Monday, 26 April 2004

Court rules against unions

Judgement has been delivered in the High Court case brought by several trade unions. For the background read my earlier note here.

Press Association via the Independent Unions lose ‘faith-based’ equality fight

Trade unions today lost their High Court battle for a ruling that new equality regulations are flawed because they fail to protect lesbian and gay workers from discrimination by “faith-based” employers.
A judge upheld the legality of the Government’s 2003 Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations and refused to condemn them as “incompatible” with European law.

Christian groups, including the Evangelical Alliance, Christian Schools Trust and Christian Action Research and Education (CARE), all intervened to resist the union challenge, which was brought against the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.
The evangelicals - who believe homosexuality is contrary to scripture - argued that Christian organisations had the right to formulate and apply their own policies regarding the employment of gays as clerics and as teachers in faith schools.

BBC Unions lose sex equality ruling

In his ruling, Mr Justice Richards refused to rule that the equality regulations were “incompatible” with European law.
He said: “To treat the regulations as reducing the level of protection (from sex discrimination) seems to me to require a distorted view of their effect.”
However, in recognition of the importance of the case, he gave the unions, which include Amicus, Unison and the RMT, leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
Separately, the unions - in an action co-ordinated by the TUC - unsuccessfully challenged provisions which they said enabled employers to exclude same-sex couples from pension and benefits rights currently enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.

Update - further newspaper reports
Guardian Faith schools cannot sack teachers for being gay, court rules

Telegraph Unions lose court plea over gays and church jobs

Here is a slightly more technical news report from HR Gateway (registration required) Unions lose sexual orientation inequality case

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC said today that judge’s verdict was ‘disappointing’. “Important issues are at stake. No one should be treated differently because of their sexuality,” he said.
Unions will be consulting their legal teams over the next few days, said the TUC today, to “try and figure out the next move”. The individual unions need to make a decision whether to fight the case in the Court of Appeal.
Campaign group Stonewall told HRG today that it was “deeply disappointed” by the outcome of the case. The Government had given religious organisations a “licence to discriminate”, it said, while same sex couples still lose out on pension rights.

A further note from HR Gateway is here

The full text of the ruling is online here. (Warning:this is a very large document)

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Sunday, 18 April 2004

More on the AoS case

I reported earlier on the tribunal case to be brought against the Apostleship of the Sea. The BBC has a radio segment on this today, which can be heard here with Real Audio.

Legal action against Catholic Charity
A Gay man is taking legal action against a Catholic Charity for refusing to employ him. His case will provide an important benchmark - testing new government legislation which outlaws discrimination against homosexuals. It also challenges the limits of an exemption to the legislation granted to religious organisations.

The Guardian carried this report on 27 April, Charity to face tribunal over gay employment law.

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Saturday, 17 April 2004

Full text of CAPA statement

Below is the full text of the CAPA statement issued in Nairobi on 16 April 2004.

The press release said:

Primates resolve to multiply efforts of fortifying CAPA and African Theology
By Justus Waimiri

Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) Primates met in Nairobi on Wednesday and Thursday this week, and agreed to strengthen the financial position of the African Provinces and CAPA secretariat.

A statement issued at the end of the meeting that went late into Wednesday night and Thursday morning, said the Primates were encouraged by the outcome of the meeting, in which they affirmed the role of CAPA in uniting African Provinces.

They agreed to develop the available economic and organisational resources, and to increase their commitment to CAPA.

The Primates also deliberated on the development of an African Theological and Doctrinal Commission, and agreed to forge ahead with the initiative.

The meeting was attended by Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who is also CAPA Chairman, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Archbishop Fidele Dirokpa of Congo, Archbishop Joseph Marona of Sudan and Archbishop Bernard Malango of Central Africa.

Others were The Rt Revd Nicodemus Okille of Uganda, Rt Revd Dinis Sengulane of Southern Africa, Rt Revd Mouneer Anis of Egypt, and Rt Revd Jean Claude of Indian Ocean.

Regarding the controversial sexuality issues, the CAPA Primates affirmed the Lambeth resolution of 1998 and the previous CAPA Primates meeting of September last year, that opposed appointment of openly gay people to church ministry.

However, the Primates expressed faith and “prayerful support” to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and the Lambeth Commission established by him to study the appropriate measures to take after the controversial consecration of Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church of United States (ECUSA), New Hempshire.

The Primates and Bishops also discussed the stalemate that followed the retirement of Archbishop Robert Okine of West Africa, and expressed hope that the issue would be resolved soon. They said they would avail themselves as CAPA if called upon to mediate any contentious issues.

The meeting said it was encouraged by the peace process in the Sudan, and thanked the Government of Kenya for its role in bringing the warring factions together. A special message will be delivered to Kenya’s President, Mwai Kibaki.

On Rwanda, the Primates congratulated the reconciliation going on in the country, and pledged their support.

Below is a full text the CAPA Primates Statement:


We CAPA Primates meeting in Nairobi on 14th April had a very constructive discussion of the issues that concern our church in Africa. We are encouraged by the outcome of the meeting in which we affirmed the importance of the ownership of CAPA and furthering its development. We therefore recommended the following steps;

a) To work hard to develop our economic and organisational resources.

b) To increase the financial contribution to CAPA.

c) To develop our African theological training programme that would equip our ministers with the African spirituality that is based on the scripture.

In regard to the sexuality issues,
We continue to affirm Lambeth resolution 1.10 of 1998 and our statement of the last CAPA meeting as well as the Primates statement of October 2003.

We are committed to prayerful support for the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan William and his leadership to the Communion in this very difficult time. We also pray and support Lambeth Commission set by him to study the appropriate actions towards those in ECUSA who ignored the Primates’ warnings and violated the historical faith and order of the Church by consecrating a non-celibate open homosexual Priest as Bishop.

We appeal to the Commission to consider the serious implications of not taking a strong disciplinary action against ECUSA, which will definitely tear the Communion apart and will badly affect our ecumenical and interfaith relations as a Communion.

The Primates of CAPA reaffirm the statement that was issued in September last year.

We note that some Provinces have already taken action in declaring a broken Communion with ECUSA as an institution, while maintaining communion with individuals who have stayed away from the official position of ECUSA.

Some Provinces have impaired communion with ECUSA.

The Commission is requested to call ECUSA to repentance giving it a three -months period to show signs of such repentance. Failing that, discipline should be applied.

As CAPA Primates we stand firm to what we have decided that if there is no sign of repentance on the part of ECUSA, the consequences will determine the next line of our action.

The question of the enthronement of the Primate that did not take place was received with sadness and asked the secretariat to write to the Dean of the Church of West Africa assuring them of our prayers and expressed the availability of CAPA if there will be need for consultation with them.

We congratulate and rejoice with the people and government of Rwanda on the efforts being made at reconciliation.

We support the Primate of Rwanda, the Council of Churches and the Government of Rwanda in their reconciliatory efforts..

Emphasis on the catechistical teaching of the sanctity of human life and the ministry of healing of memories are of great importance for this situation.

The Primates are encouraged by the progress that was made in the peace process in Sudan. We hope and pray that both the government of Sudan and SPLA would reach the final peace agreement.

The CAPA Primates are saddened by the continuing violence in the Holy Land and appeal to the international community to intervene to achieve peace for both the Palestinians and the Israeli people.

Our hope is that Iraqi people resume their peace and develop their country under Iraqi government.

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More on Africa

The ENS has a detailed report about the news from the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA): Mixed signals emerge from Nairobi meeting of Global South primates.

This refers to a formal statement from CAPA the full text of which I have yet to find published on the web is now available on TA here, although Kendall Harmon has some earlier notes from Nairobi here, here and here. ENS also refers to a separate press statement by Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town, which again I have not seen the full text of yet.

It contains information about the complexity of American financial support to Africa:

It was not clear what would be the immediate effect of Akinola’s declaration that the CAPA primates would not accept donations from certain dioceses within the Episcopal Church.
“All disbursements for mission from the national budget for this year have been made already,” said the Rev. Pat Mauney, director of Anglican and Global Relations (AGR) for the Episcopal Church. “The disbursements are offered without strings attached. If they decide not to accept, we respect their decision.”
Of the 12 African provinces, Nigeria and Central Africa do not request mission funds from AGR. Of the remaining ten, only Uganda has rejected a $7500 grant, and Rwanda has not yet responded for the 2003-2006 triennium. The CAPA secretariat accepted a $16,000 grant from AGR for 2003.
Other mission funds come through wealthy parishes such as Trinity Church in New York and Truro Church in Virginia, as well as independent foundations and mission organizations. Another source is the companion diocese relationship between American and African dioceses and provinces. Currently 19 US dioceses whose bishops voted in favor of the Robinson consecration have formal or informal relationships in Africa, while another 17 whose bishops voted against Robinson have formal or informal links with African dioceses.

In Britain, The Times reported the story African Anglicans spurn gay funding and also gives some figures:

ANGLICAN bishops in Africa are to refuse all funding from dioceses that ordain homosexual clergy and bishops.
The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, headed by Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, a leading conservative evangelical, could lose up to 70 per cent of its funding if it acts on the motion passed at a meeting in Kenya this week.
The motion was accompanied by a demand that the Episcopal Church of the United States repent within three months for the ordination of the openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson. The African bishops called also for the Episcopal Church to be disciplined, a demand unlikely to be met because all Anglican provinces are autonomous.

The Episcopal Church alone provides nearly a third of the African council’s annual budget, amounting to $106,000 or £59,000 in 2002.

The council represents 12 national and regional churches in Africa plus the diocese of Egypt. Many of these, as well as other Global South provinces, have already severed ties with the New Hampshire diocese by declaring themselves “out of communion”. But eight provinces have already taken money this year.
Episcopal leaders believe the vote to refuse funds is little more than a symbolic protest. But Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya said the Africans would have to sever links with New York’s Trinity Wall Street, a prominent parish that distributes grants worth millions of dollars.

The Telegraph also has Archbishops reject US cash in gay clergy row.

African archbishops representing more than half the worldwide Anglican Church are to refuse millions of pounds a year from their US counterparts in protest at its first openly gay bishop.

Their action will be seen as another step towards schism over the issue of homosexuality. Many of them are disillusioned with the efforts of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to keep the worldwide Church together, and they are making preparations for a rival Church with an alternative leader.
The most likely candidate, the Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, said the liberal leadership of the American Episcopal Church must be disciplined for supporting the consecration.

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Thursday, 15 April 2004

African update

Archbishop Peter Akinola African Churches Take Stand Against Gays
Associated Press Writer
read the full article here
Peter Akinola (pictured right) said:

“If we suffer for a while to gain our independence and our freedom and to build ourselves up, I think it will be a good thing for the church in Africa,” Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria told journalists. “And we will not, on the altar of money, mortgage our conscience, mortgage our faith, mortgage our salvation.”

Update an even later revision of the AP story is here on CNN (thanks KH), with additional quotes e.g.

Akinola said the South African leader, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town, told him in a telephone conversation Thursday that he supported the stand taken by the other African archbishops.
He added that Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the Bahamas, who listened in on the conversation, “is firmly in support of the views which we are espousing. He made that quite clear.”

The Guardian has a report by Stephen Bates US church ‘must repent’ for gay bishop decision.

The BBC reported all this as African clergy reject ‘gay’ funds

The bishops made it plain that money from like-minded Americans, that is those who oppose the ordination of homosexuals, would not be turned away.
They said they were now conducting a review of how many programmes would be affected by a ban on official donations from the American church.
Archbishop Akinola also said they would take “action they deem necessary” if the US Church failed to “repent” over the ordination of homosexuals within the next three months.
“We shall cross that bridge when we get there,” he said. “We represent more than half of the entire Anglican world. I don’t think anybody would simply want to wish away our opinion”.

Further update
Another report from Nairobi, this from IPS: Africa Rejects Donations From Churches That Support Gay Unions

Africa’s Anglican archbishops have vowed never to receive donations from western churches which support the ordination of gay priests.
“We do not want any money from the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. This is not rhetoric. It is not a matter of a joke. We mean what we say,” the chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, Nigeria’s Archbishop Peter Akinola said, as the other clergymen nodded in affirmation.
Akinola was addressing a news conference in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, on behalf of the continent’s 12 archbishops, on Friday. The conference followed a two-day meeting to review the African bishops’ stand on homosexuality. Five archbishops from Latin America, Asia and Middle East also attended the gathering. The church in the four regions does not condone homosexuality.
“Those who have chosen a different path away from Anglican doctrines must repent and come back to the Anglican fold or be kicked out of the communion,” Akinola said. “We have recommended to the Lambeth Commission (in London) to take this clear line of disciplinary action against ECUSA because of what it has done.”

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Wednesday, 14 April 2004

African revue

The Press Association issued a news story about the meeting of African and other primates this week, which The Scotsman headlined as shown here:
African Anglican Leaders Revue Gay Stance.

The BBC reported this story as African bishops mull ‘gay’ funds.
The Mail & Guardian in South Africa had more detail African clergy mull funding after gay debacle,
while the South African Star headlined it Anti-gay African bishops to meet over funding.

A longer report in the Durban Mercury Boycott threat over gay bishop contains further quotes from Peter Akinola:

“Already there is a tear of the very fabric of our communion,” Akinola said in a telephone interview this week.
“Last year, we said if the Anglican Church of the United States of America should consecrate that man, it will mean that (it) has pulled out of communion. Ordaining and consecrating an openly gay (man) . . . has amounted to crafting a new template and we can’t log on to that template.”
Capa has about 42 million Anglicans, more than half the world’s Anglicans. Bishops from Latin American and Asia are also expected to attend the meeting today.
“Our brothers in Singapore said no to a meeting that (the US church) would attend in February next year . . . going to that meeting will undermine our position,” Akinola said.
He said the Capa meeting would almost certainly conclude that churches in Africa, Latin America and Asia should refuse to accept donations from Western churches that support the ordination of gay bishops.
About 70% of Capa’s funds come from donations by rich Western churches, mostly based in the United States.
“It is wrong for any bishop to go to them for money,” Akinola said.
“For so many years the church leadership in Africa has been led by the dependency syndrome.
“The goal of Capa is to work for self-reliance, and the question of thinking where to look for money is a thing of the past.”
He said the meeting would also discuss how to accommodate African bishops serving in America who did not support having gay bishops or being part of the US church.
“African Anglicans in America are unhappy to be there.
“We will not force them to be there. We will give them a spiritual home where they want to be,” the primate said.

Further update
African Anglicans to Refuse ‘Gay Cash’ from PA via the Scotsman

African Anglican archbishops resolved today to reject donations from any diocese that recognises gay clergy and will refuse cooperation with any missionary that supports the idea.
It was the latest attack by church conservatives on the consecration of an openly gay bishop in the US state of New Hampshire.
The archbishops, meeting in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, also recommended that the Episcopal Church - the American branch of the Anglican church -, be disciplined and be given three months “to repent” for the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, an openly gay man.
If the Episcopal church is not disciplined, African Anglicans will be free to take whatever action they see fit, but breaking away from the worldwide Anglican Communion “is not an option”, said Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria.

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Sunday, 11 April 2004

Easter News

Yesterday The Times reported some statistics about Britain:
We believe in Easter, but not in going to church

Sixty-three per cent say that they think of Britain as a Christian country. There is a direct correlation between age and these perceptions. Fewer than half (48 per cent) of 18 to 24 year-olds take this view, compared with roughly three quarters of 55 to 64 year-olds (72 per cent) and of over-65s (75 per cent).
This ties in with the findings of the 2001 Census which showed that nearly seven out ten people in England and Wales identified themselves as white Christians.
Moreover, a similar proportion of black people and a half of those of mixed ethnic backgrounds also identified themselves as Christians.
Fewer than two in five (37 per cent) say they will go to a church service at some point over Easter, and 61 per cent say that they will not go. Even so, these answers are almost certainly an exaggeration of probable church attendance (regularly fewer than one in ten on Sundays, though higher over Easter).
People aged between 18 and 24 are half as likely to say they will go to church as over-65s (23 to 50 per cent). However, more than half the public (55 per cent) say that they personally believe that the “Easter story that Jesus rose from the dead is true”. Personal belief in the Resurrection rises from 39 per cent among 18 to 24 year-olds to 64 per cent among the over-65 age group.
Women are significantly more likely than men to say they plan to go to church (42 against 33 per cent) and to believe in the Resurrection (60 against 48 per cent).

Today the Independent reports Clergy need remedial lessons in Bible, says bishop

Church of England clergy have become so blasé about the Bible that they need “remedial” lessons in its meaning, says Dr Tom Wright, the Bishop of Durham and the third [sic] most senior figure in the Anglican hierarchy.
In an Easter message he complains about the lack of “biblical literacy” even in established congregations. Speaking to The Independent on Sunday, he also attacked the view of the afterlife held by many worshippers.
“The great majority of people think that ‘going to Heaven when you die’ is the name of the game. Yet it ignores the real message of Christianity. This is about commitment to equality, justice, working in the world in the present, which the old platonic dream really doesn’t give you.
“The Bible story is about resurrection and new creation, not about abandoning this world and going off to some disembodied, platonic place called Heaven. Most people in the church have only a sketchy idea of what the biblical world is like.”

and also Prince’s glorious prayer book at risk from ‘dumbing down’

Defenders of Book of Common Prayer warn of ‘piracy’

Foreign imitations are confusing worshippers and destroying the authority of the original, says the Prayer Book Society (PBS), whose influential backers include its patron, the Prince of Wales.
Alternative “Books of Common Prayer”, couched in contemporary language have sprung up around the Anglican world, and from next month, worshippers in the Church of Ireland will be told to use yet another new publication, still titled the Book of Common Prayer.
Now the PBS has issued a call to arms, predicting that correct use of the book will soon be confined to “a minority” and urging its 16,000 members to “act now to prevent this development”.
The society describes the new publications as “acts of piracy” and “breaches of the Trades Descriptions Act”.
The Labour MP Frank Field, a PBS member, is also concerned. “New ordinands don’t actually know the Book of Common Prayer or how to use it,” he said.

The 1662 version is still in use in England, where the modernised service book - including parts of the original - is labelled Common Worship.
But elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, there is no such distinction and new books are given the old title.
“This is clearly ‘passing off’, if not breach of copyright,” protests Roger Evans, PBS chairman, former Conservative MP and a barrister specialising in ecclesiastical law.
The Rev Dr Peter Toon, a PBS spokesman, said that the changes have serious theological implications, as the prayer books are the “standard of doctrine” for Anglicans.
“People will accept the notion of common prayer on the American and Irish models, ” he said.
The Church of Ireland says that its new book contains both new and traditional liturgy: “The Church is again to have one unifying book of common prayer, including within its covers material in both traditional and contemporary language.”

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Friday, 9 April 2004

first tribunal case

We seem to have the first instance of an Employment Tribunal case relating to the new regulations. The Independent and The Tablet both report the case.

Gay man denied job as chaplain to seafarers

A gay man is taking legal action against a Catholic charity which he alleges withdrew a job offer on the grounds that he was in a homosexual relationship.
The man had been verbally offered a post as a lay chaplain with the Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) when he disclosed to them that he was living with his partner. His case will test new government legislation which outlaws discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace. It will also challenge the effectiveness of an exemption granted to religious organisations.
The 27-year-old man, who has asked to remain anonymous, says he is determined to fight the AOS decision and has taken his case to an employment tribunal. For its part, the AOS believes it was fully justified in its decision not to employ an active homosexual in a pastoral role. The AOS is an agency of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and is concerned with the spiritual and social welfare of seafarers.
The charity’s National Director, Commodore Chris York, confirmed that he offered the man a job as a port chaplain before he knew he was homosexual. York told The Tablet that during a discussion about where he would be based, the man disclosed that he could not be completely flexible because he had a lease on a house and was in a relationship with another man.

Gay man sues Catholic church for withdrawing job offer

The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, which came into force in December, make it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. But the change has been a matter of controversy for religious groups, which maintain that their churches, schools and charities should be free to turn down non-believers and other applicants who do not conform to church teachings.
Pressure from faith groups helped to force a special exemption from the regulations, but this exemption has already been taken to judicial review in the High Court by a group of unions, including Amicus, which has a section for clergy. A decision is pending. It is understood that a second employment challenge to the Catholic church using the same legislation is in the pipeline.

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Good Friday in Britain

The Guardian prints a column by Giles Fraser The dry eyes of deep grief
and Stephen Bates reports that Churches take ritual of Passion on to the streets.

The Times has an editorial The Passion. Two excerpts from this appear below.

Extreme sacrifice and extremism
Given the suffering which so many endured during the 20th century’s age of extremes, the ebbing of faith in certainties might seem to be a welcome development. And for many contemplating what has been done in the name of religion in Iraq this Holy Week, the influence of a highly politicised form of faith must seem almost wholly malign. If this is what mankind does in the grip of religious fervour, then many will yearn for a world without such passion.
On this day, however, we are called to remember a passion of a different kind, and the extremes to which one man was driven because of faith, and draw a very different message. The Easter narrative helps us to understand that what the world needs is not a retreat from faith, and religion’s moral codes, but an approach towards the mystery of creation marked by the humility of Jesus and infused by the sympathy that He showed to all mankind.

The journey to Calvary that Jesus made was, however, for them as much as anyone. He confronted the ultimate extreme - a painful death and the cries of the world jeering in His ears - to prove that compassion can triumph over calculation, and that sacrifice can redeem sin. He required a faith that might be considered so strong as to be extreme. But His quiet adherence to the principle of love, and the willingness to sacrifice His interests for others, and then His Resurrection, completed a symbolic but real journey, and began a new phase of human spirituality.
The extremists who challenge our peace this Easter come not as Jesus did, to redeem, but as His tormentors did, to uphold an arid purity and proclaim a vengeful power. Their faith is a political religion, like fascism or Marxism, their vision is exclusive and self-indulgent, and their hands are clenched round a gun. The faith of Jesus was of a very different kind: His outstretched hands on the Cross were there to embrace all mankind. If the world is to overcome the dark passion of those whose hate drives them to violent extremes, it can only be helped by contemplating the message of compassion from the One who went to the ultimate extreme for love.

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Thursday, 8 April 2004

Sydney inquisition

The Diocese of Sydney made news in Australia recently because of the questionnaire that all candidates for ordination, or clergy seeking to become licensed in that diocese, are required to complete.
The Australian Priests forced to reveal sexual past
Sydney Morning Herald New priests to be quizzed over sexual history
ABC Radio Anglicans use questionnaire to weed out potential paedophiles
ABC Bishop stands by sex questionnaire

Today, the Church Times publishes further reports on this, at Sydney probes clergy sex-lives and also publishes the full text of the questionnaire itself. The text of the covering sheet entitled “Privacy Statement” is shown below.

I will have more to report on this topic soon.


The Archbishop’s office respects your privacy.

The Archbishop’s office is responsible for supporting the Archbishop in discharging his episcopal functions and also administers the diocesan Registry, Professional Standards Unit and diocesan Archives.

We usually collect personal information such as a person’s name, age, contact details, occupation and family details to discharge these functions but we may collect other personal information as well. We use this information for the proper administration of the Diocese including assessing ordination applicants, licensing clergy and lay people for ministry in the Diocese, administering professional standards within the Diocese and recording significant historical events in the diocesan archives. When we collect sensitive information, as defined in the Privacy Act, we will collect it with your consent when required to do so by law.
We may share your information with other entities who are members of the Anglican Church of Australia usually within but sometimes outside the Diocese of Sydney. We will handle such personal information in accordance with the standards set out in our Privacy Policy.

The Archbishop’s office may disclose your personal information to third party service providers, agents or contractors such from time to time to help us to provide our services. If we do this, we generally require those parties to protect your personal information in the same way we do.

We use a variety of physical and electronic security measures including restricting physical access to our offices and the use of firewalls and secure databases to keep personal information held on IT systems secure from misuse, loss or unauthorised use or disclosure.

Where appropriate, we will handle personal information relying on the small business exemption.
Generally, you can access personal information we hold about you. If we deny your request in some circumstances we will tell you why. Please contact the Registrar at Level 1, St Andrew’s House, Sydney Square, Sydney NSW 2000 or on 9265 1519 or at to ask for access to your personal information, if you have a complaint about the way we handle your personal information, or if you would like more information about our approach to privacy, other members of the Anglican Church of Australia or our third party service providers, agents or contractors.

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Tuesday, 6 April 2004

Bishops: Nigeria

Peter Akinola spoke out again. The Associated Press reported it, for example Africa’s Top Anglican Warns U.S. Church.

Archbishop Peter Akinola said the future of true Anglicanism in the United States lies with conservative minority opposition groups within the Episcopal Church who oppose gay marriage and the church’s approval of an openly gay bishop. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion.
Akinola also said in a telephone interview that unless conditions change, he will not attend meetings alongside the leader of the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, or attend the 2008 meeting of the world’s Anglican bishops if the U.S. hierarchy participates.

Akinola underscored his support of the conservative minority over the weekend when he met in Atlanta with leaders from the two main U.S. organizations that oppose toleration of homosexual activity: the American Anglican Council and the recently formed Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes.
Akinola said the Episcopal Church “is trying to redefine Christianity and rewrite Scripture, and we have no right to do that. The historic faith of the church is what we stand by, and there is no going back.”
In the archbishop’s view, although those who favor liberal policies on homosexuality have a clear operating majority in the U.S. church, he strongly backs the minority and its new network.
“It’s either repent and come back to the fold, or give up on the Anglican family,” he said.

Another blogger, Fr Jake, has reminded his readers about Peter Akinola’s past statements, which saves me the trouble of doing so too.
Kendall Harmon describes this as Akinola under Fire.

And read this about Nigerian religion, from a Lagos newspaper: Nigerians Only Pretend to Be Religious — Mbang

Nigeria is said to be the most religious nation in the world. How do you react to such a report?
I’ve talked about this several times. We have so many churches on the streets, in fact in every street, you have a church, but that doesn’t make a country religious. It is the quality and calibre of people you have that can make you describe a country as being religious. The kind of people we have in Nigeria, with all these killings and corruption at the high and low places, it is difficult to say that Nigeria is religious or it may be religious through other religions; talking of Nigeria being a religious country outside Christianity and Islam, maybe you can say so. People in these two religions, they pretend to be very religious but when they go into their offices, it’s a different story. Most of these people who kill people, come to our churches and when they come to take Holy Communion, they will walk very holy and shout holy, holy, and you don’t know them. So that’s the problem, and I’ve raised the issue at various occasions I have gone to. What Nigerians need to work for is to see how they can produce quality God-fearing people, Christians after God’s heart. We have very few of them in Nigeria today.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 6 April 2004 at 10:05 PM GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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bishop warns on exemptions

Stephen Bates reported in the Guardian some time ago now:
Bishop gives warning on equality law.

A Church of England bishop has stepped out of line with his colleagues by warning religious organisations not to campaign too vociferously for exemptions from equality legislation to avoid having to employ gay or transgender people.
David Walker, the Bishop of Dudley, warned that if faith-based groups campaigned too hard to be allowed to employ only those who shared their religious beliefs, they risked losing their special status in society.

Here is a fuller version of what David Walker said on this subject.

Completely unrelated to the above, I found this story from Uganda about Equality in Norway:
So Many Rights Yet So Far From Utopia. The whole report is interesting, but I can’t help mentioning that Norway has had a woman bishop since 1993.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 6 April 2004 at 6:18 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 30 March 2004

Tom Wright upsets Americans

The Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, is in Pittsburgh this week. He was interviewed just before he left England by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette resulting in this: Visiting bishop wants end to rhetoric on gay clergy.

His quoted remarks here, comparing ECUSA to the Bush administration, have provoked considerable criticism in America. In fact they are quite similar to earlier expression of his views. See for example, That special relationship in the Guardian last October.

However, the Pittsburgh story does contain some rather odd details. Leaving aside for now all the issues arising from the comparison with the Bush administration, just consider the ECUSA facts.

He compared that action to the Episcopal Church’s consecration of an openly gay bishop against existing church polity. “So why should the world listen to the [Episcopalians in the] United States when changing Episcopal Church law?” he asked. “It is bound to be perceived as, ‘There you go again.’ It’s more of the same.”

But the consecration of Gene Robinson as a bishop in ECUSA is not against “existing [ECUSA] church polity” and the only relevant changes to “Episcopal Church law” were made several years ago. Specifically:

1. The canons of ECUSA were modified by General Convention in 1994:

All Bishops of Dioceses and other Clergy shall make provisions to identify fit persons for Holy Orders and encourage them to present themselves for Postulancy. No one shall be denied access to the selection process for ordination in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities, or age, except as otherwise specified by these Canons. No right to ordination is hereby established.
Title III, Canon 4, Section 1 of the Constitution and Canons for the Government of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, p. 60

2. Then in 1996, an ECUSA ecclesiastical court ruled that retired Bishop Walter Righter had violated no church law or “core doctrine” when he ordained (back in 1990) a non-celibate homosexual man. The court therefore declined to consider further the heresy charges that had been made against him (by ten bishops, many of whom are those now forming the NACDP). The bishops chose not to appeal the decision.

3. And for good measure, in 1997, the ECUSA General Convention approved health benefits for domestic partners to be extended to the partners of clergy and lay employees in dioceses that wish to do so.

So, it is hardly surprising that, seven years after the Righter judgement, a non-celibate homosexual has been consecrated as a bishop in ECUSA. Much of the comment about the Robinson case has related to the events of 2003 (election, confirmation, consecration), all of which were conducted entirely in accord with existing ECUSA requirements and involved no changes in church law. But the initial eligibility of the candidate for the office was established in law long before that. Surely the time for complaining about any of the changes listed has long since expired?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 30 March 2004 at 10:40 PM GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 28 March 2004

ECUSA developments

A letter, written by ECUSA Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, to Archbishop Robin Eames in his capacity as Chairman of the Lambeth Commission has been published on the web. The PDF original is on the Lambeth Commision site.

You can read the full text here. (Note that the use of boldface for one section is an editorial action of that website, not something in the original letter).

This very interesting letter recounts events in the history of ECUSA leading up to Gene Robinson’s election and consecration. I noticed in particular:

Ten years ago at the General Convention in 1994 a resolution was passed amending the canons such that “no one shall be denied access to the selection process for ordination in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age.”

and also

When we met at Lambeth the primates asked me if I couldn’t have intervened and stopped the consecration. I made it clear that I could not because of the canonical realities by which I am bound, and that it is my responsibility to uphold the decisions formally made by the church.

Meanwhile, a meeting took place in Georgia of representatives of several groups of moderate Episcopalians who live in conservative (typically “Network”) dioceses and are worried that the NACDP will not stay within ECUSA. See this Associated Press news report: Episcopal groups try to mend break over gay clergy issue.
The press release is copied below.

Episcopalians from 11 dioceses across the United States have joined together to promote unity within the national church.
The alliance, named Via Media USA, represents laypeople and clergy from grassroots organizations that hold diverse opinions about many issues facing the church but are solid in their desire to remain in communion with The Episcopal Church of the USA and the worldwide Anglican Communion. The name - “via media” means middle way - reflects the group’s focus on preserving the church and its traditional openness to differing interpretations of scripture, tradition and reason.
“There is room for everyone in the Episcopal Church,” said The Rev. Michael Russell, Rector of All Souls’ Episcopal Church in San Diego, CA, and a member of Episcopal Way of San Diego. “We believe that the Christian way is to love, work and worship together - to resolve disputes within the church without tearing it apart.”
The 12 groups, from California, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, New York, Illinois, Texas, South Carolina, and Florida, met for three days of worship and fellowship during which many members talked about specific concerns in their dioceses. Most of the groups are in the minority in the leadership of their dioceses, many of which have joined a newly formed network. Via Media USA has ongoing concerns that the network’s actions may ultimately result in schism within the national church.
“We learned about and from each other, drawn together in fellowship,” said Dr. Joan Gundersen of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. “Some people who were feeling isolated now feel supported. This meeting has helped us move closer together and has given us a better working relationship.”
The organization of Via Media USA is in its preliminary stages and all of the represented groups will be consulting with their own members in coming weeks about how to move forward. Two observers from The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council attended the meeting and Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold sent a letter that encouraged the group’s efforts to promote unity.
“The diverse center is the overwhelming reality of our church and its voice is urgently needed, both within the church and in our fractured and polarized world,” Griswold wrote.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 28 March 2004 at 2:56 PM GMT | Comments (26) | TrackBack
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RW in today's papers

First, several reports of his Easter message to Canterbury diocese (the text of which is not on the diocesan website today):

Sunday Times Hell is Footballers’ Wives, says archbishop
BBC Archbishop’s despair at TV soap
Observer Archbishop sees our sin in Footballers’ Wives
Independent The Archbishop and the ‘Footballers’ Wives’

But better than all that, and tucked away in Christina Odone’s Observer column is this:

Grace and favour
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, came to lunch at the New Statesman last week. We had been trying to guess whether His Grace was the first head of the Church of England to lunch at the New Statesman since its founding in 1913. Had Kingsley Martin invited William Temple during his editorship? Had Paul Johnson invited Michael Ramsay? Whatever the precedents, Dr Williams confounded all prejudices, proving so interesting, intelligent and humourous that even Peter Wilby, our determinedly secular editor, confessed to being impressed. Before the meal, the archbishop intoned a short but eloquent grace, while the rest of the guests - who included Michael Portillo, Adhaf Soueif, Suzi Leather, Zeinab Badawi and Susie Orbach - bowed their heads. After everyone had left and we were conducting our usual postmortem (whom could we commission to write which incendiary piece?), Peter asked me in which language had the archbishop delivered grace. Had it been Latin? Or Aramaic, now revitalised by Mel Gibson? No, it had been in English, I replied, puzzled. Then it came to me, in a blinding flash: words such as ‘trinity’, ‘sacred’, ‘sanctity’, ‘heavenly’, and ‘holy’ have fallen into such disuse that Peter couldn’t recognise them as English.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 28 March 2004 at 2:17 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Carey and Islam continued

The BBC had a radio interview: Listen with Real Audio.

