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…
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
Updates Further reports and comment on this:
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…
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.
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:
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…)119 Comments
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.
Two other developments relating to the Lambeth Conference invitations:
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.
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.95 Comments
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.
Christian Today has Same-sex spouses not invited to Lambeth Conference
By far the most informative article is this one from Episcopal News Service: Same-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.
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.’
From an ACO press release: The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, has called on Anglican bishops to attend the next Lambeth Conference despite differences within the Anglican Communion.
…”I know people talk about the fabric of the communion as torn”, he said, “but we are all fallible human beings in need of God’s love and grace, and we need each other.”
Archbishop Thabo made his comments in a video on the Lambeth Conference website. In it, he says: “As said in Sepedi [the language of Northern Sotho]: one bangle doesn’t ring, two bangles will make a beautiful noise. So we are never alone in this journey.
“Whether you agree with where the communion is, whether you don’t agree, come and express your difference in this beautiful space which is a gift from God. Don’t just stay at home and say ‘I’m not going’.
“We want to hear that voice. It’s not a conference of like-minded people; it is a conference of Anglicans. I mean, for God’s sake, Anglicans, from our inceptions, we’ve always had push and pull. So push and pull should not be a distraction, but it should be celebrated.
“It’s what I call at home, ‘celebrating the gift of difference’. So I encourage all bishops and their spouses to make every possible effort to come and see what God is doing through us in his world…”
The Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, has issued a statement which is headlined simply Warning from the Chairman, headed by a photograph of the marriage last year of Toronto suffragan bishop Kevin Robertson, who has been invited to attend the Lambeth Conference in 2020. Bishop Robertson was also among those who this week attended this: New Anglican Communion bishops receive induction in Canterbury, Lambeth and the ACO.
Archbishop Okoh eventually concludes that:
…With great sadness we therefore have to conclude that the Lambeth Conference of 2020 will itself be an obstacle to the gospel by embracing teaching and a pattern of life which are profoundly at odds with the biblical witness and the apostolic Christianity through the ages…
This was promptly reported in Christian Today: GAFCON leader says Lambeth Conference ‘will be an obstacle to the gospel’
Andrew Goddard had earlier analysed this situation: Lambeth 2020: what is the future of the Anglican Communion?
Last September, the Church of Nigeria had issued a communique which included this:
…It supports the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria in reaffirming the Statement of GAFCON 2018 that the Archbishop of Canterbury should invite as full members to Lambeth 2020 the Bishops of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America and the Province of the Anglican Church in Brazil, and that he should not invite those Provinces that have endorsed by word or deed sexual practices that are in contradiction to the teaching of Scripture and Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, unless they have repented of their actions and reversed their decisions. In the event that this does not occur the Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) unanimously resolved that they will decline any invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of the Communion.
Even earlier, the Church of Uganda had made a similar decision: Ugandan bishops pledge to boycott Welby’s landmark Lambeth Conference 2020.97 Comments