Thinking Anglicans

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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New Archbishop of Wales elected

From the website of the Church in Wales

New Archbishop of Wales elected

A new Archbishop of Wales has been elected today (September 6).

John Davies, who has served as the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon for the past nine years, has been chosen as the 13th Archbishop of Wales.

He succeeds Dr Barry Morgan who retired in January after 14 years as the leader of the Church in Wales. His election is also historic as this is the first time a Bishop of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon has been elected as Archbishop of Wales.

Archbishop John was elected having secured a two-thirds majority vote from members of the Electoral College on the first second day of its meeting at Holy Trinity Church, Llandrindod Wells. The election was immediately confirmed by the five other diocesan bishops and announced at the door of the church by the Provincial Secretary of the Church in Wales, Simon Lloyd. Archbishop John will be enthroned at Brecon cathedral in due course.

He said, “I am overwhelmed and humbled. I would like to thank members of the College and especially my fellow bishops for the confidence and trust they have shown in me. We will work together as a team to grow and strengthen the Church as it serves the communities of Wales and helps build the kingdom of God.”

The Dean of Brecon, Dr Paul Shackerley welcomed the news on behalf of the Diocese. He said, “I am delighted with the news that Bishop John has been called to be our next Archbishop. He has proven gifts and experience to lead the Church into the future and will receive our full support and prayers he prepares to exercise his weighty, yet joyful, archiepiscopal ministry. I feel the future of the Church in Wales is in good hands with all our faithful Bishops, to lead us with hope into the future that we may flourish and serve the communities in which we are called.”

The Election process

(more…)

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British Anglicans meet to plan ‘faithful ecclesial future’

An open letter has been published on Anglican Mainstream by a number of clergy and laity. The full text and list of signatures is copied below the fold.

(more…)

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Welsh bishops' correspondence about See of Llandaff revealed

The Church Times reports a further development in the saga surrounding the choice of a new Bishop of Llandaff: Emails reveal Welsh Bishops’ anxieties over potential appointment of gay dean Jeffrey John .

We reported on earlier episodes of this matter from 24 February onwards, most easily found by using this link.

The letter from the Welsh bishops objecting to the earlier leader in the Church Times criticising them can be found here.

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Bishop of Llandaff: June Osborne

Church in Wales press release

New Bishop of Llandaff appointed

One of the most senior and experienced church leaders in the UK will be the next Bishop of Llandaff.

June Osborne, who has served as Dean of Salisbury for the past 13 years, has been chosen as the 72nd Bishop of Llandaff, a diocese which serves most of Cardiff, the South Wales Valleys and the Vale of Glamorgan.

A ground-breaking figure in the Church of England, Dean June was the first female Dean to be appointed to a medieval cathedral, having served as Salisbury Cathedral’s Canon Treasurer for nearly 10 years. She has been active in the national life of the Church of England, serving for many years on General Synod’s Standing Committee, including sitting on the Panel of Chairs.

The announcement was made today (April 27) by the Church in Wales Bishops who became responsible for the Bishop of Llandaff appointment when no candidate nominated at the Electoral College in February secured enough votes for election.

The appointment will be confirmed on July 14 at a meeting of the Sacred Synod of Church in Wales Bishops in Brecon Cathedral where Dean June will be consecrated as Bishop the following day (July 15). She will be enthroned at Llandaff Cathedral on July 22.

Welcoming her appointment, the Church’s Senior Bishop, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies, said, “In June Osborne, both the Church in Wales and the Diocese of Llandaff will find themselves to be richly blessed. June’s track record admirably demonstrates her passion for Christian ministry modelled on the Gospel imperatives of love, justice, inclusivity and openness. All of these are qualities which I and my fellow bishops warmly support and welcome. She is known as a leader with clear vision, a pastoral heart and a strategic mind, all of which commend the Church to the wider community. In this way and through her teaching, her preaching and her leadership, she reveals herself to be someone who I am confident will provide for the Diocese of Llandaff excellence in leadership and oversight. I look forward, with keen anticipation, to her arrival amongst us and to her contributions to the work of the Bench of Bishops.”

Dean June, said, “It is a very great privilege to be nominated as Bishop of Llandaff, an ancient post with many noble predecessors. It will be something of a homecoming for the family, particularly because my husband is from Cardiff and it is a place we know and love.

“Leading a diocese that is so diverse, in an area that is both historic and beautiful, will be challenging but I have an enormous appetite for the task and am deeply honoured to have the opportunity to join a diocesan team which is strong and imaginative. These are turbulent times across the world and the need for faith, and for the confident, distinctive leadership of the Church has never been more important.

“I will, of course, be sad to say goodbye to Salisbury. It has been my home, both spiritually and as a family, for over two decades. I have been surrounded by wonderful colleagues, staff and volunteers, who have made my job a joyful undertaking. It has been a great pleasure to witness how the Cathedral has developed and flourished over the years and to have shared our wonderful Magna Carta 800 celebrations. I am immensely proud of what has been achieved here and wish all at the Cathedral and its diocese well in the years to come.”

The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, described June as an “outstanding Dean”. He said, “June Osborne is one of the Church of England’s leading clerics. For the last 13 years she has been an outstanding Dean of Salisbury. She has made significant contributions to the wider Church of England including helping to organise the Leading Women group which has been massively influential in growing women into positions of leadership in the Church. I am delighted she has been appointed Bishop of Llandaff. The whole of the Diocese of Salisbury will join me in giving thanks for the enormous contribution she has made to this Diocese where she has served for 22 years. We wish her well as Bishop of Llandaff and pray for her and her family as they prepare for all that lies ahead.”

