Saturday, 21 June 2008

Daily Telegraph: Leading Anglican bishops to boycott Lambeth Conference over gay clergy

The Church of England will be thrown into turmoil this summer following the decision of leading bishops to boycott a landmark Anglican summit in protest at the presence of pro-gay bishops.

Friends of Bishop Nazir-Ali say that he has made the decision not to attend the Lambeth Conference on a matter of principle

In a move that marks a significant split in the established Church, at least three bishops, including the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, will decline an invitation from Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to attend the Lambeth Conference.

Up to six more bishops are understood to be considering similar action because of Dr Williams's decision to allow controversial figures to be at the gathering of worldwide Anglican bishops, which meets only once in 10 years.

The boycott will intensify the row over gay clergy, which was reignited when The Sunday Telegraph disclosed last week that two gay priests had exchanged vows in a version of the marriage service.

It threatens to undermine the authority of the Archbishop, who is battling to maintain unity in the Church in the face of bitter rows over homosexuality and women bishops.

He has already been snubbed by 250 Anglican bishops, mainly from Africa, who are meeting this week at a rival conference in Jerusalem, but the absence of English bishops would be a highly significant development for the future of the Church of England.

Six bishops and about 60 clergy from the Church of England will be at this week's meeting of conservatives, the Global Anglican Future Conference, at which Bishop Nazir-Ali will deliver a key-note address on the way ahead for the Anglican communion.

He will not go to the Lambeth Conference, however, as he believes that it has been compromised by the inclusion of American leaders who consecrated the Anglican communion's first gay bishop. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Religious Intelligence: Religious demographics: The Greying of Churchgoers

(Ed: The recognition of what Peter Brierley is saying in this important article is what drove the Saffron Walden Deanery Growth Task Group to focus on age-demographics in its preliminary survey of the situation facing us. The report can be read and downloaded here.)

Articles in the past month in The Times and The Daily Telegraph have focused on how the number of Muslims in the UK could exceed the number of churchgoers by, say, 2050, although the comparisons made were not like-for-like. It could also be argued that the number of churchgoers should include weekly attenders and/or occasional attenders (but then, to be, fair, so should the number of Muslims attending mosque).
Religious demographics: The Greying of Churchgoers

It is easy to focus on the level of the numbers and compare one with the other, but the real concern is not how big or how small each number might be, but the make-up of the numbers. Neither of the above mentioned papers looked at this critical issue. Why are the number of people going to church declining? Of course, it is partly because those leaving are not being offset by those joining (3,000 people stop going to church every week in England against only 1,000 a week starting). It is partly because we are seeing people coming to faith in England in the 21st century at only half the rate at which they were in the 1980s.

Many church people are saying they have lost their confidence in sharing their faith, and want more “encouragement” to do so. Maybe Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion have had a more insidious effect than we realise. Are not people coming “back to church”? Yes, they are, but thus far in relatively small numbers – “coming-backers” account for perhaps one in every 300 of our present congregations.

These factors, while important, only tend to confuse the problem, and hide the real issue. Are people leaving because they find the church “boring”? Well, yes, some do, but it’s a small percentage. Are people leaving because they “can’t find a church they like” especially if they move house? Well, yes, some do, but it’s a smaller percentage still. The key reason why numbers are declining is, simply, that church folk are dying! They are, as the Salvation Army memorably puts it, “being promoted to glory”. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

The Guardian: Conservatives rule out Anglican reconciliation on gay clergy

(Ed: Most curious in this piece is the quote from the Bishop of Durham at the end implying that those who don't attend the Lambeth Conference are ipso facto becoming 'right wing'. What this in fact reflects is his own political agenda emerging from his own theology [see his Surprised by Hope], which may not, of course, necessarily be the opposite to the political agenda that emerges from other theologies - a fact he doesn't seem to have fully appreciated.)

There is no longer any hope for a unified Anglican communion because of divisions over homosexual clergy and civil partnerships, according to conservative bishops gathering in Jerusalem for a breakaway summit.

Clergy attending the Global Anglican Futures Conference (Gafcon), which starts tomorrow, have issued a manifesto declaring there is no possibility of reconciliation with the Episcopal church in the US and the Anglican church of Canada, because both ordain gay bishops and accept same-sex unions. The summit comes in the wake of controversy around the "wedding" of two gay priests at St Bartholomew the Great church in the City of London.

About 200 of the 280 bishops in Jerusalem will boycott this summer's Lambeth conference, an event symbolising one of the four instruments that binds the church. Although the Archbishop of Canterbury invited more than 800 bishops, those from Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda are shunning his conference in favour of one reflecting their views.

They join bishops from England, Australia and some Asian and Latin America countries. Eight American bishops, unhappy with their church's direction, will also be attending. Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Daily Telegraph: Archbishop of Canterbury's control over Anglicans 'is ending'

The Archbishop of Canterbury's control over the worldwide Anglican Communion is ending as the balance of power shifts to developing countries, according to a leading conservative.

