Thinking Anglicans

New Zealand rejects Sydney overlap proposal

Archbishop Donald Tamihere and Archbishop Philip Richardson of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia have replied, on behalf of the ACANZP General Synod Standing Committee, to the proposal made by the Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, in August.

See GSSC responds to Sydney.

Like it or not, to be Anglican in Aotearoa New Zealand means facing into 200 years of a unique, shared and difficult history between Maori and Pakeha – and acknowledging the pillars of that shared history.

These pou include Anglicans bringing the gospel to these shores in 1814; the foundational and church-brokered Treaty of Waitangi of 1840 – and, after 150 years of struggle by Maori Anglicans, the adoption of Te Pouhere, the Three Tikanga Constitution of The Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

So, a proposal advanced by the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, that there should be two Anglican Churches in New Zealand, both linked by heritage – but the new one not recognising “the laws, promises, and solemn commitments” that bind The Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and which grew out of that painful shared history, does not work.

That is the view of the General Synod Standing Committee – and that view has been expressed in an open letter signed by its co-chairs, Archbishops Don Tamihere and Philip Richardson, and sent to Archbishop Davies today.

The letter concludes: “We cannot recognise a Church as Anglican which does not encapsulate this 200 years of relationship and history.”

Anglican Communion News Service reports: New Zealand Church leaders reject Sydney proposal for overlapping Anglican jurisdiction.

Archbishop Davies’ proposal was contained in this document. The proposal was described in Sydney as: Archbishop presents proposal for NZ Anglican future. We reported it in August as Archbishop of Sydney proposes ‘Distinctive Co-existence’ for ACANZP.

The New Zealand reply to it is contained in this document. It’s worth reading this in full.

The Anglican Church League in Sydney reports it as Thanks, but no thanks: New Zealand Church leaders reject Sydney proposal.

 

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Book Launch: Intimate Conviction

You are invited to the launch of a book that addresses the role of the church (past, present and future) in the criminalization of consensual same-gender intimacy across the Commonwealth. This event is scheduled for Dec. 4.

Last year Anglicans for Decriminalization, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and our local and international partners held the “Intimate Conviction” conference in Jamaica.

This was the first-ever global event that discussed the role of the church (past, present and future) in the criminalization of private consensual same-gender intimacy. The event was live-streamed and there were presentations by international agencies and Christian leaders from all over the Commonwealth, including the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Archbishop of the West Indies and the Bishop of Buckingham.

An edited volume of some of the presentations is now ready and will be launched in London on 4 December. Attendance is free but booking is required.

Details here:  Intimate Conviction Book Launch.

School of Advanced Study
Room 349 Senate House-South Block
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU

Date: Dec. 4
Time: 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Refreshments will be provided.

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Faith, Science & Sexuality: a day conference

The Ozanne Foundation is holding a one day conference on Saturday 8 December, involving some of the UK’s most senior academics from the fields of science, health and ethical issues surrounding sexuality and gender, whilst also rooted in real lived experience of well-known LGBTI Christians. Hosted by the Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd Dr David Ison, this confernece will offer Christians the opportunity to engage with the professionals who are at the forefront of science, sexuality and faith.

Tickets and more details of the programme can be obtained from this link.

David Ison has written about the background to this event here: Brexit, Science & Sex: Can We Challenge Fake News?

And Robert Song has written this: The science of sexuality.

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Bishop of Albany refuses to implement same-sex marriage resolution

Updated again Tuesday morning

We reported previously on the Diocese of Albany in September: Diocese of Albany considers same-sex marriages.

Further context for this is contained in another earlier article: Communion Partner bishops issue FAQ on same-sex marriage.

Episcopal Café now reports: Albany bishop draws red line, challenges authority of GC

…Bishop Love has decided to draw a line based on his personal beliefs and understanding of his role on behalf of the entirety of the diocese of Albany; “B012 ignores God’s Word regarding marriage and thus ignores the authority of Holy Scripture.” He lays the blame for General Convention’s actions squarely on Satan and the “Gay Rights Agenda.”

