Thinking Anglicans

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

Updated 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update

OneBodyOneFaith extends hospitality to shunned Lambeth partners

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

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

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Susannah Clark
1 year ago

“If I invite your spouses to the Lambeth Conference, there won’t be a Lambeth Conference.” So it’s not about what’s just and right, it’s about placating those who believe their view should be dominant, and who threaten non-attendance, departure or schism unless everyone does things their way? This is the same principle as ‘The Covenant’ which the Church of England rejected. It’s saying, there needs to be uniformity with consequences if people don’t comply with the status quo. It is certainly not ‘radical inclusion’. Are any of our own Bishops in the Church of England willing to express diverging views… Read more »

crs
crs
1 year ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

There could be a gathering on your terms. One could then venture how many bishops would attend. Would it be half of the bishops worldwide? Would it be half of the CofE bishops? That is one way to go forward. It would be “just and right” on your terms and one could count the cost and the fallout. It would obviously disclose who is on what side. As it stands, one could also boycott the event due to failure to invite spouses. This would also serve as a proxy. It sounds like the inviter and design group have decided there… Read more »

crs
crs
1 year ago
Reply to  crs

Actually, Rod, not at all.

My comment was directed at the idea a very different event would be preferable, in which same sex spouses were present. Kindly re-read it.

Most of the liberal commentary I am seeing wants the event called off; demands boycotting; issues justice denunciations. Is it that this worries you?

When both sides are outraged it is hard to see the outcome as anything but a bricolage without much purpose. But hey, plop down your 10K and have a good time.

crs
crs
1 year ago
Reply to  crs

I am unsure what your last paragraph means when it cites the statement I made about the proponent of this tack, Ms Clark. She wants same sex spouses present, as do you. Welby has walked this back, perhaps thanks to the Toronto event prior to Synod. Why he as inviter does not state this, but leaves it to Josiah Idowu-Fearon, is unclear. It may not be all that clear to them. I do not assume as much political acumen as apparently you do. Any visitor to Lambeth Palace is immediately struck by what a modest and under-staffed operation it it.… Read more »

crs
crs
1 year ago
Reply to  crs

Thank you, as always, Rod, for your views.

Angusian
Angusian
1 year ago
Reply to  crs

This concept was a proposal which preceded the 2008 Lambeth Conference, when a ‘Gathering’ was planned for South Africa, complete with a Design group and plans to include all elements of episcopal Christians. In spite of +Rowan’s enthusiastic support, costs proved prohibitive and the plan was shelved. The resulting conference was in no ways a ‘photo op’ but provided the ground for such projects as The Bible in the Communion, a serious initiative to stop abuse of women throughout the community and, of course, the Indaba process.

crs
crs
1 year ago
Reply to  Angusian

We held a conference at Wycliffe to celebrate the anniversary of the Toronto Congress, several years ago. Six Primates joined us, and Welby by skype. It is a great idea, though as you note, very expensive. It was never meant to be a replacement for Lambeth Conference, and it would not get at the problems now on the ground in relation to it. The last Congress took place at a time of heady ecumenical thinking, as well. It was not meant to alleviate the kinds of strains now besetting anglicanism, and deeply at its own ecclesial center.

crs
crs
1 year ago
Reply to  crs

PS — two footnotes. I used the phrase “photo-op” in its common usage, that is, more show than substance. But as for photo and media attention, this conference promises to be a real circus with side shows without number. Spouses interviewed, shows of umbrage, spouses at Kent fêtes, a real field day for social media.

Talk about a Congress could be a perfect way to change the subject, and that would be a shame. The problems facing Lambeth Conference have their own integrity.

crs
crs
1 year ago
Reply to  crs

Could be a good idea. Could be a bad idea. Could be an expensive and unworkable idea. But certainly not a replacement for Lambeth 2020 idea. Lambeth 2020 shows no evidence of entertaining a congress model, or in your jargon, “no ascendancy of hierarchy.” It is the quintessential “Bishops in Robes at Historic Locale” meeting.