The Rt Rev Robert Duncan, the Bishop of Pittsburgh, echoed the words of other traditionalists who have warned this week that the church is "disintegrating" and faces a historic split over homosexuality and same-sex unions.

Speaking at a breakaway summit in Jerusalem, he said all Anglicans face the choice of remaining true to Scripture or following liberals on a road to "disunity and destruction".

Bishop Duncan claimed the "crisis" over sexuality called for a new settlement of Anglicanism similar to that which formed the current church in the Reformation.

He said the new church would not be British or Western, based around the Archbishop of Canterbury, but would be "post-colonial" and would be driven mainly by the Global South - Africa, Asia and South America.

In a speech delivered to leaders of the Gafcon conference, Bishop Duncan said: "We who are gathered here recognise that the Reformation settlement of Anglicanism has disintegrated.

"We know that we are at a turning point in Anglican history, a place where two roads diverge." Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Friday, 20 June 2008

ABp Peter Jensen on GAFCON

Archbishop Peter Jensen talks about the aims of GAFCON and outlines the conference program.

GAFCON news conference 19/6/08


No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Church Times: Synod urged in two different directions on women bishops

THE CHAIRMAN of the Catholic Group on the General Synod, the Revd Canon Simon Killwick, has described as “insulting” and “offensive” the motion on women bishops which the House of Bishops will put forward at the July sessions (News, 13 June).

The Bishops are backing the “single-clause measure” option, in which special arrangements for those opposed in conscience would depend on a voluntary code of practice rather than being enshrined in legislation. The Catholic Group had already dismissed the option as unsatisfactory in its earlier response to the Manchester report (News, 2 May).

“I think the wording of the motion shows there has been no real attempt to engage with us and with our view on the matter, and so no real attempt to achieve a consensus,” Canon Killwick said on Tuesday. “If that motion were passed unamended, there would undoubtedly be a split within the Church of England.”

Calls for a code of practice were hypocritical, he suggested, coming as they did from people who were calling for the Act of Synod to be rescinded. “The wording is insulting, and the very fact that they put it in this form is what is so offensive,” he said.

Recalling, however, that the General Synod had on three occasions rejected amendments that would have had the effect of introducing a single-clause measure and a code of practice, he said: “If past performance is anything to go by, I think it’s unlikely this motion will be passed unamended. The consistent mood of Synod is that, yes, it wants women bishops, but it also wants adequate provision for those not in agreement.” Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

New York Times: Conservative Anglicans Plan Rival Conference as Split Over Homosexuality Grows

Once a decade, hundreds of bishops of the international Anglican Communion meet in Canterbury, England, for the Lambeth Conference.

This summer, in the most tangible demonstration yet of the church’s divide over homosexuality, more than a quarter of the invited bishops are expected to boycott the conference and attend a rival meeting for conservative Anglicans in Jerusalem, called the Global Anglican Future Conference.

Setting the tone for the meetings that begin next week, the conservatives released a strongly worded theological manifesto on Thursday, declaring that they see no possibility for reconciliation with the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada, which have accepted a gay bishop and same-sex unions.

The conservatives say that after years of emergency meetings and ultimatums, they have been “ignored,” “demonized” and “marginalized.” “There is no longer any hope, therefore, for a unified Communion,” the manifesto said. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

What is GAFCON? The Archbishop of Uganda explains

By: Archbishop Henry Orombi.

The Archbishop of Uganda explains what is behind the meeting in Israel this week
What is GAFCON – Global Anglican Future Conference?
What is GAFCON?

GAFCON is the Global Anglican Future Conference ( being held in Jerusalem from 22nd – 29th June 2008. There are three purposes: 1. To provide an opportunity for fellowship as well as to continue to experience and proclaim the transforming love of Jesus Christ 2. To develop a renewed understanding of our identity as Anglican Christians. 3. To prepare for an Anglican future in which the Gospel is uncompromised and Christ-centred mission is a top priority.

Who is organizing GAFCON?

GAFCON was conceived by the Anglican Archbishops of Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, the Southern Cone (South America), and Sydney (Australia). Evangelical Anglican Bishops from the UK and the USA were also involved in its organization.

How many people will participate in GAFCON?

More than 1,000 people have registered for GAFCON, including more than 280 Bishops, their wives, clergy and non-ordained church leaders. One hundred and seven (107) people from Uganda will be going, including 34 Bishops.

Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

The Times: Anglican conference moves to Israel after Archbishop of Nigeria ban

The “alternative Lambeth” conference organised by conservative evangelicals in the Anglican Church in Amman has moved to Israel after the Archbishop of Nigeria was denied entry to Jordan.

The Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) was to have met in Jordan this week and Jerusalem next week in an attempt to establish an orthodox centre for the Anglican Communion, currently in disarray over homosexuality and women's ordination. But the Global South leader, Dr Peter Akinola, the primate of Nigeria and a leading light of the conservative evangelical wing of the Communion, was denied entry to Jordan when attempting to cross from Israel. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Daily Telegraph: Hard-line bishops make a mess of it in the Holy Land

If it was being held in a brewery, it’s a fair bet that the organisers of the supposedly greatest threat to authority in the Church since the Reformation would not be feeling particularly tipsy.

The Global Anglican Future Conference, or GAFCON as it is appropriately abbreviated, has so far been a shambles. Over 100 bishops, principally from the theologically conservative reaches of Africa and the United States, who believe that they understand the mind of God with sufficient intimacy to dictate terms to the rest of the Communion, were meant to gather in Jordan to do their business before transferring this weekend for a week’s pilgrimage in Jerusalem.

As it turns out, the team’s cheerleader, the belligerent Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, was denied entry to Jordan and the conference is having to transfer precipitately to Jerusalem, with its spokespeople stammering about hotel bookings becoming unexpectedly available there. The Anglican Church in Jerusalem, headed by Bishop Suheil Dawani, is a reluctant host to these schismatics, which is why their preliminary meeting was in Jordan in the first place.

It appears that the whole exercise was undertaken remotely and with arrogance, taking little or no regard for local middle-eastern sensibilities over how the presence of a bunch of Evangelical Christian hard-liners would play with painstakingly constructed relationships with local Muslim authorities. The GAFCON caravan will, nevertheless, issue demands and statements. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Basildon Church to host 'Golden Weekend'

A CORRINGHAM church starts celebrating its 50th anniversary on Friday with three days of music, parties, and mass.

St John the Evangelist Church, in St John's Way, is holding the events to mark the anniversary of the day its foundation stone was laid, on June 21, 1958.

Festivities begin on Friday, June 20 when parishioners Don and Beryl Cox will celebrate their golden wedding by renewing their wedding vows in a special ceremony at 4pm.

On Saturday the church is hosting a garden party in its grounds from 10am to 2pm. Then from 7.30pm, the Mosaic Choir will peform songs from West End Shows and musicals, accompanying a champagne, strawberries and cream reception.

On Sunday a thanksgiving service will be led by the Rt Rev Keith Newton, Bishop of Richborough, from 10.45am. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

LGCM: Archbishops condemnation is "indefensible"

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) has issued a statement supporting last weeks ceremony which took place in a Church.

The strongly worded statement even goes as far as to compare the Archbishops "prejudiced" stance to those who refused to end the slave trade.

The statement, which was sent out in reaction to yesterdays condemnation by the Archbishops of York and Canterbury, said:

"The disregarding of manifestly unjust official Church teaching has a long and honourable tradition of its own.

"It has encompassed, for instance, campaigns against slavery, the use of unauthorised liturgies, remarriage of divorcees, and the ordination of women.

"All have come to pass and are now considered integral to the life of the Church, and all suffered a great deal of opposition form the Archbishops of the day." Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Bishop of London writes to congregations, Revd Dr Martin Dudley

(Ed: The Bishop of London has now written both to congregations in his diocese and to the Rector of St Bartholomew the Great.)

Sent: 18 June 2008 12:02
Subject: Communication from the Bishop of London re St Bartholomew the Great

Clergy in the Diocese of London
Diocesan Readers
PCC Secretaries
PCC Treasurers
Deanery Lay Chairs
Members of the Diocesan Synod
Members of the Bishop’s Council

Please find attached two letters which the Bishop of London has asked me to circulate.

With best wishes
Robert Hargrave
Diocesan Communications

18th June 2008

Dear Friends,

Many of you will have seen the publicity over the weekend around the service which was held at St Bartholomew the Great on May 31st. I attach a letter I have written to the Rector which sets out the situation as I understand it.

So much good work is being done both nationally and internationally by the Church as it seeks in the spirit of Jesus Christ to address some of the global issues of peace, justice and poverty that confront the peoples of the world. It would be a tragedy if this episode were to distract us from the big agenda.

With thanks for our partnership in the Gospel.

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres DD FSA

18th June 2008

The Reverend Dr Martin Dudley,
St Bartholomew the Great Parish Office,
6 Kinghorn Street,

Dear Martin,

You have sought to justify your actions to the BBC and in various newspapers but have failed more than two weeks after the service to communicate with me.

I read in the press that you had been planning this event since November. I find it astonishing that you did not take the opportunity to consult your Bishop.

You describe the result as “familiar words reordered and reconfigured carrying new meanings.” I note that the order of service, which I have now received, includes the phrase “With this ring I thee bind, with my body I thee worship”.