Carey and the clash of civilisations
Were Dr. Carey’s criticisms of Islam valid, and should he have made them? Talking to Brian Baron the following day, Lord. Carey said his remarks had been taken out of context and called the criticism “simplistic”.
Interview with Lord Carey, and discussion with Patrick Sokdeo, Director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity and by Sahid Bleher, General secretary of the Islamic Party of Britain.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times columnist Atticus had this:

Atticus: Kilroy Carey makes up with Muslims by upsetting gays.
George Carey, the Church of England’s answer to Robert Kilroy-Silk, has obviously not lost the incisive diplomatic skills for which he was renowned while Archbishop of Canterbury. Trying to smooth over the row about his remarks on the Muslim world, he has reopened the argument that is most bitterly dividing Anglicans, that of homosexual priests.
The former archbishop, waded in with his ecclesiastical hobnailed boots while telling Gavin Esler, on Newsnight, of the dialogue he has had with the Islamic world.
“Muslim leaders are not afraid to talk to me about western excesses,” said Carey. “They have expressed their great condemnation of practising homosexuality in the church, particularly in the United States. I hear those criticisms. They are rightly made.”
In an echo of the newspaper article that lost Kilroy-Silk his job, Carey said in a lecture earlier last week that Islamic culture was authoritarian and had contributed little to world culture for 500 years.
He insists: “I’m a friend of Muslims. I know many of them by name.”
Perhaps, but they probably won’t be inviting him round to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

And the Sunday Telegraph had this editorial comment: Leap of faith

Lord Carey’s speech revealed that he is after all a man of strong views, many of which he evidently suppressed when Archbishop of Canterbury. The question remains, however: why was he so paralysed by caution when actually in the job that would have allowed him to make a difference?

In the Independent, columnist Henry Porter wrote What God condones this?. Worth a read.

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Saturday, 27 March 2004

Lambeth Commission documents

A number of important additional documents are now available on the website of the Lambeth Commission.

Most are only available as PDF files. Two key items are:

Some Legal and Constitutional Considerations
Paper by John Rees, submitted to the Primates Meeting, October 2003 (100k) download here

Communion and Autonomy in Anglicanism: Nature and Maintenance
Norman Doe (245k) download here

But there are also numerous other items. Take a look.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 27 March 2004 at 4:40 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Islam lecture reactions

First, if you have trouble reading the full text of George Carey’s lecture on The Times website, here it is courtesy of the Diocese of Bradford.

Now reactions in the British press:
Independent Carey dismisses ‘simplistic’ criticism of controversial speech about Islam
Guardian Muslim dismay at Carey speech by Stephen Bates and
The right answer or the wrong question? by Brian Whitaker
Telegraph Muslims hit back following attack by Carey and
‘Islam has helped civilised world for 1,400 years’
The Times Muslim leaders hit back at Carey ‘bigotry’. Some extracts from this one:

Muslim leaders in Britain accused the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, of “bigotry” and “religious prejudice” after he accused Islamic societies of being authoritarian and committed to power and privilege.
They called on the present Archbishop, Rowan Williams, to condemn his predecessor’s views, expressed in a public lecture at the Gregorian University in Rome.
Lord Carey, seen for more than a decade as a friend and supporter of Muslims, aroused anger and disbelief by his speech, in which he said that Muslim societies were often led by people who rose to power “at the point of a gun”. He also criticised Muslim leaders who failed to unequivocally condemn suicide bombers.
His lecture threatened to cast a shadow over a three-day conference of Christian and Muslim scholars from across the world in Washington next week, which is being convened by Dr Williams. The archbishop declined to comment officially, but a source described the lecture as a “bolt from the blue”. Church of England leaders played down the remarks last night, emphasising that they were purely personal.
…Lord Carey argued that it was not his intention to be critical. Clearly bemused by the reaction that his speech had provoked, he said that some of his closest friends were Muslims, and described how only last Saturday he was in Hebron where he had lunch with a former leader of Hamas.
…Lord Carey, 69, who has been delivering a course of lectures entitled Unity and Mission, made his comments on Islam in a public lecture at the university under the title Christianity and Islam: Collision or convergence? His speech is the culmination of a lifetime’s fascination with Islam. His views on Islam are, in fact, not uncommon in the Church of England, in particular in the evangelical wing from which he himself emerged.
…One of his most significant achievements, towards the end of his term of office, was a commitment from Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders from Israel to the Alexandria declaration, a document which pledges all sides to a non- violent search for peace. The declaration states: “Therefore we, the members of the Alexandria permanent committee condemn all and any derogatory remarks directed to the faith, tenets and/or central figures of any of our faiths. Such remarks undermine our efforts and commitments to advance peace between our communities and, in their very character, do harm both to the faith defamed and the very religion in whose name they are made.”

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Friday, 26 March 2004

lectures on Islam

The Telegraph reports that Muslim culture has contributed little for centuries, says Carey

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, launched a trenchant attack on Islamic culture last night, saying it was authoritarian, inflexible and under-achieving.
In a speech that will upset sensitive relations between the faiths, he denounced moderate Muslims for failing unequivocally to condemn the “evil” of suicide bombers.
He attacked the “glaring absence” of democracy in Muslim countries, suggested that they had contributed little of major significance to world culture for centuries and criticised the Islamic faith.
Dr Carey’s comments, in a lecture in Rome, are the most forthright by a senior Church leader. He was speaking on the eve of a seminar of Christian and Muslim scholars in New York, led by his successor as archbishop, Dr Rowan Williams.

See also Islamic world is violent, says Carey Guardian
Carey attack on Islamic culture The Times

Note to newspapers: the forthcoming seminar is in fact in Washington DC, details here and here.

As previously, Christian and Muslim scholars from across the world will hold detailed discussions over three days. This year speakers will focus on the understanding of prophecy in the two faith communities; through intensive study of Biblical and Qur’anic texts the participants will also address topics such as ‘Prophecy and Conflict’, ‘Prophecy and Society’ and the claims to finality within Islam and Christianity.
Dr Williams said that he hoped the conference would build on the work of previous gatherings:
“Muslims and Christians share the conviction that the God who creates so generously also communicates with his creation, and they see the sending of prophets as a crucial part of that communication. So it’s an exciting prospect for Christian and Muslim scholars to spend three days together studying the different ways in which our scriptures understand prophecy. I look forward to all that we will be able to learn from each other and to the deepening of understanding and of friendship between us.”

The BBC has Carey’s Islam comments condemned.
The Evening Standard has Islam ‘propping up backward despots’.

The Times has the full text of his speech here Carey speech on Islam in full
and also Muslims reject Carey’s ‘anti-Islam’ speech.
Press Association Ex-Archbishop Defends Speech Amid ‘Anti-Muslim’ Row.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 26 March 2004 at 10:11 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Thursday, 25 March 2004

more ECUSA press coverage

No British newspaper reports yet on the bishops’ plan.

Another ENS story not yet noted here is
Bishops repudiate irregular confirmations in Ohio
which AP reported as Episcopal Bishops Rebuke Conservatives.

Other American newspapers:
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Conservative Episcopalians cool to reconciliation plan
Washington Times (Moonie-owned) Oversight plan ‘silly,’ Episcopal priest says
Houston Chronicle Unauthorized service angers church leaders (AP story with local additions)

San Diego Union-Tribune reports on local Episcopal election in light of all this,
Hunting for a healer

Orlando Sentinel reports on national meeting today of Via Media groups, Episcopalians seek middle ground

And the CEN is published, but went to press before any reports had emerged, so their headline is US Bishops pressured to find a compromise. Still it has a few tidbits, such as:

To add to the problems, four bishops - three members of Forward in Faith and one evangelical - have boycotted the meeting in protest to the presence of Gene Robinson while five bishops have refused to stay at the Conference Centre.
Conference organisers scored a spectacular own goal by placing Bishop Bob Duncan, the leader of the dissenting ‘Anglican Communion Network’ in the same Bible study and prayer group as Gene Robinson, causing Bishop Duncan to withdraw.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 25 March 2004 at 9:55 AM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 24 March 2004

Reactions to ECUSA bishops

Statements have been issued by:
American Anglican Council House of Bishops Approves Inadequate Oversight Plan (this is quite a detailed analysis)
FiFNA FIFNA President declares it unacceptable (no idea why this is not yet on FiFNA website)
Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes HOB Oversight Plan will take ‘extraordinary new levels of trust’ (this is a bit less negative than the AAC commentary)
The Diocese of Pittsburgh has published this note.

Kendall Harmon has published Key Section of the Saturday Afternoon Version of the Plan which shows that at an earlier stage it looked less complicated.

There are lots of individual opinions floating around, which I have not had time to digest yet.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 24 March 2004 at 11:25 PM GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 23 March 2004

ECUSA bishops offer plan

The ECUSA House of Bishops has completed its meeting in Texas and published its proposals for what is now called delegated episcopal pastoral oversight.
Here is the formal statement:
Caring For All The Churches
and here is the press release from ENS that describes the proposal:
Bishops propose plan for delegated episcopal pastoral oversight.
Here is the Associated Press report of this: Bishops Offer New Plan to Gay Dissenters.

“although the vote was not unanimous, an overwhelming majority of the bishops voted in favor of adopting the plan”.

Houston Chronicle report Clergy devises plan to deal with gay bishop split
Washington Post Episcopal Bishops Reach Pact On Dissent
Later version of Associated Press story
Washington Times Episcopalians forge compromise
For basics of the plan, read on…

If for serious cause in the light of our current disagreements on issues of human sexuality, the bishop and rector/congregation cannot work together, we propose the following process for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight.

1) In the spirit of openness, the rector and vestry, or the canonically designated lay leadership shall meet with the bishop to seek reconciliation. After such a meeting, it is our hope that in most instances a mutually agreeable way forward will be found.

2) If reconciliation does not occur, then the rector and two-thirds of the vestry, or in the absence of a rector, two-thirds of the canonically designated lay leadership, after fully engaging the congregation, may seek from their diocesan bishop, (or the diocesan bishop may suggest) a conference regarding the appropriateness and conditions for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight.

3) After such a conference the bishop may appoint another bishop to provide pastoral oversight.

4) If no reconciliation is achieved, there may then be an appeal to the bishop who is president or vice-president of the ECUSA province in which the congregation is geographically located, for help in seeking a resolution. Those making such an appeal must inform the other party of their decision to appeal.

5) When such an appeal has been made, the provincial bishop may request two other bishops, representative of the divergent views in this church, to join with the provincial bishop to review the situation, to consider the appeal, and to make recommendations to all parties. If an episcopal visitor is to be invited, that bishop shall be a member in good standing in this Church.

6) When an agreement is reached with respect to a plan, it shall be for the purpose of reconciliation. The plan shall include expectations of all parties,especially mutual accountability. The plan shall be for a stated period of time with regular reviews.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 23 March 2004 at 2:36 PM GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Monday, 22 March 2004

post card from Navasota

Here is a fragment of information from the ECUSA House of Bishops meeting.
Post Card from Camp Allen

We have started our work on what has been re-named delegated pastoral oversight, and so far it has gone well.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 22 March 2004 at 8:27 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Sunday, 21 March 2004

Sunday reports

First, the Telegraph on Wednesday carried this account of Rowan Williams and Philip Pullman’s joint appearance at the National Theatre last week:
The Dark Materials debate: life, God, the universe…
Kevin Myers, today, doesn’t like it Dr Williams has made an art of imprecision.

And today also, the Sunday Telegraph reports that Britain’s best organists are lured to America by higher wages.

Another report from last Wednesday, here is a column from the Irish Examiner which comments on what an RC bishop said to an Anglican archdeacon Liberals should stick to the point in debate on non-marital relationships.

No more news yet from Navasota, but more on the Ohio event, via FiFNA, from the person who presided at it: INTERVIEW WITH BISHOP WANTLAND, CELEBRANT IN OHIO.

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Saturday, 20 March 2004

growth and decline

Michael Bordeaux writes a very interesting article in The Times about religion in Cuba:
Communist Cuba suffers an unorthodox crisis of faith.

Christianity is making an unlikely comeback in Fidel Castro’s isolated island.
Patriarch Bartholomew came to Cuba at the personal invitation of Fidel Castro, who, in his declining years (he is now 78 and was celebrating the 45th year of his accession to power at the same time) is desperate to break out of the long isolation experienced by his country. Castro has seen eight American presidents and seven Soviet or Russian leaders come and go, but his seniority among world leaders does not put him high on anyone’s guest-list. None of the past three archbishops of Canterbury has visited the island and the growing Anglican community is eager to invite the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to make the trip.

Ruth Gledhill writes in The Times about what the Bishop of Manchester wrote in the foreword to The UK Christian Handbook: Religious Trends published by Christian Research.
Bishop warns Church that it may disappear
(Another story about this appears in the Guardian).
Extract from Ruth’s article:

The Bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev Nigel McCulloch, said that the Established Church was in danger of becoming a minority sect. “We will, unless there is a turn in the tide, be a Church that gradually disappears from this land,” he said.
Bishop McCulloch said clergy were being diverted from their true mission of evangelism by the debate over sexuality, 25 years of church legislation and increasing red tape caused by secular regulations.
“It is almost as if the Devil is in this. It distracts people from what they are meant to be doing,” he said. “Far too many of us are being forced into managing an institution rather than engaging with souls.” The moment that an institution goes down that road, he said, it “has lost its heart, the purpose it was created for”.
Bishop McCulloch said: “The agendas which are imposed on most churches these days are almost deliberately designed to veer them away from what the spiritual issues need to be.” He was speaking to The Times after the latest figures showed plummeting membership across all the churches.

Update Thanks to Nick Ralph for pointing out that this news report was accompanied by an editorial column.
The Times opined on this matter under the title Raise the rafters and here some extracts, but note that it is not a specifically Anglican problem:

Churches need congregations as well as repairs

The irony is, however, that at a time when historic churches are more assured than ever of adequate maintenance, their congregations are dwindling to vanishing point. The Bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev Nigel McCulloch, says that the Established Church is in danger of becoming a minority sect. The latest figures of church attendance confirm the fall in numbers across all denominations and in all parts of Britain. Already there are only 800,000 churchgoers regularly attending Church of England Sunday services - fewer than the number of Muslims attending mosques. In all, the number of church worshippers has fallen more than a million since 1990, to 5.3 million. If the decline continues at this rate, there will be no one left in church by the end of the century.

Some churches have bucked the trend, drawing large congregations either because of their social cachet or in response to evangelical, often charismatic, clergy. But churches on big industrial estates remain almost empty. There is no one answer in a land where religious affiliation is so weak. Part of the problem is the Church’s pre-occupation with dogma and division, at the expense of its moral message; part is because of its incompetence in managing its finances and organising its workforce. The exceptions are the great cathedrals, which are remarkably successful in remaining at the heart of their cities, attracting visitors, worshippers and cash and spreading their influence far beyond their precincts. They should lead the churches’ fight to remain a vibrant part of Britain’s life.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 20 March 2004 at 2:12 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Friday, 19 March 2004

ECUSA bishops meeting

The Church Times summarises the story so far as Bishop of Ohio snubbed over confirmation.

The CEN had this version of events US bishops raise stakes.

Today the Associated Press reports Episcopal Church bishops meet amid unprecedented tension over gay bishop and includes this:

The leading conservative bishop is Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, moderator of a “network” formed in January to unite Episcopal dioceses and parishes that insist upon the traditional Christian teaching against same-sex relationships.
Duncan said some conservative bishops are boycotting the Navasota meeting, some will participate fully and some - like himself - will stay offsite and attend only sessions treating the church fracture.

Here’s another report from the Houston Chronicle (Houston is near where they are meeting):
Bishops to discuss gay ordination
Episcopal retreat held in Navasota; some conservatives to boycott

The retreat will be the first meeting of bishops since the consecration of Robinson, who is expected to attend. A few conservative bishops will boycott the meeting, said Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, a member of the Anglican Communion Network, an organization of conservative dioceses and parishes formed in January.
“Some bishops have decided they cannot in good conscience attend the meeting,” Duncan said in a statement. “Others have agreed to be present only for those sessions in which (oversight) will be discussed.”

Some proposal for providing what the primates called adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities is expected. The last official word on what this might look like was this but…

Exactly what Griswold will propose this weekend to resolve the impasse is unknown, said the Rev. Jan Nunley, deputy director of Episcopal News Service.
“No one has seen it,” Nunley added. “No one knows what the plan is.”
The bishops are expected to take up the issue Saturday and Sunday behind closed doors, but it was unclear whether they would take any official action.

And here’s another note which gives a few details of the meeting agenda.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 19 March 2004 at 3:56 PM GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 17 March 2004

more on the Union challenge

As noted in my earlier report the National Union of Teachers is participating in the action now under way in the High Court to challenge parts of the new employment regulations. Below is a copy of the NUT Briefing Paper on this.

The Judicial Review is expected to last three days and it is envisaged that judgment will be reserved. I attended part of this morning’s session in Court 10 at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand.

Update Here is the Press Association report on yesterday’s proceedings.
Further update Jonathan Petre filed this account in the Telegraph Unions go to court over anti-gay rules

NUT briefing

On 17 March the High Court will hear a challenge to parts of the new Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003. The NUT claims that parts of the Regulations are unlawful as they have no legal basis in the E.U. Employment Directive which they are supposed to implement, and that they are in breach of fundamental human rights.

The Union’s main concern is that Regulation 7(3) allows too broad a scope for faith-based employers to discriminate against lesbians and gays on the basis of their sexual orientation. The Regulations allow religious organisations to discriminate against some employees if they can show they have done so in order to comply with strongly-held convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers, or in accordance with the religion’s doctrines. This could allow faith schools a very wide defence to a teacher’s claim of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, based on the supposed convictions of the religion’s followers.

Voluntary aided faith schools can already take into account whether a teacher has upheld the tenets of their religion under existing provisions in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.

No union or non-religious interest group was consulted on this provision, which was a last minute change introduced by the government. It did not appear in the previous draft regulations and was not canvassed in the consultation documents published previously.

We are also concerned that the Regulations allow religious organisations to determine whether an employee or applicant is of a particular sexual orientation. They can discriminate if they are reasonably satisfied as to their sexuality even if they are mistaken.

The Regulations will introduce uncertainty, confusion and animosity. Committed teachers in faith schools may become vulnerable to misinformed or over-zealous application of the provisions. Already, some organisations that run independent schools have said that they will use this law to ensure that no lesbians and gays are employed.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 17 March 2004 at 11:09 PM GMT | TrackBack
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More criticism of Ohio action

The Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice has issued a statement regarding the March 14 confirmation of 110 individuals in Ohio by five retired Episcopal bishops and a diocesan bishop from Brazil without the permission of the local diocesan bishop. The full text of the statement is here. These ten diocesan bishops are elected to represent their geographical regions (“provinces” within ECUSA). Two quotes:

We, the elected members of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice, on the eve of the spring meeting of our House of Bishops, are moved to express our strong disapproval of the action taken by five retired bishops of our church who have violated our Constitution and Canons by performing episcopal and sacramental actions in the Diocese of Ohio without first securing the permission of the Bishop of Ohio.

We also note that this action—being in violation of our Constitution and Canons—is contrary to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s understanding of how we are to move forward. As he said in a recent letter to our Presiding Bishop regarding the forthcoming meeting of the House of Bishops: “My hope and prayer is that this meeting will offer generous and constructive ways forward within the constitutional and canonical structures of ECUSA that will guarantee Episcopal care for all and avoid further fragmentation, and the consequent distraction from our main task of proclaiming Christ.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 17 March 2004 at 10:22 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 16 March 2004

upset conservatives

The “executive committee” of “Anglican Mainstream” is unhappy about a service held in Canterbury Cathedral. So much so that they wrote to both the Archbishop and Dean about it. Here is what they wrote, and here is their press release telling us what they wrote.

The letter was, says the press release, signed by Dr Phillip Giddings, member of the Archbishops’ Council; the Rt Rev Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes; the Rev Nicholas Wynne-Jones Secretary of Church of England Evangelical Council; the Rev David Banting, Chairman of Reform; the Rev George Curry, Chairman of Church Society; the Rev John Coles, Chairman of New Wine; Prebendary Richard Bewes, Rector of All Soul’s [sic] Langham Place and Dr Chris Sugden, Director of the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies.

The replies to this missive should make interesting reading.

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Ohio - more

Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh and “Moderator” of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes has issued a statement about the event in the diocese next door to his:
Bishop Duncan Supports Ohio Confirmands (press release issued by the American Anglican Council)

“I pray for those newly confirmed and for the congregations from which they were presented. I also pray for the retiring Bishop of Ohio and for the Bishop-elect that they might respond with grace to the canonical irregularities with which they now find themselves confronted,” said Bishop Duncan.
“The joint confirmation service, organized by Episcopalians from five congregations and the members of one Anglican fellowship, was brought about by the failure of the Episcopal Church to provide Adequate Episcopal Oversight for orthodox minorities in revisionist dioceses,” added Duncan.

He goes on to say that the current ECUSA proposals for Supplemental Pastoral Care have been rejected by the Network.
Incidentally, the Network makes the claim that it is “commonly known as the Anglican Communion Network”.

Forward in Faith NA offers its support and prayers to the ‘Ohio cluster’ in less guarded terms, actually mentioning “the bishops who took the pastoral initiative”.

Forward in Faith, North America, the oldest orthodox and traditional organization in the Episcopal Church, offers its support and prayers to both the bishops who took the pastoral initiative to reach out to beleaguered members of the church, and to the clergy and people of the “Ohio cluster.” We believe in the necessity of Sunday’s action as a response that provides Godly leadership and hope for members of the church who remain steadfastly committed to biblical Christianity as practiced in the vast majority of the Anglican Communion.

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Unions challenge law

Starting tomorrow, a legal challenge to the validity of Regulation 7(3) of the Employment Equality Regulations (Sexual Orientation) 2003 will be made in the High Court by the National Union of Teachers and other trade unions. For background on this, see my earlier reports here and here.

The TUC has issued a press release which is mostly about the challenge to the part of the regulations relating to pensions, but buried in the Notes for Editors is the following important item:

The other aspect of the unions’ legal challenge, which involves the NUT as well, relates to regulation 7(3) which allows for sexual orientation discrimination where someone works for an organised religion. The unions are arguing that the law may allow employers to stop gay, lesbian or bisexual people from working at church schools and other religious organisations such as voluntary organisations.

To remind you what Regulation 7(3) says read my Church Times article here and the text of the regulations here.
I will report on this case as it progresses.

Press Association report Unions Oppose ‘Anti-Gay’ Employment Laws mentions some of the Christian groups opposing the unions:

Christian groups, including the Evangelical Alliance, Christian Schools Trust and Christian Action Research and Education, are intervening in the case, which is being brought by the unions against the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.
The evangelicals - who believe homosexuality is contrary to scripture - argue Christian organisations have the right to formulate and apply their own policies regarding the employment of gays as clerics and as teachers in faith schools.

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PB about Ohio

Frank Griswold has also responded to the event in Ohio by issuing the following statement.
There is now an ENS press release available: Irregular confirmations in Ohio spark stern response from bishops.

Text of Presiding Bishop’s Statement

By their recent action in the Diocese of Ohio, five of our retired bishops and a bishop from the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil have arrogated to themselves the right to perform episcopal and sacramental acts without the permission of the diocesan bishop. The claim that their action was pastoral and in accordance with a mandate from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Anglican Communion is contradicted by the statement of the Primates last October which states quite clearly that they, “reaffirm the teaching of successive Lambeth Conferences that bishops must respect the autonomy and territorial integrity of dioceses and provinces other than their own,” and that they “call on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care,” and that they should do so “in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates.”
Provisions for “episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities” is thus clearly a matter to be resolved by the province. That is precisely what this church is seeking to do. In consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury and his chancellor, our bishops have been considering a draft plan for episcopal pastoral care which they will address further when we gather for our spring meeting later this week in Texas.
With respect to this forthcoming meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury said in a recent letter to me, “My hope and prayer is that this meeting will offer generous and constructive ways forward within the constitutional and canonical structures of ECUSA that will guarantee Episcopal care for all and avoid further fragmentation, and the consequent distraction from our main task of proclaiming Christ.”
What is quite clear is that whatever pastoral response is agreed to, it must, as the Archbishop points out, be consistent with the “constitutional and canonical structures of ECUSA.” Here I note that according to our Constitution:
A bishop shall confine the exercise of such office to the Diocese in which elected, unless requested to perform episcopal acts in another Diocese by the Ecclesiastical Authority thereof… [Article II,Sec.3]
Why, I am moved to ask, did these bishops decide that Confirmation of these persons was pastorally necessary at this moment and act without permission of the Bishop of Ohio? Given that the House of Bishops will meet later this week, I can only surmise that their intention is to co-opt the bishops’ agenda and provoke a reaction that will appear sufficiently lacking in pastoral concern for “dissenting minorities” to justify what they have done in the eyes of others. I trust that they will be disappointed in their hope and that the vast majority of bishops of this church—occupying the diverse center—will find a way forward that is clear and just in its principles, pastoral in its approach and responsive to the needs of the church in this present moment.
The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA
March 15, 2004

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Monday, 15 March 2004

Ohio update

The bishops of the Diocese of Ohio have responded to yesterday’s event.
On the Extra-Canonical Confirmation Service Held 14 March 2004 in Fairlawn, Ohio

From the Ven. Mark Hollingsworth Jr., Bishop-Elect of Ohio:
I am disappointed that the parish priests from the Diocese of Ohio and the six bishops of the Church who were involved in this service chose to begin their relationship with me, not with direct and honest dialogue, but by acting in this manner. I certainly don’t want anyone to think that this behavior is characteristic of Christian community, especially the young people of those congregations.
An action of this sort, designed to break down the community of faith, has no place in our polity. No one group can define for the whole Church what constitutes an “emergency.” The laity and the clergy of the Diocese of Ohio, meeting in convention last November, clearly articulated their support of an inclusive theology in the larger Church, and their affirmation of its actions in last summer’s General Convention. It is a singular privilege to begin serving with them in this diocese at a time of such great potential for the Church.

From the Rt. Rev. J. Clark Grew, II, Bishop of Ohio
It is unfortunate that five Episcopal parishes, gathering people for sacramental purposes, have felt the need to participate in an unauthorized and clandestine service. I am not yet clear on what prompted such an action, one that was also decided and planned in secret, except perhaps an anxiety on their part caused by having the majority of clergy and parishes in this diocese take up the work of mission at home and abroad after the events of last summer, and center themselves in the gospel imperatives with renewed energy in anticipation of shared service with Bishop-elect Mark Hollingsworth.
It saddens me that these five congregations had to create a disturbance with our common Church polity, in order to focus attention once more on their minority position. There is no crisis in the Diocese of Ohio, except the one created by a group that hopes to hold on to attention that is slipping away as time passes, a group that may use the threat of further extracanonical action as a way to manipulate the House of Bishops in its deliberations on the matter of alternative oversight.
Neither the House of Bishops nor the Diocese of Ohio is likely to be swayed by sudden confrontational actions. Any response by the Diocese of Ohio in this matter will be prayerfully considered and characterized by the life of Jesus himself, who calls us all to unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.

Thanks to Kendall Harmon for the following press coverage:
Two local radio reports Diane Keough talks to participants and also to ECUSA Communications Director Dan England
Associated Press Conservative Bishops Defy Episcopal Church
Cleveland Plain Dealer Episcopalians exclude bishop

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Sunday, 14 March 2004

News from Ohio

British newspaper websites have carried this Associated Press report:
Conservative Bishops Defy Episcopal Church. What’s going on?

OK, the first story to appear about this was from Beliefnet:
Six Episcopal Churches Move to Split from Ohio Diocese
Then, the American Anglican Council issued this press release
Senior Bishops Cross Diocesan Lines: Confirm 110 at Unprecedented Service
and Kendall Harmon and others published

I will post more when it appears.

Our presence today is in direct response to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the rest of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, who called for “adequate provision for episcopal oversight” in their statement of October 2003. To date no such oversight has been offered by ECUSA. We represent a spectrum of congregations and Provinces within the Anglican Communion, and our actions represent a spectrum of possible responses to the Primates directive. Our participation in today’s Service represents “emergency measures” for those ECUSA congregations in revisionist dioceses who cannot in good conscience accept the radical actions taken by our General Convention last year and who now find themselves alienated from their bishops and diocesan leadership who voted for and support such actions. Our active bishops are currently seeking means for providing Adequate Episcopal Oversight, and if an acceptable plan is approved, these kinds of measures may no longer be necessary. But right now, we consider these actions an essential and imperative response to a pastoral emergency in Northern Ohio.

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Sunday news and views

In the Tablet David Edwards reviews Anglicanism and the Western Christian Tradition: continuity, change and the search for communion. A sample:

The only major criticism which seems valid is about the book’s title. This is not a discussion about the multiple crisis in “the Western Christian tradition”, and incidentally in “Anglicanism”, which is currently being reported week by week. We are not given wisdom about the massive secularisation of Europe (social and intellectual), about the rejection of ecclesiastical authority by millions who still identify themselves as Christians, about conservatism in response, about the complexities of religion and morality in North America, or about the worldwide and religiously minded backlash against European colonialism and American neo-colonialism.
More defensibly, this is not a book reporting any permanent or totally clear solutions to the problems with which it does deal. It is far from being Anglican propaganda (further than the exhibition was). Professor MacCulloch’s wisecrack that Anglicans have made uncertainty a Christian virtue is spot-on if we substitute controversy for “uncertainty”, since most Anglicans know what they think and have always done so. All these objective experts demonstrate that those who want their Church to be both Catholic and Reformed, and latterly both traditional and modern, cannot do a neat job, and in defence it can be said that Christian diversity begins within the New Testament.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that Gordon Brown will help churches pay the VAT tax on building repairs in this week’s Budget: Brown will ease churches’ VAT bills

The Observer has more about RW’s enthusiasm for Philip Pullman, Bless the archbishop for his bookish tendencies
whereas the Sunday Times columnist Minette Marrin thinks he is quite wrong in his views, Oh lord, even the archbishop is clutching at atheist straws.

The BBC radio programme Sunday has a piece about:
Women priests (listen with Real Audio)

The ordination of women priests was a revolution; over four hundred priests left the Church in its aftermath - though some sixty have since returned. Still, it was in many ways a more peaceful revolution than many people had predicted, because the Church of England continues to make special provision for those who cannot in conscience accept women priests. Ten years on from those first ordinations, with the prospect of women bishops perhaps not so far away, that compromise is coming under increasing strain. Christopher Landau reports.

