Saturday, 3 March 2007

Students seek removal of don who spoke out on migrants

Ed: This one fits in the 'erosion of freedom' category for this blog (see also Christian Magistrate loses discrimination case).

Leading academics yesterday defended an eminent Oxford professor against a students' call for him to be sacked for his links to an immigration think-tank.

Oxford Student Action for Refugees has circulated a petition seeking the removal of Professor David Coleman, a leading expert in demographics, because of his connections with MigrationWatch.

The students believe that because MigrationWatch warns about the negative effects of present and future immigration, it is inherently racist.

But Professor Coleman condemned what he called a "shameful attack on academic independence and freedom of speech". Read more

John Humphrys: The return of God?

[...] Prospect - the intellectuals' favourite monthly magazine - seems to think so. It has an influence out of all proportion to its tiny circulation and a reputation for its rigorously highbrow approach and its front page recently carried the pretty unambiguous headline: "God returns to Europe".

Dr Eric Kaufmann of Birbeck College, who wrote the piece, based on largely demographic evidence, said there is a religious revival "that may be as profound as that which changed the course of the Roman empire in the 4th century". Heady stuff if you are one of the believers. Mildly worrying if you're not. Seriously worrying if you are scared that what has happened in the United States might possibly be happening here.

Admittedly, that seems unlikely. Until the last congressional elections almost half the senators and congressmen were claimed by the religious fundamentalists as their own. Even if the politicians had wanted to they could not disown the religious Right. Read more

Christian magistrate loses case on gay adoption discrimination

A Christian magistrate who says he was forced to quit the bench because he does not agree with adoption by gay couples has lost a discrimination case.

Andrew McClintock, of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, said civil partnership laws clashed with his religious beliefs.

He told a tribunal he did not want to have to remove a child from its natural family into the care of a gay couple. Read more

Post-gay testimonies at Synod fringe meeting

In the debates in Synod this week there were many stories of people in same-sex relations who were asking for inclusion as they were. Anglican Mainstream hosted a “fringe meeting” in which two people spoke of the transformation they had experienced in their sexual preferences at the foot of the Cross.

Rev Peter Ould and James Parker whose work involves engaging with people who have unwanted same-sex attractions spoke from their own experience of moving out of homosexual practice and attraction into a fuller identity in Christ, and answered questions. Such voices are often unheard in the current debates.

The meeting which was a contribution to the Anglican Communion Listening Process was chaired by the Venerable Michael Lawson, Archdeacon of Hampstead. Read more

Virginia Episcopalians 'won't do anything differently' after Communique

emands from Anglican Communion leaders that the Episcopal Church USA stop blessing same-sex unions and ordaining gay bishops by Sept. 30 have clergy at some gay-friendly churches in Virginia speaking out.

“Here at Trinity we won’t be doing anything differently,” said Rev. Vinnie Lainson, associate rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Manassas, Va., and a member of the executive board of the Diocese of Virginia. “We don’t do same-sex blessings and we’re not bishops so we don’t ordain. Gays and lesbians are completely woven into the fabric of life here. These people have parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren.” Read more

Camden 'outrage' at CofE bid to run new secondary

Ed: Should be outrage at the spelling in this headline. Check it out!

CHURCH of England plans to take charge of Camden's new £20million secondary school have been criticised by opponents.

Last week the Ham&High exclusively revealed that Church of England bosses want to run the new school planned to be open in Avenue Road, Swiss Cottage, by 2011.

Governor at Torriano Junior school Luca Salice said: "I am horrified at this news because there are already enough church schools in Camden.

"I think if there is any need for more diversity in Camden schools then there should be a Muslim school, but ideally there would not be any religion in schools." Read more

Tanzania Daily News: Communique 'delaying inevitable schism'

WHEN the Anglican church broke off from Rome on the issue of the marriage of priests, little did they know that the issue will come to haunt them four and a half centuries later. The spectre of same-sex marriage in the general population was not an issue then, but it is an issue now for male and female clerics.

As the year 2006 drifted to an end, the ship of the Anglican Church seemed to be sailing towards stormy arctic waters away from the Cape of Good Hope. The recent meeting in Dar es Salaam showed how difficult it is to heal wounds arising from the consecration of a gay bishop in 2003 in the USA Episcopalian church, and the blessing of same sex marriages that continues in some western churches.

The Dar es Salaam declaration giving the liberal churches until September 2007 deadline to stop blessing same sex marriages and the ordination of gay clergy is a compromise to delay an inevitable schism of the Communion. Read more

Lord Bishop calls for 'social inclusion' in London Olympics

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford is calling for the social inclusion of poor communities, asylum seekers and faith groups to be considered when planning the 2012 London Olympics.

Speaking during a debate on the subject, Reverend John Gladwin expressed his worries of a similar situation to the gentrification of the Tower Hamlets, where poorer communities were pushed out into Dagenham and Newham. Read more

Bp of Chelmsford speaks in Lords on Olympic Games

Ed: I rather like this site. It is called (appropriately) "They work for you", and allows you to keep up with the pronouncements of your MP or, in this case, your representative in the House of Lords.