At present issue is which bishops and which spouses and what kind of commotion and fall out.

crs
crs
1 year ago
Reply to  crs

Go for it, Rod. “Dream a little dream for me.”

I am, however, interested in the present reality and Lambeth 2020.

crs
crs
1 year ago
Reply to  crs

Mommas and Papas tune adapted to fit you.

If you want redesign, by the way, you may find it taking place in Jordan in 2020 at a called Primates Meeting. No dreamland that.

crs
crs
1 year ago
Reply to  crs

Good stuff.

You proud Canadian dreamer, who loves to speak vis-a-vis USA in my direction (even when I have lived half of my adult life in Europe…).

Here is the TEC response to Lambeth.

https://livingchurch.org/2019/02/21/this-is-not-the-way-of-love/

That wealthy if tiny TEC threatens to keep its money thank you. Ah yes, the bottom line. Money.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
1 year ago
Reply to  crs

“…who loves to speak vis-a-vis USA in my direction (even when I have lived half of my adult life in Europe…)….” I have no idea what this is about. As we say in Canada, sorry, eh.

crs
crs
1 year ago
Reply to  Rod Gillis

“I think that the day is coming when we will need to take a hard look at where and how we invest the resources of The Episcopal Church across the Anglican Communion.”

The Episcopal Church’s 2019-2021 budget pledges $1.15 million to the work of the Anglican Communion office.”

And in the same breath she speaks of how important it is that the ACC is governed by “British law.”

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Jeremy
Jeremy
1 year ago
Reply to  crs

Jesus seemed to think that money is important. He knew that to spend is to choose. Will The Episcopal Church choose to fund bigotry and discrimination? I hope not.

crs
crs
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy

I do not disagree. Why should TEC fund an ACC governed by British law? Everyone keeps going on about how important the ACC is. Fine. Let others support it. Or let it collapse. The latter would be a reasonable outcome and consistent with your view of TEC’s investments.

Cynthia Katsarelis
1 year ago
Reply to  crs

Under no circumstances was Gay Clark Jennings talking about withholding money from the ACC!!! Quite the opposite, she spoke lovingly of the ACC and the many partnerships that TEC has at the grassroots levels. She was suggesting putting more funding into the productive ministries and maybe not applying resources in the unproductive areas. That’s pretty literally what she said. It’s a pretty typical American Episcopalian view to want to be involved (and that includes funding) in loving ministries that have positive outcomes for the more vulnerable people of God. Despite my hot-headed, truly radically inclusive theology, I advocate that TEC… Read more »

Cynthia Katsarelis
1 year ago

We should remember that Welby called the 3 bishops whose spouses are excluded. Three. Welby dealt with them privately, which doesn’t excuse the awful policy, but it didn’t turn them and their children into public, sacrificial lambs. Sadly, Archbishop Idowu-Fearon’s blog post accomplished that. With a leadership willing to sacrifice the well being of children for their political goals, it may well be time to prioritize the ACC partnerships over Lambeth and Primate’s Meetings. Lock those men up (it’s mostly men) and let them duke it out, without hurting others. We’ll wrap ++Michael Curry in bubble wrap to keep him… Read more »

Jeremy
Jeremy
1 year ago

I’m much more skeptical about the privacy of the Archbishop’s discriminatory disinvitations. I infer that he hoped that his bigotry would not come to light. A foolish hope on his part.

crs
crs
1 year ago

After angrily denouncing the actions of the the Gen Sec and ABC,

“Jennings suggested that, if the communion cannot resolve to invite all of the bishops’ spouses, “I think that the day is coming when we will need to take a hard look at where and how we invest the resources of The Episcopal Church across the Anglican Communion.”

Cynthia Katsarelis
1 year ago
Reply to  crs

And then she talked about the many productive partnerships at the grassroots level within the ACC. Essentially she’s talking about minimizing engagement with some “instruments of communion” while maximizing others.

You have to look at the whole cloth, not just the bit that justifies your opinion.

