Saturday, 31 July 2004

More about Ken Kearon

First, the Church Times printed an interview by Bill Bowder
‘Respect must be the basis’.

Second, Peter Akinola has published the following letter. It appears on the official Nigerian provincial website, but as it is impossible to read in the browser that I normally use, I reproduce the wording in full below the fold.

And third, I have added a comment about the job title to my earlier entry here.

And another update (hat tip to KH): BBC Radio Ulster Sunday Sequence interview (Real Audio).


Monday, 26 July 2004

Primates & Moderators
Anglican Communion,

Grace, love and peace from God our Father to you and all yours.

I write with a heavy heart concerning the recently announced appointment of a new general secretary for the Anglican Consultative Council. To say the least I am very disappointed at the action that fails to take cognizance of the feelings and yearnings of those of us in the global south.

You will recall that when the Primates met in a private session at the Primates’ Meeting, Gramado, Brazil, I expressed the view of many of us with regards to how the ACC secretariat was staffed.

Below are the exact words I used:

“At this time, when the ACO/ACC is committing itself to establishing its new global headquarters in Paddington, London, it is appropriate to ask why it is that the staffs so poorly represent the wider Anglican Communion of the South. Anytime you see any non-Western face at the secretariat, he is either an intern or an office errand boy or a copy typist! We are deeply grateful to those who work for the church in the ACC/ACO at present. Yet, it is surely time to ask that, in the future, staff should also be appointed who reflect the views of the majority of the members of our Communion, two thirds of who live in the global South. It is vital that we have staff, at the most senior as well as junior levels, which represent the viewpoint of the global South of the church”

In his response, ACC chair, Presiding Bishop John Paterson, sought to allay our fears and reassured that in future appointments efforts would be made to erase the impression I referred to above.

We see in this latest appointment that nothing has changed and that what we thought and believe to be a world-wide Communion is actually now being portrayed to be no more than “western section communion”

I must add that I have nothing against the person of the man so appointed.

My grouse is with the system that continues to fail to reckon with the fact that this Church and its structure is no longer the exclusive preserve of any section of the western world. You cannot continue to marginalise and treat as irrelevant a very large section of the Anglican Communion and continue to expect that section for which you have no regard to be happy in the fellowship. And I hope no one is under the illusion that there are no qualified and competent men and women in the two-thirds world to do this job.

This is the Church of God, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Amen and Amen.

The LORD be with you.


The Most Revd. Peter J Akinola, CON, DD
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of all Nigeria.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 31 July 2004 at 6:58 PM GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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AM reviews Stephen Bates

Stephen Bates’s book A Church at War is the subject of a 3000 word article on “Anglican Mainstream”.

Review and Response to Bates’ Church at War
(my review, which is mentioned by AM but not linked :-( was only1800 words, and included lengthy direct quotes).

Unsurprisingly, Andrew Goddard and Chris Sugden don’t really like the book. Interestingly in their quest for errors, they make no criticisms of the pages of the book which refer either to the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (where Chris Sugden works), to Anglican Mainstream itself, or to them personally. They do however catch an error that I missed: Wycliffe Hall (where Andrew Goddard works) is not called Wycliffe House.

These apparently accurate references include, for example, this description of OCMS funding:

…The OCMS is a group based in a converted North Oxford church, whose raison d’etre is to liaise with and foster educational opportunities for developing-world Evangelicals, and it was to take an increasingly partisan and shrill stance on the homosexual issue over the coming years. It was also happy to see the ex-Christian Reconstructionist, the American millionaire Howard Ahmanson - and other wealthy Americans - give support to its projects and to place one of Ahmanson’s employees on its management team.

And this description of Anglican Mainstream’s petition:

The numbers were fairly slow in coming but jumped suddenly when archbishops from Uganda, South East Asia, the Congo, Central Africa, Kenya, the Indian Ocean and South America signed up every member of their archdioceses. [page 214, another error that I missed too, he means provinces] This suddenly produced 13 million supporters, which Mainstream blandly announced represented ‘a majority’ of the 70 million-strong Anglican Communion - shaky maths and shakier polling practice. For good measure, the petition announced that Robinson had only been endorsed by ‘a minority group’ in the American church…

But even more interestingly they make no serious attempt to deny Bates’s main thesis of a power-driven conspiracy within the CofE by Evangelicals. Indeed they provide a lovely quote for a revised dust jacket: “almost impossible to refute” :-)

Collectors of such reviews may also wish to note this one which I have failed to link to previously.

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Saturday columnists

Bishop Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times that There’s nothing wrong in kneeling before a loving God. Part of what he says:

Kneeling to say your prayers was one of the most characteristic postures of earlier generations of Christians. Many novels and memoirs speak of the courage of those who, in barracks or school dormitories, showed their faith by kneeling to pray. A. A. Milne’s Christopher Robin famously kneels at the foot of the bed to say his prayers.

Kneeling, however, is not exactly in fashion in churches today. There may be a dazzling display of beautifully worked tapestry kneelers, a testimony to the talents of the congregation, but more often than not, even in cathedrals, the instruction will be “kneel or sit”, and most will sit.

At one level it seems trivial, but something has been lost here. We are bodily beings, and “body language” is something we all recognise. Newspapers carry articles analysing the nervous scratching of the nose, the twisting of a ring, the tugging at a cuff, to judge whether the politician or celebrity is at ease. We welcome close friends with an embrace. We do not convey our love and affection to another by sitting and telepathising intently at them. When Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, it was a deep undermining of the love, loyalty and affection that greeting with a kiss conveys.

You really need to read the whole article.

Ruth Gledhill attended a service at The Royal Foundation of Saint Katherine
for the At Your Service column. The sermon she writes about can be found here.

Over in the Guardian, Giles Fraser writes again about Rethinking Sentencing in The price of punishment and Karen Armstrong writes about the need for collective responsibility in Kill the scapegoat.

In the Independent there is a review of Stephen Bates’ book by Paul Vallely. But it is accessible only to subscribers :-(

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Friday, 30 July 2004

CT comments on Reform

Today, the Church Times carries a news report on the Reform statement discussed here earlier, Reform is ‘estranged’ in 11 dioceses, it declares, and also has a leader part of which comments directly on the matter:

Reform has issued a fresh statement that publicly declares impaired communion with bishops of named dioceses, and sets out its ominous intention of soliciting “adequate” episcopal ministry, and of requiring bishops to assent to three propositions in order to gain acceptance. This does seem, on the face of it, to take matters a step further. “We believe”, say its authors frankly, “it would be wrong to countenance delay and possible inaction.”

If this remains Reform’s considered view, then it will be obliged to act accordingly. But we wonder whether Reform is not in fact distancing itself from a large and fairly conservative constituency that would take an altogether more cautious line, and includes congregations no less thriving and zealous than those led by some of Reform’s supporters.

The appointment of Jeffrey John to the deanery of St Albans is one thing, and in many minds not at all the same thing as the elevation of Gene Robinson to the episcopate in New Hampshire. But there may well be an element of summer silliness not only in the timing of Reform’s statement, but in taking it as more than a message to the Lambeth Commission drafted in terms designed not to be ignored. Since it has set up a panel to offer Anglican leaders advice, Reform may also be willing to listen to the Commission’s advice when it comes.

The dioceses named by Reform are at least eleven because they mention

Hereford, Leicester, Newcastle, Ripon and Leeds, St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, Salisbury, Truro and Worcester [those who signed a letter in support of Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading; of course the Bp of Hereford in question has since retired, has Reform noticed?]

Oxford and St Albans (whose diocesans have sought to promote Canon John to senior office)

some other dioceses where bishops have publicly supported the “gay-agenda” [an unknown further number]

and Canterbury, where the Archbishop holds that homosexual relationships can be compatible with Christian discipleship.

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Tuesday, 27 July 2004

Reform paper in full

The full text of the paper published by Reform today and referenced in the adjacent news item can be found below the fold.

The same paper can now also be found here and now even here on the Reform website!

