Category : Sexuality

Martin Davie–The Bishop Of Southwark’s recent Presidential Address – An Intial Response.

Allowing clergy to be in same-sex marriages would also involve a change in the Church’s position. In line with the Bible and the Christian tradition the Church of England has always held that clergy need to live lives of visible holiness so as to be ‘wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ,’ [4] and that this means, among other things, that their sexual conduct must be in line with the biblical principle of either sexual faithfulness within heterosexual marriage or sexual abstinence outside it. What the bishop’s suggestion would mean is either the Church saying that the sexual conduct of the clergy simply does not matter, or that same-sex sexual relationships are acceptable to God, neither of which the Church of England has authority to say.

It is also not something that is required on ‘ecumenical or Anglican inter-provincial grounds.’ There is nothing in the Church of England’s ecumenical commitments or in its membership of the Anglican Communion that means that the Church of England needs to allow clergy to be in same-sex marriages. This is a complete red-herring.

If the Church of England were to adopt either or both of the bishop’s suggestions this would mean that it had ceased to uphold Christian orthodoxy with regard to sexual ethics. At this point orthodox Anglicans would have no choice except to visibly differentiate themselves from the Church of England’s position and the only way this could be done would either be through the formation of a province within the Church of England that continued to uphold orthodox Christian teaching and practice with regard to sexual ethics, or by their leaving the Church of England to join another Anglican jurisdiction that had remained orthodox in this area.[5]

The fundamental problem with the bishop’s address is that he is not acting properly as a bishop. As he rightly says, bishops are called to be ‘principal ministers of word and sacrament’ and ‘chief pastors’ However, as the 1662 Ordinal makes clear is that this means that bishops are called to ‘teach and exhort with wholesome doctrine’ and ‘banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s word.’ [6]

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bp. Christopher Chessun of Southwark gives his Diocesan Synod Address and speaks out on the LLF process, calling for embrace of the Modernist sexual ethic and anthropology

Now, however, that we have reached this stage of the LLF process it is time for me to give you my view. When the Bishops meet to discuss the next steps they will not gather as people considering this matter for the first time. We will meet together as people who have been engaged in a very long process of reflection. We have as a Church been praying and thinking for many years, from the time of the Woolfenden Report which was published shortly after my first birthday – and with many, many reports since. The discernment, then, is not what Bishop A or Bishop B thinks individually but what we as a Church discern together, journeying forwards in faith and hope and love. I offer my thoughts humbly and as part of an ongoing conversation with my brother and sister Bishops and indeed the whole Church. I want to begin by saying clearly that I rejoice and give thanks for all God’s people in this wonderful Diocese regardless of their sexual orientation – therefore including all those who identify as LGBTQIA+.

The Vacancy-in-See Statement of Needs drawn up in 2010 after broad consultation described Southwark as “A Growing Diocese, An Open Diocese and A Global Diocese”, stating the
following: “Over the past generation the Diocese has become a place where the ministry of lesbian and gay clergy and laity can flourish in response to God’s call in accordance with the ethical teaching of the Church of England. We want to continue this tradition, and we need a Bishop who will lead us in further dialogue between people with differing perspectives on matters of human sexuality.” Fellow members of Diocesan Synod, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, this is our reality and I have sought to honour it as your Bishop, in particular in promoting a culture where we all speak well of each other.

As I have said before, I do not expect to see the marriage canons changed in my lifetime. I also said publicly before the Lambeth Conference that the Church of England has for a long time had a polity in which the Bishops in each and every Diocese encourage partnered gay and lesbian ordinands and clergy to consider civil partnership. We already respect the
dignity of same-sex unions in this regard and we are not being honest with ourselves if we say otherwise. The civil law of the United Kingdom – and of other countries – has moved to
legislate for same-sex marriage. Some have made the case for the Church to change the marriage canons. But I observe that it is theologically coherent to conceive of vocational
and covenanted relationships as a category that includes marriage as one constituent and same-sex unions as another. It is inaccurate to say that marriage is the only form of
covenanted relationship because it has long been the wisdom of the Church to bless those single people who see their life in terms of a covenant with God, whether they live that
covenant in community or not.

On this last point, I want to take the liberty of making a personal observation. The Word made Flesh lies at the heart of the Incarnation: Jesus was born into a human family and
remained single and unmarried through the whole of his earthly life. As a single bishop I am regularly asked the absurd question, “Do you have family?” I always answer in the
affirmative and say I give thanks to be part of a close loving family, knowing full well I have not answered the question in terms of what I was really being asked. I am strongly
committed to upholding family life and family values – the bedrock of society and our personal well-being – but please do not exclude single people like me through a too casual
use of language: we all have and belong to families, thank God. The Church needs to be more caring about the growing number of people remaining single – a task which lies beyond
the LLF process.

