Thinking Anglicans

WATCH and the Five Guiding Principles

Women and the Church has published an introduction and guide to the Five Guiding Principles. The Guide and two supporting documents can be found here:

There is also an earlier document from the Diocese of Chelmsford which is recommended in the code of behaviour

There is a press release which explains the intention of these documents: WATCH Publish an introduction and guide to the Five Guiding Principles. This is copied below the fold. (more…)

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Church of England’s Anti-racism Taskforce launches

Church of England press release

A Taskforce set up to make bold changes to ensure greater racial equality in the Church of England has got under way, with the Archbishops of Canterbury and York joining its meeting today.

The Anti-Racism Taskforce will carry out preparatory work ahead of the launch of the Archbishops’ Commission to address racism in spring next year.

The nine members of the group will make recommendations for immediate action that can be taken by the Church of England to improve its record on racial justice and equality. They will also recommend the proposed remit and membership of the Commission.

Jointly chaired by Revd Sonia Barron, Director of Ordinands and Vocations for Lincoln Diocese, and Revd Arun Arora, a Vicar in the Diocese of Durham, the Taskforce is expected to complete its work by the end of January.

Revd Sonia Barron, Co-Chair of the Taskforce, and a former adviser to the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns, (CMEAC) said: “The Taskforce has been set up at a critical time in the history of the Church of England, with the Black Lives Matter movement pushing racial justice right up the agenda. The Church has an opportunity that it cannot afford to miss – we cannot just pay lip service to issues of racism as we have done for so long. It is vital that we listen to all the different voices out there and having listened, fulfil our mission as a Church, by taking appropriate action.”

Revd Arun Arora said: “For more than thirty years the Church of England has been talking about racism, making recommendations and passing resolutions. Despite this the Church remains a place which is poorer for the lack of participation of all God’s people in the fullness of its life together. The time has now come for urgent implementation and action. The purpose of the Taskforce and Commission will not be to produce more reports but rather to directly address the sin of racism and those impediments that prevent the Church from fulfilling its call so that racial justice is both done and is seen to be done.”

The Taskforce and Commission, a joint project by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, were announced earlier this year amid rising concern about insufficient progress towards racial justice, equality and inclusion within the Church of England.

There are five serving bishops from UK minority ethnic (UKME) backgrounds currently in the Church of England. But there are no diocesan bishops currently from UKME backgrounds, following the retirement earlier this year of the former Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

Fewer than four per cent of serving clergy identify as being from a UKME background, according to the latest statistics. One in 10 of the people recommended this year for training for ordained ministry in the Church of England were from UKME backgrounds.

The General Synod voted in February to apologise for racism experienced by UKME people in the Church of England since the arrival of the Windrush Generation.

Speaking to the General Synod, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said there was ‘no doubt’ that the Church of England was still ‘deeply institutionally racist’.

Notes to editors:

  • As part of its work, the Taskforce is examining more than 160 formal recommendations since 1985 on racial justice in the Church of England, the overwhelming majority made in reports from the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) and its predecessor, the Committee on Black Anglican Concerns.
  • One of the aims is to identify any recommendations which have not yet been implemented that could be put into force immediately.

Taskforce members:

  • Revd Arun Arora (Co-Chair), Vicar of St Nicholas, Durham.
  • Revd Sonia Barron (Co-Chair), Lincoln Diocesan Director of Ordinands and Vocations, former Adviser to Archbishops’ Council’s Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns.
  • Revd Dr Anderson Jeremiah, Lecturer, University of Lancaster, CMEAC member.
  • Annika Mathews, Lay Representative of the Church of England to the Churches Together England Enabling Group, former Church of England Youth Council member and Synod representative.
  • Joanna Moriarty, Partner (Charities and Social Enterprise) Green Park leadership and recruitment consultancy services.
  • Revd Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy, BAME Mission and Ministry Enabler (Leicester Diocese). CMEAC member.
  • Ben Nicholls, Youth worker at St Paul’s, Hammersmith.
  • Canon Dr Addy Lazz-Onyenobi, Deanery Lay Chair, Diocese of Manchester, CMEAC member and member of the Anglican Minority Ethnic Network (AMEN).
  • Ven Neil Warwick, Archdeacon of Bristol.
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Church Commissioners questions – Civil Partnerships

The new Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered questions from MPs in the House of Commons yesterday, on behalf of the Church Commissioners. There is a transcript of the questions and answers here. Questions were asked about LGBT+ equality, civil partnerships, church buildings, church schools and universities, HS2, and Christians in Nigeria.

Readers may be particularly interested in the question on Civil Partnerships.

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): Whether the Commissioners were consulted on recent guidance by the Church on civil partnerships; and if he will make a statement.

Andrew Selous: I am accountable for the Church of England in this place. The Church Commissioners are not consulted on announcements by the College of Bishops. The archbishops have since apologised for the division and hurt caused by the pastoral statement.

