Thinking Anglicans

British Methodists approve same-sex marriage in church

Here is the official Methodist press release: Conference confirms resolutions on marriage and relationships

Following prayerful consideration by the whole Church, the Methodist Conference has voted to confirm provisional resolutions on the principles or qualities of good relating, understanding of cohabitation and same sex marriages conducted on Methodist premises or by Methodist office-holders.

A report on marriage and relationships, ‘God in Love Unites Us’, was received by the Conference in 2019 and the local District Synods were asked to consider the provisional resolutions and report back to this year’s Conference which is being held this week in Birmingham.  The Conference received a report on the results of the local conferring which showed that 29 out of the 30 Synods confirmed support for the provisional resolutions.

The Revd Sonia Hicks, President of the Conference, prayed ahead of the main debate on Wednesday morning in Birmingham, asking that the Conference’s “words may be imbibed with your grace, with tenderness from on high.”

A range of views were expressed on the resolutions, in particular on cohabitation and same sex marriages. The Revd Dr Jonathan Hustler, spoke to the Conference acknowledging the “depth of feeling, pain and anxiety that there is” with a commitment to work across the Connexion with District Chairs to heal divisions.

Speakers called for unity going ahead irrespective of the decision. Other speakers spoke of the acceptance of diversity that younger Church members have for each other with younger speakers relating their own lived experience as Christians from the LGBTQI+ community. Another representative asked that the Church does not ostracise those who oppose the introduction of same-sex marriages in the Church, saying the great majority of these people are trying to be faithful to Scripture as they see it.

The Methodist Church included other denominations and Methodist Churches across the world in the process of listening and consultation, with written submissions from ecumenical partners to the ‘God In Love Unites Us‘ report and workshops with global Methodist partners.

Following the vote on the provisional resolutions the Revd Sonia Hicks said: “The debate today and our wider conversation has been conducted with grace and mutual respect. As we move forward together after this historic day for our Church, we must remember to continue to hold each other in prayer, and to support each other respecting our differences.”

Church Times news report: Methodists agree to same-sex weddings in church

…The Conference, meeting both online and in-person at the National Conference Centre in Birmingham this week, voted 254 to 46 in favour of a resolution by which “the Conference consents in principle to the marriage of same-sex couples on Methodist premises throughout the Connexion and by Methodist ministers, probationers or members in so far as the law of the relevant jurisdiction permits or requires and subject to compliance with such further requirements, if any, as that law imposes.”

This involved redrafting the Methodist marriage canon to replace the premise that marriage is between one man and one woman. The relevant standing order now states: “The Methodist Church believes that marriage is given by God to be a particular channel of God’s grace, and that it is in accord with God’s purposes when a marriage is a life-long union in body, mind and spirit of two people who freely enter it.

“Within the Methodist Church this is understood in two ways: that marriage can only be between a man and a woman; that marriage can be between any two people. The Methodist Church affirms both understandings and makes provision in its Standing Orders for them.”

BBC Methodist Church allows same-sex marriage in ‘momentous’ vote

Guardian Methodist church to allow same-sex marriage after ‘historic’ vote

Daily Mail Methodist Church becomes biggest religious group in Britain to say yes to same-sex marriages

The Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England has issued this Statement on the Methodist Conference Vote on Marriage Equality 30 June 2021

The Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England rejoices in and welcomes the news that the Methodist Conference has consented in principle to the marriage of same-sex couples on Methodist premises and by Methodist ministers. The resolution was passed by a very large majority (254 to 46) after a long and impressive debate marked by a generous and kind spirit from both those in favour and those opposing the motion.

This means that the Methodist Church of Great Britain, which covers all of Scotland, Wales and England, will become the largest UK denomination that fully accepts marriage equality and will welcome LGBTQIA+ couples to marry in their churches.

The decision was taken, after many years of discussion and debate, on the basis of the Report of the Marriage and Relationships Task Group 2019, God in Love Unites Us, which was discussed extensively at the 2019 Methodist Conference and commended for study and prayerful discussion throughout the Church through 2020.

The Campaign congratulates Dignity and Worth – our sister organisation in the Methodist Church – for their tireless work for this outcome.

We call upon the bishops of the Next Steps Group to ensure that proposals for marriage equality in the Church of England form part of their report in due course.

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Church of England should recognise same-sex weddings, says Bishop of Liverpool

Updated 8 July 2021

The Observer reports this evening that the Bishop of Liverpool has said that the Church of England should recognise same-sex weddings.

Church of England should recognise same-sex weddings, says bishop

Paul Bayes, bishop of Liverpool, pushes for ‘gender-neutral marriage canon’ and church ceremonies

A senior bishop has said the Church of England should recognise marriage between people of the same sex and allow such ceremonies in church, a move that would break with centuries of Christian teaching.

Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, called for a “gender-neutral marriage canon” in a controversial and hard-hitting speech on Saturday, making him the most senior figure in the C of E to explicitly back a change in church law and teaching…

The bishop was speaking to the MOSAIC (“Movement of Supporting Anglicans for an Inclusive Church”) National Conference this morning. The text of his address is here and this is an extract.

What do I want to see? I want to see a Church that is no longer institutionally racist. I want to see a Church where people with physical or mental or emotional disability are honoured and accommodated and learned from and loved, and whose love is received as a gift.

In the area of sexuality and relationships I want to see the road which runs through Living in Love and Faith come to a good destination. The LLF process has clarified my own thinking.

I want to see a gender-neutral marriage canon, such as they have in the Episcopal Church or in the Scottish Episcopal Church. And as a necessary but not sufficient first step I want to see conscientious freedom for the Church’s ministers and local leaders to honour, recognise and, yes indeed, to bless same-sex unions whether civil partnerships or civil marriages.

I want to see an abolition of the foolishness that sees the call to ordained ministry as a call to a state morally higher than that of the baptised, as though baptism called us to a lesser holiness. I want to see an end to LGBTQ+ people hiding who they are for fear of being exposed to conversion therapy or to being forbidden to minister in churches. I want to see an end to the inquisition of ordinands about their private lives.

Update

On 6 July Bishop Bayes published the following on Twitter.

Some days ago I gave a speech to the MoSAIC Conference. I stand by the substantive points in that speech, but I also made some passing remarks which I greatly regret. I’ve asked for the published text to be amended to remove them. Here’s a statement of apology. Many thanks!

Follow the Twitter link to read the statement.

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Update from the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce

The Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce, set up last autumn to recommend changes to ensure greater racial equality in the Church of England, has issued an update on its work. The full text is here. The Taskforce aims to publish its final report on 22nd April 2021 – Stephen Lawrence Day.

More information on the group and its work is available here.

The Taskforce recently (8 February) also issued a statement expressing pastoral concern for Jarel Robinson-Brown (see our earlier article Jarel Robinson-Brown and the Diocese of London).

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MOSAIC coalition launches

A new coalition, named MOSAIC, which is an acronym for Movement Of Supporting Anglicans for An Inclusive Church, has been launched. The website is at https://mosaic-anglicans.org. The press release (copied in full below the fold) explains:

SENIOR CHURCH OF ENGLAND LEADERS UNITE TO CAMPAIGN FOR “A CHURCH FOR ALL ENGLAND”.

Leaders from across the full breadth of inclusive networks have united to create a “Movement of Supporting Anglicans for an Inclusive Church” that will campaign together for a more inclusive church.

The movement aims to have a presence in each diocese of the Church of England, where it will work with local clergy and laity on projects that promote inclusion for all those who are currently marginalised by the Church of England – whether that be due to race, ability, sexuality, gender or gender identity.

Launching just ahead of the February Synod, the co-chair of the initiative Revd Canon Tim Goode, a newly elected clergy member of the Archbishops’ Council said:

“I am delighted that we have been able to bring together such a broad coalition of leaders who represent the full range of marginalised groups within the Church of England. We stand far stronger together – for you cannot be a little bit inclusive!

…The Movement is keen to connect with anyone who is interested to get involved. More details can be found on their website www.mosaic-anglicans.org…

The Church Times has reported this: New coalition seeks greater ‘inclusive’ clout in Church of England dioceses.

A NEW coalition describing itself as a “movement of supporting Anglicans for an inclusive Church” — and to be know by the acronym Mosaic — is to bring together campaigns on issues of race, ability, sexuality, gender, and gender identity.

One of its two co-chairs, Canon Tim Goode, a newly elected member of the Archbishops’ Council, said that Mosaic represented “the full range of marginalised groups within the Church of England. We stand far stronger together — for you cannot be a little bit inclusive.”

The coalition draws together leaders from the Campaign for Equal Marriage, Disability and Jesus, Inclusive Church, Modern Church, One Body One Faith, and the Ozanne Foundation. It hopes to grow to include other organisations.

Each of these bodies will continue to function independently, but the coalition is an attempt to co-ordinate their efforts to eradicate discrimination from church statements, policies, appointments, and actions…

The article also contains a Q and A section, with information that is not to be found at present on the MOSAIC website.

(more…)

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UK government hosts launch of Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives

The Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives has brought together over 350 senior faith leaders from around the world to call for an end to violence and discrimination against LGBT people and for a global ban on conversion therapy.

They have released a video of senior faith leaders saying this declaration.

They are holding a one day conference today, 16 Decemberwhich is available as a livestream from 0930 – 1630. This is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

The programme of the conference can be viewed here.

The Bishop of London has recorded this welcoming video.

This will be followed at 1730 by a Celebration at Westminster Abbey with both the Dean of Westminster and the Dean of St Paul’s.

They invite all people of faith to sign the declaration with them.

The full text of the press release is copied below the fold.

Media coverage

(more…)

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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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