem. Baum has been described with a number of adjectives, prophet is the one I like best. His work on Maurice Blondel is incomparable. Here is a link from a more “mainstream” religious site, National Catholic Reporter. Baum will be one of the folks I will be giving thanks for the coming All Saints/Souls/Reformation Sunday Feast.

https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/gregory-baum-influential-theologian-vatican-ii-era-dies-94

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Richard – a question for you: Do you think that Jesus died only for sins that had already been committed? Or is he the one and only propitiation for all sins that will ever be committed? If only for past sins, then are we all doomed! But, if for our sins, past, present and future; then are we all blessed. I believe that it is our faith in Christ’s redemption that saves us,. not our protestation of our own sinlessness. It is the knowledge of Jesus’ redemption that is at the heart of the Gospel- the Good News. Jesus did… Read more »

David Rowett
Guest
David Rowett

Strikes me, RevDave, that your argument on same-sex sexual relationships being included in the NT check-list is less than watertight. It starts by assuming that the OT texts reference what we mean by gay relationships and then, by arguing that Jesus was bound by the Hebrew Scriptures that Jesus e silencio condemns them. I know such an approach has been used to insist on Davidic authorship of the psalms (Mark 12.36) but largely quietly dropped even in very conservative circles. We also know that Jesus does not always consider himself bound by HB texts. We can, of course, choose to… Read more »

RevDave
Guest
RevDave

Hi David & Cynthia, It is Jesus, not me, who came up with that “quasi-superstitious checklist” that I quoted. So it’s not me who is “judging” when I quote what He said.. or me that you feel is “attacking your being”. And it is not me who is “assuming” Jesus would comdemn same-sex sex “ex silencio”. His Jewish hearers would have assumed it – as is rather confirmed by Paul, who had been a Pharisee before he ‘saw the light’, repeatedly condemning same-sex sex. And neither of you addressed directly the fact that it is *same-sex sex* that is said… Read more »

RevDave
Guest
RevDave

ps David, this thing about challenging Jesus saying “David said” when He quotes psalm 110 is a little ridiculous. Psalm 110 starts “Of David. A psalm”!!!!!!

Tobias Haller
Guest

The word Jesus uses, translated over-broadly as “sexual immorality” actually has a far narrower meaning: harlotry. Jesus pairs it with “adultery” in this passage so as to convict married men who sleep with an unmarried woman — who would not be guilty of “adultery” under Hebrew (or Roman) law. If “harlotry” included all forms of sexual misconduct, Jesus would not have needed to mention “adultery.”

It is unlikely the term he used applied to male same-sexuality (though such a claim is often made) and definitely does not apply to female same-sexuality, which is not forbidden by Torah.

Flora Alexander
Guest
Flora Alexander

RevDave, there are problems with the argument you are trying to make. Quoting Leviticus is not helpful, unless we are also going to avoid eating pork and shellfish. It seems naive to place faithful same-sex relationships in the frame of the denunciations of assorted vices you refer to in 1 Cor. and 1 Tim. They are not the same thing at all. If I remember rightly, some of our bishops recently pronounced that marriage has been the same throughout recorded history. You don’t need to be much of a historian to know that that was nonsense. Even 100 years ago,… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

Fr Ron, funnily enough I think the Lord died to save us all from all our sins. That doesn’t mean I think it wise to forget for the sake of an argument that he left the woman caught in adultery in no illusion that he condoned her sin.

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

So RevDave, it’s sola scriptura… and lots of guesswork about what Jesus and his hearers and the NT writers must have thought because that’s what people thought back then. I mean if Jesus was just a conventional 1st century Jew, if we fill every gap in the Biblical record of his teaching with ‘what a pious first century Jewish person would have believed’ what’s different about Christianity? What was the point of Calvary?

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Thank you all for pointing out the egregious flaws in RevDave’s interpretation/recreation of Scripture. I fear that he is deaf to intellectual engagement with what is actually written, in Hebrew and Greek, and in the context of those texts. But thank you for trying. Because even though I’ve studied the texts (at least in the Greek, I have no grip on Hebrew), it is affirming and comforting to me, a gay person, to hear religious leaders challenge the positions of those who make the wild leaps and assumptions as RevDave. “I’m only quoting Jesus” when Tobias et al., can prove… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Admin

I heard an interesting sermon last week (along with my co-editors here at TA). The occasion was the celebration of a saint who had remained a virgin through several marriages before becoming a nun. How does that celebration of virginity play out in other centuries and other cultures? Clearly virginity was prized above marriage by the church. I have read elsewhere questions about how it played out in the 19th century — a wife who refused to obey her successive husbands, refused to sleep with them, refused to perpetuate their dynastic lines: clearly a wilful disobedience of the principles of… Read more »

Flora Alexander
Guest
Flora Alexander

Thankyou for that, Simon Kershaw. And there was the Deceased Wife’s Sister business, not all that long ago. I have a friend whose grandparents fell foul of that rule – and I think that was in the 20th century!