“While I don’t question the sincerity or the well intentions of many in the Episcopal Church who believe the best way to love and minister to our Gay and Lesbian Brothers and Sisters in Christ is to embrace them in their sexuality and make provisions for their same-sex attractions through same-sex marriage rites, I do believe they have been deceived into believing a lie that has been planted in the Church by the “great deceiver” – Satan. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul states: “…stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:11-13).
The Episcopal Church and Western Society have been hijacked by the “Gay Rights Agenda” which is very well organized, very strategic, very well financed, and very powerful. Satan is having a heyday bringing division into the Church over these issues and is trying to use the Church to hurt and destroy the very ones we love and care about by deceiving the leadership of the Church into creating ways for our gay and lesbians brothers and sister to embrace their sexual desires rather than to repent and seek God’s love and healing grace. B012 plays right into this.”

Read the full text of his Pastoral Letter and Pastoral Directive here.

The Albany Times-Union reports this news: Albany Episcopal Bishop outlaws same-sex marriage in his churches.

News & World Report has this: Episcopal Bishop, William Love, Bans Gay Unions on His Turf.

Tuesday Updates

Episcopal News Service Albany bishop rejects General Convention compromise on gay marriage, refuses to allow rites

Presiding Bishop’s statement on Bishop William Love’s pastoral letter and directive

And the bishop of the adjacent diocese ( Central New York) has also issued a statement available here.

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Responses to the Oxford bishops’ letter

 

Updated Tuesday morning (scroll down)

Media reports:

Comment:

…The Oxford bishops are committed to building a Christ-like church and have identified three values as animators of this aspiration: compassion, contemplation and courage. By pledging to listen to the experiences of LGBTIQ+ Christians and allowing such experiences to help shape the future direction of the church, alongside the acknowledgment that ‘as a Church we have continually failed our sisters and brothers in Christ’ the bishops have shown real compassion. Listening, deep listening, is of course also the very heart beat of contemplative practice. In writing this letter, in the sure and certain knowledge that there will be some very real kick-back, and through their insistence, that silence does not serve the Church well, alongside a commitment to express their own views with integrity the Oxford bishops have been courageous, for courage is worked out in the most difficult, most contentious and most potentially divisive issues.

One of the most moving responses I have seen so far to the Oxford bishops’ letter on inclusion came from someone who said that she was surprised and delighted by the way in which the bishops made her feel part of the church by their words. Usually, this kind of official pronouncement makes gay people feel slightly ‘other’, a separate order of humanity within the church, but here the respondent was grateful to feel like she was genuinely listened to and part of the same church…

Marcus goes on to discuss at some length the article by Giles Goddard on Via Media to which we linked yesterday.

…The bishops also announce in the letter that they will be setting up a chaplaincy for LGBTI+ people and their families across the diocese.  We very much look forward to seeing how this latest exciting development unfolds, and hope and trust that LGBTI+ people will continue to be integral to the development, delivery and dissemination of this important and innovative work.

…We would encourage other dioceses to consider following the Oxford lead, to meet with LGBTI representatives from within each diocese to listen to their concerns, and to say explicitly that LGBTI people are welcome in their diocese, and should be welcome in each and every parish.

The LGBTI community and their allies are looking for tangible proof that the words”radical new Christian inclusion” are being taken seriously by each diocese. It is in concrete proposals, such as the provision of LGBTI chaplaincies and the creation of LGBTI reference groups, that they will begin to be reassured that a truly inclusive welcome is sincerely being offered for all…

Update

For a roundup of comment from a conservative viewpoint, see Anglican Mainstream’s post: Oxford Diocese promotes inclusion.

 

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Oxford bishops expect inclusion and respect for all

Press release from Diocese of Oxford:

31 Oct 2018 – four bishops from one of the largest dioceses in the Church of England have written to 1,500 ministers setting out the bishops’ expectations of inclusion and respect for all and announces a new LGBTI+ chaplaincy team.