The Church’s polity concerning civil partnerships is the reality of our present situation, even if it is largely unacknowledged. I support a generous pastoral provision that respects freedom of conscience by the provision of a liturgy of affirmation and commitment for same-sex couples and a conscience clause that means no priest is required to officiate at such a service.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(EC) Oxford Good Stewards Trust Announced in Response to Bishop of Oxford’s embrace of modernist sexual ethics

“Meanwhile, as a result of the partnership between the vicars of the four churches mentioned above, the PCC’s of those churches have met a handful of times for fellowship and discussion about how we might maintain gospel integrity, and continue to hold out the good news of Jesus as Anglican churches into our diocese. As a result, those churches have begun planning to set up The Oxford Good Stewards Trust (OGST), modelled on similar diocesan Trusts around the UK. A main purpose of such a trust would be to divert our ‘Parish Share’ (ongoing annual payments to “the diocese to finance the ministry in the local church – including the clergy’s stipend) to the Trust, in order to avoid supporting revisionist churches financially and indeed directly support churches that maintain Anglican doctrine. At the very least, in order to demonstrate our dismay, and how seriously we view the situation, a simple course of action could be to simply pay our Parish Share via the OGST. The actual setting up of the OGST was a pragmatic move to get the wheels turning, whilst we discussed how we might utilise it going forward. Whilst we have not yet made any payment to the OGST, the PCC officially aligned itself with it in November 2021 but are yet to contribute financially or to use it as a vehicle for payment (though we have received a generous gift from it). However, next Monday the PCC will be discussing ways we might utilise the fund more, going forward (with a view to making a firm decision in January 2023).

“As mentioned, in his essay “Together in Love and Faith”, which he launched on Friday, Bishop Steven argues for a change in the Church’s practice, saying the Church of England should now marry same-sex couples. This will also, de facto, involve a change in its doctrine. This goes significantly further than the Ad Clerum of 2018 as it firmly presses down the accelerator of change. Also, Bishop Steven is now the most senior cleric in the Church of England (so far) to speak out in favour of same-sex marriage, and will mean him becoming the leading public advocate for change among the House of Bishops (who meet next week to discuss this with a view to debating it at General Synod early next year). It also feels like a pre-empting of the results of the ‘Living in Love and Faith’ initiative (a countrywide ‘discussion’ regarding human sexuality based around teaching materials that were biased towards a more liberal approach. I had planned to lead something at St Paul’s to contribute to this debate, but the coronavirus pandemic and my own health meant this did not happen).

At this stage, it is important to reiterate is that, as Christians, we object to sex outside marriage in any form, not because we don’t like the idea of it, but because the Bible (which is our authority/rule) is clear in its rejection of it. This means that all our deliberations need to be conducted in an atmosphere of love and respect, acknowledging that we all struggle in different ways with different sins.”

The story continues to rapidly develop.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Reasserters in Oxford reject their Bishop’s endorsement of non-celibate same-sex unions

Canon Roberts writes: “In describing the negative fruit of traditional teaching, Bishop Steven seems close to accepting the assumption of many in our contemporary culture that normal people cannot live healthy, happy lives without sexual intimacy.

“This means, in his portrayal, a range of unattractive alternatives for all but the few gay/same-sex attracted Christians who are able to embrace and live out a call to celibacy: marriage to someone of the opposite sex, a double life, or reluctant and miserable singleness. There are no doubt many who do fit within his categories, but there is a serious lack of nuance in his analysis of this fruit, which is too negative in its portrayal of celibacy and singleness.”

Canon Roberts goes on to write that Dr Croft is correct to acknowledge the “missional challenge” caused by cultural shifts in society, “but there is, of course, nothing new in the Church experiencing such dissonance within and hostility from its surrounding culture. . . In the history of the global Church down the ages a gap between it and the society it inhabits has been normal.”

He continues: “Surely what is needed in the face of the disjunction between Church and society is not accommodation, but rather a winsome, confident re-presentation of the riches of Christian teaching about sex and marriage.”

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Martin Davie–What Should The Bishops Decide To Do After Living In Love And Faith?