One of the first women to be ordained as a priest in England in 1994, having been a Deaconess since 1980, Dean June’s ministry has been characterised by her passion for equality and diversity and she was a founder of the Church’s Leading Women programme.

She is also deeply concerned about global poverty and has worked with the Episcopal Church of the Sudan on health, theological education and advocacy. She continues to play a key role in the Anglican Communion’s commitment to implementing the Millennium Development Goals, and is a member of the Government’s Advisory Panel for the Commemoration of WW1.

Dean June will celebrate her final Sunday at Salisbury Cathedral on July 9.

BACKGROUND

A graduate in Social Sciences from Manchester University, Dean June trained for ministry at St John’s College, Nottingham and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. She was made a Deaconess in 1980 and served at St Martin-in-the-Bullring in Birmingham before moving to the Old Ford parishes in East London in 1984. Following her ordination as a priest she served as Canon Treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral and was Acting Dean of Salisbury for two years before being appointed Dean in 2004.

In her time at Salisbury, Dean June has overseen the majority of the Cathedral’s 30-year Major Repair Programme of essential work to restore the fabric of the Cathedral and safeguard it for the future. As Canon Treasurer and Dean she was instrumental in the commissioning of Salisbury Cathedral’s much-loved and admired William Pye font. In a Cathedral that has often been pioneering and had already establish the first girls’ choir in an English cathedral, she championed the installation of the girl Chorister Bishop in 2015, another historic first for the Cathedral. She played a significant role in the Magna Carta 800 celebrations two years ago, enjoying the huge range of events delivered by the Cathedral during that year. She has also been a deputy lieutenant of Wiltshire.

Dean June is married to barrister Paul Goulding QC and they have two children, Megan and Tom. Her interests include the arts and football. A lifelong supporter of Manchester City, she is looking forward to adding rugby to her portfolio of interests.

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Complaints regarding Llandaff electoral college are rejected

Updated Saturday morning

The Church in Wales has issued a “further statement” today (scroll down):

Further statement – March 31

The Church’s Legal Subcommittee has advised that three complaints received about the election and appointment process of the Bishop of Llandaff are without merit and that the Bishops should proceed to fill the vacancy.

In a 16-page document, the members of the subcommittee, chaired by His Honour Judge Andrew Keyser QC, concluded:

“All three Complaints are without merit. The proper course is for the Bishops to proceed to fill the vacancy in accordance with Regulation 23 and the exercise of their own judgment.”

Responding to the advice, the Provincial Secretary of the Church in Wales, Simon Lloyd, said, “I am very grateful to the legal subcommittee for their thorough and prompt examination of the complaints received about the election and appointment process of the Bishop of Llandaff. I can now confirm that proper procedure has been followed and there are no grounds for the complaints submitted. This means the Bench of Bishops can continue its task of appointing the new bishop without further delay.”

The 16 page document includes full details of all three complaints which have been considered. Further information from the report is copied below the fold.

Update
The bench of bishops also wrote a very very cross letter to the editor of the Church Times, in response to last week’s leader comment, which you can (and really should) read in full here.

There’s also a second letter below the first, from retired archbishop Barry Morgan. He’s cross too.

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Llandaff: formal complaint filed

Updated Friday

Harry Farley at Christian Today reports: Church investigates official complaints into homophobia against gay cleric.

Insiders have lodged an official complaint after a gay cleric was barred from being appointed Bishop of Llandaff.

Five members of the Church in Wales’ secretive electoral college that debates and votes for candidates have spoken of ‘deeply inappropriate’ references to Dr Jeffrey John’s homosexuality when considering his nomination, Christian Today can reveal.

In a letter to the Church’s most senior executive Simon Lloyd, the electors said the remarks against Dr John ‘prejudiced’ the process making it ‘invalid’.

A formal investigation has now been launched into the process and a legal panel chaired by a judge will decide whether to scrap the decision not to take Dr John’s nomination forward…

The exact wording of the complaint, as reported on Facebook, is as follows:

“We object to the raising at electoral college of the matter of sexuality or civil partnership status, in direct contravention of the Church in Wales’s own policy that sexuality or civil partnership status is not a bar to appointment as a Bishop.
We consider that this action was deeply inappropriate, and prejudiced the electoral college proceedings so as to render them invalid.”

The Church in Wales has issued the following statement (though not issued as a press release):

“Five members of the Electoral College, which was assembled to elect the Bishop of Llandaff in February, have now submitted a complaint to the Secretary of the Electoral College. Their complaint is in relation to certain aspects of the conduct of the College. This matter has now been referred to the Legal Sub-Committee, which is a body in the Church in Wales assembled to consider legal and governance matters.

“The responsibility of appointing the next Bishop of Llandaff has passed to the Bench of Bishops. It is too early to say whether the deliberations of the Legal Sub Committee will have any effect on the timing of an announcement.”

Update
A second formal complaint has been filed, see Second complaint over ‘abusive and derogatory’ comments against gay cleric as pressure builds on Church in Wales.

bq,, …Now four senior members from the decision-making standing committee in Llandaff have filed an official complaint after allegations of homophobic remarks against Dr John during the election process were revealed by Christian Today.