Silence is both painful and damaging for LGBTI+ people in the midst of continuing debate within the Church about human sexuality, say the bishops. Their letter, sent to all clergy and LLMs in the Diocese of Oxford, sets expectations of inclusion and respect towards all and affirms LGBTI+ people called to roles of leadership and service in the church.

The Oxford letter commends five principles for welcoming and honouring LGBTI+ people and looks at work underway in the Church of England to develop new pastoral guidance and teaching resources relating to human sexuality and same sex marriage.

A new chaplaincy team for LGBTI+ people, their families and loved ones is promised too. The chaplaincy team will also provide LGBTI+ insights and advice to clergy and bishops about being church together.

The Oxford letter concludes with a commitment from the bishops to continue to listen well to LGBTI+ people from a variety of perspectives, ‘including those seeking change in the Church of England’s polity and those seeking to live faithfully within it’…

The full text of the letter can be found here: Clothe Yourselves With Love.

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Church of England responds to Gender Recognition Act consultation

The Church of England has today published its response (copied in full below the fold) to the UK Government’s consultation on Reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004. You can read about that consultation, which opened in July and closes today, over here.

(more…)

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13 English bishops write to GAFCON

Thirteen evangelical bishops of the Church of England have written a letter in response to this document: Letter to the Churches – Gafcon Assembly 2018.

Their letter is titled Remaining Faithful within the Church of England.

The signatories are:

Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough
Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden
Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham
Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester
Richard Jackson, Bishop of Lewes
Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn
Alistair Magowan, Bishop of Ludlow
Nick McKinnel, Bishop of Plymouth
James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle
Mark Rylands, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Exeter
Andrew Watson, Bishop of Guildford
David Williams, Bishop of Basingstoke
Paul Williams, Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham

Readers who do not keep up with GAFCON statements may also be interested in:

Rev Dr Stephen Noll’s Commentary on the ‘Letter to the Churches’

Chairman’s Letter – October 2018

Nigerians join Ugandans not attending Lambeth 2020

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Reactions to the letter from eleven bishops

Updated again Thursday

The Church Times has reported on the letter published on Monday, see Evangelical bishops hint at split if marriage teaching is changed.  This mentions that the Bishop of Liverpool tweeted:

 “It’s good to talk. Letters like this contribute to the conversation, but they will not and should not replace or pre-empt the process by which the Church of England as a whole expresses the radical new Christian inclusion to which we’re called.”

To date the letter remains unreported in the secular media.

There have been several articles written in response. Two of these are written by bishops:

Other responses include:

Stephen Parsons Eleven English Bishops teaching about Sex and Marriage

Andrew Lightbown Talking of the evangelical bishops letter

Marcus Green a never failing stream

Two campaigning groups have also issued statements:

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Evangelical bishops write to Living in Love and Faith…

Updated 13.00 Monday

Christian Today has a report this morning, headlined as: EXCLUSIVE: Evangelical bishops issue blunt warning to Church of England on sexuality which says that :

Anglican evangelical bishops have warned of ‘major problems’ and the danger of division if the Church of England changes its stance on sexuality.

Eleven leading evangelical bishops have issued a joint letter in which they say that the traditional Christian view of sex as being for heterosexual marriage alone ‘is the teaching of Scripture’ and ‘therefore expresses the character and will of God’…

…The letter has been signed by the Bishops of Carlisle, Shrewsbury, Durham, Ludlow, Birkenhead, Willesden, Peterborough, Plymouth, Blackburn, Maidstone and Lancaster…

Four of the above are diocesans (Carlisle, Durham, Blackburn, Peterborough), the others are all suffragans, and the See of Shrewsbury is currently vacant.