Ways Forward in the Present Crisis for the Church of England

“ … we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion.” (Statement from Anglican Primates, 16th October 2003)

The crisis that is upon us has been precipitated by some Episcopal churches in the USA and Canada approving certain same-sex relationships. However, that crisis is not simply about the consequences for the wider Anglican Communion. It has also brought to a head a crisis within our own Church of England. Although the Church of England has not itself yet taken any formal steps towards the approval of relationships involving same-sex intercourse, and while a number of bishops have courageously spoken out against such developments, it is clear that a significant number of our church leaders – both bishops and clergy – promote an outlook which is not substantially different from the one held by those who have provoked the present crisis in the USA and Canada. We believe this has happened because there has been a move away from trusting the authority and sufficiency of the Bible, and towards accommodating secular ideas of credal diversity; and also because both bishops and clergy have failed to “drive away” false doctrine. This diversity is demonstrated by a recent survey finding (Christian Research 1998) that 49% of clergy do not believe that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way by which we can be saved.

How should Church of England evangelicals respond to this crisis? Some believe we should wait for the Eames Commission to report, since this might make disciplinary action within the wider Anglican Communion possible and have helpful spin-off effects for the Church of England. While we acknowledge that the Primates have recognised the seriousness of the present position, most notably in their statement of October 2003, we are not confident that the present approach matches the urgency of problem we face. We believe it would be wrong to countenance delay and possible inaction in the face of such clear defiance of God’s Word by some of our leaders. This paper therefore outlines the case for action and has been prepared as a basis for consultation with members.

1. A fundamental issue

Sexual intercourse within same-sex relationships is not a matter for debate. Bible passages such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 list this amongst various forms of sexual activity that, if they are lifestyle choices and not lapses subsequently confessed as wrong, will preclude people from entering the Kingdom of God. Clarity about this is therefore a salvation issue. What is at stake here is the very gospel of Christ, since if we will not accept the Bible’s definition of sin, it is difficult to explain which of God’s standards we intend to take seriously and on what basis; why salvation is needed; or what were the reasons for Christ’s propitiating sacrifice on the cross. We need to recognise this as a fundamental issue if we are ever to resolve the disunity that its emergence has caused. Jude 4 speaks of “godless men, who change the grace of our God into a licence for immorality”. Issues of immorality were fundamental then as they are for us now.

Some Christians believe that the issue of same-sex intercourse has become too charged. They are prepared to concede that the Bible could be interpreted as affirming the commitment of a faithful and exclusive same-sex relationship rather than condemning the sinfulness of any sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage. However, this is not compatible with serious biblical exegesis as Robert Gagnon has shown in his exhaustive study: ‘The Bible and Homosexuality (The Texts and the Hermeneutics)’. The recent discussion document from the House of Bishops Group on Issues in Human Sexuality itself reaches a not dissimilar conclusion: “ … the hermeneutical principles … and the consensus of biblical scholarship, still point us in the direction of the Church’s traditional reading of the biblical material.”

2. Discipline is needed

Canon A5 makes it clear that the whole church is under the authority of Scripture. Clergy are specifically charged by the Ordinal to “provide for the Lord’s family, to search for His children in the wilderness of this world’s temptations and to guide them through its confusions so that they may be saved through Christ for ever.” Under Canon C18, bishops have the duty of “driving away strange and erroneous opinions”. All of this implies discipline about what is taught in the church. We fully accept that this will mean engaging in a careful and gentle process pastorally with individuals as well as firmness where needed. However, there is no room for compromise in our teaching and necessary action. Our unity in the church is primarily confessional – ie we are united by what we believe, not by how much we are prepared to compromise.

The Bible says that special care should be taken to ensure that those with teaching roles in the church should avoid error and that believers should be on their guard against those who are ‘false’ teachers (eg 2 Peter 3:17). We are warned against tolerating teachers whose teaching leads to sexual immorality (Revelation 2:20) and urged to keep away from those who cause divisions by teaching contrary to apostolic teaching (Romans 16:17). Wherever we find such false teaching, whether among bishops, theologians, or even synods, we have no option but clearly to distance ourselves from it both by our teaching and by our practice.

3. We will not willingly secede

The authority of God’s Word lies at the heart of the Church of England’s confession. The Church of England is therefore a natural home for evangelicals and we will not willingly surrender it to a revisionist minority. It is this same commitment to God’s Word that aligns us with the mainstream majority in the worldwide Anglican Communion. We recognise that the Bible emphasizes the primacy of the local congregation, as does the Church of England, but this does not mean we are Congregationalist. We rejoice in the fact that we are a connectional church and thus look forward to the possibility of deepening our links with faithful brothers and sisters throughout the Communion and beyond.

We, therefore, see no reason why we should leave our church. However, we do believe it is incumbent on each congregation to stand firm in this current crisis and to safeguard their Anglican heritage. Our primary interest is not so much in the formal structures, as in our commitment to the Church of England ‘by law established’ and what that means doctrinally. Even so, we realise that maintaining that commitment may well involve action that others find uncongenial.

4. Continued gospel work is vital

The gospel remains the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). Millions in this country are without Christ and perishing. The task of preaching the gospel is as urgent and, under God, as effective as ever. In the New Testament, Paul’s letters (eg 1 Thessalonians 2) show that in the face of much opposition, he persevered in preaching the gospel and training teachers. We must do the same even if their training and subsequent placement in full-time ministry prove controversial.

5. Principled action is required

The crisis facing us is not just that of doctrinal confusion over human sexuality, but a surrender of significant parts of the Church of England to a liberal unscriptural agenda, thus creating a huge gulf between those parts and what is at the heart of the Church of England’s confession. This has led to a serious decline: between 1989 and 1998, church attendance fell by nearly a quarter. “Slow death” is a situation not unknown in large secular corporations and industries. Management consultants identify three possible responses for those involved:

a) Peace and pay. This is where people maintain the status while hoping that the organisation will survive until their retirement when others can deal with the problem.

b) Active exit. In the church, this would mean leaving the ordained ministry or changing denomination.

c) Deep change. This is the only solution to “slow death”. It means caring enough to exercise the courage to confront issues. It can involve a) ‘breaking the rules’ (some of which may be strangling the organisation to death) – in the church this means not any, but principled irregularity; b) risking jobs; and c) driving forward into an uncertain and unplanned future.

6. Alternatives

Some evangelicals believe this is too gloomy an assessment and that other options are available. In practice these are:

a) Believing the issue will be resolved. In many cases, while people in this category may be avoiding wider engagement with the current controversy, their energies may be concentrated on actively furthering the gospel by outreach, church planting and internal growth. The drawback to this position is that it can be congregationalist in outlook. If we believe in a connectional church, we should act in the interests of others. Furthermore, as things currently stand, confidence in the ability of the church to resolve matters satisfactorily may be misplaced. As the February 2004 meeting of the General Synod demonstrated, many are now moved more by sentiment than consideration of the Biblical position.

b) Believing the issue is ‘important’ rather than ‘fundamental’. Many who believe this join with us by engaging in debate and working within the structures of the church in the hope of winning hearts and minds to the Biblical position. Many such would also support the 1998 Lambeth statement on Biblical authority and human sexuality. However, it is difficult to see how this approach can stop the general drift towards liberalism that is taking place in the churches of the Northern hemisphere. Support for Lambeth ’98 did not stop the consecration of Gene Robinson, or prevent the Bishop of Oxford proposing that Jeffrey John become a bishop.

By contrast, Reform regards the issue of homosexual relationships as fundamental. We do not believe that the scale of the present crisis can be adequately addressed through the processes of synodical government, although we still intend to participate. We believe the time has now come for churches and individuals to take a stand on this issue and to work for ‘deep change’ within the Church of England.

7. Initiatives For ‘Deep Change’

On 9th February 2004, 13 Primates from the global south issued a statement saying that by its actions ECUSA had separated itself from the rest of the Anglican Communion. The statement continued:

‘We ask you to join in our repentance for failing to be sufficiently forthright in adequately addressing this issue in the past, and we invite you to stand with us in a renewed struggle to uphold the received truth found in Jesus and His word.’

If we believe a fundamental crisis is upon us, we must act in a way that adequately addresses the issue. The time has now come to join our brothers and sisters elsewhere in the Anglican Communion who are having to decide where their communion lies, or what happens when there is ‘Impaired Communion’.

