Category : Church of England (CoE)

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–The Church of England teaching document on sexuality

One of the great reliefs of the last sessions of General Synod in York (on July 6th to 10th) was the absence of any acrimonious debates about sexuality in the main chamber. The Business Committee had taken the bold and commendable decision that, in the light of the planned teaching document on sexuality, any private members’ or diocesan motions on related issues would not be taken until after the document was produced and discussed. The teaching document was announced after the ‘rebellion’ in February 2017 when Synod decided ‘not to take note’ of a report from the House of Bishops’ report on the state of play in discussions following the long and drawn out (and expensive!) process of ‘Shared Conversations‘.

There had already been an announcement that there was going to be a change in name for the document.

Living in Love and Faith: A new name for the Episcopal Teaching Document

As the work of the Episcopal Teaching Document has progressed it has become clearer that the word ‘document’ does not do justice to the emerging vision for the resources that the groups working on it envisage. Furthermore, ‘teaching’ does not reflect the working groups’ aspiration to produce teaching materials that will invite active engagement in mutual learning. So, after several months and the participation of many people, a new title for the project has been agreed by the Archbishops: Living in Love and Faith: Christian Teaching and Learning about Human Identity, Sexuality and Marriage.

This provided plenty of fuel for the suspicious, that there was a retreat from the idea that the Church of England might actually have a clear position on sexuality that needed ‘teaching’. But Justin Welby had said from the beginning that this was going to be a ‘mapping’ exercise, highlighting areas of agreement, the areas of disagreement and possible ways forward—which in itself suggests that this, another costly process, would not lead to any clear resolution. Personally, I was intrigued at the idea that ‘teaching’ on its on does not ‘invite active engagement in mutual learning’, but in fact in Higher Education it is common to talk about a ‘teaching and learning strategy’, recognising that the focus needs to be not simply on what is offered, but also on the effect that it has in enabling learning to take place.

So instead of any debate, the Saturday afternoon of Synod was given over to a series of workshops and seminars, some of which focussed on other topics (including digital evangelism) but which included presentations on the work of the different groups involved in the process (Bible, theology, biological and social sciences, history and a slightly separate Pastoral Advisory Group). I attended the ones on Bible, theology and science, and what emerged was a rather mixed picture of what we might expect from the process….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

‘A New Settlement Revised: Religion and Belief in Schools’ – A Church of England response

In response to the report published yesterday by the Westminster Faith Debates, by Charles Clarke and Linda Woodhead, The Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, Revd Nigel Genders, said: 

“Church of England Schools provide education for the whole community. This includes those of other faiths and those of no faith, as well as Christian families. Around one million pupils attend our schools every day, each receiving a high-quality education, and our approach to education remains extremely popular.

“The report from the Westminster Faith Debates continues an important conversation about religion and belief in schools, and the type of education we want for our children.

“The report recognises that in today’s world there is an increasing need for religious literacy. While the recommendations will need to be read in the light of the publication of the Commission on Religious Education’s report, expected in the autumn, we welcome the recognition of the importance of religious education in schools.

“The report raises the question of collective worship. Collective worship provides a vital opportunity for children to pause and reflect on the big questions of life and develop spiritually, and we are pleased to see a significant ground-shift in this revised report away from any call to abolish it, which would be to the detriment of children’s wellbeing.

“We have consistently argued that the issue of school admissions is complex in a system where parental choice is valued….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Church Times) Tim Wyatt asks some of the C of E’s most prolific users of Twitter and Facebook what they think about social media

It is not hard to find a bad news story featuring social media. From allegations of data misuse and interference in elections to the opprobrium heaped on those guilty of ill-judged Twitter posts, and concerns about the impact on social cohesion and attention spans, it seems that we might be falling out of love with the medium.

In the halcyon days of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the rest, the Church of England, like the rest of the world, appeared enraptured. There was widespread enthusiasm about the opportunities for mission and communication.

The Bishop of Buckingham, Dr Alan Wilson, captured much of the optimistic mood in a column for the Church Times in 2011: “Christians have much to say using social media because churches contain many ordinary people with engaging stories to tell. The more they get out there and speak freely, the richer a view of Christianity the world will get” (Comment, 6 May 2011).

Bloggers such as Church Mouse (16,500 followers) and the “digital nun” Sister Catherine Wybourne (19,500 followers) shot to prominence, while a thousand Facebook groups sprang up as believers coalesced online around their various interests and traditions.

One blogging priest, the Revd Peter Ould, even co-ordinated early efforts on Twitter into a website, the Twurch of England, which collated every tweet from Church of England bishops and priests into a single live feed. Asked in an interview whether he was excited by the possibilities, he replied: “Absolutely — and we’re only just beginning to see the potential.”

