Thinking Anglicans

Pre-Synod News and Opinion

The Church of England’s General Synod meets in London this week from Wednesday to Saturday.

Stephen Lynas bathwellschap Ch – ch – ch – ch – ch – changes
Stephen’s usual excellent introduction to this week’s business

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Hey ho, hey ho & it’s off to synod we go

Steven Croft Bishop of Oxford Rethinking Evangelism
an (unauthorised) background paper for the General Synod.

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Measuring the Footprint, Delivering the ambition?
“The continued debate on the London/Truro Diocesan Synod Motion”

Church Times leader Mission creeps

There are  links to the Synod agenda and papers here.

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Susannah Clark
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Susannah Clark

Andrew flags up the very informative document GS Misc 1200 which is a report about the Living in Love and Faith Project: https://www.churchofengland.org/media/16657 It is well worth reading Andrew’s article to get a handle on some of the passages from that report which he highlights. It points towards a Church that embraces difference as a part of its historic ecclesiology, and reflects how in a divided nation our Church could become a model of good disagreement. Of course, this may yet be wishful thinking, but it is encouraging to see those hopes embedded in the Project, and I’m grateful to… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Admin

I think you mean to refer to Stephen Lynas’s article.
GS Misc 1200 is now the subject of its own TA article.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Actually it’s Andrew’s article I was drawing attention to, Simon, because he homes in on some interesting language and thought processes in the LLF report. I commend Andrew’s highlighted passages for reflection and prayer.

Simon Sarmiento
Admin

Right, sorry to have misinterpreted.

Kate
Guest
Kate

I really can’t see any Gospel justification, though, for this modern trend of good disagreement. Certainly the Bible is a pioneer for radical inclusion and for avoiding judgement of people but it does not teach that the message of what is right and wrong should be blurred. Quite the contrary. We can see in the recent TA posts what a Church which places good disagreement and expediency at it’s heart looks like. Those who have survived sexual abuse are ignored and the expediency of the lawyers triumphs. Same sex spouses aren’t invited to Lambeth 2020 because of the fear of… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Kate, I think the banning of the gay and lesbian spouses is wrong, and part of that is that those couples have a right of conscience to live and believe the way they do. To invite them is to respect that conscience, just as inviting the heterosexual couples respects their right of conscience too. Where I don’t agree with you, is any suggestion that a priest should *have* to bless or marry a gay couple when that goes totally against that priest’s conscientious faith and belief. That would be domination and I simply don’t accept that. How could we do… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“I would never demand that a ‘conservative’ priest had to marry me. To do that would be to do exactly the thing I am opposed to – dominating someone else’s conscience. Rather, I would seek out the priests who *are* in good conscience willing to marry me.” The theological basis for recognising same sex marriages is essentially pastoral and no minister should be given an exemption from pastoral responsibilities. Being a minister carries certain obligations in terms of the pastoral needs of parishioners – that is part of the esse of the vocation. A shepherd how will only care for… Read more »

Simon Dawson
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Simon Dawson

Yet again, I sympathise with Kate’s views. “Good Disagreement sounds wonderful and full of Christian virtue, but is it? If we disagree over something that causes no harm to anybody then that is no problem. But if I believe that a persons actions cause real harm to people,then am I required to give that the freedom to follow his beliefs? Jayne Ozanne clearly documents the clinical evidence provided by many researchers in mental health of the harm to young LGBTQ+ people caused by anti gay views and anti gay actions. So if a priest argues that actions that we know… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

“Where I don’t agree with you, is any suggestion that a priest should ‘have’ to bless or marry a gay couple when that goes totally against that priest’s conscientious faith and belief. That would be domination and I simply don’t accept that.” I fully agree in the area of houses of worship. While I think officials of the State should be required to fulfill the duties of their office in issuing civil licenses when the State allows same-sex marriage, I think priests or religious ministers ought to be able to follow their own conscience at the parish or local house… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Yet again we are straying into clericalism. It seems that the only concern here is for the needs of the priest. Where is the balancing concern and discussion of the needs of the parishioners who are affected by the priest’s actions. Look to the powerless, not the powerful – surely a Gospel imperative. Marriage is not a good example to use, as candidates for marriage are adult and can go elsewhere. But what about the teenage children of parishioners in a large Evangelical church. They are much more powerless. What will good disagreement do to protect them from a damaging,anti… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

I was ONLY talking about same-sex marriage and a priest’s conscience.
I was not talking about anti-gay theology.
Or are you saying that priests who cannot in good conscience perform same-sex marriages are harmful to GLBT youth?