8. Impaired Communion

Impairment of communion is already a reality in the Church of England and within other Provinces of the Anglican Communion. ‘Impaired Communion’ is a term coined by the Lambeth Conference. It is a form of principled estrangement,where a church is no longer able to accept the ‘spiritual’ oversight of its bishop on principled biblical grounds. Impaired communion means a refusal to accept the bishop’s ministry in ‘sacred things’ (as distinct from ‘non-sacred things’ – the ‘temporal’ oversight, for example, in faculty matters). Nor is this an innovation. Under the liberal Bishop Barnes of Birmingham (1924-53) there was a serious impairment of communion in the Birmingham Diocese. Both Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical churches refused his spiritual ministry. When the Bishop then would not institute a man to St Mark’s, Washwood Heath, the Archbishop of Canterbury instituted him in Lambeth Palace Chapel on 7 July 1931. (A.Vidler, Scenes from a clerical life. ) More recently Anglo-Catholics have had serious ‘impairments’ over the ordination of women. For evangelicals the positive toleration of, or the teaching of, the rightness of sexual relationships outside marriage, including homosexual relationships however “stable”, is an ‘error too far’ (1 Cor 6.9-11; Rev 2.20-25). Nor is this a fixation with sexual sins. Were Bishops to teach (or tolerate the teaching) that theft, greed, alcohol abuse, slander or fraud (cf 1 Cor 6.10) were compatible with Christian discipleship (and on occasion to be celebrated), there would be a similar outcry and calls for alternative oversight.

9. Practical implications

The practical evidence of impaired communion may include the refusal to accept the bishop’s ministry in preaching, confirmation or ordination; non-attendance at certain diocesan meetings and services; or the re-routing of financial giving away from diocesan funds towards more orthodox uses.

Impaired communion is a reality in varying degrees in those dioceses whose bishops publicly supported the appointment of Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading (Hereford, Leicester, Newcastle, Ripon and Leeds, St Edmunsbury and Ipswich, Salisbury, Truro and Worcester); in Oxford and St Albans, whose diocesans have sought to promote Canon John to senior office; and in some other dioceses where bishops have publicly supported the “gay-agenda”. Sadly, there are also problems in Canterbury, where the Archbishop holds that homosexual relationships can be compatible with Christian discipleship.

10. A simple way

Members of Reform, if they have not done so already, should seek to establish where their diocesan bishop stands on the issue of human sexuality. Where they are unable to hold to orthodox biblical teaching, churches should declare that they are in ‘impaired communion’ - such is the crisis in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

The simplest way to discover where our bishops stand is to ask them whether the propositions that Reform agreed at its National Conference in October 2002 command their assent. The propositions were:

1) The received teaching of the church is that all its members are to abstain from sexual relations outside holy (heterosexual) matrimony;

2) There is a need for appropriate discipline* within the church where there are sexual relations outside holy (heterosexual) matrimony;
3) Only those should be ordained who themselves will teach, and seek to model in their own lives, the received teaching of the church that all its members are to abstain from sexual relations outside holy (heterosexual) matrimony.

*“appropriate discipline” can be exercised by private discussion with the person concerned, by public denunciation of such behaviours when there is no repentance, and, extremely, by church legal action if judged “appropriate”.

11. Adequate Episcopal Oversight
As impaired communion can only be temporary, what is now being called in the Anglican Communion ‘Adequate Episcopal Oversight’ will, therefore, be sought during the absence of spiritual oversight. There will be appeals to bishops elsewhere in the Communion who, like the 13 Primates from the Global South, are willing to take a stand.

‘Impaired communion’ presents particular challenges for churches when it comes to proposing candidates for training to the ordained ministry and then subsequently placing them in title posts. This brings us to an important proposal: the establishment of a panel of reference.

12. Establishing a Panel of Reference for recognition of ministry within the wider church

Where a parish is in impaired communion with a Diocesan bishop, many of the normal diocesan legal and administrative arrangements will temporarily have to continue. However, when a parish in impaired communion wishes to put forward a candidate for training for the ordained ministry or to have a curate, new arrangements will be required. There will be difficulties in not being able to turn to the Diocesan bishop. We therefore propose the establishment of a panel of reference. Potential candidates could then be referred to this panel to evaluate their suitability for training. At the end of the training, the panel can advise those bishops willing to provide alternative oversight, on a candidate’s suitability for ordination.

We see a panel of reference as providing an essential form of accountability within the wider orthodox church in relation to the discernment of ministry, albeit on a temporary basis until the present doctrinal confusion is resolved. It will provide a degree of confidence that parishes and individuals are not taking advantage of the unusual situation of impaired communion to promote the personal interests of individuals who may be unsuitable for ordination while at the same time encouraging necessary action.

13. Implications for Reform

After a period of reflection and consultation which we believe demonstrates both a steadiness of purpose and a commitment to address the present crisis ,we now intend to present these matters to the National Conference where they can be discussed. Issues relating to impairment of communion and the establishing of a panel of reference can be considered as we seek to discern God’s will for the future.

July 2004

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Reform wages war

Today’s issue of The Times has an article by Ruth Gledhill
Bishops face cash boycott for supporting gay priests which says in part:

Evangelicals in the Church of England are planning to boycott and withhold funds from bishops who support gay priests.

The plans, published yesterday, have been drawn up by Reform, the influential conservative evangelical grouping that represents up to a third of the 9,000 stipendiary clergy in the Established Church.

If the proposals are endorsed, as expected, at the Reform conference in October, evangelical parishes whose bishops support the liberal gay agenda will refuse to allow them into their churches to perform confirmations and other services. They will also channel funds away from the diocese and into Reform’s evangelical mission.

… The plans make clear the growing fears among evangelicals around the world that the Lambeth Commission, set up by Dr Williams to resolve the crisis, will fail adequately to discipline provinces such as the US and Canada, which have taken the lead on the gay issue.

I don’t understand the quoted figures, since clergy membership of Reform is generally held to be no more 5% of the total number of clergy.

There is also a squib about this in the Telegraph.

Again the “1700 members” number is quoted, but this is total membership claimed, and even if it were all clergy it would be nowhere near one third of the total.

The Reform press release is not yet on Reform’s own site, but can be read in full below the fold.


The present crisis in the Anglican Communion over whether or not to accept the Bible’s authority on matters of human sexuality now demands action in the Church of England, concludes a new paper from REFORM, the nationwide network of Anglican evangelicals.

The paper, written in preparation for its national conference in October, has been circulated to all 1700 members of REFORM today. It says that the same attitudes to the Bible that have caused splits in the Anglican Communion are now present within the Church of England. It argues that church unity must always be based on the Word of God – something the Church of England has always stood for. It therefore urges members to find out where their own bishops stand. If their bishops are unable to support the Bible’s teaching on human sexuality then parishes should act to express their ‘impaired communion’. In some cases this may involve churches changing the way they fund their own and others’ ministries, effectively by-passing their dioceses; refusing to invite their bishop to conduct confirmations; and seeking ‘oversight’ from other, biblically –faithful, bishops elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, as Primates from the Global South are already offering according to their Nassau Statement and submission to the Eames Commission.

The paper proposes that REFORM sets up a ‘Panel of Reference’ to act as a source of advice and support for churches in a state of ‘impaired communion’. The panel, made up of senior evangelical clergy, could also advise overseas bishops on the need for their involvement.

The paper is the result of months of consultation among evangelicals in the Church of England. Put together by a special working group of REFORM members, it has been extensively discussed at three regional conferences – in London, Sheffield and Exeter – during 2004. It will now be debated at the full national conference which takes place from 11th to 13th October.

Commenting on the paper, REFORM chairman David Banting said: “ We know that hopes for resolving the present crisis rest on the Eames Commission which will report the week after our conference. However, unless the Commission reaffirms our Anglican commitment to the Word of God by isolating the false teachers in the Episcopal Church of the USA and Canada, then the Anglican Communion will disintegrate. We cannot assume we are immune in the Church of England. Many of our bishops either endorse the liberal agenda or are allowing it to progress unchecked. We believe that evangelicals must act now to prevent disaster. We are not looking for uniformity – simply for all our members to take one step forward – whatever they judge that to be in their own dioceses; and we are hoping to set up instruments of support.