While these early experiments are often remembered fondly, the pitfalls were soon encountered….

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(AI) Anglicans in SE Asia breaks with the C of E Diocese of Lichfield over their embrace of the new sexual morality

Many of you will be aware of   and hopefully attending – our ‘Intentional Discipleship: East Meets West’ event across the Diocese from 11-15 July. We would like to update you about some developments concerning the gatherings for your information. We have enjoyed a fruitful relationship with the Province of South East Asia and were very much looking forward to welcoming all four of its dioceses: West Malaysia, Kuching, Singapore and Sabah, to the event, which was due to culminate in the renewal of our partnership agreements with each diocese. However, we are sad that the four dioceses have now informed us that they will not renew the partnership agreements, and that Singapore and Sabah dioceses have decided to withdraw their participation from the whole event. This is because they have concerns about our recent ad clerum on Welcoming and Honouring LGBT+ People. We respect their decision and their concerns which are held with integrity.

Read it all.

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

(Inews) Church of England seeks law to protect cash-strapped cathedrals from being sold

The Church of England is to seek legal protection against being forced to sell its cash-strapped ancient cathedrals in the event that any them become bankrupt. A meeting of the General Synod, the church’s parliament, this week set in train the passing of a new law which would prevent creditors from seeking the sale of a cathedral’s land or buildings in the event that it falls insolvent.

The financial health of some of the CofE’s 42 cathedrals, among which figure some of the greatest treasures of British architecture, has made recent headlines as a number of institutions struggle to secure sufficient income….

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Church of England funds ambitious growth programme

More than a hundred new churches are to be created in a £27 million drive by the Church of England to revive the Christian faith in coastal areas, market towns and outer urban housing estates, it was announced today.

New Christian communities in areas including the Kent coast, housing estates in Plymouth and market towns in Cambridgeshire are to be set up by the Church of England as part of its Renewal and Reform programme.

The plans have been backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby as a ‘wonderful example’ of how churches are seeking to be faithful to God and to serve their communities.

He said: “The Church of England exists to share the good news of Jesus through our words and our actions. Across the country, churches are bursting with life – which in part is shown through how they love and serve their communities. I’m especially pleased about these grants because they demonstrate our commitment to following Jesus to the places of greatest need in our society….”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

Announcement of the Next Bishop of Crediton

THE next Bishop of Crediton will be the Venerable Jackie Searle, currently Archdeacon of Gloucester, 10 Downing Street has announced today.

Archdeacon Jackie said: “I am delighted to have been appointed Bishop of Crediton and am excited to be joining the Church of England in Devon. I am very drawn to the Diocesan vision to deepen our prayer, make disciples and serve the people of Devon with joy. I look forward hugely to joining in, getting to know the churches, schools, chaplaincies and fresh expressions of the Diocese and all the communities they serve, and working collaboratively to share the love and grace of God.”

Jackie was among the first women to be ordained as priests when she was a curate in London. She served curacies in Harrow and Ealing, before joining the staff of Trinity College, Bristol where she was Lecturer in Applied Theology.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Telegraph) Church of England sees fall in planned donations for first time in 50 years as millennials fail to engage

The Church of England has seen a fall in planned donations for first time in 50 years as it says millennials are not taking up the mantle of previous generations.

Money given through direct debits and standing orders has fallen for the first time since records began in 1964, it was revealed on Monday.

John Spence, chair of the Archbishops’ Council Finance Committee, told its governing body, the General Synod, that in 2016 income coming from planned giving fell by 0.4 per cent.

Figures for 2015 show that a total of £337.5m was given to the church this way, suggesting that there was a fall of around £1.35m in 2016.

The donations formed around a third of the money collected by parishes in 2015, which Mr Spence said rose by 1.8 per cent overall because of other sources of funds.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Stewardship, Young Adults

Fulcrum Response to GAFCON 2018

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, GAFCON

(CEN) Andrew Carey–The Church of England’s dilemma over civil partnerships

The Church of England has got itself into a mess as usual with regard to same-sex marriage and civil partnerships.

Having opposed civil partnerships from their inception, some church leaders later supported them for what looked like strategic, ecclesiastical reasons. They could be used to support the Church of England’s own holding position.

The Church of England was saying to homosexuals: ‘We cannot go as far as giving you marriage, but we can give you civil partnerships with a few quiet prayers (psst, just don’t tell the traditionalists). Now go away, dear, and be grateful’.