At first sight this seems to break the House of Bishops Guidelines which as I explained in my letter of December 6th 2005 apply the traditional teaching of the Church of England to the new circumstances created by the enactment of Civil Partnerships.

The point at issue is not Civil Partnerships themselves or the relation of biblical teaching to homosexual practice. There is of course a range of opinion on these matters in the Church and, as you know, homophobia is not tolerated in the Diocese of London. The real issue is whether you wilfully defied the discipline of the Church and broke your oath of canonical obedience to your Bishop.

The Archbishops have already issued a statement in which they say that “those clergy who disagree with the Church’s teaching are at liberty to seek to persuade others within the Church of the reasons why they believe, in the light of Scripture, tradition and reason that it should be changed. But they are not at liberty simply to disregard it.”

St Bartholomew’s is not a personal fiefdom. You serve there as an ordained minister of the Church of England, under the authority of the Canons and as someone who enjoys my licence. I have already asked the Archdeacon of London to commence the investigation and I shall be referring the matter to the Chancellor of the Diocese. Before I do this, I am giving you an opportunity to make representations to me direct.

Yours faithfully.

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres DD FSA

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Bp John Gladwin stands down as chairman of Christian Aid

UK-based international development agency Christian Aid has announced the appointment of Anne Owers, currently Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons, as their new chairperson, taking up the role later this year.

Ms Owers is a committed human rights campaigner and has also been a former director of the Justice law reform pressure group. In 2000 she received a CBE in recognition for her human rights work.

The high-profile appointment is being made in succession to the Rt Rev Dr John Gladwin, the Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford, who is standing down after 10 years as chair of Christian Aid.

"I am delighted to have been asked to succeed Bishop John Gladwin, though he will be a hard act to follow," said Ms Owers.

She continued: "I very much admire Christian Aid’s combination of practical help and powerful advocacy, and look forward to working with the Board, the staff and the member churches to tackle poverty and its causes." Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Joint statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York regarding St Bartholomew-the-Great

Tuesday 17th June 2008

For immediate use

Joint statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York regarding St Bartholomew-the-Great

“We have heard the reports of the recent service in St Bartholomew the Great with very great concern. We cannot comment on the specific circumstances because they are the subject of an investigation launched by the Bishop of London.

On the general issue, however, the various reference points for the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality (1987 Synod motion, 1991 Bishops’ Statement- Issues in Human Sexuality- , Lambeth motion 1:10, House of Bishops’ 2005 statement on civil partnerships) are well known and remain current.

Those clergy who disagree with the Church’s teaching are at liberty to seek to persuade others within the Church of the reasons why they believe, in the light of Scripture, tradition and reason that it should be changed. But they are not at liberty simply to disregard it.”


No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Clergyman lost compensation for 'intemperate' remarks about Bishop of Liverpool

THE rancour between the Liverpool Church of England diocese and its former press officer David Johnston is a matter for regret: ironically, a high-profile tale of error, confusion and fall-out between church officials and the man charged with promoting their Christian mission.

Mr Johnston – suspended and twice sacked in a dispute lasting 18 months – has now won an industrial tribunal hearing for unfair dismissal. The tribunal panel took just 15 minutes to find in his favour, awarded him more than £19,000 in compensation, but then deducted 25% for his “intemperate” remarks about his bishop, James Jones.

It needs to be made clear that the decision for Mr Johnston was made on the grounds of faults with the diocesan procedure in presenting its own case, and not based on the personal attack he chose to make against Bishop Jones when giving evidence to the tribunal.

Under legal privilege, Mr Johnston was entitled to say whatever he wished in giving his side of the story. Obviously, he felt deeply let down.

But in the context of the bishop’s overall responsibilities and the way he carries out his office, Mr Johnston’s views will not hold sway with the organisations and groups with whom Bishop Jones has voluntarily involved himself. Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

The Guardian: Church leaders fear summer of strife over women and gay clergy

The Church of England faces a tense summer as it wrestles with the divisive issues of women bishops and gay clergy, a senior official said yesterday.

William Fittall, the secretary general of the general synod, the church's legislative body and national assembly, said a combination of public debates, a breakaway Anglican conference and the clash between conservatives and liberals was giving Christians cause for concern.

"There is no doubt that we are at an unsettled moment in the Church of England," said Fittall. "This was always going to be a big summer. [The] Lambeth [conference of bishops] is a big event in the wider communion and the fact that it is considering women bishops goes to the heart of what kind of church we want to be. The weekend's story has caused further anxiety on the part of many."

He was responding to the Bishop of London's decision to order an investigation into the "marriage" last month between two gay priests, the Rev Peter Cowell and the Rev David Lord, who exchanged rings and vows at St Bartholomew the Great church in the City of London.