One question, and I ask this as someone not familiar with the canons, practices, and acts of Parliament that govern the CofE. If an adult heterosexual couple who are members of a local CofE church approach a church priest and ask him/her to marry them, is the priest obligated to do so?

Olivia
Guest
Olivia

The priest is obliged to conduct the marriage of a heterosexual couple who live in his/her parish, as long as neither has been married before (and neither has a GRC), and there is no legal impediment.

Mary Hancock
Guest
Mary Hancock

Peter, re the last question you raise. A heterosexual couple who have British or EU (currently – goodness knows after Brexit) nationality in England who qualify (at least one resident in the parish or has a qualifying connection as defined in the Marriage Measures 2008, and are of an age to marry, etc) has the legal right to be married in the parish church. There are some caveats re previous marriages where the ex-spouse is still alive. And if the priest on grounds of conscience will not marry those who have been divorced then they are not obliged to take… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Peter, I don’t know if you saw Simon Dawson’s excellent explanation before you posted your own comment? “Or are you saying that priests who cannot in good conscience perform same-sex marriages are harmful to GLBT youth?” I don’t know about Simon but yes I see priests who cannot marry same sex couples as potentially harmful to LGBT youth because they are saying that being gay, lesbian or trans is sinful. It is different to those priests who can’t ordain women because they aren’t saying that being female is sinful. In saying that being gay, lesbian or having gender dysphoria is… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

Indeed, why should the ‘conscience’ of priests override the safeguarding of LGBT youngsters?

At what point do we say ‘conscience or not’ this must be done? Do we allow people to act in all manner of harmful ways because of their conscience? Can a person’s conscience be wrong? Is there nothing that cannot be excused by conscience?

It’s back to that old, old question: who pays the price? Who is being asked to carry the burden?Who is being harmed in this equation? Whose spouses are not being invited to Lambeth? Can Christians really believe in normative moral relativism?

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Peter, my understanding is that a priest has a duty to marry all parishioners, or those with a connection to the church. Not only C of E churchgoers, but atheists, agnostics and those of many other faiths.

I am a gay Christian and lay minister, so my parish priest could not conduct my marriage. I am pretty sure that if I were a heterosexual Bhuddist my parish priest could not refuse.

Where does conscience fit here?

Mary Hancock
Guest
Mary Hancock

Indeed, Simon, I could not refuse as long as you had a qualifying connection and were not divorced, etc.

Olivia
Guest
Olivia

I can see a conscience argument here though. By marrying an atheist or a Buddhist to their opposite-sex partner, the priest is not condoning or facilitating their atheism or Buddhism (though the priest might have reasonable questions about why the atheist or Buddhist wants to marry under Christian vows, and what s/he means by taking them). By marrying a same-sex couple the priest is condoning or facilitating the recognition, or even the enactment, of a same-sex relationship. It does feel like a different level of conscientious objection to me, and I speak as one fully supportive of equal marriage. I… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

So is anything acceptable if conscience dictates? Because there is a sense that if you accept that, you are saying any views you can express are legitimate views. Would you allow an anti Semite to refuse to marry a Jewish couple because of their ‘conscience’ or a racist to refuse a mixed race marriage? If not, why is homophobia an acceptable conscientious position but racism is not? With great respect I ask you to look again at the sentence starting ‘by marrying…’. It’s pretty offensive that the love between two people can be described as something that is ‘condoned’ or… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Olivia. re: “though the priest might have reasonable questions about why the atheist or Buddhist wants to marry under Christian vows, and what s/he means by taking them”. Where I live in rural Wiltshire, the most common reason is that the church in question will make a fine back-drop for the wedding photos.

T Pott
Guest
T Pott

the priest might indeed have reasonable questions, but it would be grossly impertinent to ask them in such a way as to risk deterring the couple, or to ask them at all unless the couple were happy to answer. In a SSM the couple would promise to keep only to each other, which to those opposed to homosexuality, can only be a good thing?

Sarah Douglas
Guest

I’ve had a look at the Growing Faith document (one of the three evangelism ones, link from Stephen Lynas) about children and families and this really bothers me: “100% of Anglican parents recognising the importance of sharing faith with their children and actively engaging in this responsibility” Who is an Anglican parent? Surely belief is a spectrum – from the deeply committed through the interested and inquiring to the completely anti? At what point do these people become Anglican parents and a target that needs to be met for actively engaging in sharing their faith with their children? How will… Read more »

Peter Gross -- peterpi
Guest
Peter Gross -- peterpi

Thank you to everyone who answered my question regarding the obligations of a priest to marry a heterosexual couple.
In that case, I would say that the CofE canons/law/synod rulings should treat same-sex couples the same way.