My Lords, on the evening of 6 July 2005 I was licensing one of our priests to a parish in East Ham. He came from Burma, and in front of me was a multicultural congregation. There was a palpable sense of celebration and joy at the thought of the Olympics coming into their community. A very large portion of the Olympic site lies in my diocese. I and my colleagues, the right reverend Prelates the Bishop of Southwark, who is here today, and the Bishop of London, in collaboration with our ecumenical partners, seek to put a structure in place in the churches and the faith communities to ensure that we, too, think about how the legacy works out and how we can play our part in this great event. Read more

Friday, 2 March 2007

Diversity in Faith: Father Matthew Presents

A fascinating 'post-modern' look (if you notice the background music, you're old!) at the issue of 'diversity' in the Church, which will help you understand what is means.

Cardinal tells Pope Antichrist will be an ecumenist

Zenit is carrying details of the Lenten meditations being delivered this week to the Pope by Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, former Archbishop of Bologna. According to Zenit, Biffi told his listeners: "The Antichrist presents himself as pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist." This apparent attack on ecumenism comes as in an unprecedented move, the Orthodox have been given their own chapel in the Catholic Cathedral in Trier. The chapel will be used for both Catholic Byzantine and Orthodox services, a move which will get some Orthodox jumping up and down. Richard Owen is reporting on the Antichrist from Rome. That Pope Benedict XVI should have chosen Biffi, once himself considered possible papabile, for his Lenten meditations is of itself interesting. Biffi has in the past made quite clear what his views are about the dangers of the modern era. But that Biffi should then go straight in with a talk straight out of the Book of Revelation gives a fascinating insight into the present mindset of senior in Rome. This picture, by Durer, shows Christ and the Antichrist. Biffi also said in his meditation to the Pope and other Vatican clerics: 'He will convoke an ecumenical council and will seek the consensus of all the Christian confessions, granting something to each one. The masses will follow him, with the exception of small groups of Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants.' Read more

Bishops promote qualified support for gays and lesbians

THE BISHOPS obtained their goal for the General Synod’s Wednesday-morning debate on homosexuality. Their amendment, which had been designed to prevent any appearance of a shift of the C of E’s position in a liberal direction, was carried.

It does not leave the Synod exactly where it was, however. One speaker warned that it committed the whole Synod to Lambeth resolutions that have so far been debated only by the House of Bishops. The amended motion speaks of not “doing anything that could be perceived as the Church of England qualifying its commitment to the entirety of the relevant Lambeth Conference resolutions”.

One other amendment was carried. The Bishops’ amendment was itself amended so that it also acknowledged the importance of participation by lesbian and gay people in the “listening process”. Read more

Civil Partners policy gets a drubbing

Ed: This one is worth reading for the summary of speakers, including a number in Civil Partnerships or who have lived in a sexual relationship with their partners before marriage. Note especially the contributions for CHELMSFORD.

A TENSE DEBATE on Wednesday afternoon focused on whether the Synod agreed with sharp criticism, expressed in a private member’s motion, of the Bishops’ Pastoral Statement on civil partnerships.

In the end, the amendment from the House of Bishops drew the sting, but it was itself amended so as to remove a section that described their statement as a “balanced and sensitive attempt to apply the Church’s teaching to civil partnerships”. Read more

General Synod divided over homosexuality

TWO DEBATES on Wednesday exposed deep divisions in the General Synod over sexuality. Speakers ranged from those who believe that homosexuality is a condition that can be healed to priests living in same-sex partnerships.

The second debate, on Wednesday afternoon, contained sharp criticism, expressed in a private member’s motion, of the Bishops’ Pastoral Statement in support of the Government’s introduction of civil partnerships.

In the end, an amendment from the House of Bishops drew the sting, but it was itself amended so as to remove a section that described their statement as a "balanced and sensitive attempt to apply the Church’s teaching to civil partnerships". Read more

Schori prescribes calm for TEC

With the near-sedate delivery of the scientist and scholar that she is, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori addressed The Episcopal Church in an hour-long webcast Feb. 28 from Trinity Church Wall Street in New York.

The Presiding Bishop blended a summary of information about the five-day meeting of the primates of the Anglican Communion, which had concluded 10 days earlier, with her personal insight into the primates’ communiqué and its call for certain actions by The Episcopal Church before a specified point in time.

Bishop Jefferts Schori explained that the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church were experiencing great pain because the nerves have been stretched. But, she went on, just as a doctor should refrain from cutting off the limbs that feel pain — because that seldom solves the problem — the church must refrain from trying to end its distress by cutting itself into pieces. Read more

Anglicans 'forced to find clarity'

The Episcopal Church USA, on the verge of a split with its worldwide religious body over homosexuality, is being "pushed toward a decision by impatient forces within and outside this church," according to the group's head.

But other current and former Episcopalians in the United States are welcoming the ultimatum that the heads of the world's 37 other Anglican denominations are forcing on the American church. Together, the denominations make up the Anglican Communion, which has 38 national and regional member bodies.