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Saturday, 13 March 2004

British stuff Saturday

The Times reports on a new illustrated Bible, A portrait of Jesus by a fresh artist

A FRESH, illustrated Bible hopes to transform the way that children comprehend the Christian scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. The Life of Jesus Through the Eyes of an Artist, is designed for children between 7 and 11, and looks at the events surrounding the life of Jesus in an innovative and inventive manner. Due to be published by the Bible Reading Fellowship in July, it is the product of the work of the artist Paul Forsey and the culmination of a lengthy and unlikely personal journey.

At your service visited Southwark Cathedral and heard a sermon by Jeffrey John:

The Old Testament reading was of the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib. Canon Jeffery [sic] John took this as the base of a sermon of piercing intelligence, passion and good humour. He took three ancient and oft-repeated theological arguments for the subservience of woman: her creation from a part of Adam, her creation after Adam and her named status as “helper”, and deftly turned them on their logical heads. If being made later than something makes a thing inferior to it, is Adam lower than water? If being made from something makes you subservient to it, is Adam subordinate to dust? If Eve’s title “helper” is a lower-grade term, why is it used 15 times of God, and why does Jesus present himself as servant helper?
Whatever one’s view on the Jeffery John affair, these are cogent and demanding arguments: strong intellectual coffee for a Sunday morning.

In the Telegraph, Christopher Howse simmarises what the Church Times and its correspondents said earlier regarding What to run up your flagpole and
Jonathan Petre reports: Women priests still held back after 10 years with a sidebar ‘Nobody greeted me except my vicar’

The Guardian has a splendid Lenten meditation by Jane Shaw:
Find your own desert during Lent

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Thursday, 11 March 2004

Canadian news

Two London newspapers carry reports about Canadian plans in relation to same sex blessings.
The Times Canadian Anglicans move closer to gay ‘marriages’
Telegraph Anglicanism on brink of schism over gay ‘marriage’

From The Times:

THE Anglican province at the centre of a row over same-sex blessings has put in place a plan to allow every diocese to approve gay “marriages”.
The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada is expected to agree in May that “the blessing of same-sex unions is within the authority of a diocesan synod and that any Canadian Anglican diocese, if the bishop agrees, has the authority to perform such blessings”.
The move is certain to deepen the crisis over gay people in the Anglican Church because it comes while the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lambeth Commission is still in the process of finding a way forward.

And from the Telegraph:

To the dismay of conservatives, it announced that its General Synod would be asked to affirm that there was no bar to Canadian dioceses authorising the blessing of “committed same-sex unions”.
One Canadian diocese has already unilaterally approved a rite for such blessings, and officials believe there is little doubt that the Synod will validate its decision.
Although illicit gay blessings are widespread in the Anglican Church, such a vote would be seen as the first clear endorsement of the practice by an entire province.

Here is the press release from Canada about this: Anglican council crafts motion on same-sex blessings issue
And, of equal importance but little reported in England, here is the report concerning proposals for Alternative Episcopal Oversight. This is a very lengthy document (also available in pdf format here) but contains as its key recommendation a proposal which I reproduce below. This is substantially different from the current English or Welsh arrangements for opponents of Women’s Ordination, and also substantially different from the current ECUSA proposals for dealing with similar matters to the Canadian situation.

6.2 Model #1

6.2.1 In the event that General Synod passes a resolution permitting dioceses to exercise local option on the matter of the blessing of same sex unions, this Task Force recommends that such option be exercised only by a resolution of diocesan synod. In dioceses affirming local option by a resolution of diocesan synod, dissenting and distressed parishes would be given the option of being placed in trust by the Diocesan Bishop. That Trust would be delivered into the hands of a Metropolitan, who then names the AEO bishop assigned by the Metropolitan of the Province. The parish(es) are then delivered into the hands of the AEO bishop by the Metropolitan of the Province. The selection of AEO bishops happens by nomination of the Metropolitans with the concurrence of the majority of the National House of Bishops, and Metropolitans will maintain a current list of such bishops. It is recommended that the AEO be a bishop living in reasonable proximity to the parish(es) requesting AEO. The AEO bishop is designated as Episcopal Assistant to the Metropolitan.

6.2.2 In keeping with the repeated admonition heard by the Task Force that the need for AEO is urgent and that the appointment of an AEO bishop must be temporary, we suggest that the appointment be for a six month term, renewable but not exceeding six years, with a review every two years. This “In Trust” model is similar to a trial separation in a marriage and assumes that there is the will on all sides to repent and work towards reconciliation. This timeframe also permits the church at various levels to continue to pray, study and discern God’s will and allows our Province to consider this subject at two further General Synods, and to receive the outcomes of deliberations from within the Anglican Communion.

6.2.3 This model of AEO assumes a conscience clause for parishes and clergy who decline to bless same sex unions. It is our hope that General Synod would provide such a conscience clause and ensure its continuing availability for parishes and clergy.

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Wednesday, 10 March 2004

Irish news

The Archdeacon of Dublin, Gordon Linney spoke about homosexuality and gay marriages in Dublin this week. Here is what he said.

This generated press reports such as State must recognise gay civil unions, says top C of I cleric and Gay rites issue threatens an unholy row.

You can also hear a radio interview with Gordon Linney here (Real Audio).

Last week a visitor from Canada had predicted Church of Ireland to bless gay unions which probably did not go down well with his audience, the Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 10 March 2004 at 9:04 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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His Dark Materials

The papers are full of reports about Rowan Williams and his views on Philip Pullman’s work.
‘A near-miraculous triumph’ Archbishop Rowan Williams reveals how it felt to see religion savaged and God killed in His Dark Materials
Archbishop praises author accused of blasphemy Stephen Bates comments:

…Archbishop of Canterbury who has risked the wrath of fundamentalists by praising the National Theatre’s adaptation of the author’s His Dark Materials as a “near miraculous triumph”.
Rowan Williams, already regarded with some suspicion by conservative evangelicals for his liberal social views, writes in today’s Guardian: “This extraordinary theatrical adventure sets a creative religious agenda in a way hard to parallel in recent literature and performance.”

The Times
Archbishop wants pupils to be taught tale of wicked priests and a dying God
Pullman’s ‘blasphemies’ should be part of RE studies, says Archbishop
Williams backs Pullman
Archbishop wants Pullman in class

What Rowan Williams said in his Downing Street lecture is available in full from his own website:
Belief, unbelief and religious education - Downing Street
Warning: this discussion starts with the arrest of Polycarp in 156.

Update Thursday
The Telegraph has an opinion on all this: Archbishop and atheist

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Monday, 8 March 2004

The jawbone of an ass

In the recent General Synod debate on Future Use of the Church Commissioners’ Funds the Bishop of St Albans, Christopher Herbert, delivered a speech. The full text is now on the web and can be read here.
It’s well worth reading in full. But it is also worth bearing in mind who was on the working group that produced the report; press reports focused on Andreas Whittam Smith who presented it to the synod, but he was not alone, here is a list of the names, all of whom are responsible for the report:

Lady Brentford Third Church Estates Commissioner
Andrew Britton Southwark DBF Chairman and Chair of the Consultative Group of DBF Chairmen and Secretaries
Michael Chamberlain Member of the Archbishops’ Council and Chair of its Finance Division
Philip Giddings Member of the Archbishops’ Council and Chair of its Mission and Public Affairs Division.
The Rt Revd David James Bishop of Bradford
Canon Lyn Jamieson Senior Chaplain to the Bishop of Durham
Andreas Whittam Smith First Church Estates Commissioner and member of the Archbishops’ Council (The Group’s Facilitator)

Now back to what Christopher Herbert said:

…This report is, in my view, another jawbone of an ass: it is clumsy, inept and brutal. It is clumsy because it refers to consultation - (it’s now becoming one of the most slippery words in the Church’s vocabulary): but nowhere in the report does it indicate where changes were made to the text as a result of that consultation. It is clumsy because it arrogates to itself decision-making powers about the distribution of money - and assumes that finance and policy are one and the same.

It is inept because it recommends taking money from Cathedrals, places which are, at the very forefront of mission - and does so in the name of mission.
It is inept because it arrogantly assume that Bishops have nothing to do with mission - when much of my time is spent precisely at points of mission; and treats us as “cost centre” which cannot (and I quote) be “insulated” from cuts.
It is inept because it fails to ask why our costs have gone up and does not explain that being HR departments of dioceses, which our offices largely are, new legislation e.g. on data protection or child protection cannot be instituted without cost.

But above all it is brutal because it joins others in the Church in despising the Bishops as leaders; it despises our rôle in mission; it despises the fact that we have been called by the Church to be Bishops and does so, knowing that for us as Bishops to have to justify ourselves in public is a degrading and humiliating exercise. It is brutality with a smirk.
And it is brutal because it wilfully wants to set one part of the Church against another, Cathedrals v parishes, Bishops v Cathedrals - and there is no concept of Christian fraternity at its heart. No sense of reciprocity.

If I were its author I should want to have the grace to withdraw it now - and then spend time asking before God why such a clumsy, inept and brutal document has been placed before us.
In the interests of solidarity one with another I urge Synod to reject it.

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Sunday television

The BBC’s Sunday morning News programme, Breakfast with Frost carried an interview with Frank Griswold, under the title “Gay Marriages”.
You can read the transcript here.

In the USA, the CBS TV programme 60 Minutes interviewed Gene Robinson, under the title “Being Honest”.
You can read about that here.

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Sunday, 7 March 2004

Sunday radio

As usual, the Sunday programme on Radio 4 had some material of Anglican interest.

Women Bishops
Hardly a week seems to go by without threats of schism or at least serious fallings out within the Church of England. This week it’s not about GAY bishops - it’s about WOMEN bishops. The Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope, has said that IF women are allowed to become bishops the church may have to set up a separate “Third Province” for those who disagree. Dr Hope was speaking at a service in Leeds to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Act of Synod that established “flying bishops” to minister to those who rejected the ordination of women. This week - March the 12th - sees the tenth anniversary of the first female ordinations. Cause for celebration for Christina Rees a leading light in the movement to remove the obstacles top women becoming bishops. She’s upset by Dr Hope’s suggestion of a church within a church. Listen with Real Audio

Internet Church
In the divine supermarket that is the world wide web, you can browse for all manner of spiritual products and services. There’s even a Church of Jesus Christ the Shopper. Well now the Church of England is placing itself on the virtual shelves with its first online parish. It’s the brainchild of the Oxford Diocese’s Director of Communications, The Reverend Richard Thomas, who’s placed an ad in this week’s Church Times, for a web pastor - lay or ordained - who has the “ability to work creatively in a new and untested environment.” So for whom is the “I-Church”, as it’s being called, intended? Listen with Real Audio

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Saturday, 6 March 2004

Saturday roundup

From the Guardian
Silence on sex is no answer Marilyn McCord Adams

The most serious threat to the Anglican communion is not cross-cultural substantive differences about sexual norms, serious as these are, but the spirit in which the debate is conducted. Late 19th- and early 20th-century English theologians did not fear to let sharp theological disagreements coexist, and allow experiments to run their course until time proved whether or not the Lord would prosper them.
By contrast, in the present controversies, some show a tendency to slide from explicit professions of biblical infallibility into implicit confidence in the inerrancy of their own methods and interpretations. Some wish to take to themselves quasi-papal authority to determine doctrine and discipline, and to excommunicate those who refuse to conform.

Ten years on, opponents are in the minority Stephen Bates (published last Thursday)

US Anglicans ‘naive’ about gay bishop Bates interviews Griswold

From The Times
Light and love are at the centre of both Islam and Christianity Bruce Dear

Christian and Islamic traditions contain a network of overlapping insights that can create a space for mutual comprehension. This is not to say that the two religions are the “same”, in some politically-correct sense. Each has unique and incompatible claims. However, there is irrefutably an architecture of shared ideas which can help to open dialogue. This dialogue cannot share out oil, land or power more fairly; but it can help to dispel the crudest prejudice which demonises all Christians or all Muslims.

Ruth Gledhill reports on the service to dedicate the new ACO offices and spoke to Archbishop Malango:

In the congregation was Archbishop Bernard Malango, Primate of the province of Central Africa and one of those most opposed to Bishop Robinson’s elevation. “A split is inevitable,” he told me afterwards.
The split over gays is roughly defined as one between North and South. The warring factions can share Communion, it seems, but not much else. Some can not even bring themselves to share Communion. The week-long committee meeting that preceded this service was boycotted by the Primate of Nigeria, Dr Peter Akinola, because of the presence of Bishop Griswold.

From the Telegraph
Who’s in charge of leaking tub? Christopher Howse writes more about Edward Norman

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 6 March 2004 at 12:22 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Friday, 5 March 2004

news reports Friday

The news about is all over the internet tonight.
Church Times Oxford launches web church
Diocese of Oxford Web Pastor: i-church
The Times Church mouse needed for online parish
Telegraph Wanted: virtual vicar for online parish
BBC Church plans parish in cyberspace and listen to Richard Thomas here with Real Audio and Richard also writes on Thinking Anglicans about it
Reuters Church of England hunts for virtual vicar

All this rather overshadowed the reports about what David Hope said:
BBC Primate praises ‘flying bishops’
Guardian Crisis warning on women bishops

The Archbishop of York, David Hope, last night reignited the row over the ordination of women priests in the Church of England by suggesting that if women were allowed to become bishops the church would have to consider setting up a separate, third province for members who disagreed with the move.

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Tuesday, 2 March 2004

less air travel by bishops

On the one hand, Peter Akinola has made news by not coming to England this week:
Primate to snub Williams over gay bishop (The Telegraph broke this story)
Gay Bishop: Nigeria’s Akinola Shuns London Talks Vanguard (Lagos)
and this is all officially confirmed by ACNS in Nigerian archbishop will not attend Committee meeting
whereas Frank Griswold not only attended but presided at the eucharist, as shown here, ECUSA Primate celebrates Eucharist at Canterbury.

But Gene Robinson also made news by not coming to England next week:
Gay Bishop Pulls Out of Debate Press Association
Gay bishop cancels Oxford date BBC
Gay US bishop cancels Oxford Union debate Guardian

By the way, the details of the debate which VGR is not now attending were to have been:

This House believes a gay lifestyle should be no bar to becoming a Bishop
Guest Speakers:
Rt. Revd. Gene Robinson
Recently elected Bishop of New Hampshire. His elevation caused worldwide controversy in the Anglican Communion, owing to his open homosexual lifestyle.
Revd. Richard Kirker
General Secretary of the Lesbian and gay Christian Movement, Claims “the current policy and practice of the church encourages deception and rewards hypocrisy.”
Revd. Dr. Andrew Goddard, St. John’s & Wycliffe Hall.
Tutor in Theology and Christian Ethics at Wycliffe Hall. Studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics as an undergraduate.
The Revd. Canon Brian Mountford
Former student at Oriel, now vicar at St Mary the Virgin, the University Church.

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Sunday, 29 February 2004

York Minster still in the news

York Minster saga episodes continue this week in the CEN:
Edward Norman joins Rome after Anglican disillusionment
But he will still be on the CofE payroll until his retirement date in May.
Dean denies awarding himself a pay rise
Actually, it’s not the dean’s salary that worries me here.

Minster accounts for 2002/3 show that Dean Furnell’s salary was then £26,300, augmentation £6,124 and pension contributions £8,294 — a total of £40,718. The four other priest-canons got totals of up to £31,397. And a lay canon — cathedral chapter steward Peter Lyddon — had a swingeing total of £63,729. This is £3,000 more than the pay of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

See also Ex-Dean hits back in Minster ‘fat cat’ row by Michael Brown of the Yorkshire Post.

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Sunday news reports

The Sunday Times and the BBC both report on a forthcoming change to British law:
Sex-change weddings upset clergy

Some Anglican priests are threatening to resign if they are forced to allow people who have changed their sex to marry in their churches.
Many clergy do not accept that people can change sex using surgery, and see such weddings as same sex marriages.
However, under the Gender Recognition Bill, soon to become law, clergy in England and Wales will be unable to prevent their churches being used.

Sunday Times
Church weddings for sex swappers

The bill, which has already gone through the House of Lords, was passed on its second reading in the Commons last week with a large majority. There was controversy after the vote when it emerged that the Church of England’s General Synod, meeting in a nearby building, had not been told the debate was happening.
Although some Anglican bishops have backed the measure, traditionalists fear it will change the basis on which people’s identity is defined.
Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester, said last night: “When the bill passes into law, for me the words woman and man will no longer mean what they have always meant and the government will have introduced marriage between two people of the same sex.”

On the other hand, the BBC also reports that at least one vicar understands that the church needs marketing and in another place someone understands the value of training:

You don’t expect to see a vicar on patrol with a policeman in the early hours of the morning, dealing with drunks and emergency calls. But in Northamptonshire, Church of England curates are plodding the streets with local officers as part of their training. Listen here with Real Audio.

The Sunday programme on Radio 4 also had an interview with Terry Waite on his return from Lebanon, listen here.
See also Church Times story on this here

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Friday, 27 February 2004

RW's first anniversary

The Church Times has this editorial The first year at Lambeth

The CEN has this The Archbishop’s First Year

The Telegraph has an interview: Outcry over gay bishop shook Church leaders

And the BBC Radio 4 Today programme had a discussion between Gillian Evans and Pete Broadbent which you can listen to with Real Audio here


The Western Mail had I miss Wales, its people, culture and language, says Archbishop

Martha Linden of Press Association had this interview (via ACNS) Year of hope and pain for Archbishop

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Wednesday, 25 February 2004

Carnley on gay relationships

The ABC Lateline TV programme in Australia has this:
Archbishop Peter Carnley suggests ‘lifelong friendships’ over gay marriage

The Most Reverend Dr Peter Carnley says a recognition of lifelong friendships between two homosexuals may be a way of giving gay couples the same legal status as heterosexual couples. Archbishop Carnley says churches are yet to reach a mature mind on the subject of gay marriage.

Video report using Real Player here.

ABC News has Archbishop urges church to deal with gay marriages
Other press reports across Australia on this are like this one: Gay relationships ‘here to stay’ in the Australian.

Peter Carnley was also the subject of this story in the CEN:
Primate stirs strife among Aussie Anglicans
and this review of his book Reflections In Glass appeared in the Melbourne Age.

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Tuesday, 24 February 2004

Anglican Difficulties

The Telegraph has had a number of Anglican stories in the past 3 days.

‘Anglicanism is going to tip into the sea’

Canon Edward Norman has written a scathing attack on the Church of England and is converting to Catholicism. Damian Thompson meets him.
Anglican Difficulties: A New Syllabus of Errors by Edward Norman

Meanwhile, that paper also reports on
Dean of York took 23pc pay rise out of Minster’s funds

Church’s ancient Lambeth library faces cuts which provoked the following letter to the editor:
Doing the Lambeth talk

and for good measure
Women could become ‘second class’ bishops

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Monday, 23 February 2004

three interviews

There was this interview with Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh on Beliefnet:
Who is Doing the Dividing?

and this one with Michael Ingham of New Westminster in the Vancouver Sun:
Tyrant. Dictator. Heretic. Totalitarian. Revisionist. Maverick. Renegade.

and BBC World Service had a long radio interview with Njongonkulu Ndungane which you can hear by going to this page

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more on the Lambeth Commission

The Church Times carried this report:
Commission warns against harming unity
The CEN carried this one:
Criticism of ‘strident language’ in gay row
The Belfast Telegraph had Gay clerics: Anglicans urge calm in which Robin Eames is specifically reported to have confirmed the September 2004 completion date. This seems possibly to be contrary to what Rowan Williams said earlier at General Synod:

The Commission has deliberately a limited life. It will report to the Primates probably at the very beginning of the next calendar year, and interim reports will be issued meanwhile.

Every Voice Network carried this report by Kevin Jones:
Conservative fireworks backfire at Eames Commission as AAC retreat continues which says that a visit to the USA by John Rees, legal consultant to the commission, has been delayed until April.

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Tuesday, 17 February 2004

Lambeth Commission news

For the full text of what Rowan Williams said to the Eames (now Lambeth) Commission, go to TA here.

The Times Gay row distorts Bible, says Williams by Ruth Gledhill

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised fundamentalists and extremists on both sides of the Anglican Church for distorting the message of the Bible in the debate over homosexuality.
Rowan Williams told members of the Lambeth Commission on homosexuality that a church “faithful to the biblical revelation has to exercise discipline and draw boundaries if it is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus and not its own concerns”.
Dr Williams said the problem was not simply about “biblical faithfulness versus fashionable relativism”. He said that there were “profound biblical principles involved” and criticised those at both extremes of the debate.

Telegraph Church leaders rebuke factions over anti-gay hostilities by Jonathan Petre

Traditionalists want the commission to discipline or expel the liberal leadership of the American Episcopal Church, which supported the consecration of Canon Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in November.
If they do not succeed, they are threatening a mass exodus. They represent over half of Anglicans worldwide and could set up a rival Church. So far 11 of the 38 primates - the heads of the individual provinces which make up the Anglican Communion - have said they are in “broken” or “impaired” communion with the Episcopal Church’s leadership.
Insiders believe that the commission’s next meeting in America could be critical because trust between the Episcopal leadership and dissenting traditionalist bishops is wearing thin.

Reuters Anglicans rebuke ‘strident’ clergy in gay row

…the wounds may already be beyond healing in a broad church run by consensus across 164 countries, in contrast to the rigid hierarchy of the far larger Roman Catholic Church governed under strict papal authority.
“This statement is a signal of alarm, a sign of desperation that things could be getting out of control,” said religious commentator Clifford Longley. “People are already taking precipitate action,” he told Reuters.

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Monday, 16 February 2004

ordinary news again

No more synod :-( though see here for summary of business done.

Desmond Tutu speaks out:
Tutu tells Blair: Apologise for ‘immoral’ war in the Independent

Eames Commission changes name:
This body is now called the Lambeth Commission.
Press release: Lambeth Commission tackles tensions in the Church
Communique: Lambeth Commission on Communion Statement 9th-13th February 2004
There are several document in pdf format linked from that.

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Sunday, 15 February 2004

BBC radio reports

The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme had two reports:

Synod considers New Church funding Listen with Real Audio
The Church of England Synod ended this week looking in two different directions on a question that could be critical to its future. The members were presented with a report called Mission Shaped Church, which they enthusiastically endorsed - it should mean all sorts of new and different ways of worshipping are on offer. But when they were confronted with another report on how to fund the Church’s mission it all got unpleasantly acrimonious and they ended the debate without a vote. Christopher Landau reports.

Cost of Conscience Listen with Real Audio
It is a decade now since the Church of England began ordaining women priests. It is easy to forget what passion the debate generated during the 1980s and 1990s; it was one of those issues which really tested the way Anglicans understood the essence of their faith. It has also turned out to be rather expensive. The Church of England this week released the final cost of paying compensation to clergy who resigned because they couldn’t accept the change; a cool 26 million pounds. Christina Rees was one of the leading campaigners for women’s ordination and we are also joined by Dr Gill James, who is a member of the group Forward in Faith.

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Saturday, 14 February 2004

Thursday, 12 February 2004

Synod: Thursday evening

More on yesterday’s sexuality debate:
Introduction to the General Synod debate by the Rt Revd Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford
ACNS General Synod endorses sexuality debate guide
CofE Press Release Church policy on gay relationships unchanged
BBC Synod revisits familiar divides

Related to today’s debates:
Press Association Union Steps Up Campaign for Clergy Rights

Church Times latest report here

The Times
Help fight Aids in Africa, says Williams
Clergy should get workers’ rights by law, says Church

Added Friday morning:
Telegraph Clergy to get more job security

Church Times The Archbishop of Canterbury on the new American network

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Wednesday, 11 February 2004

Synod: Thursday morning

Bishops foil cash switch to fill pews
Church softens line on gay couples

Williams leads revolt over ‘pay cut’ for bishops
Church softens its tone on homosexuality

Press Association
Aids: Minister to Address General Synod.

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Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Tuesday morning

Newspaper reports this morning mostly ignore the news reported here last night. The Telegraph has this squib.
Only Ruth Gledhill in The Times reports about what Rowan Wiliams said earlier in the meeting: Williams supports Americans who oppose gay bishop

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has offered his support to a network of traditionalist churches being set up in America to oppose the gay Bishop Gene Robinson.
Dr Williams, addressing the General Synod of the Church of England, said that he had been following “sympathetically” the discussions about setting up a network to operate within the Episcopal Church of the United States.

Many report on the new Alternative Collect for the Epiphany.
Mystery of the magi Guardian
We three queens of Orient are? Press Association via Australia
There were three, but were they wise - or even men? The Times
Three Wise Men might have been women, church rules Independent
The Three Fairly Sagacious Persons Telegraph

The Telegraph reports on changes at the Royal Peculiars
Queen loses historic direct control of Abbey
See also Her Majesty the Queen approves recommendations for Westminster Abbey.

The columnist Philip Howard in The Times discusses women bishops
The church’s last glass ceiling.

Here is the Church Times overnight report.

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Monday, 9 February 2004

Synod coverage

Reports from synod that I write myself (one so far) will be found on Thinking Anglicans here.

Reports from other sources will continue to be linked right here.

Another BBC story Vicar condemns ‘racist’ voting.
The business committee of the synod arranged today to give this motion a higher priority in the agenda than initially provided, to ensure that it got a hearing this week. In fact, it got a hearing at the end of today’s session.

The Press Association has reported part of the remarks Rowan Williams made at the start of the synod about the Eames commission, which starts work this week in Windsor. Gay Priests Commission Faces ‘Unprecedented Difficult Challenges’.

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Synod starts today

The Times has a report by Ruth Gledhill on Cathedrals condemn plans for cut in funding.

THE deans and canons of England’s 42 cathedrals have said that Church of England plans to cut their funding were disappointing and destructive.
They are calling for the proposals to be withdrawn because they say that the ideas could devastate the most successful arm of the Church.
The plans are to cut £500,000 from cathedral grants and to withdraw the stipends for two canons, leaving only the dean of each cathedral to be financed from central funds. The proposals were announced last month by the Church’s spending review group in a report that examined use of the Church Commissioners’ historic assets.
The review group wants to divert the £500,000 cathedrals cash as well as £5 million given to bishops each year towards a new £9 million fund for mission in deprived areas of the Church. The proposals will be debated by the General Synod at Church House, Westminster, this week.

The BBC has a report by Alex Kirby headlined Anglicans challenge asylum policy which starts on that topic but also covers the synod session in general.

This is the first synod meeting since the seismic row in the worldwide Anglican Communion over homosexuality erupted last year, and the failure of a meeting of archbishops in London in October to find a solution.
The row threatens to split the communion, with some churches refusing to have anything more to do with those US Anglicans who supported the consecration of a gay man, Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire.
The English church had already experienced a similar upset, when Jeffrey John, another gay man, was chosen to be the Bishop of Reading but agreed under pressure to stand down.
The synod will debate a discussion document produced by the English bishops, Some Issues In Human Sexuality: A Guide To The Debate, but a vote is unlikely, and observers say nothing will change.
However, a campaign called Inclusivechurch plans to present a petition to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, on 10 February, urging him to resist “those bent on dividing the church in response to the consecration of Gene Robinson”.
The group says the petition, calling for a church “open to all, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation”, has been signed by more than 8,500 people and over 100 parishes.
One debate which may generate some controversy is on cohabitation.
Although the church upholds marriage as the ideal, the motion accepts as a fact of modern life that some couples who could marry will prefer to live together instead.

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Sunday, 8 February 2004

British News Sunday

First, the Sunday Times Atticus column has a story Rebellion in the pulpits as clerics threaten archbishop with a pay cut about the motion in General Synod to cut clergy differentials. As already noted in connection with the earlier story in The Times on this, there is no certainty that this motion will be debated at all, as it is listed as a contingency item, to be taken up only if a gap appears in the Agenda during the week. And the headline is anyway seriously misleading, as the proposal is not for pay cuts but merely for the elimination of differentials by freezing the pay of all dignitaries at their current levels until the National Stipend Benchmark for Incumbents has caught up.

Second, the Observer reports this in the Pendennis column:

Just when Rowan Williams thinks he’s kicked the thorny issue of gay clergy into the long grass, up pops a double whammy. This week’s General Synod, the Church of England’s parliament, will hear a motion welcoming the appointment of Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion. To compound matters, Robinson will soon visit these shores to speak at the Oxford Union. How Williams, desperate not to go down in history as the Archbishop of Canterbury who presided over the break up of the Anglican Communion, must long for the days of the love that dare not speak its name.

Update: more details about this General Synod motion below.

And the BBC Sunday radio programme had a substantial feature (12 minutes) on Church of England funding. Listen with RealAudio here.

The Church of England faces some major decisions this week - about the nature of its work, and how to pay for it. A new report called Mission Shaped Church to be debated by the General Synod, proposes a new structure of “network churches” to sit alongside the traditional parish system. Meanwhile a working group of the Archbishops’ Council and the Church Commissioners has come up with radical proposals about how to fund these new projects, in part by taking money away from richer Cathedrals. Not surprisingly the proposals face widespread criticism. Sunday obtained a copy of a document written by the Archbishop of Canterbury, which summarises the corporate opposition of the Church of England’s bishops to this report in its current form. And its not just Bishops who are opposed. England’s cathedrals deans also say that they’ve been largely ignored in the consultation process. Christopher Landau reports. Roger then spoke to Phillip Giddings, a member of the Spending Review Working Group.

The motion tabled at the General Synod mentioned above reads as follows:

“This Synod commends the 2003 General Convention of the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) for approving the decision of the Diocese of New Hampshire to consecrate Gene Robinson as a bishop in the Church of God; noting in particular that this was the democratically expressed wish of the majority of Episcopalians, a Church in which we have full confidence and in which we, members of the General Synod of the Church of England, gladly remain in full communion.”

This is a Private Members Motion tabled by the Revd Anthony Braddick-Southgate (Southwark). There will be no debate on it this week. It will be on a notice paper and will be available for members to sign this week. Private member’s motions are normally debated in order of the number of signatures. If it gets enough signatures to rise to the top of the list it could get debated in York in July. Alternatively, it will lapse if it attracts less than 100 signatures after three groups of sessions. The pay differentials motion mentioned above reached the top of the list with 122 signatures.

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Saturday, 7 February 2004

RW radio interview

This was aired on the BBC’s Sunday programme on 1 February. Listen with RealAudio here (7 minutes).

This week Rowan Williams, the present Archbishop has been making a pastoral visit to the Diocese of Jerusalem, visiting church and community projects in Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. Amanda Hancox talked to him on Friday, just as he was leaving lake Tiberius at the end of his visit and asked him whether there was anything he could do to stop the haemorrhaging of Christians from the region.

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British news

Richard Chartres has made news: Pay parents to raise children, says bishop.

Jonathan Petre reports that Women priests cost the Church £26m in payouts (the previous estimate was £23m). The money you understand does not go to the women priests but to those men who object so strongly that they resign.

The next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council will be held in Britain, not America, says The Times in Church council thwarted by US security curbs.

The meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, which comprises 120 senior clergy including the Archbishop of Canterbury, is to be moved to Britain after America was deemed a “no-go area” for many members.
Such are the anti-terrorism regulations now enforced by US Customs - including the extensive vetting of travellers from Africa and the Middle East - that many organisations no longer consider America suitable for international conferences.
Matthew Davies, of the Anglican Communion [Office], said that the immigration and visa difficulties which some senior clergy were expected to experience had forced the Church to move the triennial meeting from North Carolina to Europe.
“The US regulations for foreign visitors have been getting more and more difficult and we just thought better of it,” he said. “You have to think twice about holding anything in America, because if it means that half your delegates from Africa can’t attend, whether they’re archbishops or not, then it’s just not worth having the meeting.”

And, finally, Vicar carpeted over revamp of historic church. This might sound unimportant, but the Church Times carried the story too, complete with pictures of the church and the carpet.

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Friday, 6 February 2004

Pittsburgh news

First, the Diocese of Pittsburgh joined the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. See picture here of the network charter being signed.
See this report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Episcopal diocese here joins anti-gay group.

By a 16-4 vote at a diocesan council meeting Tuesday night, members ratified inclusion in the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, chartered last month by lay and clergy representatives from 12 dioceses to “constitute a true and legitimate expression of the world-wide Anglican Communion.”
Pittsburgh is the third diocese — joining Central Florida and Fort Worth — to join.

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh issued a press release, Pittsburgh Episcopalians Deplore Affiliation with ‘Orthodox’ Network which said in part:

Diocesan Council, following the lead of Pittsburgh bishop Robert W. Duncan, Moderator of the Network, has voted to associate this diocese with an organization whose aim is to divide the Episcopal Church, USA, and to create a new fundamentalist church to replace it as the sole true representative of Anglicanism in the United States.

