Thinking Anglicans

Kent University issues statement on Lambeth Conference

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

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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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Spouses of bishops not invited to Lambeth Conference unless of opposite sex

Updated 

ACNS has published this article by Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon: The global excitement about Lambeth Conference. To date most of the excitement about this article has related to the following paragraph (emphasis added):

I need to clarify a misunderstanding that has arisen. Invitations have been sent to every active bishop. That is how it should be – we are recognising that all those consecrated into the office of bishop should be able to attend. But the invitation process has also needed to take account of the Anglican Communion’s position on marriage which is that it is the lifelong union of a man and a woman. That is the position as set out in Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Given this, it would be inappropriate for same-sex spouses to be invited to the conference. The Archbishop of Canterbury has had a series of private conversations by phone or by exchanges of letter with the few individuals to whom this applies.

The Sunday Times reported this first (£): Married gay bishops told: don’t bring your spouse to Anglican conference.

Reuters had Anglican Church slammed for excluding same-sex spouses from 2020 conference

Christian Today has Same-sex spouses not invited to Lambeth Conference

By far the most informative article is this one from Episcopal News ServiceSame-sex spouses not invited to next year’s Lambeth Conference of bishops

The Episcopal Church currently has one actively serving bishop who has a same-sex spouse. The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool was elected as bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles in December 2009 and consecrated May 2010. She has been bishop assistant in the Diocese of New York since April 2016. She is married to Becki Sander, her partner of more than 30 years.

Glasspool told Episcopal News Service Feb. 18 in a telephone interview that she received a letter from Welby on Dec. 4, 2018, in which he said that he was writing to her “directly as I feel I owe you an explanation of my decision not to invite your spouse to the Lambeth Conference, a decision that I am well aware will cause you pain, which I regret deeply…”

Do read the further detail of her exchanges with the archbishop. And the article has been extended to include comments from Bishop Kevin Robertson (Toronto) and to refer to the new bishop-elect of Maine.

Update

OneBodyOneFaith extends hospitality to shunned Lambeth partners

OneBodyOneFaith has expressed its sadness and disappointment at the decision to exclude same-sex partners from the 2020 Lambeth Conference, and offered hospitality to those partners who would still like to attend.  

Tracey Byrne, Chief Executive, responded by promising to ensure that same-sex partners of bishops who wished to join them in Canterbury, would be warmly welcomed.  ‘We are called to follow the example of Jesus in extending the table to those with whom we don’t necessarily agree, and we applaud the effort of the organisers to do just that – but we need to go further. Radical Christian inclusion demands no less from us.  These partners may be few in number but they are hugely symbolically significant, prophetic even.  We are reaching out to them over the coming weeks, and have already been contacted by members and supporters offering accommodation.  We will do everything we can to ensure that they are there in Canterbury next year.’

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Schools get advice on dealing with LGBT issues

The Church Times reports on a project to help faith schools with educating pupils on LGBT issues:

LGBT plan for faith schools released

A TEN-POINT plan to help children deal with LGBT issues at faith schools has been released as part of a report into the LGBT charity Educate and Celebrate.

The study, written by Dr Anna Carlile, a researcher in the Department of Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, collected interview and focus-group data from five representative schools where Educate and Celebrate had worked.

Educate and Celebrate works with faith schools and schools that serve faith communities to help them understand the LGBT community. Their ten-step process is: first, to “begin with a one-off anti-bullying assembly, which builds staff confidence”; and, second, to “embed the Educate and Celebrate materials across the curriculum and within the school environment, with full usualising achieved by the end of the school year”.

The full text of the report is available here.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that many faith leaders are signatories to an open letter to the Department for Education, urging them not to weaken the draft guidance for independent schools:

Don’t back down on LGBT guidance, faith leaders urge DfE

More than 50 faith leaders, education experts and rights advocates have said young LGBT people would be at increased risk of bullying in schools if the government waters down draft guidance in response to pressure.

The Department for Education has issued draft advice to independent schools, saying secondary school children should know about “protected characteristics” under the 2010 Equality Act, which include gender reassignment and sexual orientation. Primary school children should be “aware of the ways in which people can be different and be respectful of those differences”.

The full list of signatories is below the text of the letter: All schools should encourage respect and LGBT acceptance.

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House of Lords considers removal of clergy exemption on same-sex marriage

On Friday, in the House of Lords, three Labour peers proposed an amendment to the Civil Partnership, Marriage and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill which would remove the clergy exemption in relation to same-sex marriage. This amendment was later withdrawn after the Government stated that it could not support it.