A statement issued by the bishop of London, the Right Rev Richard Chartres, said services of public blessings for civil partnerships were not authorised. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

The Guardian: Priests in civil partnership blessing were reckless, says bishop

(Ed: Note, contrary to this report, REFORM did not say, "the Archbishop of Canterbury now faced a stark choice between sodomy and scripture." That line unfortunately comes from David Virtue's website here: UK: REFORM Blasts Gay Clergy Wedding. Choice is Clear, Scripture or Sodomy. The actual REFORM statement can be read here.)

Two gay priests who exchanged rings and vows in a wedding-style ceremony were reckless and self-indulgent, the Bishop of London said last night.

The Right Rev Richard Chartres made the comments during a sermon at evening prayer, while leading a conference of some of his diocesan clergy in Swanick, Derbyshire. It was the first time he has spoken about the service held at St Bartholomew the Great, in the City of London where the Rev Peter Cowell and his partner, the Rev Dr David Lord, tied the knot last month.

Neither could have predicted the hostility they would arouse when news of the service emerged. Within 48 hours of details being published about their service, Chartres launched an investigation into the occasion, the rector who "married" them faced calls for his resignation, and Lord returned his licence, preventing him from performing any clerical duties.

The controversy has reignited the debate over the role of gay clergy in the Anglican communion and widened the gulf between liberals and conservatives. Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Scans see 'gay brain differences'

(Ed: This article really needs to be read alongside a primer in 'How to do scientific research and test hypotheses.' The observational data are straightforward: "The brains of gay men and women look like those found in straight people of the opposite sex." The 'conclusion' of the quoted UK scientist, that this is evidence that sexual preference is set in the womb, is a gazillion miles from that data - even if it is true. The first obvious question: how many, if any, straight men and women also have brains that show the same resemblances to those of straight people of the opposite sex? The second question: are there gay men and women who do not have this brain similarity to straight people of the opposite sex? There are probably other questions that might occur to you.)

The brains of gay men and women look like those found in straight people of the opposite sex, research suggests.

The Swedish study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, compared the size of the brain's halves in 90 adults.

Gay men and straight women had halves of a similar size, while the right side was bigger in lesbian women and straight men.

A UK scientist said this was evidence sexual preference was set in the womb.

Scientists have noticed for some time that homosexual people of both sexes have differences in certain cognitive abilities, suggesting there may be subtle differences in their brain structure.

This is the first time, however, that scientists have used brain scanners to try to look for the source of those differences.

A group of 90 healthy gay and straight adults, men and women, were scanned by the Karolinska Institute scientists to measure the volume of both sides, or hemispheres, of their brain.

When these results were collected, it was found that lesbian women and straight men shared a particular "asymmetry" in their hemisphere size, while straight women and gay men had no difference between the size of the different halves of their brain.

In other words, structurally, at least, gay men were more like straight women, and gay women more like straight men.

A further experiment found that in one particular area of the brain, the amygdala, there were other significant differences.

In heterosexual men and lesbian women, there were more nerve "connections" in the right side of the amygdala, compared with the left.

The reverse, with more neural connections in the left amygdala, was the case in homosexual men and straight women.

The Karolinska team said that these differences could not be mainly explained by "learned" effects, but needed another mechanism to set them, either before or after birth. Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Bishop of Liverpool's former 'spin doctor' wins unfair dismissal case

THE Bishop of Liverpool does not like the city, a tribunal heard today as a man won his claim for unfair dismissal against the church.

The Rt Rev James Jones was also a "liar", more concerned with his national profile than his local ministry, and helped cause his public relations man to feel a "leper", it was claimed.

The Rev David Johnston, 56, made the accusations at his unfair dismissal hearing - where the bench took just 15 minutes to rule in his favour.

Mr Johnston, of Chorley New Road, Horwich, Bolton, Greater Manchester was fired in September 2007 from his job as the Liverpool diocese director of communications after a Sunday newspaper wrongly reported he had begun an affair and left his wife for a colleague, Diane Pendleton.

Today, Mr Johnston said the bishop was working "behind the scenes" to have him fired and claimed that he had publicly lied about giving him and Ms Pendleton support. Read more

Anyone who would like to form their own opinion of Mr Johnston is invited to do so at his personal blog here.

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

From another blog, commenting on that 'wedding'

Ed: I just picked up this posted comment from Peter Ould's blog where a lengthy discussion is under way, particularly over what the Bishop of London might do about that 'wedding':

winston June 16, 2008 7:18 pm

So, if you are right no5, we will watch the diocese of London polarise and Bishop Richard’s holding of the tensions collapse - well, so be it! It will be interesting to see all those gay archdeacons etc (see earlier post) respond, maybe it is what we have needed. What I do know is Bishop Richard has not prepared himself for the fall out from his diocese at war over this issue. He is still appointing gay clergy in relationships to senior posts in his diocese. I suspect if he is forced to show his hand, he would support the traditional view while being surrounded by many that do not, and they will have to decide what to do.