Following the issue of this statement about the network by Anglican primates from 13 “Global South” provinces, containing:

We re-affirm our solidarity with faithful Bishops, clergy and church members in North America who remain committed the historic faith and order of the church and have rejected unbiblical innovation. We offer our support and the full weight of our ministries and offices to those who are gathering in a “Network of Confessing Dioceses and Congregations” now being organized in North America. We regard this network as a hopeful sign of a faithful Anglican future in North America. We invite those who are committed to the preservation of historic Biblical faith and order, to join that work and its essential commitment to the Gospel.

the Bishop of Pittsburgh then issued this statement which includes:

We seek humbly to serve Christ as faithful Anglicans and to offer hope to those in North America devastated and disenfranchised by actions of the Episcopal Church, a Church of which we are a part. This recogntion by 14 Primates, representing 45 million Anglicans worldwide, gives us great encouragement and affirmation of our mission, and is a clear sign that the Anglican realignment in North America is moving forward.

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more GS articles from CT

The remaining three Church Times articles from 23 January, about next week’s General Synod, are now online.

Toyne seeks to tamper with C of E’s brakes

A new Dioceses Commission “with teeth”, which would “keep under active review the diocesan structure of the Church of England”, and could keep a tight rein on the number of suffragan bishops, is among the recommendations of the Toyne report, to be debated by the General Synod next month.
The Pastoral Measure 1983 and the Dioceses Measure 1978 would be replaced by a new Mission and Ministry Measure in three sections: Dioceses; Neighbourhood and Network; and Church Buildings. The authors of the report hope to “give coherence to procedures which to many at present seem disparate and inflexible”.
The report, A Measure for Measures: In mission and ministry, is by a review group chaired by Professor Peter Toyne, who is a former Vice-Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University, and a member of the Archbishops’ Council. The present map of the dioceses “bears little resemblance to the reality of the present distribution, structure and mobility of population”, Professor Toyne says in his introduction.
“Having considered this situation carefully, we concluded that there is a clear prima facie case for taking a fresh look at the distribution of dioceses and their boundaries.”

ARCIC’s critics given a slot

The General Synod will be invited to express reservations about the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), when it has a full debate on an ARCIC report for the first time since 1986.

See here for a link to the synod report GS 1532 to be debated, and here is the ARCIC report itself.

Ordinal is ‘enriched’

The draft Common Worship Ordinal, a revision by the Liturgical Commission of the Ordinal in the Alternative Service Book (ASB) 1980, is to be given first consideration by the General Synod next month.

The draft text is not available online. It is available on paper here.

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Wednesday, 4 February 2004

Clergy terms of service

The Times has a column today about the proposals coming before Synod to grant new “employment rights” to clergy. In Heaven only knows how Church will cope with employment rights two lawyers write:

Could a vicar be sacked for failing to reach his performance targets
IF A clergyman is sacked, he has no legal redress. Clergy are considered to be office-holders answerable to God rather than any terrestrial authority. This spiritual, instead of temporal, relationship means that they cannot take their employers to court.
But now the Church of England is considering granting the rights enjoyed by most other employers to its clergy. If accepted by the Government this would mean ministers becoming entitled to redundancy payments, holidays and protection from unfair dismissal and having access to employment tribunals to resolve disputes.

The article goes on to discuss discrimination:

The proposal to bring the clergy within the employment fold raises interesting issues. Laws introduced in December prevent discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation. The issue of clergy who are practising homosexuals is already a hot topic. Where the employment is “for the purposes of an organised religion”, the new laws do allow discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the faith’s followers. The Church will now have to satisfy these criteria if it seeks to justify discrimination against homosexual applicants.

They do not make clear that this is already the case, as the new employment regulations mentioned already apply to all clergy (despite the doubts expressed by Church House officials) and this situation is unaffected by the new proposals. Nor do they make clear that the new proposals will not alter the “office holder” status of many clergy, but instead will confer these “Section 23 rights” upon them as office holders, in exchange for them accepting various responsibilities.

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Tuesday, 3 February 2004

ECUSA stories

Undeterred by the previous item, here are some more reports from American dioceses.
In Diocese rebuffs dissenters we learn that in the Diocese of North Carolina (one of three in that state):

Episcopalians hoping to steer the diocese of North Carolina back to its traditional understanding of sexuality left the annual convention Saturday disappointed and discouraged after delegates soundly defeated a dozen resolutions proposed by the dissident group.
The defeat signaled that the diocese — spanning 39 counties in the Piedmont — is squarely behind the national church, which in August voted to confirm its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
It was also a vote of confidence in North Carolina Bishop Michael B. Curry. Some had challenged his authority after he voted to ratify Robinson’s election.

Meanwhile in the liberal-minded Diocese of Washington which covers parts of Maryland as well as DC, the annual convention passed this resolution on Conscience
The Archbishop of Cape Town, Njongonkulu Ndungane preached this sermon.
The bishop John Chane said in his address the following:

The genius of Anglicanism has always been that it is theologically roomy, respectful and tolerant. The European struggles of the 16th Century between Catholicism and the Protestant Reformers literally gave birth to the Church of England and Anglicanism. Precision in doctrine was not our Anglican founders’ desire, but rather it was the writing of magnificent liturgy, the creation of a beautiful Prayer Book language and poetry, the adherence to the discipline of the daily reading of Holy Scripture and sound preaching. As many have said far more eloquently than I, Anglicans enter theological reflection from practices rather than doctrine. For those of us who continue to work toward a definition of what makes Anglicans Anglicans, I can only say that our theology holds that our primary responsibility is to help people to know and to love God. Our theology is a pastoral theology! For any of us to focus on fostering disunity within our branch of the Anglican Communion by using a theological hammer as the tool of choice at the expense of our own pastoral, Episcopal domestic and global mission imperatives is, in itself, a tragedy that claims the original sin of a divided and broken humanity above the promise of our unity in the Body of Christ. Our mission as a diocese is about healing, building, growing, reaching out, and believing that our ministry can make a difference and that in all things we place Christ and the teaching of the Gospels ahead of our own personal agendas. Our mission strategy must be based on the direction set for us by the Gospels, as we know them. It is time now to seriously get on with the mission of this diocese and the larger church. Remember the words of Jesus to his disciples; 2As you have done it to the least of these my friends so have you done it to me.”

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news overkill?

I was fascinated by this report from South Carolina. Under the headline Tough to say ‘enough’ with some stories a reader of the Post and Courier, Charleston, complained:

This week, several readers said they have read more than enough, thank you, about a handful of topics: … the Episcopal Church, ….
The reader who took issue with the amount of Episcopal Church reporting in The Post and Courier wonders if anyone but Episcopalians are interested in the stories about the rift in the denomination. The staff has had lots of discussions about the same questions over a long period of time. Religion reporter Dave Munday outlines reasons he has covered the story so closely.
— The denominational rift took root here in this diocese, and local church leaders are at the forefront of the international debate.
— The division goes beyond the 2 million-member Episcopal Church. “What’s at stake is the future of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church’s parent group.”
— The bigger story that is facing or is likely to face other denominations is whether Christians of different stripes can find a way to worship together despite their differences.
— The issue of homosexuality, one of the key issues being debated in the Episcopal Church, has taken a prominent role among national figures including presidential contenders.
Still, in 2003, The Post and Courier published at least 58 news stories about the Episcopal Church split and dozens of letters to the editor — a number of which offered Scriptural interpretations.
To one reader, that was too much. “My husband and I do not go to the editorial page for a daily sermon,” she said.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 3 February 2004 at 9:06 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Sunday, 1 February 2004

more ECUSA updates

The Diocese of Mississipi has its council meeting next weekend. Its bishop, The Rt. Rev. Duncan M. Gray III, is reported in the Sun Herald as follows:

In August, Gray was one of 43 bishops who did not vote to confirm the gay bishop but said he accepted the majority’s decision as “the mind of the Church at this moment in faith history.”
Since then, the bishop has held meetings throughout the state to keep dialogue open. For the council, which begins Feb. 6, he has requested open hearings for all sides to debate the resolutions before they are presented to the council for vote. Delegates include laity and clergy from each of the 82 parishes and missions.
“I hope we can openly and constructively address the deep disagreements,” said Gray, who is third in his family to be a Mississippi bishop.
He estimates less than 1 percent of the diocesan members have left the Episcopal Church over the general convention’s decisions, but he said some Mississippians are expressing their feelings by withholding their normal tithings and support.
“There is a lot of uncertainty in our church,” Gray said. “We’re in unprecedented times, and this year’s council theme, ‘Praying Into God’s Future,’ is an acknowledgement of that uncertainty but also an affirmation that God greets us. Through prayer we can learn to walk confidently through uncertainty.”

In Northern Florida, the Diocese of Florida convention met, and for procedural reasons refused to consider a motion relating to joining the Network but the bishop made his position clear as reported in the Jacksonville Times-Union Episcopal unity in state is in danger

Clarifying his own place in the disagreement after months of silence, the newly installed bishop said he would not ordain active homosexuals or allow their unions to be celebrated, but promised to oppose any limits on the diocese’s participation in the national Episcopal Church.
By the end of the day, the success of Howard’s supporters in upholding that agenda had endangered his hopes for unity. Representatives from several of the most biblically orthodox churches said they stood on the brink of divorce from the diocese because the diocese would not divorce the Episcopal Church.
After a majority of delegates voted to continue contributing to the national church, representatives from 12 of those churches, comprising about 16 percent of the diocese, withdrew their annual contributions to the diocese. Six of those were from Jacksonville, and two from Orange Park.
Most of the dissidents said they simply wished to reconsider their contributions in the wake of the decisions by the convention. But some said their very membership in the diocese was in question.

In Central Florida, the diocese has joined the network. This news story from the local Scripps-Howard newspapers, Episcopalians say conservative network lets them protest gay bishop without leaving fold comes complete with a picture of animal blessings.

By joining the network, the diocese chose not to split from the Episcopal Church, which is the American branch of the Anglican Communion, the worldwide body of churches affiliated with the Church of England.

Meanwhile, one parish left the diocese for the AMiA anyway: Melbourne Episcopal church leaving denomination

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 1 February 2004 at 5:25 PM GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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ECUSA update - Virginia

Many ECUSA dioceses are holding their annual synods (called conventions or councils) at this time of year. This weekend, that included the Diocese of Virginia, the largest diocese.
Here are reports beforehand from the Washington Post Episcopalians to Face Major Issues
and the Richmond Times-Dispatch Meeting of Virginia Episcopalians starts today

Declining revenue and challenges to the authority of Richmond Bishop Peter James Lee will be two of the major issues on the agenda of more than 700 Episcopalians from Virginia as they gather today in Reston to begin their diocese’s annual convention.
The two-day meeting of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia takes place at a time of rising turmoil in the denomination set off by the consecration last summer of its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
That turmoil is reflected in the convention’s agenda, which includes adoption of a 2004 budget that is reeling from a drop of nearly $900,000 in parish pledges. The delegates will also deal with a resolution asking Lee to allow conservative parishes to have another bishop lead them.

The full text of the bishop’s address to the council yesterday is online. Part of it is reproduced below.

After the convention the Washington Post published this account, Virginia Episcopalians Avert Split Over Gay Bishop

Episcopalians of Virginia voted yesterday to set up a year-long “reconciliation commission” to examine ways of maintaining their unity in the face of deep theological differences over what the church’s stance on homosexuality should be.
The vote, taken on the last day of the diocese’s annual convention, had wide support among the 700 delegates gathered at a Reston hotel — a sign, many said, of the desire not to let their differences lead to an open split.

From the bishop’s pastoral address:

The church’s current debate over sexuality is a controversy we may have no desire to discuss, and we do disagree, but it is a debate that distracts us from the mission that unites us. The reality is that serious Christians in our diocese differ over numerous traditions of Biblical interpretation that underlie our differences.
I appeal to members of this Council to see the unifying power of Christ in the midst of our differences and to take no actions to exacerbate our differences.
I hear the pain and grief expressed by those angered by the election and consecration of Bishop Robinson of New Hampshire and by my role in that. And I hear the pain and disappointment of gay and lesbian members of our diocese who are frustrated at the lack of availability to them of rites of blessing.
Members of a Christian community bear one another’s burdens. Listening to each other and finding those areas of mission where we can unite are important patterns of discipleship.
I appeal also to members of our diocese who are tempted to separate from our body because of their anger at what we have done or disappointment at what we have not done to stay the course and to learn of Christ’s desire for our unity through our engagement with one another.
James I. McCord was a twentieth century Presbyterian leader and scholar who warned his students: “If you must make a choice between heresy and schism, always choose heresy. For as a heretic, you are only guilty of a wrong opinion. As a schismatic, you have torn and divided the body of Christ. Chose heresy every time!” (The Anglican Journal, January 2004, p. 15)
Now, I hope we will avoid both heresy and schism. The best protection against heresy is the breadth of the community of faith, wrestling with the interaction of scripture and tradition with the stresses and questions of contemporary life. Schism diminishes the corrective power of differing opinions.
I am aware that some of our congregations are so unhappy with my decisions at General Convention that they will not welcome my visits to them. I remind you that Christian communities often consist of solidarities not of our choosing. Our faith teaches that people with whom we differ often have important truths to teach us. So I want very much to remain in touch with those who differ with me. I am willing to ask another bishop to come into a parish for pastoral and sacramental ministries, but I believe deeply that God has called us together to ministry in Virginia, and we have gifts to offer each other. We are one body, not a federation of individual, isolated congregations, and I am committed to serving the whole body.
There is One Lord, One faith, One baptism, and we are called perhaps especially at times of difference, to affirm that our unity in Christ transcends our differences. Claim that unity and pray that God will reveal more fully the bonds that bring us together.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 1 February 2004 at 5:05 PM GMT | TrackBack
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another synod teaser

Today’s Observer has an article by Jamie Doward headlined Church to serve up coffee with religion which describes one aspect of the Cray report, Mission Shaped Church.

Communion over cappuccino? Christian worship amid the phat beats of Fatboy Slim? At the risk of causing uproar among religious conservatives, the Church of England’s parliament will next week discuss plans to draw on bar culture as inspiration for new ways of worshipping.

‘The Church has got to realise its missionary responsibilities,’ the book notes. ‘We live in a society which is now basically second, or even third-generation, pagan; we cannot simply work on the premise that all we have to do to bring people to Christ is to ask them to remember their long-held but dormant faith.’
More than 40 per cent of people have had no involvement with the Church at all throughout their lives, and the percentage of children attending Sunday school has dropped from 55 per cent in 1900 to 4 per cent today. Attendance among adult worshippers on Sunday now stands at 835,000, a 4 per cent drop on last year.

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Thursday, 29 January 2004

Canterbury under siege

Last week, The Tablet published an article by Stephen Bates under this title.
The full text of this has now been added to the Tablet website, and can be found here. This article includes many details of how English conservative evangelicals are involved in these plots. Some key extracts:

Many ironies resound around the debate about the future of the Communion. English conservative evangelicals, who could never stomach the idea of a pope and Curia - forms of authority which are indeed inimical to the whole Anglican tradition - are calling for the imposition of some form of centralised authority within a traditionally autonomous Church. This, they believe, would discipline provinces that step out of line doctrinally. By this, of course, they mean provinces that don’t toe their particular line, as on homosexuality - for this is a debate about authority and political power more than sexual practice.
This authority, as they perceive it, is far too precious to be entrusted to one man, particularly someone like Rowan Williams, so an executive body can decide what is right. As Maurice Sinclair, the evangelical former Archbishop of the Southern Cone, the archdiocese [should read province] which stretches from Peru to Tierra del Fuego but yet contains only 22,000 Anglicans, has argued: “Some light-handed but wise-headed supervision of a collegial nature would do us all good. Authority in the Anglican Communion would continue to be distributed authority but it would gain the necessary coherence we cannot afford to be merely a loose federation or a separating family.”

What the American traditionalists say they want is alternative - or adequate - episcopal oversight: the ability to call in like-minded bishops to supplant the authority of those diocesans with whom they have fallen out, probably because the bishop supported Robinson’s consecration. This has its precedent in the Church of England where a decade ago parishes which could not approve the decision to ordain women could opt for like-minded flying bishops.
Thus was the pass of episcopal authority sold as a short-term expedient. But why should such a precedent be limited to women’s ordination? If you don’t like this bishop, choose another. This is congregationalism that some militant conservatives in the pressure group Reform would endorse.

Money from Ahmanson’s foundation has been channelled to at least one English evangelical organisation, the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, whose leadership has been active in stirring dissent in the Anglican Communion during the current crisis.

In the US, the traditionalists believe they are a persecuted minority, prey to liberal bishops. In England, by contrast, the conservative evangelicals, with whom the Americans might otherwise have little in common in terms of forms of worship, believe that they are on a rising tide in a numerically declining Church and that their views should prevail.
Some are still not reconciled to Rowan Williams as their archbishop. When he was invited, after some agonising, last September to lead prayers at the evangelical national congress in Blackpool, the organisers set aside a separate room so that those who could not bear to be in the same room as the leader of their Church - even while he prayed - could maintain their pristine consciences. Even though he forced his old friend Jeffrey John, the gay but celibate canon theologian of Southwark, to resign from his appointment as suffragan Bishop of Reading last summer - an appointment Williams had earlier endorsed - he is still not entirely trusted by the militants.
They want to push him further, or tell him to get out of the way. At a conference held with the American conservatives in Charleston, South Carolina on 8-9 January, the traditionalist leaders were making clear the archbishop had to choose to back them or be cast into outer darkness. The Revd Chris Green, vice-principal of the highly evangelical Oak Hill Theological College in north London - and one of those who organised the Blackpool conference - told the Americans: “There are very senior figures among evangelical circles in Great Britain who would like to say to you: ‘Elect your own presiding bishop and force Rowan Williams to choose’.”
One of his colleagues, the Revd Peter Walker of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, spoke of a growing archway of interest between Anglicans of the global south and northern conservatives, becoming stronger every day regardless of any future involvement by the archbishop: “This is the picture I have in mind. The question is whether Canterbury will be the keystone of the arch or will be left out.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 29 January 2004 at 11:19 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 28 January 2004

anglican news worldwide

Uganda installed a new archbishop, Henry Luke Orombi, last Sunday. Kampala newspapers had several reports, for example:
Archbishop Orombi Enthroned

Rev. Sandy Millar, the Vicar of Holy Trinity Church of Brompton, London, delivered the day’s sermon. Archbishops from Sudan, Kenya and representatives from Rwanda, Burundi, UK, US, Korea and Nigeria attended.

A lot of background detail on the history of the province is in Viewing Orombi in the Context of the Church.
Luwum Statue Erected in UK
Bishops Pledge to ‘Exorcise Gay Ghosts’
What the new archbishop said

Rowan Williams went to Jordan and preached at the Anglican Church of the Redeemer, Amman and then to Jerusalem, where he preached this sermon at an Ecumenical Service at St George’s Cathedral Jerusalem. Meanwhile this Joint Statement on Antisemitism by the Presidents of the Council of Christians and Jews was issued in London.
The Jerusalem Post reported the statement here.
The Guardian had Israel’s wall a symbol of fear - Archbishop
Aljazeera carried this editorial from the Jordan Times A Christian issue

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Monday, 26 January 2004

more on General Synod

I failed to note previously the official CofE press release concerning the forthcoming session. Here it is.

Today The Times has Bishops urged to make vows of priestly poverty. The motion to which this story relates is not necessarily going to be debated. It is listed as a contingency item on the agenda, i.e. it will only be taken at this session if a gap in the timetable opens up due to other business completing early. An extract from Ruth Gledhill’s account:

The General Synod is to debate a private members motion in which bishops will be asked to give up nearly half of their £33,000 stipends to earn the same as a parochial clergyman or woman.
The motion, if successful, will cut the stipends of all dignitaries in real terms over time to the £17,940 earned by the ordinary parish priest in the Church of England, a stipend still about six times the allowance of priests in the Roman Catholic Church.
The motion is thought to be unlikely to succeed but is certain to arouse fierce debate as bishops seek to defend their rewards in the face of an attempt by Church officials to force parishes instead of the Church Commissioners to fund them. The commissioners want to switch more than half of the burden of financing the Church’s 110 bishops on to the dioceses, which means that parishes will soon have to find an extra 5 million a year to pay for their ministry, on top of financing clergy stipends and pensions and repairs to church organs and roofs.

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Sunday, 25 January 2004

ECUSA disputes

Meetings planned to debate future of All Saints Church Sun News Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - relates to the parish that left ECUSA recently to join AMiA:

The future of All Saints Church, and whether it will remain part of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, will be the topic of meetings this week on the Waccamaw Neck.
A group of about 38 people who opposed the church’s vote to leave the diocese is scheduled to meet Tuesday with Bishop Edward Salmon.
“The meeting is meant to support members of All Saints who want to remain part of the diocese,” said Craige Borette, president of the standing committee of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.
The 1,000-member church, which is the third-largest congregation in the Diocese of South Carolina, voted overwhelmingly Jan. 8 to leave the diocese.

Parsley opposes protest group Birmingham News Alabama (Bishop Parsley opposes the Network)

The formation of a national protest network last week in response to the denomination’s first openly gay bishop is “clearly divisive,” said Alabama Episcopal Bishop Henry N. Parsley.
While 12 bishops have signed on to the new Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, Alabama’s bishop won’t.
“This is unfortunate,” Parsley, head of the Diocese of Alabama, said about the formation of the network. “We do not need ‘a church within a church.’ As the New Testament bears witness, we are to be the church together, with inevitable differences of opinion at times.”

Central Florida Episcopals vote to join conservative group Lakeland Ledger Florida (Bishop Howe was previously worried about the network when he read the Chapman memo, but now seems happier, see next item)

The Diocese of Central Florida is the state’s first to align itself with the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, in existence only since Tuesday.
The diocese consists of 48,000 members in 87 parishes across 15 counties.

Bishop Seeks Calmer Tone In Episcopal Controversy

…he [Bishop Howe] urged the diocese to move beyond the rancor that has gripped the church since the consecration of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire in November.

A response to a ‘Call to repudiate the American Anglican Council and Network’ appeared on Kendall Harmon’s blog but is written by Ephraim Radner.
He disagrees (at some length) with this Via Media Groups’ statement.

Kendall Harmon has written an even longer piece On the Matter of the Geoff Chapman Memo.
In this, among many many other things, he complains again about my choice of headline, based directly on the Washington Post’s own wording, which in turn reflects the content of their story.
He also comments that I attributed this and this to the American Anglican Council when I first listed them here. Both items were published on the AAC website at about the same time as their own press release with three URLs differing only in serial number (947, 948, 949). They also appeared in due course elsewhere here and here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 25 January 2004 at 5:28 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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British press on religion

The Sunday Times has a report that there are more Muslims than Anglicans attending weekly worship in Britain, Muslims outpace Anglicans in UK.

Figures compiled from government and academic sources show that 930,000 Muslims attend a place of worship at least once a week, compared with 916,000 Anglicans.
The Muslim community does not keep registers of attendance in mosques. However, the 2001 census included a question about religious adherence.
The census recorded 1.59m Muslims but academics believe the true figure is at least 1.8m. Ceri Peach, professor of social geography at Oxford University, said the census failed to record the balance because the question was voluntary.
Research by Tariq Modood, a professor of sociology at Bristol University, found that 62% of Muslims pray in places of worship. The total is about 930,000 if young children, most of whom do not worship in the mosque, are excluded. The figure underestimates the number of practising Muslims. Mohammed Anwar, professor of ethnic relations at the University of Warwick, said: “In addition to those who go to the mosque, many Muslims also pray at home.”

And another report from The Times on Saturday:
Mammon needs God, says Carey. He was at the World Economic Forum at Davos.

The servants of God should be employed to keep watch on those of Mammon, according to Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.
Clergy should sit on boards of big companies as moral guardians to prevent financial scandals in Britain, he claimed.
There were many Anglican priests with business experience, including former accountants, who could help directors to achieve the highest standards of accountability, he said. They could have the same status as independent non-executive directors, who provide a check on executives, and would not require a fee.

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Friday, 23 January 2004

yet more Plano

The Church Times has this report US conservatives deny they want a split.
Now as Kendall Harmon notes, this is a little incorrect. Credit for publishing the AAC letter should go exclusively to the Washington Post which published the full text as a pdf file. The letter itself first appeared in html right here on TA. The CT’s own press column (not on the web for another 2 weeks) discusses only the stories in the Guardian the next day.

Meanwhile, from around the USA:
In Texas, a Tall Order by Doug LeBlanc, in the Wall Street Journal
Episcopalians remain split on gay issues, New Jersey Herald
Diocese joins conservative group Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Bishop: Episcopal splinter groups ‘breeding schism’ Houston Voice

Forward in Faith North America has published this comment by David Moyer, FiF North America and The Network

Another article by Diane Knippers of IRD. The following comments were given by IRD President Diane Knippers at the American Anglican Council “Plano East” Conference in Woodbridge, VA on January 10, 2004. Exploding Myths about the Episcopal Church Crisis.

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more GS previews

The Church Times has extensive coverage in its paper edition. Only some of these are on the web today:
Heavy agenda and serious issues facing General Synod
Clergy could gain job rights
Culture change needed to let the fresh air in
with Fresh expressions of church and the editorial The end of geography

The others will appear on the web just before the synod starts.

The CEN had these:
Synod to tackle pressing social issues as MP speaks
Synod to be asked to bless cohabitation
The big idea to renew the Church’s mission
Clergy give a cautious welcome to Church’s employment proposals

Synod prepares for battle over relations with Rome

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 23 January 2004 at 10:33 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Thursday, 22 January 2004

Plano updates

The CEN has US group fears retribution. The CEN went to press before the outcome of the meeting was known, but said:

Claims that the Network was an attempt to create a cocoon for conservatives within the Episcopal Church were inaccurate, one bishop noted. The Rt Rev Peter Beckwith of Springfield told The Church of England Newspaper “a Church within a Church is not what we are about”; such a solution would be “unworkable”.

ECUSA’s Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold, has issued this statement: A word to the Episcopal Church.
Every Voice Network has published AAC backtracks on breaking the law.
In Upstate New York the Albany Times-Union has Dissent network divides diocese.
In Kentucky, the Lexington Herald-Leader has Episcopal dispute on the front line.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 22 January 2004 at 10:54 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 21 January 2004

further Plano reports

Chicago Tribune Conservative bloc taking on Episcopal Church USA
Charleston Post and Courier Episcopal network OKs charter
Fort Worth Star-Telegram Episcopal group sets its course
Jacksonville Florida Times-Union Episcopal dissidents create ‘network’

AAC President’s Letter to AAC Members Concering the Adequate Oversight Memo

Episcopal News Service New Anglican network signs charter, elects Duncan moderator
Associated Press Questions and answers on the Episcopal Church’s gay divide
Peoria Journal Star Episcopal bishop: Leaders trying to end exodus from denomination
Reuters UK Anglicans could head for schism

“This is a definite step in the direction of schism,” Church Times Editor Paul Handley told Reuters after conservative U.S. Anglicans formed their own Episcopalian network in protest over the ordination of an openly homosexual bishop.
“There is no way this group of traditionalists will stay in the same organisation as the Liberal leadership of the U.S. Episcopalians,” he told Reuters.
“They are definite and determined,” he added. “This is a confirmation that they are not going to buckle under.”

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Tuesday, 20 January 2004

Plano meeting news

The meeting in Plano has released the text of the Charter for the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes they have unanimously agreed.

Wednesday morning update
American Anglican Council press release.
The Charter is also now here along with this statement.

Reuters reported it thus: Conservative Episcopalians Form New Network
The Associated Press had Launch of dissenting ‘network’ ensures a protracted Episcopal struggle over gay issues and Dissident Episcopalians Form Protest Group but Not Schism.


Beliefnet carried this interview What Do Conservative Episcopalians Really Want? with Diane Knippers, an Episcopalian who is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a completely separate body from the American Anglican Council.

What we really want is an amicable realignment of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. One possible scenario is that membership in the Anglican Communion is redefined with more obligations and with some measure of accountability. For example, perhaps the question of who gets to be an Anglican bishop might be settled, not only by national churches, but also through confirmation by some sort of global body. The Episcopal Church would presumably opt out of a Communion that requires such accountability, leaving the way for another entity to be granted the Anglican “franchise.”

The Christian Science Monitor ran this article: New Episcopal ‘network’: path to schism?.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 20 January 2004 at 11:53 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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February synod plans

The press were briefed on Monday about the February session of the General Synod. See Peter Owen’s blog for a list of all the documents, and a link to the agenda. The meetings are 9-13 February. More about all this later on.

Some stories that relate to items to be discussed:
Archbishop backs guerrilla tactics in war on secularism (Times) This is about the report GS 1523 Mission-Shaped Church -Church planting and fresh expressions of church in a changing context.
Why Is Sunday Sacred, Church-Goers Asked (Press Association)

Book challenges gay sex ban (Telegraph)
Synod to hold gay debate (Guardian)

Church to explore law on ‘gay marriages’ (Press Association)

Synod to debate Pope’s supremacy (Telegraph)

Clergy to be saved from the sack by job protection law (Times)
Clergy close to workers’ rights (Telegraph)
Priests to get employment rights (BBC)
New Clergy employment rights ‘A bit of a Curates Egg’ says Amicus (press release from trade union)

Sell churches, keep bishops’ palaces (Telegraph, opinion column)

Minister Benn to Address Church on HIV (Press Association)

Church Could Rent Out Vestries to Raise Money (Press Association)

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Monday, 19 January 2004

ECUSA-related stuff

The Organizing Convocation of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes today and tomorrow in Plano, Texas. The Convocation sessions will not be open to media or observers, but there will be press briefing or conference each day. Note that this body is not to be confused with the American Anglican Council.

This was front page news in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today, Rules jettisoned in Episcopal rift over gay bishop. Bishop Neil Alexander of the diocese of Atlanta ‘slammed the conservative coalition’s plans to break church law. “They seem determined to have their way, regardless of what kind of destruction it may cause the church rather than engage in the hard work of reconciliation.”’

Whether the Diocese of Central Florida would join seemed unclear, according to the Orlando Sentinel: Local Episcopalian bishop to convene with conservatives
and Episcopal Church’s Future Uncertain in the Lakeland Ledger.

The BBC reported it tonight: Anti-gay US clergy mulls ‘split’.

Meanwhile, Beliefnet’s Deborah Caldwell interviewed Frank Griswold, Presiding Over Crisis—and Maybe Schism.

Earlier, the Chicago Tribune had reported on the separate South Carolina defection of a parish as A fractured covenant.

And this press release supporting Bishop Johnson of West Tennessee was issued by all the Via Media diocesan groups together.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 19 January 2004 at 11:30 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 18 January 2004

ECUSA plot updates

The BBC interviewed Bob Duncan on the radio this morning, listen here with Real Audio.

The Bishop of West Tennessee wrote a pastoral letter, severely critical of the American Anglican Council and in particular of the Chapman letter (first published on the web here).
They replied with a press release, and two other responses.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 18 January 2004 at 2:47 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 17 January 2004

Saturday press review

From the UK papers on Saturday:
The states we’re in, Ian Bradley writes in the Guardian, comparing church/state relations in the UK, USA and France.
Wise men say: our life and our death are with our neighbours Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times about spiritual direction.
Also in that paper, a report of ICS-sponsored chaplaincy work on the Swiss ski slopes, Because skiers have spiritual needs too, one aspect of work in the Diocese in Europe that Bishop Geoffrey leads.
What is stopping would-be worshippers going to church?, Paul Handley writing in the Independent discusses the latest CofE church attendance statistics.
Greene saved by damnation, Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Graham Greene.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 17 January 2004 at 3:09 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Friday, 16 January 2004

Church Commissioners change tack

By far the most interesting Church of England news story this week is the leak to the Church Times of the report due to be published on Monday, Future Use of the Church Commissioners’ Funds. The story is here, Dioceses should pay for own bishops, say Commissioners.
There is also a report in The Times, Collection plate needs £5m to pay for bishops but this contains no additional information about the report itself.

What makes this interesting is that the Church Commissioners now appear to be quite happy to contemplate new legislation, radically altering their statutory obligations, e.g. to pay the stipends of bishops and deans. This conflicts with another report from them released earlier in the week, in they state that they were not prepared to contemplate anything of the kind with respect to the provision of housing for bishops, a much more labour-intensive task.