All this (being interpreted) means that presbyter-bishops will engage not only in the teaching of the truth, but also in the repudiation of error… Both our Lord and his apostles did not shrink when necessary from the task of exposing and overthrowing false teaching ….If we sit idly by and do nothing, or if we turn tail and flee, we shall earn for ourselves the terrible epithet ‘hirelings,’ who care nothing for the sheep. Are we to abandon God’s flock to the wolves, as defenceless sheep without a shepherd? Is it to be said of the Church of God today: ‘so they were scattered because there was no shepherd: and so they became food for all the wild beasts’ (Ezekiel 34:5)? ’ [2]

For bishops in the Church of England today what the calling to be a faithful shepherd protecting the flock from the wolves involves is combatting all form of teaching which are contrary to: ‘the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness.’[3]

There are many forms of such erroneous teaching, but there are three forms which have become particularly prominent in the Church of England in recent years and which there is strong pressure for the Church of England to officially adopt. These are:

–The teaching that men and women can rightly adopt a form of personal identity that is not in accordance with their biological sex;
–The teaching that it is legitimate for people to have sexual intercourse with members of their own sex;
–The teaching that marriage can be between two people of the same sex.

These teachings are erroneous because they go against the teaching of both Scripture and the universal tradition of the Christian Church that people’s identity as either male or female is determined by their biological sex, that marriage has been ordained by God to be between two people of the opposite sex and that sexual intercourse should only take place with marriage.

Given that this is the case, what should the Bishops decide to do in their forthcoming meetings? I have given an answer to this question in my book Bishops Past, Present and Future which was published earlier this year…and in the rest of this paper I repeat what I said there and what I still think is the right approach for the bishops to take.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Bishop of Oxford says church should marry same-sex couples

The Bishop of Oxford has said Church of England clergy should be able to bless and marry [same-sex] couples.

The Right Reverend Dr Steven Croft said he was sorry his views on same-sex marriage were “slow to change” and had “caused genuine hurt, disagreement and pain”.

In an essay, he said clergy should also be allowed to marry a same-sex partner if they wished.

By law no Church of England minister can bless or marry [same-sex] couples.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) Archbp Justin Welby praying as bishops meet to discuss what’s next for Living in Love and Faith

LLF is an extensive dialogue taking place across the Church of England about marriage, gender, relationships and sexuality.

It has been underway since 2017 and parishes have spent the last two years in a process of discussion using a suite of resources prepared by the LLF team – a group formed of Anglicans from a wide spectrum of beliefs around these issues.

Feedback submitted by parishes and published in September found that comments in support of the acceptance of same-sex marriage outnumbered those against.

The College of Bishops is meeting this week to consider proposals for a way forward.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Communiqué From The Gafcon Primates Council

2. Fresh Challenges Facing the Anglican Communion

The original GAFCON in Jerusalem in 2008 was born out of the tragic cost that has come from Provinces that have departed from clear biblical teaching and established historic Anglican Formularies that were unquestioned until recent years. Those departures continue and are even spreading. We were deeply grieved by the recent appointment of a man who lives in a same-sex civil partnership as Dean of Canterbury Cathedral. It is a heartbreaking provocation that such a departure from biblical standards would be thrust upon the Communion in the historic See of Canterbury and in opposition to the established teaching and practice of the majority of Anglicans.

The announcement from the Archbishop of Canterbury distanced himself from this appointment, as it was the recommendation of a Selection Panel, requiring the Queen’s approval. Yet it is difficult to see how a Diocesan Bishop, let alone the Archbishop of Canterbury, could not influence the appointment of the Dean of his own Cathedral, especially given the published process for the Appointment of Deans. Moreover, filling this position was the responsibility of Mr. Stephen Knott, the Archbishop’s Secretary for Appointments, who is himself in a same-sex marriage. It is disingenuous, if not duplicitous, for the Archbishop to claim that the Church of England has not changed its doctrine of marriage, when he has engaged an Appointments Secretary, whose own union is a living contradiction of marriage as God has ordained it, and which the Church of England claims to uphold. By empowering Mr Knott to oversee the appointments of senior positions in the Church of England, it is hardly surprising that the recommended nominee was likewise in a same-sex relationship. Clearly, the process for appointing senior positions in the Church of England needs to be reformed, so that decisions are in the hands of those who abide by the teaching of the Church of England, especially in relation to same-sex marriage and civil partnerships, which are generally perceived as a cloak for homosexual activity.

Furthermore, while Dean David Monteith’s long term civil partnership may have gone under the radar in Leicester Cathedral, the moral character of the Dean of Canterbury has ramifications for the whole Communion. Canterbury has a place in our history which needs to be preserved, rather than undermined. At the recent Lambeth Conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury affirmed Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Regrettably, the Archbishop will be perceived as advocating the very opposite of this resolution by refusing to prevent this appointment. The so-called instrument of unity has sadly become an instrument of disunity. The tear in the fabric of the Communion has only deepened, perhaps irreparably.