Pro-gay Episcopal groups, meanwhile, have urged church leaders not to view worldwide Anglican unity as a reason to retreat from gay rights. Much of the undue pressure, they say, comes not only from domestic dissidents but also from Third-World Anglicans who hold more conservative views on homosexuality than their American counterparts. Read more

Most couples marry in church for the service

More than half of those planning to get married in church say the vicar who officiates at their service is just as important a part of their wedding as the setting of the church for their photos, according to a research report released by the Church of England in January.

The findings, released on the denomination’s Web site, show that 75 per cent of those opting for a church ceremony say that one of the main reasons for their choice is that they want a “proper” wedding. They see church as a positive choice, and not “just another venue.” In fact, 60 per cent of those surveyed said that their church has a particular meaning for them or their spouse. Read more

NY Times: Anglican Church should divorce

THE decision of the global Anglican Communion to threaten the Episcopal Church, its American affiliate, with expulsion is about much more than the headline issue of homosexuality. Yes, the impending divorce has been precipitated by the decision of the Episcopal Church to consecrate a gay bishop and to allow individual congregations to decide whether or not to allow gay marriages. But as so often in religious history, the deeper issue is one of church governance. In effect, the Episcopalians left the Church of England more than two centuries ago. Read more

Inclusion divides Anglican church

The issue of sexuality was a major topic at the recently concluded Anglican Church Primates meeting in Dar es Salaam, specifically how sexuality is handled within the Episcopal Church in the United States.

The Primates issued a communiqué sharply critical of the Episcopal Church's level of acceptance of gays and lesbians into full participation in church activities, as evidenced by the election of an openly gay Bishop in the New Hampshire diocese and through the blessing of same-sex unions.

The communiqué, issued on Feb. 19, said that each practice should stop. Read more

Children commit 'rising number of sex crimes'

Children at risk of sex offending need more help in a bid to reverse the rising number of sex crimes committed by youngsters, experts say.

Charities say the internet is a growing factor, with children as young as five treated for inappropriate behaviour. Read more

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Why Christianity has not changed Africa - and how the Philip Project is responding

[...] 'Never before in history has a whole continent seen such a radical change. with Christianity gaining more than 50% of the population in a single century. The spiritual turning to God has, sadly, not impacted the politics of the continent.'

[...] The main reason the spiritual impact has not been felt in other areas of life is syncretism. There are numerous examples of syncretism, some outlined below:

* There was 'Chrislam' in Nigeria - an attempt to marry Christianity and Islam.
* There was Bishop Milingo in Zambia who had to be recalled to the Vatican when his healing ministry overstepped the mark by the use of 'animistic ritual and paraphernalia. '
* There was Kimbangu in central Africa who founded the largest independent denomination in Africa - 5 Million in 1984. One researcher found that Kimbangu's name replaces that of the Holy spirit in many Kimbanguists hymns.
* There is ... 'double think.' This is the tendency by African Christians to hold two or more contradictory world views without any major torment of the soul. This paradigm for instance, allows many African Christians to refuse to countenance voting for someone from a different ethnic group while at the same time espousing the Christian virtue of the equality of all people. A similar dynamic is at play ... when Christians are accused of participating in ethnic cleansing if not abetting it. Read more

Bishop of London to deliver Lent talks on internet

The Bishop of London will deliver a series of talks throughout Lent on the subject of 'Missing God'.

The four talks on 'Missing God' will feature the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Dr Richard Chartres, addressing an audience at St Stephen Walbrook. Each session will be followed by an open questions and answers session.

The talks will be unique in that Bishop Chartres has chosen to use the latest technology to reach out to as many as possible. The series will be recorded for broadcast through the internet on Read more

LGCM tells Williams church 'stinks' over Nigerian gay policies

[...] I am afraid to say, and do so with a very heavy heart, that it is clear you have failed your own test and lost much moral authority in this thankless process. It is hardly surprising then that we and increasing numbers of faithful Anglicans find any attempt to give the Primates the "enhanced" authority they seek through the Covenant, risible.

We note you continue to lament how lesbian and gay people are treated with contempt and ignored, yet we see little hope of this changing. Tell me, if America has failed to follow the teaching of the first part of Lambeth 1.10, and so sets itself apart from the Communion, why is it that those who act as the Nigerian Church and defy its teaching on "listening" are not in the same position?

Sadly we do not like the look of your new "catholic" church – it seeks order but finds ordure. Read more

Two choices facing the Anglican Communion

[...] Two scenarios, however, do present themselves as possible options: One is that the Global South Primates, lead by Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola and eleven of his South south archbishops, could decide to leave and form their own communion, by simply refusing to attend Canterbury in 2008 and setting up a parallel Lambeth style conference on African soil.

Another scenario, one that seems to be gaining ground, is that The Episcopal Church will withdraw itself from the Anglican Communion making null and void any further discussion on sexuality issues. Believing that its adoption of the homosexual agenda now makes it impossible to stay with a communion that does not understand its progressive views on sexual morality, indeed the Christian Faith itself, TEC will go its own way with fifteen or more countries they have been supporting financially. Thus, the TEC will have their own "more perfect union." Read more

Synod rejects church's gay 'marriage' advice

The Church of England was in disarray over homosexuality this evening after the General Synod refused to endorse the bishops' controversial policy on gay "marriages".