The article also reports that the full text of the letter can be found at the website of the Church of England Evangelical Council. At the time of writing (noon on Monday) what can be found there is only the following:

A letter from evangelical bishops ​to the ‘Living in Faith and Love’ coordinating group

Bishop Julian Henderson, President of CEEC, writes : ‘In response to repeated requests from around the country, a number of evangelical bishops have produced a letter which they are sending to Bishop Christopher Cocksworth and the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) Coordinating Group. It asks that the LLF work takes seriously the biblical evidence and the church’s traditional understanding of it regarding identity, marriage and relationships, hears the voice of the Anglican Communion and understands that for many evangelicals, change in the Church of England’s teaching and practice has serious consequences. We are aware that a position of no change equally has serious consequences for others and our letter therefore assures the LLF Coordinating Group of our prayers as they wrestle to know the mind of Christ.’
 

Update

The full text of the letter is now linked, and can be found here.

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Church of Ireland welcomes Ashers Bakery decision

Updated Sunday evening

When we reported on this case in 2015 we used the headline: Ashers Bakery judgement generates controversy.

This week the UK Supreme Court issued its judgment. The full text is available here.

The Church of Ireland has published: Statement on Ashers bakery case judgment.

The Rt Revd Dr Kenneth Kearon, Chair of the Church of Ireland’s Church and Society Commission, made the following statement regarding the UK Supreme Court’s judgment in the case involving Ashers bakery on Wednesday, 10th October.

‘We welcome the affirmation of religious freedom and expression in this particular case. This is a complex issue which does involve the balancing of rights. The decision by the Supreme Court in this case affirms the rights of the business and does not significantly impact on the freedom of choice for the customer.’

The case is analysed in various places, including:

Disagreement with the decision has been expressed here:

Agreement with it came from:

Update
Many more links here.

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Lord Carey speaks at Rebuilding Bridges conference

The Bell Society, which seeks to restore the reputation of Bishop George Bell, held a second Rebuilding Bridges conference on 5 October.  See here for more information about the first conference, held in February. Note that this organisation is distinct from the George Bell Group.

One of the speakers on 5 October was Lord Carey. The full text of his remarks has been published by Archbishop Cranmer.  He also discusses the separate case of Bishop Peter Ball.

Lord Carey challenges Bishops to break their silence on the ‘significant cloud’ hanging over the name of Bishop George Bell

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Brexit: Why the Church should not stay silent

This week, the Church Times has a major feature on Brexit, with articles from a range of experts, spread over ten pages.

The following (related) items have been published on the website in advance:

The whole set is now published. The Church Times has a leader: Second thoughts on Brexit.

And Dave Walker has this Brexit cartoon.

Ten further articles are currently linked from this page.

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Communion Partner bishops issue FAQ on same-sex marriage

We reported previously on developments within TEC concerning the implementation of resolution B012:

TEC adopts compromise solution on same-sex marriage

Diocese of Albany considers same-sex marriages

There was an earlier ENS report which we missed: Diocesan bishops who blocked same-sex marriages take reluctant first steps toward allowing ceremonies.

Now, Communion Partners has issued this:

FAQ on the 79th General Convention Answers from Communion Partner Bishops of the Episcopal Church to Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Provisions for Same-sex Marriage.

This includes a comparison between the position of Communion Partners and The Society.

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Church in Wales to explore formal provision for same-sex couples

Press release

The Bishops of the Church in Wales have been given the go-ahead to explore formal provision for same-sex couples in church.

Members of the Church’s Governing Body agreed with the bishops that the current situation of no formal provision was “pastorally unsustainable”. They voted with a clear majority in favour of the bishops looking at new approaches which could be brought back to the Governing Body for approval at a later date.

The private ballot followed a presentation to the meeting from the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop Mark Strange, on the process that church went through before it decided to accept same-sex marriage. There was then a question session with Bishop Mark and an open discussion on the bishops’ request.

The Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, said, “The bishops are united in the belief that it is pastorally unsustainable and unjust for the Church to continue to make no formal provision for those in committed same-sex relationships. Although today’s outcome does not change the present doctrine or practice of the Church in Wales on marriage, I am pleased that it provides an important steer to the bishops in exercising our ministry of pastoral care and spiritual leadership.”