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
1 year ago

‘Lifelong union’. So Bishops or their spouses who have divorced and remarried will be excluded too? No, I didn’t think so.

John Peet
John Peet
1 year ago

If the presence of same sex spouses causes such problems, would it not be simplest (and fairest) not to invite any spouses at all? I don’t remember my wife ever coming with me to diocesan clergy conferences (not that she would have wanted to!)

Richard
Richard
1 year ago
Reply to  John Peet

I agree with the idea of not inviting spouses at all. The cost to send a diocesan (nevermind suffragans, assistants, etc.) is already an expense that most dioceses cannot afford. Self-styled “orthodox” websites ridicule Lambeth as a “shopping trip to London.”

Susannah Clark
1 year ago
Reply to  John Peet

There is such a huge gender disparity between men and women in the leadership of the Anglican Communion, that it’s probably good that spouses get invited, so that more women are present. It doesn’t put things right, and women are still going to be subordinated and marginalised in the event, but the very masculine nature of most Lambeth invitees is pretty offensive really. I don’t favour people boycotting the meeting – we should all try to stand together – but I certainly think the banning of gay and lesbian partners should be resisted, called out, protested against, and hopefully some… Read more »

Jim Pratt
Jim Pratt
1 year ago

When Tom Shaw, SSJE, was bishop of Massachusetts, the Superior of SSJE attended meetings of the House of Bishops as his “spouse”, at meetings to which spouses were invited. Does anyone know if Martin Smith attended Lambeth 1998 with Tom? If so, it would be a precedent for non-traditional spousal participation at Lambeth. And there have been stories of second wives in polygamous marriages attending in the past, though not in any official capacity. Ultimately, I think Welby will satisfy no one. Nigeria and Uganda will still boycott, because Glasspool, Robertson and Brown are invited. And TEC and Canada will… Read more »

crs
crs
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Pratt

Your last paragraph is spot-on. One might wonder if this is the last hurrah. Slicing and dicing can get one hurt in time. The Gafcon reactions are already in the public domain and have been. It will be interesting to see how the umbrage on behalf of missing same sex spouses plays out concretely. Lots of drama. And hard to prévoir.

Revd Dean Henley
Revd Dean Henley
1 year ago

What about bishops in civil partnerships? Obviously they’re celibate but they could have separate bedrooms and still enjoy the same companionship enjoyed by bishops with their opposite sex spouses.

Stanley Monkhouse
1 year ago

I’ve said it before, and I say it again. The only solution is to have CCTV cameras installed in every room in clergy houses. These will have to be connected to a central monitoring station manned by staff on the lookout for clerical hanky-panky. This will require the publication of a table, like the Table of Kindred and Affinity, which sets out which anatomical structures may be played with, and which orifices may have things inserted into them, together with other details like periodicity and frequency. Lambeth Palace can employ a whole tranche of “pleasure police”. Or rather “displeasure police”.… Read more »

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
1 year ago

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon: “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.” “Given this [Lambeth I.10 1998]”, it would also be “inappropriate”… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
1 year ago
Reply to  Judith Maltby

‘the Anglican Communion’s position on marriage which is that it is the lifelong union of a man and a woman’

This man is smart enough to know that ‘the Anglican Communion’ does not have a position on marriage. The Lambeth Conference does, but it is not the same thing.

Jeremy
Jeremy
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim Chesterton

Good point. Of course an archbishop Secretary-General will tend to think that bishops speak for the Communion. But that is not so.
More fundamentally, to say that “the Communion” takes a view on anything presupposes a unitary structure that simply doesn’t exist.

Cynthia Katsarelis
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim Chesterton

This is how our President of the House of Deputies described it: “Now, because this is not my first Anglican rodeo, I would like to point out a few things. The first is a misconception about the Anglican Communion’s governance that Archbishop Idowu-Fearon promulgated in his blog post. He said that the Anglican Communion’s position on marriage is defined by a resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. But that is not how the Anglican Communion works. The Anglican Communion has four “Instruments of Communion:” the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting, and the Anglican Consultative Council. The… Read more »

Jeremy
Jeremy
1 year ago

That could have been better phrased.
It may be the job of the Anglican Consultative Council to “set policy” for the ACC, a registered charity. But the ACC, as its name suggests, does not “set policy” for any church that comprises the Anglican Communion. Each church has its own policy-making structure.
The Anglican Communion is a family of independent churches. Nothing more.