We are delighted that one of the leaders of the Anglican Primates of the Global South – Archbishop Greg Venables – is going to be with us at our conference in October and that we will also hear from Phillip Jensen, the Dean of Sydney Cathedral. We are looking forward to a conference that will help us set our sights on how to carry forward gospel work as Anglicans who wish to stay faithful to their Biblical heritage.”

Note To Editors

The full text of the paper ‘A way forward in the present crisis for the Church of England’ is attached to this press release. Further copies may be obtained from the REFORM office at PO Box 1183, Sheffield S10 3YA, or downloaded from the REFORM web site at

For Further Information

David Banting (chairman): 01708 342080
Rod Thomas (press officer): 01752 402771(office) or 07906 331110 (mobile) END

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Sunday, 25 July 2004

some news items

Top news today is that Rowan Williams will observe the third anniversary of 11 September, 2001 by speaking at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. This was reported today in the Sunday Times by Christopher Morgan.
Williams to praise Islam on Sept 11

Part of the report:

Rowan Williams has accepted an invitation to speak at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. He will speak to his Muslim congregation of the common ground between Christianity and Islam with their shared inheritance as “children of Abraham”.

Al-Azhar is considered the most important religious university in the Muslim world and is attended by 90,000 students.

The university, founded in the 10th century, is also thought to be the oldest and contains the most prestigious school of law in Sunni Islam.

Muslim leaders say there is huge significance in the invitation. Zaki Badawi, founder of the Muslim College in London, said Williams’ address would strengthen the links between the two faiths. He said: “It is a very significant moment in the history of our two faiths and especially coming from a man of his stature and learning.

“This will cement the relationship between Christianity and Islam because he will point out those aspects which unite the two religions. The Muslims throughout the world feel beleaguered and a comforting word from Archbishop Williams will assure our people they are not alone.”

Williams will commit himself to extending Christian dialogue with Islam and stress his own belief in the need for a peaceful solution to the conflicts of the Middle East. He is expected to discuss the spiritual relationship that exists among the children of Abraham.

Earlier in the week, in the Telegraph Jonathan Petre reported under the silly headline Bishops plan his and hers Church about plans for dealing with women bishops. The essence of the story is that David Hope prefers an extension of the existing system for dealing with those who oppose women priests to the adoption of the “third province” approach:

Dr Hope is keen to encourage a compromise between die-hard traditionalists and middle-of-the-road Anglicans that will minimise the structural divisions within the Church.

The diehards are demanding a “third province”, a church-within-a-church with its own archbishop, bishops and training colleges operating in parallel with the remainder of the Church, but with no female clergy.

…But Dr Hope prefers a scheme which, rather than creating parallel structures, enshrines the rights of traditionalist parishes that could find themselves in dioceses headed by women bishops or liberals.

Under such a scheme, parishes opposed to women’s ordination would be able to reject the pastoral care of their diocesan bishop if they found them unacceptable.

Such parishes could choose to be ministered to by a like-minded traditionalist bishop, who could visit them, if necessary, from outside the diocese.

Parishes can already opt for “flying” bishops under provisions introduced for traditionalists when women were ordained priests 10 years ago.

At present, diocesan bishops retain their authority over their dioceses and operate a “gentleman’s agreement” that they will not block flying bishops from operating in their territory. Although this system has worked satisfactorily, Dr Hope fears it will come under such strain when women are consecrated as bishops that it will need bolstering. Critically, diocesan bishops would lose their right to block traditionalist bishops if parishes opt for them.

What is confusing about this news report is the suggested extension of the scheme to cover not only “traditionalist” parishes in dioceses that have women bishops, but also those that are in dioceses that have “liberal” bishops whatever that might mean in this context. Unless it relates directly to the issue of women bishops, this is outside the remit of the Rochester commission.

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Tuesday, 20 July 2004

New Secretary General

Canon Kenneth Kearon has been appointed to succeed John Peterson as “Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion”.

Added Comment 1 August
According to his own website, the job title of the present incumbent of this post is
Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council.
The press releases about this appointment listed below use different terminology as shown above. Is this another case of unauthorised title inflation, just like President of the Anglican Communion was under the previous Archbishop of Canterbury?

Official ACNS press release here

Official Church of Ireland press release here

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 20 July 2004 at 9:36 PM GMT | TrackBack
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A Church at War

A Church at War Anglicans and Homosexuality is the title of a new book by Stephen Bates, the Religious Affairs correspondent of the Guardian.

I wrote a full-length review of this book for Anglicans Online this week.
You can read it here.

The Church of England Newspaper has also published a review of the book, by Le Roux Schoeman The Lambeth War correspondent.

The UK publisher’s blurb (and website discount offer) is here. The dust jacket reviews are on the website of the American publisher.

Some interesting comments by Richard Thomas can be found on the Oxford Diocesan website:
‘Jeffrey John wanted to retract his resignation’ new book claims

Update Another review was published last week in the Telegraph by Damian Thompson
A Church brought to its knees

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Sunday, 18 July 2004

Good as New

A question was asked about this new Bible paraphrase.

Mrs Margaret Brown (Chichester)
In view of the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury has commended Good as New, does this mean that it is now appropriate to consider this a worthy version to use in the worship of the Church of England?

The Bishop of Salisbury (for the Liturgical Commission) replied:
Versions of Scripture: A Note by the House of Bishops (GS Misc 698) gives guidance about the choice of versions of Scripture for use in public worship. It offers a number of criteria and then comments ‘A distinction needs to be drawn between translation and paraphrase. Versions which are read in church during the course of public worship should be translations of the Bible, not paraphrases of it. In less formal contexts, paraphrases may be useful.’

For the full text of GS Misc 698 go here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 18 July 2004 at 6:17 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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appointment of deans

Three questions were asked at General Synod in York on this subject.

Mr Anthony Archer (St Albans)
What is the process for appointing deans of cathedrals and what role, in particular, does the Archbishop of the relevant province play in that process?

Mr Geoffrey Locke (Lichfield)
What are the respective roles of the Crown and the Archbishop of the province in the appointment of a cathedral dean?

Dr Philip Jeffrey (Chichester)
What are the respective roles, in the appointment of a cathedral dean, of the Diocesan Bishop, the Crown, and the Archbishop of the Province?

Mr William Fittall, Secretary General, answered:
The process followed for Crown appointments to deaneries is a matter for the Crown. It is a matter of public record that the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary undertakes extensive soundings on the qualities and skills required within the cathedral, the diocese and the wider civic community. He then discusses potential candidates with the diocesan bishop who has a real say in the choice of names for the final shortlist. As a normal part of the process the Archbishop of the Province is also made aware of names under consideration and has an opportunity to comment should he wish. A shortlist is then placed before the Prime Minister by his Appointments Secretary. It is for the Prime Minister to decide whom to recommend to Her Majesty.

Mr Anthony Archer is also sponsoring a Private Member’s Motion on Senior Church Appointments, which will get debated in synod provided it obtains more signatures of members than other such motions. At the start of the York synod meeting it had 110 signatures and lay fifth in the list. Three items above it were debated at York, so it is likely to come up next year, unless overtaken by others.
The wording of the motion is below the fold.

Senior Church Appointments

That this Synod:

  • (i) consider that the Church should adopt an integrated and consistent method for the making of appointments to senior ecclesiastical office (other than diocesan bishops) to ensure that all appointments are transparent and encourage the confidence of the Church in the procedures that support the final selection; and
  • (ii) request the Archbishops’ Council to commission a working party (to be chaired by a person independent of the Council and the Synod) to review and make recommendations (without limitation) as to:
    • (a) the office of suffragan bishop, dean, archdeacon, and residentiary canon, and the functions, demands and requirements of these senior ecclesiastical ministries in a changing Church;
    • (b) the law and practice regarding appointments to these offices, including:-
      • (A) the role and practice adopted by diocesan bishops in the making of nominations to suffragan sees; and
      • (B) the role of the Crown in the making of appointments to the other senior church offices referred to above and how it is discharged (and in particular the possibility of seeking agreeemnt to the functions of the Ministers of the Crown either (i) being transferrred to the Archbishop of the province concerned, or (ii) becoming purely formal ones involving the submission of the advice received from the Archbishop),

and for the Archbishops’ Council to report back to the Synod within eighteen months of the date of this debate.

