Category : Same-sex blessings

(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

(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

Martyn Davie–Gafcon, The Archbishop And Lambeth 2020

The first point to note is that the Archbishop is not being asked to do the impossible. Ever since Archbishop Charles Longley invited Anglican bishops to the first Lambeth Conference in 1867 it has been accepted that it is for the Archbishop of Canterbury to decide which bishops should be invited. He can invite who he likes and not invite who he likes and he is not obliged to have the agreement of any other person or body about the matter. The buck stops with the Archbishop.

This means that Archbishop Welby can fulfil the requests made in both the bullet points in the GAFCON letter. However, this still leaves the question of whether he should do so. To answer this question it is necessary to recall what has taken place in the Anglican Communion in the twenty years since the Lambeth Conference of 1998.

Two key things have happened.

First, in spite of being repeatedly urged not to do so, a number of provinces of the Anglican Communion (The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church in Canada, the Episcopal Church in Brazil, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Aorateara, New Zealand and Polynesia) have acted in ways that go against Scripture and Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference by accepting, in terms of both doctrine and practice, the blessing of same-sex sexual relationships, same-sex marriages and the ordination of those in same-sex sexual relationships.

Secondly, in response to these developments, Anglicans in the United States, Canada and Brazil who have remained loyal to Scripture and Lambeth 1.10 have established the two alternative orthodox provinces mentioned in the first bullet point– the Anglican Church in North America and the Anglican Church in Brazil.

By acting in the way that they have, those Anglican provinces which have accepted same-sex sexual relationships have rejected the obligations that go with being a member of the Anglican Communion.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, GAFCON, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Anglican Taonga) Talks in Christchurch have begun to try to reach an amicable separation between members of 4 evangelical congregations who do not want to bless a shape of life outside of bounds for Christians and the Diocese

Negotiations are under way which will see most of the members from four Christchurch congregations cut their links to the Diocese of Christchurch.

These negotiations follow from the decision taken by this year’s General Synod on May 9 which paved the way for the blessing of same-sex partnerships.

Following that decision, four conservative evangelical Christchurch parishes held votes to decide whether their members would disaffiliate[1] from the diocese – and, in each case, large majorities chose to do so.

On Wednesday last week, Archbishop Philip Richardson[2] along with senior diocesan staff and archdeacons met with vicars and wardens of the four parishes in question to discuss how their members could disaffiliate “in a respectful manner while maintaining good communication and leaving doors open.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

David Ould–The Australian diocese of Wangratta pushes ahead with same-sex blessings

The Diocese of Wangaratta, at it’s recent synod, passed the following motion,

That this Synod:

a) acknowledges the widespread national and local support for the recent changes to Australian marriage laws, to include same-sex couples

b) commends the pastoral value of the Bishop authorising a Form of Blessing for optional use in the Diocese of Wangaratta alongside, or in addition to, a wedding conducted by a civil celebrant, and

c) requests that the Bishop of Wangaratta ensure opportunity for the clergy and laity of the Diocese to engage in further discussion as part of the process leading to the potential Diocesan provision for blessing of civil marriages.

Moved: Archdeacon Clarence Bester

Seconded: Ven Dr John Davis

The motion was passed overwhelmingly on the voices. A number of observations can immediately be made:

  1. The motion comes from the leadership of the diocese, presented by an Archdeacon and the former Vicar General of the Diocese.
  2. The sentiment of the motion is in clear contradiction to a number of motions at the 2017 General Synod and position established in the more recent Bishops’ Agreement which Bishop Parkes of Wangaratta agreed to….

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

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

(Times Live) Bless same-sex marriages‚ pleads retired South African Anglican Archbishop Ndungane

Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane has urged the Anglican Church to show full acceptance of lesbian‚ gay‚ bisexual‚ transgender‚ questioning‚ intersexual and asexual people.

He was speaking at St George’s Cathedral‚ Cape Town‚ on Saturday at the funeral service of the Reverend Canon Rowan Smith‚ a former Dean of the Cathedral who identified as gay and campaigned for the rights of the LGBTQIA community.