The Anglican Communion evolved as a communion of Churches who held to the Reformation Formularies. Yet the Anglican Communion has over the last twenty-five years slowly but irretrievably abandoned the clear teaching of Scripture on not only matters of human sexuality but the very nature of the gospel. Yet those who remain true to the teaching of Scripture, especially in upholding Resolution I.10, are the true inheritors of the Anglican Communion. By contrast, the Canterbury Communion best describes those who accept the double speak of saying Resolution I.10 is our doctrine, but it is all right to disown it, because “we have studied the Scriptures over many years and prayed about it”. One can only wonder what Athanasius would have said if Arius had made the same claim! Yet those on two divergent paths cannot walk together, as the Council of Nicaea clearly demonstrated. We deeply lament the advocacy for unbiblical practice, and the promotion of those whose lives betray an abandonment of Christian morality. The Archbishop of Canterbury has become complicit in this trend, while providing little support for biblical orthodoxy, or offering any support for those orthodox Anglicans who are mistreated in their provinces by the revisionist agenda of bishops who defy not only Resolution I.10, but the clear teaching of Jesus in Matthew 19:4-9.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Evangelical opponents of [non-celibate] same-sex relationships outline their proposals to the Bishops

Groups opposed to the introduction of same-sex…[relationships] in the Church of England have had meetings with bishops as the College of Bishops ponders what to present to the General Synod in February.

A meeting in Lambeth Palace on Tuesday of last week was attended by representatives from the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), the Evangelical Group of the General Synod (EGGS), the Church Society, and Junia, a group for ordained women in the Evangelical tradition.

A representative from Living Out also attended the meeting. Living Out is an organisation that describes its mission as “to see Christians living out their sexuality and identity in ways that enable all to flourish in Christ-like faithfulness”.

All the groups hold that marriage is the only acceptable context for sexual relations, and that a marriage can be only between a man and a woman. They met the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, and the Bishop of Grantham, Dr Nicholas Chamberlain.

Dr Chamberlain is the only openly gay Church of England bishop. At the time of his appointment, he confirmed that he was living in accordance with the House of Bishops’ guidelines, which state that gay clergy cannot be in sexually active same-sex partnerships.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology: Scripture

National report on Church of England’s second past cases review published

The purpose of PCR2 was to identify both good practice and institutional failings in relation to how allegations of abuse have been handled, assess any identified risks and respond to these where appropriate, and to provide recommendations to the Church that will lead to improvements in its safeguarding work.

PCR2, believed to be the most extensive file review undertaken by the Church, was commissioned after an independent scrutiny team concluded that the original Past Cases Review (PCR) in 2007 was not a thorough process with particular criticism of lack of survivor engagement. PCR2 was carried out by independent reviewers across all 42 dioceses, as well as Lambeth and Bishopthorpe Palaces and the National Safeguarding Team (NST).

The review has found 383 new cases which are now all being actively managed by local safeguarding leads under the House of Bishops guidance. These are cases that were identified by independent reviewers as requiring further assessment by today’s safeguarding standards and, where necessary, further action.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(ACNA) Husch Blackwell released its redacted report on the handling of abuse allegations in the Diocese of the Upper Midwest

Read the report here.

As we’ve stated before, receipt of this report is only one step toward resolution in this matter. Read more on the process here: https://anglicanchurch.net/an-update-on-the-matters-in-the-diocese-of-the-upper-midwest/

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality

(Pzephizo) Peter Wyatt reviews Louise Perry’s ‘The Case Against the Sexual Revolution’

According to Philip Larkin, ‘sexual intercourse began in nineteen sixty-three’. Until today, this sexual revolution, brought about by more effective forms of contraception, has been hailed as an emancipation of human beings. No longer were we subject to the restraints of traditional morality as policed by religious faith, and family mores. Instead, they could act according to our desires, to find pleasure and happiness in any way they saw fit. Why should society have any opinion on what happened between the sheets, as Stephen Fry once said?

In her provocative new book, The Case Against the Sexual RevolutionLouise Perry argues that the picture is far from rosy. Instead of liberation, society has created new forms of oppression: rough sex, hook-up culture, and pornography to name a few. She argues that in all of these women have been the losers. In her view, the much-touted concept of “consent” as the answer to everything has failed and we have arrived at a situation that benefits a minority of men, at the expense of women. 

Her book is fearless in attacking the current orthodoxy, using her own experience as a campaigner in a rape crisis charity, along with extensive research, and she ends the book by quoting the radical feminist Andrea Dworkin (to paraphrase), that it is a lie to equate sexual freedom with freedom. Instead, she offers one piece of advice, ‘get married and stay married’. That is an incredible statement from a secular author! 