Mr Bradshaw: Regardless of that, I think it was discourteous of the bishops not to inform the Second Church Estates Commissioner. The legislation was passed overwhelmingly in this House with all-party support. It is bad enough that the Church still treats its LGBT+ members as second-class Christians, but to say to the child of a heterosexual couple in a civil partnership that they should not exist because their parents should not have had or be having sex is so hurtful. Will he tell the bishops that unless this nonsense stops serious questions will be asked in this place about the legitimacy of the established status of the Church of England?

Andrew Selous: I will certainly feed back the right hon. Gentleman’s strongly felt concern on this issue to the College of Bishops. In their apology, the archbishops did recognise that the pastoral statement had jeopardised the trust that has been built up as part of the Living in Love and Faith project, which is intended to discern the way forward for the Church of England on this issue.

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Responses to the Apology from the Archbishops

The original signatories of the Open Letter have issued this public response

“MORE THAN WORDS ARE NOW NEEDED” – RESPONSE TO THE ARCHBISHOPS’ APOLOGY

Whilst we are grateful for the Archbishops’ apology and the recognition that their statement has jeopardized our trust, the fact is more than words are now needed.

Over 3500 people have now signed our open letter, which includes nearly 90 members of General Synod and a range of other senior church leaders.  This shows the strength of concern that exists across the Church of England that its mission is being significantly damaged and that their promise of a “radical new Christian inclusion” must now be delivered.

We await the evidence that they have truly heard and taken onboard our concerns by what comes out in the Living in Love and Faith report, and the willingness to engage directly with those whose lives it primarily affects.

Christina Baron
Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain
Ven Peter Leonard
Jayne Ozanne

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Statement from the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England about the recent apology from the house of Bishops for their ‘Pastoral Statement on Same sex Civil Partnerships

We welcome the Archbishops’ apology and acknowledgement of the hurt & division their words have caused.
We regret that they have neither withdrawn their ill-advised Statement nor sought to amend its harsh and cruel wording. It still stands in its entirety as an attack on the integrity and lives of not just many in the LGBTI communities but also to the countless committed and faithful straight couples and lone parents raising children whose love and commitment they have disparaged.

We are disappointed that they do not address the undermining of the trust in their leadership and the Living in Love and Faith process that the release of the Statement has caused. Trust cannot be simply rebuilt by ignoring that reality. Bridges have to be built from both sides and the Statement released last week demolished the foundations on the Bishops’ side.

We had hoped that the Bishops might have learnt from this embarrassing experience but they appear not to have done so. We invite the Bishops to reach out and ask to meet with representatives of the LGBTI communities and sit down and ask how trust can be rebuilt. Telling us it will simply be so suggests that they are still unwilling to listen, unable to learn from this very public embarrassment and does nothing to inspire confidence for the future.

We would welcome an invitation to meet with the Bishops to discuss how that trust can be re-established.

Friday 31st January 2020

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At Via MediaGiles Goddard an LGBT member of the co-ordinating group for the Living in Love and Faith project has published After the Apology – What Next?

…I have heard a great deal of contrition from the College of Bishops and from the Archbishops and I am grateful for that. I hope it will help us to move on. But I also have a strong sense that the underlying causes for the publication of the Statement have only just begun to be addressed. I have had very recent conversations with bishops who remain dismayed by the Church’s way of being: still, deep down, dominated by a world-view which feels white, male and patriarchal in its teaching on sexuality and relationships. Women still find it hard to be heard. There is still a huge problem with BAME representation. There is only one out LGBTI+ bishop…

Do read it all.

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Archbishops apologise

Church of England Press release

Statement from Archbishop Justin and Archbishop Sentamu following the College of Bishops Meeting
30/01/2020

We as Archbishops, alongside the bishops of the Church of England, apologise and take responsibility for releasing a statement last week which we acknowledge has jeopardised trust. We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused.

At our meeting of the College of Bishops of the Church of England this week we continued our commitment to the Living in Love and Faith project which is about questions of human identity, sexuality and marriage. This process is intended to help us all to build bridges that will enable the difficult conversations that are necessary as, together, we discern the way forward for the Church of England.

In addition Martin Seeley, the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, has issued a message, copied below the fold, which includes the text “I and a number of my colleagues asked that the document be withdrawn, but this was decided against by the majority.”

(more…)

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Prolocutors respond to House of Bishops statement

Simon Butler and Chris Newlands, the prolocutors of Canterbury and York respectively in the General Synod, have made public the letter they have written to the archbishops. The full text of this is available here.

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Open letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York

In response to the recent House of Bishops statement on Civil Partnerships, an Open Letter has been published. If you are based in England or are part of the Diocese in Europe you are invited to sign.

Signatures can be added by going to this page.

The list of those who have already signed is over here.

The full text of the letter is

 Your Graces

We write to express our anger and disappointment regarding the recent House of Bishops ‘Pastoral Statement’ concerning Same Sex and Opposite Sex Civil Partnerships.