Richard Grand
Richard Grand
1 year ago

It’s interesting and strange in today’s world that such a fuss is made about what whose spouses can attend. I thought it was bishops who attend. Period. The importance placed on spouses (i.e. heterosexual ones) seems a strange emphasis. What does this have to do with the work and mission of the Church? Is every clerical appointment or Episcopal election predicated on who their spouse is? Why are the spouses even atttending at all? If the spouses are such a stumbling block, what does this tell us about the real priorities of the Chuch? Do we preach Christ, crucified and… Read more »

Kate
Kate
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Grand

Had the previous format of a separate spouses’ program been continued, it would have been hard for a bishop to give the invitation of same-sex spouses as a reason for boycott since bishops would not directly be affected.

It is the novel idea of including spouses in the main program which elevated same-sex spouses to such a major area of contention. Surely the problem was foreseen? Why then was the novel change introduced this Lambeth Conference of all Lambeth Conferences?

Bernard
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Grand

If I find out that I am invited to something as a spouse, but not all other spouses are invited, then I just politely decline the invitation. If we discover that my wife is invited but other spouses are not, then I’ll attend alone (or perhaps not at all.) It’s very hurtful for some spouses to be invited and not others. Indeed, exclusion from social occasions (which is what this is) is a frequent form of workplace bullying. Sadly this action has put every bishop’s spouse into the invidious position of having to decide whether to decline the invitation. It’s… Read more »

Kate
Kate
1 year ago

And that, Simon, is yet another example of why the exemptions in the Equality Act need to go.

Bernard
1 year ago

But was that bishop’s spouse or partner, if any, interviewed by the CNC when they were appointed?

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Grand

Richard Grand In large parts of the Anglican communion the spouse is effectively the co-leader with the bishop and a very important presence. It is not the Western way and I get how strange it looks (speaking as a Western spouse who has been invited too). But where they are significant players, sharing the load and cost of ministry, they are arguably as much in need of support, encouragement and resourcing as the Bishop.

Richard Grand
Richard Grand
1 year ago
Reply to  David Runcorn

So “support, encouraging and resourcing” of spouses is also the agenda of Lambeth? This still doesn’t make it OK to exclude anyone. Presumably some need “support, encouraging, and resourcing” more than others-and same sex spouses least of all.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
1 year ago

When were spouses first invited? Was it 1978?

Mary Hancock
Mary Hancock
1 year ago

I guess that most bishops have spouses or partners. But, speaking as a widow, what does the inclusion of spouses say about singleness as well as same sex spouses or partners?

Richard Grand
Richard Grand
1 year ago
Reply to  Mary Hancock

Single people, including single clergy, are discriminated against in many churches, including ours-although ours is more subtle. Divorced clergy are viewed with suspicion, espcially of they have not remarried. After all, they might be “on the make.” Singe clergy are regarded as weird because they couldn’t find a spouse, but mostly because they might be gay. Hide the children. Every parish that calls itself a “family church” tell unmarried, divorced, widowed, or gay people that they are less desirable as new members and that they are definitely second class. How many times has someone said “we need young families”, which… Read more »

Jim Pratt
Jim Pratt
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Grand

Richard,
Just this week, I was digging in our parish archives for some information on our organ, and came across a reminiscence by the brother of the first organist, mostly about operating the hand-powered pump. But he also mentioned the rector of the time (1890s), a recently ordained young man, whom all the matrons of the parish invited around to tea with their unmarried daughters. To quote “but he was of the ‘Cowley persuasion'”, and as he did not respond appropriately to their overtures, they complained to the bishop.