Archbishop Ndungane asked for the kind of leadership “that we saw in the dark days of apartheid” and added that the Anglican Church had excluded a “huge part of itself” in respect of people of different sexuality.

The blessing of same sex marriages remained an unresolved issue‚ and the Church’s failure to deal with this issue meant that its Christian humanity was suffering‚ the retired archbishop said‚ according to a statement issued by his office.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), South Africa, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) Could sexuality be a thorn in the side of the Anglican-Methodist unity pact?

What is perhaps a more pressing question is what would happen to the Anglican-Methodist Covenant were either church to change its opposition to gay marriage. Would a sudden change by the Methodist Conference in 2019 or 2020 scupper the long proposed deal…?

It certainly might make the strong conservative base on the Church of England’s ruling general synod less enthusiastic.

But difference in teaching on sexuality is not officially a block on sharing ministry.

The Church of England is already in direct ‘communion’ with its sister Anglican churches in Scotland and the US. This means that priests in both churches are recognised as such by the Church of England and so they can, as long as the local bishop agrees, come and minister in CofE parishes.

Both the Episcopal Church in the US and the Scottish Episcopal Church permit same-sex marriage, and while they faced sanctions from the wider Anglican Communion, they remain in communion with the CofE.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

New Zealand Decision on Same-Sex Unions prompts ‘deep regret’ from Anglicans in Sydney

At its first meeting since the decision, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Sydney passed a motion which “notes with deep regret that the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has amended its Canons to allow bishops to authorise clergy to bless same-sex unions”.

The Committee also conveyed to the Primates of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia that it ‘notes with regret that this step is contrary to the teaching of Christ (Matt 19:1-12) and is contrary to Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.”

Further, the Diocese expressed “support for those Anglicans who have left or will need to leave the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia because of its abandonment of biblical teaching, and those who struggle and remain; and prays that the ACANZP will return to the doctrine of Christ in this matter and that impaired relationships will be restored.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Gafcon) Archbp Peter Jensen–Sin and Error in the Church

I heard a strange argument recently. When the question of sexual ethics and the teaching of the Bible was raised with a senior leader, the reply was – well look how bad your church is. There followed a long list of sins and offences, some of them very serious: corruption, adultery, strife, false teaching. This is all very tragic. But it is not equivalent to changing the doctrine of the church and actually blessing what God condemns.

I am sorry to say, having been Bishop now for many years that nothing would surprise me. Indeed, knowing my own heart, nothing would surprise me. Indeed knowing the Bible, nothing would surprise me. Our own doctrine tells us how bad we are, even though the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts. Our own Prayer Book majors on the confession of sins and with very weighty words indeed. And I hope our practice assumes the possibility of sin and even crime in our midst – it is always wise for two people to count the offertory for example.

Of course this is not the whole story. Christian people, blessed by the Holy Spirit of God are being transformed from one degree of glory to another. The Christian church so often shines in the darkness and Christians live for God sacrificially and lovingly. But this side of eternity we are far from perfect.

But that is what puzzled and worried me about this argument. It was as though the person did not know how bad the church can be and is in his own culture. You can find tribalism, sexual immorality and false teaching in all the churches. You may even find the leadership turning a blind eye to it. But–it is one thing to point to the sins of the church. It is another thing altogether to justify an official change in doctrine and practice to incorporate them! After all, no-one is pretending that greed is good or that corruption is Christian. But many are actually officially changing the teaching and practice of the church in a way which denies scripture. That is the problem.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Martin Davie from 2016–‘The Communion cannot decide to agree to disagree about sexuality and focus on discipleship instead’

From here:

One final point to note in relation to Intentional Discipleship and Disciple Making is that a concern for a fresh emphasis on Christian discipleship cannot be separated from the current debate within the Anglican Communion about human sexuality. The Communion cannot decide to agree to disagree about sexuality and focus on discipleship instead. This is because in the Bible, and in the orthodox Christian tradition building on the Bible, right sexual practice, consisting of sexual abstinence outside heterosexual marriage and sexual faithfulness within it, has always been seen as an integral part of what it means to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. This being the case the acceptance and advocacy of alternative patterns of sexual conduct in parts of the Anglican Communion has to be seen as inimical to Christian discipleship and rejected as such. To be serious about discipleship means being serious about sexual holiness and rejecting all forms of behaviour incompatible with it.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology: Scripture

(Fiji Sun Online) Anglican Church In Polynesia Says No To Same Sex Blessings

This church has put on record the fact that Tikanga Pasifika is against the blessing of same-gen­der relationships.