The genesis of this review lies in the Mellows Report, “Resourcing Bishops”, commissioned by the Archbishops. This recommended that the Commissioners should reappraise the guidelines for see houses, and commented on certain specific issues such as the image presented by the see house, the size of the garden and grounds, the location of the bishop’s office, and the special considerations which should apply to “heritage” see houses. While recognising that the Commissioners were not empowered to do so, the report recommended that the law be changed to enable the Commissioners to transfer the ownership of the see houses to each diocese without payment. This was subject to each diocese being allowed to change the house, if it so decided, before ownership was transferred. The prospect of legislating for something so fundamental to the Commissioners’ purpose - the holding of assets on behalf of the Church - caused them grave concern. This concern was acknowledged by the Archbishops’ Consultations Group which endorsed the alternative proposed by the Commissioners, that they should undertake a strategic review of see houses.

They failed to note in the report that if the highly sensible recommendations of the “Mellows One” report are followed, then virtually the entire administrative cost of the Bishoprics Committee - around £300,000 a year - will be saved. The alternative approach adopted seems certain to preserve those Bishoprics Department jobs that would have become redundant under Mellows.

But now the Commissioners are actually proposing major legislative changes, there is no logic in excluding the arrangements for see houses from their scope, and thus scuppering a major part of the Mellows reforms.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 16 January 2004 at 10:41 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Thursday, 15 January 2004

other news

It seems the CEN was wrong to report previously that Zambia had broken communion with the Church of England. However, as Zambia is only part (along with Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe) of the Province of Central Africa, it’s unclear to me what it would mean if they had. Zambia and Botswana have broken communion with ECUSA, but as I have noted previously, no formal official statement from the province has yet been seen. Curiously, the same is true of Rwanda which acts as a “host” so to speak to the AMiA. The CEN does report on the defection of a South Carolina parish to that body.

Meanwhile in The Times Ruth Gledhill reported on the episcopal housing review. You can download the report yourself here (Word format).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 15 January 2004 at 11:48 PM GMT | TrackBack
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more conservative plots

Yesterday’s story has produced plenty of follow-up.
First, here is the Associated Press version of the story as headlined in the Philadelphia area, Strategy paper asks ‘replacement’ for Episcopal Church due to gay bishop.
This version met with less disapproval than any other version from Kendall Harmon who even objected to “anti-ECUSA plot revealed” as my choice of title, though he failed to comment on our main blog headline Plot to supplant ECUSA.
Anyway, he really didn’t like the Washington Post story one little bit, not to mention the ENS version.

I don’t suppose he’s any happier about Stephen Bates who managed to get both a front page article, US Anglicans plot to break up church, and a more detailed inside story, Leaked letters reveal plot to split US church in today’s Guardian. The front page starts out:

American Anglican traditionalists are plotting the break-up of their national church and the creation of a new fundamentalist church in the wake of its consecration of the openly gay bishop Gene Robinson.
In spite of public assurances that they only wish to secure oversight by sympathetic conservative bishops, rebel parishes are being secretly told to prepare for the ultimate goal of breaking up the US Episcopal church - the American equivalent of the Church of England - the Guardian can reveal.

And that was not all: Stephen also had a third story in the same paper, this one about English plots: Bishops attack pressure groups which reports that Bishop Colin Buchanan has joined Bishop Pete Broadbent in complaining about the dreadful notes written after NEAC.
And for good measure today, the Guardian also has Karen Armstrong weighing in about third province apartheid proposals, The Eve of destruction.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 15 January 2004 at 11:19 PM GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 14 January 2004

still more ECUSA news

Some other items today:
Slate published an article by Deborah Caldwell of Beliefnet Where Anglicans Fear To Tread - Will a schism destroy the Episcopal Church?

The American Anglican Council issued this press release in reaction to the Washington Post story.

The ECUSA Episcopal News Service issued this story about the report in the Washington Post, Memo discloses AAC’s strategy for replacing Episcopal Church (which also includes the full text of the memo).
Here also is an earlier ENS report on a conference of conservatives held earlier this month. Although titled North American conservatives and global South Anglicans seek discipline of ECUSA, in fact the speakers included several UK residents. Perhaps UK is Global South?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 14 January 2004 at 10:43 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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anti-ECUSA plot revealed

Today’s Washington Post carried this story:
Plan to Supplant Episcopal Church USA Is Revealed

The full text of the document mentioned in the story can be found below. It is also on the Washington Post website as a PDF document but is over 30 megabytes in size, so downloading is not recommended. PDF file later replaced by smaller one, only 4 Mb

It may be worth mentioning that the website listed at the end as being “in Great Britain” is not in Great Britain but is part of a Canadian one. Close :-)

December 28th, 2003

Dear Friends,

I am Geoff Chapman, Rector of St Stephens Church in Sewickley, Pa. (Diocese of Pittsburgh). I am responding to you on behalf of the American Anglican Council and their Bishops’ Committee on Adequate Episcopal Oversight (AEO). Thanks for contacting us; we very much want to network with you in these difficult times and be of real help to you.

The AAC Strategy Committee has been working for months on AEO. In consultation with a wide circle of friends - inside this country and beyond - we have clarified our strategy and are now moving to implement it. I am serving as their response person for AEO, and I want to brief you on our progress. This document will get you up to speed on where we are going. Please keep this document confidential, sharing it in hard copy (printed format) only with people you fully trust, and do not pass it on electronically to anyone under any circumstances.

1) Our ultimate goal is a realignment of Anglicanism on North American soil committed to biblical faith and values, and driven by Gospel mission. We believe in the end this should be a “replacement” jurisdiction with confessional standards, maintaining the historic faith of our Communion, closely aligned with the majority of world Anglicanism, emerging from the disastrous actions of General Convention (2003). We believe this goal is now pressed upon us by the Holy Spirit as a result of the rejection of the historic Christian faith and the rejection of biblical and Communion authority by the leadership of ECUSA. We will lead our congregations and partners in making the adjustment to adopt this strategy. We seek to retain ownership of our property as we move into this realignment.

2) As an intermediate step, we will respond to the urgent pastoral need in our country by offering Adequate Episcopal Oversight to parishes or remnants of parishes who share our deeply held convictions, proceeding under the guidance of our Bishops and the Primates. Bp Griswold’s offer of “Extended Episcopal Care” is unacceptable, fundamentally flawed and disingenuous, and does not meet the needs of our parishes or the intentions of the Primates. Our AEO will maintain confidentiality in the application process, and seek transfer of Parish oversight across geographic diocesan boundaries to an orthodox bishop, the right of pastoral succession, liberty of conscience In financial stewardship (the right to “redirect” funds), and negotiated property settlements affirming the retention of ownership in the local congregation.

The implementation of Adequate Episcopal Oversight will normally follow a two-step, “Stage 1 Then Stage 2” process.

Stage 1 will feature “spiritual realignment” while remaining within the letter of current canons. Parishes would publicly announce that their relationship with their diocesan Bishop is “severely damaged” because of the events of the summer, and that they are now looking to one of the Primates or an AAC orthodox Bishop for their “primary pastoral leadership”. Announcements will need to be carefully phrased to avoid canonical violations.

During the months of Stage 1, we will begin to reform our relationships to build the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. We will move to initiate support structures for fellowship and strategy, We will act courageously and faithfully to support “at risk” parishes. We will creatively redirect finances. We will refocus on Gospel initiatives. We will innovatively move around, beyond or within the canons to “act like the church God is making us”. Stage 1 will enable congregations/clusters to keep clear use of their buildings for the foreseeable future, and would give critical time to strengthen our leadership circles for what promises to be a turbulent spiritual season.

Stage 2 will launch at some yet to be determined moment, probably in 2004. During this phase, we will seek, under the guidance of the Primates, negotiated settlements in matters of property, jurisdiction, pastoral succession and communion, If adequate settlements are not within reach, a faithful disobedience of canon law on a widespread basis may be necessary.

Some congregations have already proceeded to “Stage 2” because of local circumstances. While we cannot offer AEO under an AAC diocesan Bishop at this time, we do have non-geographical oversight available from “offshore” Bishops, and retired Bishops. We may also be able to offer oversight from special designated priests acting on behalf of our AAC Diocesan Bishops.

3) Our local strategy for developing AEO will have to keep our goal and current hostile circumstances in mind. We call it a “cluster strategy”, and it will closely sync with the establishment and spread of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. We are developing clusters of churches (3-30 churches per cluster) in 15-30 varying dioceses. These churches would join the Network and apply for AEO whenever possible as diocesan clusters. When they are prepared, we will sequence public announcements of their intentions to realign in successive weeks to build impact. These churches will need Clergy and Vestries who are unified, well networked, and ready for a season of conflict if necessary.

Smaller, isolated congregations that cannot connect with a supporting cluster will be welcome to apply, but encouraged to make a public announcement later in 2004. They will sail in the wake of the leadership of stronger clusters.

Parishes/clusters that go through this process in a “Stage 2” mode and Bishops who receive such parishes/clusters will be at risk of litigation and presentment, and should be prepared for such.

An AAC Bishop could be available to go with any parish/cluster to meet with the diocesan Bp, as needed. We think the presence of an AAC Bishop with a stated partnership with the Primates could change the dynamics of such a meeting.

This “Stage 1, Stage 2, Cluster Strategy” has several advantages: It will…

  • (1) build “rising orthodox network” DNA among the networked churches. Churches in the clusters would gain formative experiences of working together, depending upon each other, praying together, linking with the Global South, and if need be, suffering together. This would be invaluable for the months and years ahead.
  • (2) give us our best shot at a success. Any isolated parish that moves alone into the revisionist line of fire at this point is going to be in peril. Congregations moving in clusters have the advantage of leveraging their combined strength.
  • (3) generate significant public attention both within this country and among our world-wide partners.
  • (4) build “position” for any settlement talks in the future.

4) We are building a network of “Cluster Moderators” who will serve emerging clusters as they gather. These leaders should have a servant’s heart and a broad base of support in their own parishes that will enable them to come alongside conflicted or imperiled congregations. They must be able to bridge the lines of our coalition with genuine respect for the differences within the orthodox community. We will identify these key leaders as soon as possible.

5) We would cover everything in intentional, dependent Christ-centered prayer, seeking the Holy Spirit’s leading and provision at every point, Prayer support cells will be developed around the country and mobilized at critical moments.

Here are some “Frequently Asked Questions” :

1) What does it take to apply for AEO (Adequate Episcopal Oversight)? Normally we would ask for the signature of the Rector and a supporting vote of the Vestry. When you have reached this point of decision, send the application to the AAC office. There is no need to inform your Bishop yet of the application. We will inform him with you in due time. You can find the application and guidelines here:

2) Does AEO mean that the orthodox overseeing Bishop would have control of the call, licensing, and canonical residence of the clergy? We do not know the answers to that, but our Bishops will be exploring these issues as we move forward. The AAC bishops are not prepared to sign off on an arrangement that will leave a congregation in continuing high risk, and that means that issues of spiritual authority, pastoral succession and episcopal oversight must be solved, That Is the fundamental difference between Adequate Episcopal “Oversight” envisioned by Canterbury and the Primates and the Episcopal “Care” offered by Griswold. However, there are many details yet to be ironed out.

3) What legal liabilities would you face if you wanted to leave your current diocese? Recent litigation indicates that the local diocesan authorities hold almost all the cards in property disputes and clergy placement if they want to play “hardball”.

But we think that the political realities are such that American revisionist bishops will be reticent to play “hardball” for a while. They have just handed the gay lobby a stunning victory, but are being forced to pay a fearsome price for it. The opposition at home is far greater than they anticipated and the opposition overseas is serious and inflamed. ECUSA will certainly lose members and funds at a high rate over the next months, accelerating their decline. In one short summer they have managed to radicalize all the orthodox in our communion and take away the “middle ground” where so many of our members have hidden! This has put many (perhaps even most) parishes in conflict and made the survival of many smaller parishes a large and urgent question. No one is very happy about this inside ECUSA, and the American public is hardly cheering the events in New Hampshire.

ECUSA leaders know well how conservatives could quickly become the “victims” in the public mind. They also know that all of our AEO work will eventually find its way across the desk of the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC). All of this together will create pressure for them to cooperate with the ABC/Primate’s call for AEO. So we suspect that there will be a window of time before they return to “hardball” tactics.

The AAC has a new “Legal Resources” link on their home page, and if you or your new Vestry need help in this area, we would suggest contacting them.

4) Can we redirect our funds? This is happening on a widespread basis. There are several strategies to consider. Some parishes have used “donor intent” to trump diocesan canon. The argument goes something like this… “In these conflicted times we will offer our congregation pledge forms with options to indicate their preferred use of their funds. The options go… “Would you like to have a canonical portion of your gift sent (1) to the Diocese? (2) To the National Church? Or (3) To the Vestry for their judgment on whether to pass on funds to the Diocese or National Church? All redirected funds will go to Anglican missions who are committed to biblical faith, values and Gospel ministry?

The Vestry then informs the Diocese that they feel it important to allow their members to follow their conscience. Arguing for “freedom of conscience” and the honoring of “donor intent” is very difficult for liberals to oppose, regardless of the strength of your state law. And it should give your parish some breathing room as you seek to move through this difficult season together.

For a biblical/theological understanding of redirecting funds, look at John Guernsey’s talk from the Dallas Conference. You can find it here:

5) What is important over the next months? Here are some concrete suggestions for your consideration:
a. Join the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. Here’s some basic information:
Look to the AAC website for updates.
b. Form diocesan “clusters” with sympathetic churches. This is essential. An AAC chapter can be the seedbed for a cluster that is seeking realignment. Circle up, pick a moderator, and contact us at AAC headquarters.
c. Be careful of your language. Don’t declare yourself “out of communion” with your diocesan Bishop as such statements have been used as evidence for canonical action against clergy (“abandonment of communion” in Philadelphia). To say that your communion is “impaired” or “damaged” is a wiser response for the moment. Let the excommunications come from the Primates.
d. Prioritize your issues and pursue them in due order. Sort out the challenges you face and go after the most important first, while saving the least important till last. The issues you face could include securing new leadership, consolidating and educating your Vestry, building a network of support within your Diocese, stabilizing your, congregation, etc. Take first things first. Operate in God’s time. Don’t be stampeded to early and untimely actions. The Primates will move over the next months to build a growing and determined solution to the crisis. It will be good to follow their lead and that of the AAC Bishops.
e. Be measured, deliberate and courageous in your responses, “Wise as serpents and gentle as doves was Jesus’ phrase for it! This is a moment for courageous and clear leadership. Watch out for the spirit of anger or self-righteousness! It will kill fractured parishes.
f. Join and build the network of churches committed to biblical values and faith. There will be safety in numbers. See if there are other parishes in your diocese who could also apply for AEO. Work in partnership with us in the AAC. Either we hang together or we hang separately! And don’t forget (when it seems like you are all alone) that Christ himself has promised to walk with us through these times!
g. Familiarize yourself with the strategy affirmed in Dallas in October and talk and pray about how you can apply it locally. It can be found here:
h. Keeping close to Christ is essential. Read your Bible. Pray lots. Be aware of Satan’s opposition and resist him. Worship regularly. Stay in good fellowship with close Christian friends. Watch out for your own emotions, especially anger and frustration, and remember that the Holy Spirit’s leading is not the same as your emotions! We will be of no use to the Lord Jesus in these struggles if we are not fully His!
i. Remember confidentiality! Much is at stake over these next months. The careers of godly men and women, the possibility of congregational survival, the Anglican witness to Christ in our culture and generation, etc. We ask you not to spread these emails over the internet, and to speak of them only to people you trust. In the end, everything will be spoken plainly, but the ability to get organize and take counsel together effectively depends upon our readiness to keep confidentiality.

Here are some Internet resources that might be of value in keeping you informed…

A site in Great Britain: “Crisis 2003”
Kendall Harmon’s excellent web site
David Virtue’s web page with a wide ranging collection of news stories
The American Anglican Council AAC Legal Resources page
The AAC Dallas Strategy affirmed by over 2300 people
Guidelines and Application for the AAC’s Adequate Episcopal Oversight

We will keep all details of our contact with parishes in confidence. Please do not hesitate to keep in touch with me or with the AAC office if we can be of further help. God bless you, as you courageously serve Christ and his gospel.

Here is my contact information…
Geoffrey W. Chapman
Rector, St Stephens Sewickley, Pa
xxxxxxxxxxxxx (work)
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (cell)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 14 January 2004 at 3:18 PM GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 10 January 2004

some ECUSA news

First Pittsburgh where the Post-Gazette reported on 7 Jan a story misleadingly headlined Attorneys withdraw Episcopal land-grab resolution (but see 9 Jan correction at end of article) and this news was also reported by AP, for example Church leader withdraws local property-control call.

Second South Carolina where an ultra-conservative parish has decided to withdraw from ECUSA completely and join the AMiA, despite being in one of the most conservative dioceses of the church. Charleston Post-Courier: Church severs Episcopal ties or Myrtle Beach Sun News All Saints declares its independence. The diocese had previously reduced the parish to mission status under the direct control of the bishop.
Update here is what the diocesan standing committee said.

The AP also carried this story on Via Media groups in conservative dioceses across the country: Dissenting in place.

Meanwhile, there’s another gathering of conservatives right now in “Plano East” which turns out to mean Woodbridge, Virginia. Here’s the latest AP report as carried by the New York Times, Episcopalians Meet to Discuss a Possible Split.
Update here is a further report from the Washington Post, Episcopal Dissenters Plan Their Strategy.

And the Southern Cone province has unsurprisingly condemned ECUSA.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 10 January 2004 at 11:12 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Saturday newspapers

The Guardian interviewed Geoffrey Kirk, national secretary of Forward in Faith, and some others, about the threat of schism in the CofE over women bishops, A traditional revolutionary. I was interested in the statistics claimed by FiF:

…the organisation claims to have 7,000 members, including 1,000 clergy. Fr Kirk is particularly proud of the “amazing” number of women members - “ballpark 4,000”.

The Guardian also has an article by Michael Nazir-Ali entitled The Cross and the Crescent about whether Muslims and Christians believe in the same God.

The Times reports that Tory leader Michael Howard’s son is training to become an Anglican priest, Howard’s son to be Anglican priest. I’m not sure this is newsworthy.

Yesterday, The Times printed an extract from a forthcoming book by Rowan Williams, Anglican Identities, Passion and patience, liberalism and sexuality: what makes an Anglican?. An extract from this extract appears below, and another one is here.

In the Telegraph Christopher Howse discusses “new styles of church life” in his weekly Sacred Mysteries column. He refers to recent Church Times articles that are not yet online. I will provide links to those articles when they are.

extract from Anglican Identities by Rowan Williams
Anglicans have always been cautious about laying too much stress on formulae over and above the classical creeds; and that has proved both a strength and a weakness. A strength because it has at best focused attention on the fundamentals of Christian orthodoxy in a way that allows people to “inhabit” this tradition without too much defensive anxiety about contemporary battles; a weakness because this makes rather a lot depend on the capacity of individual theologians and teachers to orchestrate the central themes of the tradition in a satisfactory way at times when the lack of external norms and boundaries has become a serious worry.
It is not true that there is no distinctive Anglican doctrine. But the discovery of it may require some patience in reading and attending to a number of historical strands, in order to watch the way in which distinctiveness shows itself.
There is in the Anglican identity a strong element of awareness of the tragic, of the dark night and the frustration of theory and order by the strangeness of God’s work.
God does not belong in a limited area of human life; but one implication of this is that we do not find or identify God with ease. He may be encountered in any area of psychological experience or of political challenge. To recognise Him in these unexpected places we need, most certainly, a discipline of scriptural thinking, informed by all the resources that can be summoned in the intellectual sphere, and an inhabiting of the doctrinal tradition that reminds us again and again of what we are for as creators and as adopted children.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 10 January 2004 at 11:28 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Friday, 9 January 2004

Broadbent bites conservatives

The Church Times carries a report, Conservative groups ‘two-faced’ says bishop.

Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden, and a card-carrying evangelical (he signed the letter of the Nine Bishops last June) has written a letter to all the bishops who attended NEAC, criticising severely two notes which were sent to him anonymously. These documents are the minutes from a “post-mortem” meeting of the NEAC4 steering group, and a paper from a separate meeting of representatives from the Church Society, the Fellowship of Word and Spirit, and Reform.

The documents attack Rowan Williams, David Hope, James Jones, and “Open Evangelicals” most particularly Fulcrum. See full article for details. It describes what Broadbent said as follows:

Bishop Broadbent wrote to all the bishops who attended NEAC4, describing the two documents as “inflammatory”. “The document is explicit in asserting what Reform et al have always denied - that there has been a deliberate attempt by the right wing to take over,” he writes.
The ultra-conservatives believed the bishops were the enemy. “These are, of course, the same people who write and speak to us telling us how much they respect us when we make a stand for what they believe in. In reality, they are two-faced and show themselves to be completely untrustworthy.”
He concludes: “It would seem to me that there is little to be sanguine about in relation to the climate of Evangelical Anglicanism post-NEAC4. Whatever sense of unity we may feel across the spectrum, it is clearly not reciprocated.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 9 January 2004 at 11:19 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Thursday, 8 January 2004

coming and going - 2

More newspaper coverage of Peter Carnley’s announcement yesterday that he will retire in May 2005.
West Australian Carnley plans to keep conservatives on their toes
Sydney Morning Herald Anglican fault line deep, if not irreparable and Retreat from liberalism likely as bishops come under orders for Anglican primacy
Australian Three-way struggle to lead Anglicans
Brisbane Courier-Mail Search begins for new primate
Melbourne Age Three in the running to lead church and Outspoken cleric says it’s time to move on plus a comment column by Muriel Porter Anglicans’ leading light dims
and a transcript from ABC Radio of an interview with Peter Carnley plus a second transcript of a discussion about it all.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 8 January 2004 at 11:03 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 7 January 2004

bishops come and go

Suffragan bishops never used to get this kind of national attention. The Times, the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Independent all reported on the appointment of a new Bishop of Reading. “He is a liberal Anglo-Catholic, and no less radical in his beliefs than Dr John” says Ruth Gledhill. “Anglican Mainstream, the evangelical group formed to campaign against Canon John, said it was “delighted” by the appointment” says Jonathan Petre.

Meanwhile in Australia, Peter Carnley has announced he is retiring in May 2005. Reports on ABC, in The Age, The Australian and also this commentary, and his hometown paper, The West Australian.

Update Thursday morning
Clergy must speak out: Carnley in The Australian
Anglicans face change of direction from ninemsn

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 7 January 2004 at 10:50 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 6 January 2004

Busy Tuesday

Stephen Cottrell, currently Vice Dean of Peterborough was nominated as the new candidate to be Bishop of Reading today, and this apparently pleased absolutely everybody, even those most opposed to the previous nomination, and the previous nominee.

Earlier in the day, the Guardian had reported on the women bishops story from yesterday’s Telegraph, All-male enclave ‘would split C of E’ and also on an unusual religious event in Lincolnshire, Special church services bless road gritting crews.
Meanwhile, The Times reported on the plans of the Museum of London to rebury 17,000 skeletons, Museum bones ‘should have a Christian burial’.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 6 January 2004 at 11:10 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Monday, 5 January 2004

new year news

The Church of England gets the year off to a good start :-)

First, a story about “new” legislation, Sex case vicars will be tried in new, secret courts turns out to be about the latest draft of the Code of Conduct (already mentioned by Peter Owen) to support the Clergy Discipline Measure. Really very old news except apparently to the legal correspondent of the Independent.

Slightly more to the point was the CEN story Bishops plan heresy courts for unruly clergy about a new report from an episcopal working group chaired by Peter Forster about proposals to reform the handling of the cases excluded from that measure, i.e. doctrine and ritual. But I seriously doubt the bishops are panting to prosecute clergy for not wearing robes.

Really much more important is Jonathan Petre’s story in the Telegraph about the draft report from the other episcopal working group chaired by Michael Nazir-Ali on women bishops. Church’s ‘third way’ on women bishops and the accompanying editorial Church’s third way.

But the best piece of writing about Anglican matters was a major article by Michael Massing in Sunday’s New York Times magazine, Bishop Lee’s Choice.

The Anglican Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo has issued a statement of condemnation of homosexuality etc. This was one of the statements that was previously missing. It’s dated 20 Dec 03.

The Moonie newspaper, the Washington Times has this article about blogs and episcopalians, Episcopalians grapple on Web.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 5 January 2004 at 6:44 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 31 December 2003

last news of this year

Stephen Bates reported on the AM petition story in the Guardian, Evangelicals say 13m back anti-gay move which starts:

Evangelicals opposed to gay people within the Anglican communion presented an email petition yesterday to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, calling on him to provide alternative oversight for those congregations which oppose bishops supporting Gene Robinson, the gay bishop of New Hampshire.

You can see a picture of the petition being presented here and you can read the press release they issued. But you still can’t find out which are the 8 dioceses and which are the 249 “parishes and organisations” included as block signatures.

The Bishop of Lichfield was reported by PA via the Scotsman: Bishop Attacks Treatment of Terror Suspects.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message was also reported.

The Canadian Anglican Journal reports on the proposal to have same-sex blessings in the Lutheran Church of Sweden. (British Anglicans are in full communion with the Church of Sweden via the Porvoo Agreement).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 31 December 2003 at 7:10 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 30 December 2003

anglican news tuesday

See TA blog for yesterday’s Tom Wright interview and related stuff.
Also yesterday, The Times had an interview with David Hope, Let us pray for humility in high places and he also criticised Tony Blair:

In an exclusive interview with The Times today, the Archbishop called on people to pray for Mr Blair and urged the Prime Minister to consider the “higher authority” he would one day have to face.
…He urged Mr Blair and President Bush to heed the message of the Incarnation, that success was ultimately achieved through humility and vulnerability not through worldly power. He gave a warning that they, like him, would one day have to answer before God for their actions. “I want to say . . . that there is a higher authority before whom one day we all have to give an account,” he said.
He added that effective leadership was also vital in a world which is “increasingly unstable, increasingly anxious, a world where terror stalks us on every side”.
“In that sort of climate people do begin to act in more extreme ways because of the fear. Therefore one needs to look to those in leadership positions to exercise a calm, quiet authority,” he said.

Some American reports:
David Steinmetz filed this column in the Orlando Sentinel on 23 December, Staying inside, thinking outside
Laurie Goodstein wrote again in the New York Times about Episcopalians, Changes in Episcopal Church Spur Some to Go, Some to Join
Dave Munday wrote in the Charleston (SC) Post and Courier about a third element in the local Episcopalian scene, A call for tolerance and unity. This is about a via media group in a diocese that already has to contend with the AMiA on its doorstep.

And an interesting item from Nigeria
Kaduna Anglican Turns Out Graduats in Islam And Christianity

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Sunday, 28 December 2003

Sunday press review

The BBC has two reviews of the year for the Anglican Communion:
This one is a web page, Anglican church rues lost unity and this one is from the Radio 4 Sunday programme, listen here using Real Audio (7 minutes long). If you have audio, do listen to this in full, it is well worth the time to hear what Stephen Bates has to say to Roger Bolton.

In the first item Alex Kirby concludes:

Both camps are sincere, and neither has a monopoly of the truth. But in those parts of the world where sexual definitions are increasingly irrelevant, a church which sets such store by them is left more and more with only itself to talk to, and nobody else remotely interested.

The Sunday Telegraph has a swingeing editorial attack on Rowan Williams, An unworthy Archbishop.

In the Observer Jamie Doward reports on Church ‘weddings’ for same-sex couples which is bound to upset anybody who was not offended by the Telegraph.

Descending further, the Sunday Times has a report that Carey diaries to reveal chats with royal mistress in which we learn, for example, that:

The Queen and the Queen Mother are believed to have got on well with him, but it is not thought Charles held him in the highest regard. The prince, a religious traditionalist who is patron of the Prayer Book Society, is thought to have seen him as a “happy clappy” and

Carey was appointed by Margaret Thatcher not long before she left Downing Street in 1990. “She spoke at me for about 10 minutes and I couldn’t get a word in edgeways.” he said. “Then I mentioned John Wesley because I knew she had had a Methodist upbringing. But she called him ‘that Christian socialist’.”

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Saturday, 27 December 2003

some earlier stories

…I failed to report when they first appeared.

Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph was unduly sensationalist in saying Sceptic priests could face trial by heresy courts.

In Nigeria the infamous Bishop Chukwuma again makes news Anglican Bishop Threatens to Withdraw Deacons’ Licences (does Amicus know?)

From Canada a reliable account of the latest, wildly misreported, development in New Westminster, Diocese shuts down church over discipline, same-sex issues and another report on the financial effects of all that.

In Ireland Bishop of Cork: Church’s Bluff is being Called in the Gay Debate

And finally, on a lighter note, Anglican Church in Nigeria offers deal to American Episcopalians

Another Irish report, this one is an editorial opinion from the Limerick Leader. The column refers to this Sunday Times article which I listed some time ago.

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after Christmas

Tom Utley writes in the Telegraph about going to the Church of England for Christmas rather than his normal RC church, It’s time to cross the fine line that divides our two Churches.
And Christopher Howse writes in the same paper about music at his RC church, Sing all ye citizens, for heaven’s sake. Hmm.

Meanwhile, both the BBC and the Telegraph report on a survey of clergy conducted by trade union Amicus that finds two-thirds of them feel insecure in their jobs.

In the Guardian Geza Vermes discusses Christmas: fact or fiction
Also in the Guardian Stephen Bates has a reprise of Christmas sermons etc. (his paper did not publish yesterday) in A time for peace on earth - but not in the royal home which includes the remarks of the Moderator of the Church of Scotland.
‘Homophobic’ church slated
Time to shake off homophobia

“These are spiritual matters, because hatred may only be cured by a change of heart. We all require a change of heart, because the church not least has contributed to the prevailing homophobic mindset.”

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Friday, 26 December 2003

Christmas sermons

The Archbishop of Canterbury got extensive press coverage for his first Christmas sermon, but the Archbishop of York’s sermon has already been published on the web. The Diocese of York has published the full text of it here.

I will add a link here to the Canterbury sermon when it is available. And here it is.

Press coverage:
BBC Archbishop calls for tolerance
The Times Religions should stand together, says Archbishop
The New York Times carries the Agence-France Presse report Anglican Leader Chides France for Moves Against Signs of Faith
Reuters story was Archbishop calls for multi-faith unity
and the Press Association said Christians, jews and muslims urged to ‘stand together’
AlJazeera said Archbishop attacks French hijab ban
Voice of America Archbishop of Canterbury Calls for Inter-Faith Tolerance
The Independent Stop sniggering at Blair’s faith, says Williams
The Telegraph Williams attacks ‘sniggering’ over religious faith

The Archbishop of York’s sermon got noticed too:
The Times Anglicans ‘must learn to accept sexual diversity’
Press Association (via the Middlesbrough Gazette) Archbishop condemns row over sexuality
BBC Rural areas ‘being put at risk’

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Sunday, 21 December 2003

Sunday papers

The Sunday Times reports, Williams voices doubt on terror detentions, that

Rowan Williams has entered the growing row over the detention without trial of terrorism suspects. He fears the alienation of moderate Muslims in Britain.
Speaking in advance of his first Christmas Day sermon as archbishop, he has given a warning that the imprisonment of suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Belmarsh prison, south London, may be sending out the wrong message.