The House of Bishops issued pastoral guidance in 2005 saying that gay clergy could enter into civil partnerships, but only if they first assured their bishops that they would abstain from sex.

But conservatives and liberals unexpectedly united today to reject a description by the bishops of their guidance as a "balanced and sensitive attempt" to apply Church teaching to civil partnerships. Instead, the Synod supported a motion acknowledging deep splits over the issue and encouraging the bishops to review their policy.

The Synod decision will be seen as a slap in the face for the bishops, who presented a unified front in defence of their guidance today even though they are themselves profoundly divided. Read more

Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Chelmsford Diocese goes bananas for Fair Trade!

Come to Chelmsford Cathedral’s Fairtrade events this weekend (3 and 4 March) and a get a free Marks and Spencers Fairtrade banana!

A friendly gorilla today surprised Steven Webb, Chief Executive of Chelmsford Diocese, outside his office in New Street, Chelmsford today and presented him with a bunch of M & S Fairtrade bananas to launch the start of Fairtrade Fortnight. Read more

Integrity USA calls for rejection of Primates' Communique

Behold, NOW is the acceptable time… write, e-mail, or call your bishops and the Presiding Bishop. Tell them to reject the primates’ demands for moratoria on gay & lesbian bishops and rites for blessing same-gender relationships. Do it TODAY, before the House of Bishops meets on March 16th at Camp Allen, Texas. Read more (on how to lobby a bishop)

Head of security 'converted' in Dar es Salaam

During the Primates' Meeting in Dar es Salaam, we heard a lot about the tight security. Now CANA bishop Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Church in the US, has thrown a little more light onto what was going on behind the scenes. In a sermon preached at Truro the other day, on a 'question of identity', he ended by describing how the head of security, a South African called Dudley, responded when one of the Primates broke a bone in his foot. Read more

India's missing girls

Daughters aren't wanted in India. So many female foetuses are illegally aborted that baby boys now hugely outnumber baby girls, while a government minister has begged parents to abandon their children rather than kill them. What does this mean for the country's future, ask Raekha Prasad and Randeep Ramesh Read more

Synod Passes Compromise Resolution on Homosexuality

The Church of England’s General Synod has passed a compromise resolution on homosexuality after a lengthy debate on a high profile private members’ motion asking Synod to accept homosexuals at every level of the Church.

The motion put forward by the Rev Mary Gilbert of the Lichfield Diocese asked Synod to “respect the patterns of holy living which lesbians and gay Christians aspire” and “welcome and affirm lesbian and gay Christians, lay and ordained, valuing their contribution at every level of the Church”.

Some Synod members were wary of debating the motion so soon after the difficult five-day meeting in Tanzania between the Primates of the Anglican Communion which concluded with a communiqué to the Episcopal Church of the USA asking it to clarify its position on homosexuality by September 30. Read more

Statement denies budget cuts to fund 'palaces'

Responding to media reports, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, Bishop of London and acting chairman of the Board of Governors of the Church Commissioners, said:

"It is simply not true that the parish mission fund is being raided to pay for overdue repairs on major heritage buildings. The truth of the matter is that the Church - in common with many organisations - is operating in a new context of pensions regulation. Read more

Mission budgets may be cut to fund C of E bishop's palaces

The rising cost of maintaining the palaces of Church of England bishops may be met by cutting spending on parish missions it emerged yesterday.

Figures released at the church's general synod ('parliament') in London showed that the church's spending on bishops, including their official residences, has risen by 40% in two years, from £20.7m to £29.5m.

To accommodate the costs, the house of bishops privately agreed last month to give a lower priority to sustaining the church's £4.7m parish mission fund - the money spent on maintaining its local proselytising efforts - and even to cutting spending on books for theological students completely, reports the Guardian newspaper. Read more

'Legalise drugs' says Southwark Dean

[...] Speaking outside Church House, Westminster during the annual February meeting of the Church of England's General Synod, the Dean of Southwark, Colin Slee, told The Times that the recent shootings in south London, all in his diocese, were all drugs related. Referring to the Ipswich prostitute murders, he said other social ills such as prostitution were also fuelled by drugs dependency. Read more

AN Wilson 'rather ashamed' of book on Jesus

[...] Many years ago, a London publisher asked me to write a life of Jesus based on historical fact. I did so, making out Jesus to be no more than a very wonderful prophet, and the book was a best-seller. But I have always been rather ashamed of it, to tell the truth.

It missed out the large elephant sitting in the room beside me as I wrote - the millions of Christian believers who have existed since the time of Jesus. You see, there is almost no historical evidence about Jesus outside the Christian Gospels.

There are a few stray references to Jesus in ancient writers - one allusion by the Roman historian Tacitus and a few sentences by the Jewish historian Josephus, who was a contemporary of Jesus (sentences which many believe were added later by Christians anyway).

But the only serious written 'source' for the life of Jesus comes from the Gospels.

