Monday, 30 August 2004

more on Los Angeles

Updated Tuesday 31 August

Los Angeles Times Breakaway Parishes Refuse to Hand Over Their Records

Daily Pilot Churches fire back at claims of diocese

Long Beach Press-Telegram Churches refuse demands

Associated Press version via San Luis Obispo Tribune Breakway Episcopal parishes reject refusal to surrender churches

Another story, from The Monitor (Kampala) Orombi Backs US Break-Away Parishes via

“It is a distress call from those parishes which did not support homosexuality. They were literally desperate. It’s like when someone’s house catches fire and they are screaming for help, you just can’t turn away. We are not asking for administrative jurisdiction. Those [breakaway parishes] need our fellowship,” Orombi said, adding that Uganda had been approached for help and not the other way round.

…Orombi said the American Episcopal Church’s support to gays had betrayed the position of the global Anglican community during the Lambeth Conference in 1998 when 800 bishops voted against the practice of homosexuality.

“We all agreed to keep the traditional view of marriage. Afterwards they went ahead to approve the election of a gay bishop, Gene Robinson,” Orombi said.

And another Ugandan newspaper, the Kampala-based New Vision has Three US Parishes Join Luweero Diocese via

Three more items - Monday 30 August

The Episcopal News Service has a further report on this:
Los Angeles bishop seeks reconciliation with departing clergy, parishioners as legal deadline nears

LA Daily News Standing firm in secession

And this from The Monitor (Kampala) via dated today:
Anglican Church Oversees US Parishes

Uganda’s Anglican Church has offered leadership to three parishes in the US after they fell out with their local church over disagreements on homosexuality.

US media reports say the parishes of Newport Beach, Long Beach and North Hollywood, all in Los Angeles, decided to ally with Uganda in defiance of the Episcopal Authority of LA Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jon Bruno, because he supported gay marriages.

Uganda, which also opposes homosexuality, has accepted to lead the dissident US churches. It is reported that the Rt. Rev. Evans Kisekka, the Bishop of Luweero, said he would act as the bishop for the three parishes, a position reportedly backed by the Church of Uganda. Kisekka could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Sources within the Anglican Church confirmed the development yesterday. A highly placed source said Uganda had accepted pastoral oversight over the US churches, but would not be taking over administration.

“A Diocese in Rwanda has also taken pastoral oversight over some US parishes as well as some Asian churches which have also taken over pastoral oversight of US churches,” the source said, but declined to be named.

…Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi said he would offer an explanation today.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 30 August 2004 at 7:34 PM GMT | TrackBack
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RW at Greenbelt

The Times, the Guardian and the Telegraph all have reports of what Rowan Williams said at the Greenbelt Festival yesterday. The headlines are remarkably diverse. Picture from The Times

Ruth Gledhill The Times
Archbishop says he’s failed to live up to expectations

Stephen Bates Guardian
Archbishop shows frustration over church’s divisive homosexuality row

Jonathan Petre Telegraph
Muslims can go to heaven, says Archbishop

Two extracts, first from the Telegraph

In a rare glimpse of his anger over the row that has overshadowed his first two years at Canterbury, Dr Williams said the debate had lacked grace and patience.

He said that this had been aggravated by pressure groups with entrenched positions who posted instant reactions to events on their websites.

…During a wide-ranging discussion, Dr Williams reflected his disappointment at the tone of the debate on homosexuality, and his dismay at the vitriol of many of the e-mails he had received.

“It is not so much that we have disagreement in the Church - that happens,” he said. “It is more to do with how those disagreements are conducted. The dismissiveness, the rawness of the anger . . . need to be worked with.”

Speaking about the furore that followed the appointment of the gay cleric Dr Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading, a post from which Dr John later withdrew, Dr Williams said that both sides had suffered shock.

…The Archbishop said: “On both sides of the debate as it evolved, quite a lot of people had to learn that the Church of England wasn’t just them, because what I heard a lot of on both sides of the controversy was ‘we thought the Church of England was us and people like us and maybe one or two others who don’t matter very much’.

“I was intrigued by the mirror imaging that went on there. There was a sense on both sides, therefore, of shock and dispossession, that it is not all ours after all. It is not full of faithful evangelicals, it is not full of enlightened liberals.”