Susannah Clark
1 year ago
Reply to  Mary Hancock

That’s a really good point, Mary. Single people and widows can indeed feel left out or somewhat side-lined in some areas of church life. Families with kids will often (understandably) socialise with other families with kids (so the kids can have companionship, or just sharing cars to events. It is quite easy, if you are asking people round for a meal, to forget the single person. In the case of this Lambeth Conference, though I completely agree with David that spouses often share ministry as a unit with their partner, and with similar personal sacrifice and devotion to the task… Read more »

Kate
Kate
1 year ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

If there is a vote on a resolution do you think those wives will get a vote? Might having so many supernumerary women attending give the impression that the Anglican Church sees women as inferior?

Mary Hancock
Mary Hancock
1 year ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

Thanks, Susannah. It hadn’t occurred to me until I remembered being a singleton ordinand at an away weekend at theological college when married ordinands were accompanied by their spouses. And I remember how I (and other singletons) felt about that. The weekend didn’t encourage and develop collegiality among the ordinands as much as it would have if the spouses had not been there. I appreciate the other points made by you and others for and against bishops’ spouses at Lambeth – and I really don’t know what the best answer would be.

Simon R
Simon R
1 year ago

Not only (@Jim Pratt) did Martin Smith SSJE accompany Bishop Tom Shaw to the 1998 Lambeth Conference (I still have a copy of the homily he gave on what he witnessed of the debate leading to *that* resolution when he returned to the monastery in Cambridge, Mass., quoting Richard Holloway as saying he understood what it was like to be at a Nurenberg rally); but I was told by a couple of off-message bishops who were there that several other bishops from the Global South were there with their ‘official’ wife plus their ‘other’ wife. Will that be the case… Read more »

Will Richards
Will Richards
1 year ago

Interesting point by @ Simon R. I was also told of another (allegedly) Richard Hollowayism from that particular Lambeth Conference, where George Carey was described, when processing down the nave of Canterbury Cathedral, as ‘like a lorry driver in drag’!

crs
crs
1 year ago
Reply to  Will Richards

Ah yes, another strong and true reason to be an anglican, and just what Holloway would see as at the heart of Lambeth Conference.

Remind us, what he is doing now? When I was living in St Andrews he had dropped from view. If you cease being a “gadfly in anglican drag” you lose your “radical” curb appeal. God bless him.

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
1 year ago
Reply to  crs

“Remind us, what he is doing now?”
He is writing fluently and reflectively in retirement which is a great deal more than can be said for many of us. His recent books are masterpieces.

crs
crs
1 year ago

I see the notice that Welby has scheduled a Primates Meeting in January 2020, in Jordan, prior to the Lambeth Conference. Lambeth Conference is to be discussed.

Cynthia Katsarelis
1 year ago

It’s even more crass than I knew. TEC’s President of the House of Deputies has responded: “When Bishop Robertson and his husband were married late last year, after nine years together, we learned from media reports that they are the parents of two little children. I cannot overlook the fact that the Anglican Communion Office has created a public situation in which two children are learning that the hierarchy of the church considers their family to be a source of shame and worthy of exclusion.” Before that part, she wrote: “In short, the universe of people directly affected by this… Read more »

Susannah Clark
1 year ago

Ah the ACC, who resisted the Primates’ call for consequences/sanctions against provinces that affirmed gay and lesbian sexuality. You will recall, that when the ACC ‘received’ copies of the Primates’ ‘directive’, Justin tried to persuade the media that meant that by ‘receiving’ it they had accepted it. A statement was then released, explaining that no, ‘received’ did NOT mean they accepted its instructions and implementation, it simply meant the document had ‘arrived’. On that occasion, I was pretty disappointed at what I still think was reckless spin and attempted manipulation of facts. It was like saying that because you receive… Read more »

Jeremy
Jeremy
1 year ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

Yes, I do recall that dustup. It’s worth remembering how slippery and deceptive this Archbishop can be.

James Dugan
James Dugan
1 year ago

Why invite spouses at all?

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