Background paper signed by the Archbishop of Wales

An extract from this:  (more…)

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Church of England bishops adopt antisemitism definition

Press release from Church of England

Bishops adopt international definition of antisemitism

During the annual residential meeting of the College of Bishops, which is taking place in Oxford, they agreed a joint statement endorsing the IHRA definition of antisemitism – including all of its examples – on behalf of the Church.

They also issued a call to everyone in public life to reject any language or actions which could cause “prejudice, stigma or hatred towards people on the grounds of their religion, culture, origins, identity or beliefs”.

The Church of England’s interfaith team and national advisers already use the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism as the benchmark in their work and ministry.

However, the bishops noted the “necessity of making explicit” the Church’s adoption of and adherence to the definition without qualification or exemption.

Last week the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also spoke of the need for the Church of England to adopt the definition formally.

The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, said: “The Jewish community, among whom I live in Salford, carry with them the vivid memory and scars of the Holocaust; they know all too well that antisemitism is never far below the surface of our society.

“Today’s statement from the Church of England bishops assures them that we will continue to reject such prejudice and bigotry firmly, in line with our practice over 75 years.

“At the same time we will continue to speak out critically when governments here and elsewhere act in ways that our faith calls us to challenge.”

The full statement adopted by the College of Bishops reads:

“In the context of 75 years of friendship marked by the establishment of the Council of Christians and Jews, the Church of England’s College of Bishops now notes the necessity of making explicit its adoption of and adherence to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, including all examples, without qualification or exemption.

“We urge anyone involved in our political, spiritual and national life to reject all language and activity that leads to prejudice, stigma or hatred towards people on the grounds of their religion, culture, origins, identity or beliefs.”

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Christians and Muslims protest Blackpool visit of Franklin Graham

Harriet Sherwood reports in the GuardianMuslim group calls for preacher linked to Trump to be denied UK visa:

Britain’s leading Muslim organisation has called on the Home Office to refuse a UK visa to a prominent US evangelical preacher with links to Donald Trump and a track record of Islamophobic and homophobic statements.

Franklin Graham, the son of the evangelist Billy Graham, has been invited to preach at a Christian festival in Blackpool this month.

The preacher, who said Trump’s election victory was evidence that “God’s hand” was at work, has called Islam “evil” and “wicked”, claimed Barack Obama’s “problem is that he was born a Muslim” and said Satan was the architect of same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.

The Muslim Council of Britain has joined three MPs, including a government whip, in demanding the Home Office apply its criteria on hate speech to Graham’s visa request…

Meanwhile, other Christians in Blackpool have issued this press release.

INCLUSIVE CHRISTIANS TO RESIST FRANKLIN GRAHAM

Christians in Blackpool are planning a series of inclusive services to protest against the visit of a controversial preacher.

Coinciding with the Festival of Hope at which American evangelist Franklin Graham will be principal speaker, the Rainbow Weekend aims to stand in solidarity with LGBT people of faith and resist what they believe to be a message of intolerance.

Mr Graham has previously courted controversy for his views on Islam, transgender people, women’s rights, and same-sex relationships – claiming Satan is behind same-sex marriage. He is also an outspoken defender of Donald Trump.

Mr Graham’s visit has led to local MPs Gordon Marsden and Paul Maynard expressing concerns about the Festival of Hope, with Mr Marsden suggesting Mr Graham’s views constituted hate speech and were “incompatible with what Jesus said in the Bible”. A petition asking that Mr Graham is not granted a visa gained more than 8,000 signatures.

The Rainbow Weekend, a series of inclusive services and a prayer meeting on 22nd and 23rd September, is a collaboration between inclusive churches in the town and Open Table, a network of LGBT-affirming churches across England and Wales. During the weekend ‘Big Jesus’, a 4-metre high representation of Jesus wearing a rainbow sash, will be on walkabout in the town centre with a message of Jesus’ love for all people including LGBT people. ‘Big Jesus’ has walked in Pride parades throughout the UK from Brighton to Glasgow with the message that Jesus always spent time with marginalised people and would welcome and embrace the LGBT community.
In addition to affirming LGBT people, the Rainbow Weekend will also represent a Christian act of solidarity with Lancashire’s Muslim communities in the face of Mr Graham’s dangerous anti-Islamic prejudice.