And now from The Times

Among the most dispiriting aspects of the job was the tone in which debate was conducted. “It is not so much that we have disagreement in the Church — that happens. It is more to do with the way those disagreements are conducted.” Referring to “the dismissiveness, the rawness of anger” he said: “Somebody some day ought to write a thesis on the spirituality of email because that has something to do with all this. That is what most dispirits me.” Dr Williams continued: “While we may disagree, we have need to learn how to do it with a bit more grace.”

The Archbishop then went on to refer directly to the debate over homosexuality, which culminates this October with the report of his commission into the crisis. He said: “On both sides of the debate as it evolved, quite a lot of people had to learn that the Church of England wasn’t just them because what I heard a lot of, on both sides of the controversy, was ‘we thought the Church of England was us and people like us and maybe one or two others who don’t matter very much’.

“And I was intrigued by the mirror imaging that went on there. There was a sense on both sides, therefore, of shock and dispossession. It’s not full of faithful evangelicals, it’s not full of enlightened liberals. Now have we digested that yet, and what do we do with it when we have. I am not sure I know but that is the kind of work that remains.”

He added: “Very very quickly pressure groups can form and settle and decide where they stand and invest in where they stand. We haven’t had an effective forum in which that process can be slowed, not just for the sake of putting things off but for the sake of mutual understanding. We haven’t found that forum yet. It is not the General Synod, it is certainly not the trading of websites. Where is it? Perhaps where it is or should be is much more at the local rather than the national level.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 30 August 2004 at 8:30 AM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 28 August 2004

opinions on Anglicans

In a recent Church Times issue Bill Countryman wrote an op-ed column about What holds the Church together? from a Californian perspective.

Here’s an extract:

Anglicans in the US aren’t as divided as they seem…

…Disestablishment means loss of status. No follower of Jesus can automatically assume that that would be a bad thing. But it would change the context of the Church. The C of E would have to find new terms for saying what it is. American Episcopalians have spent a couple of centuries on this task. Our sense of self is that we are the one traditional Christian alternative to the Puritan legacy of theocratic rigidity in the United States.

That legacy has shaped most American assumptions about religion, including the assumption that “real” Christianity is always legalistic and oppressive. There are liberal alternatives to this legacy, but Episcopalians are something else — the one expression of historic Christianity that has continuously resisted the temptation to know the mind of God better than God does.

Since we don’t profess to know the whole mind of God, it makes it easier to remain in communion with one another, even though we disagree on many things. Theologically, we are divided; just like the C of E. There is no single official theological stance, but we live with that by staying in conversation.

This is why we will survive our current conflicts, and be the stronger for them: for we are living out our identity. Again and again, the mean-spiritedness of right-wing American Evangelicalism has turned out to be our single most potent tool of evangelism. There are signs that the American public is once again tiring of its theocratic program, notably in its refusal to get behind the campaign for an amendment to the federal constitution foreclosing gay marriage….

A week ago in the Telegraph Christopher Howse wrote what he thought about Lay Presidency in Sydney. The column is titled The all-clear for DIY at the altar.

Some letters on this subject are also appearing in the Church Times. Here are last week’s contributions: Lay presidency vote would undermine Sydney including this by Judith Maltby:

There are not many things one can say with such certainty, but lay presidency is clearly a departure from Anglican tradition and doctrine, and an ecumenical impediment far greater than is supposed by the ordination of women.

Does this mean, therefore, that alternative episcopal oversight from orthodox bishops will be provided for those faithful and traditional Anglicans in Sydney who are opposed to such a significant departure from orthodox Anglicanism, and, indeed from Catholic Christianity understood in its most inclusive sense?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 28 August 2004 at 11:04 AM GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Los Angeles: lawyers move in

The Los Angeles Times reports today that:
Episcopal Diocese Demands Property
and the Long Beach Press-Telegram carries:
Parishes asked to give up control
while the Daily Pilot has:
Pastor leads church in secession struggle.

And here in the UK, the Guardian finally noticed the story, as Stephen Bates filed this brief report:
US parishes defect as gay rift deepens.