Since the public defeat of your ‘Marriage and Same Sex Relationships’ report to General Synod in 2017, we have waited for you to deliver on your promise of ‘a radical new Christian inclusion’.  We have been patient believing that nothing further would be said regarding sexuality and relationships until after the publication of the Living in Love and Faith report.  It seems our trust has been misplaced and we feel badly let down.

The pastoral statement makes clear there has been no desire to listen or learn from those of us who spoke to explain how offensive we found the tone of the House of Bishops’ previous document.  Indeed, the statement is anything but “pastoral”- it is cold, defensive, and uncaring of its impact on the millions of people it affects.

The Church of England has this week become a laughingstock to a nation that believes it is obsessed with sex.  More importantly this statement has significantly damaged the mission of the Church and it has broken the trust of those it seeks to serve.

We ask you to consider how we can, together, build a truly radically inclusive Christian Church.

Yours sincerely

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Responses to the House of Bishops statement

Updated again Sunday evening

Andrew Foreshew-Cain has written a detailed response to the document published on Wednesday. You can read it here.

Jeremy Pemberton has written this: Making a Case for Pastoral Guidance.

Trevor Thurston-Smith has written this: The Bible, Bishops and Bedrooms.

LGBTQ UK Faith Blog published The Bishops’ unpastoral statement.

Helen King How not to be pastoral: the bishops’ new statement on civil partnerships.

Simon Butler As a vicar I know it’s time the Church stopped telling people to be abstinent.

From Bishops:

Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester A message from Bishop Rachel to the Diocese of Gloucester regarding the release of the House of Bishops statement re civil partnerships.

Olivia Graham, Bishop of Reading, has tweeted this

As @cofe ‘s newest bishop (though not in HoB) I was deeply saddened by the unpastoral tone of the HoB statement on civil partnerships. Cold. Legalistic. Loveless. Astonishing timing – mid LLF discussions. Please know that Bishops are not of a mind on this #sorry ☹️

Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich has tweeted this:

1/2 With @BishGloucester I’m frustrated by the process which led to the publication of a House of Bishops statement on civil partnerships, not least because it was deemed business and not discussed and debated by the House. But more, I’m deeply saddened by the hurt is has caused.
2/2 I pledge to do all I can to ensure that the Living in Love and Faith project has a tone and warmth and care that seeks a way forward that, whilst acknowledging different opinions, puts precious life and love at the heart of the conversation and our welcome.

There are also tweets in support from the bishops of Newcastle, Bristol, Sheffield, Worcester, Repton, Crediton.

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CTE blocks appointment of person in same-sex marriage

Updated

This story is of Anglican interest as the Church of England is a constituent member of Churches Together in England.

The Church Times reports today that CTE block appointment of fourth president because the nominee is in a same-sex marriage

THE appointment of a new President of Churches Together in England (CTE) has been blocked because the nominee is in a same-sex marriage.

There are six Presidents of CTE, the Churches’ ecumenical instrument. They include the Archbishop of Canterbury and the RC Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols. The fourth presidency became vacant in October 2018, when Billy Kennedy finished his four-year term.

In May, Hannah Brock Womack, an active Quaker, was formally appointed to the position by the fourth presidency group: Quakers in Britain; the Lutheran Council of Great Britain; the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England; German-Speaking Lutheran, Reformed, and United Congregations in Great Britain; and the Church of Scotland.

On learning that Ms Womack had recently been married to a woman, however, a majority of the member Churches of CTE, through its enabling group, voted in September to request that the fourth presidency group “refrain from enacting its Presidency, leaving the Fourth Presidency as an ’empty chair’ for the current term of office”.

The CTE was due to publish its decision in a statement today: “Over recent months CTE has been engaging with the reality of living with diversity, acknowledging that although so much unites us as Churches, we remain in disagreement over certain issues…

The CTE Statement is here: Churches Together in England statement on the Fourth Presidency

The Quakers in Britain have issued this: Churches’ plan for new President falters because of equal marriage which is copied in full below the fold.

Update There is also this article: Walking together with difficulty.

(more…)

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Civil partnerships extended to opposite-sex couples

Updated

Both Houses of Parliament have now approved The Civil Partnership (Opposite-sex Couples) Regulations 2019. The regulations will come into force no later than 2 December.

There is an accompanying Explanatory Memorandum.

There is also an extremely helpful House of Commons Library briefing paper, Civil partnership for opposite sex couples (full text available as a PDF here).

This change applies only to England and Wales. It is for the Scottish Parliament to decide on whether to do this in Scotland too, but the Scottish Government has introduced a bill to do so.

The regulations do not permit opposite-sex couples who enter a civil partnership to subsequently convert their relationship into a marriage (as is the case for same-sex couples). The Government has conducted a separate consultation on conversion rights generally, but has not yet announced the outcome of that, or decided what actions it will take. Further regulations relating to this may be made in 2020.

The position of the Church of England on this new form of civil partnership has not yet been announced.  I will update this post when it does. But it does seem unlikely that the policy statement of 2005 can be applied unchanged now.