The comments were ‘abusive and derogatory, demeaning their relationship and sexuality’ and went unchecked by the body’s chair, a source told Christian Today…

…Asked about the complaint a Church spokeswoman confirmed: ‘We have received a complaint from four members of the Standing Committee of the Llandaff Diocesan Conference. The complaint is not on behalf of the Standing Committee.

‘It has been referred to the Legal Sub Committee which is a body in the Church in Wales assembled to consider legal and governance matters.

‘It is too early to say whether the deliberations of the Legal Sub Committee will have any effect on the timing of an announcement.’

There is also a discussion of all this by Philip Jones Electing the Bishop of Llandaff: Propriety and Privacy.

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Church Times on See of Llandaff

Updated again Sunday morning (scroll down)

Today’s Church Times carries another version of the news report linked previously: MPs join row over Llandaff election.

This includes a sidebar (scroll down) which reports that the Assistant Bishop of Llandaff, David Wilbourne, is under pressure to resign:

Pressure on Bishop.
IN THE midst of the row over Dr John, the Assistant Bishop of Llandaff, the Rt Revd David Wil­bourne, has spoken of a cam­paign to force him to resign.

Bishop Wilbourne (pictured, at a con­­­­­­­­firma­tion in Cardiff last weekend) was appointed eight years ago to help run the diocese in order to release the then Bishop of Llandaff, Dr Barry Morgan, to spend time on his duties as Archbishop of Wales. Archbishop Morgan retired at the end of January.

Speaking to the Church Times this week, Bishop Wilbourne said: “Over the past 18 months, I have been under considerable and in­­creas­ing pressure to relinquish my post and leave Wales.” In one recent con­versa­tion, he had been strongly ad­­vised to resign before Easter.

He said: “Whilst I can fully see that the next Bishop of Llandaff deserves the space to be their own person, for the moment I remain upbeat about serving in this thriving diocese, and carrying out the role I was called here and consecrated to fulfil.”

Bishop Wilbourne’s open support for Dr John’s candidacy has not im­­proved his prospects. He said this week: “Ever since I knew that Jeffrey was in the frame for Llandaff, I thought it would speak mountains about our policy of inclusion. Wales has led on that; so I can’t under­­stand why the Bishops aren’t of the same mind.”

After the electoral college ended, Bishop Wilbourne organised a prayer vigil in Llandaff Cathedral. He described it as “the most remarkable of my ministry”.

There is a leader article, which can be read in full here. It concludes this way:

…Can the situation be rescued with any scrap of dignity? Only if the bench acknowledges the huge injustice perpetrated against a candidate who fulfils all the criteria for the post, and who convinced the diocesan representatives who interviewed him at length that he would bring wisdom, kindness, theological sensitivity, sound teaching, and good humour to the post. Among the “current challenges” listed on the diocesan profile is: “to increase the representation and inclusion of LGBTI, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Anglicans as an essential element of growth at all levels within the Church”. If Dr John is not reconsidered, this is a challenge that the Church in Wales has clearly failed.

Update

Here is the text of a resignation statement from Bishop David Wilbourne dated yesterday.

Statement by Bishop David Wilbourne

It has been the greatest privilege to be Assistant Bishop of Llandaff these past eight years, a diocese which serves the beating heart of South Wales, teaming with life and hope. It has also been the greatest privilege to have worked with Dr Barry Morgan, the former Archbishop of Wales, and share in his very personable ministry, whose hallmark has been a remarkable reaching out to the lost and forsaken and those on the margins of society, making them feel truly welcome in the name of Christ.
Though the weeks since Dr Morgan retired have been full and fulfilling, increasingly I realise it is time to hand over the baton to the newly appointed Bishop of Llandaff, so he or she can run free, enabling the Church which I have cherished these past years to flourish. I therefore intend to finish my time as Assistant Bishop on Easter Day 2017, just before the Sacred Synod approves our new bishop. I do so with the greatest gratitude for all the faithful parish priests and people here, whose marvellous ministry I am daily humbled by. I pray that you are given the bishop you so richly deserve, one who, in the words of Cardinal Basil Hume, simply comes to where people are and takes them to places they never dreamt of going.
One of my favourite novels is Trollope’s The Warden. Mr Harding finishes his time as Warden of Hiram’s hospital with these words, which I would like to make my own: ‘God bless you all! You have my heartfelt wishes for your welfare. I hope you may live contented, and die trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, thankful to Almighty God for all the good things he has given you.’

23 March 2017

And here is the official announcement about Bishop Wilbourne.

Sunday morning update

The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon was interviewed in this morning’s episode of Sunday on BBC Radio 4. Listen here, starting at 22 minutes.

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Church in Wales issues further statement about Llandaff

Updated again Thursday evening

This has been issued today:

Bishop of Llandaff appointment – statement

In response to further questions about the recent Electoral College for the Bishop of Llandaff , the Church in Wales has issued the following statement:

“We understand the disappointment felt by all the candidates considered by the Electoral College who did not secure enough support to be elected as Bishop of Llandaff. However we are satisfied that the Electoral College process was carried out properly and fairly.