Across the USA, this Associated Press report is now appearing:
L.A. Episcopal diocese demands property from breakaway parishes here via the San Diego Union Tribune

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 28 August 2004 at 8:46 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Friday, 27 August 2004

Texas twist to LA story

According to the Church of England Newspaper the retired bishop of Texas Maurice Benitez will exercise pastoral oversight, on behalf of Bishop Kisseka of Luweero, over the (so far, three) Los Angeles parishes who have separated themselves from their geographic diocese.

This information is included in the report Americans win support which also covers the George Carey in Virginia story, as well as the Los Angeles/Uganda one.

The latter is not mentioned in this week’s Church Times although that paper does have a report on the Virginia matter Carey becomes flying bishop in Virginia as well as a brief mention of Robert Duncan’s use of a 9/11 analogy for ECUSA ECUSA is ‘like 9/11’.

Another LA report from the Long Beach Press-Telegram
26 August Church leader backs bishop over dissenters

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 27 August 2004 at 8:33 AM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 26 August 2004

Griswold on LA

The Episcopal News Service issued this press release on Wednesday afternoon:

Presiding Bishop conveys concern about pastoral boundaries, affirms L.A. bishop’s ministry of reconciliation

which prompted two newspapers so far to print this report by Larry Stammer:

Los Angeles Times Top Episcopal Bishop ‘Troubled’ by Breakaway Churches

Boston Globe Episcopal head raps parish takeover

The lack of coverage of this news story outside Southern California, and especially in the UK, continues to surprise me.

A couple more newspaper stories:

Long Beach Gazette All Saints Breaks With National Church

AP Religion News in Brief leads with an item about LA (here via MyrtleBeachOnline but appearing in papers across the USA)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 26 August 2004 at 8:20 AM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 25 August 2004

further Los Angeles links

First three reports from the Orange County Register (hat tip KH)
20 August Showdown on horizon for diocese, churches
23 August Local parish defends split from church
25 August Third Episcopal church realigns

Next another official statement from Bishop Jon Bruno as reported by the American Anglican Council: Third Church in Diocese of LA Disassociates from ECUSA
24 August Bruno statement now also available from the LA diocesan website
25 August Griswold statement from LA diocesan website

And the official press release from St David’s Church also via AAC:
St. David’s Church Disassociates from ECUSA and Aligns Itself with the Worldwide Anglican Communion

And from titusonenine a reader has sent in the text of a letter apparently sent to all parishioners at (all?) the dissenting parishes by the Bishop of Los Angeles
To the members of All Saints Episcopal Church in Long Beach

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 25 August 2004 at 9:45 PM GMT | TrackBack
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more trouble in Los Angeles

A third parish in the Diocese of Los Angeles has announced its relocation to the Diocese of Luweero, Uganda.

Larry B. Stammer in the Los Angeles Times has the story:
North Hollywood Parish Is Third to Leave the Episcopal Church

There was also this in the Long Beach Press-Telegram
3rd church to leave diocese

The parish is St David’s North Hollywood (warning: the front page of its website is over 1 Mb in size) but this page on the Los Angeles diocesan website is small.

The other two parish websites:
All Saints Long Beach
St James Newport Beach

Other recent press reports:
AP wire service based on LA Times Third SoCal parish breaks off affiliation from Episcopal church
earlier AP report Angelican [sic] archbishop supports breakaway Episcopal parishes

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 25 August 2004 at 8:23 AM GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Monday, 23 August 2004

Los Angeles update

The Archbishop of Uganda has issued a statement which has been published so far only by the American Anglican Council and titusonenine and not by either of the two parishes (or indeed the Ugandan provincial website):

Archbishop Orombi Releases Statement Addressing California Churches or

Church of Uganda responds to Los Angeles Churches

Here is an extract from that statement:

We have recently concluded the 17th Provincial Assembly of the Province of the Church of Uganda. During that meeting, the Assembly affirmed the House of Bishops’ stance of broken communion with ECUSA, and at the same time declared its commitment to, support for, and communion with clergy and parishes of the Anglican Communion Network who seek to uphold biblical orthodoxy and the faith once delivered to the saints.

This confirms the status of Uganda which was already listed by me as being among the nine provinces who have broken communion with ECUSA.