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Friday, 16 July 2004

Church Times coverage

“Full Synod reports in this week’s paper”

The front page this week says:

This week’s paper contains nine pages of comprehensive reporting on the General Synod in York.
Subjects include heresy trials, stipends and their payments, marriage law, domestic violence, trade justice, Europe, drug addiction, mission agencies, sentencing policy, initiation and penitence, festival liturgy, Christmas stamps, the lectionary. legal fees, pastoral measures, central funding, synod reform, funding ordinands, and the archbishops’ council — and more.

All that is also in the subscribers-only pages of this site.

I will link to the extended coverage when it moves to the public archive in two weeks’ time. Meanwhile the following reports are available now:

Williams casts vote to flatten clergy stipends

London apportionment: a case of gloves off, cap on

Leader Better than a bonfire

Columnist A radical take on justice Giles Fraser ponders a Synod vote and its consequences

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Thursday, 15 July 2004

CEN reports on synod

This week’s Church of England Newspaper has a large number of reports online:

Church launches new assault on poverty

General Synod: Clergy Discipline

General Synod: Restorative Justice

General Synod: Enabling a world of difference

General Synod: Domestic violence

General Synod: Marriage Law Review

General Synod: Stipend differentials

General Synod:Alternative sources of funding

General Synod: Christmas stamps

General Synod: Church Commissioners Annual Report

General Synod: Drug Misuse

General Synod: Common Worship: initiation services

and this editorial (which will disappear from this URL in a week, so is reproduced here, below the fold) for convenience of TA readers:
Editorial: Heresy on trial

Church of England Newspaper
Editorial: Heresy on trial

The fact that heresy was discussed by General Synod is surely a good sign, indicating that the Church of England does have some fundamental Christian truths to affirm, and if these are regularly denied by its commissioned teachers then it will cease to be Christian. Heresy goes to the very heart of what the Christian Church is about, a classic example being the denial of the deity of Christ – if Jesus is not God incarnate then we not in fact have ‘peace with God’. If Jesus is just a good man, then we are left with a fine example to follow, but any doctrine of his death saving us from our sins becomes absurd – it is a divine act of self-sacrifice, not merely the unjust death of an innocent young man, that atones.

The Church of England places considerable weight on the ordained ministry as an instrument of doctrinal orthodoxy. Those being ordained and consecrated are specifically asked if they assent to the historic formularies in their broad shape and intent, and if they dissent from them while continuing to undergo ordination then they do so in bad faith. Anglicans are committed to the teaching of Scripture and the first four ‘ecumenical councils’ as decisive Christological and Trinitarian interpretations of the Apostolic teachings. There can be no going back on that. The Reformation introduced another important strand of Anglican authority, concerning salvation by grace and rejecting the idea of a mediatorial priestly caste, again not to be deconstructed by even the most ardent Tractarian bureaucrat. The Reformation tradition also introduced the notion of matters ‘adiaphora’, that is matters on which there may be legitimate disagreement, secondary but important issues.

The debate over infant baptism and confirmation could provide an example here. The debate over the ethics of homosexual practice is placed into this category by the revisionists, but into the doctrine of creation and God’s creative intention, by traditionalists. The fact that it is ordination where the shoe pinches follows precisely from the teaching role of the clergy, as noted above. The ‘Sea of Faith’ movement apparently contains scores of ordained clergy, who deny the objective reality God, ‘God’ being for them a word summarising a set of cultural practices such as attending church on Sunday. Here is a first order matter of heresy without question, and Bishop Eric Kemp had the theological courage to deal with a clergyman openly teaching this reductionism. If the Church of England is not witnessing to God, but rather to its own cultural and aesthetic practices, then it is falling into a kind of idolatry of itself.

The secular media of course have their own inquisitorial version of heresy, political correctness. Some culturally conservative opinions are very clearly off-limits for wide swathes of the publicly funded media. To take MRSA infection, for example, could anyone now dare ask whether the dangerous state of hospital cleanliness is directly attributable to the ‘reforms’ to nursing, removing ward cleaning from the authority of the traditional ward sister?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 15 July 2004 at 4:53 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 14 July 2004

one more news report

Well, two.

Tuesday’s synod session gets only this:

The Times Ruth Gledhill reports on Tom Wright’s intervention in the debate on Times and Seasons
Prayer ‘blames Church for anti-Semitism’.

And this

Yorkshire Post Michael Brown
Church to discuss help for drug abuse victims

The Church of England Newspaper website has been hacked and currently reads as follows:

Hacked By Ang|n

Hackingcenter crew in Dalnet

Cahcephoe dewa pak-tua deGleng Sys- itsme- MuaLim

Sopi® c1pmunk ShorT^KiT

Copyright © 2003 By Ang|n

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Tuesday, 13 July 2004

Tuesday reports

From Monday pm…

Press Association (Hats off to Rod Minchin for his excellent coverage of this synod.)
Synod Urges Christian Stamps for Every Christmas
Church of England Wants Fairer Global Trading Practices


Secular Christmas stamps attacked

The Times
Church offers new confession for sinful Britain
Christians lose their faith in Royal Mail
and a leader column
Adapt or wither The Church must remember its duty to unbelievers

Church pleads for Christian themes on Christmas stamps

Full text of Rowan Williams’ intervention on Trade Justice is here

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Yorkshire Post on synod

Michael Brown, the veteran Religious Affairs Correspondent of the Yorkshire Post had a bumper day on Monday 12 July.

Fathers’ rights demonstrators storm Minster

Government’s penal policy is scandalous, Archbishop of Canterbury tells the General Synod Church condemns rise in jail sentences

Restrictions on couples getting married in church stay for now

Call for heresy trials narrowly rejected

Primate urges greater degree of trust

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Tuesday (and Monday) reports

General Synod is over: I will now start to catch up with the press coverage.

Official Reports continue:
General Synod debates, Monday, 12 July, am - 12/07/2004
General Synod debates, Monday, 12 July, pm - 12/07/2004
General Synod debates, Tuesday, 13 July - 13/07/2004

Church Times report here

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 13 July 2004 at 1:08 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Sunday, 11 July 2004

Sunday reports


Press Association Church Slams Massive Rise in Prisoners

Press Association Archbishop Labels Penal Policy ‘Scandalous’

BBC Archbishop slams justice policy

Sunday Times Hope disillusioned
report of forthcoming biography of Archbishop of York

Sunday Telegraph Synod rejects rules preventing teaching of homosexual ‘heresy’

Observer Just Williams
Interview with RW by Roy Hattersley

BBC Radio Sunday reports:
(listen with Real Audio)

General report on Saturday debates

Look forward to Sunday debate on sentencing

Full text of Rowan Williams’ interventions:

Debate on Clergy Discipline

Debate on Rethinking Sentencing

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 11 July 2004 at 7:14 PM GMT | TrackBack
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official reports

The Church of England has an official, regular report of synod proceedings here.

Reports so far:

York Synod sessions begin - 10/07/2004

General Synod debates Saturday, July 10, am - 10/07/2004

General Synod debates Saturday, July 10, pm - 10/07/2004

General Synod debates, Sunday, 11 July, pm - 11/07/2004

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 11 July 2004 at 7:08 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Minster service disruption

The General Synod service in York Minster was the target of a demonstration this morning:

Press Association Fathers in Minster Rooftop Protest (this story filed within minutes of the disruption)
Telegraph version of PA report, with picture

Press Association Minster Protest in the Name of the Father (filed later in the day)

BBC Fathers’ protest disrupts Synod

Reuters Fathers group storms York Minster cathedral

Manchester Evening News Dads’ rights campaigners storm York Minster

Press Association Fathers’ Rights Campaigners End Cathedral Protest

Sky News Fathers Disrupt Synod

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 11 July 2004 at 6:08 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Saturday, 10 July 2004

legal opinion

Acts by Women Bishops

One of the questions put to the Chairman of the Legal Advisory Commission, Professor David McClean was this:

Q. Has the Legal Advisory Commission considered whether it is possible for a priest who has been ordained by a female bishop of another province of the Anglican Communion to obtain authority to serve as a priest in the Church of England at this present time, either for a temporary period or in a long-term post, and is each diocesan bishop free to determine this, or is there presently a national policy?

