Thinking Anglicans

Kent University issues statement on Lambeth Conference

Updated again 29 March

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Updates Further reports and comment on this:

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

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

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

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

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

Surviving Church Lambeth 2020. A clash of values?

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

30
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
14 Comment threads
16 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
17 Comment authors
RichardBernardInterested ObserverFather Ron SmithPat O'Neill Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Vernon Sheldon-Witter
Guest
Vernon Sheldon-Witter

Serves the ABC Right.

Kate
Guest
Kate

I think he has become accustomed to progressives being vocal but ultimately complaisant. Indeed, his whole strategy of appeasing GAFCON has relied upon complaisance from progressives. I suspect the discovery that complaisance has limits may be even more of a nasty shock than the particular instance in which it has arisen because, he may now realise, that the opportunity to kick the issue down the road has been exhausted and that change will be forced upon him no matter how reluctant he is.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Council members were clear that exclusion of same sex spouses, on grounds of orientation, would be contrary to the values of the University.” Normally, university councils are unable to decide whether to have doughnuts or croissants for breakfast. For them to issue an unambiguous statement like this, including a clear threat to disrupt the policy of their clients, they are essentially saying “carry on with your booking, we’re not cancelling it, but if you think we are going to help you enforce an obviously discriminatory scheme, get stuffed”. The university is saying that provided same-sex spouses can get themselves to… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

I repeat, and urge the Archbishops’ advisors to note and adopt, the compromise arrangement that might de-fuse the situation, reduce legitimate dismay, ameliorate what is a terrible witness, and at least in some (very non-ideal) way make a step towards inclusion of gay and lesbian spouses, even if it could hardly be called ‘radical’ inclusion: In a spirit of recognition and acknowledgment of people closely supporting the lives and ministries of bishops (and that includes single bishops and widow/widower bishops as well as gay/lesbian bishops)… Make it known that not only spouses, but COMPANIONS, will be invited to the Lambeth… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Justin, sort this out!” Justin can’t. He’s in the position of the elderly patriarch who has tolerated his angry brother’s hatred for lesbians, and for the sake of a quiet life the elderly patriarch has so far convinced his daughter to introduce her wife as her “friend” and to pretend to have booked a twin room. But the daughter and her wife aren’t willing to carry on pretending, and some of the younger relatives rather like their aunt and aunt and don’t see why they should pretend any more either. Who cares about the angry brother? Why should everyone else… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Obviously this should have been done originally but if the change was made now GAFCON would see it simply as giving way to secular, liberal forces.

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

That is a very interesting suggestion, Susannah.

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest

This just got really interesting! What happens when the established church runs so far afoul of public sentiment on moral issues?

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

The University has really stepped up its game since the release of the initial communication. Clearly they have received a large measure of blow back . One wonders if further legal advice may have been a factor in this rather decisive update? Given that the conference is a booking by a non-university entity, offering accommodation on site to those impacted by the decision is something of a bold move. “…we also believe there are significant ethical concerns raised.” Indeed.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

Excellent response by the Council of the University of Kent.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Well! Here I was expecting the House of Commons to lecture the Archbishop of Canterbury on values, ethics, and morality. Yet here we see the University of Kent already doing exactly that.
What a spectacle. Edifying, though, in its way.
The culture is speaking to the Church, and speaking loudly. Is the Church listening?

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Yep, rather than some sort of English ‘etablishmentarianism’, it looks like the biggest problem now for the ACO and the discriminatory bishops in The Communion is just plain common decency and ‘significant ethical concerns’.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

How wonderful that the University of Kent is now responding to the legitimate concern of the student body and others who have taken exception to the university’s original acceptance of the Church of England’s decision to exclude same-sex spouses from attending the next Lambeth Conference being hosted on its Canterbury campus.

Let’s hope it is not too late for the ABC to change his mind and welcome all bishops and their spouses to the Conference.

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Heh, heh, heh. The ABC can uninvite same-sex spouses to the Lambeth Conference, but the University of Kent has now said that the spouses are more than welcome to stay in University housing and enjoy the other accommodations. Surely the ABC has no control over whom else the U of K invites to its property. Now, I don’t know what kind of side events take place at the Lambeth Conference, but if some of the provincial leaders or bishop-attendees decide to host a little soiree or discussion group where attendees and all spouses are invited, that would show that parts… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

I presume that the Conference organisers have assumed a certain level of attendance in their financial projections. If there is a sizeable boycott by GAFCON, could they still afford to pay the University? At this point, the Conference organisers may be unable to back down?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

I think you’ll find, Kate that bird has already flown. GAFCON just won’t attend a Conference which hosts Gay Bishops – never mind their spouses, full stop. That horse has already bolted for the ABC. He might as well call it quits and expand his horizon to welcome S/S spouses. We, on the other side of the world, are waiting for results!