“The meeting was confidential and we will not comment on speculation about the nomination and discussion of candidates. However, we strongly deny allegations of homophobia in the process. Neither homosexuality nor participation in a civil partnership are a bar to any candidate being either nominated or elected as a Bishop in the Church in Wales. Moreover, this was made clear to members of the Electoral College by its President, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon.

“The Constitution of the Church in Wales requires that an electoral college meets for up to three days and that if the college fails to elect, the decision passes to the Bench of Bishops. The Bishops are now acting carefully in full accordance with the Constitution. Unlike the Electoral College process, there is no fixed timetable for an appointment process, however, the Bishops would wish to announce any appointment made as soon as all necessary formalities are finalised. The appointment process is underway and we see no reason to halt it.

“The Bishops have stressed during the whole process that whoever becomes Bishop of Llandaff, whatever their circumstances, will receive their full support.”

More information: the previous statement is here.

Updates
Some further coverage of this matter:

Church Times Reconsider Jeffrey John, Welsh MPs tell Bishops

Guardian Gay clergyman turned down as Welsh bishop ‘blocked twice before’

Christian Today Welsh MPs blast Church over ‘homophobic’ treatment of gay cleric Jeffrey John and More calls for Welsh church to make Jeffrey John a bishop

And there was a open letter to the Welsh bishops from Changing Attitude Cymru which we failed to spot earlier.

And statements from the chapters of St Albans Cathedral and Ely Cathedral.

And Southwark Cathedral.

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Welsh MPs write to the Bishops of the Church in Wales

The following letter has been sent to the Bishops by Members of Parliament from South Wales constituencies.

Dear Bishops

Election of a Bishop of Llandaff

It is with some reluctance and regret that we find ourselves needing to place our concerns relating to recent events within the Church in Wales on the public record.

We had heard from many quarters of concerns and allegations relating to homophobic comments made during the election process for the appointment of a Bishop of Llandaff.

We are aware that neither homosexuality nor civil partnership are a bar to appointment within the Church in Wales. We are strongly of the opinion that leadership, scholarship, compassion and communication skills are the primary qualifications for the tasks facing a Bishop in Wales.

We are sorry to hear the allegations, the distress and the acrimony recent events surrounding the appointment of a new Bishop of Llandaff have created within the Church.

We are of the opinion that ‘exhaustion’ cannot be acceptable as a reason not to appoint someone eminently qualified and what we are informed was the unanimous choice of the electors of Llandaff.

We feel that the present process has been flawed and has let to considerable disharmony, anger and confusion. We respectfully recommend that there is a pause in the appointment process to allow emotions to cool and sound council to be heard. It would then appear appropriate that a new election is called, open to past and new candidates to apply and an open and transparent decision be made. There is now a need for healing and rebuilding of trust and confidence in the legality and moral leadership of the appointment of a much needed new Bishop of Llandaff and we hope this will soon be possible.

Yours

Madeleine Moon MP Bridgend

Co signatures
Stephen Doughty MP (MP for Cardiff South and Penarth)
Carolyn Harris MP (MP for Swansea East)
Nia Griffiths MP (MP for Llanelli)
Chris Elmore MP (MP for Ogmore)
Chris Bryant MP (MP for Rhondda)
Chris Evans MP (MP for Islwyn)
Wayne David MP (MP for Caerphilly)
Gerald Jones MP (MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney)

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OneBodyOneFaith writes to the Welsh bishops

The Chair of the Board of OneBodyOneFaith, Jeremy Pemberton, and Chief Executive Tracey Byrne have written an open letter to the bishops of Swansea and Brecon, Bangor, St Asaph, Monnmouth and St David’s regarding the process of appointing a new bishop to the diocese of Llandaff. The text of the letter is as follows:

An Open Letter to the Bishops of the Church in Wales

Dear Bishop X,

OneBodyOneFaith this morning published our concerns about the way the process to appoint a bishop for the See of Llandaff has been handled. The confidentiality of your processes has been blown open in a way that is very uncomfortable for you.

Jeffrey John has accused you collectively of not following due process in the way you have treated his candidature; of using his supposed notoriety, his sexuality and his relationship as an excuse for not appointing him. It is more difficult to fathom why you have acted in this way when three factors are taken into account: first, that he fulfilled the requirements of the Church in Wales in relation to the status and nature of his relationship. Secondly, that in the only other case of an appointment after a deadlocked Electoral College, the candidate appointed was arguably just as controversial as Jeffrey John. Lastly, the reported unanimity of the Llandaff electors is a strong indication of what they wish to happen.

We are very concerned that in your management of this situation you are repeating the mistakes that the Church of England has made over GS2055 and the See of Sheffield (for very different reasons). Those examples demonstrate starkly that the churches need bishops in whose leadership people can feel confident – regardless of the process for their appointment. As a candidate, Jeffrey John displays the integrity required in offering such leadership and had strong local support; it is a tragedy your people have been denied that opportunity. With the choices you have made, you risk weakening the authority of your personal and your collective episcopal office if people do not believe that there has been fair treatment or integrity in this process.

The dissonance between the views of individual bishops and their actions collectively is at best puzzling and at worst unhealthy for them, and for the church. That this should be manifest in such a small group of bishops as the Welsh bench is undermining not only of your authority, but also of your work in your dioceses. False collegiality militates against accountability and transparency. For example, the Bishop of St Asaph has recently established and endorsed an excellent initiative to support LGBT people though a dedicated chaplaincy. This now appears patronising, if he continues to be unwilling to challenge the collective structural homophobia of the bench of which he is a part. Again, the Statement from the bishops last April, which struck a notably positive note for LGBT people and assured them of work to make the Church in Wales a safe place, and which offered prayers for same-sex couples, is seriously compromised by your actions over the last few weeks.