The BBC carries a similar story Archbishop to denounce terror law. (Note: the BBC subsequently posted a revision of this story to include the reaction of the Home Secretary, changing the headline to: Blunkett rebuts terror criticism)

The Sunday Telegraph has Revealed: the medieval church fresco depicting Judgment Day in Coventry

For the major feature in the Observer today, see the TA blog

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Saturday, 20 December 2003

real world news

Some real world items unrelated to ECUSA:
Tutu attacks Mbeki’s stand on Zimbabwe
Anglican bishop in Sudan sees massive church growth
Cleric Tasks Nigerian Leaders On Poverty (Yes, the famous Bishop Chukwuma)
Archbishop’s wife tells of losing babies
Get rid of sexism, Cherie tells Pope
St Nicholas visits Sloane Square
Bishops’ justice call to protest Government policy on detaining foreign nationals suspected of terrorism
Bishop of St Albans makes Christmas call for alcohol education

And a few items that are ECUSA-related:
Limerick Diocese divided by gay debate
The Province of Uganda Writes Presiding Bishop Griswold
Information about how The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission will work

And finally, Australian Radio had this

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Friday, 19 December 2003

network objective clearly stated

Previously I reported at length on the publication of a New York Times article, and its aftermath. Today that newspaper published Episcopalians Back Away From Break which says (my emphasis added):

…On Tuesday, leaders of the American Anglican Council, which has taken the lead in organizing conservative Episcopalians, contacted The New York Times and said that on Wednesday they would announce the formation of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes.
In an interview late Tuesday evening, Bishop Robert W. Duncan of Pittsburgh, the moderator and convening authority of the new network, said: “Thirteen dioceses are coming together to guarantee that the kind of Anglicanism that is authentic Anglicanism throughout the world is represented here in the United States and has its own voice.”
Bishop Duncan said the network would not secede from the Episcopal Church. He said the long-term goal was for foreign Anglicans and other Christian churches to recognize the network as the true representative of Anglicanism in the United States. This, he said, could force the Episcopal Church to back off its decisions on homosexuality.
Bishop Duncan supplied a list of the 13 dioceses that he said had agreed to join the network.
After the article appeared in The Times on Wednesday, clergy and some parishioners contacted church offices to protest their dioceses’ affiliation with the network.
Within two days, bishops of the dioceses of Florida, Central Florida and Southeast Florida had issued statements disavowing their participation. They gave various explanations. One explanation was that although 13 bishops had signed a “Theological Charter” for the new network, they could not include their whole dioceses as members until diocesan committees had been given a chance to approve.
… Bishop Duncan held a conference call with several concerned bishops on Wednesday evening. He said afterward in an interview that he should not have listed the dioceses because the entire effort is still “in utero.”

I already published links to statements made by the bishops of Central Florida and Southwest Florida. Concerning the diocese of Florida, Bishop Jecko has this statement on his own diocesan website which appears to be a slightly later version of what is on KH’s blog.

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impaired communion (2)

I wrote earlier about impaired communion between ECUSA and various provinces. At that time, I could find web documentation from only six provinces that had formally broken communion, and one (West Indies) that in my opinion had not done so.The CEN was claiming a total of nine.

Since then, I have seen several emails containing such a statement purportedly from the Province of Rwanda but it has still not appeared on the web. The AAC has published a press release which mentions in passing that:

The Church of Uganda … joins seven other provinces (Southeast Asia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, West Africa and Central Africa) within the Anglican Communion - representing over 38 million Anglicans - in severing ties with the Episcopal Church.

This agrees with my interpretation of the West Indian statement. But I still cannot find any provincial statement from either Rwanda, West Africa or Central Africa on the web. If I have missed these, please will someone point them out to me. Why wouldn’t the AAC, or some other manifestation of the ECUSA dissidents and their global supporters, want to publish them?

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Thursday, 18 December 2003

not fit to print?

Yesterday’s report in the New York Times that claimed 13 dioceses had joined the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes seems to have been inaccurate in various ways. I understand the basis of the report was an exclusive interview with Robert Duncan.

First, the St Petersburg Times reports Bishop denies intent to join splinter group (here’s the missing picture) and this is confirmed on the Southwest Florida diocese’s own website.

Second, as noted in that report, the Central Florida diocese has not joined either:

Both Lipscomb and Bishop John Howe of the Diocese of Central Florida said they were surprised by the New York Times article and insist that the network is not yet a reality.
“I, along with 12 other bishops, signed a letter of intent that said we thought a network was needed at this time,” Howe said.
The idea came after a meeting in London this fall, where church leaders talked of ways that conservative parishes could opt out of liberally-minded dioceses by choosing to be under the authority of a conservative bishop.
At the time, the group had the backing of Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury.
“It was on the basis of that that we signed this memo of intent,” Howe said. “And suddenly, the cart has gone way, way, way before the horse.”
He said Williams recently backed away from the idea, saying that Americans should work it out.

Third, in Pittsburgh where the Tribune-Review said Local bishop to lead ‘network’, it was asserted that many other dioceses named have not approved this action:

Local supporters of the Episcopal Church’s decisions this summer, however, say that despite Duncan’s contention that conservatives are not seeking a split, their actions indicate otherwise.
“Of course, they want a schism,” said Lionel Deimel, president of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, which claims between 100 and 150 members. “On one hand, they say the don’t want to break apart, but then they say they cannot remain in communion with the church because of its decisions.”
Deimel, of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, contends that because no formal votes on whether to join the network were taken in those dioceses, they cannot be legitimately counted as network supporters.
“As far as we can tell, these dioceses have not signed onto this,” Deimel said. “This is basically a group of conservative bishops doing their own thing. The level of support they have here, and in the dioceses that have supposedly signed on, is highly questionable.”

And indeed, further down the Florida news report we find:

[Kendall] Harmon said Lipscomb chaired a meeting in Orlando where the new network’s theological charter was drafted. He said an organizational meeting will be held in January in Plano, Texas. Only the dioceses of Pittsburgh, South Carolina and Fort Worth have formally agreed to be part of the group, Harmon said.

[item added at 15.20]
And in the The State a South Carolina paper, Kendall Harmon says

Dioceses formally joining the network as of Wednesday are Duncan’s in Pittsburgh, the Charleston-based Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, and the Diocese of Fort Worth in Texas.
Ten other dioceses are formally considering joining the network, said the Rev. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. He said earlier reports Wednesday naming those 10 as having formally joined were premature.

So what kind of a story was Robert Duncan putting out to Laurie Goodstein yesterday? And where is the confirmation of formal diocesan action by Pittsburgh and South Carolina? In Fort Worth, we know the action was taken ‘By joint action of the Bishop and Standing Committee’.
some other press coverage of all this:
The San Francisco Chronicle put it this way:
Old-line Episcopal bishops form rival assembly 13 prelates disturbed by gay’s admission to ranks of clergy
Beliefnet had an excellent detailed report The Schism Begins
The Boston Globe carried this AP report, Episcopal bishops form protest network
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said Episcopalians against gay bishop form ‘network’
The Chicago Tribune has 13 Episcopal bishops form rival network, move closer to split
The St Louis Post-Dispatch New Episcopal group will work to oust gay bishop
And the Moonie-owned Washington Times combined news of this with a report that

In a related development, the Religion Newswriters Association, a group of 240 religion reporters for the secular media, voted Bishop Robinson Newsmaker of the Year for 2003. They also voted his ordination as the top religion news story of 2003, followed by stories on religious differences over the war in Iraq.

Also, note this announcement on the AAC site of the January charter meeting

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Wednesday, 17 December 2003

network dioceses identified

The New York Times has published a report about this:
Dissident Episcopal Bishops Form New Group in which Laurie Goodstein says

The dioceses that have agreed to join the network are Albany; Pittsburgh; San Joaquin in California; South Carolina; Florida, Central Florida, and Southwest Florida; Dallas and Fort Worth; Quincy and Springfield in Illinois; Western Kansas; and Rio Grande, which includes parts of Texas and New Mexico.

Update: this list published by the New York Times has been challenged. Denials have been issued by Central Florida and Southwest Florida.

In an interview, Bishop Duncan said that the network is not seceding from the Episcopal Church U.S.A.. Instead, he said the eventual goal is for the network to win recognition as the authentic Episcopal Church from Anglican bishops overseas and from Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox denominations that have already condemned the Episcopal Church for its actions.
We’re not leaving, we’re not separating ourselves,” Bishop Duncan said. “What we trust is going to happen is that the rest of the world and the rest of the Christian community are going to bring such pressure to bear on the whole of this church that it steps back from this event.”

The group has also published what it calls a theological charter.

The group now calls itself Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes and its website uses the newly-minted (11 December) URL whose registered owner is the same group based in Colorado Springs, Communion Parishes, that owns

Kendall Harmon tells Why Today’s Launch of the Network Matters, and in particular that:

The Network has the full support, already, of some sixteen Anglican primates. The full statement of these primates, yet to be released because signatures are being sought carefully, contains this remarkable section:
“We re-affirm our solidarity with faithful Bishops, clergy and church members in North America who remain committed the historic faith and order of the church and have rejected unbiblical innovation. We offer our support and the full weight of our ministries and offices to those who are gathering in a “Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes” now being organized in North America.”

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Tuesday, 16 December 2003

bits and pieces

update 22 Dec a full interview in NCR with Mary Tanner is here

Some more from the National Catholic Reporter related to current Anglican-Roman Catholic relations is in this article, scroll about halfway down the page.

On Dec. 11, an eminent English ecumenist, Mary Tanner, lectured at Rome’s Centro Pro Unione. She argued that while the controversy has revealed serious fissures within the Anglican world as well between Anglicans and Catholics, it also reveals the closeness between the two branches of the Christian family. She argued that when Pope John Paul II in early October warned the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, of “new and serious difficulties” related to the ordination of Gene Robinson, it reflected a climate in which the pope felt he could speak the truth as he perceives it in love.

The same journal also published this comment on scripture and homosexuality, Hold the condemnations.

Something different from Nigeria, Clergy Wants Anglicans Separated From Protestants

The Anglican Bishop of Egbu Diocese, Prof. Emmanuel Iheagwam, has decried the situation in higher institutions where Anglican Church faithful are meant to worship with other denominations in the name of “Protestants”.

From Fort Worth, this story about how A local Episcopal group is working to keep its house undivided

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network fog lifts more

Two fragments of the forthcoming Network of Confessing Dioceses and Congregations in ECUSA manifesto have emerged on Kendall Harmon’s blog, here and here
while an Advent letter to the diocese of Pittsburgh from the Moderator of the Network, the ECUSA Bishop of Pittsburgh is here.
The article in the Moonie-owned Washington Times to which Bishop Duncan makes reference can be found here.

One has some sympathy for Duncan in relation to this article: it attributed the number of “signatures” then being claimed by the Anglican Mainstream petition, 384,935 - most of which are demonstrably bogus and many of which come from outside ECUSA - as signed-up members of the forthcoming Network. Of course, normally the Washington Times is viewed as one of the ecclesiastical rightwing’s stoutest supporters. It must have been galling to see such a strong natural ally expressing the same opinions of AAC and Network actions as those held by many whom the AAC and its cohorts would normally describe as apostate.

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Saturday, 13 December 2003

anglican news roundup

The Toronto Globe & Mail visited the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Abuja Nigeria, and reported on what it found there, Conservatives could spark Anglican split.
The vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, Njabulo Ndebele took a rather different view of life, Those Who Look Through a Keyhole With Two Eyes Are Blind to Humanity’s Riches.

The Telegraph reported and commented favourably upon CofE Bishops’ expenses, and also reported on US parishes revolt against gay bishop.

One vacant deanery was filled this week and The Times got very excited about the possibility that another one would be filled soon. For the benefit of overseas readers unable to access those stories, they claim that June Osborne, currently acting dean at Salisbury has been offered the job. Here’s a copycat article in the Guardian.

The Guardian reported on the royal grave story, No aye for Harold seekers and today it has a leading article, Hell hits back that refers to a Church Times feature which won’t be on the web for 2 weeks or more (sigh).

The list of formal statements on the New Hampshire consecration on the main TA blog has been updated to include the latest information available as of 11 December. I am still looking for the formal provincial statements reported to have been made by Rwanda, West Africa, and Central Africa. Quotations from the statements that are available can be found here.
I forgot to add this one: Botswana’s Anglican Church Leaders Denounce Gay Bishop (Botswana is a part of the Central Africa province.)

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Thursday, 11 December 2003

views on New Hampshire

Some articles read recently:
In the Sunday Times (Ireland edition) Irish Bishop says gay clergy are a fact of church life. A couple of excerpts:

THE Church of Ireland should recognise gay relationships in the clergy, according to the Anglican bishop of Limerick.
Michael Mayes, who was a private guest at the consecration of the first openly gay bishop in America, said he had no regrets about attending the ceremony that has caused a global schism in the Anglican church. He called on his own church to accept same sex relationships as “a fact of life”.

Mayes refused to back down yesterday, saying: “Gay relationships have always been there, they didn’t come down in the last shower of rain and the Church of Ireland needs to accept that. There have always been people in these sorts of relationships, so I think the church will have to try and acknowledge that, even though it is very difficult for us.”
He said Bishop Robinson was “innocent of any wrongdoing and he is entitled to be left in peace”.

In the American National Catholic Reporter The Episcopalians? They are us. A long essay.

In the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer Episcopal pioneer urges unity at Trinity

The Rev. Fleming Rutledge — a renowned teacher, author and preacher in the Episcopal Church who’s been in Columbus since Thanksgiving weekend — offered wide-ranging views about her denomination’s recent troubles at a forum Monday night.

In the Los Angeles Times Larry Stammer reports Bishop Asserts There’s Room for Gays

In a ringing defense of an openly gay bishop and same-sex unions, Los Angeles Episcopal Bishop J. Jon Bruno declared here Saturday that the Episcopal Church is “a roomy house” for all, and warned that those who leave would be leaving “the presence of God.”

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Wednesday, 10 December 2003

loyal episcopalians

Update This ENS story was published on 18 December, Via Media groups resist calls for realignment, redirection

Although it’s not yet clear exactly which are the 13 ECUSA dioceses already participating in the Network of Confessing Dioceses and Congregations it is clear that in several dioceses people are actively organising themselves to resist the actions of their leaders.
Here are several websites belonging to such groups:
Progessive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh
Albany Via Media
Episcopal Voices of Central Florida
Remaining ECUSA in the Diocese of San Joaquin
Fort Worth Via Media
Other similar groups appear to be organised, though as yet without websites, in Rio Grande, Quincy, and Springfield. I will add new websites to this list as they appear.

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network fog lifts slightly

I asked recently who exactly was in this Network of Confessing Dioceses and Congregations. Some partial information appeared today on the website of the ECUSA diocese of Fort Worth.
It includes the signatures of the following 4 ECUSA diocesan bishops:
Edward L Salmon (South Carolina)
James M. Stanton (Dallas)
Jack L Iker (Ft. Worth)
Robert W Duncan (Pittsburgh)
Presumably there are already 9 other dioceses which together with those listed above comprise the 13 dioceses mentioned as initial members. These are likely to come from among the total of 16 diocesan bishops are described (by Anglican Mainstream for example) as “dissenting” (although a total of 43 diocesans actually voted no on the Robinson confirmation) and the other 12 ECUSA diocesan bishops who signed the statement in visible protests at the ECUSA General Convention are:
Keith Ackerman, Bishop of Quincy
James Adams, Bishop of Western Kansas
Peter Beckwith, Bishop of Springfield
Bertram Herlong, Bishop of Tennessee
Daniel Herzog, Bishop of Albany
Gethin Hughes, Bishop of San Diego
John Howe, Bishop of Central Florida
Russell Jacobus, Bishop of Fond du Lac
Stephen Jecko, Bishop of Florida
Terence Kelshaw, Bishop of Rio Grande
John Lipscomb, Bishop of Southwest Florida
John-David Schofield, Bishop of San Joaquin

A meeting is scheduled, it says, for 19/20 January 2004. No doubt they will identify themselves by then.

Some further extracts from the Fort Worth announcement:
The Network is comprised initially of 13 dioceses. Each has accepted as its founding document a Memorandum of Agreement formulated November 20, 2003, and reproduced below. The Network will continue to operate in good faith within the Constitution of ECUSA, with membership open to all dioceses and congregations sharing the intent of the Memorandum of Agreement.
The Rt. Rev. Robert William Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh, has been appointed Moderator and Convening Authority of the Network, and he is charged with taking the necessary steps to obtain recognition of the Network from Anglican Primates and Provinces worldwide, as well as from other churches with which we have ecumenical relationships.
The Network will, in co-operation with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Anglican Primates, participate in the provision of adequate episcopal oversight to congregations within ECUSA that request it.
An organizing convocation of the Network is to be held January 19 & 20, 2004, for the purpose of adopting a charter. Each member diocese will be represented at the convocation by its diocesan bishop, two clergy delegates, and two lay delegates.


The undersigned bishops of the Episcopal Church (“ECUSA”), being of a common mind on the unfortunate divisions and canonical oppression within our Church, declare a need to establish a Network of Confessing Dioceses and Congregations, and to that end agree as follows:
1. The purpose of the Network is to bring together those dioceses and congregations which hold to the centrality and authority of Holy Scripture and, in keeping with the Preamble to the Constitution of ECUSA, to be faithful in upholding and propagating the historic faith and order; pursuing the apostolic mission to a troubled and fallen church, nation and world.
2. The Network shall be formed and shall operate in good faith within the Constitution of ECUSA.
3. Membership in the Network shall be open to those dioceses and congregations which share the intent of this agreement.
4. We hereby appoint the Rt Rev Robert William Duncan as Moderator and Convening Authority of the Network to be formed.
5. The Moderator shall direct the preparation of an appropriate Charter as the incorporating document for the Network for formal adoption by member dioceses.
6. The Moderator shall appoint a steering committee to provide for the prompt and orderly formation of the Network.
7. The Moderator shall take necessary steps to obtain recognition of the Network from Anglican Primates and Provinces, as well as from other churches with which we have or may have ecumenical contact.
8. The Network, in co-operation with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates, shall participate in the providing of adequate episcopal oversight to congregations within ECUSA that request it.
9. The signatory parties may amend this Memorandum of Agreement by subsequent written agreement.
In witness whereof we have fixed our hands this twentieth day of November 2003.
four signatures as above

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Saturday, 6 December 2003

cathedrals in the news

First, for the lack of deans:
Patience wears thin in long wait for deans in the Church Times
Shortage of deans hits Anglican church in the Guardian
Update 9 December
The Telegraph has also published a version of the original story about the vacant deaneries

Next for threats to the financing of cathedrals and bishops:
Church to ask the faithful for an extra £5m in the Telegraph

The Church of England is preparing to ask churchgoers to find an extra £5 million in donations to support their bishops and cathedrals. The far-reaching plans have been drawn up by a group set up by the Archbishops’ Council and the Church Commissioners to review the Church’s parlous finances. The review group wants to save up to £5 million from the £26 million the commissioners pay annually towards the upkeep of the Church’s 113 bishops and staff at its 43 cathedrals.

and in one case for their lack of child-friendliness:
MAGIC AND MELDREWS in The Times (scroll down a long way for this item) and this letter

MaryAnn Sieghart went to the Advent Service at Salisbury Cathedral, where apparently they haven’t yet discovered the concept of issuing tickets to avoid queues.

In order to get seats close enough to the front for the children to be able to see the choir, I had arrived to queue two-and-a-half hours before the service began at 7pm. I also made sure that the children came to join me before 6pm, so that they could take their seats once the doors opened.
When they arrived, however, a steward insisted that we were not allowed to save places in the queue. “But they’re children!” I expostulated. “You can’t expect them to queue for an hour and a half and then wait in the church for another hour.” He did - and next year, he said, they would have to do so.
Inside the cathedral there was more indignity. Each time the children left their seats to explore the building before the service started, an even more officious steward threatened to give the chairs away to somebody else.
Do these people want to encourage us to come to church? Do they not understand the importance of bringing in a new generation? It is astonishing that a cathedral that is so good at putting on a celebration can be so bad at welcoming us to it.

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Friday, 5 December 2003

impaired communion

The CEN reports that:

Nine Provinces of the Anglican Communion: Nigeria, Rwanda, West Africa, Southeast Asia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, the West Indies and Central Africa, have formally broken off relations or entered into a state of “impaired Communion” with those elements of ECUSA that have endorsed the episcopacy of Gene Robinson.

Leaving aside the issue of how meaningful it is for a province to formally break off relations with elements of another province, let’s check the documentation available on this, province by province. So far, I can find evidence of only six formal provincial actions that do what the CEN describes, plus one (West Indies) that does not.

The official statement says

We, bishops of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, meeting at St. Cyprian’s Church, Port Harcourt, on November 15, 2003 condemn in its totality this consecration. We and our people will not recognize Gene Robinson and his ministry as bishop.
We continue to stand solidly behind the leadership of the Church of Nigeria in breaking relationship not only with the Diocese of New Hampshire but with all the bishops and dioceses in ECUSA that have joined in this divisive and unscriptural act.
We equally affirm our commitment to the decisions taken at our Theological and Liturgical Conference held in Abuja in July, 2003.
We also renew our mandate that the Primate should continue to act on our behalf as the cases of ordination or consecration of people who are openly gay to holy orders emerge in any part of the Communion in the future.

statement not yet found

West Africa
The only statement found so far is this news story.

Southeast Asia
The official statement says

(i) We do not recognize the ministry of Dr Gene Robinson as a Bishop in the Anglican Church.
(ii) We are no longer in communion with the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA and all those Bishops and Dioceses [Appendix A] who voted for the confirmation of Dr Gene Robinson’s election and those who joined in the consecration of the same.
(iii) We encourage and support our Primate to work with like-minded Primates, Bishops and churches in the Anglican Communion to urge ECUSA to repentance and to return to the faith that has been given to the Church Universal. If ECUSA refuses to repent, we will commit ourselves through our Primate to work with like-minded Primates for the realignment of the Anglican Communion.
(iv) We support the call of the Primates of the Provinces concerned ?to make adequate provision for Episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates. We request our Primate to take an active part whenever required in this matter.
(v) We support and reaffirm ourselves to be in communion with that part of the Anglican Communion including those faithfuls in ECUSA who accept and endorse the principles as clearly defined by Resolution 1.10 [Appendix B] of the Lambeth Conference 1998 and the various Primates’ Meetings since 1998.

We affirm and endorse the Statement of Breaking Communion issued by the House of Bishops of this Province to the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada, dated 6th June, 2003 in consequence of its authorization of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions and the implementation of the same, effective 28th May, 2003.

The official statement says

We declare that, henceforth we are not in communion, namely, communion in sacris, with:
i. Bishops who consecrate homosexuals to the episcopate and those Bishops who ordain such persons to the priesthood and the deaconate or license them to minister in their dioceses;
ii. Bishops who permit the blessing of same sex unions in their dioceses;
iii. Gay priests and deacons;
iv. Priests who bless same sex unions.

[The declaration above is not limited to any particular province.]

The Anglican Church of Tanzania, therefore, resolves and states that:
It remains in communion with all faithful people of God in ECUSA; Bishops, priests and laity who oppose homosexuality and who uphold the orthodox faith of the Church and the teachings of the Anglican Church as contained, for instance, in the Lambeth Resolutions…

The official statement says

… In this case, the Anglican Church of Kenya will not recognize the ministry of this one Bishop.
As Anglican Church of Kenya we reaffirm our commitment to the Lambeth Resolution and the decision of the Primates in respect of same-sex unions. We also reaffirm our commitment to the continued unity of the Anglican Communion.
We give the assurance of our solidarity and Episcopal support to those Bishops, Clergy and laity in various dioceses in ECUSA who continue to uphold the historic faith and order of the Church.
All those Churches of our great Communion that have so far deviated from the norms and the historic faith of the Church have, by their own action, impaired communion.

The official statement says

i) We deplore, abhor and condemn in the strongest possible terms the resolution of ECUSA to consecrate Gene Robinson and all other resolutions related to the ordination of homosexuals and blessings of same sex unions.
ii) (a)The Church of the Province of Uganda (Anglican) cuts her relationship and Communion with the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA) on their resolution and consequent action of consecrating and enthroning an openly confessed homosexual Gene Robinson as the Bishop of New Hampshire Diocese in the Anglican Communion; and with any other Province that shall follow suit.
(b) Mindful of the fact that there are a number of Dioceses, Parishes and Congregations in the ECUSA, which are opposed to the resolution and action taken by their Convention and are determined to remain faithful to the teaching of Scripture on human sexuality, to those dear brothers and sisters, we extend our solidarity with them and assure them of our continued prayers.

West Indies
The official statement says

Until that time and dependent upon the findings and recommendations of the Commission we, as a Province, will maintain a formal relationship with the Episcopal Church (USA), as part of the Anglican Communion, while keeping the matter under critical review. However, we cannot accept the ministry of Canon Gene Robinson as a Bishop.

Central Africa
The primate has written this letter to Frank Griswold and earlier he wrote this letter but neither appears to contain any formal pronouncement by the province.

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Wednesday, 3 December 2003

Anglican-Roman relations

Update 12 December
The American National Catholic Reporter published this commentary by its Rome correspondent on 5 December.

Update 5 December
The Tablet an English Roman Catholic weekly, has this version of events.
The Church Times has this one.
and Episcopal News Service has issued this denial of one aspect of the Tablet report.

The future of Anglican-Roman Catholic relations is in the news.
First, Lambeth Palace announced on Saturday ARCIC Co-chairman to step down the resignation of Frank Griswold from ARCIC.
Then the Telegraph reported on Monday in Church unity talks fail over gay bishop that the Vatican was preparing to suspend the talks following a final meeting in the New Year.
On Tuesday ACNS issued this statement and the Vatican issued this one.
This further Zenit press release explicitly states that the Vatican’s reason for this is the consecration of Gene Robinson.
The cancelled meeting was to have been held in Seattle. The local RC archbishop there makes some surprising comments in this local report In The Northwest: Tumult over gay bishop threatens reconciliation :

Just back from meetings in Rome, Archbishop Brunett revealed in an interview that Catholic officials have received a startling overture from Episcopalians who refuse to recognize Robinson.
“We were approached by a whole Episcopal diocese about coming into the Roman Catholic church, as perhaps Anglican Rite Catholics,” Brunett said. He declined to identify the diocese.

Archbishop Brunnett also said:

“I can’t tell you how much anger I hear from Anglican bishops around the world,” Brunett said.
“It puts us on the spot,” he added. “We don’t have any disagreement with the Anglican Church. It is that this section of it, the Episcopal Church, has decided to separate itself from the Anglican Communion.”
“The (Episcopalians) who oppose this have nowhere to run,” he added.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 3 December 2003 at 2:44 PM GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 2 December 2003

another equality milestone

Today, the The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 take effect.
The text of the regulations is here.
The text of the ACAS guidance can be downloaded as a pdf file from here.
The regulations have already been amended to bring occupational pension funds within their scope, and the text of the amendment is here.
For other links covering both this and the sexual orientation regulations, see here.

The Guardian has published useful guides to each of the new sets of regulations:
Sexual Orientation
Religion or Belief
The Guardian also reports that a solution has now been found to the difficulties of the 16 Roman Catholic Sixth Form Colleges who were caught by this legislation.
Over at The Times two columnists discuss these changes: Alan Coren and Libby Purves.
The BBC also has coverage:
Respecting all the workers
Q&A: New anti-discrimination laws and more amusingly
Could an agnostic be bishop?.
This story refers to “A document distributed by Lambeth Palace outlines how parishes need to make the link between such roles and religious belief, if they are to avoid a slew of writs” but I think this is a mistaken reference to the document issued earlier in the year by the Evangelical Alliance.

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Monday, 1 December 2003

challenge to new law

Today the Trades Union Congress announced a High Court challenge to the religious exemption clauses of the new employment regulations. TUC challenge government on gay rights. The trade unions involved are: Unison, Amicus, the Public and Commercial Services Union, the RMT and teaching unions NUT, NAS/UWT and NATFE.
Later, the Press Association reported that the Evangelical Alliance has been given permission to argue its case for “religious autonomy” by intervening in the case.

The Alliance - described in court as representing “a multiplicity of Christian organisations” including the Christian Schools Trust - says they have the right to formulate and apply their own policies regarding the employment of gays as clerics and as teachers in faith schools.

Meanwhile similar regulations came into effect in Northern Ireland, and there also they were criticised for containing an exemption for religious organisations. See Gays to Get Legal Backing at Work.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 1 December 2003 at 10:16 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Saturday, 29 November 2003

Saturday religion roundup

Earlier this week, Church asked to disinter ‘Harold’ in the Guardian. A church court was asked to give permission to open a medieval tomb which may conceivably contain the bones of King Harold, last Anglo-Saxon ruler of England.
And yesterday, The Times reported on Churches unite for justice in housing market. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, yesterday challenged the morality of the property market, arguing that it was “divorced” from people’s needs and left those working in essential services unable to afford a home.
Today, the Guardian has a comment column by Jewish academic Geza Vermes on What’s sex got to do with it?
Meanwhile the Telegraph has a useful column on Muslim God and Christian God by Christopher Howse.
The Times has Priest turns property tycoon to put churches in profit which is about a new company called Ecclesiastical Property Services. If this company has a website, I didn’t find it yet.

The same paper’s At Your Service column has a description of what happens at St Philip and St Jacob Bristol. This may or may not be the kind of thing that David Stancliffe was writing about recently but I’m pretty sure it’s what John Ewington dislikes not to mention Prudence Dailey.

The music is the main variable, with traditional organ-led services only about once every two months. Today the worship leader is 27-year-old Adam Stone, a student at the Bristol Old Vic theatre school. He describes his music as “U2-ish soft-rock”, and his band has drums, a piano and bass, acoustic and electric guitars. Sometimes there is half an hour of solid singing, punctuated by the occasional guitar riff. “It’s great to get into the presence of God and stay there for a while,” he says.
Perhaps the most notable innovation is a very large screen attached to the partition between the nave and the chancel. When a lady stands up to ask the congregation for help with some church maintenance work there appear on the screen two towering clip-art men - one holding a ladder, and another knocking a nail into a wall. During the sermon I look on in wonder as the preacher’s main points - as well as assorted quotations from the Bible - swoop jauntily into view.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 November 2003 at 11:10 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Friday, 28 November 2003

Australian news and views

Updated 29 November
Peter Jensen agrees with Peter Carnley. About asylum seekers that is.
‘God’s Own Country’ Would Turn Away Jesus - Archbishop is in the Scotsman this morning.
Archbishop slams refugee stance is in the Melbourne Age. And it is even on ICWales and South African News24 but no mention of this on Anglican Media Sydney yet.
Here now is the full text of that speech from AMS and a BBC report.

The religious affairs editor of the Australian, James Murray has written Who decides who’s a Christian? in which he criticises Peter Jensen’s “assumption of the right to interfere in the affairs of other churches.”

Jensen is on record as saying that truth is more important than unity, but the claim to be the possessor of the truth is surely a dangerous one. With the assumption of power as an archbishop and the influence of abundant funds - $3billion was mentioned - a heady combination threatens the integrity of the Anglican Church in Australia.

The differing views of other Sydney Anglicans are mentioned in this report.

The Sydney Morning Herald has published this opinion column
Conquer the Sodomites! The St Jensen’s Parish Newsletter.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 28 November 2003 at 11:30 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 26 November 2003

News from home and abroad

David Stancliffe was reported by the Telegraph to be unhappy with the quality of many CofE church services. Our services are dire, says CofE’s head of worship.
The BBC reports on someone trying to improve the quality of sermons who has written one about U2, Vicar preaches U2 to the masses. (A book full of these is about to appear.)
Here’s a bishop who is angry and upset about something different, Bishop not impressed with Bok management.
The Telegraph today has reported Rowan Williams’ Christmas message as Archbishop pleads for Anglican truce.

In Canada, Michael Peers has announced the members of a task force that will consider alternate episcopal oversight, Task force will examine alternate episcopal oversight.
In Australia, Peter Carnley has criticised the Foreign Minister, Anglican primate criticises Downer while the Australian, a national newspaper reports that the Church ‘still employs pedophiles’ and The West Australian in Perth reports on nationwide falling attendance figures. Meanwhile Peter Jensen seems to have denied reports that he was wooing Uniting Church members to join the Anglicans.
The Church in Ghana says it is vehemently opposed to any form of unnatural, carnal behaviour.
The Nigerians plan to open a branch in the USA for Nigerians there, Sequel to consecration of gay Bishop: Nigerian Anglicans plan US branch.

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Sunday, 23 November 2003

Sunday news

Istanbul: updated links on this are here.

Another George Carey interview, this time on the BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme. Listen to it here (Real Player required).
and another, on BBC TV’s Breakfast with Frost. Here is the transcript of the interview.

And here is the full transcript of that Australian TV interview with Peter Jensen. An Australian news story based on it has two headlines:
Melbourne Age Archbishop flags split over gays
Sydney Herald Sydney archbishop could abandon Canterbury’s authority
Anglican Media Sydney is unhappy about that second headline.
Not all Sydney Anglicans are happy about what Jensen said, Jensen threatens to switch allegiances in Monday’s Sydney Morning Herald.