Thankfully, I now serve in the Chelmsford diocese, here we have a bishop who is honest and open about what he believes, and he affirms and supports his gay clergy.

By the way, I am not willing to accept that the awful phrase ‘enforceable directive’ is now mine by virtue of my ordination. I will bide my time waiting for some form of a canon that makes ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’, the declaration of the Primates, the Lambeth Resolutions, the Bishop’s Pastoral Statement legally binding in this realm, and then will respond according to conscience.

Thanks for the discussion. I am not sure how far it has got us, but the call of deanery synod pulls me to a higher place. Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Reform Comment on priests' 'gay wedding'

Comment from Reform Monday 16th June 2008

News of the service of blessing for the union of two male clergy at St Bartholomew’s church in the City Of London last month has brought to a head the issue of whether or not the Church of England intends to remain faithful to the Bible’s revelation.

The Church of England now faces the same sort of division as the Episcopal Church of the USA. Our only hope of preventing this is for bishops to exercise swift and clear discipline. Unless this happens, the floodgates of indiscipline will open. There is no longer any room for carefully constructed statements designed to hold everyone together in an uneasy truce. Schism in the church is being caused not by orthodox believers but by clergy pursuing a liberal agenda.

The issue is clear: will a church which is formally committed to the Bible’s teaching on marriage now exert discipline in order to support its belief on what mainstream credal and apostolic Christianity holds to be a fundamental of the faith? This “service of blessing” has brought the issue to a head on the eve of the departure of many orthodox church leaders in England for the Global Anglican Future Conference and Pilgrimage (GAFCON). Faithful Anglican leaders both at GAFCON and Lambeth will now be looking to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London to take decisive action. We urge them to do this before GAFCON convenes in order to prevent a further loss of confidence in the Archbishop’s willingness to tackle the issue and to demonstrate their communion with the Global South. The choice they must make is whether or not they want to keep true to the doctrine of the Church of England (as defined in the Worship and Doctrine Measure 1974 (Sections 5.1 and Canon A5)) and secure discipline. A failure to secure such doctrinal discipline will lead globally to a ghettoization of a declining revisionist “Canterbury Communion”. Those seeking to be true to the doctrine of the Church of England will necessarily have to realign themselves with those Anglicans, at home or abroad, who can affirm with integrity Canon A5.

For the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London the choice, therefore, is between being faithful to the Bible’s teaching or acquiescing in the promotion of the liberal sexual agenda. They cannot do both. Words are no longer enough. It is only clear action that will now speak to the worldwide Anglican Communion as well as to orthodox Anglican and other church leaders in this country.


Canon A5 of the Church of England states:
The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.

For further information, contact:
Revd Paul Dawson
Reform Media Officer
020 8432 4036 or 07791 495824

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Should Orthodox Anglican Bishops Meet with Bishops Proposing Gay Blessings?

Four Episcopal dioceses, three in California and the Diocese of El Camino Real, have come out with ringing endorsements of the California Supreme Court's recent ruling on same-sex marriages.

Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno called the decision an important one "because it reflects our baptismal vow to 'strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being' and our commitment to justice and mercy for all people."

Bishop Marc Andrus of California enthusiastically welcomed the court's decision, which effectively declared as unconstitutional Proposition 22, the "Defense of Marriage Act" approved by state voters in 2000 saying "All children of God should be afforded the same rights under the law" including the right to marry and establish a family."

San Diego Bishop James R. Mathes said he supported the Supreme Court's decision and would oppose the likely effort to amend the constitution. "At a federal level, the constitution has only been successfully amended to expand rights, not remove them, and it follows that California would maintain a similar posture," he wrote.

More recently, after reflecting with her Standing Committee, other California bishops, the chair of the Massachusetts task force on same-gender marriage and Bishop Tom Shaw of Massachusetts, the bishop of the Diocese of El Camino Real said that she would allow a civil ceremony conducted by someone other than an Episcopal clergyperson, followed by a blessing of that union (which could surely include a Eucharist) by an Episcopal priest. Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Traditionalists spurn Lambeth Conference in favour of Jordan

More than 200 Anglican bishops from conservative dioceses around the world are to boycott next month’s Lambeth Conference and attend a rival Global Anglican Future Conference in Jordan this week instead.

Entire provinces, such as Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda, are attending the alternative gathering, styled Gafcon, instead of Lambeth because of their emphasis on a Bible-based Christianity that rules out many of the liberal developments in the Western Church, such as the increasing acceptance of homosexuality.

Two Church of England bishops, Wallace Benn, of Lewes, and Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, of Rochester, will be carrying the standard for the Church of England, and conservatives from the United States and Australia will also be in Amman.