Finally, we are very struck by the comment made by one of your number in a phone call to Jeffrey John on March 3rd that you are collectively “just too exhausted” to deal with the problems you believe his appointment would cause. If the bishops are ‘exhausted’ by this process, consider how much more so those many LGBT people who have been working for inclusion for decades. It seems quite remarkable that a bench of five people, none of whom has been in office more than nine years, would find this task beyond them. It is entirely unacceptable to problematise a gay man in the way you have. Indeed, it is an insult to him and to every other LGBT+ person in your church. We are not problems, we are part of the body of Christ and deserve to treated with dignity, and to be seen as a gift. The capacity of churches to throw talent away because it doesn’t come packaged in easily manageable forms is not a reason to discard both the gift and the bearer of the gift, nor does it make that an acceptable policy option. This issue is not one of energy or enthusiasm, but one of integrity, commitment and obedience to the Spirit.

For the health of your church and the recovery of confidence in leadership that is needed, and for the sake of the mission of God in Wales, we urge you to think again, halt the appointment process, review all that has happened, reconsider the candidates from the electoral process heeding the voices of the people of Llandaff, the standing of the bench of Bishops with the people of the Church in Wales, and how the church you lead is presently perceived by the wider public.

Yours in faith and hope,

Tracey Byrne, CEO
Jeremy Pemberton, Chair
for the Board of
OneBodyOneFaith

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OneBodyOneFaith writes about the See of Llandaff

Dean Jeffrey John and the Bishops of the Church in Wales

As an ecumenical organisation OneBodyOneFaith surveys the actions of all the churches in the UK in relation to their policies and practices with regards to LGBTI people. The Church in Wales is engaged in the process of replacing the Bishop of Llandaff, following the retirement of the previous bishop, Barry Morgan. The election process failed to produce a clear result, no candidate achieving a two-thirds majority of the electoral college in the time set. This means that the process now becomes an appointment process without a specified time scale, in the hands of the bishops of that church, in consultation with other designated representatives from the diocese in question and the other dioceses.

What has happened is that one of the members of the Electoral College broke the confidentiality of the meeting and let it be known that the Dean of St Albans, Jeffrey John, who is in a civil partnership, had attracted over half of the Electoral College vote, but failed to meet the two-thirds majority required by, it is alleged, only two votes. The electors from the diocese in question, Llandaff, had unanimously backed Jeffrey John.

OneBodyOneFaith commends the individual who had the courage to break confidence on this occasion, and Dean John in publishing his letter. Far from showing a lack of integrity or faith in the process, what they have exposed is just the tiny tip of an iceberg in terms of injustices which are meted out to ‘rank and file’ LGBTI+ people by bishops on a weekly basis, behind closed doors, and under the cloak of ‘confidentiality’. Such behaviour – lack of accountability and transparency – is shameful and homophobic. It does not belong in the processes of any organisation and certainly not a Christian church.

There has only ever been one other occasion on which an Electoral College has failed to make a choice. This was in 2004 when Tony Crockett failed to receive a two-thirds majority for his election as Bishop of Bangor. He was a divorced and remarried man, and notwithstanding the controversy that this provoked, the bishops went ahead and appointed him almost immediately. He proved to be a faithful, popular and successful bishop, sadly dying in post only four years later.

It now appears that the bishops of the Church in Wales have decided to omit Jeffrey John from the short-list for the appointment process, notwithstanding the precedent set in 2004 and his popularity in the diocese. In the published notice about the appointment process there is no mention at all that previous candidates for election will be excluded from further consideration. Jeffrey John has now published his response to a letter from the Chair of the College of Bishops, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies. Bishop Davies’s original letter has also now been published on the internet.

In his letter, Jeffrey John accuses the bishops of anti-gay discrimination. Despite declaring that being gay and in a civil partnership is no bar to appointment, he claims that they have decided to bar his candidature on precisely and specifically those grounds, in contravention of their own rules.

It appears that they told him that they were ‘just too exhausted’ to deal with the problems that they believed his appointment would cause. There is no evidence of any problems being caused by his candidature, and no reason to think that it would cause any particular problems as Jeffrey’s personal relationship falls within the permitted guidelines. A divorced and remarried man they appointed immediately, a gay man in a relationship they exclude.

The bishops’ behaviour is a very clear example of the instability and inconsistency of the institutional practices of this Anglican church in the way it treats LGBTQ+ people. The open integrity of Jeffrey John causes them more psychological disturbance than gay clergy who are closeted or semi-closeted, certainly far more than a heterosexual man who was divorced and remarried, and they have been unable to act with professional and pastoral integrity themselves. Despite their own published codes relating to this matter, they cannot manage the stress. The consequence is unjust and discriminatory behaviour. It is the kind of tension and response that is well-described in a recent article in Theology, Ledbetter, Charles, Sexuality and informal authority in the Church of England, Theology 2017. Vol. 120(2) 112-121.