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Posted in Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Men, Pornography, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Women

(CBS) FBI rescues more than 200 trafficking victims, including 84 children, in “Operation Cross Country”

Law enforcement across the country rescued more than 200 sex trafficking victims, including 84 children, in a nationwide sweep dubbed “Operation Cross Country,” the FBI announced Monday. The youngest victim was 11 years old.

Authorities located 84 victims of child sex trafficking, as well as 37 children that were actively missing during the campaign, the FBI said. Law enforcement officers also located 141 adult victims of human trafficking.

In 2021, more than half of all trafficking victims in the U.S. were minors, according to the Human Trafficking Institute. In a news release Monday, FBI Director Christopher Wray called sex trafficking “among the most heinous crimes” the agency encounters.

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Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Sexuality, Violence

(C of E) Championing Just-Ice in Cheshire

Just-Ice is an innovative social enterprise that combines a love of ice-cream with a desire to provide sympathetic employment to survivors of modern slavery.

Situated in the heart of Poynton, a leafy suburb in Cheshire, Just-Ice is helping to raise awareness of modern slavery amongst Poynton’s school children, church, and wider community as well as employing several survivors of modern slavery. It is a brilliant example of a group of Christians taking action and could be mirrored in other communities across the country.

Jo Rodman, the founder of Just-Ice Poynton, was considering a vocation in ordained ministry when she heard about a Christian couple in Derby who had turned their passion for ice cream into a thriving social enterprise. She was excited about starting a similar café in Poynton and was encouraged by the Director of Vocations at Chester Diocese to pursue the idea as part of a Distinctive Deacon role. Distinctive Deacons have a strong call to an outward-looking and community-minded ministry. They often have a particular concern for issues of poverty and justice.

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Posted in Church of England, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Law & Legal Issues, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

Living in Love and Faith Next Steps Group Statement on the [2022 Partial] Lambeth [Gathering] Calls

The 2022 Lambeth Conference has published ten draft ‘Calls’ that will form the backbone of the Conference proceedings. We, the bishops on the Next Steps Group that is overseeing the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith process on identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage, had first sight of the Calls on the day of their publication, the 20th July 2022. We understand that [some of the] Anglican Communion bishops from around the world will be invited to discuss and reflect on each Call and how each might be received and applied in their home context.

Importantly, we note that the work of the Conference will give bishops the opportunity to contribute and commit to the Calls or to ask that further work be done on the Call. In line with the Call on Anglican identity, the Calls allow for differences of views and the rights of autonomy within the Anglican Communion, recognising that Anglicans seek faithfulness to God in richly diverse cultures, distinct human experiences, and deep disagreements.

One of the Calls relates to human dignity. It calls on bishops to take redemptive action against the abuses of power that are the legacy of colonialism; to address economic injustices that unfairly disadvantage the world’s poorest communities; and it warns about the threat to human dignity of prejudice on the basis of gender and sexuality.

The Church of England is just one voice among 42 member churches of the Anglican Communion….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Anthropology, Church of England, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Church times) C of E asks abuse-survivors for advice on safeguarding

A national survey has been launched by the Church of England to gauge the views of victims and survivors of abuse on the development and implementation of its safeguarding structure.

Questions in the 15-minute survey, published on the C of E website on Tuesday, are largely multiple-choice, including what might motivate a respondent to participate or engage with the safeguarding work of the Church; barriers or challenges to this; the importance of varying types of participation, e.g. use of language, listening, and diversity; and how the Church should “recognise and value” this engagement.

Another question asks: “How can the Church ensure that any survivor engagement activity does not retraumatise or negatively affect you?” Beneath this is a list of “areas which are considered as being important by survivors currently engaging with the Church”.

These are: protecting rights of confidentiality, privacy, and anonymity; considering personal needs and triggers; “preventing and challenging certain attitudes that have the potential to harm and retraumatise”; being fully informed; care and human connection; setting clear boundaries and a trusted working relationship with church staff; “tackling any unfair treatment promptly and sensitively”; and feeling welcomed, listened to, and supported.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

C of E Statement on the Telford Inquiry report

The publication of the report of the public inquiry into child sex abuse in Telford, demands a response from all organisations working with children and young people. Over a thousand girls, across decades, were subject to Child Sexual Exploitation. Not only were signs ignored, but victims went unheard and were often themselves blamed.

Church leaders and representatives can be reluctant to comment publicly on the safeguarding shortcomings of other institutions, quite simply because of the Church’s own failures to protect those who are vulnerable or to respond well to survivors and victims. But we must speak up.

There is no doubt that victims and survivors were badly failed and we should all be asking what we can learn from this important inquiry and how we can better protect children and young people in our communities.