However, Tikanga Pasifika chose not to veto the motion which opens the door to these blessings outside the Diocese of Polynesia.

The Anglican Church in Polyne­sia has expressed its desire “not to be an obstacle” or to hinder the progress of the recommendations for Tikanga Maori and Tikanga Pakeha in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Read it all.

Posted in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Gafcon UK offers support to FCA New Zealand after same sex blessings vote

From there:

Bishop Andy Lines, speaking on behalf of Gafcon UK, said today:

We are not surprised, but nevertheless deeply saddened and concerned by the decision by the General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa to accept Motion 29 and so pave the way for the blessing of same sex relationships.

We note that only those in civil marriages or lawfully recognised partnerships will be eligible for these blessings. This shows that while a short time ago many church leaders around the world were arguing for such blessings but drew the line at same-sex marriage (as in the Church of England’s Pilling Report), now that line appears to have been removed. With this decision, another Anglican Province follows TEC, Canada and Scotland in believing it has the authority to redefine marriage, and offer the Church’s blessing to relationships which the Bible and centuries of Christian tradition clearly teach that God warns against and cannot bless.

It is encouraging that despite the huge pressure to conform to Motion 29 and the secular humanist ideology behind it, many courageous New Zealand Anglicans not only voted against the Motion, but are already looking to the emergence of new Anglican structures, which remain faithful to the Scriptures in contrast to those who have departed from them.

We pray for Rev Jay Behan and others in Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand, and rejoice in their close association with the majority of Anglicans worldwide who continue to preach the biblical gospel of repentance from sin and new life in Christ. Jay and other representatives from FCANZ will receive a warm welcome and full support from all at June’s Gafcon gathering, and ongoing solidarity from Gafcon UK as they plan for the future.

Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand response to the General Synod Decision to Bless Same Sex Relationships

From there:

It is with deep sadness that the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand (FCANZ) receives the news that General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui has passed the Motion 29 Report allowing the blessing of same-sex relationships. While we are thankful for the gracious spirit in which the debate was held, we disagree with the final outcome. We believe the General Synod has acted in a way which leaves behind biblical authority, the apostolic tradition, and the doctrine and practice our church has always held. Upon the passing of the motion General Synod members Rev. Jay Behan (Chair of FCANZ) and Rev. Al Drye immediately resigned.

FCANZ believes that God loves all people, from all walks of life, calling each of us to repent and have faith in Jesus Christ. Sometimes speaking of this love involves saying difficult things that run counter to the culture of today. However we remain convinced that it is good for all humanity and the only place for the church to stand.

In light of the decision of the General Synod we are ready to support people and parishes that cannot remain within this changed Anglican structure. We will work together nationally and internationally to provide fellowship and support as we look towards new ways and structures of ministering the unchanging good news of Jesus.

Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Anglican Taonga) New Zealand’s Anglican Church takes steps towards blessing same-sex relationships

Read it all; there is also a Christian Today article there and a Stuff article here. The Christian Today article includes this section:

In a statement the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand said: ‘While we are thankful for the gracious spirit in which the debate was held, we disagree with the final outcome. We believe the General Synod has acted in a way which leaves behind biblical authority, the apostolic tradition, and the doctrine and practice our church has always held.’

It added that it was ready to welcome other conservatives who opposed the decision.

‘FCANZ believes that God loves all people, from all walks of life, calling each of us to repent and have faith in Jesus Christ. Sometimes speaking of this love involves saying difficult things that run counter to the culture of today. However we remain convinced that it is good for all humanity and the only place for the church to stand.’