Meanwhile in Britain, the Telegraph reports that:
Archbishop gives his ‘full backing’ to pro-life campaigner and also has a long interview with Joanna Jepson. The view of the West Mercia Police on this is reported here. Here are some earlier reports:
Curate takes police to court over abortion of cleft-palate foetus
Ruth Gledhill gave some background in Curate tells of past that led to fight on ‘eugenic’ abortion.
The issue is discussed in today’s Sunday Times by Tom Shakespeare and also by Minnette Marrin.

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Saturday, 22 November 2003

CofE response on civil partnerships

On Friday, it was announced by the DTI that a bill to provide for civil partnerships will be brought forward soon (it is expected to be included in next week’s Queen’s Speech). It was also reported that 74% of organisations and 84% of individuals supported the proposals.
The full DTI report on the consultation is available to download in either pdf format here or Microsoft Word format here.

Here are the salient points relating to responses from religious organisations.

2.13 Of those representing nationally-based religious groups:
53% (9 responses) supported the principle of a civil partnership scheme;
47% (8 responses) opposed, or did not offer an opinion on, the principle of a civil partnership scheme;
For example, the Church of England, the Catholic Bishops Conference, the Salvation Army, the Methodist Church and others.

2.14 Of those representing individual religious groups and congregations:
15% (3 responses) supported the principle of a civil partnership scheme;
85% (17 responses) opposed the principle of a civil partnership scheme.
These were largely Baptist, Evangelical, Free and Congregational churches.

Religious concerns
3.10 A number of people commented on the proposals on religious grounds. Some felt that any legal recognition of same-sex couples was contrary to the teachings of the Bible and other religious texts. Some said “holy matrimony is not the same as a homosexual liaison” and it would be “deeply offensive to Christians to equate the two”.
“As a Baptist Minister, I cannot see how gay relationships can possibly be equated to marriage. Marriage is a unique institution because it allows for the possibility of children being conceived and nurtured. In marriage, a man and a woman make an exclusive commitment to each other. Whilst I recognise that this does not always work out in practice, no comparable situation can ever apply with homosexual couples.”
3.11 Others made it clear that they felt civil partnerships were entirely compatible with their religious beliefs.
“As a Church of England priest, I warmly and wholeheartedly endorse the proposals for Civil Partnership registration for lesbian and gay couples. Justice for all is one of the central Christian teachings, and at the heart of the Bible. Lesbian and gay people who have made a commitment in a relationship deserve the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples who marry.”
3.12 Others said that religious organisations should be free to choose whether their faith should allow or forbid same-sex registrations.

The DTI says:
It is not for the Government to interfere in matters that are clearly for religious groups to decide for themselves. These are decisions best left to individual faiths. The registration of a civil partnership would be a purely civil process and involves no religious element.

Below is the full response that the Archbishops’ Council sent to the Department of Trade and Industry on behalf of the Church of England on 30 September. The original is downloadable here in Microsoft Word format. The DTI’s original invitation to consult is a pdf document that can be downloaded here.

Church of England Response to DTI Consultation Document

1. The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Consultation Document which the Government issued on 30 June.


2. The Church’s approach to ethical issues is founded on Holy Scripture, interpreted in the light of Tradition and Reason. As our knowledge and understanding of the world and the mysteries of humanity grow, so we are called to engage prayerfully and thoughtfully both with new issues and with other issues which, though familiar, may need to be explored afresh. This is a process requiring great wisdom and patience, not least on moral and ethical issues at a time when views in our society have been in considerable flux.

3. It has always been the teaching of the Church of England that marriage - that is, faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationships between a man and a woman - is central to the stability and health of human society. In our view it continues to provide the best context for the raising of children. For that reason it warrants a special position within the social and legislative framework of our society. We remain committed to this principle of marriage and to a unified recognition of its meaning by the law of our country.

4. Sexual activity outside marriage, whether heterosexual or homosexual has, of course, been known throughout recorded history. Nevertheless, the almost universal Christian tradition has been to regard it as a falling short of God’s purposes for human beings. That remains the declared position of the Church of England, though there is a continuing internal debate over the acceptability of sexually active relationships between gay and lesbian people who are in faithful and committed partnerships. A discussion document providing a comprehensive guide to that debate will be published by the House of Bishops in November.

5. Alongside this approach to sexual ethics, the Church also attaches high importance to the promotion of social justice and the safeguarding of human rights. As a result the Church has, on occasions, taken a positive view of particular legislative changes where there has been a need to remedy injustices in our diverse society, even where the result may have been to facilitate developments about which the Church has had particular concerns given its doctrine and teaching. An example would be the law relating to divorce.

6. It is with these two key considerations in mind that the Archbishops’ Council has approached the Government’s proposals: the need to do nothing to devalue or undermine marriage and the family; and the importance of using the law of the land to promote justice and human rights.

What we welcome

7. We welcome the Government’s recognition of the distinctive place of marriage in the law of our country and the need to preserve it. We note that the consultation document states at para 1.3 that “it is a matter of public record that the Government has no plans to introduce same-sex marriage”.

8. We support the Government’s wish to encourage long-term stable relationships as being more in the interests of society as a whole than a culture of transient or promiscuous relationships. Fair treatment for such relationships within a framework of legal rights and safeguards may well help to promote this objective.

9. We also endorse the Government’s intention to recognise the rights of individuals within same sex relationships in relation to such matters as protection from domestic violence, the registration of a death and inheritance matters including tenancy succession. The law no longer reflects current social patterns and needs amendment to remedy injustice.

10. The consultation document, including in the foreword by the Minister of State, Jacqui Smith, refers to the importance of securing culture change through legislation. If this means the promotion of greater mutual acceptance of others, the embracing of diversity within our society and the repudiation of homophobia then we agree. Society is stronger and more harmonious if we each respect the decisions which adults make about the ordering of their own lives so long as those decisions are not clearly to the detriment of others.

What we question

11. If, however, culture change means the promotion of the view that it is discriminatory to distinguish between marriage and same sex relationships, then it is not clear what the Government’s declared recognition of the distinctive place of marriage means in substance. We believe that it is in the interests of society for marriage to continue to enjoy a unique status. We seriously question whether there will in practice be a sufficient distinction in law between marriage and registered same-sex partnerships if the proposals outlined in the consultation paper are implemented.

12. Secondly, there is an ambiguity at the heart of the Government’s proposals about the nature of the proposed partnerships and about what precisely the couple are promising to be to each other. This is reflected in the shifting language in the document between “gay, lesbian and bisexual” couples in some places and “same sex partnerships” (potentially a wider category) in others. In a matter of this kind clarity is crucial.

13. The extremely close parallel between the new arrangements and the legal framework for marriage is likely to deter some people who might otherwise register - for example those who choose to share a home with others for a substantial period and may wish to benefit from the new partnership provisions in relation to successor tenancy rights but are not homosexual. Conversely, gay and lesbian couples will receive less protection than they might expect from a legal framework so akin to marriage - no apparent protection against sexual infidelity within a supposedly exclusive relationship, no equivalent to a nullity process should a sexual relationship be wilfully refused, no specific provision for dissolution on grounds of refusal to live together.

14. We would urge the Government to be clearer and more consistent over what it is trying to achieve. Is the primary aim to remedy injustice and create some new legal rights and safeguards for those who are not married but who may wish to share important parts of their lives with each other, whether or not within a sexual relationship? If so, the logical approach would be to remove the prohibited degrees of relationship, thereby enabling, say, two brothers or two sisters to access the new set of rights. Indeed, if this is the primary aim it could be argued that they should not be confined to same-sex couples.

15. If, on the other hand, the Government’s primary aim is to confer rights on gay and lesbian people in long-term, committed relationships, the logic would be for the legal framework to acknowledge the sexual nature of the relationship. The hybrid nature of the present proposals is a recipe for confusion.

16. We are also concerned about what the document says in relation to the treatment of children. In particular we have reservations about the use of the problematic phrase “children of the partnership” in paragraph 8.3, presumably to refer to the children of one party who are being brought up by a parent and their partner. It is very important that the difference in role and status of actual biological or adoptive parents and those parents’ partners (whether spouses, registered partners or unregistered partners of either sex) should not be blurred. Members of registered partnerships should not have greater rights or responsibilities towards the children of their registered partners than husbands or wives have over their spouse’s children.


17. We shall want to look particularly carefully at the details of the new legislation to see evidence of the Government’s assurance that it “has no plans to introduce same-sex marriage”. As they stand these proposals risk being seen as introducing a form of same-sex marriage with almost all of the same rights as marriage. We accept that there are issues of social justice which need to be addressed in the light of changing patterns of relationship in our society. We believe that it would be possible and indeed right to do so, consistently with safeguarding the special position of marriage. While accepting the case for conferring some new rights on adults who wish to share important parts of their lives with each other, we have significant concerns about the proposed new partnership arrangements and the uneasy compromise they appear to represent.

18. A schedule of more detailed points is attached.
30 September 2003

Archbishops’ Council
Church House
Great Smith Street


1 Paragraphs 1.4 and 2.8 We recognize the force of the arguments against including opposite-sex couples in the proposed scheme of registration. Any such approach would risk confusing the role and position of marriage. We would urge the Government not to be ambivalent about marriage but to support the function and purpose it has in society and to encourage cohabitants to consider it. There is, nevertheless, a need for specific measures to address the considerable hardship suffered by some cohabitants after relationship breakdown or death of a partner.

2. Paragraph 3.2 We are doubtful whether it is prudent to allow those who are not yet adults to enter into this long-term legal commitment. We recognize that any notion of different ages for marriage and for same-sex partnerships is contentious and raises questions of justice and human rights. Nevertheless we do not see it as axiomatic that the minimum age for this new form of partnership simply has to mirror that for marriage. In addition the issues here are rather different than in relation to the age of heterosexual and homosexual consent. We note that a number of countries, including in the EU, do impose a qualifying or minimum cohabiting period before partnerships can be registered. While we do not press for that, the case for setting a minimum age limit of 18 merits further consideration.

3. Paragraph 3.3 We suggest that the definition of “exclusivity” has to be clearly explained to avoid problems of ambiguity (see para 12).

4. Paragraph 4 Under the proposals in the consultation paper the signing of the register of same sex partnerships is the act by which the partnership comes into effect. There is some concern here about the privileging of the act of writing over that of speaking, which may cause problems for the less literate or those with learning difficulties.

5. Paragraph 4.13 Marriage attracts certain rights, privileges and responsibilities because of its public nature. Whilst we recognize the very real threat of homophobic violence, we agree with the Government that civil partnerships could not work without the public nature of the registration. It cannot be kept private. Those who enter into such legal arrangements have to be willing for the fact of them to be on the public record.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 22 November 2003 at 2:56 PM GMT
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Saturday roundup

Another reminder that news stories about the Istanbul bombings including today’s updates, are over here.

Last week in the Vancouver Sun: Top African Anglicans’ stake in B.C. “Their opposition to blessing homosexual relationships is rooted in religous struggles at home”.
Yesterday, Anglican truce threatened by war of words was published on
Also on Thursday, Same-sex battle may force ‘schism’ in the Vancouver Sun.

From today’s London papers:
What the Synod can learn from synagogues in The Times discusses Progressive Jewish views on homosexuality, and a story about tin churches, Faith in a flatpack reports on how you used to be able to buy them at Harrods.

In Australia, several trailers for a TV programme to be shown tomorrow:
Religious turf wars and
Sydney Archbishop eyes Anglican schism

Also the list of Formal Statements relating to the episcopal consecration of Gene Robinson has been substantially updated since it was first published.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 22 November 2003 at 12:58 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Friday, 21 November 2003

internal disputes - not American

Note: reports about the Istanbul bombings are on the main TA blog.

The Church Times has an exclusive story about an internal dispute in the Church in Pakistan, which is rather complex: ‘United Church’ bitterly divided over property

A conflict over property from the days of British India, worth millions of pounds, has increased in vehemence after a forged claim that the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan supports gay clergy, and a further claim that he supports the drinking of alcohol. The Church’s one million members are now split into two factions.
The appointment of the Bishop of Hyderabad by a disputed synod is being contended; courts are being used; and even the approval of a new translation of the Bible by the Pakistan Bible Society has been challenged, because the Moderator is the society’s chairman.

The Lagos Vanguard has a headline Akinola Warns Against Power Tussle in Anglican Church which turns out to be about an internal Nigerian problem, although the details are unclear.

… Peter Akinola has cautioned against power tussle in the Anglican church to avoid the wrath of God. Akinola issued the warning at the inauguration of the diocese of the Anglican Church in Okirika, Rivers.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 21 November 2003 at 12:42 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Thursday, 20 November 2003

Bishops utterances

The Church of England Newspaper has published an interview with George Carey in which he gives his views on current church matters. Sinister developments in the Communion. Unfortunately, the web page ends abruptly in mid-sentence so the full text is not available.
Update full text available here, courtesy of Kendall Harmon.

In Nigeria the House of Bishops met, and issued this statement
which was also reported in the Lagos Vanguard as Gay Bishop: Severance of Ties With US Anglicans Final - Akinola.

In New Westminster Michael Ingham issued this statement
which was reported in the National Post under Anglican bishop considers locking out dissenters.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 20 November 2003 at 4:04 PM GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 18 November 2003

so far this week...

Ruth Gledhill reported in The Times on Monday on the proposal to transfer the funds they give to cathedrals and bishops to the dioceses, Cathedrals fear £30m loss of funding. On Tuesday she reports on the CofE Communications story, Church begins taking the tabloids that was in last week’s Church Times.
The Manchester Evening News had Gay storm bishop to go on leave about Peter Forster’s long-scheduled sabbatical. Not news.
Meanwhile, Rowan Williams was off to Istanbul, where Archbishop to Visit Bomb Blast Synagogues according to PA via the Scotsman.
The Telegraph reports on the Mothers Union in England, Mothers’ Union tells newly-weds to take Aids test.

Some international news:
The Russian Orthodox Church has issued this statement about Gene Robinson, as reported widely elsewhere, for example here Episcopal’s gay bishop completely unorthodox.
The Jamaica Observer headline on Monday was West Indian Anglican Church rejects gay bishop which says the Anglican Church in the West Indies will not break away from ECUSA at this time, opting instead to await the findings of a commission set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury…
I failed to report that on Sunday the Philadelphia Inquirer said 2 parishes opposed to gay bishop seek Anglican shepherds.
In Africa, Scientists Plan Re-Ignites Debate On Lab Babies reports on Anglican and other religious opposition there to In Vitro Fertilisation and Embryo Transfer technology.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 18 November 2003 at 12:26 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Sunday, 16 November 2003

Sunday news catchup

The BBC’s Sunday radio programme has a feature on possible changes in the financing of bishops and cathedrals. Listen here with Real Audio. Those interviewed include Vivienne Faull, Colin Slee, David McClean and John Packer.
Insofar as this relates to bishops, it was of course recommended by the Mellows report on Resourcing Bishops published over two years ago, but rather oddly there was no mention of this in the programme, rather the proposals for change were attributed to the Church Commissioners themselves.
Another item discusses the appointment of a Muslim as head teacher of a church school, (listen here). This notion was opposed by George Curry of Church Society.

Predictably, Richard Ingrams supports Peter Forster in the Observer today (second item in column).
And I failed to report last Thursday that Fay Weldon commented at length about him in The Times, This is the age of love thy neighbour or the police will come and get you.
Also, I missed last Wednesday’s letter in The Times from Malcolm Johnson, Church’s pastoral problems change about the bishops’ new study guide on sexuality:

It seems odd to me, however, that in the 358 pages of the report I can find only two short references to civil rights. Much has happened in the last decade. Soon in the pews there will be legally joined same-sex couples (report, November 10), whose position will be akin to divorced and remarried heterosexual couples. Will bishops exercise their discretion so that they too may receive a blessing?
At the hospital bedside and at funerals, the partner must be recognised and cared for, and adopted children of these couples will be brought for baptism and admittance to church schools. These pastoral issues urgently need addressing.
The Anglican Church is running a high temperature at present. Some useful pastoral advice might calm us all down.

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Saturday, 15 November 2003

Saturday news

The Belfast Telegraph reports Eames ‘left to pick up pieces’ over gay bishop, which is based on an editorial in the Church of Ireland Gazette, PICKING UP THE PIECES which accompanies a news story, Archbishop Eames seeking ‘path forward’ for Anglican Communion

Who says being a vicar is a safe job? Read this in The Times: Vampire duo jailed for attack on vicar.

But the Independent thinks there is a danger of nobody showing up for church tomorrow, Pubs ready for rush but pews may be empty (Note to the uninitiated: this is about Rugby Union football, the televised game - to be played in Australia - starts at 9 am GMT)

The Press Association (via the Scotsman) reports that RW will be travelling again: Anglican and Orthodox Leaders Top Hold Talks.

Alexander Chancellor, writing in the Guardian will not be sorry if the Anglican Communion falls apart, What an unholy mess. Terry Philpot writes there also about Alan Paton, Remember, the beloved country.

News reports from abroad:
If you have not been following the Canadian saga, this report, Anglicans try new approach in same-sex dispute and the links from it cover the ground quite thoroughly.

And here’s a different kind of story from Africa, Serene Shrine With an Eerie History in the Nation (Nairobi). It’s about the gravesite of Bishop James Hannington.

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Friday, 14 November 2003

Friday surprises

This Cheshire story just won’t die. Today, ‘Gays row bishop must go’ says the same reporter, David Holmes, in the Chester Chronicle. Students at University College Chester are demanding the Bishop of Chester resigns as chairman of their governing body after saying gay people should seek medical help in last week’s Chronicle. 99.8% of students said he should resign…
Addition, the Church Times covered the story this way.
The Church of England Newspaper appears to have had a dramatic change of editorial policy. It actually printed two columns that are in opposition to the paper’s well-established hardline view against homosexuality:
Richard Thomas wrote A different evangelical perspective and
Derek Rawcliffe wrote Biblical arguments prove wanting.
Unsurprisingly the actual CEN editorial supports the Bishop of Chester unreservedly.

Both the Church Times and the CEN report the same story with somewhat different emphases:
Muslim to be head of CE aided school and
Concern over Muslim heading Church school.

In the Spectator, Adrian Hilton says that the Act of Settlement must not be repealed, because a Roman Catholic monarchy would destroy our religious and civil liberties, The price of liberty.

Meanwhile in Newsweek, we learn about David Anderson, of the American Anglican Council. Deep in the “War Room,” the battle plan is being honed. The leader talks of “insurgency” and “unconventional war-fare.” Souls Divided. Charming.

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Thursday, 13 November 2003

international press items

from Africa
Archbishop Malango of Central Africa has challenged Michael Peers’ interpretation of the Primates Statement, Archbishop Malango on Adequate Oversight and the Primates Letter.

Gays Are Rebels, Archbishop Nkoyoyo Says in The Monitor (Kampala)
Bishop Senyonjo Backs Gay Clergy in The Monitor (Kampala)
Ugandan lecturers told to marry BBC - this is the same university of which Stephen Noll is vice-chancellor
The Failure of Liberal Protestantism in This Day (Lagos) - opinion column
US Episcopal Church Will Not Cut Assistance to Church of Uganda in New Vision (Kampala).

from Canada
Indigenous bishop, alternative church structures to be studied by Anglicans in the Vancouver Sun

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Wednesday, 12 November 2003

Cheshire rumbles on

The Stockport Express adds its report, Bishop’s gay slur sparks fury while over in Northwich, other clergy are expressing opinions, Holy smoke in gay argument.

The intervention of the police appears to some Americans and even one Canadian to be very odd, see Weblog: Bishop Committed No Hate Crime Saying Gays Can Change and English Tolerance:, or He’s off the hook—but Big Brother’s watching or Andrew Sullivan, and also this one (scroll right to end) which invites readers to let the Chester Constabulary know what you think. Or even contact all the members of the Cheshire Police Authority.
And links to a picture of Chief Constable Peter Fahy.

I think it would be a very good idea for people who support what the Chief Constable said to do just that.

The Cheshire Police website has a page which explains the policy.

The Cheshire Police take homophobic incidents seriously and are working to eliminate homophobic incidents against lesbian, gay and bisexual communities in Cheshire. We are determined to eliminate all such incidents because homophobic incidents hurt more when they are not reported. Help the police to help you.
Here’s someone who is actually interested in what the bishop had to say.
And reported on the reporting, Gays ‘should seek a cure’ splash creates media storm.

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Tuesday, 11 November 2003

Tuesday news

Better for one bishop at least.
The Independent notes that Bishop’s ‘psychotherapy for gays’ comments not a crime
So does the Telegraph Police clear bishop in gay row
The Guardian has several readers letters on this in A cure for homophobia.
The story is also reported in the Manchester Evening News, Gay-row bishop not to face ‘hate’ charge
and Cheshire Online, Bishop escapes action

There are also letters in the Guardian, When faith is no longer charitable in response to an opinon column there by Giles Fraser on Monday, The evangelicals who like to giftwrap Islamophobia

George Carey spoke at Princeton University about Islam, Former Archbishop of Canterbury talks of Islam, West, the students there are rather liberal.

The East African published this opinion column, In US, as in Africa, Gene Robinson Has Tested Ecumenical Relations

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer had a column In the Northwest: Episcopal leader vies for peace on sexual battlefield.

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Monday, 10 November 2003

Monday blues

Not a good day for bishops.
bad news continues…
Telegraph Bishop’s anti-gay comments spark legal investigation
and a squib in The Times Bishop questions
Cheshire Online Bishop to face quiz by police
Guardian Cathedral £4.5m in debt after millennium fiasco
but here is some good news…
BBC ‘Transfer fee’ for churchman

Evening update

Other earlier coverage of the Cheshire story:
Manchester Evening News Gay? See a doctor says bishop and Police to quiz gay row bishop
BBC Police chief criticises bishop
and the story even made Christianity Today.
Later update
The police have decided not to prosecute the bishop, Bishop won’t Be Prosecuted over Gay Comments.

And a separate story, Gay bishop may divide Irish church

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Sunday, 9 November 2003

British church news

Not a good day for bishops.

Bullying bishops haven’t a prayer as clergy join working classes says the Sunday Times

MEMBERS of the clergy are set to gain full employment rights, ending their centuries-old status as “employees of God”, not entitled to the same protection enjoyed by conventional workers.

Round up all the useful idiots as Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph criticises their involvement in English regional government.

Vanishing Zurbarans and a holy black hole Peter McGill in the Independent reports on the financial crisis in the Church of England

And the BBC reports on what Peter Forster said, Bishop: Gays should see a doctor.

Peter Forster was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme. Listen to what he said here.
The Press Association has confirmed a report originally made last night on Channel 4 Television News, Gay ‘reorientation’ bishop to be questioned by police.
And now also on the BBC Police question bishop over gay row and
in tomorrow’s Independent Police to question bishop over gay ‘cure’ comment

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Pittsburgh schismatics

In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this morning there are three reports relating to yesterday’s diocesan convention

Episcopalians still pulling away
Think Tank: A church divided
A View from the Experts: Schisms are nothing new, but this one could be profound

A press release from PEP who oppose the actions is here.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published Vote may move Episcopal Diocese closer to rift

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Saturday, 8 November 2003

international press items

updated 6.30 pm GMT
The Diocese of Pittsburgh voted today to amend its own constitution, Pa. Diocese Votes for Greater Autonomy
The Diocese of Massachusetts seems to be doing something right. Episcopalians work to avoid more division in the Boston Globe reports little sign of divisiveness there.
Similarly in Canada, Buckle withdraws offer to New West parishes suggests that episcopal peacemaking attempts in that country are worthwhile.
The Vancouver Sun also reported this, ‘Flying bishop’ withdraws
Meanwhile, in Alabama, Openly gay bishop accepted by some in Tuscaloosa.
In Uganda however, the government appears to be backing local Anglicans, in Vice President Bukenya Backs Nkoyoyo On Gays.

In the USA, proposals have been made for “Supplemental Episcopal Pastoral Care” which would be something like what we have in the CofE Provincial Episcopal Visitors. The official proposal is described here, but neither the American Anglican Council nor Forward in Faith appear to be happy about it.

And in case you aren’t sure what “Anglican Mainstream” stands for, they have published this FAQ. And if you are not sure quite who they are, here’s a list.

The list on TA of formal statements has been updated today.

The Boston Globe also carried this: N.H. bishop bars rector from post

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Tablet articles

Due to printing problems this week, the British RC weekly The Tablet has its whole edition online. This has benefit for TA as we can link to their articles about Anglican matters.

Ruth Gledhill Can the Communion hold together?
Andrew Goddard Ecusa goes it alone
Editorial No church without communion
And News from Britain and Ireland which has three Anglican items:
Anglicans and methodists bury differences
Bishops publish new sexuality guide
Archbishop’s ‘regret’ over consecration of gay bishop

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Saturday bonanza

Lots of stories today, to make up for yesterday.
First, more reports on what Peter Forster said:
The Times ‘Gays should seek help to be straight’
The Telegraph Gays need psychiatric help, says bishop
(Do note the URL file name :-)
The Guardian has the identical headline Gays need psychiatric help, says bishop
The Times catches up on yesterday’s blessings story, Bishop backs same-sex blessings
The East Anglian Daily Times counters Chester with Bishop welcomes practising homosexuals about Richard Lewis, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

Then, The Times has two very worthwhile opinion columns
Geoffrey Rowell Bishop in Europe A heated disagreement or mutual loss of charity is not a schism
Theo Hobson An established Church of England is a neutered Church
(and in connection with this, here is a radio clip I forgot to link earlier in the week, a discussion on disestablishment on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme last Tuesday (Real Audio required).
And in the Telegraph Christopher Howse writes only incidentally about Anglican liturgy but Sacred mysteries - Older testament better than new is interesting anyway.

Writing for the Washington Post but from London, Glenn Frankel has a major report on Anglican Head Seeks ‘Middle Way’ Issue of Gay Bishop Is Test for Williams

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Friday, 7 November 2003

worldwide news roundup

Christianity Today has published an interesting table of provincial responses to the New Hampshire consecration, The Gay Bishop’s Global Fallout.
Gay Bishop: Nigerian Archbishops Meet On Major Decision from the Lagos Vanguard makes it sound as if that table may be updated shortly.
Following on yesterday’s clutch of Pittsburgh stories, the Post-Gazette reports Episcopalians’ voting here on Saturday could widen rift.
In Canada the Anglican Journal reports Bishops ask for ceasefire in New West dispute.
And from Africa another column in the Johannesburg Star, Hypocrisy is what entered church.

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News on Friday

Very little in the morning papers in Britain. Here is an older item I missed, from 3 November, Q&A: African Anglicans and the gay bishop Ruth Gledhill answers.

However, later in the day, the following stories from a local weekly, the Chester Chronicle appeared:
Bishop tells gays to seek a cure
‘Gays can have their sexuality changed’
and Liberal vice dean calls for church to change attitude.

These remarks (apparently made on Monday) by Peter Forster are all the more surprising in view of what he said on Tuesday, in my presence, part of which is reported by the Church Times in Sex report is not a cudgel, say bishops which says:

“Bishop Forster said the document had only strengthened his conviction that sexual intercourse should remain within marriage; but this view “should not be used as a stick to beat over people’s heads”. The document also upheld the Church’s teaching on inclusivity.

Bishop Forster said: “Here we have four bishops whose views are not identical, but we have agreed this text. That says something in itself. Both sides are explored in depth in this guide.”

The Church Times has coverage of earlier events:
Thousands attend Robinson’s consecration and witness protests
ECUSA won’t heed Eames Commission, say Primates and
UK churchmen voice pain at division, pleasure at honesty

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Thursday, 6 November 2003

Thursday papers

George Carey has written a letter to The Times. So has Tom Wright. You can read them both here. The point made by Tom Wright is taken up in the news story by Ruth Gledhill, Consecration of gay bishop harms Church, says Carey which is however mostly about the launch of Fulcrum and what Tom Wright said at that event last night, which included:

“One of the extraordinary things is that in all the meetings I have had in Durham over the last three or four weeks, nobody has been talking about Gene Robinson, or about sex.”

The Telegraph has found two CofE diocesan bishops who allow blessings, as in Bishops allowing clergy to defy ban on gay prayers.
This matter is also covered in tomorrow’s Church of England Newspaper, here.

The most interesting church story from the USA right now is from Pittsburgh, where the ECUSA diocese holds its annual convention (synod) on Saturday, at which various constitutional amendments, concerning the relationship of the diocese to the national church, will be considered.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has Meeting here could start church split, and this Associated Press report has been syndicated to many papers.
This is the diocese which has a lawsuit pending, filed by one of its own parishes seeking to prevent it separating. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports today that this action was not supported by the national church, Episcopal leaders tried to stop lawsuit.
There is organised opposition to the diocese in the form of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh.

But this, from the Johannesburg Star, deals with a much more urgent problem for all Anglicans, African Anglicans should speak out.

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Wednesday, 5 November 2003

press reports

The high level of press interest in Anglican affairs seems to be subsiding, so I have moved my reports back here for a while.

The BBC has this Factfile: Anglican Church around the world which lists the “stance on gay issue” of each Anglican province.

Yesterday, the CofE published a book, which is reported by the Guardian,Church of England ‘obsessed’ with sexual sin and by The Times, Pretend you are gay, Church tells worshippers. Neither of these headlines does justice to the book, which could be a very useful basis for serious study of sexuality issues in parishes and elsewhere. Two of the four bishops on the committee that produced it were among those who signed the Nazgul letter and the other two were supporters of Jeffrey John’s nomination, and all four agreed to the entire text of this book.

The Telegraph did not report on this at all, but a columnist, Janet Daley published her opinions under the heading Gay bishops threaten our foundations.

In Australia Peter Carnley has upset some people by asserting that “Life starts after 14 days”. The story can be found in the West Australian or in the Melbourne Age.

Some more reports from Africa:
The East African Standard, Nairobi Muslims Disown Gay Bishop
The News, Lagos Till Sex Do Them Part
This Day, Lagos Gay Bishop: Conference Praises Anglican Church Action
Johannesburg, Star The Anglican choice

West African province of Anglican Church breaks away
Pakistani Christians reject gay bishop
Kenya Gay Bishop is Put On Blacklist By Anglicans
Uganda Gay US Bishop Wrong

Further addition
Peter Carnley gave another interview to ABC Radio and you can listen to it here (Real Audio) or read a transcript here.

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Tuesday, 28 October 2003

Some other news...

According to the Church of England Newspaper last week: Anger over the Archbishop of Cape Town’s conduct toward his fellow African Archbishops may kill off plans for the 2008 Lambeth Conference to be held in Cape Town. While the invitation list and venue for Lambeth Conferences lie within the purview of the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Church of England Newspaper has learned that a number of conservative Primates will ask Dr Rowan Williams not to hold the next gathering of Anglican bishops in Cape Town. See African leaders want to block South Africa venue.

Wednesday’s Guardian has a column by Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth, In defence of faith schools which responds to an earlier article Teaching tolerance which had the subhead “We should abolish faith schools - they breed only intolerance and isolation says Francis Beckett”.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that the cathedral choir from Portsmouth has been, err, busy. Cathedral choir strips for calendar.

Another story in today’s Guardian is an Anglican one because it is an edited extract from the ninth annual Tyndale lecture, which Christina Odone gave last night at Lambeth Palace, Some may hate us, but here we stand.

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Wednesday, 22 October 2003

'Today' in a teapot

Well having started out to report this sideline, I may as well continue to provide a complete record.

On Monday, the Guardian reported Lambeth Palace denies it demanded Today cut and had printed these letters (including one from Jonathan Jennings) in the morning paper.

On Tuesday, the Guardian ran this leader: It must stay resolute.

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Sunday, 19 October 2003

More on the teapot tempest

The BBC’s little tiff with Lambeth Palace over the John Humphrys interview on Friday gets more space.

There were more stories on the Guardian website than were in the paper on Friday:
1 pm BBC’s Today in Iraq censorship row
5.45 pm BBC defends cutting Today interview

On Saturday, it was also mentioned by Simon Hoggart in his diary column Pious waffle that helps no one.

Today, there is yet another story in the Observer, but I cannot find it on their website, Humphrys ‘close to quitting Today’.

The Telegraph has BBC defends decision to cut Today interview with Williams and a leader article Rowanspeak.

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Saturday, 18 October 2003

RW, Iraq and 'Today'

Main news today on the other channel.