The exact wording of the amendment was as follows:

2: 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 make regulations to amend the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 to remove the exemption for members of the clergy to solemnize the marriage of a same sex couple.(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.”

The episode was reported by both the Anglican Communion News Service and The Church of England in Parliament:

The latter reports at length the response of the Bishop of Chelmsford. This. is worth reading in full.

Readers may also care to read the compete text of the debate which can be found in Hansard.  The relevant section starts here, and the whole record of the committee debate on the bill starts back here.

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Faith and Sexuality Survey

The Ozanne Foundation has today announced this:

The 2018 Faith & Sexuality Survey  is designed to explore the impact of religious belief on people’s understanding and development of their sexual orientation and identity.  It is as such not designed to understand in any depth people’s gender identity.

It is open to all individuals living in the UK who are over 16 and should take about 10 – 15 minutes to complete.  Please be assured that your responses will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

To take the survey go here.

The research project is being managed by the Ozanne Foundation and is  being overseen by an Advisory Board that consists of:

Dr Jamie Harrison, Chair of the House of Laity, Church of England
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism
Martin Pollecoff, Chair of UK Council of Pyschotherapists
Teddy Prout, Director of Community Services Humanists UK
Khakan Qureshi, Founder of Birmingham South Asian LGBT+ – Finding a Voice
Professor Sir Bernard Silverman, Former President of the Royal Statistical Society
Rt Revd Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester

The survey will run until December 31st 2018 and the results will be presented at a fringe meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England in February 2019.

The December 9th 2018 Press Release is available here.

For more information please contact survey@ozanne.foundation.

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Can the dons sack their dean?

Modern Church has published an interview in which Professor Linda Woodhead interviews Professor Gillian Evans:

Can the dons sack their dean? An interview with Oxford historian Gillian Evans on Martyn Percy’s predicament

A PDF of the full text of the interview is also available via a link at the end of the above article.

Prof G.R. Evans is Emeritus Professor of Medieval Theology and Intellectual History in the University of Cambridge. She is author of The University of Oxford: a new history and writes regularly on higher education policy issues. She co-authored Managing the church?: Order and organization in a secular age with Martyn Percy in 2000. She lives in Oxford.

Linda Woodhead MBE is Professor of the Sociology or Religion at Lancaster University. She has been President of Modern Church since 2014. She is author with Andrew Brown of That Was the Church That Was: How the Church of England Lost the English People. She is currently a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, USA.

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Book Launch: Intimate Conviction

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

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

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

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

Details here:  Intimate Conviction Book Launch.

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

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

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Church of Ireland welcomes Ashers Bakery decision

Updated Sunday evening

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

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

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

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

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

The case is analysed in various places, including:

Disagreement with the decision has been expressed here:

Agreement with it came from:

Update
Many more links here.

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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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CofE response on conversion therapy

The UK Government yesterday published an LGBT Action Plan. This is 32 pages long and includes 75 action points. The government press release is over here.

One of these action points has attracted a lot of media attention. It’s on page 15 in the category of Safety. It reads:

We will bring forward proposals to end the practice of conversion therapy in the UK. These activities are wrong, and we are not willing to let them continue. Led by the Government Equalities Office, we will fully consider all legislative and non-legislative options to prohibit promoting, offering or conducting conversion therapy. Our intent is protect people who are vulnerable to harm or violence, whether that occurs in a medical, commercial or faith-based context. We are not trying to prevent LGBT people from seeking legitimate medical support or spiritual support from their faith leader in the exploration of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Church of England responded with this press release: Government pledge to eradicate conversion therapy

Following the publication of the Government’s LGBT Action Plan, a spokesperson for the Church of England said:

“We warmly welcome the Government commitment to eradicate gay conversion therapy in this country.

“As a motion endorsed overwhelmingly by the Church of England’s General Synod last summer concludes, the practice is unethical, potentially harmful and has no place in the modern world.

“Since then the Church of England has pressed the Government to consider outlawing the practice and the Second Church Estates Commissioner Dame Caroline Spelman has held a number of meetings with ministers to that end.

“As we await the detail of any proposals, we also welcome the recognition that any steps taken should not have the unintended consequence of preventing people seeking spiritual support from their faith leader in the exploration of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The General Synod motion mentioned was the subject of a church press release at the time.  The detailed tally of the voting on this motion last July can be found here.  In summary the voting was:

House of Bishops 36 in favour, 1 against, 0 abstentions
House of Clergy 135 in favour, 25 against, 13 abstentions
House of Laity 127 in favour, 48 against, 13 abstentions

Further analysis was reported here.