But Very Rev Ian Render, who is dean of Waiapu Cathedral and also gay and married, said in the debate: ‘I’m standing to remind you of all the people we have lost along the way. The people who were candidates for ordination – but who were turned down because of their relationships, or their declared sexuality.

‘The people who have been left in limbo, for year, after year, after year….

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Clergy and laity doubt accuracy of letter from William Nye to the Episcopal Church (TEC)

In a response to a consultation by the Episcopal Church on same-sex marriage (News, 20 April), Mr Nye said that there had not been time to consult the wider Church, and that it “reflects discussions among staff of the Church’s Archbishops’ Council only”. This raises questions of governance, says a letter to the Church Times, signed by more than 110 members of the clergy and laity, who say that they wish to “dissociate” themselves from Mr Nye’s response.

“Unless the content of the letter is tested synodically, he surely cannot claim to speak for the Church of England as a whole,” they write. “Mr Nye’s letter, written on Archbishops’ Council stationery, gives the impression that he was acting as an agent of the Council and its trustees and writing with its authority. But, as he acknowledges, his response is simply the fruit of conversations held among a small cadre of professional staff. As a governance matter, this will not, we think, do.”

Canon Simon Butler, Vicar of St Mary’s, Battersea, and a member of the Archbishops’ Council, confirmed online last Friday that Mr Nye’s letter “does not reflect the views of the Archbishops’ Council. We have never been asked. . . As a Council member I was not even made aware of the existence of this consultation, let alone asked to comment.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

An article from Stuff about Wellington, New Zealand’s, new Cathedral Dean David Rowe

Rowe is not expected to take up his post at Wellington Cathedral until July. But it would appear that, in the 19 months since he signed the letter, he may have changed his stance.

In a letter to Bishop of Wellington Justin Duckworth after his appointment, he acknowledged concern about the signing of the 2016 letter, and said he was on a “journey and not in a fixed position” on the gay blessing issue.

Duckworth said on Wednesday that Rowe, who has ministered previously in New Zealand, and has a son and daughter-in-law working as priests in Whanganui, was well aware of Wellington Anglicans’ stance on gay blessings, and had taken the job happy and accepting of it.

“I would say he is not fixed in his position, and is trying to work out what he believes and what God is saying … he is trying to work out what he believes.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Gafcon) Archbp Peter Jensen–Slipping into the slumber of the spirit

Whenever the Bible mentions the matter of same sex activity, it is to warn against it. The boundaries within which sexual relations may occur are clearly delineated. We should not have sex with a person married to another (adultery), or with a person to whom we are not married whether of the same or the opposite sex (fornication), or with a person to whom we are closely related (incest), or to any other than another human (bestiality).

We ought not to think that these boundaries are given to oppress us. God is in favour of sex in the right place, and he gives joy in its expression. The boundaries protect us; they give us wisdom as to what is best for our humanity. They are immensely important in an age where sex has become a divinity and those who do not have sex are regarded as deprived and eccentric. The return to paganism brought in by the sexual revolution of the 1960s, is not a return to the good. The harm it has done, from abortion to sexually transmitted diseases and relational hurt is horrendous. In many ways, the debts incurred are yet to be paid.

All you need is love? Is this the truth?

Love is, of course, the greatest of all virtues. But Christian love is not undiscriminating. Its wisdom is the law of God. Without love, the law becomes rigid and cruel. Without the law, love becomes mere sentiment. Even great misdeeds may be adorned with virtues such as courage, integrity, honesty, self-sacrifice and, yes, love itself. Thus an army bent on illegal destruction can be marked by love between the troops; an adulterous affair can be the scene of a deep and powerful love; love can commit suicide in order to be with a loved one at the end.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(The Age) Some Australian Anglican bishops break ranks to support Dean Smith’s same-sex marriage bill

A group of Anglican bishops has split with some of the church’s top leaders to declare support for the current version of the same-sex marriage bill before Parliament, publicly calling on lower house MPs to resist the conservative push to insert stronger religious protections.