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(Scotsman) Church of Scotland General Assembly 2022: Kirk says ministers can conduct same-sex marriages

The General Assembly voted by 274 to 136 to approve a change in church law to allow the move, but ministers who do not want to conduct such weddings will not have to.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Scotland, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Russell Moore on the SBC Report on Sexual Abuse–This Is the Southern Baptist Apocalypse

Someone asked me a few weeks ago what I expected from the third-party investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. I said I didn’t expect to be surprised at all. How could I be? I lived through years with that entity. I was the one who called for such an investigation in the first place.

And yet, as I read the report, I found that I could not swipe the screen to the next page because my hands were shaking with rage. That’s because, as dark a view as I had of the SBC Executive Committee, the investigation uncovers a reality far more evil and systemic than I imagined it could be.

The conclusions of the report are so massive as to almost defy summation. It corroborates and details charges of deception, stonewalling, and intimidation of victims and those calling for reform. It includes written conversations among top Executive Committee staff and their lawyers that display the sort of inhumanity one could hardly have scripted for villains in a television crime drama. It documents callous cover-ups by some SBC leaders and credible allegations of sexually predatory behavior by some leaders themselves, including former SBC president Johnny Hunt (who was one of the only figures in SBC life who seemed to be respected across all of the typical divides).

And then there is the documented mistreatment by the Executive Committee of a sexual abuse survivor, whose own story of her abuse was altered to make it seem that her abuse was a consensual “affair”—resulting, as the report corroborates, in years of living hell for her.

For years, leaders in the Executive Committee said a database—to prevent sexual predators from quietly moving from one church to another, to a new set of victims—had been thoroughly investigated and found to be legally impossible, given Baptist church autonomy. My mouth fell open when I read documented proof in the report that these very people not only knew how to have a database, they already had one.

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Posted in Anthropology, Baptist, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

Australian Anglican Bishops affirm Christian definitions of chastity and unchastity but then narrowly veto support for Marriage

(Please note: for key background material on this you need to read this,that and this; KSH).

In his closing comments the mover of the motion, Archbishop Kanishka Raffel of Sydney, laid out what he understood to be the pivotal moment that the synod had arrived at; what synod was being asked to affirm here is unremarkable and if it could not pass then “something is fundamentally awry”. He reminded the attentive hall that a failure to pass the motion would effectively be adopting a stance contrary to that which had been repeatedly affirmed by successive General Synods.

The vote was called and immediately there was a move to call the vote by houses. Synod voted as follows:

For Against
Laity 63 47
Clergy 70 39
Bishops 10 12

Despite an overwhelming majority (greater than that in favour of same-sex marriage amongst the general population in the recent plebiscite) the Bishops narrowly voted against. Archbishop Raffel asked for leave for a personal statement and reminded the synod that this was a tipping point issue in Provinces around the Communion, going so far as to suggest that if dioceses now proceeded to simply act on their own on this contentious matter there was, perhaps, little point in meeting together in this way in the future.

Following a request from Raffel we adjourned early for lunch.

The mood around the room was best described as sombre. There were tears and prayers amongst many of the orthodox. The common lament was that our bishops could so willingly abandon orthodoxy and in the face of such a clear majority amongst the church.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Archbishop of Canterbury apologises to Indigenous peoples of Canada

The Archbishop of Canterbury has apologised for the “terrible crime” of the Anglican Church’s involvement in Canada’s residential schools – and for the Church of England’s “grievous sins” against the Indigenous peoples of Canada.

The Archbishop spent this weekend visiting Indigenous Canadian reserves, meeting with Indigenous leaders and Anglicans, and listening to residential school survivors, as part of a five-day visit to Canada.

Addressing survivors and Indigenous elders in Prince Albert on Sunday, the Archbishop said: “I am so sorry that the Church participated in the attempt – the failed attempt, because you rose above it and conquered it – to dehumanise and abuse those we should have embraced as brothers and sisters.”

He added: “I am more than humbled that you are even willing to attempt to listen to this apology, and to let us walk with you on the long journey of renewal and reconciliation.”

The Archbishop is visiting Canada to repent and atone for the Church of England’s legacy of colonialism and the harm done to Indigenous peoples – and to share in the Anglican Church of Canada’s reconciliation work with Indigenous, Inuit and Métis communities.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop of Canterbury, Canada, Children, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence

(CT) Sexual Harassment Went Unchecked at Christianity Today

For more than a dozen years, Christianity Today failed to hold two ministry leaders accountable for sexual harassment at its Carol Stream, Illinois, office.

A number of women reported demeaning, inappropriate, and offensive behavior by former editor in chief Mark Galli and former advertising director Olatokunbo Olawoye. But their behavior was not checked and the men were not disciplined, according to an external assessment of the ministry’s culture released Tuesday.