Although organisers say their goal is not to set up a rival Anglican structure, in a statement at the weekend the Church of Uganda admitted that the aim of Gafcon was “to prepare for an Anglican future in which the gospel is uncompromised and Christ-centred mission is a top priority”. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

500 clergy set to desert Church over 'betrayal' on women bishops

More than 500 clergy could leave the Church of England in response to proposals to consecrate women bishops that will be debated at the General Synod next month.

Bishops voted narrowly to approve the consecration of women, without enshrining the legal safeguards sought by traditionalists. Instead, dioceses that appoint a woman bishop will merely be asked to sign a voluntary code of practice to ensure that Anglo-Catholics who oppose the move are not discriminated against or forced to act against their conscience.

The Times has learnt that some traditionalists are seeking legal advice on whether it will be possible to sue the Church for constructive dismissal under employment law, should the synod vote in favour of the plans. They are angry that they were promised safeguards when the synod voted to ordain women priests in 1992 and believe that they have been betrayed. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Gene Robinson to preach at Glasgow cathedral post-Lambeth

From the Provost's blog:

Finally, it seems to me to be desirable to have someone at the end of the conference to come and preach to us. But who would the best person to have be? After all, all the bishops of Communion will be busy with Rowan Williams in Canterbury at the Conference. Well, all bar one. I’m delighted to announce that the Rt Rev Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire has agreed to come and celebrate the Eucharist and to preach the gospel on 3 August 2008 at 1030 here in St Mary’s.

I have met Bishop Gene, prayed with him and heard him preach. He is well worth hearing and I invite you all to bring your friends along on that Sunday to hear him.

Further details will be announced in due course.” Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Christian preachers to gather in Birmingham 'no-go' area

CHRISTIANS from all over the country were gathering in Birmingham today following claims that two ministers were ejected by police for preaching the word of Jesus.

Followers from Christian Voice have accused West Midlands Police for turning the predominately Muslim area of Alum Rock into a no-go zone for non-Muslims.

The Carmarthen-based group was heading into Alum Rock today to distribute Christian leaflets and share the Gospel with passers-by.

Stephen Green, national director of Christian Voice, said: “We are coming to preach the Gospel and to show West Midlands Police that they cannot create a Muslim ghetto for the Gospel.

“If a West Midlands Police Community Support Officer and a police constable told the preachers to leave the area that sounds like a no-go area and they need to be told that this is just wrong.

“I’m sure that most Muslims would agree with having freedom of speech.” Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Church of England split warning over women bishops

A SPLIT within the Church of England could be only weeks away as opposition to plans for women bishops expressed their anger at the plans.

The outcome of last month’s meeting of the House of Bishops is to be debated at General Synod next month. That will envisage a plan to provide ‘special arrangements’ for those unable as a matter of conviction to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests. But the opponents fear the arrangements will not be enough.

One Synod member told that it was estimated that up to 10 per cent of the Church could feasibly start their own structures and consecrate their own bishops. Such a group would include Anglo-Catholics, conservative evangelicals and some charismatics.

This was revealed after details of the women bishops’ motion -- to be debated at the July Synod – were publicised this week. The motion – written by the House of Bishops – suggests a ‘code of practice’ which would mean the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993. Annulling this Act -- which promised provision for those opposed to women priests – is seen as a move which could split the Church of England.

The Synod member, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that passing the House of Bishops’ motion un-amended would be like “taking a wrecking ball to the Church of England”. He said Synod would be ‘bloody’ and that the House of Bishops needed to seriously re-think their position. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Children's charity hit by row over evangelism

ONE of the people who fronted Operation Christmas Child has quit because of its Christian evangelism.

The project, run by Samaritan's Purse, collects shoeboxes full of presents for needy children in eastern Europe and Africa.

However, regional organiser Steve Whaley has set up a secular organisation called OneChild OneWorld.

Steve, 56, said: "I wanted to open doors to people who are getting concerned about Samaritan's Purse's association with Christian evangelism.

"I wanted to appeal to a wider audience." Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

The Bishop of London calls for investigation into wedding-like homosexual church service

The Bishop of London said Sunday he would order an investigation into a wedding-like church service for two male priests.

The priests exchanged rings and vows in a service at one of London's oldest churches marked by a fanfare of trumpets and capped by a shower of confetti on May 31, Britain's Sunday Telegraph reported.

The Bishop of London the Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres said in a statement that such services were not authorized in the Church of England and said he would ask the archdeacon of London to investigate. Read more

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Order of service for Revds Peter J Cowell and Dr David J R Lord

Credit to Ruth Gledhill for a link to the pdf of the service, here.

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

Leading Open Evangelical calls for 'robust response' to church's 'gay wedding'

Leading Open Evangelical and co-founder of Fulcrum, the Revd Dr Graham Kings, has called for a "robust response" to what newspapers are describing as a "gay wedding" held for two clergymen in the Diocese of London.