Meanwhile press reports from the scene:

Larry Stammer of the Los Angeles Times ‘A New Day’ for Two Congregations (23 August)

Press-Telegram 240 join at ex-Episcopal church (22 August)

Daily Pilot Church secession saga still unresolved (19 August)
Churches read bishop’s letter en masse (22 August)

Press-Enterprise Bishop to answer churches (20 August)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 23 August 2004 at 5:22 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Carey to visit Virginia

Update The Telegraph on Wednesday carries, under the headline Back-seat bishop this letter from Lord Carey: Responding to the deep divisions. An extract:

…I must make it clear that I have not sought out this engagement – indeed, I am well aware of the way this action could be perceived.

However, the Bishop of Virginia, Bishop Peter Lee, a close friend of mine, invited me to conduct the confirmations with the full knowledge of the Archbishop of Canterbury, in some of his most thriving parishes which, sadly, are now estranged from him.

I salute Peter Lee’s spirit of generosity and humility as a demonstration that in these critical days for the Anglican Communion it is possible to avoid schism, if American bishops pay attention to the many Episcopalians who are exceedingly distressed by the consecration of Gene Robinson.


The Telegraph today carries a highly contentious story by Jonathan Petre which is headlined:
Carey tour adds to US fears of gay schism
and starts out:

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, will provoke a fresh storm over homosexuality in the Church next month by blessing hundreds of American traditionalists who are boycotting their own pro-gay bishop.
This high-profile intervention by Lord Carey will highlight the growing polarisation in the worldwide Anglican community over the issue and will be criticised as “back-seat driving” by supporters of his successor at Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
It will also raise the temperature of the debate weeks before the publication of the final report by the Lambeth Commission, the body set up last year by Dr Williams to try to avert schism.

But this event was known about as far back as 4 June at least, when it was reported in the Washington Times that:

…several Northern Virginia parishes are refusing to even allow Bishop Lee or his two assistant bishops to perform confirmations on parish property. The two sides compromised this week by agreeing to fly in retired Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, who will preside over a mass confirmation ceremony on Sept. 15.

and references to the scheduled event can be found on the websites of several of the parishes involved.

The Telegraph article also says:

More than 100 parishes have now split from the Church and affiliated themselves with evangelical dioceses in Africa.

This is misleading. Very few parishes (maybe 10?) so far have split from ECUSA as a result of last year’s events, although no doubt more will. This figure of 100 affiliations with African dioceses can scarcely be be obtained even by including all those who left as a result of earlier events and formed the AMiA whose website shows a list of around 70 congregations.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 23 August 2004 at 2:46 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Friday, 20 August 2004

Los Angeles news events

Although most of this happened well before Wednesday’s press time, there is not a word about it in this week’s Church Times. So here it is…

This week two parishes of the Diocese of Los Angeles declared themselves out of communion with ECUSA and to have joined the Diocese of Luweero in the Anglican Province of Uganda, and placed themselves under the jurisdiction of Bishop Evans Kisekka.

Here’s how it unfolded in the Los Angeles Times where Larry B Stammer reported:
17 August Episcopalian Parishes Split Over Gay Bishop
18 August Parishes Split Off Over Gay Issues (note also correction to previous day’s story)
19 August Bishop Orders Priests to Stop Work

Other press reports:
18 August AP Pair of SoCal Episcopal parishes break rank with national church
18 August Daily Pilot Church drops ‘Episcopal’ from its name
18 August Contra Costa Times Episcopal congregation splits from U.S. church
18 August Press-Telegram 2 local parishes leaving church

Episcopal News Service
17 August Two Southern California parishes vote alignment with Uganda diocese
19 August Bruno inhibits breakaway Los Angeles clergy

Here are the documents issued by the participants:

Diocese of Los Angeles
17 August: Statement from the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop scroll down
Pastoral letter from Bishop Jon Bruno issued 17 August to be read at every service in all churches of the diocese on Sunday 22 August.