OneBodyOneFaith makes an urgent call to the Bishops of the Church in Wales to think again. It is vital for the good health of their church that they re-establish confidence in their leadership and the credibility of the election/appointment process. With this in mind, we ask them:

  • To undertake a full enquiry into all the processes in this case before proceeding any further with an appointment
  • Not to exclude any previous candidates from further consideration, as they gave no notice of this
  • To follow the precedent of their church established in 2004 in appointing a bishop after a failed election, having regard to the support a particular candidate attracted in the diocese in question
  • To abide by their own guidelines regarding candidates who are gay and in civil partnerships
  • To apologise publicly to Jeffrey John for homophobic remarks and attitudes, and
  • To listen to the voices of the people of the diocese of Llandaff and the Church in Wales

Jeremy Pemberton
For the Board of
OneBodyOneFaith

Monday 20th March 2017

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Llandaff: letter from Dean of St Albans

Updated again Monday afternoon

A letter has been made public today (Sunday) by the Dean of St Albans, Dr Jeffrey John. It has already appeared in numerous places on social media, and has been reported on by Christian Today:

Harry Farley Gay cleric Jeffrey John speaks out: My homosexuality was the only reason I was blocked as Bishop of Llandaff

And also on the BBC Callum May ‘Homophobia’ row over Bishop of Llandaff selection

Harriet Sherwood at the Guardian has Anglican clergyman accuses Church in Wales of homophobia.

The full text of the letter can be read here.

Readers may care to refer to this earlier article: Church in Wales publishes pastoral letter, authorises prayers for same sex couples.

Updates

Readers may also care to refer to the Llandaff diocesan profile, available here. And the provincial perspective, over here.

The Church Times has published a very detailed report by Madeleine Davies Jeffrey John replies to exclusion from Llandaff: ‘This is how discrimination works’. This includes a statement from the Church in Wales which says:

“The Bishops strongly deny allegations of homophobia.”

Wales Online has The furious letter a gay cleric sent to Welsh bishops after they refused him a top post.

The Guardian has a second article: Church in Wales urged to rethink rejection of gay candidate for bishop

The BBC has Bishop of Llandaff sexuality row ‘wholly wrong’.

And Harry Farley at Christian Today has a further article: Jeffrey John: Pressure mounts on Church in Wales after allegations of homophobia.

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More about choosing a new Bishop of Llandaff

See earlier report here.

Today, this press release was issued: Bishop of Llandaff – appointment process

The Church in Wales’ bishops will consult on candidates for the next Bishop of Llandaff before meeting on March 14-16.

They will consult with members of diocesan bodies who will be invited to suggest names for the bishops to consider at the meeting.

The See of Llandaff has been vacant since the retirement of Dr Barry Morgan, who was also Archbishop of Wales, at the end of January.

A full statement follows:

APPOINTMENT OF A BISHOP OF LLANDAFF

At a meeting of the Electoral College of the Church in Wales held from February 21st to 23rd, no candidate nominated received the necessary two-thirds of the votes cast to be declared Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Llandaff.

Under the provisions of the Constitution of the Church in Wales, the right to fill the vacancy has passed to the Bench of Bishops, and the Bishop of Swansea & Brecon, as the Senior Bishop and President of the Electoral College, has determined that there should be a process of consultation before names for possible appointment are considered. The consultation is intended to focus upon the ongoing and future needs of the Diocese of Llandaff and its communities and the needs of the wider church in the life of which a new Bishop will also have an important role. Those consulted will be invited to suggest names of individuals who might be considered suitable for appointment as Bishop of Llandaff, and names must be suggested in time for the next meeting of Bishops which begins on March 14th.

In the Diocese of Llandaff those being consulted are:
1. Members of the Electoral College
2. Members of the Diocesan Standing Committee
3. The Area Deans

In the remaining five Dioceses, Bishops are consulting:
1. The members of the Electoral College
2. Members of the Diocesan Standing Committee

In addition to those being directly consulted, others may send (brief) E-mails to their Diocesan Bishop (please send them to Bishop John for the Diocese of Llandaff).

When they meet, the Bishops will consider all the names suggested to them as potential candidates for appointment in the hope that a suitable candidate can be identified. Unlike the Electoral College process, there is no fixed timetable for an appointment process. However, the Bishops would wish to announce any appointment made as soon as all necessary formalities are finalised.

The Bishops continue to ask for the prayers of the church both for the Diocese of Llandaff and for their own work as they continue to discharge their responsibility for discerning the person whom they believe will serve not only the Diocese of Llandaff but also the wider church in the office of Bishop.

Please note that the Llandaff Diocesan Profile and Person Specification for Bishop of Llandaff, and a note on the provincial perspective, may be found at:

http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/resources/electoral-college/

Earlier today, a question was asked in the House of Commons about this election:

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)

But discretion is not always good in the Church, is it? Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, has been barred from becoming a bishop in the Church in Wales, which I know is separate from the Church of England, because the other bishops have refused to do what they have done in every other case—accept what the members of the local diocese have wanted.

Dame Caroline Spelman

I am not responsible for the Church of Wales—[Interruption]—because I am responsible for the Church of England. However, I appreciate the point the hon. Gentleman is trying to make. This is a really serious matter, and we should heed what the Archbishop of Canterbury, as the head of the Anglican communion, said about the need to have radical Christian inclusivity. The Church of England is working within the current legal and doctrinal context towards a culture change that is inclusive.

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Church in Wales fails to agree on a new bishop for Llandaff

The official Church in Wales statement: No result from the Bishop of Llandaff election.