The House of Representatives will begin debating the bill drafted by Liberal senator Dean Smith on Monday and is expected to pass it by the end of the week. If it passes unchanged it will then be signed into law, and same-sex weddings will occur within weeks.

However Coalition conservatives are set on amending the bill, which passed the Senate 43 votes to 12 last week, without change. If they manage to get enough support for their changes around freedom of religion and conscience the bill will have to return to the Senate.

As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed he would support some of those changes in a bid to guard against any “unintended consequences”, seven Anglican bishops wrote to all lower house MPs to show not all religious leaders believe amendments are necessary.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Australia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(SAN) Christ Church, Harris, In Scotland Accepts Oversight From Bishop Andy Lines

The people of Christ Church, Harris, announced today that they can no longer remain under the oversight of the bishop of Argyll and the Isles, the Right Reverend Kevin Pearson. This follows his decision to support the change to the canons of the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) which introduced the innovation of same-sex marriage.

At a meeting with Bishop Pearson, they explained their decision and asked if the Scottish Episcopal Church would keep the church they have built and the money they have given. The bishop insisted that the SEC would retain all assets. In response the congregation made it clear that they would walk away rather than submit to a decision which departs from scripture, tradition and the teaching of Jesus Christ,

The people of Christ Church will maintain a faithful Anglican witness on Harris under the oversight of the Right Reverend Andy Lines, who was consecrated as a missionary bishop for Europe in June and who will act under the authority of the GAFCON primates.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ACNS) Scottish Episcopal Church Primus briefs Partial Primates Meeting on his Province’s same-sex marriage decision

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(ACNS) Hong Kong could host ACC-17 after Brazil ‘postponement’ over discussions on human sexuality and marriage

The next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-17) could take place in Hong Kong following a decision to move it from Sao Paulo in Brazil.

The Brazilian city was unveiled as the host of the 2019 conference at last year’s ACC conference in Lusaka. But the ACC Standing Committee, meeting in London, heard that the event was scheduled to go ahead at what would be a challenging time for the country and for the Anglican Church there. In particular, concerns were raised about the political and economic instability and also the Church’s discussions on human sexuality and marriage which will take place at the provincial synod next year. Whatever the outcome of those discussions, it was felt this would have an impact on the Anglican Church in Brazil and hamper its ability to stage ACC-17. Specifically, it was thought that the leadership of the Church would need time to deal with pastoral issues arising from the discussions.

Hong Kong emerged as a possible replacement during committee discussions. It was felt the territory had the resources to step in and also the experience, having hosted ACC-12 in 2002.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh’s Gafcon’s Chairman Letter for September 2017

I attended the Canterbury Primates Meeting held in January 2016 because I believed it might be possible to make a new start and change the pattern of repeated failure to preserve the integrity of Anglican faith and order. I was disappointed. The Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka the following April neutered the Primates’ action to distance The Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) from Communion decision making. TEC has not repented, and continues to take aggressive legal action against orthodox dioceses. For example, the congregations of the Diocese of San Joaquin are currently having to turn over their places of worship to TEC, which has no realistic plan for filling them with worshippers.  At the same time, the Diocese of South Carolina is now facing the potential loss of many of its historic buildings.

My disappointment was shared by the other Global South Primates who gathered in Cairo last October and we concluded in our communiqué that the ‘Instruments of Communion’ (which include the Primates Meeting of course) are “unable to sustain the common life and unity of the Anglican Churches worldwide” and do actually help to undermine global mission.

The only difference between the present and 2008, when Gafcon was formed, is that we have a different Archbishop of Canterbury. Everything else is the same or worse. There is endless debate, the will of the orthodox Primates is frustrated and misrepresented, false teaching is not being corrected, and nothing is being done to halt orthodox Anglicans in North America (and maybe soon elsewhere) being stripped of the churches that have helped form their spiritual lives.

In these circumstances, I have concluded that attendance at Canterbury would be to give credibility to a pattern of behaviour which is allowing great damage to be done to global Anglican witness and unity. Our energies in the Church of Nigeria will be devoted to what is full of hope and promise for the future, not to the repetition of failure.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Global South Churches & Primates, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Prominent C of E evangelical group warns of possible split over same-sex Relations

A division of the Church of England would be required’ if the Church declares that ‘permanent, faithful same-sex relationships are a legitimate form of Christian discipleship’, warns the ‘realistic’ Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC).