St James Newport Beach
Press Release
Fact Sheet
Clergy Statement

All Saints Long Beach
17 August press release in pdf format
17 Aaugust fact sheet also in pdf format
Two 17 August entries on titusonenine contain html copies of the releases from them:
Two Major Calif. Churches Disassociate From Episcopal Church USA
Still More on the Two Los Angeles Area Episcopal Churches

And in case you thought the AAC and NACDAP were missing from the original story, three press releases appeared two days later:
19 August Statement by the Clergy of St. James Church, Newport Beach, Calif., and All Saints’ Church, Long Beach, Calif.
19 August Churches in Diocese of Los Angeles Leave Episcopal Church

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 20 August 2004 at 7:45 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Duncan claims 14 out of 21...

On 15 June, Robert Duncan Bishop of Pittsburgh, gave testimony to the Lambeth Commission, and the full text of his prepared statement has been published as a pdf file here. An html version is available here. A press release concerning it can be found here.

Three other persons representing the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes [despite its title, a wholly United States- based organization] also gave testimony, and they can all be found here. Originally, i.e. on 22 June, the Network then said:

In deference to Lambeth Commission, the presentations will be released to them for posting on the official website and may be accessed at (not of course the official website)

None of the Network testimonies have (yet?) been published by the Commission itself, although very many other documents are available here and here and here and here.

Although the most remarkable aspect of his testimony may well be his comparison of recent events in ECUSA to the bombing and subsequent collapse of the World Trade Center towers, Bishop Duncan’s testimony also includes the following paragraph (my emphasis added):

Thirteen diocesans, given impetus by four other Communion primates, agreed to create the Network in November. Representatives of twelve dioceses and six convocations (groups of parishes in non-Network dioceses) chartered the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes in January 2004. To date nine of those dioceses have ratified the charter, Albany becoming the most recent just this past Saturday. Within the six convocations, 43 congregations (within 22 non-network dioceses) have thus far taken vestry action to associate. Many times this number have such action under consideration, and this frequently in the face of direct opposition from the local bishop. 14 Provinces (all among the 21 Provinces who have announced some form of broken communion with ECUSA) have to date recognized the Network.

I have discussed here ad nauseam the unsubstantiated claims repeatedly made concerning both the number of provinces, and the number of primates acting personally, who have taken actions against ECUSA.

I know of no evidence to support a claim of 21 provinces breaking communion with ECUSA. As I have shown previously (dated 13 July, so after the testimony under discussion here), the most that can be proved with certainty is a mere nine. Indeed I think that 21 maybe the largest number yet claimed for provinces.

As to how many provinces (not merely primates) have “recognized” the Network, whatever that may mean, I have no information, and invite anyone who knows to send me or to publish the list of these fourteen. There doesn’t seem to be anything about this at the Network’s website, which is where you would expect to find it prominently available.

One wonders whether the Commission members or indeed the staff of the commission questioned any of these statistics at their Kanuga meeting, or asked Bishop Duncan for the list of 14 names.

I look forward to receiving any additional information, but as time goes by these claims look more and more like the missing Iraqi WMD.

Update thank you Matt for the comment referring to two statements from primates, but this is not the same as provincial “recognition”.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 20 August 2004 at 1:58 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 17 August 2004

FiF comments on AM

“Anglican Mainstream” claims to have support from conservative catholics as well as evangelicals.

However, in the latest issue of the Forward in Faith magazine New Directions Geoffrey Kirk has this to say (you can read the whole article here):

Anglican Mainstream is a well-intentioned group of serious-minded Evangelicals. But it is a group which seems to have no tactical ability, strategical sense or basic ecclesiology. It claims fidelity to scripture as its salient principle – and yet many of its members have already departed from scripture in the matter of the remarriage of divorced persons and the ordination of women. In the first instance they are ignoring one of the most categorical dominical injunctions, and in the second they are setting aside Pauline texts arguably more comprehensive and definitive than those against homosexuality.

Mainstream has a lot of questions of answer. Why not, if a man’s sexual acts are more ecclesially significant than his expressed opinions, accept Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading in the first place? Why refuse to receive the ministry of Christopher Herbert and not also refuse Richard Harries, Stephen Cotterell and Rowan Williams? Why was it more serious to appoint Dr John as Dean of St Alban’s than to appoint him as Canon Theologian of Southwark? And why was it more objectionable for him to be Dean of St Alban’s than for his self-appointed defender and advocate, Colin Slee, to be Dean of Southwark?