A. The Commission addressed this matter in the same Opinion. A priest ordained in an Anglican Province outside the British Isles and wishing to minister in England needs the permission of the archbishop of Canterbury or York under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967. Once that permission is given, the priest is subject to the same rules as a priest ordained in the Church of England. The Commission’s Opinion is that, contrary to the view taken by Archbishop Runcie in 1988, as a matter of law permission may be given under the 1967 Measure to a priest ordained by a woman bishop, though the grant of permission in each particular case is a matter within the discretion of the relevant archbishop. The Opinion, which will be posted on the noticeboard, and is already on the CofE website under Papers, also examines the issues that would arise were another Anglican Province in the British Isles to have women bishops.

See also here for a link to the Word document on the CofE site. The document is also now available in html here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 10 July 2004 at 11:08 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Archbishop's answers

At Question Time two of the questions were put to, and answered by, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his capacity as Chairman of the House of Bishops of the General Synod.

Mr Peter LeRoy (Bath and Wells)
Q. Given the Archbishop of Canterbury’s appeal for restraint pending the outcome of the Eames Commission, what steps will the House take to restore unity and clarity following the involvement of the diocesan bishop and the Prime Minister’s office in the controversial appointment to a deanery of an advocate of teachings contrary to the agreed position of the House of Bishops in Issues in Human Sexuality (1991)

A. With regard to current challenges in the Anglican Communion, the restraint I called for was focussed on the avoidance of action that pre-emptively changes existing structural relationships and disciplinary provisions in advance of the Eames Commission’s findings. No such changes bearing on these matters have been contemplated or made within the Church of England in relation to recent appointments.

Mrs Elizabeth Bridger (Norwich)
Q. Given that the Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of ‘discipline and boundaries’ in the context of recent events in ECUSA, has the House considered what that discipline is and where the boundaries lie, and does it intend to exercise that same discipline and apply the same boundaries in relation to the Church of England?

A. The House has not considered these issues in the context of ECUSA as it has no authority in another province. However, the Commission chaired by Archbishop Eames has been mandated to consider these questions as they affect the Communion overall, and we can’t properly speculate about its recommendations at this point. However, as to matters of discipline and boundaries in our own Church, they are established in its measures and canons and applied in the context of the Church’s relevant formal public statements. As Mrs Bridger will be aware, certainly in the light of today’s session, Synod has had full opportunity for discussion of disciplinary processes.

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Saturday pm reports

Press Association
Church of England Rejects Heresy Courts Proposal

The proposal was defeated in the House of Clergy by a margin of only 4 votes.

Bishops 27-12
Clergy 99-103
Laity 164-51

Added item
BBC Clergy vote no to ‘heresy courts’

Press Association
Synod Votes for Radical Overhaul of Church Weddings

Church backs marriage changes

Earlier the Synod rejected the proposals for increasing the fees paid to church lawyers. They wanted them to be higher.

At Question Time a major change was announced in the CofE legal opinion concerning the acceptability in England of episcopal acts performed by women bishops in other Anglican provinces. See here for the documents issued.

It was not clear from the supplementary questions and answers how or when this legal opinion would be applied in practice. More about this later.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 10 July 2004 at 10:32 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Saturday am reports

The Telegraph has both a news report on funding,
Largest diocese leads revolt over Church funding
and an editorial column
No heresy (if that’s OK).

The Times has a tendentious headline, reporting Synod to debate trials for gay heresy.

A more measured headline in the Guardian Concern at Anglican plan to reintroduce heresy trials

Two Press Association reports:
Synod Looks at Choice of Church for Weddings
Church to Discuss Relaxing Marriage Rules

The Church Times promises daily updates on its website here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 10 July 2004 at 7:30 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Friday, 9 July 2004

Accepting Evangelicals

A new group has announced its existence:

Accepting Evangelicals

… is a new open network of Evangelical Christians who believe the time has come to move towards the acceptance of faithful, loving same-sex partnerships at every level of church life, and the development of a positive Christian ethic for gay and lesbian people.

Accepting Evangelicals
… is open both to

people who believe that the Bible does not condemn loving, faithful same-sex relationships which are built on mutual commitment and self-giving love.

and to people who, although they do not personally hold this view are willing to accept the integrity of those who do.

The website is here.

One thing I notice on the membership page is this:

Confidential Membership [ is available] to those who fear that their public support would put them at risk of prejudice or discrimination.

How sad that this is necessary.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 9 July 2004 at 1:24 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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synod in the news

The BBC reports on the opening today of the General Synod under the headline Church debates relaxing wedding rules.

There is a link there to a video report by Robert Piggott.

The Press Association report is headlined Synod May Relax Church Marriage Rules.

The Telegraph report is also headed Church to debate rules on weddings. All these reports do cover other topics as well.

Church Times columnist Giles Fraser writes that Churches don’t need heresy law.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 9 July 2004 at 8:00 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Thursday, 8 July 2004

CEN/AM attacks continue

Last week, the CEN published this feature article by Colin Russell:
St Albans - A Worm’s Eye View

This week, the CEN publishes a news story:
Evangelicals to shun Bishop of St Albans

As is customary when Nick Bell is involved, absolutely no names or even verifiable numbers are provided in support of any claim. I personally saw many evangelical clergy at the installation service though no doubt a few were absent.

Andrew Carey the author of that story now has his own blog here which contains his CEN column for the week that also discusses St Albans: The Church of England breaks trust.

And over at AM, one finds explicitly anonymous attacks like this one.

When dealing with Philip Giddings this is what one expects. He was after all responsible for the outright lies contained in the AM petition.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 8 July 2004 at 1:47 PM GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Lambeth Commission news

ACNS has published an interview with Robin Eames about the work of the Lambeth Commission. You can read it here. All of it is interesting, but in particular further contributions are still welcome:

5. There has been criticism that only certain voices are being heard by the commission. Is this the case? What were the guidelines that decided who was allowed to present directly to its members?

Well, as I’ve said, very few people have actually had the opportunity to speak to the Commission in person. But I must say that there has been absolutely no intention of listening only to particular voices, or even the loudest voices. From the first, we sent out an open invitation for people to submit evidence to the Commission. Some groups appear to have been waiting for us to take the initiative to contact them. That has not been possible. But can I say again, that we don’t want any voice to go unheard – the opportunity is there for all to make a submission to the Commission. And of course, the individual members of the Commission are listening all the time to the people they encounter in their ministries across the globe.

6. Is the commission still receiving evidence/presentations?

Yes. All are invited, without exception, to make written submissions to the Commission by means of the process set out on our website in the advisory of 18th December last year. Many groups and individuals have already elected to do so, and it is my understanding that all submissions made by this method have been acknowledged and processed for the consideration of the Commission. If anyone feels that any particular voice is going unheard by the Commission, then I urge them to make a submission by this route, bearing in mind the questions with which the Commission has been charged as they are set out in that advisory.

CEN has published a news report Tensions hit Eames Commission. Extracts:

In the wake of claims that the Eames Commission has excluded the voices of gays and lesbians from its deliberations [CEN June 27] comes new word that internal tensions centering round its Steering Committee and staff may divide the Commission.

Some members object to a perceived pursuit by the Commission’s Steering Committee of “enlightened expediency” at the expense of truth. Non-Western members of the Commission are troubled that the steering committee has privileged a European worldview that allows canon law to trump doctrine.

…Archbishop Eames’ press officer, the Rev Brian Parker, said reports of tensions between the staff and members have been overstated. Bishop Tom Wright of Durham, while declining to discuss the internal workings of the Commission, confirmed to us that the second plenary session had been “very frank, very friendly, very cordial and hard-working”.

“Canon Cameron was authorized to speak to the Canadian General Synod by the chair and steering committee,” Mr Parker told us. “The words were his own but the broad outline was discussed at the steering committee.”