A letter from CEEC President, the Rt Rev Julian Henderson, its Chair, the Rev Hugh Palmer, Treasurer, the Rev George Curry and Secretary, Stephen Hofmeyr, warns that there are three options available for the Church of England, but that only one of them will ensure that evangelicals represented by the CEEC won’t leave.

They say that while they were encouraged that the House of Bishops sexuality report contained no proposal to change the Church of England’s doctrinal position on marriage, there have been ‘disappointing developments’. They pointed to the fact that ‘a small majority of the House of Clergy refused to “take note” of the report and so, although the majority of General Synod members wished to do so, it was not taken note of by Synod’.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Priests could be authorised to offer same-sex blessings in New Zealand

Bishops could authorise individual priests to offer same-sex blessings in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, if a new compromise proposal is taken up.

A working group was set up after the Church’s last General Synod debate about church blessings for gay marriages solemnised in civil ceremonies foundered amid theological differences between the Maori and Polynesian parts of the Church (which backed the reforms), and the European-origin dioceses (which were divided) (News, 20 May 2016).

The small group of one bishop, two priests, and three lay people from all three groupings, or tikangas, of the Church has now reported back. It recommends that the formularies of the Church remain unchanged, but that diocesan bishops be permitted to “authorise individual clergy within their ministry units to conduct services blessing same-gender relationships”.

Those who object to same-sex relationships on theological grounds should have their convictions “respected and protected”, and there must be “immunity from complaint” for any bishop or priest who decided to conduct, or not to conduct, a blessing….

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Posted in Anthropology, Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Provinces Other Than TEC, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(GAFCON) Archbp Peter Jensen: Reflections on Truth, Division and Fellowship

At the heart of the divisions which have beset the Anglican Communion since 2002 is a profound disagreement over sexual ethics, in particular whether same sex unions can be blessed by God in the light of the teaching of the Bible. The teaching of GAFCON is that the Bible is clear on three vital points.

First, that sexual intimacy outside of heterosexual marriage is forbidden by God and not in the best interests of humans.

Second, that persistent behaviour of this sort puts those who engage in it outside the kingdom of God and therefore at risk of losing salvation.

Third, acceptance of this behaviour in the church means that the full gospel cannot be preached, since the full gospel requires repentance from sexual sin.

But there is more to it than that. The Bible tells us that in a society in which the truth about God is supressed, the consequence is godless sexual licence. This is a sign of an unhealthy community in deep trouble.

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Posted in - Anglican: Commentary, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

More Response to C of E General Synod (I)–Rob Munro: Radical Christian Inclusion…?

General Synod felt like it reached the watershed this last long weekend.

Superficially we did the usual things: passing obscure legal provisions – for example, giving official permission not to have to wear robes at main services (which I realise you all have done faithfully up until now); the valiant effort to put something to do with mission on the agenda – this time with workshops on various National Church Initiatives like Thy Kingdom Come and the soon-to-be-revamped National Website. We even had the obligatory “current affairs” motion, this time from the Archbishops following the surprises at the General Election, generally calling for more prayer and appropriate lobbying – although the Archbishop of York tried to bring a last minute radical suggestion that Christians voluntarily paid more tax to the government to fund health and education, which flew for as long as most lead balloons. There were signs that something was amiss early on, when rather non-controversial amendments to the Archbishops’ proposal, which aimed to strengthen statements with regard to biblical and gospel priorities, were lost – but unless the Archbishop had backed them, which he didn’t for reasons of ‘simplicity’, it is hard to get them passed.