The English revisionists are, for the moment, very polite about all this. They have no need to be aggressive when they are winning so easily and so comprehensively. But American revisionists have begun, with great effect, to cast the same in the Evangelicals’ teeth. ‘You have already swallowed two things which scripture forbids and the tradition has comprehensively condemned,’ they point out. ‘Why are you gritting your teeth now at what is merely a consequential amendment?’

It is an accusation, of course, which implicitly suggests that, by making opposition to homosexual practice the cynosure of orthodoxy, Evangelical traditionalists are motivated more by homophobia than faithfulness to the Bible And, alas, it is an accusation which the incoherent behaviour of Anglican Mainstream and similar groups, makes it very difficult to refute.

In the same issue, Michael Heidt comments from America on the problems FiFNA has being part of what he refers to as NACDAC (with the final C standing for “congregations” rather than “parishes”). So perhaps these difficulties are not only an English issue.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 17 August 2004 at 9:30 PM GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 15 August 2004

more comments on Reform

The paper recently issued by Reform and first published here is at last available on Reform’s own website. You can read it here.

The press release is also available here.

The reports and editorial comment on all this in the Church Times generated a whole clutch of letters in the CT issue of 6 August, which can now be read at
Is Reform defending the faith, or getting above itself?

I particularly liked Fr Kevin Scully’s criticism of the media for using “conservative” to describe the positions taken by Reform. He said:

The agenda here seems as conservative as placing Oliver Cromwell in charge of church statuary. Perhaps a more judicious use of language by newsmongers, if not by those who admit their own divisive agendas, would help us all.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 15 August 2004 at 10:21 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Friday, 13 August 2004

lay presidency - CT report

The Church Times has some further information on the Sydney proposal first reported here.

Sydney to turn blind eye to lay presidency by Muriel Porter.

Here again is the link to the full text of the proposal on Sydney’s own website.

The CEN website remains frozen on the issue of 23 July, so any report or comment they may have made on this matter is unavailable.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 13 August 2004 at 1:02 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 11 August 2004

Homophobia and the Global South

Amnesty International UK published a book at the beginning of July: Sex, Love and Homophobia by Vanessa Baird, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu. The book documents the violent persecution of gays around the world, which has reached “epidemic” levels in some nations, according to the author. More on the book here.

Later in the month at General Synod, the Campaigns Director of AI UK, Stephen Bowen spoke to a lunchtime fringe meeting about the book and nature of AI’s work in this area. He stressed the importance AI places on keeping out of internal disputes within religious or political organisations. Their concern is strictly with the civil rights of millions of human beings.

On 1 July The Times published an article by Desmond Tutu titled Homophobia is as unjust as that crime against humanity, apartheid. Here’s a short extract:

A student once asked me if I could have one wish granted to reverse an injustice, what would it be? I had to ask for two. One is for world leaders to forgive the debts of developing nations which hold them in such thrall. The other is for the world to end the persecution of people because of their sexual orientation, which is every bit as unjust as that crime against humanity, apartheid.

… In its new book, Sex, Love and Homophobia, Amnesty International has reported on the stories of people around the world who simply wish to love one another as an expression of their everyday lives, just like anyone, anywhere. These include Poliyana Mangwiro who was a leading member of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe despite Robert Mugabe’s protestations that homosexuality is “against African traditions”. And Simon Nkoli, the ANC activist who after spending four years in prison under apartheid went on to be the face of the struggle for gay rights in the new South Africa.

But the voices of hate, fear and persecution are also strong and lamentably often supported by faith leaders. From Egypt to Iran, Nigeria to India, Burma to Jamaica, gay men, lesbians and transgender people are harassed, imprisoned, beaten and forced from their communities.

Some states even make homosexuality punishable by death. The Churches are not vocal enough in opposing these vicious injustices, while some Christians even encourage such persecution.

LGCM issued a statement the same day titled An appeal to the Bishops of the West supporting the Bishops of the Global South. It starts out:

The majority of homosexual people in the world are not engaged in the present dispute over the ordination of lesbian and gay Christians.

They live in some 80 countries which persecute LGBT people through their penal codes with punishments ranging from death to mutilation and imprisonment.