Here is a further report on this from the Living Church, via Kendall Harmon:
Lambeth Commission Hears Divergent Reports on U.S. Church’s Health.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 8 July 2004 at 12:35 PM GMT | TrackBack
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who said that? (2)

Back on 21 June, I reported under the title who said that? that Jonathan Petre had said in the Telegraph that one of the authors of the paper submitted to the Lambeth Commission by Drexel Gomez was none other than Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester, a diocesan bishop in the Church of England. I expressed doubt about this. At that time, the papers had been published only on the website of “Anglican Mainstream” and carried no signatures.

But the two documents, Called to Witness and Fellowship and The current crisis in the Anglican Communion – what are the ecclesiological issues involved? have now been published by the Lambeth Commission itself and can be found in pdf format here and here.

The argument that Robinson’s consecration is invalid which formed the basis for Petre’s story and the subsequent one in the CEN was contained in the second paper. The first paper says about it:

We endorse and attach the enclosed paper on “The Current Crisis in the Anglican Communion - what are the Ecclesiological Issues involved?” prepared by a group of eminent theologians in the Communion.

That group of eminent theologians turns out to be:

Professor Oliver O’Donovan (England)
Professor Alister McGrath (England)
The Very Rev Dr Paul Zahl (USA)
Canon Dr Kendall Harmon (USA)
Rev Dr George Sumner (Canada)
Rev Dr Andrew Goddard (England)
Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England)

And the signatories of the other paper which endorses what they wrote are:

Archbishop Drexel Gomez (West Indies)
Archbishop Bernard Malango (Central Africa)
Bishop Gideon Githiga ( representing Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi- Kenya)
Bishop Amos Madu (representing Archbishop Peter Akinola - Nigeria)
Archbishop Josiah Idowu Fearon (Kaduna, Nigeria)
Bishop Robert Duncan (Pittsburgh, USA)
Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti (Recife, Brazil - representing Latin America)
Bishop Michael Nazir Ali (Rochester, England)
Bishop James Stanton (Dallas, USA)
Professor Lamin Sanneh (Yale, USA)
Professor John Pobee (Ghana)
Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India)
Canon Martyn Minns (USA)
Canon Bill Atwood (USA)
Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England)
Dr Timothy Shah (USA/India)
Mr Craig Nauta (USA)

I still find it extremely surprising that Michael Nazir-Ali subscribes to the argument of the second paper. But that appears to be the case.

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Tuesday, 6 July 2004

Evangelical evisceration

On Monday, the Guardian carried a leader about the Dean of St Albans under this title.

Read it in full here.

The concluding paragraph says:

Dr John’s beliefs are reasonable, moderate, and right. To ask whether a good Christian can believe what he does is like asking whether the archbishop is an Anglican. But this is precisely the point that his opponents are trying to make. They don’t just think he’s wrong. They think that the church will be destroyed if it admits the possibility that he might be right. What they are trying to do is to put the matter beyond debate, and their chosen weapon may yet destroy the Church of England altogether. The institution is lumbering towards bankruptcy, and sustained entirely by voluntary contributions. Evangelical threats to withhold money from liberal bishops and their organisations will be popular. If enough take up this tactic, they will one day look around a wasteland and say that there is no such thing as a church: only individuals and their parishes.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 6 July 2004 at 1:50 PM GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Sunday programme report

Jane Little of the BBC reported for the Radio 4 Sunday programme on the Dean’s installation service last Friday and then interviewed Anthony Archer, Colin Slee and Philip Giddings about the process for appointment of deans. Listen here with Real Audio (7.5 minutes).
This report includes the remarks made by Jeffrey John during the service.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 6 July 2004 at 1:27 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Saturday, 3 July 2004

church and politics

More on the archbishops’ letter to Tony Blair:

Church Times report Abuse hurts our integrity, say Primates

Guardian leader last Thursday in support History is on his side

The Times you may recall had a critical leader. Today Tom Wright has a critical letter, see below for text.

And in this connection, see also Bush poll campaign courts religious right in today’s Guardian.

From the Bishop of Durham

Sir, Though you raise interesting points on the archbishops’ letter to the Prime Minister (leading article, June 30; see also letters, July 1), I dispute your description of the “coded attack” on Christian Zionists as “a cheap shot”.

I believe their letter points with deadly accuracy to a phenomenon which few Americans would deny. It isn’t a matter of a few individuals who may or may not be sophisticated. Nor is it a matter of ignoring “the wider context of current US politics”. It is precisely within that context that the point is valid.

There is a close, well-documented alliance between the “dispensationalist” brand of fundamentalism, which sees the modern state of Israel as part of the necessary prelude to the Second Coming, and the present White House and its supporters. I think it unfortunate that these things seem opaque to those politicians (and journalists) in countries like our own who persist in thinking that religion can have nothing to do with politics.

Yours, etc,
Bishop of Durham,
Auckland Castle,
Co Durham DL14 7NR.
July 1.

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counting primates or provinces

A rather disturbing letter from a bishop in Melanesia has come to light. You can read it here.

I know as a matter of fact (I saw the letter) that the covering letter for the communique from eight “global south Anglican primates” meeting held in Singapore a month and a half or so (in Singapore), sent out to other global south Anglican primates for endorsement, went something like this: “Here is our communique, if we do not hear from you otherwise by such-and-such a date, we will deem you to agree with the communique.” It was this communique that was then issued sometime later with “the approval of 22 global south Anglican primates”.

Bishop Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita
Church of the Province of Melanesia

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 July 2004 at 5:59 PM GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Paul Handley and the egg

The editor of the Church Times, Paul Handley, attended yesterday’s service and has written a detailed account of it for the CT website, headlined Jeffrey John and the egg

THERE WAS an egg lying smashed on the road beyond the west front of St Albans Abbey. For a journalist hurrying late to the installation of the Dr Jeffrey John, England’s first openly gay dean, it was worrying. What had I missed?

Read on….

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 July 2004 at 12:24 PM GMT | TrackBack
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more reports on installation

Ruth Gledhill in The Times reports Gay dean calls for return to ‘normal service’.

THE new Dean of St Albans pleaded last night for “normal Christian service” in the Church of England to be resumed as soon as possible.

In an unscheduled intervention during his installation at the cathedral, after the 2,000-strong congregation had given him a two-minute standing ovation, Dr Jeffrey John said: “I want to say how grateful I am for the overwhelming warmth of your welcome and strength of support of all of you.”

In his first words after his installation by the Bishop of St Albans, the Right Rev Christopher Herbert, Dr John said: “Over the last year or so I have sometimes hardly recognised myself in some of the things that have been said about me. So, I would like to say what a huge privilege and joy it is for me to be here. This is where God hopes and intends me to be and this is now home for me. I hope that from this point on, normal Christian service can be resumed in my life and in the life of this place. ”

Stewart Payne in the Telegraph Gay dean is installed - to praise not protest

Applause, not protest, greeted the appointment of the homosexual cleric Canon Jeffrey John as Dean of St Albans last night as his bishop praised his bravery “on this great and courageous and hope-filled day”.

There was only muted dissent outside the Hertfordshire cathedral and none within.

Stephen Bates in the Guardian Gay cleric in bishop row takes up role of dean

Outside the cathedral a sole demonstrator bearing a banner railing about sodomites found himself surrounded by schoolboys asking him what the word meant.

Anglican Mainstream, a conservative pressure group, announced its “deep regret” about the appointment and the damage the group claimed it would inflict. “Parishes and ministers who cannot accept this deviation from orthodox Anglican teaching will sadly now need to consider the extent to which they can involve themselves in the structures of the diocese,” the group announced.

Such sentiments appeared to cut little ice among the multitude inside the cathedral as they sang such anthems as All Creatures of Our God and King, with its lines: “All ye that are of tender heart, forgiving others, take your part”.

The congregation represented a cross-section of modern Anglicanism: respectable, middle-class and middle-aged, verging towards the elderly. The very folk usually said to be least responsive to homosexuals in their midst.

One of the lesser ironies is that Dr John will now be entitled to call himself not just Reverend but Very Reverend.