Religion-based promoters of such practices have also issued press releases:

Christian Concern  Ten Good Reasons not to restrict therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction.

Core Issues Trust Statement on Proposed Restrictions on Therapy for Unwanted Same-Sex Attractions

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Supreme Court rules on Civil Partnerships

Updated to correct first sentence

The UK Supreme Court has ruled that restricting civil partnerships to same-sex couples is discriminatory.

The court’s own press release is here, and the full text of the judgement is over here.

UK Human Rights Blog published this beforehand: The ‘straight civil partnership’ challenge: All you need to know before the Supreme Court Judgment.

As yet it’s quite unknown how the UK government will respond to this decision. It had earlier embarked on a consultation, to which the Church of England has already responded. See our earlier article: Church of England opposes end to civil partnerships.

Some earlier articles on what the Church of England thought at the time:

 

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Beyond Inclusion

OneBodyOneFaith published this on 5 June:

We’re delighted that this film, funded by our supporters and members and featuring John Bell and Nick Bundock, has now been completed and can be viewed on our YouTube channel. As you’ll probably recall, the film arose out of John hearing about Nick’s church’s response to Lizzie Lowe’s death, and the films are a conversation between the two of them, with ideas for reflection by church groups.

Please share the films and encourage others to do so too; we want them to reach the widest possible audience because we believe they have the potential to help people move on in their journey of understanding, and to make real change. If you need more resources for study and reflection, check out some of the books in our online shop – or get in touch and we can help you identify people to talk to, speakers and other sources of support, reflecting your particular context.

Today is Lizzie’s 18th birthday. Her parents Kevin and Hilary appear briefly in the film. Notwithstanding the remarkable transformation of their church following her death, would still give anything to have their daughter back. Please remember them, and Lizzie’s siblings and many friends, today.

Part one of the film is here.
Part two is here
. Do be sure to watch both parts.

And then consider this question: So – how’s the ‘radical Christian inclusion’ coming along then?

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Church of England opposes end to civil partnerships

The British government has reported that previous consultations on the future of civil partnerships were inconclusive. It has therefore issued this: The Future Operation of Civil Partnership: Gathering Further Information.

This raises the possibility of opening civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples or of abolishing civil partnerships for the future. Here’s how the document begins:

  1. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 enabled same-sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship by registering a civil partnership at a time when marriage for same-sex couples was not available. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 allowed same-sex couples to enter a marriage from 29 March 2014, or convert their civil partnership into a marriage from 10 December 2014.
  2. The Government has consulted twice on the continued operation of civil partnerships: in 2012 during the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, and again in 2014. In those consultations, we invited views on three possible options; whether civil partnerships should be:
    – abolished
    – closed to new registrations
    – extended to allow opposite-sex couples to register a civil partnership
  3. Taken together, there was no consensus about how civil partnerships should change. Due to the lack of available evidence in support of any of the above options, and the lack of consensus on a particular change, the Government decided not to make any changes to civil partnerships at the time.
  4. This policy paper sets out how the Government will gather additional information. When this work is completed, the Government should have the information it needs to bring forward proposals for the future of civil partnerships.

The Church Times reports (scroll down) that:

Support for civil partnerships. Civil partnerships should not be abolished, the Church’s Director of Mission and Public Affairs, the Revd Dr Malcolm Brown said this week, after the Government’s Equalities Office suggested that their future was uncertain.

In a paper published last week, the Office says that, if demand for civil partnerships remains low, “this might suggest that same-sex couples no longer see this as a relevant way of recognising their relationships, and that the Government should consider abolishing or phasing out civil partnerships entirely.”

There were 890 civil partnerships registered in 2016 in England and Wales, down from an average of 6305 from 2007 to 2013. The paper says that, by September 2019, a “proportionate amount of evidence” will have been gathered to enable the Office “to be confident in the ongoing level of demand”.

“We believe that Civil Partnerships still have a place, including for some Christian LGBTI couples who see them as a way of gaining legal recognition of their relationship,” Dr Brown said. “We hope [they] will remain an option.”

We recently published an article reporting on how civil partnerships had been viewed in 2007: Civil Partnerships: a look back at 2007.

Michael Sadgrove has drawn attention to an even earlier article we published, in 2006: civil partnerships: another bishop’s view.