For these millions, mostly in the Global South, preserving their life and liberty is their daily concern and it is on their behalf we now appeal to you for help.

You have a unique position to help homosexual people. Few, if any of you, would advocate these terrible punishments in your own countries, and we ask you to use your influence to persuade your brother bishops to help remedy these injustices in their homelands.

Read the whole thing here. Individual copies of this letter were sent to:

  • those bishops in England who last year opposed The Very Revd Jeffrey John’s nomination as a bishop;
  • the Bishop of Pittsburgh and the other bishops in the USA who have combined in opposition to the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson;
  • the Primate of New Zealand;
  • the Archbishop of Sydney.

As a consequence of this letter, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Sydney was invited to consider the following resolution:

The Standing Committee, noting the open letter dated 1 July 2004 sent by the UK Gay and Lesbian Christian Movement to the “Bishops of the West supporting the Bishops of the Global South” (including the Archbishop of Sydney) about the treatment of homosexual people in many Global south countries; and noting paragraph (d) of the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution I.10 on Human Sexuality, which says:
(d) while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex;
urges the Global South Primates of the Anglican Communion to do all within their power both to encourage the decriminalisation of homosexual activity in their respective countries and to ensure that their words and actions do not in any way encourage violence towards homosexuals.

But after two meetings this agenda item has still not been reached, although two amendments had been filed, which would emasculate or remove entirely the last paragraph.

After all lay presidency is much more important.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 11 August 2004 at 9:37 PM GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 10 August 2004

lay presidency in Sydney

Update Thursday
As noted by Margaret Rogers in her comment below, the full text of this draft resolution has now been published here, prefaced by an explanatory note.

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Sydney has been considering this issue again. They have come to the realisation that any attempt to pass diocesan legislation at diocesan level to authorise lay/diaconal presidency (which in Sydney parlance is called “lay administration”) would be held to be illegal at Australian national church level, and so, after very long discussion, the Standing Committee decided at its 9 August meeting to put to the next diocesan synod a proposal to ignore the law, in the form of a “declaration” which would have moral rather than legal force, but would have the practical effect of protecting anyone in the diocese from legal action by the diocese itself. The effect of the declaration is to give the synod’s approval, if the motion is ultimately adopted, to such law breaking as might be involved in lay and diaconal presidency at the eucharist. Since it involves no legislation and the archbishop is required neither to assent to the motion nor to issue any licences, no illegality by the diocese or its synod or officials can be alleged.

The key paragraphs of the draft proposal are as follows.


The declaration begins with a series of recitals A to K that support lay and diaconal administration and set out the legal problem. It then proceeds to make its declaration, in these words:

  • (3) This Synod believes and urges that, until such time as any necessary change in the law can be effected by an appropriate process (or it can be determined by an appropriate process that no change in the law is needed), no disciplinary or other action should be taken against any person merely because the person, in accordance with this Declaration:
    • (a) authorizes or permits, or purports to authorize or permit, a deacon or lay person to administer the Lord’s Supper, or
    • (b) being a deacon or lay person, administers, or purports to administer, the Lord’s Supper, or
    • (c) is involved in the administration , or purported administration, of the Lord’s supper by a deacon or lay person.
  • (4) This declaration is intended to have application only to the administration of the Lord’s Supper by a deacon or lay person and not to any other area of doctrine or worship, or of faith, ritual, ceremonial or discipline, applicable to and in force within this Diocese.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 10 August 2004 at 9:25 PM GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 8 August 2004

Reactions to the discipline debate

Following the debate at General Synod where the proposal for new “heresy courts” was rejected, the columns of the Church Times have carried a number of letters to the editor, and feature articles about this.

Why the Church needs bounds to its spacious mysteries by Peter Selby (published 23 July)

Heresy penalties would miss C of E’s moving goalposts by Stephen Trott (published 30 July)

Letters from 2 July

Letters from 9 July

Letters from 16 July

Letters from 23 July

Letters from 30 July

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 8 August 2004 at 9:19 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 7 August 2004

opinion columns

From today’s Telegraph a column by Christopher Howse about that Vatican letter on the role of women: Eve is Adam’s ‘vital’ helper and another column by Niall Ferguson which contrasts American and British work customs: The atheist sloth ethic, or why Europeans don’t believe in work.