There is further discussion of these regulations at Law and Religion UKCivil partnerships, marriage registration, stillbirths – update.

And Russell Sandberg has written Religion and Opposite Sex Civil Partnerships: An Update.

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Anglican influence in Botswana’s decriminalisation of same-sex relationships

Earlier this month, there was surprising news from Botswana: Botswana scraps gay sex laws in big victory for LGBTQ rights in Africa.

Botswana’s High Court has overturned a colonial-era law criminalizing consensual same-sex relations in a landmark victory for Africa’s LGBTQ movements.
The court in the southern African country unanimously ruled on Tuesday that the legislation was discriminatory, unconstitutional and against the public interest.
“A democratic society is one that embraces tolerance, diversity and open-mindedness,” Justice Michael Leburu said, noting that discriminatory law not only serves as a detriment to LGBTQ people, but holds back all of society.
“Societal inclusion is central to ending poverty and fostering shared prosperity,” he said…

CNN also carried this comment article the next day: Africa is doing better on LGBTQ rights than you think.

Living Reconciliation reported on the role of Alice Mogwe in this achievement: We Believe in Human Dignity

Decriminalisation of LGBTQI people is a victory for human dignity.
The 11 June 2019 decision of the Botswana High Court, to strike down colonial laws which discriminated against LGBTIQ persons was greeted with joy by those seeking to promote human dignity.
Alice Mogwe – Anglican lay woman, Human Rights defender, and founder and Director of DITSHWANELO – the Botswana Centre for Human Rights, welcomed the ruling with joy.
‘We believe in human dignity: that all are made in the image of God’ she said. ‘This is a step on the road to dignity for LGBTIQ persons in Botswana, a great step, but still a step. It offers the hope of more to come. LGBTIQ people need to have dignity in all our communities, in their families and among all of our people. This can make it possible.’
Alice has been journeying with LGBTIQ people on their road to freedom for over 20 years. In 1998 DITSHWANELO created a project focused on the rights of LGB persons. This led to the establishment of a fledgling group called LeGaBiBo – Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo).  It was seeded and nested by DITSHWANELO.
Many human rights groups advocate for the voiceless and speak for the oppressed. Alice has long championed human dignity over human rights and her aim is to enable people to speak for themselves, not to be spoken for…

Law & Religion UK reported on the court’s decision here: Same-sex relationships in Botswana:Motshidiemang 

On 11 June, in Motshidiemang v Attorney General [2019] MAHGB-000591 16, the Botswana High Court held that the criminalisation of sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex was unconstitutional. Tafa, Leburu and Dube JJ concluded that ss.164(a), 164(c), 165 and 167 of the Botswana Penal Code violated the constitutional rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons to dignity, liberty, privacy and equality. The Court began from the proposition that sexual relations between consenting adults in private were none of the law’s business:

“What regulatory joy and solace are derived by the law, when it proscribes and criminalises such conduct of two consenting adults, expressing and professing love to each other, within their secluded sphere, bedroom, confines and/or precinct? Is this not a question of over-regulation of human conduct and expression, which has the effect of impairing and infringing upon constitutionally ordained, promised and entrenched fundamental human rights?”…

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Bishops meet those who oppose their transgender guidance

Regular readers will recall the petition that was raised urging the bishops to “revise, postpone or withdraw” this guidance. Our previous report is here: Further opposition to the bishops’ guidance on transgender services.

Christian Today now reports: Evangelicals hold talks with Church of England bishops over transgender guidance. The organisers of that letter met with a number of bishops. Subsequently, they have issued a statement, the full text of which is included here: The Church of England’s transgender guidance should be withdrawn  and is copied below the fold.

Update: the headline on the first of those two articles has been amended to read “Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics hold talks…”

The delegation attending the meeting consisted of: Dr Ian Paul, Dr Edward Dowler, Rev Rachel Marszalek, Rev David Baker. The bishops were the bishops of Coventry, Newcastle, and Exeter.

(more…)

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British Methodists: report of the Marriage and Relationships Task Group 2019

The Methodist Church (which covers Great Britain, i.e. England, Scotland and Wales) has published the report of its Marriage and Relationships Task Group 2019, together with a number of ancillary documents.

There is a Media Briefing which is probably the best place to start. Some of this is copied below the fold.

Also there is a Frequently Asked Questions page.

The full report is available as a PDF here.

Links to seven ancillary documents are on this page. And there is this useful timeline.

And an archive from last year’s (2018) Conference (more…)

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Update on the Lambeth Conference

Updated on 16 April

Two letters in The Times yesterday,

,

This blog by Marcus Green such a pain includes links to several comments on social media.

Previous report on this topic is here.

Today, Kaya Burgess in The Times (£) reports that Welby says gay bishop spouse ban was ‘painful’ but necessary.

…Speaking on a tour of the diocese of Peterborough, the archbishop said that he had met university bosses to discuss their concerns. He told The Times: “Well over 90 per cent of the Anglican communion are conservative on issues of sexuality. I’ve invited all the bishops, including those in same-sex marriages. And I had to consider . . . getting as many people as possible there and excluding as few as possible. It’s a lose-lose situation.”