Andrew Page, an elder in the United Reformed Church and one of the organisers, said: “Inevitably there have been calls for Mr Graham not to be allowed to preach in Blackpool. No doubt there will be people loudly protesting Franklin Graham and the Festival of Hope. Some of us as Christians wanted to send out a positive message that Mr Graham does not speak in our name. We are countering Mr Graham’s toxic rhetoric by welcoming and affirming LGBT people and others excluded by his version of Christianity.
“And so we have the Rainbow Weekend. We’re welcoming and including those who Mr Graham would marginalise. It’s going to be a great time of faith, celebration and affirmation.”

Nina Parker, the pastor of Blackpool’s Liberty Church, said: “As a Christian and as a leader of a church that particularly welcomes LGBT people, I’m horrified that other local churches are inviting someone with this record of hate speech.” She added that Mr Graham’s presence would be “extremely destructive in the area” especially in relation to interfaith relationships.

The disappointment with local churches was echoed by Claire Fox, a Christian who lives in Blackpool. She explained: “The disappointment for me isn’t that Franklin Graham is coming to Blackpool but that churches in Blackpool have invited him. They have not withdrawn their invitation despite knowing what damage they are doing. Much work was done to build bridges, and it seems that the organisers of the Festival of Hope have treated all these efforts with contempt.”

Tracy Charnock, the vicar of Holy Trinity South Shore, said: “I would like to make known my deep disappoint in local Christians and senior leaders of the Church, who have shown support (often through their silence) towards a man who has, on many occasions, preached hate. I rejoice in the diversity of this town of Blackpool and I hold the utmost respect for peoples of any faith or no faith. It’s also wonderful to celebrate the strong LGBT presence in Blackpool that makes this town so vibrant. I thank God that he has created us and loves us for who we are. I pray that this will be the resounding message of the Rainbow Weekend.”

Andrew Sage, the vicar of St Stephen’s on the Cliffs, added: “We are so nervous about this visit and the damage it will do. We cannot stay silent in the face of such dangerous and outspoken prejudice. To be clear. we are not against the Mission, but we are opposed to Franklin Graham leading it. To our minds, remaining silent is not to remain neutral, and is not an option. We wish to make it clear that the invitation to Franklin Graham to come to Blackpool is ‘Not in our name.’ How else would we be able to look our Muslim and LGBT brothers and sisters in the eye?”

Kieran Bohan, one of the co-ordinator of the Open Table network, said: “We are happy to support this and see such good partnership in solidarity against a divisive message from the mis-named Festival of Hope. We believe that the affirming celebration of the Rainbow Weekend is a perfect act of non-violent resistance.”

The Rainbow Weekend will begin on Saturday 22nd September with an inclusive communion service at Holy Trinity Church in South Shore (at 5pm), followed by an evening prayer meeting at North Shore Methodist Church (from 7pm). Sunday 23rd September sees a Songs of Praise event hosted by St Stephen’s on the Cliffs Church, including a thanksgiving service for people working in theatre and entertainment (at 3pm). The weekend culminates with a celebration service of informal, contemporary worship at Liberty Church (on Sunday at 6.30pm).

Blackpool Tower will fly the Rainbow Flag and be lit in rainbow colours throughout the weekend to show support for the LGBT community. The Rainbow Weekend organisers are delighted the Council have clearly demonstrated their support on one of Blackpool’s busiest Illuminations weekends, when thousands of people will come to the resort for the World Fireworks Championships on the Friday evening.

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Religious Education: Final Report from CoRE

The Commission on Religious Education has published its final report.