The report identified a pair of problems at the flagship magazine of American evangelicalism: a poor process for “reporting, investigating, and resolving harassment allegations” and a culture of unconscious sexism that can be “inhospitable to women.” CT has made the assessment public.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(Local Paper front page) Domestic violence in South Carolina cost nearly $360M in 2020 – or $1M a day, study says

The financial cost of domestic violence in South Carolina runs to nearly $1 million a day when you add up the burden put on families, courts, law enforcement and the economy, a study conducted by researchers at the University of South Carolina says.

USC economist Dr. Joseph Von Nessen said the spread of domestic violence cost the state approximately $358.4 million in 2020 alone, a sum that victim advocates describe as leaving a “staggering” toll on the state’s health care facilities, businesses, nonprofits and the judicial system.

“Domestic violence does occur in every county in our state,” Von Nessen said Feb. 15 at a Statehouse press conference to discuss details of the findings. “So it is critical for us to make sure that there’s sufficient resources for intervention and support services within reach of all South Carolinians.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, State Government, Violence

Unanimous backing from C of E Synod for call to protect child survivors of trafficking

The General Synod has given unanimous backing to a call for the Government to ensure the protection of child survivors of trafficking after hearing of fears that the Nationality and Borders Bill could leave more children unprotected and at risk.

Members voted 331 in favour, with no votes against and no abstentions, both to acknowledge the ‘leading role’ that the Government has played internationally in challenging slavery – while calling on the Government to ensure the proper protection of minors who are trafficked and enslaved.

The Synod also voted to encourage all dioceses, deaneries and parishes in the Church of England to raise awareness of modern slavery. Members further called on people to pray for the victims and survivors of slavery and trafficking and all those organisations who work to help and support them.

General Synod member Alistair Bianchi, introducing the debate at the Synod, said progress that had been made in tackling modern slavery and protecting children who have been trafficked risked being endangered as a result of measures in the Nationality and Borders Bill.

There are ‘considerable concerns’ that the lack of attention paid specifically to protecting children in the Bill – currently before Parliament – could have a negative impact both on child survivors of trafficking and children subject to the immigration system who are at risk of exploitation, he told the Synod

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(NYT Op-ed) David Brooks–The Dissenters Trying to Save Evangelicalism From Itself

Of course there is a lot of division across many parts of American society. But for evangelicals, who have dedicated their lives to Jesus, the problem is deeper. Christians are supposed to believe in the spiritual unity of the church. While differing over politics and other secondary matters, they are in theory supposed to be unified by their shared first love — as brothers and sisters in Christ. Their common devotion is supposed to bring out the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

“We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord,” say the opening lines of a famous Christian song commonly known as “By Our Love.” In its chorus it proclaims, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.” The world envisioned by that song seems very far away right now. The bitter recriminations have caused some believers to wonder if the whole religion is a crock.

Russell Moore resigned from his leadership position in the Southern Baptist Convention last spring over the denomination’s resistance to addressing the racism and sexual abuse scandals in its ranks. He tells me that every day he has conversations with Christians who are losing their faith because of what they see in their churches. He made a haunting point last summer when I saw him speak in New York State at a conference at a Bruderhof community, which has roots in the Anabaptist tradition. “We now see young evangelicals walking away from evangelicalism not because they do not believe what the church teaches,” he said, “but because they believe that the church itself does not believe what the church teaches.”

The proximate cause of all this disruption is Trump. But that is not the deepest cause. Trump is merely the embodiment of many of the raw wounds that already existed in parts of the white evangelical world: misogyny, racism, racial obliviousness, celebrity worship, resentment and the willingness to sacrifice principle for power.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Guardian) Winchester college society was cult-like, finds report into child abuse

A cult-like evangelical Christian society at a leading private school allowed a powerful and charismatic barrister to groom and sadistically abuse boys with impunity, an investigation has found.

Members of the Christian Forum at Winchester college “showed signs of what would today be described as radicalisation”, said a 197-page review commissioned by the elite school into abuse carried out by John Smyth QC.

The school’s then headteacher, John Thorn, was informed of the abuse in 1982 but did not report it to police. Smyth moved to Zimbabwe, where he abused “as many as 90 boys, possibly resulting in the death of one”, the report said.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence

(ACNA) Firm Hired To Investigate Allegations Of Misconduct In Upper Midwest

Husch Blackwell LLP has been elected to serve as the firm contracted to investigate the allegations of sexual misconduct and mishandling in the Diocese of the Upper Midwest. Husch Blackwell is a national firm and the team engaged for this investigation is based out of their Chicago, Illinois office.