He added: “I had to take what is a really difficult and painful decision to say, in order for the conference to be as representative as possible and get all the bishops there and not have the risk of some provinces not coming because they felt I was pushing the envelope too far, that I couldn’t ask all the spouses.”

He described the situation as “just the reality of such a widespread communion . I hope we’ll get to the point where we are able disagree well and that’s while affirming the doctrine of marriage in its traditional Christian form.”

Some earlier reports:

Catherine Pepinster RNS reported on the meeting between the University of Kent and the Conference organisers: Lodging for spouses becomes Anglicans’ latest battleground over LGBT clergy

…Last week the university met with communion officials to raise its  “significant ethical concerns” after university Vice Chancellor Karen Cox and council chair David Warren said they had “serious issues,” calling the no-same-sex-spouses policy “contrary to the values” of the university.

Both sides are refusing to divulge what the outcome of the meeting was, but the university has now pledged to make accommodation available to spouses who want to be based in Canterbury with their partners for the duration of the Lambeth Conference — a move that will focus attention even more intensely on the Anglican Communion’s policy of exclusion.

Anglican Communion spokesman Gavin Drake said the Lambeth Conference would go ahead at Kent University in 2020, and he added: “We are not speaking about this issue at all. What Kent does is up to them.”

Mary Frances Schjonberg  had a comprehensive catch-up on events up to 2 April: ENS Refusal to invite bishops’ same-sex spouses to Lambeth 2020 draws ire in Britain.

And the latest as of 12 April on registrations from ACNS: Lambeth Conference 2020: Over 500 bishops in 39 Anglican Communion Churches register:

Organisers of next year’s Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops have announced that 502 bishops and 382 spouses have so far registered for the decennial event, with the numbers rising each day. Registrations to date come from 39 of the Anglican Communion’s 45 member Provinces and Extra Provincial Churches. “In comparison to the 2008 event when registrations had not started at this point, this is a most encouraging position to be in”, Lambeth Conference Chief Executive Phil George said…

And also: The man on a mission to make the Lambeth Conference happen.

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Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England is launched

PRESS RELEASE Embargoed until 00.01 Friday 12 April 2019
A new campaign, Equal, the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England, is being launched to push for change in the official teaching and practice of the Church of England, so as to allow same-gender couples to marry in Church of England churches.

The Campaign has a simple three-point agenda:

  • Same-gender couples should be able to be married in Church of England parishes.
  • People in such marriages should have the same opportunities for lay and ordained ministry in the Church of England as anyone else.
  • The consciences of everyone should be protected – no member of the clergy should be forced to conduct a marriage they disagree with, but also no member of the clergy should be prevented from celebrating a marriage involving a same-gender couple.

We are launching this campaign on Friday 12 April, the fifth anniversary of the marriage of the Revd Jeremy Pemberton to Laurence Cunnington. Jeremy was the first priest of the Church of England to marry a same-gender partner and as a result was denied permission to take up a new post in an NHS Trust.The Church of England officially discriminates against LGBT+ people, in refusing to allow same-gender marriages in its buildings, or by its clergy in any building, and by excluding from its ministry both lay and ordained people who have so married. The Campaign believes that it is time for this to change. The Church of England should end this injustice and respect the consciences of the increasing majority of its members, who are supportive of gay and lesbian relationships (http://www.brin.ac.uk/figures/attitudes-towards-gay-rights/).

The Revd Andrew Foreshew-Cain, who is one of the team leading the new Campaign, said ‘We congratulate Jeremy and Laurence on their wedding anniversary, and rejoice with the many same- gender couples who have made lifelong, faithful commitments to each other in marriage in recent years.
‘The Church of England has spent too many years saying that it is sorry for the way that it treats LGBT+ people and condemning discrimination and prejudice, whilst at the same time continuing its own injustice towards us in marriage and ministry. It is time for what is done to match what is said, and for the Church of England to respect the conscience of the majority who are warmly supportive of same-gender relationships.
‘The Campaign is formed of faithful Anglicans who want to see change, and we will continue to work and pray for the day when any couple, gay or straight, can walk down the aisle of their local church to make their vows.’

Press enquiries to: info@cofe-equal-marriage.org.uk or Fr Andrew Foreshew-Cain on 07812 453230

Website: https://www.cofe-equal-marriage.org.uk/

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Kent University issues statement on Lambeth Conference

Updated again 29 March

The University of Kent has issued this: University statement on the Lambeth Conference. It reads in part as follows (emphasis added):

…The University has become aware that proposals relating to the Lambeth Conference 2020, which is due to be held at the University, raises serious issues at the heart of these values.

The Lambeth Conference is, of course, a remarkable event and has been held at the University since 1978. When the organisers of the Lambeth Conference 2020 came to the University seeking to work with us again, we were happy to engage. Bringing this gathering of spiritual leaders, from across the globe, to meet, celebrate, debate, learn and reflect, supports our vision of the kind of welcoming, inclusive, civic university we stand for and formal agreement relating to the use of University facilities was reached in August 2018.