In the past, Fulcrum has been critical of bodies like Anglican Mainstream and REFORM for the way they have responded to developments in the Anglican churches of North America which have gone against recommendations of the Lambeth Conference and Primates' Meetings. Articles, comments and posts on the Fulcrum website have been particularly critical of GAFCON. In his statement, however, Dr Kings emphasised the fact that the ceremony, conducted by the Revd Martin Dudley, was "against the express wishes of the Bishop of London, and against the guidelines from the House of Bishops."

In an interview on Radio 4's Sunday Programme, however, the Dean of Southwark, the Revd Colin Slee, observed that the House of Bishop's guidelines on blessing civil partnerships were not "mandatory", nor were they "instructions". Instead, he said, "they are guidelines and clearly within them there is room for clergy to act when there are compelling pastoral reasons," adding that there therefore must have been such compelling reasons for Mr Dudley to have behaved the way he did.

Dr Kings's statement follows. The Fulcrum website, however, provides the disclaimer that "The opinions expressed are the authors (sic), and not necessarily those of the Fulcrum leadership team."

A public ceremony for blessing the civil partnership of the Revd Peter Cowell, Priest Vicar at Westminster Abbey, and the Revd Dr David Lord was held at The Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great in London on 31 May 2008. The Revd Martin Dudley, the vicar, performed the ceremony against the express wishes of the Bishop of London, and against the guidelines from the House of Bishops.

This ceremony was clearly designed as a 'wedding' in all but name. Such a rewriting of the Book of Common Prayer is preposterous. It seems to have been a deliberately provocative act and is reported just before GAFCON and the Lambeth Conference. The irony of 31 May being the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary will not be lost on many. There needs to be a robust response to this.
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.

More on that 'gay wedding'

Pink News Controversy as two Anglican clergy "marry" in church
What is in effect the first gay marriage to be held in an Anglican church took place last month, it emerged today. The fact that the men involved are ordained ministers has caused some controversy within the Church of England. Gay priests marry in Church of England
The Church of England says two gay priests may have broken its rules, after a newspaper report that they exchanged vows and rings in Britain's first ever church "wedding" ceremony for a same-sex couple.

The Independent Priests marry in first gay church wedding
The first gay marriage has been carried out in an Anglican church between two vicars, weeks before a summit of senior clergy threatens to split the Church over the issue of homosexual priests.

The Rev Peter Cowell and the Rev Dr David Lord exchanged vows at St Bartholomew the Great in the City of London last month, using one of the church's most traditional wedding rites.

Associated Press Anglican Church: Gay 'wedding' broke rules
A wedding-like ceremony between two male priests broke the Church of England's rules, a spokesman for the Anglican body said Saturday.

The two clergymen exchanged rings and vows last month at a ceremony in St. Bartholomew the Great in London, according to The Sunday Telegraph, a preview of which was made available Saturday. The paper said the ceremony included traditional marriage liturgy, hymns and a Eucharist.

Church of England spokesman Lou Henderson said the service described by the paper violated church guidelines "in just about every respect."

Scotland on Sunday Church hosts first gay marriage of priests

THE first gay marriage between two priests has been carried out in an Anglican church, it emerged last night.

The Rev Peter Cowell and the Rev Dr David Lord exchanged vows at St Bartholomew the Great in the City of London last month.

Although some clergy have carried out blessings for civil ceremonies before, this is the first time the traditional wedding marriage service has been held for a same-sex couple, and it has triggered an angry reaction among traditionalists.

The Times Rector defies bishop to 'wed' gay priests

The rector of one of London’s oldest churches has defied his bishop to “marry” two gay priests in a traditional ceremony.

The Rev Martin Dudley officiated last month before a congregation of 300 as a favour to friends. However, he did not inform the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres.

A Church of England spokesman said last night that it was a “fairly serious” breach of the House of Bishops’ strict guidance on same-sex ceremonies.

Daily Mail Row as rector holds Britain's first gay 'wedding' in an Anglican church

A row has broken out after a rector became the first clergyman to hold a full-scale ‘wedding’ service involving two men at an Anglican church.

The pair exchanged vows and rings before 300 guests during a ceremony that was virtually indistinguishable from a traditional church marriage ceremony.

The service was held in one of London’s best known churches and included Latin verse, trumpet fanfares and rose petal confetti.

The Daily Telegraph First gay 'wedding': All eyes on Archbishop of Canterbury

The Church's first gay wedding – between two priests – has outraged conservatives and could yet force an irreversible schism.

The Church of England's first homosexual wedding could not have come at a worse time for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

A breakaway group of conservative Anglican archbishops meets this week, threatening to split the worldwide communion over the issue of homosexuality, and the 10‑yearly Lambeth Conference starts next month. The future of the 80 million-strong Anglican Communion hangs by one of Dr Williams's whiskers.

No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.