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Civil Partnerships: a look back at 2007

In his not-quite-so-recent letter to TEC, William Nye wrote:

… we [i.e. the Church of England] were nevertheless broadly able to accept, some dozen years ago, the Government’s proposals for Civil Partnerships for same-sex couples, which conferred all the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage, but did not treat sexual activity as intrinsic to the relationship…

It may be instructive to look at the documents from the period 2003 to 2007 to see if that is really how it was at the time.

When Mr Nye’s previous letter addressed to Andy Lines of GAFCON was published in November 2016, Professor Iain McLean commented here (scroll down from link) to correct him then:

The legislative history is more complicated than Mr Nye makes it sound. I may need more than one post to explain.

First, 2004 and civil partnerships. I re-post something I wrote for the Guardian which has been posted here before:

“The main Lords debate on the civil partnership bill took place in June 2004. Richard Harries, then bishop of Oxford, did indeed signal Church of England support for civil partnerships. But his efforts were contradicted by the five conservative bishops who spoke on the other side. Going by the bishops’ contributions to debate, the score is 5/3 against. Going by the bishops’ votes, it is 6/1 against. Six bishops voted for a successful wrecking amendment in the name of Lady O’Cathain, which made the bill unworkable. Only the Commons’ insistence on rejecting the O’Cathain amendment made it possible to enact civil partnerships”

It is true, as posted in a later comment on that thread, that the bishops voted against the O’Cathain wrecking amendment when offered a second time. But if the Commons had not done what they did, there would have been no civil partnership act – not then anyhow.

The history of the CofE’s dealings with the government over civil partnerships is admirably summarised in a paper prepared on behalf of the House of Bishops for a General Synod debate in February 2007. As this document along with thousands of other archived items disappeared some months ago from the Church of England website, it is possible that Mr Nye wasn’t able to review it while preparing his letter. Fortunately I have found another source for it, and it is available here.

The occasion for its preparation was a synod private member’s motion, from a member who was clearly not supportive of Civil Partnerships- A pastoral statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England that the bishops had issued in 2005. Here is a copy of the briefing paper he prepared (again from another archive).

The ensuing debate and its outcome was reported here at the time: GS: Civil Partnerships. The original wording of the PMM was roundly rejected but the bishops were unable to persuade the synod to vote to “recognise the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement as a balanced and sensitive attempt faithfully to apply the Church’s teaching to civil partnerships”.

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Ozanne Foundation launched

The Ozanne Foundation, whose formation was announced last December, held a formal launch event on Monday.

This press release was issued: Ozanne Foundation Unveils Strategy to Combat Prejudice.

At the event, Bishop Paul Bayes, chair of the trustees, delivered this speech.

News reports of the event:

Guardian Rejection by C of E has driven LGBT people to suicide, bishop says

Christian Today Bishop and senior clergyman join calls for Church of England to lose equalities exemptions

Telegraph The Church of England should lose its exemption to discrimination laws, Dean of St Paul’s says

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Court of Appeal dismisses Pemberton case

Updated Thursday evening

The Court of Appeal has today dismissed the appeal by Jeremy Pemberton against the earlier judgement of the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

The judgement is now available online: Pemberton v Inwood [2018] EWCA Civ 564, with a printable version here.

There are numerous media reports:

Anglican Communion News Service Priest in same-sex marriage loses legal challenge to bishop’s “discriminatory” response

Guardian Gay hospital chaplain loses discrimination appeal against C of E

Christian Today Gay clergyman Jeremy Pemberton loses discrimination appeal against Church of England

Press Association via Premier Gay priest denied job after marrying partner loses discrimination appeal

BBC Gay priest Jeremy Pemberton’s discrimination appeal dismissed

Huffington Post Gay Priest Jeremy Pemberton Loses Discrimination Appeal Against The Church Of England

Newark Advertiser Jeremy Pemberton loses discrimination appeal

Nottingham Post Gay priest ‘naturally disappointed’ after his appeal over discrimination claim is dismissed

Church Times Bishop was in his rights to refuse Pemberton a licence, tribunal rules

Jeremy Pemberton has issued a press release, which is copied below the fold.

ACNS reports:

Commenting on today’s judgment, a Southwell and Nottingham diocesan spokesperson said: “We are pleased that the court has upheld the decision made with regards to the employment tribunal. We recognise that this has been a long and difficult process for many of those concerned, and we hold them in our thoughts and prayers.”

OneBodyOneFaith has issued a statement: Disappointment and gratitude as Pemberton case concludes

“…The question now is less whether the bishop acted legally – that seems beyond doubt – but whether people want to continue to support this kind of discrimination against committed, loving couples as they seek to follow Christ. There is a real sense of the need for change, the will for change and the time for change.“

(more…)

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