The Gospels themselves were all the products of an institution which still survives in our world: the Christian, or Catholic, Church. The Gospels were not written down to make a quick buck in Hollywood. Nor were they trying to attract a London publisher.

They were the written record, probably dating from a generation after Jesus, of what people already believed about Him, a group of men and women who were convinced He was still alive, that in their sharing of the Eucharist they were in touch with a man who had risen from the dead.

Why did they do so? That is for each and every human being to decide for themselves. The four books attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written to sustain the communities of faith in Rome, and Palestine, and Asia Minor, which already in those early years believed Jesus to be Lord.

They contain stories of Jesus rising from the dead and leaving an empty tomb. A fantastic story which, in their time, as in ours, was rejected as unbelievable by the vast majority of intellectuals and pagans.

But this, believe it or not, is the story of Jesus. You either accept the Gospel narrative or you reject it. As soon as you try to make up your own version, as Dan Brown did in The Da Vinci Code, you enter the realm of pure fantasy.

There is something essentially ludicrous about the idea that the truth about Jesus could have been hidden for nearly two thousand years, only to be revealed by the director of Titanic. Read more

Bones of Jesus resurface (again)

"The Tomb That Dare not speak its name"

That was the headline on the front page of The Sunday Times News Review in the UK, 31 March 1996. The story created a little stir, but it was only a little stir. The theme was the discovery of a family tomb in the Talpiot area of Jerusalem which apparently contained ossuaries which featured several names in common with characters from the Gospel story, Jesus son of Joseph and Mary among them, though rather less promisingly also a Judas son of Jesus and a Matthew. Some speculated that the The Sunday Times story was an April Fools joke, but it turned out that it was in fact advance publicity for an Easter day edition of Heart of the Matter on BBC1, presented by Joan Bakewell, and featuring a documentary about the resurrection, with a study of the tomb, and then a debate featuring Gerd Lüdemann, Michael Goulder and Tom Wright. None of those in the studio would give the idea that the tomb had anything to do with Jesus of Nazareth a moment's consideration. The story passed and few thought any more about it. Read more

Kendall Harmon on how TEC turns 'weasel words' into an art-form

[...] The next morning in the news conference there was a very entertaining exchange between Bishop Mark Sisk of New York and Monica Davey, the reporter for the New York Times covering the 2003 General Convention. “Recognize does not mean authorize,” Bishop Sisk was insisting. Ah. But that didn’t satisfy Ms. Davey. Were there same sex blessings going on in the Diocese of New York, she asked. Indeed, Bishop Sisk said. Was he aware of them. Yes came the bishops response. Did he encourage those who wanted to do them, Ms. Davey wanted to know. The Bishop demurred. So what is the difference between that and authorization, she asked. The Bishop smiled a wry smile and then looked down and didn’t answer, seemingly as if a secret door in his desk had been exposed. Read more

Ruth Gledhill interviews Greg Venables

Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone kindly agreed to speak to me about the Primates' Meeting.

We spoke in the little church next to Lambeth Palace, now converted to a museum, just hours before the Archbishop of Canterbury addressed the Church of England's General Synod and acknowledged that to the outside world, it looked as though the Anglican Church was obsessed with sex.

Among what else Archbishop Venables said, which does not appear on the video, was his pleasure at being able to report the freedom at the meeting in Tanzania for everyone to express themselves. 'There was no political pressure,' he said. 'No-one was intimidated by any one Primate. That was significant, and helped the meeting a lot.' He said the communique was 'as good as we could expect from the meeting.' Read more

CofE Evangelicals welcome Primates' communique

Evangelicals in the Church of England have issued a statement of support on the recent communiqué on the Episcopal Church of the USA by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in Tanzania.

The Tanzania communiqué asks that the US Episcopal Church "make an unequivocal common covenant" by September 30 in which it gives the assurance that it will not authorise same-gender blessings or consecrate gay bishops unless the green light for such consecrations is given communion-wide.

David Banting, chairman of Reform, a network of mainstream Anglican evangelicals in the Church of England, welcomed the communiqué and the agreement among Primates in Tanzania that “the false teaching eating away at the life of the Communion should not be allowed to continue indefinitely”. Read more

Pakistani criticism of Primate

As the war between Western heterodox Episcopal bishops and orthodox Global South bishops and archbishops intensifies and it seems the Anglican Church and Communion are at the dawn of a breaking apart the illegitimate child of the Archbishop comes back to Pakistan with what seems to be an era of promoting homosexuality or same sex marriages in the Church of Pakistan.

Lately Bishop Malik has been bitterly criticized for blessing the marriage of his daughter Nadia a famous model with a Muslim in his cathedral. This act of his has been condemned by the majority of Christians all over Pakistan and he has been repeatedly asked to leave his office and go. Unfortunately there is no option of impeaching a bishop in the Church of Pakistan. Read more

Williams reveals SORs will differ for England

A written answer from the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Church of England's General Synod has revealed that new laws to protect LGB people from discrimination may be under threat.

Dr Rowan Williams said that the Sexual Orientation Regulations for Great Britain will differ from those already in force in Northern Ireland.