After a three-day meeting of the Church in Wales’ Electoral College to elect a Bishop of Llandaff, none of the candidates considered received the number of votes required for election – a two-thirds majority.

The business of the College was rooted in prayer, worship and quiet reflection, as well as open and friendly debate and discussion.

Under the terms of the Constitution of the Church in Wales the responsibility of filling the vacancy falls to the Bench of Bishops.

The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies, who is President of the Electoral College, said the process leading up to an eventual appointment would include a wide-ranging consultation of both the laity and the clergy from across the Church in Wales.

Harry Farley at Christian Today has a more detailed report: Leading Gay Cleric Jeffrey John Narrowly Rejected As Bishop In Wales.

A leading gay cleric has narrowly missed out on becoming a bishop after his appointment was rejected for the fourth time.

Very Rev Jeffrey John, who has twice been turned down for senior roles over his sexuality, was in the running to be Bishop of Llandaff, Christian Today understands.

But despite winning support from more than half of the nominating body, he just missed on the two-thirds majority required.

Christian Today understands Dr John’s long-term civil partnership with Grant Holmes, another Anglican priest, was a factor in his rejection by traditionalists.

After three days of discussions the electoral body of 47 people, made up of locals from the diocese, bishops and the official nomination committee, failed to agree on any candidate. The final decision will now be down to senior bishops despite Dr John winning strong support among electors in the mainly Anglo-Catholic region of Llandaff.

Neither the Church in Wales nor the Church of England are opposed to clergy being in civil partnerships as long as they vow to remain sexually chaste, which Dr John has done.

Currently Dean of St Albans, Dr John was previously nominated to be Bishop of Reading in 2003 but was forced to withdraw himself under intense pressure from traditionalists.

He was later in the running for Bishop of Bangor in 2008 and then again for Bishop of Southwark in 2010 but was both times turned down with conservatives threatening a split in the Church.

But Dr John’s latest rejection to be Bishop of Llandaff is particularly striking because of the strong support he received among local clergy and parishioners in the largely liberal diocese…

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Bishop of St Davids: Joanna Penberthy elected

The Church in Wales has issued this press release today.

New bishop of St Davids elected

History was made today as the Church in Wales elected its first woman bishop.

Canon Joanna Penberthy was elected as the 129th Bishop of St Davids having secured the necessary two-thirds majority vote from members of the Electoral College which has been meeting behind locked doors at St Davids Cathedral since Tuesday morning.

The announcement was made by the Archbishop of Wales at the West door on Wednesday at 1pm.
Canon Joanna, 56, was one of the first women to be ordained as a priest in Wales in 1997 and is currently Rector of Glan Ithon, in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon in Llandrindod Wells.

The Archbishop, Dr Morgan, said, “This is an historic moment for the Church in Wales as it hasn’t been possible to elect a woman bishop until now. But what is really important to stress is that Joanna wasn’t elected because she was a woman but because she was deemed to be the best person to be a bishop. She has considerable gifts – she is an excellent preacher and communicator, can relate to all sections of the community, is a warm, charismatic, caring priest and someone who is full of joy.

“Joanna knows this diocese – she worked here for 11 years and was a Canon of this cathedral so she is on familiar territory. She has also worked in the dioceses of Llandaff and St Asaph and has been the Provincial evangelism officer so she knows the province intimately. She has also been serving in the diocese of Bath and Wells so she brings that experience too. The diocese of St Davids is enormously lucky to have her as its next bishop and I shall be absolutely delighted to consecrate her.”

Canon Jo said, “I am immensely humbled and honoured at the trust that has been placed in me. I am very much looking forward to returning to St Davids and serving God’s people as their Bishop.”

Canon Jo will be Bishop Elect until the appointment is formally confirmed by the Archbishop at a Sacred Synod service on November 30. She will then be consecrated as a bishop at Llandaff Cathedral – the seat of the current Archbishop of Wales – on January 21 and enthroned in St Davids Cathedral on February 11.

Canon Jo is married to Adrian.

The election follows the retirement of Wyn Evans, who served as Bishop of St Davids for eight years. St Davids diocese takes in the west Wales counties of Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

The Electoral College is made up of representatives from all six Welsh dioceses. The “home” diocese is represented by six lay people and six clergy, and the other five dioceses by three lay people and three clergy each, plus the five remaining Bishops.

Its discussions are confidential. Candidates for election are nominated at the meeting, discussed and voted on by ballot. Any candidate receiving two-thirds of the votes of those present is declared Bishop-Elect.

ACNS has this: Church in Wales appoints first female bishop

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Holy Communion in the Church in Wales to be open to all the baptised

The Bench of Bishops of the Church in Wales has announced that, with effect from Advent Sunday, everyone who has been baptised can participate fully in Holy Communion, regardless of their age or whether they have been confirmed.

The website of the diocese of St Davids states that “The news came in a Pastoral Letter handed out to members of the Governing Body at their meeting in Lampeter [15 September 2016] and was warmly and widely welcomed. Copies of the letter, together with guidance notes and practical advice for clergy and congregations, are being sent to all parishes.”

The letter can be viewed here, and I have put a transcript below the fold. There is also this theological background.