The Saturday papers report a side story from the one about the communion breaking up. It seems that John Humphrys’ interview with Rowan Williams was longer than wot we heard.
Telegraph Humphrys ‘livid’ as BBC drops war interview
Times BBC cuts Iraq from Williams’ interview
Guardian Humphrys furious as BBC cuts interview
and you will find the cut questions and answers at the end of the Guardian story.

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Tuesday, 14 October 2003

Primates meet tomorrow

Tuesday’s main London newspaper stories are reported here.
Later in the day, the Manchester Evening News published this opinion article by Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, Crucial gay question facing church.
The BBC published Leaders grasp church gay sex row. (There was also a major segment on the Newsnight television programme.)
Latest Reuters stories here and here.

Some useful reports from abroad:
The Christian Science Monitor (Boston, USA) published Anglicans gather to confront historic rift which includes an interesting table of comparisons with other American Christian groups.
In Australia, ABC Radio carried two interviews: Exclusion of gays ‘religious fascism’: Anglican priest and Jensen disagrees injustice committed against gay Anglicans.

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Monday, 13 October 2003

Comment from abroad

From Sydney, where Peter Jensen has addressed his annual diocesan synod, the Sydney Morning Herald has this report and also this more general opinion column, An imposed unity could see church’s communion falter which ends:

Thus it was appropriate yesterday for Jensen to have asked the Synod to pray for Williams. But it is just as appropriate for others to wonder how long Sydney actually would tolerate an archbishop of Canterbury who began to function like a pope.

From Canada, the Toronto Star has Anglicans bracing for same-sex showdown.
The Vancouver Sun has Canadian clerics want U.S. groups to ‘stay home’ referring to the interference of some American bishops in the Canadian church.

From Nigeria, this story by Associated Press, Nigerian Anglicans in gay protest.

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primates meeting gets near

Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh came on the Today programme this morning, right off the plane they said, to be interviewed along with Peter Selby, Bishop of Worcester. You can hear the interview with Real Player, by listening here. Peter Selby’s remarks are worth listening to. Meanwhile, Duncan’s hometown newspaper carries this comprehensive report today, Anglican leaders ponder U.S. conflict.

Ruth Gledhill in The Times has interviewed David Jenkins, Scrap Anglican Communion, says former bishop. This story also contains the statistic (not from Jenkins) that really there are only about 24 million church-going Anglicans in the world, not 70+ million.

The Telegraph’s Jonathan Petre has Williams gambles to heal division over gays which suggests RW will be taking a more moderate line on Wednesday and Thursday with the primates than some earlier reports suggested. OTOH, the Independent says Archbishop of Canterbury to take hard line on gay clergy at summit. Personally, I am more inclined to trust Petre’s version, even if some Telegraph sub has confused New Westminster with New Hampshire.

Thanks to Kendall Harmon for bringing to my attention this biographical article about Peter Akinola in the November Atlantic Monthly, Defender of the Faith.

If you find it hard to believe the right-wing conspiracy claims, try reading this story (although remember that the newspaper is owned by the Moonies), Conservative Episcopalians ready showdown. A quote for flavour:

A strategy session is set for tomorrow at All Souls Church, Langham Place, an evangelical parish in the West End of London. Conservative archbishops and other Anglicans - one of them being the Rev. Martyn Minns of Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax, Va. - are arriving from around the world.
“We’ve worked out all the different scenarios as to what we’ll do,” says one of the planners, who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s not all wrapped up, although we do have the numbers. We will have to cut out the cancer instead of breaking the church up.”

One other point: the BBC’s World at One yesterday reported that only 4 Anglican primates who responded to their survey would accept homosexuality among priests in their church. You also need to know that only 17 primates responded (out of 38).

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Sunday, 12 October 2003

Time magazine reports...

Time Europe has this article in its 20 October issue:
The Schism of 2003 Will the global Anglican church split in two over gay bishops? A meeting this week may decide.

The article quotes Peter Akinola as follows: “We are not breaking away. It is the heretics who will leave the church; we will send them away if they do not repent.”

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BBC 'Sunday' reports

Three superb radio reports on the current sexuality events, Real Audio required. The total listening time is about 17 minutes, well worth it.

Jane Little reviews events in Texas, interviews Bishop Duncan, and talks to both Giles Fraser and Martyn Percy, listen here.

Roger Bolton interviews Bishop Gregory Venables of Argentina, primate of the Southern Cone, listen here.

Roger Bolton then interviews Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, listen here.

There was good stuff on other topics too, see details.

Later addition:
The BBC also interviewed both these bishops on the Breakfast with Frost TV programme, and here is the transcript.

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Sunday newspapers

Most sensational story of the day: Christopher Morgan reports in The Sunday Times, Gay bishop to come out in memoirs, that a Church of England bishop will disclose his homosexual lifestyle in an autobiography to be published on his retirement. He also confirms that at least seven of the present 113 Church of England bishops are either gay or bisexual.

Runner-up in the sensation stakes is the Sunday Telegraph, with a report that Over half of Anglican worshippers back actively gay vicars. An ICM survey of 500 regular churchgoers found that 52 per cent of those questioned supported the idea that active homosexuals should be ordained.

The Observer has two reports. In Williams reignites row over gay bishop Jamie Doward says that RW will argue that the actions of ECUSA defy the Church’s established position, and [oddly I think] that this is a surprise. More interesting is his other article US millionaire bankrolls crusade against gay Anglican priests which tells more about the right-wing bankrolling of American conservative groups like the AAC, on which I have reported here earlier.This story also quotes Philip Giddings as saying: ‘These are Americans and it’s the nature of their culture. The fact an organisation is bankrolled by wealthy individuals is not unique to the AAC or any other interest group. It’s a case of a lot of pots and not many clean kettles.’ Giddings goes on to say: ‘I would expect to see a reaffirmation of the position of the Lambeth conference. That has been the overwhelming view of Anglicans. It would take unique circumstances for the Primates not to reaffirm it.’

The Independent on Sunday has Call for end to gay priest ‘obsession’.

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Friday, 10 October 2003

some views on the Texas meeting

First, two American newspaper reports.
One from the Associated Press, as seen in the Washington Post, Conservative Anglicans Rebel.
“The AAC clarified its statement earlier in the meeting that 46 bishops were attending the gathering by saying that only about half of those prelates are in the Episcopal Church hierarchy — the rest came from groups that have already left the church. Twelve Episcopal bishops took the platform at the closing session.”

And here is a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Dissident Episcopalians call for action.
‘Like an angry Old Testament prophet, the Rev. David Anderson raised a wooden staff before the crowd of 2,000 dissident Episcopalians in a Dallas hotel ballroom Thursday.
“Pharaoh,” Anderson shouted, “Let my people go!”
The crowd joined in with hoots and cheers, as the conservative American Anglican Council took a decisive step in rebuking its denomination’s election of an openly gay bishop.’

Second, here is a opinion column from the local Dallas Morning News, with a perspective not shared by the attendees, Liz Oliphant: Matters of faith aren’t resolved by walking out.
“Of course, schism is nowhere to be mentioned in the resolutions that the various dioceses and individual parishes are being asked to support. Instead, we hear of “faithfulness,” “biblical patterns and revelations,” the “sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman,” “doctrinal and moral standards” and dozens of other euphemisms for what the goal seems to be - dividing the Episcopal Church into those who believe the general convention erred and the majority who voted to accept the election of Bishop Gene Robinson.”

Third, here is what the ECUSA Presiding Bishop had to say about the meeting.
“It therefore concerns me deeply when Christians use inflammatory rhetoric when speaking of one another or issue ultimatums.”

And finally, in case you don’t believe reports about what the people at the meeting were saying, here’s another sample speech and a copy of the statement the meeting endorsed.

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Friday papers summarised

The British papers continue to report on the meeting in Texas:
Stephen Bates of the Guardian, actually in Dallas, has Vatican eggs on Anglican split in US which leads on the Ratzinger intervention.
The Times has this editorial, On schism’s brink as well as two news stories, US conservatives seek freedom to pray without gays from Nicholas Wapshott on the scene, and Archbishop must continue delicate balancing act to avoid schism from Ruth Gledhill in London.
Even the Independent, whose religious coverage is limited nowadays, had its Washington correspondent send in Schism looms as Anglican clergy oppose gay bishop

The Telegraph keeps its eye on the home front with St Paul’s service on Iraq to avoid triumphal tone.

The Church Times has several stories about Texas and about the Primates Meeting.

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Thursday, 9 October 2003

Meanwhile in England...

The Telegraph is alone this morning in reporting on a meeting of the English House of Bishops. ‘Healing’ session ends bishop row but clearly it is derived from the story to be published in tomorrow’s Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops meets to regain a sense of unity.

The CEN also carries a clutch of stories about events in Texas and about the forthcoming primates meeting. The Church Times has promised readers a special feature on this too.

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More from Texas

Thursday’s London newspapers have these stories:
Guardian, Stephen Bates, Rightwing aims ‘fuel gay bishop campaign’
Telegraph, Anglicans in US preparing for ‘civil war’
Times, Church ‘faces break-up’ over bishop

None of these stories include the extraordinary news that Cardinal Ratzinger has sent the meeting a message on behalf of the Pope. The text of this is reproduced below. The fact of this intervention is reported here.

What the Bishop of Pittsburgh said at the meeting can be found in full here, to give you a flavour of what the people at this meeting think should happen.

From Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Prefect of the congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The Vatican, on behalf of Pope John Paul II

I hasten to assure you of my heartfelt prayers for all those taking part in this convocation. The significance of your meeting is sensed far beyond Plano, and even in this city from which Saint Augustine of Canterbury was sent to confirm and strengthen the preaching of Christ’s Gospel in England. Nor can I fail to recall that barely 120 years later, Saint Boniface brought that same Christian faith from England to my own forebears in Germany.

The lives of these saints show us how in the Church of Christ there is a unity in truth and a communion of grace which transcend the borders of any nation. With this in mind, I pray in particular that God’s will may be done by all those who seek that unity in the truth, the gift of Christ himself.

With fraternal regards, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Joseph cardinal Ratzinger

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Wednesday, 8 October 2003

News from Texas

American Episcopalians who are unhappy about their General Convention’s actions on sexuality are meeting near Dallas Texas this week. Stephen Bates has written about this in the Guardian, US Anglicans set for split over gay bishop, and earlier had filed Gay bishop opponents meet in US. The BBC has also reported on this, US protest over gay bishop.
Despite these headlines, it’s worth noting that these people are not merely opposed to one particular bishop, but also to the approval given by the Convention to services of same-sex blessings at local diocesan discretion.

The organising body, the American Anglican Council has published this draft of the resolution that the meeting is going to be asked to adopt. Bearing in mind that the only people allowed to attend the meeting are those who have first signed up to this statement of faith it’s unlikely to change a whole lot. Here is the draft agenda for the meeting.

The finances of this body are an interesting subject. A recent report on this aspect was in the Church Times.

Later Note: Here is the New York Times article mentioned in a Comment below, Conservative Anglicans Rally to Reorganize Church Power, and here is a National Public Radio interview with various participants and others.

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Tuesday, 7 October 2003

More stories from Rome

Jonathan Petre of the Telegraph was with the Archbishop of Canterbury in Rome and filed these reports on Monday:
The Pope was frail, his hand trembled, but his sheer willpower shone through and
Williams keeps to Church tradition on gays which rather confirms the view expressed on Sunday by Andrew Brown.
Meanwhile The Times published these two stories:
Evangelicals warm to the Pope
Gay row risks Catholic links, says Williams

And also, this radio report on the BBC (needs Real Audio) link here includes quotes from what RW said at the press conference.

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Sunday, 5 October 2003

Sunday papers on ABC and Pope

The Sunday Telegraph: Archbishop of Canterbury pays homage to ‘dying’ Pope

The Sunday Times: Pope rebukes Williams on gay clergy

The Observer: Church rifts remain after Pope meets Archbishop

Later addition: The Independent: Pope rebukes C of E over gay clergymen

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Saturday, 4 October 2003

ABC in Rome

Today, the main Anglican news is about the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Rome. Below is a link to what the Archbishop said to the Pope at the Vatican. What the Pope said can be found here - in English.

What the BBC reported about all this is here, Pope warns on gay priests. A BBC video report can be viewed here (needs Real Player).

Today The Times carried this report, Hardliners use Pope’s decline to delay ecumenism, says Anglican, in which the new Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Bishop John Flack is extensively interviewed by Rome correspondent Richard Owen.

Other reports of today’s audience in Rome: Associated Press, Reuters.

Archbishop of Canterbury’s Greeting to Pope John Paul II

Archbishop of Canterbury’s Greeting to Cardinal Kasper

Address of Cardinal Kasper at the Installation of the new Director of the Anglican Centre, Bishop John Flack

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UK church news roundup

‘Gay’ church service offer rejected from the Manchester Evening News on 2 October. The Bishop of Manchester offered LGCM the opportunity to join the regular cathedral morning service on 26 October, but they had already made other arrangements. The bishop had met the LGCM secretary earlier, see New hope on service axed at cathedral, story dated 29 September.

A story from Associated Press, dated 1 October says Vatican Sees Anglican Ties Progressing and has an interview with the Bishop of Rochester. More on the ABC’s visit to Rome later.

See report here on Ruth Gledhill’s NEAC reflections.

See report here on today’s Guardian Face to Faith column by Christopher Rowland.

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Thursday, 2 October 2003

More Leaks

The CEN has a story in tomorrow’s issue, already on the web, about a Plot to silence the Primates’ gay debate which sounds like something right out of a Whitehall farce.
There is a longer version of this article on Kendall Harmon’s blog here.

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Wednesday, 1 October 2003

News from Melbourne

Three items in Thursday’s Melbourne newspaper The Age caught Google’s alert eye :-) with Anglican content.
Muriel Porter’s Pell’s promotion cements push to a narrow church is subtitled The rise of traditionalists in Catholicism and Anglicanism puts the gospel in danger. About Archbishop Jensen, she says “Jensen’s activism on the world stage is geared to undermining the Anglican leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams… In a chilling recent interview, Jensen has said that the primates, when they meet in London in mid-October, must “offer such discipline to the North American churches that they could be faced with the need for repentance”. And the only discipline available is “withdrawal of fellowship”. He continued: “This is necessary because all around the world, not least in Africa, association with the decadent West is being used to criticise Christians and hinder the work of the gospel.”

In another article, Sydney bishop: time’s up for gays the newspaper reports in more detail on the content of an article to be published in Britain in the October issue of New Directions, the FiF magazine. Here is part of what The Age reports.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has “misjudged the present situation, and his peaceable approach has run out of time”, Dr Jensen writes.
Dr Jensen believes Dr Williams has three options. The first is to do nothing - but this would confirm the authority of heretical dioceses and drive orthodox believers out of the church.
The second option is to recognise both positions on homosexuality as valid, but conservatives could not accept this. It would ensure Anglicanism became merely a loose network rather than a church, Dr Jensen writes.
The third is to expel the US and New Westminster from the Communion. This would be the riskiest and bravest option, and would force many liberals out of the church, but would send a powerful moral and spiritual message to the church in the West, he writes.”
I will link to the full article in New Directions as soon as it is available.

Oh yes, the third article from Melbourne is a bit of an anti-climax, Church turns the other cheek reports that retired bishop John Spong will preach in Brisbane Cathedral this Sunday, a contrast to 2001 when the former archbishop banned him.

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Wednesday news roundup

Today the Telegraph has a story, a background piece, and a leader, all about a document found, or leaked, from Lambeth Palace about spin management. However, it turns out the document was written last June, which makes it a lot less interesting now.
Secret paper reveals Church spin plans to defuse gay crisis
The gatekeeper at Lambeth Palace
PR for JC
Later note: The Times carried a similar story.

Much more interesting is the story in The Times about what Tom Wright thinks.
Durham’s new Bishop abolishes Heaven and the soul. This relates to his new book For All The Saints? due to be published by SPCK on 24 October. Dr Wright says that Anglicans have drifted into a “muddle and a mess” over what happens to people after they die. They have put together “bits and pieces” of traditions, ideas and practices and created a “fudge” around the eschatological concepts of death, judgment, Heaven and Hell, he says.

Diarmid MacCulloch’s stunning radio interview yesterday is discussed on the TA blog.

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Sunday, 28 September 2003

News roundup - Sunday

On Saturday, the Guardian’s Stephen Bates had this, African bishops clash on gay issue.

The BBC’s Sunday radio programme had a segment on this too, which you can listen to with Real Audio here.

It also had a piece, partly but not entirely about Friday night’s Channel 4 TV programme with Rowan Williams, featuring an interview with Andrew Brown which you can listen to here.

On Sunday, the Telegraph has Opposing gay clergy ‘is like backing slavery’ which is based on an interview with Richard Harries, who is unrepentant over his attempt to appoint Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading.

Meanwhile The Sunday Times has a report of letters published by Lambeth Palace Library under this headline: Queen Mother letters reveal abdication blow. They also review Diarmid MacCulloch’s book REFORMATION: Europe’s House Divided 1490-1700 (see earlier and more colourful review mentioned here last week).

For other news, including Robin Eames’ article What Price Unity? and a report from Inclusive Church see here.

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Friday, 26 September 2003

Friday news report

The Australian ABC Online site reports that Africa’s Anglican council elects anti-gay head “Peter Akinola, primate for Nigeria, has taken over as head of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa.”
Stephen Bates reports in the Guardian that Imams join plea for gay tolerance. A group including muslim leaders as well as two bishops has written an open letter (I have not yet found the full text on the web) which says in part: “We affirm our resolute support for Dr Williams’s endeavours and we rededicate our efforts to fighting fundamentalism, aggressive proselytism and homophobia, and to defending the values of tolerance, inclusiveness and respect for differences which we all cherish.”
Channel 4 broadcast a thirty minute programme, the first of a series of four featuring Rowan Williams, which was previewed in The Times under the headline Williams to reject use of ‘designer babies’.
It’s Friday, so the Church Times is available.

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Wednesday, 24 September 2003

A quiet news day

For news from Nigeria, see this and for news from NEAC, see this.

There was a lull in the religious news coverage of the broadsheets on Wednesday. The Telegraph had to resort to running yet another story about the Reverend Shannon Ledbetter. This story is so old it had already made it to New Zealand and there was even an item on Channel 4 News tonight.
There were some letters in the Guardian about their NEAC article of 20 September.

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Monday, 22 September 2003

Monday news roundup

NEAC-related stories are here on the main TA blog.

Last week, Rowan Williams spoke at the National Festival Service of the Children’s Society in Canterbury Cathedral. This was reported in the Telegraph and the Observer.

Also, the two archbishops have appointed a new Appointments Secretary, Caroline Boddington.

Today, The Times carries its obituary of Bishop Jim Thompson.

St Laurence Eastwood church is under threat from Southend Airport, which is not expanding.

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Saturday, 20 September 2003

Saturday news roundup

The birth of Fulcrum and reports from NEAC are on the main TA blog today.
Bishop Jim Thomson died yesterday, here are reports from the BBC and the Telegraph.
The Times reported in more detail on the Methodist/Anglican service at which Richard Chartres repudiated the hostile sentiments of some of his predecessors as Bishop of London.
And see Peter Owen’s entry concerning another item in the Guardian.

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Friday, 19 September 2003

News items

Not exactly news in any sense, but Andrew Brown drew Church Times readers attention today to this extraordinary article in the Spectator, Render unto the Pope… in which Adrian Hilton says that the EU is a means of undoing the Reformation and extending Vatican sovereignty over Britain.

The BBC reported yesterday on the decision of the Church in Wales to openly debate the issue of sexuality, see here and also the main TA blog entry about this decision.

Meanwhile in England, the BBC notes that NEAC is starting today, and says that “The great majority of evangelicals - who make up the largest group in the Church - are vehemently opposed to the appointment of homosexual clergy”.

In this regard, the Second Church Estates Commissioner answered questions in the House of Commons on Tuesday and the text of the exchanges is here.

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Sunday, 14 September 2003

Sunday papers

Christopher Morgan in the Sunday Times reports that “The Church of England has forced Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, into an embarrassing climbdown over his plans to commemorate the end of the Iraq war with a triumphant thanksgiving service.”

The Telegraph reports that Churches call for Christianity to be part of national syllabus

The Observer has an article (with colour pictures not on the web, sorry) entitled Anglicans face schism over gay row and subtitled Conservative US bishops prepare to take on liberal British wing in bitter struggle for Church’s soul.

The story must be hotting up, even Sky News, the Cable/Satellite TV channel, mentioned it.

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Nazir-Ali on sexuality and unity

I have not found this on the CEN site itself, only a news story about it, Bishop makes robust defence of marriage which also says “In his article, he also gives Biblical evidence of the justification for a fracturing of the Anglican Communion.”

The full text can be found on Kendall Harmon’s blog.

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Saturday, 13 September 2003

News on Saturday

The Manchester Evening News reports on the Cathedral/LGCM row, Gay Row Vicars Quit.
The Telegraph reports that Muslims boycott Archbishop’s talks.
Both The Times and the Telegraph report on the CofE at the Wedding Show.
The Times has had several responses lately from readers (paper or online) about current tensions in Anglicanism, and yesterday’s letter from the Duke of Richmond is particularly worth noting.
Meanwhile Anglican/Methodist relations should benefit by the action of the Bishop of London next Monday. The Times reports that the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, will tear up a document containing “sentences of exclusion”, in an act of reconciliation outside St Giles, Cripplegate, London.

And see the main TA blog for the item from the Financial Times.

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Friday, 12 September 2003

Friday report

Jonathan Petre reports in the Telegraph that two area deans in the Diocese of Manchester have resigned from that office in protest against the decision not to allow LGCM to hold a service in the cathedral.

The Telegraph and The Times report on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s address on education.

The Church Times is here.

And also…
Businesman converted by a curry from the Eastern Daily Press

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Thursday, 11 September 2003

News roundup

Several major news items appeared recently here on the main TA blog

  • the statement of the CofI bishops on Human Sexuality
  • the petition about Manchester Cathedral
  • a Guardian article on Science and Religion.

In a lighter vein, here are two stories about the Churches Advertising Network in The Times and the Telegraph.

And The Times reported that Cherie Booth spoke at the Womens Interfaith Network.

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Tuesday, 9 September 2003

Church news from Britain

A bumper crop.

VAT problems not solved yet: Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph reports that EU bars move to cut Church VAT.

A second ‘Creationism’ school opens its doors. Yuck.

The CofE announces that it will have a stand at the National Wedding Show.

The Guardian reports that Girl and boy choristers sound the same, says professor and so does The Times, Cathedral choir study shows girls sound the same as boys, the Independent, Girls’ singing voices ‘are just as pure as boys’, and the Telegraph Genders singing from same songbook.

Two letters to the editor of The Times on RW’s recent article, and on the Manchester affair.

Ruth Gledhill reports on government plans to change the role of the church in maintaining paper registers, Births, marriages and deaths - the end of life’s paper trail.

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Monday, 8 September 2003

News from Africa

At last, an Anglican bishop has spoken about the woman waiting to be stoned to death in Nigeria for adultery. The Guardian’s Stephen Bates interviewed Archbishop Ndungane, African cleric breaks ranks on gay issue. I think this story is at least as important as the one in the headline.

“There is a woman waiting to be stoned to death for adultery in Nigeria and yet we are not hearing any fuss from the leadership of the church there about that,” he said.”

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Sunday, 7 September 2003

Sunday newspaper roundup

The only church story I found in the British Sunday papers is by Christopher Morgan in the Sunday Times, 350 churches now no-go for Williams. This report is based on the number of parishes opposed to the ordination of women as priests in the Church of England that have currently invoked the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 to obtain extended episcopal oversight in one form or another under what is popularly called Resolution C including, but not limited to, those served by one of the three Provincial Episcopal Visitors. This is hardly news, but Morgan thinks this number will go up significantly when women bishops are approved. (It really depends on what form the legislation eventually takes.) As hardly any of the “C” churches are conservative evangelical ones, one suspects the number of places who would not welcome RW is considerably greater than 350. Morgan notes that similar methods may be proposed to deal with American opponents of gay bishops.

Saturday’s Credo column by Bishop Geoffrey Rowell is always good reading.

An item in the Richmond and Twickenham Times caught my attention: Church refuses to meet cash demand is about a parish that is unwilling to pay its diocesan contribution in full. The report is slightly suspect since this parish, St James Hampton Hill is actually in London diocese, not Southwark, but it is clear they are not short of the money: “In contrast, St James’s own news was more positive - detailed drawings have been completed for the west porch project. The church is also planning a restoration project for its stained glass windows over the next decade. An expert from the Victoria and Albert Museum has inspected the windows and was reported to be enthusiastic about renovating them.”

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Friday, 5 September 2003

Friday news stories

More on Manchester Cathedral and on the upcoming NEAC conference in Blackpool:
Times, Ruth Gledhill, Evangelicals to call for US Church’s suspension
Telegraph, Jonathan Petre, Evangelicals in show of strength
Independent, Gay group protests over ban on holding cathedral service
Guardian, Stephen Bates, Manchester Cathedral drops gay service and
Anglican evangelicals in crisis meeting
Church Times, Bill Bowder, Manchester pulls gay service and
Pat Ashworth, Blackpool congress on course to attract 2000
and while we are at it, Rachel Harden, Opposition to US bishop grows

See also on the main TA blog for
news of what plans for 15 October.

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Thursday, 4 September 2003

News from Manchester

Here we go again!
Manchester Cathedral Chapter has issued this statement concerning the withdrawal of their previous agreement to host a service for the LGCM Conference planned for October
This has been reported so far as follows:
BBC Cathedral ‘bans’ gay group
ITV Gay Bishop banned from preaching

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Tuesday, 2 September 2003

News and Views

The top story this week, about RW’s New Directions article continues to be reported on the TA main blog. I hope to link to the full text of this article within the next 24 hours.
Addition: follow the link above for the full text of the RW article

Meanwhile the following editorial piece appeared in the monthly Canadian magazine, Anglican Journal. Lots of other interesting Anglican stories in there.

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Sunday, 31 August 2003

More news updates

See the main TA blog for the main Sunday Anglican news story.

Other stories in the Sunday papers:
More Christopher Morgan, Shrinking church finds a quick fix in speed dating (well Philip Giddings is against it so it might be worth checking out).
More about from the BBC.

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Sunday, 24 August 2003

24 August news items

Massive scheme to boost Church schools in the Guardian

Archbishop gives holy reference to asylum teenager in The Times

Internet vicar uses virtual religion to woo stayaway flock in the Telegraph (the quoted URL for this has little to show so far)

Gay fury at vicar’s outburst in the Manchester Evening News for 23 August

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Saturday, 23 August 2003

Saturday news items

Slightly better day for news.

Hard men who found Jesus by Greg Watts in the Guardian.

Ruth Gledhill interviews Barry Morgan, Is this the bishop with the inclusive touch? Well yes ? and no

Letter from Lord Carey in The Times, Path of faith on the ‘road map’

And since I referred to Galileo in an earlier entry, the Independent has a news story, Vatican rewrites history to insist it did not persecute Galileo
(There is a short editorial comment as well but this is available to read only upon payment.)

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Friday, 22 August 2003

News Roundup 22 August

Some church news of sorts.

Archdeacon says churches need bingo and markets to survive

Thieves ransack 20 churches

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Wednesday, 20 August 2003

Newsweek on Anglicans

There’s a severe religious news shortage in England, so here are two articles from Newsweek magazine.

First, from the International edition, Crisis in the Communion

Second, from the US edition, Gays in Church and State

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Saturday, 16 August 2003

Friday News - a new book

See this item in the TA weblog which was the only real news for Friday.

Apart of course from the Church Times. My Internet Basics column in the paper version, on Windows Security, was fortuituously topical. (I wrote it on 31 July, well before the latest worm was discovered.)

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Thursday, 14 August 2003

Brisbane is not Sydney

Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane has written an article in his diocesan magazine Focus, which is reported today in the Melbourne Herald under the heading Archbishop backs gay talks.

The diocesan website currently has only the June issue available but the whole article might, I suppose, become available there eventually.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 14 August 2003 at 9:03 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 13 August 2003

Report of Putney meeting

Mary Ann Sieghart has written this article in The Times:
If all liberals left the church it would cease to be a national institution and become a narrow sect.

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Tuesday, 12 August 2003

News on Tuesday

Both the Telegraph and Guardian carry reports of an exciting archeological discovery in Ireland: a bronze bell shrine dating from 1180-1200 AD.

The Manchester Evening News reports that Manchester Cathedral chiefs have NOT agreed to let gay American bishop-elect Canon Gene Robinson preach there in October, it has emerged. Full story under the headline The gay guessing game here.

Meanwhile Desmond Tutu has said he does not understand all the fuss about appointing a gay bishop, but he has urged homosexual clergy to remain celibate.
See Tutu to gay clerics: be celibate.

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Monday, 11 August 2003

Monday press roundup

Well, it’s not published on Monday but the Spectator has a cover story by Peter Hitchens titled God Save the Nation. If you don’t like the Mail on Sunday then you won’t like this article either.

An interesting story is in The Times where Ruth G writes about Migrants provide lifeline for Churches. Anglican churches are not featured in this story, which is why I mention it.

The Guardian has a roundup of press comment about the New Hampshire affair under the heading ‘It is not supposed to feel natural’.

Not a British paper, but the Los Angeles Times has a good article on the same topic including an African viewpoint. Two Worlds Collide in Anglican Church.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 11 August 2003 at 9:12 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Sunday, 10 August 2003

Sunday press reports

Not a lot of Anglican news today.

In the Sunday Times magazine, Jasper Gerrard has an interview with Gene Robinson I want to be a good bishop not a gay bishop.

In the Independent on Sunday, Simon Parke: Why, after 20 years as a priest, I am leaving the Church of England which is subtitled The Pharisees are running the asylum because they are rich and the Church of England is bankrupt.

The Observer’s front page had a tiny cartoon but no story, which was odd. And Richard Ingrams wrote a bilious comment which perpetuates the errors of history about Gene Robinson. As even Peter Jensen has publicly apologised for unwittingly doing this, I wrote to the Observer Readers’ Editor requesting a correction.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 10 August 2003 at 2:46 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 9 August 2003

Saturday Press Roundup

This covers the broadsheets only. There’s one major topic, unsurprisingly.

In the Guardian Patrick Collinson writes about the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the current disputes concerning homosexual bishops: Stand by your man.
Also in the Guardian, in Church calls gay priest summit, Kirsty Scott reports on the meeting of primates that Rowan Williams has called, to be held in October, and includes comments on this move by a variety of people. She was told the date of the meeting is not yet decided. We think it is planned for Wednesday and Thursday 15-16 October.

Jonathan Petre’s version of what the summit means is in the Telegraph headed
Williams calls crisis meeting to avoid split over gay bishop and there is a critical column by Mark Steyn entitled Anglicans seem to take a sacrament as whatever turns you on but Christopher Howse’s regular Sacred Mysteries column has a much more interesting historical perspective on the matter.

Ruth Gledhill’s take on the summit is in The Times as Gay summit will seal church’s fate (don’t miss the cartoon too) and letters about this are also printed. One of them reminds us about what Article 26 says. Ruth also had a day out in the Lake District recently for At Your Service.

There are two other articles in The Times (thank you Nick for pointing them out), one by Nicholas Wapshott on the ECUSA convention Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition and an opinion column by Matthew Parris entitled No, God would not have approved of gay bishops.

The online version of the Independent had nothing worth linking to here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 9 August 2003 at 10:15 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Friday, 8 August 2003

UK press reports - Friday

On the web, not in the paper:
Episcopal Leaders OK Same-Sex Blessings

Gay bishop summit called

Thin pickings indeed in the papers…

Rector resigns over rock star’s girlfriend

Vicar quits after kissing Entwistle’s girlfriend

And from overseas, an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle that shows how some outside the church in the USA view recent events.

Also it’s Friday so see the Church Times for more news stories.

And some earlier items that I missed:

Ruth Gledhill yesterday (Thursday, online only not in paper, if I
understand it correctly) on on why the gay bishop row is good news.

Ruth again last Tuesday on Lambeth Conference will provide next battleground.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 8 August 2003 at 12:28 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Thursday, 7 August 2003

Wednesday, 6 August 2003

Anglican Imperialism?

This report by Kevin Jones describes how the funding for various third-world mission activities really comes from the American Anglican Council via INFEMIT and NAME. The research and study centre of INFEMIT is the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 6 August 2003 at 8:44 PM GMT | TrackBack
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