Although clearly the SORs will differ, because Prime Minister Tony Blair has granted Roman Catholic-run adoption agencies in Britain a transition period to comply with the law, Dr Williams' answer implies that there will be more exemptions for faith-based service providers.

"The regulations for Great Britain have yet to be published and will in some respects be different from those already approved by Parliament for Northern Ireland," he wrote. Read more

Robinson says TEC should not sacrifice gays to keep ties to Anglicans

The first openly gay Episcopal bishop, whose consecration has brought the world's Anglicans to the brink of schism, said Tuesday that the Episcopal Church in the U.S. should not give in to demands that it roll back its acceptance of gays.

New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson said in a statement that Episcopalians should set aside the Anglican Communion's request for now "and get on with the work of the Gospel" even at the risk of losing their place in the Anglican fellowship.

"Doesn't Jesus challenge the greater whole to sacrifice itself for those on the margins?" Robinson said. "Now is the time for courage, not fear." Read more

Monday, 26 February 2007

Proceedings of General Synod

Here for Tuesday pm.
Here fore Tuesday am.

Archbishop of Canterbury's Presidential Address to General Synod, February 2007

[...] we should have done more on what it means to be a Catholic church; we should have done more on the use of Scripture. And, mindful of the full text of Lambeth 1.10, we should have done more about offering safe space to homosexual people – including those who have in costly ways lived in entire faithfulness to the traditional biblical ethic – to talk about what it is like to be endlessly discussed and dissected in their absence, patronised or demonised. Again and again we have used the language of respect for their human dignity; again and again we have failed to show it effectively, convertingly and convertedly. This is not just about our fear or prejudice. It is also because we live in an environment that knows nothing of proper reticence in the public exposure and discussion of certain vulnerable places in our humanity. And what then happens is that every attempt to ‘listen to the experience of homosexual people’ is easily seen as political, an exercise in winning battles rather than winning understanding. Remember that in different ways this is an issue for our engagement with any and every minority group – how to secure patience and privacy and the space to be honest without foreclosing the outcomes of discussion. [...]

I am commending the Primates’ communiqué, for all its inevitable imperfections, as representing a serious attempt to go beyond the surface problems and to give us some space to look at the underlying and neglected theological factors. I’m well aware of the way in which the imminence of the Lambeth Conference focuses some of the risks and choices. But I’m also aware of the continuing obstinate will to make the Communion work, and to work as some sort of properly Catholic and Reformed unity. Read more

General Synod: Church seeks unity on gay rights

When the Synod of the Church of England meets this week the shadow of another meeting thousands of miles away on the shores of the Indian Ocean will be hanging over it.

That is because the same chill wind of division that preoccupied the archbishops in Tanzania will be blowing through Church House in Westminster. Read more

US Christians Continue to Welcome Anglican Communiqué on Episcopal Church

The Institute on Religion and Democracy is the latest US Christian body to welcome the communiqué released by the Primates of the Anglican Communion at the end of their meeting in Tanzania earlier in the month.

The communiqué issues an ultimatum to The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States over its position on human sexuality. In particular, the Church is given seven months (until September 30, 2007) to convey its definitive position on the blessing of same-sex unions and the elevation to episcopal orders of a candidate living in a same-sex relationship.

IRD Director of Anglican Action, Ralph Webb, said, “We commend the Primates for their strong reaffirmation of the Anglican Communion’s standard of teaching on marriage: that it is a permanent union between one man and one woman, and that Christians are to be abstinent outside of marriage.” Read more

Nigerian Pentecostals back Primates on gay couples

THE Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, and the God's Kingdom Society, GKS, have hailed the decision by bishops of the Anglican Communion that their counterparts in the United States should unequivocally bar official prayers for gay couples and stop the consecration of gay bishops to save the Church from further embarrassment.

Reacting to the statement issued by the bishops last Monday at the end of their six day meeting in Tanzania, PFN National President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and the GKS president, Brother Oseghale Aighalua said the bishops had by their stand sent a clear message to the world that homosexuality is abhorrent to the Christian faith. Read more

A tale of two archbishops as a Church is torn apart

IF ever an Archbishop of York deserved a feather in his mitre, it is John Sentamu. The feather's colour? Well, certainly not white; that denotes cowardice. So what colour? Green? Yes, definitely green. Green for go.

Dr Sentamu has plenty of go – get up and go. He gets up at the General Synod, as he did at York last summer, and Anglican legislators go all smiley. Read more

Anglicans to review stance on gay clergy

Church of England leaders are to re-examine their policy on civil partnerships following criticism that they have unwittingly given moral support to gay "marriage".

The House of Bishops issued guidance in 2005 allowing gay clergy to enter into such partnerships if they abstained from sex, arguing that this was compatible with its traditional teaching on marriage.

But a number of bishops have since complained they were misled by the Government about the true nature of the civil partnership legislation, which they fear has too many parallels with marriage.

They are angry that the Government, which claimed it had no intention of creating gay marriage, refused to give similar legal protection to that afforded by civil partnerships to brothers or sisters who share a home.