David Pocklington writes about this here for Law & Religion UK The comments there look at the potential implications for the Church of England whose Canon B15A states that:

1. There shall be admitted to the Holy Communion:
[…]
(b) baptized persons who are communicant members of other Churches which subscribe to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and who are in good standing in their own Church.

(more…)

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Archbishop of Wales speaks on Homosexuality

Archbishop Barry Morgan addressed the Governing Body of the Church in Wales today.

Press Release from the Church in Wales:

Studying the Bible in its full context can lead to a very different view of same-sex relationships than that traditionally held by the Church, the Archbishop of Wales said today (SEPT 14).

In his final address to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, responded to claims that he and his fellow bishops had been “swayed by the liberal culture of our age” and “ignored Holy Scripture” in issuing prayers earlier this year that could be said with same-sex couples following their civil partnership or marriage.

He showed how the Bible had more than one view on homosexuality, as well as other important issues, as the authors of its books developed and changed their opinions. To understand God’s will, he suggested, meant seeing the different views in the context of the Bible as a whole, and, in particular, the ministry of Jesus.

Dr Morgan, who will retire in January, said, “It absolutely will not do to quote texts from parts of the Bible in a simplistic way without reference to their contexts. One has to treat the Bible as a whole and discern, often through stories, the direction in which it is leading. Holy Scripture, in other words, contains not just ethical injunctions but stories, and stories convey truth about peoples’ understanding of God. After all, Jesus spent most of His life telling stories to get people to understand the nature and character of God.”

He compared biblical interpretations of same-sex relationships with those of slavery – a practice once defended by the Church. As opinions on that changed, he suggested, so may the Church’s view on same-sex relationships.

“In spite of all the passages in favour of slavery, when you examine the Scriptures as a whole and the ministry of Jesus in particular, you realise it is about freedom from all that diminishes and dehumanises people. No Christian I hope would today argue that slavery is good, but for nineteen centuries the Church accepted it and defended it. God through His Holy Spirit has led us into the truth of seeing things in a totally different way today and we are rightly horrified when we read about people who have been kept as slaves by others.

“What all this amounts to is that one cannot argue that there is one accepted traditional way of interpreting Scripture that is true and orthodox and all else is modern revisionism, culturally conditioned. Scripture itself is diverse and theological views held in some biblical books are reshaped in the light of experience by other writers….

“So taking the Bible as a whole and taking what it says very seriously may lead us into a very different view of same-sex relationships than the one traditionally upheld by the Church…..

“Given that each of the passages purported to be about homosexuality can be interpreted in more than one way, we come to the fundamental question as to whether taking the Bible as a whole, we can come to the same conclusions about committed, faithful, loving, same-sex relationships as we did about slavery.

“We are not thereby abandoning the Bible but trying to interpret it in a way that is consistent with the main thrust of the ministry of Jesus, who went out of His way to minister to those who were excluded, marginalised, and abandoned by His society because they were regarded as impure and unholy by the religious leaders of His day, either because of their gender, age, morality or sexuality. Taking Holy Scripture seriously means paying attention to Jesus’ ministry of inclusivity.”

The Archbishop concluded his address by quoting from a book edited by Andrew Davison, called Amazing Love:

“We are most truly ourselves when we live for others and we gain life not by clutching to it but by giving it away. Living for others underlines the truest meaning of sexuality. Christians have discovered that most people flourish best when this living for others finds its focus in a commitment to one other person: when a couple make a lifelong commitment within which sex properly belongs.”

He said, “Those of us who were or are married have found that to be the case. Why would we want to deny such a possibility for those who are attracted to their own gender?”

The full text of the address is available here.

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Archbishop of Wales to retire in January

Press release from the Church in Wales

Archbishop of Wales to retire in January

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, will retire next year after nearly 14 years at the helm of the Church in Wales and 24 years as a bishop.

Dr Morgan, who is the longest serving archbishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion and also one of the longest serving bishops, will retire on his 70th birthday at the end of January. He will also retire as Bishop of Llandaff after more than 17 years service, having previously been Bishop of Bangor for nearly seven years. He will continue his work and engagements in both roles as normal until then…

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Reflecting on the outcome of the EU Referendum

Updated again Monday afternoon

Following the initial flurry of statements from bishops, there have been several more reflective articles published by various people writing from a Christian perspective.

Anna Rowlands wrote The Fragility of Goodness: Brexit Viewed from the North East.

Nick Holtam wrote this on the Referendum Result.

Luke Bretherton wrote Brexit as Theodicy and Idolatry.

Angus Ritchie had Brexit: How can we reflect and respond?

Philip North has this in today’s Church Times: Northern foodbank Britain finds its voice

There is a lot more material in this week’s Church Times but it is behind the paywall. However, Andrew Lightbown discusses some of the points raised in his blog, entitled Bishop David Walker or Richard Lewis? Who is correct?

Michael Sadgrove has Brexit: An Open Letter to the Archbishops of the Church of England.

Earlier he had also written Brexit: how to go positively into exile and On Saying Farewell to the EU: the morning after.

Brian Castle wrote Brexit – Now is not the time for Reconciliation.

Updates

Martyn Percy has written a major essay which is summarised here: After Brexit – Can we find a broad and middle way? Senior cleric calls for new social-progressive political party and the full essay can be read by following that link.

Tanya Marlow has written Brexit, hate crime, fear: what’s the Christian response?

Bishops of the Lincoln diocese The EU Referendum: responding to the vote to leave

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