Cahal Milmo in the Independent Gay dean installed at St Albans amid protests by conservatives

More than 2,000 people crowded into St Albans Abbey in Hertfordshire, the shrine of England’s first Christian martyr, to witness Dr John take up his post.

Fears the ceremony would be marred by clashes between anti-fascist groups and the National Front, which had vowed to march on the cathedral, receded when the far-right group called off its action at the last moment.

Andrew Barrow Press Association Anglicans Asked to ‘Put Differences Aside’ (minor revision of earlier report)

The opinions of the “conservative pressure group” can be read in full here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 July 2004 at 9:03 AM GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Friday, 2 July 2004

Jeffrey John installed

Here is the sermon that was preached by the Bishop.

Reports on the installation of Jeffrey John as Dean and Rector of St Albans today:

Press Association Anglicans Asked to ‘Put Differences Aside’

BBC Three Counties Gay cleric installed as Dean of St Albans
Don’t miss the Photo Gallery on this page

Here also from BBC Three Counties is a 12 minute radio report of the service, Real Audio required.

And from the St Albans Observer another large photo gallery of the service that has many pictures taken from the West Gallery and from the Organ Loft.

BBC Gay cleric installed at St Albans and Backlash over gay cleric move

Sky News Gay dean installed

Reuters Gay priest installed as Dean

Associated Press Gay Clergyman Appointed Cathedral Dean

ITV Gay priest installed in St Albans

Guardian Gay cleric installed amid protests

More no doubt in the Saturday broadsheets.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 2 July 2004 at 9:54 PM GMT | TrackBack
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morning radio interviews

The BBC Radio 4 morning programme Today had several interviews this morning about the events happening later in the day.

First, Robert Piggott who reports on Religious Affairs for the BBC talked about the background, listen here with Real Audio.

Second, interviews with Canon Stephen Lake, Sub Dean and Dr Philip Giddings listen here with Real Audio.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 2 July 2004 at 9:48 PM GMT | TrackBack
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2 July dawns

and the media coverage of events today has started.

BBC Three Counties Dr John to be installed this week includes a handy section listing “all you need to know about the installation service for Dr Jeffrey John”.

BBC News Gay cleric installed at St Albans. This currrently includes a link to the old video report from the day of the announcement of his appointment.

Independent Site of sacrifice and martyrdom, St Albans is to test the church faithful again with a gay dean (this story in the paper comes with a very nice photo of the Lady Chapel interior)

Press Association Martha Linden has Gay Priest Installed as Cathedral Dean

The Times has I should be a bishop, insists the gay dean

Sky News has GAY PRIEST IS NEW DEAN and GAY DEAN: DO YOU AGREE? which invites comments from the public.

Reuters has Gay priest to be installed as Dean

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 2 July 2004 at 8:17 AM GMT | TrackBack
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12 to 18 provinces?

In his speech to the Canadian General Synod on 29 May, Gregory Cameron said:

…a state of broken Communion now exists between ECUSA and some twelve to eighteen provinces of the Communion.

In an earlier note I discussed his separate estimate of 22 primates who “have pronounced that they reject…”, giving my reasons for believing that number to be overstated, and why eighteen is the most that can be confirmed from internet sources.

I believe his estimate of provinces is also overstated, but it is very difficult to confirm the list, as few if any formal statements of provinces have been published on the web, and in any case the wording of them is not always clear.

Here is my provisional list of broken Communion provinces:

1. Congo
2. Kenya statement here
3. Nigeria
4. Rwanda statement here
5. Southern Cone
6. South East Asia
7. Tanzania statement here
8. Uganda statement here
9. West Indies statement here

And here is a list of others who have issued statements whose wording seems to fall short of a formal breaking of communion:

10. Burundi this statement
11. Central Africa this statement and this letter
12. West Africa this statement

And finally, here is a list of other provinces whose leaders have signed a statement personally, but for which no provincial statement appears to exist:

13. Central America
14. Indian Ocean
15. Papua New Guinea
16. Philippines
17. Sudan
18. Pakistan (united church)
19. South India (united church)

As I learn of any more internet links to formal provincial statements breaking communion I will add them to the list above. I welcome any additional information which will enable provinces to be confirmed, added, or on the other hand deleted, from this list.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 2 July 2004 at 7:16 AM GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 1 July 2004

Church Society rants again

One of the most intriguing things about the ultra-conservative evangelicals of the CofE is that some groups do not acknowledge the existence of others. I can find no reference on the websites of either Church Society or Anglican Mainstream to the activities of the other organisation.

Today, Church Society issued a further press release about St Albans. As always, although they have a smart website they are apparently unable to render their press releases in html (very odd considering their general secretary’s profession prior to ordination) so I have done it for them below.

News Release
1 July 2004
4pm For immediate release.

St Albans appointment undermines the Church

The installation of Dr Jeffrey John as Dean of St Albans marks a significant and regrettable step for the Church of England. It demonstrates that there are many who will not abide by the teaching of Scripture and will not stop until they have changed the teaching of the Church on sexual ethics.

All the evidence is that the liberalisation of the Church is destroying it. A liberal church, having abandoned the standards and message given by God in Scripture, has nothing to say to the world and no power to transform lives. Decline has been and will be the inevitable result.

Church Society and others have consistently argued that it is unacceptable for someone who teaches the acceptability of same sex sexual practice to be a minister in the Church of England.

The teaching of Holy Scripture is plain on this issue that sexual intercourse belongs solely within heterosexual marriage. This teaching has been consistently upheld by the Christian Church throughout history, it was reiterated by the General Synod in 1987 and by the Lambeth Bishops in 1998. The failure of many leaders to uphold this position today is undermining the credibility and mission of the Church of England.

This appointment flies in the face of the teaching of the Church.

The teaching of the Church of England is that homosexual practice falls short of God’s standards and should be met with a call to repentance (General Synod resolution of 1987). To appoint to a prominent position someone who, whilst claiming to be celibate, is apparently unrepentant for past behaviour and actually teaches the acceptability of such behaviour, destroys the Christian teaching on repentance. The Bishop of St. Albans and the Archbishop of Canterbury by agreeing to this appointment are themselves contravening the specific decisions of the Church in their desire to pursue their own agenda.

For further information please contact:
Revd David Phillips (01923-235111 / 07801-265049)
General Secretary and General Synod Representative for St. Alban’s Diocese
Revd George Curry (0191-273-4680 / 0775-287-2550) Chairman of Council

Church Society exists to uphold biblical teaching and to promote and defend the character of the Church of England as a reformed and national Church.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 1 July 2004 at 3:32 PM GMT | TrackBack
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evangelicals try blackmail

Today the Telegraph has a report by Jonathan Wynne-Jones that reports Money row over gay Dean could ruin Church.

Guidelines on how to protest against controversial appointments, such as the promotion tomorrow of Canon Jeffrey John, a homosexual, to be Dean of St Albans, have been drawn up by Anglican Mainstream, an influential network of orthodox churches.

The report is based primarily on the publication yesterday by “Anglican Mainstream” of this web page: Financial Options for Parishes.

Dr Philip Giddings, the “convenor” of “Anglican Mainstream” is quoted as saying:

“This is not blackmail. If parishes are sufficiently concerned about what a diocese is doing or not doing to contemplate this form of action we would expect there to be serious and meaningful conversation about the way forward.”

The AM web page says (emphasis added):

We have received a number of requests for advice on the range of financial options open to parishes wishing to take financial action, such as withholding some or all of their payments to the diocese, in response to unbiblical and unorthodox teaching. Anglican Mainstream does not advocate any of these particular options but recognizes that parishes are increasingly seeking advice in this area. We are therefore providing these Questions and Answers to help parishes think through the issues.

And unsurprisingly, a similar report is in today’s CEN headlined Parishes plan to turn the financial screw. This article asserts that “Reform” represents 2000 parishes, which is rather a startling claim. Philip Giddings is quoted as saying:

“I have no doubt that a growing number of evangelical churches are considering their position. It is not the maverick churches, but the larger, more mainstream ones that have a track record of high involvement with church structures who are now feeling alienated.”

And the CEN also carries an open attack on the Bishop of St Albans in a feature entitled Trouble in St Albans: a worm’s-eye view.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 1 July 2004 at 7:05 AM GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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