At the same time, it was saying to traditional believers in a more peremptory manner: ‘We have not changed the teaching of the Church. There’s nothing going on here. Now go away and be grateful.’

But it was always pretty obvious that Church leaders were at odds over teaching on homosexuality. The parallels with the Brexit process are extraordinary. We have also seen the tortuous efforts of Theresa May to kick the can down the road, thereby avoiding crisis after crisis. This is paralleled by the ‘good disagreement’ process that aims to delay the most divisive of decisions for as long as possible.

Presumably, it is thought that the combatants will be on life support by the time the decision must finally be taken.

The Supreme Court has now judged that civil partnerships are discriminatory because they are only on offer to homosexuals and not others. The Government is consulting over whether to abolish civil partnerships or open them up to heterosexuals.

In my view civil partnerships do not have to be sexual relationships so they should be opened up to other kind of relationships in which people live together for long-term companionship, such as brothers and sisters. This was argued by traditionalists in the 1990s when civil partnerships were first mooted.

But this means that it is no longer possible for the Church of England to pretend that civil partnerships can be used to put homosexual relationships into a separate but equal category. The Church of England’s room for compromise is reducing uncomfortably.

It can either stick with traditional teaching and hold up marriage between a man and a woman as the Christian model for relationships. Or it can follow other liberal churches to a more permissive and progressive view of marriage, which includes homosexual couples.

Either of these options would result in a more honest Church. After all, if the Church goes with the zeitgeist at least homosexuals would know they are not being patronised and lied to any longer and traditional believers could make their own choices. Conversely, if the Church is faithful to its teachings then that would be a healthy, honest, decent and loving outcome to the debate.

–from the Church of England Newpaper, July 6, 2018, edition, page 20 (subscriptions encouraged)

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Men, Sexuality, Theology, Women, Young Adults

(ACNS) Britain’s Methodists debate Church of England full communion proposals

The Methodist Church of Great Britain has debated proposals that could see it enter into a full communion agreement, including the interchange of ministries, with the Church of England. The proposals are contained in a report “Mission and Ministry in Covenant”, which was published last year. The C of E’s General Synod debated the report in February, and called for additional work to be undertaken on it. This morning (Monday), the Methodist Church adopted similar motion at its annual conference, which is meeting this week in Nottingham.

The proposals would see future Presidents of Conference being ordained as bishops in the apostolic succession and have the title President Bishop. As Methodist Presbyters in Britain are ordained by the Conference, this would mean that, should the proposals be accepted, future Presbyters would be ordained by a bishop in the apostolic succession. The C of E is being asked to recognise existing Methodist Presbyters, who haven’t been ordained in the apostolic succession, as a “bearable anomaly” until, over time, all future Methodist presbyters are ordained under the new system replace those ordained under the existing system.

There is division in the Church of England’s House of Bishops about the proposals, which were formulated by the Faith and Order bodies of both churches. The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, addressed the Conference this morning and acknowledged the lack of unanimity in the C of E.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Theology

The Guardian view on an Anglican cover-up: the church that didn’t want to know

It’s not the scandal that does the damage, they say, but the cover-up. What happens if the cover-up is itself covered up? This is the question that the Church of England must face with the publication of an extraordinary report into the occasion, eight years ago, when it gave itself a pass mark on the issue of sexual abuse. A report then published, prompted by scandals earlier in the decade, was meant to measure the extent of historic sexual abuse known to the church. Instead it produced the frankly incredible claim that there were only 13 cases in 30 years that had not been dealt with properly.

Now that Peter Ball, a former bishop of Lewes and of Gloucester, has been convicted of indecent assault and been sentenced to 32 months in jail, while Lord Carey, who as archbishop of Canterbury attempted to rehabilitate him and suppressed some of the evidence against him, has been barred from working as a priest in retirement, it is time to review the church’s earlier self-examination. The Ball case is only the most visible of what is now obviously a considerable load of past cases. The archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, along with two of his bishops, has been formally reported to the police for alleged inaction over the case of one of their priests who was as a young man raped by an older priest.

So it is disappointing to see that the church has managed to produce another report that appears to argue that the original clean bill of health was the product of perfectly innocent misunderstandings.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

Today’s Prayer from the Church of England

O God, the protector of all who trust in you,
without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:
increase and multiply upon us your mercy;
that with you as our ruler and guide
we may so pass through things temporal
that we lose not our hold on things eternal;
grant this, heavenly Father,
for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Spirituality/Prayer

Some English Church leaders react to the Gafcon2018 letter to the churches

Watch and listen to it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, GAFCON, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

A Key interview with Vaughan Roberts of St Ebbe’s, Oxford, at Gafcon2018

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