Moreover, some bishops were infuriated that at least one minister referred to civil partnerships as the equivalent to gay marriage, and a Government website briefly spoke of "wedding bells". Read more

Religion isn’ t the sickness. It’s the cure

[...] The modernist attack on religion was based on the victory of science, and particularly of neo-Darwinism. Yet science was open to the same challenge as religion; it could explain only half the world. The scientists, or some of them, sneered at religion for being unable to explain the developments of nature. Yet science itself was unable to produce a science-based morality for society. Marxism attempted to create a scientific social order that ended in monstrous and bloodthirsty tyranny. Social Darwinism either meant eugenics and the slaughter of babies who were not thought fit to survive, or it meant nothing. The Social Darwinism of George Bernard Shaw, or indeed that of Adolf Hitler, has been rejected by mankind. Read more

Pragmatism weakening African refusal of TEC money

The crisis within the 78 million-strong Anglican Christian community, which was so well illustrated in last week’s February 13-16 meeting in Dar es Salaam, could have profound implications for support for the poorest people in East Africa.

While the Church itself is bitterly divided over the issue of homosexuality, there appears to also be a growing division between those dioceses in Africa who seek to cut off all relations with Western Anglican churches who have supported the ordination of gay priests, and those who favour a pragmatic line because of the huge financial support provided to their congregations by Western churches.

This was well illustrated by the statement made by Bishop Mdimi Mhogolo of the Tanzanian diocese of Central Tanganyika, who has broken ranks with the Anglican Church of Tanzania in continuing to accept support from the New York branch of the US Episcopal Church. Read more

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Church Times: Primates issue challenge to US

SPECULATION about the long-term future of Anglicanism persists this week, despite apparent agreement among the Primates at the end of their five-day meeting in Tanzania.

Liberals find themselves under the greatest pressure from the Primates, as expressed in a final communiqué, issued late on Monday. The outcome has been described as a short-term compromise, which participants on both sides acknowledged to have been hard won.

In its aftermath, the Canadian Primate, the Most Revd Andrew Hutchison, has called on the Church of England and others to be more honest about the informal blessing of same-sex couples which takes place in their provinces. Read more

Tanzania Guardian interviews Rowan Williams

[...] We are reading the Bible, studying the Bible and making out of the Bible as best as we can. As priest of the Anglican Church, I am obliged to study the Bible four times a day.

And the issue in the Anglican Church at the moment has nothing to do at all with the place of the Bible.
It is due to the fact that some people in the church, a minority, especially in the United States, have chosen to read the Bible in a new, very controversial way.

Now that is not the way most of the church reads the Bible. The Bible is still important to most of us. Read more

BBC report on what next after Tanzania?

The BBC World Service manages to muster Andrew Brown, Bp Tom Butler and Stephen Bates, three top Liberals, to speak on Tanzania and the Anglican Communion.

Listen here.

The Sultans of Spin: Bp Sisk says Primates just asked for clarification

+MS: [...] It seems to me that what they were asking for was a clarification of actions taken at our General Conventions. It seems to me that one of the perhaps major challenges is to clarify what in fact was done and I believe that what in fact was done was a positive response to the request that we have in effect a moratorium on the consecration of bishops that are in same-sex unions.

BBC: Will you cease to authorise blessings or ensure that in the future you do not authorise blessings for same-sex couples?

+MS One of the misconceptions is that such blessings have been authorised. In fact they were not authorised. That was recognised by the committee that received the report from the actions of General Convention.

BBC : But they are taking place in your church. Clearly what most of the Anglican Primates want you to do is stop such blessings. Do you think your church will be prepared to do that?

+MS I do not believe that that is clearly what is being asked. The statements that were continually we being made were “Will you refrain from authorising?” We clearly decided at our last General Convention not to authorise such actions. Read more

Royal College calls for debate on infanticide

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a leading British medical college, has called on the health profession to debate openly the active euthanasia of seriously disabled newborns, and the Church of England supports it. The college believes the emotional and financial burden placed on parents of disabled children is a valid reason to consider the "mercy killings."

"A very disabled child can mean a disabled family," stated a formal submission by the college. "If life-shortening and deliberate interventions to kill infants were available, they might have an impact on obstetric decision-making, even preventing some late abortions, as some parents would be more confident about continuing a pregnancy and taking a risk on outcome." Read more

Archbishop Hutchison ‘discouraged’ by primates’ communiqué

Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said that he had been “profoundly discouraged” by the communiqué issued by Anglican leaders warning the U.S. church of consequences if it did not abandon its liberal stance on sexuality, and had found it “tempting” not to sign it.