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“That doesn’t mean I think it wise to forget for the sake of an argument that he left the woman caught in adultery in no illusion that he condoned her sin.” Public Service Announcement about the “woman caught in adultery:” Women had very little agency back then. In some cultures, rape is considered “adultery” on the part of the woman! And where exactly is the man in that story? This is where simple-minded sola Scriptorum is NOT the whole truth. Focusing on “her sin” was not the point of that story. Insisting that the crowd not judge, not be hypocritical,… Read more »

IT
Guest
IT

There’s a scholar of marriage, Stephanie Coontz, who argues that our concept of marriage has changed so fundamentally that same-sex marriage isn’t unexpected. Once we de-gendered marriage to the extent of letting people choose their own partners, and then once we allowed that men and women could be equal within marriage, then the historically gendered nature of marriage was gone. These concepts were foreign to cultures 2000 years ago, so really, the BIble says nothing about our modern conception of marriage. l have a very traditional view of marriage, even though my spouse and I are of the same sex.… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Thank you, Cynthia.

Surely the point of the story of the “woman taken in adultery” is that all of the characters in it (except Jesus) are sinners. Only Jesus is competent to render judgment, and he chooses not to condemn. It is deeply ironic that this gospel passage is so often turned on its head, with emphasis on the woman’s sin rather than the sinfulness of the whole crowd (and their compunction when that sinfulness is called to their attention). The need to forgive rather than to judge is a constant refrain in Jesus’ teaching.

David Rowett
Guest
David Rowett

Thanks, Fr Andrew. I think it was James Barr a generation ago who lamented the ability of many Christians to turn Jesus into little more than a teacher of the Hebrew Scriptures, albeit with a bit of supernatural oomph thrown in. End result is to turn Jesus into a hallmark for a conservative reading of Scripture rather than in any sense a doctrinal, cultural and theological trail-blazer. Preaching yesterday on the Tribute Gospel, I observed that it said a lot about God’s ability to break into systems which thought themselves watertight and blow them apart with an unexpected – and… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

There’s a great danger when reading bible stories that we put ourselves in the place of Jesus. He’s allowed to judge, he’s allowed to talk about sin – because he’s the one to whom all hearts are open, all desires known and from whom no secrets are hidden.
We are not like that.

When we read those stories – we are in the place of the women taken in adultery or in the place of those who accuse her.

There is no other role for us.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Erika, “There is no other role for us.”That view would make making sense of the Pauline corpus, not to mention prophetic reflection on social issues, very challenging.

RevDave
Guest
RevDave

Hi Tobias, are you saying that by “πορνεῖαι” (porneiai – the plural of πορνεία) Jesus was condemning harlots ie prostitutes?!! And does the translation: “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, *prostitutions*, thefts, false witness, blasphemies etc” sound right? English Bible translations, since at least 1599, have rendered it as “fornication” (or, more correctly “fornications”) until quite recently when it is usually translate “sexual immorality” ie a general term for illicit sexual liaisons – not just prostitution. Of course in the late middle ages harlotry was used in a much broader sense than prostitution – to mean “loose,… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

A veritable catalogue RevDave, but none of it related to covenanted faithful relationships.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

And still, there’s no evidence of condemnation of same-sex couples by Jesus.

πορνεία is typically a form of prostitution. There are lots of texts that write about what it does and doesn’t mean and how Strong’s got it wrong. Trying to twist it into “homosexuality” is highly problematic. It twists better into “idolatry.”

If you are going to make the case that sex outside of marriage is the problem, then the remedy is to marry gay people so we aren’t “sinning.”

Father David
Guest
Father David

Simon, you fail to name the female saint who valued her perpetual virginity and after several chase marriages became a virgo intacta nun?
Do please reveal all then perhaps she could become the Patron Saint of the Thinking Anglicans blog?

Tobias Haller
Guest

RevDave, no, what I am saying is that Jesus is expanding the range of condemnation (NOT present in the Hebrew law) that classifies “a married man having sex with an unmarried woman not his wife” as adultery. Under the Hebrew law, such a man would not be considered an adulterer. Obviously Jesus is also including harlotry (prostitution as the “simple” meaning of porneia) as well, which may explain the plural; though we know from other portions of the Gospel that Jesus tended not to judge the prostitute as harshly as the “john.” There is also a possibility that porneiai is… Read more »