However, the watershed came apparent from the other seemingly obligatory controversial agenda items. This time, on conversion therapy and transsexual liturgy. The motions themselves were both subtle – we are all against abusive therapies, and we are all for welcoming all people including transsexuals; but the innocuous additions to the proposals were clearly designed to do more. The subtlety is that “conversion therapy” is an ill-defined term – it can mean just specific professional counselling therapies, and it is legitimately debateable how effective they are in actually changing a person’s sexual orientation, but it could include merely praying with someone at their request to diminish an unwanted same-sex attraction. There was an excellent amendment put in by Sean Doherty of Living Out that achieved what the original motion seemed to ask for, but it was lost – the radical held sway over the Christian. Similarly in the debate about welcoming transsexuals in church, the Trojan horse there was in a request for liturgy to mark a person’s transition, because, as was said repeatedly framing the debate, “The Church does the work of God through liturgy!” Again, a reasonable amendment, giving clarity to the nuances, was rejected; and although the final motion only actually asks the House of Bishops to consider a new liturgy, and the Archbishop of York implied they probably wouldn’t do it, he ended the debate asking for a strong support for the motion, which they received – including the significant milestone of a more than 2/3 majority in each house, which is the bar that has to be met to change doctrine in future.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(The Goodbook) Sam Allberry–Same sex relationships: should we just agree to disagree?

Not taking a side on this issue is to take a side. To decide it is a matter of indifference is to risk having Jesus against you. Read the description of him in Revelation 1 and consider if you would ever want to risk that Jesus being against you.

This is a gospel issue. When so-called evangelical leaders argue for affirmation of gay relationships in the church, I’m not saying they’re not my kind of evangelical, I’m saying they are no kind of evangelical. This is not an easy position to hold, for I have friends who hold to different views on this subject. But it is the right position to hold. For the five reasons given above, we must never allow ourselves to think of this as just another issue Christians are free to differ over.

This will inevitably bring faithful Christians into conflict with our culture. When John Stott first published Issues Facing Christians Today, he said:

“I have sought with integrity to submit to the revelation of yesterday within the realities of today. It is not easy to combine loyalty to the past with sensitivity to the present. Yet this is our Christian calling: to live under the Word in the world.”

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

(AM) Essex churches pass motions of no confidence in “unbiblical leadership” of Archbishops of Canterbury and York

Two churches in Chelmsford Diocese have taken the unprecedented step of issuing public statements of no confidence in the Church of England leadership, following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for ‘radical inclusion’ at General Synod in February, and Bishop Stephen Cottrell’s call for thanksgiving prayers to be offered for same sex relationships in his Presidential Address to the Chelmsford Diocesan Synod.

The decision to publish the no confidence motions has been motivated by the Diocese provocatively hosting their June Synod at a church publicly supporting same sex marriage, and Archbishop Welby’s recent letter to Primates which does not mention the Scottish Episcopal Church’s departure from Christian orthodoxy but criticises Gafcon’s decision to appoint a faithful missionary Bishop.

Although two churches have gone public with their protest, Anglican Mainstream understands that several dozen clergy and a number of lay people in the Diocese have written to Bishop Stephen since February expressing deep concern about the direction of the C of E as evidenced by his statements.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Debating transgender

One of the most difficult debates facing General Synod when it meets in July arises not from the main business agenda, but from a diocesan motion from Blackburn Diocese, which will be proposed by Revd Chris Newlands:

That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, calls on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.

I was approached to discuss this with Chris on last weekend’s Sunday programme on Radio 4, and if you want to see how complex and challenging this debate is going to be, then you can listen to our discussion on iPlayer starting at 30 minutes into the programme. The difficulties start (as is often the case in such debates) with the language; the question here is less about ‘gender’ (that is, socially constructed roles of men and women) but ‘sex identity’ (that is, whether someone is a biological man or woman) as is evident from Chris’ own language. That is why, in informed discussions, the situation we are faced with is described as ‘gender identity disorder’ or more commonly ‘gender dysphoria’. Chris is right to emphasise the serious and distressing nature of the pastoral issue—but unfortunately my agreement with him on this, and my explaining my personal experience of that amongst friends and family was edited out (the discussion was pre-recorded) in order to create a sense of ‘liberal pastoral care’ versus ‘traditionalist dogma’ on the programme. There is no doubt at all that this is how many will seek to configure the Synod debate.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)