It subsequently came to the University’s attention that, on 15 February 2019, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion made a public announcement on the Anglican Communion News Service website ‘that it would be inappropriate for same sex spouses to be invited to the conference’.

The University was concerned by this announcement, as it does not accord with our values, and determined it would seek further information and discuss the issue at its next meeting of University Council, the University’s governing body. The University has since received a large number of concerns raised by staff, students, and members of the public, about hosting the conference. While we currently understand that the Lambeth Conference may be permitted by law to rely on exemption under the Equality Act 2010 for religious organisations, we also believe there are significant ethical concerns raised. These were discussed at the meeting of University Council on 22 March 2019.

Council members were clear that exclusion of same sex spouses, on grounds of orientation, would be contrary to the values of the University. Council determined that the University shall ensure that accommodation will be available on campus for those spouses affected by this decision who wish to be in Canterbury with their partners during the conference period. The University welcomes them and affirms its belief in, and commitment to, diversity and inclusivity.

The Council also agreed that Sir David Warren, Chair of Council, and Professor Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Kent, would seek to meet with the Lambeth Conference organisers and the Archbishop of Canterbury, to bring Council’s concerns to their attention and discuss the issues.

Sir David Warren, Chair of Council, University of Kent
Professor Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Kent

Kent Online reports: University of Kent to ‘raise concerns’ with Archbishop of Canterbury over conference banning gay partners

Updates Further reports and comment on this:

Independent University hosting church summit where same-sex partners are banned to raise ‘ethical concerns’ with archbishop

The Times [£] Justin Welby tells gay bishops to leave their spouses at home

Christian Today University hosting global Anglican bishops’ meeting says event is ‘contrary to its values’

Daily Mail Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby BANS gay bishops from bringing same-sex partners to global Anglican gathering in London to keep conservative church leaders happy

Church Times University of Kent invites excluded same-sex spouses to stay

Surviving Church Lambeth 2020. A clash of values?

…Excluding a small number of same sex spouses might have been, from a pragmatic point of view, a price worth paying to preserve harmony and unity at the 2020 Lambeth gathering in Canterbury.  Surely everyone recognises that although a few people might protest, this action is not illegal.  The Equality Act of 2010 certainly allows for the Church to make such distinctions between hetero and homosexual partners.  This calculation seems to have been a miscalculation and protests began almost immediately it became known.   What began as a small nail being lost, started to become a massive headache for the conference organisers.  Although it is not uncommon for people to expect a degree of discrimination against gay partnerships in the churches, this attitude is far from universal.  One particular factor in the protests and debates that have followed this Anglican decision is the siting of the Lambeth Conference gathering in a university campus. The one segment of the population that will never easily acquiesce in the conservative rhetoric about gay relationships are students.  Enormous amounts of money are spent across the world promoting the anti-gay message of the religious Right in the States and countries like Uganda.  Very few however among the under-30 generation are impressed by this message and they normally will not tolerate what they see simply as homophobia.   Even if church authorities argue their right to discriminate according to the religious exemptions of the Equality Act, students will not stop making their opinions known.  These protests have now come to the attention of the most senior members of the University of Kent and they have issued an official statement…

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Lambeth Conference: discrimination criticism continues

We reported previously on this matter, first here, and later on hereand then also here.

The statement issued by the University as previously reported, has generated criticism locally.

The Student Union at the university published this.

We are deeply disappointed that the Lambeth Conference has decided to exclude same-sex spouses from its 2020 conference. This is not a value that we expect to see on campus and we are committed to championing inclusivity in all events.

We appreciate that the University has a commercial arm to its operations and we understand that the Lambeth Conference may be relying on a legal exemption in the Equality Act 2010 to support its stance. However, we believe any externally organised event which occurs on campus should respect the diversity of both students and staff, the values of the University, Kent Union and the environment that they want to utilise. We believe that the University should ensure this at all times. We are asking students to send us their views on the issue and presenting these to the University and we will be writing to the Lambeth Conference, where our efforts need to be focused, urging them to change their stance.

The local newspaper reported: University of Kent called ‘spineless’ after agreeing to host Lambeth Conference banning gay spouses:

The university of Kent has come under fire for hosting an Anglican conference excluding same-sex couples.

Its Canterbury campus will be the venue for next year’s Lambeth Conference, a meeting of bishops and their spouses from around the world which takes place every ten years.

But students have called the decision “shocking” and “spineless” after it emerged gay bishops, who are joining the assembly for the first time, were personally told by the Archbishop of Canterbury that their spouses are banned from the event.

The university has said the conference, which costs £4,950 per person to attend, is lawful because of a loophole in the Equality Act applying to religious organisations.