In late June 2021, the Anglican Church in North America was notified that there had been an erosion of trust in the Diocese of the Upper Midwest due to allegations that the Diocese mishandled accusations of sexual misconduct. On July 10, Archbishop Foley Beach announced the Province’s acceptance of a request from the Diocese to take on oversight of the investigation and called for the formation of a Provincial Response Team. The Province is a separate legal entity from the Diocese of the Upper Midwest.

The Provincial Response Team (PRT) of experienced men and women, laity and clergy, began building a process to contract a third-party investigative firm that is trauma-informed, properly experienced, and capable of competently investigating this matter.

The PRT developed a set of criteria, with input from some of the alleged survivors, to vet potential firms. The PRT then began the process of engaging potential investigators based upon those criteria, contacting eleven firms. Out of those contacted, the PRT determined two firms sufficiently met the selection criteria. All alleged survivors known to us were sent the names of these two firms and a summary description of each and were asked to vote or to indicate no preference. These votes, along with the vote of each member of the PRT, resulted in the selection and subsequent engagement of Husch Blackwell. The Province is grateful for the time and energy the other firms gave to us as the PRT considered them.

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Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

A Fantastic London Times Profile Piece on Congolese Doctor and Pentecostal Pastor Denis Mukwege

In the past seven years tens of thousands of Yazidis kept as sex slaves by Isis fighters, girls abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Rohingya women dragged from their huts and gang-raped by Burmese soldiers, have courageously come forward and told their stories, yet there has only been a single prosecution.

No one is better qualified to write about the situation than this astonishingly brave Congolese gynaecological surgeon. His Panzi hospital in eastern Congo has treated more than 60,000 raped women and girls over the past 20 years. Some arrive so damaged that he has carried out multiple operations to try to reconstruct them.

One of the most heroic men I have ever met, Mukwege literally risks his life to save women. After a series of threats and assassination attempts, he lives almost as a prisoner on the hospital site, guarded by UN peacekeepers.

Far from being supported by the Congolese state, he does all of this in the face of a government so craven it tried to fine him $20,000 for collecting rainwater on the hospital roof, insisting that rain belongs to the state.

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Posted in Africa, Books, Health & Medicine, Republic of Congo, Sexuality, Terrorism, Violence, Women

An Ad Clerum on Domestic Violence from Bishop Martyn Minns

It all began with a knock at the kitchen door at the Truro rectory. Standing there were two women. I recognized one of them as “Karen,” a long-time, active member of the congregation, but I didn’t know the other woman standing with her. I did notice, however, that she looked as if she had been crying.

“Angela, it’s for you!” I called, and invited them in. After a few more brief words, I retreated upstairs to my study, while Angela listened to their story.

They were next-door neighbors in a nearby apartment complex. “Maria” was a recent immigrant, she and her husband both refugees from Eastern Europe. He was an angry and abusive man, and Karen had heard their arguments through the walls of the apartments. Sometimes she heard the sounds of violence. She had knocked on their door a couple of times to ask if all was well, and they had reassured her that it was. Karen had thought about speaking to the police, but she knew that Maria would have been alarmed at that, so she kept quiet and kept praying. But this night was different. The sounds of violence were more intense and the screams more piercing, and then their door slammed and there was silence and muffled sobs. Karen went to their door and this time Maria couldn’t hide the nightmare. Her husband had stormed out, carrying a gun, and she was terrified. Unsure about the best way forward, Karen had brought Maria to us. We would know what to do!

Angela listened and prayed and then invited them both to spend the night in our guest room. We would deal with next steps in the morning.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Men, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence, Women

(Church Times) Cultural change is needed at Titus Trust, says independent review

A narrow focus on public schools, a hierarchical structure in which Bible teachers enjoyed greater levels of authority, and a lack of diversity among its leaders, drawn from the conservative Evangelical wing of the Church of England, are among the factors that have increased the risk of abuse at holiday camps run by the Titus Trust, an independent review concludes.

The review, carried out by Thirtyone:eight, an independent Christian safeguarding charity, and published in full on Wednesday, was commissioned by the trust in the wake of revelations about abuse perpetrated by a former chairman of the Iwerne Trust (now part of the Titus Trust), John Smyth (News, 10 February 2017, 27 August). It focuses mainly on the past five years, and responses come largely from current leaders on holidays, campers, current staff, and supporters. Visits to camps were also undertaken this summer.

It notes that “a significant amount of contributors were happy with the culture of the trust and its camps and did not have any issues with how they had been treated, nor any concerns about safeguarding,” but cautions that few responses were received from young people who had stopped going on the holidays.

The report explores nine themes, commenting that “some of these are not problematic in themselves, but it is the way in which they interrelate which increases the potential for abuse occurring.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Violence