The Final Report of the Commission on Religious Education, Religion and Worldviews: the way forward.  A national plan for RE, has been published. It sets out a National Plan for RE comprising of 11 recommendations, and calls on the Government to consider and adopt it.

The National Plan is built around a National Entitlement which sets out what all pupils up to the end of Year 11, in all publicly funded schools, should be entitled to be taught.  The National Entitlement reflects a new and inclusive vision for the subject, fully embracing the diversity and richness of religious and non-religious worldviews.  It will ensure a strong academic basis for the subject in all schools.  The National Plan provides for flexibility of approach in the translation of the National Entitlement into programmes of study in schools, ensuring that Headteachers are able to choose the approach that is most appropriate for their pupils.

There is a lengthy Press Release which gives all the background information.
There is both the Full Report and an Executive Summary.

The Church of England has responded with a press release.

The Church Times reports: Commission calls for overhaul of Religious Education in final report

Other media reports include:

Observer:  Call for atheism to be included in religious education

BBC: ‘Teach religion and worldviews instead of RE’

TESCall to change RE to ‘religion and world views’

The National Secular Society has given it only a qualified welcome: Replace RE with ‘religion and worldviews’, says commission.  Humanists UK were much more generous: Humanists UK welcomes landmark Commission on RE recommending new subject ‘Religion and Worldviews’.

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Church of England safeguarding: some updates

Martin Sewell has written another article at Archbishop Cranmer entitled It is pointless pouring the new wine of safeguarding into the old wineskins of arcane ecclesiology.

The Church of England media report on Monday told us that “a senior church figure” had been invited by the police to discuss an alleged failure to report a serious sexual offence. Following the case of Sir Cliff Richard, official police hesitance and revised guidelines apparently prevented further identification of who was involved and that ought to be respected, even though this particular genie was well out of the bottle. The controversy is a longstanding one, pre-dating the Cliff Richard case, and many know what this is all about, but let us do what Lord Carlile suggested when he reviewed the mistakes made in the case of Bishop George Bell.

Interestingly, the Church of England originally immediately repudiated that Carlile recommendation, yet in Monday’s media announcement they coyly adopted the police reticence and applied the principle in this case, though whether this is an official embracing of the wisdom of Carlile’s proposition or a ‘one off’ exception is unclear. This matters.

We need a debate on the principles of these cases in the abstract, because tainted by excessive sympathy or disapprobation of any individual or set of circumstances may well lead us astray.

While following this aspect of the debate amongst colleagues with a special interest in Safeguarding policy, a simple question arose: ‘Do the same rules apply to the most junior of deacons as to an archbishop?’ Essentially: ‘Is there equality under the law within the ecclesiastical community?’

It seems to me that the answer to that question may not be quite as simple as one may think, and we need to grapple with the complexity of the debate without being bogged down by unique contexts and individual circumstances…

The whole article is well worth reading.

Stephen Parsons has published an article, containing a huge amount of detail on the case which underlies the arguments made above, titled The Matt Ineson story continued. There is even more information in the comments to that article.

The Telegraph news report mentioned is here (registration required): Bishop of Oxford to face police questioning over allegations of sex abuse cover-up. The Oxford Mail report of the diocesan response is here: Abuse claims were not ignored insists Oxford Diocese.

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Diocese of Albany considers same-sex marriages

Updated to include further letter from Bishop Love

The Albany Times-Union reported earlier this week, following extended interviews with Bishop William Love and other members of the Albany diocese: Facing a schism: A bishop, gay marriage and the Episcopal diocese of Albany.

… this past July, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church issued Resolution B012, a compromise aimed at allowing gay couples to marry at their home churches in the eight dissenting dioceses across the country – Albany among them – where gay marriage remained forbidden.  In response, Albany Bishop William Love issued a soberly worded letter calling the resolution “problematic and potentially damaging,” adding, “The vast majority of the clergy and people of the Diocese, to include myself, are greatly troubled by it.”