Over in the Guardian earlier this week, Martin Wainwright wrote about Christians in Turkey, In the language of Jesus and today the Vicar of Soham, Tim Alban Jones writes God stopped at Soham.

In The Times Theo Hobson writes: Europe both fears and envies the certainties of Islam and there is a very interesting article about National Health Service chaplains: Spiritual aid in sickness and in health by Jack Shamash.

Some excerpts from Theo Hobson’s article:

OUGHT we to fear an expansionist Islam? There has recently been a fresh rash of scare comment in the press, suggesting that Islam is the new spectre haunting Western civilisation: by tolerating this enemy in our midst, we are sleepwalking to cultural oblivion.

Of course no such fear is warranted. The Islamic-related terrorist threat is real, but it does not amount to a concerted political threat. Even if bin Laden struck again on the scale of September 11, it would lead him no nearer to the overthrow of the West. In global terms, there is no Islamic state or alliance of states that constitutes a threat to the West.

And in European terms, the Islamic minority is weak. Muslims are not storming the citadels of business or culture. They are, for the most part, surviving on low-wage jobs. Yes, the minority is expanding – from almost nothing a generation ago to about three per cent of the average European country’s population. But there is no reason to fear that the minority will continue to expand until it dominates.

But the problem is the ideology, some will say. Unlike Hindus or Jews, Muslims want to see their religion overtake European society. This is an expansionist religion. But so is Christianity: don’t Christians hope that Islamic nations will come to accept the lordship of Jesus Christ?

Islamophobia does not have a rational basis. Yet it affects intelligent people who are not generally racist; its roots are deep and complex. Could it be that Islamophobia is based in a sort of envy? For Islam painfully reminds us of what we lack. It highlights our lack of faith in our common values. We envy the unitary vision of Islam, its fusion of politics and religion.

…Is there a solution to the old duality of post-Christian, semi-secularised Europe? We cannot reinstate pre-secular Christian culture, and we cannot assert secularism as a coherent unifying ideology, without creating something horrible. So we need to patch up the marriage between our Christian and secular identities. We need to reaffirm the inner affinity between Christianity and secularism. The key work to be done is not so much political, or cultural, as theological. The “spectre ” of Islam may be providential: the spur to a new era of Christian-secular relations, the forging of a coherent European identity.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 7 August 2004 at 9:15 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Monday, 2 August 2004

Huge Hope press coverage

The morning newspapers just can’t get enough of it.
This picture comes from PA via The Times which runs four stories:
Archbishop stands aside to be a humble parish priest

Journey from palace to rural parish

Ascetic priest declined full pay

Rise of a reluctant archbishop

and a leading article On Ilkley Moor baht mitre

The Telegraph has two stories:
Archbishop seeks the simple parish life

From palace to pauper

and a leader comment with a similar title to the Times one: Ilkley Moor baht mitre

Two stories even in the Guardian
Archbishop of York to swap riverside palace for ministry in a local parish and

Father to 200 and no time for long walks

and again a leader comment A lesson to us all

The Independent has but one entry:
Archbishop of York quits for future as parish priest

And yesterday, Jane Little on the BBC Radio programme Sunday had this piece (Real Audio) about David Hope which includes an interview with Stephen Bates.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 2 August 2004 at 10:27 AM GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 1 August 2004

David Hope goes to Ilkley

Today, David Hope announced his resignation as Archbishop of York, to take effect from 28 February next year, and his plan to then become the Vicar of St Margaret’s Ilkley in West Yorkshire, in the Diocese of Bradford from early March 2005.

Here is the Diocese of York announcement.

Here is the Diocese of Bradford announcement.

The Press Association had Archbishop Returning to ‘Real Ministry’ of Parish Life
and the BBC had Archbishop of York to step down

The picture of him talking with some of his new parishioners comes from AP via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Here is a picture of the Norman Shaw church from the parish website, which sadly is a year out of date.

And if anybody reading this wonders where Ilkley is, the answer is here

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 1 August 2004 at 9:14 PM GMT | TrackBack
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