Archbishop Hutchison acknowledged that some Canadian Anglicans are “angry” that he signed the communiqué, but explained that he had taken his lead from U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. “I told her (Bishop Jefferts Schori), ‘It’s all about you. If you decide not to sign, I won’t sign. I’ll be there with you.’” He added that Bishop Jefferts Schori had told him that not signing the communiqué would send a message to the church and to the world “that at great expense and effort, we have accomplished nothing and we have nothing to say.” Read more

The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church

Ed: If ever a book on mission deserved to be read and re-read, it is Roland Allen's The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, and the Causes which Hinder it. Writing in 1927 from his perspective as a CMS Missionary in China, at the height of the world missionary movement, Allen concluded that whereas the Church in New Testament times expanded without being forced to do so, all the efforts of missionary expansion in the early twentieth century were hampered by the structural limitations imposed by the sponsoring denominations. In our own day, this book deserves to be read again in the light of the continuing decline of the Church of England in the United Kingdom.

Continue here.

Schori: TEC asked to 'pause, not go back'

Ed: Charlie Brown runs, he kicks ...

[...] She told the gathering that the Episcopal Church is called to ensure that the conversation about the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church continues in the Communion.

“It is part of our mission as a church,” she said. “This conversation that has been going on for at least 40 years is not going away. God keeps bringing it back to us.”

Jefferts Schori said that she understands that some people feel that the primates’ recommendations are a “hard and bitter pill for many of us to talk about swallowing.” But, she said, worldwide attitudes about the inclusion of gay and lesbian people are changing and “I don’t expect that to end.”

“We’re being asked to pause in the journey. We are not being asked to go back,” she said. “Time and history are with this Church.” Read more

President of TEC House of Deputies: Primates' requests would change role of TEC

[...] To honor all of the Primates' requests would change the way the Episcopal Church understands its role in the Communion and the way Episcopalians make decisions about our common life. Our church makes policy and interprets its resolutions and Canons through the General Convention and, to a lesser extent, the Executive Council.

As president of the 800-plus member House of Deputies, it is my duty to ensure that the voice of the clergy and the laity of our Church will be heard as the Church discusses and debates the Primates' requests and that that process will not be pre-empted by the House of Bishops or any other group. I have already begun to work toward that end. Read more

Former Muslim Calls Christians to Prayer

A former Muslim is spearheading what is set to be one of the largest Christian prayer gatherings in the UK ever when thousands of Christians from all over Britain will stream into the 35,000-seater West Ham Football Club Stadium to take part in the Global Day of Prayer on Sunday 27 May 2007. Read more

AA Gill: Tell the gay bashers where to go

For as long as anyone can remember, the Church of England has been a secular, national comfort. Before anyone ever thought of inventing a computer or IT support, the church was a haven for the uncoordinated, specky nerds, wonks, numpties and geeks. It offered succour to the worst folk singers and Andrew Lloyd Webber tribute band and a safe place for vile, evil-mouthed widows who are encouraged to do community service with flower and brass polishing. Read more

Portillo: 'Don't listen to God, Mr Cameron'

[...] If today the Church of England is wishy-washy and middle-of-the-road, that is no accident. It is the long-term result of Elizabeth’s design. Britain has benefited enormously from a weak clergy that has mainly remained aloft from politics. Britain’s established church, headed by the monarch, has made few demands of our leaders or people. Read more

A divide, and maybe a divorce

SLAVERY divided not only the United States, but also its churches. The Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists and others all split North from South, and some did not reunite for more than 100 years. Others, like the Southern Baptist Convention, never did.
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Now some of these same churches are facing a rift over homosexuality that is proving more intractable than any social issue since slavery. It is not an explosion, but a slow burn that has been smoldering in some denominations for about 30 years — longer than the battle over women’s ordination. Read more

Anglican/RC discussions 'not a takeover bid'

This week the Times revealed that clergy in high places have suggested that the Anglican Church should merge with the Roman Catholic Church under the authority of the Pope. The broad conclusions of a long-established clerical 'think-tank' set up to discuss the implication of any such unity will have shocked few people who study these things. Read more

Events in Africa affect Minnesota churches

As the conflict between theologically liberal U.S. Episcopal parishes and the worldwide Anglican Communion over same-sex unions and gay bishops intensified yet again this past week, Minnesota Episcopalians were paying close attention -- and standing by their points of view. Read more

TEC 'missing the point already'

[...] The definition of "authorizing," as in we must renounce the authorization of "any Rites for Blessing of same-sex unions," by Sept. 30 will be hotly debated. As I have said before, I think we are being given some room here, as there is a difference between authorizing and allowing. I take comfort in those capital letters. We are being asked not to approve texts. Very, very few dioceses have approved texts. Our diocese doesn't. So I think we can comply with this.

When I read this, I thought, "Does he not get it? Or is he just spinning it to his readership?" In charity, I will assume that he is not being deceitful; but in that case he must be very obtuse. He is missing the whole point. The primates are not merely asking TEC to refrain from writing official liturgies; they are asking TEC to stop doing same-sex blessings altogether. Read more

Rowan Williams: Why the Anglican Communion matters

In some people's eyes, keeping the Anglican Communion together as a worldwide institution looks like prolonging the life of a dysfunctional or abusive marriage; isn't it more honest and humane to head for the divorce courts?

Why should we be mortgaged to other people's prejudices - if we're liberal - or other people's irresponsibility - if we're traditionalist? Isn't what matters the life and vigour, and indeed the integrity, of the Church on our doorstep? Read more