It has argued that while it would not “apply such a prohibition to any event we were running directly”, it has to respect its clients’ wishes provided they are legal…

The website LGBTQ Faith UK  has published this: Gay bishops, legal discrimination and the Lambeth Conference.  This contains a detailed discussion of the whole saga so far. And it continues with this:

…It has been questioned whether this discriminatory treatment is legal in this country. The Lambeth Conference is a charity that is registered in the UK, charity number 1121679. This means that the Lambeth Conference is subject to UK law, specifically the 2010 Equality Act. The Equality Act allows some exemptions (Schedule 23 paragraph 2) and it looks like the Lambeth Conference comes under this, so it would be legal to discriminate. However, if this were challenged, they would have to show that excluding same sex spouses is necessary to comply with ‘the doctrine of the Organisation’ or ‘the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers’. While the religious conviction part might be true worldwide, I doubt it is the case in the UK. I think that, unfortunately, only the two bishops or their same sex spouses would have the legal standing to bring a case to test this legally.

The question of same sex marriage is not contained in any of the creeds nor is it in any of the authorised liturgies of the Church of England which means that Lambeth resolution I.10 does not have the status of doctrine. Lambeth resolutions are not mandatory and have to be adopted by each province individually. By specifically relying on Lambeth I.10, Dr Idowu-Fearon may be ruling out an exemption based on doctrine, because he is showing that the basis of the exclusion is something other than doctrine…

…What we appear to be seeing in the preparations for Lambeth 2020 is GAFCON inspired ideology, in line with their priorities and structured to idealise opposite sex marriage. This is not in accordance with the equality values of the English people that the Church of England is established to serve.

In order to be able to be registered as a charity, it is necessary to show that the organisation has ‘public benefit’. I checked out the Lambeth Conference’s statement of public benefit with the charity commission website. The third and final paragraph of the public benefit statement says

Most people are likely to become disciples of Jesus if Christians live a Christ like life amongst them, share the good news of Jesus, demonstrate God’s love and prayerfully expect the Spirit’s power to transform individuals, communities and whole nations.’

I fail to see how the exclusion of same sex spouses is living a Christ like life and I seriously doubt this will encourage anyone in this country to become a disciple of Jesus.

I would like to know how those organising the 2020 Lambeth Conference will live up to their own public benefit statement.

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More about the exclusion of some spouses from the Lambeth Conference

Updated Friday evening scroll down for additional press releases from TEC House of Bishops meeting

Updated again Monday

Here is the response from the University of Kent to those who have written to them complaining about their hosting of a discriminatory event:

We reported previously on the row about invitations to spouses of bishops attending the Lambeth Conference next year, first here, and then also here.

On 14 March Ben Bradshaw MP asked in the House of Commons about this matter.

Watch the video here.

Ben Bradshaw Labour, Exeter

May we have a statement from the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Dame Caroline Spelman, on the outrageous decision by the Church of England to issue the official invitation to next year’s Lambeth conference and explicitly forbid the same-sex spouses of bishops from attending, when the heterosexual spouses of bishops have been warmly invited? This is a totally unacceptable position for our established state Church to adopt, and this House needs to tell the Church we have had enough of it.

Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I was not aware of that situation, and I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for raising it. If he would like to write to me, I will certainly raise it with my right hon. Friend Dame Caroline Spelman.

Today the Church Times has a report about the Canadian bishop, Kevin Robertson, affected by this:  Gay bishop accuses Primates of homophobia.

…When asked if he believed the fierce opposition to his presence, let alone Mr Sharma’s invitation, from GAFCON­ aligned Primates was driven by homophobia, he replied “I do.”

“Because it appears there’s an inconsistency,” he said, pointing to a blog by the Secretary-General of the Communion, the Rt Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, which announced the policy of barring gay spouses (News, 22 February).

Dr Idowu-Fearon wrote that it was because same-sex marriages were inconsistent with a resolution on marriage from the 1998 Lambeth Conference which defined marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman.

“I know as we approach 2020 that there are bishops who have been divorced and remarried, in some cases more than once, who are being invited, and their spouses are also being invited,” Bishop Robertson said.

“So to hold up Lambeth 1.10 as the reason for Mohan and Becki not to be invited seems a little thin; it doesn’t seem particularly consistent…”

Meanwhile, the American bishop affected, Mary Glasspool, has addressed the American House of Bishops. Read the whole of what she said: The Way of Love and Lambeth: Bishop Mary D. Glasspool speaks to the House of Bishops. (more…)

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House of Lords considers clergy exemption for same-sex marriage, again

A month ago, we reported that House of Lords considers removal of clergy exemption on same-sex marriage. Another attempt occurred on 1 March. There is a report in the Church Times Bishop of Oxford resists gay-marriage amendment.

This time the exact text of the amendment was longer:

1: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause–

“Removal of exemption for clergy under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013
(1) The Secretary of State must by regulations made by statutory instrument make such provision as is necessary to amend the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 to enable the Church of England and the Church in Wales to opt in to the provisions of that Act allowing the solemnization of the marriage of a same sex couple.
(2) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (1) may not be made unless it has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.
(3) Subject to subsection (2), regulations under this section must be in force by the end of the period of 6 months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.
(4) Regulations under subsection (1) may not amend–(a) section 1(3) of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013,(b) section 1(4) of that Act, or(c) section 2(5) or (6) of that Act.”