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“GAFCON just won’t attend a Conference which hosts Gay Bishops”

In which case, why did anyone care who shares a room with whom, if GAFCON weren’t going to attend anyway? “We’re not coming anyway because of reason X, but you need to do what we say because otherwise we won’t come for reasons X and Y” hardly seems a strong negotiating position.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

I’d be surprised if the University’s bill was anything other than per-delegate per-day for lunch, coffee and rooms, per-delegate per-night for dinner, bed and breakfast. It’s possible they have negotiated a discount for volume (eleven bishops for the price of ten, that sort of thing) but it won’t be significant. And if it is, the university might honour it even if the numbers drop, just for the lols. In some affairs, universities make fools of themselves because having limitless intellectual resources available is sometimes no substitute for experience and wisdom. Several Russell Group universities have got in real messes overseas,… Read more »

Bernard
Guest
Bernard

I presume the University will also charge for the use of large meeting rooms, etc. That will be a fixed cost that the ACO will pay regardless of the number of attendees. The University will have no problem letting any extra rooms to individuals. See https://kenthospitality.kent.ac.uk/KxBnB/. It is to be hoped that the University will also accommodate those spouses who, even if invited, choose not to register but rather simply to turn up. And also civil partners. If it is clear that all spouses and CPs (and indeed bishops) will be welcome to be accommodated, presumably at much less expense… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“The University will have no problem letting any extra rooms to individuals.”

The Lambeth conference may have an exclusivity deal. But then, of course, its financial commitments will be rather stronger.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Virtue” Online? The article is vile. The comments are a cesspit. It should be published as widely as possible to see the sort of people that align themselves with GAFCON, and what “faithful Christianity” looks like.

Richard
Guest
Richard

Regarding the comments at VOL: have a read of comments posted by VOL readers on other websites; you’ll find some of the most hateful and racially offensive blather on the Internet. The archbishop of ACNA recently published guidelines for online (social media) commenting. VOL commenters did not recognize themselves as the archbishop’s intended audience.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

In addition to the interesting confusion over homophones (and there’s another interesting usage, come to think of it), I find Virtue Online’s general tone to be hilariously over the top. ” LGBTQI Western Gaystapo Anglican leadership”? “…stirring the pot of sodomite inclusion…”? Heavens, even Rush Limbaugh doesn’t use that sort of language!

Bernard
Guest
Bernard

And also note that he describes the executive secretary of the 1922 Committee as “an ultra-liberal politician”.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“If the university were not planning to play hard ball, they would have negotiated with the ACO in private” Absolutely “Your move” I think the ACO probably do nothing at this point. As you say, rearranging the conference elsewhere is highly problematic. Giving in and inviting same sex spouses – however they dress it up – is likely to cause the final split with GAFCON. Unless they can host the conference in the Cathedral and its precincts, using the University only for accommodation and dining, it is hard to see a good move. In their place, I would tough it… Read more »

Fr John Emlyn Harris-White
Guest
Fr John Emlyn Harris-White

As a former resident in the Canterbury Diocese, with close connections both to the University and the Cathedral ,I am mighty proud of the reaction and words of the University Council. Good on them. The odd person out both at the University and at the Cathedral is in my opinion the ABC. From experience I know both the Cathedral and University to be inclusive in word and action. Let the spouses come and find a true Kentish warm welcome.

Fr John Emlyn

Fr Keith
Guest
Fr Keith

Further sign that the church is losing control of the whole issue. Secular society will force a change – and no bad thing – so long as we continue to fudge and kick into long grass.

Barry
Guest
Barry

Kate may well be correct that the ABC and the Lambeth Conference organizers will try to tough thing out at present. That, after all, was the tactic of ++Canterbury and +Chichester when called to account over their shameful treatment of the memory of Bishop George Bell.
Meanwhile, it is important that those who are delighted by the spirited response displayed by the University of Kent contact that institution to assure Sir David Warren and Professor Karen Cox that they will have strong support from many Anglicans for holding firm to their university’s rejection of the discrimination displayed by our leaders.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

And now; we have the Anglican Diocese of Toronto’s College of Bishops expressing their disappointment at the ABC’s decision – which, in any case, will not mollify the GAFCONites who will not sit at the same Table with gay bishops (who have actually been invited, without their legal spouses). https://www.toronto.anglican.ca/2019/03/25/bishops-issue-statement-on-lambeth-2020/ Interestingly – perhaps as a consequence of Kent University’ offer to welcome the rejected spouses to be accommodated with their episcopal partners – the Toronto bishops have declared that their own same-sex partnered bishop will be at the University of Kent together with his S/S partner. It would seem that… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“They are not likely to be put off their divisive opposition by the ABC’s plan to exclude the very few S/S partners from Lambeth’s Agape Feast.”

If Toronto sends their bishop’s same-sex spouse to London, and the University of Kent offer accommodation to all spouses independent of invitations, then Mr. Mohan Sharma simply needs to get himself from London to Canterbury. Plenty of trains and an anytime single is about thirty quid: I’m sure someone will buy him a ticket.