He called for a special meeting of clergy – scheduled for Thursday at the Christ the King Spiritual Life Center in Greenwich.  What may come of it, no one knows – not clergy, not laypeople, not Love himself, who sat for a two-hour-and-15-minute interview one Friday morning in August. From his standpoint he’s the one now trapped in canonical limbo, “where our diocesan canons state one thing, and the General Convention says something else. And we have to figure out how to deal with that tension.”

But no matter what their role in the church or where they stand on the issue of gay marriage, nearly all of the 19 people who commented for this story by phone or email described a diocese in the thick of complex, ongoing and difficult change. Love was blunt in his own assessment: “We’re in the midst of a major schism.”

Before the meeting yesterday, Leander Harding wrote an article for Covenant, titled Being Disarmed in which he said:

Bishop Bill Love and the clergy of the Diocese of Albany will meet today (Sep. 6) to discuss our response to the actions of the latest General Convention. The choices seem rather straightforward to me. Either we make our peace with serving in a church that endorses same-sex marriage as part of its normative teaching, and we make an accommodation for those parishes in favor of such rites. Or we leave individually or in some corporate sense, as has been the case with Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, San Joaquin, and South Carolina.

In the time I have been in the diocese I have never heard the bishop or any of the leading clergy counsel secession. Anything like that would in my view be an institutional disaster. We are a diocese primarily made up of struggling small-town churches. We are part of the Rust Belt, and the economic turnaround has yet to appear in most of our communities. The major regional export is young people. A healthy dose of bitter controversy would be just the thing to sink our little fleet of ships already struggling to stay afloat.

Overall, I think our diocese is strong in faith and spiritual vitality, but institutionally we are fragile and weak. We don’t have many people, we don’t have much money, our missionary context is a combination of dying rural communities and the see city, which ranks as one of the most secular in the country. The theological convictions of the bishop and a majority of the clergy in the diocese are vastly out of sync with the majority of the Episcopal Church in theology, ethos, and style…

So far there is no substantive report of the meeting, though a press release is promised soon. The Albany Times-Union had only this: Albany Episcopal Diocese discusses resolution on same-sex marriages.

…Albany Bishop William Love, who spoke with The Times Union following the meeting, said the time was used to pray, worship and converse in private.

“Today was a chance for us to come together and for me to be able to hear from the clergy of the diocese and for them to be able to hear from me,” Love said. “It gave us an opportunity to come together as brothers and sisters of Christ and just say, ‘OK, this is what was put before us,’ and to figure out how best to be faithful to the lord and work through these issues.”

Love said the meeting was held in an executive session but a press release on the generalities of the discussion will be put out soon…

Update

Episcopal Café has published the full text of a letter from Bishop Love: Albany clergy meet… no defined path forward yet.

…As I mentioned in my letter of invitation to the clergy, the purpose of the meeting was NOT for me to issue a proclamation at that time on how B012 will be carried out in the Diocese of Albany, but rather for me to share with them some of my thoughts regarding B012; to clarify my understanding of what it does and doesn’t say; and to give me a chance to listen to the thoughts and concerns of the clergy.

Ultimately, as the Bishop, I will make a decision regarding my response to B012 and how it will be dealt with in the Diocese of Albany. That decision will be made thoughtfully and prayerfully and will be openly shared with the whole Diocese prior to December 2 nd .

While, I know there are some who would like me to simply say today what I am going to do, it is not simply a matter of being for or against same-sex marriage. As a result of the complexity of B012, there are a multitude of implications not only for same-sex couples wishing to be married in their home parish, but also for the clergy and parishes involved; for my role and ministry as Bishop; for the Diocese of Albany and its relationship with the wider Anglican Communion and body of Christ.

Whatever decision I and or the rest of the Church make regarding B012, there will be consequences. There is no escaping that. My ultimate desire as your Bishop, is to be faithful and obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ, discerning not my will, but His will in knowing how best to lead the Diocese of Albany in such a way that He will be glorified and His Church and people be blessed. Please keep me and our Diocese in your prayers.

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