The Church of England in Parliament reported on the debate: Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill – Bishop of Oxford responds to amendment on same-sex marriage.

This includes first the full text of the Bishop of Oxford’s interventions, followed by a transcript of the entire debate. The latter is well worth reading to see the arguments being put forward by peers in favour of this change.

Here is an extract from the Bishop of Oxford:

As noble Lords are aware, together with other Churches and faith communities across the world, the Church of England is exploring these issues in depth–and, I accept, at length. My colleague the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle chairs our pastoral advisory group, and last week brought a helpful series of pastoral guidelines to the General Synod. My colleague the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry chairs a process of exploration under the title Living in Love and Faith, which was referred to by noble Lords. Both processes are due to report to the General Synod in 2020. It is true that these proposals will contain resources for reflection. They may not contain recommendations for action but they will be followed by further work, debate and proposals to be tested by the General Synod in due course–as soon as possible, I hope.

Recently, I issued a pastoral letter with my fellow bishops to our own diocese of Oxford under the title, Clothed with Love. We are taking pastoral steps in the diocese to encourage greater inclusion and support within the Church’s existing guidelines. That letter has been warmly welcomed by many LGBTI clergy and laity, and more widely across the Church by those who want to see further change. It has led to many fruitful conversations. However, it is also a sign of where the Church is, and of the deep views held in good conscience on the issue, that the same letter has dismayed and unsettled some others who fear that the Church will change what is regarded as essential and core doctrine. The correspondence illustrates the need for further deep and respectful dialogue within the Church, and I remain committed to that.

My response to the amendment is that, as a Church, we need more time for deeper reflection and prayer; for listening, recognising the urgency of the situation; for listening to those outside and within the Church; and for developing our responses. I am grateful for the intention behind this amendment and the opportunity to air these issues in this Chamber. Nevertheless, I need to resist the amendment on two grounds, both of which have been referred to.

First, the legal powers already exist to enable the Church of England and the Church in Wales to begin to solemnise same-sex marriages should they choose to do so. That change will be registered through a change in the doctrine of marriage and therefore in canon law. It is important for the overall process that the Church is seen to make its own decisions first, and only then for those decisions to be taken through Parliament.

Secondly, the Church itself must continue its conversation and debate, and reach conclusions through the careful process of listening, exploration and discernment about the right way forward and the right time for such a move. While I am grateful to the noble Lord for his amendment and deeply grateful for the speeches that have been made, and will gladly commit to passing on to my colleagues all the views expressed here, I hope the Government and the House will resist the amendment, as on previous occasions in this Chamber.

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Lambeth Conference spouse invitations

Updated again Thursday

We reported earlier on this: Spouses of bishops not invited to Lambeth Conference unless of opposite sex.

The Lambeth Conference website drew attention to the exclusion and linked to the earlier article from Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon. Here is how it looked:

Until last night. When the reference to this matter was removed from that page:

The blog article remains in place, so presumably there has been no change in policy.

Updates

Two other developments relating to the Lambeth Conference invitations:

Episcopal News Service Executive Council asks bishops, spouses to ‘prayerfully and carefully consider’ response to Lambeth decision

Executive Council has asked The Episcopal Church’s bishops and their spouses, and the House of Bishops collectively, “to prayerfully and carefully consider her/his/their response, choices and actions” in the light of what it calls the “troubling circumstances” of the decision to exclude same-sex spouses from the 2020 Lambeth Conference of bishops.
Council unanimously approved a resolution on Feb. 25 that says it finds the decision “inconsistent” with the positions of The Episcopal Church and with multiple statements of Anglican Communion entities that have urged the church to listen to the experiences LGBTQ persons.
“Exclusion of spouses at Lambeth Conference: When does all mean all?” calls the decision “particularly misguided and inconsistent with the stated purposes of the conference,” in part because the conference planning group decided to run a joint program for bishops and their spouses, rather than the traditional parallel programs. The FAQs section of the Lambeth2020 website says that the joint conference “is in recognition of the vital role spouses play across the Anglican Communion and a desire to support them.

Premier Bishop to attend Lambeth Conference without wife in protest at bar on gay clergy partners

The Bishop of Liverpool has said he will attend an international summit of Anglican leaders without his wife next year, in protest at a bar on the partners of gay clergy.
Rt Rev Paul Bayes described the decision to prevent same-sex partners of clergy from attending the 2020 Lambeth Conference as an “act of exclusion”.
In a message posted on Twitter, he said: “I deeply regret that, in the fractious complexities of our life as a worldwide people, this act of exclusion has taken its place.
“It is a grief to me and to my wife, and to many others. Despite this, I aim to attend the Conference, alone, in the hope of a common future.”

GAFCON has this view: Lambeth 2020 Descends into Confusion.

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