Category : CoE Bishops

(C of E) Report from the December House of Bishops

On the third day the Bishops participated in exploratory work related to the Living in Love and Faith project.

The House of Bishops prayed for the nation and all our politicians at this challenging time.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Uncategorized

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Wisdom and folly: the bishops’ guidance on transgender welcome

Why the collapse of Christian language of initiation into cultural memes? The problems with the guidance begin with its opening line:

The Church of England welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people, equally with all people, within the body of Christ

Since when was the gospel of ‘repent and believe, for the kingdom of God is at hand’ (Mark 1.15) reduced to ‘unconditional affirmation’? If the point is that trans people shouldn’t be treated as a different class of humanity, then that would be hard to disagree with—so why not simply say that? All the debates around sexuality become mired in impossible ambiguity because of different construals of what it means to ‘affirm’ people. Jesus welcomed the marginalised, and called them to repent along with everyone else (Luke 5.32) and so should we.

Why the misuse of biblical texts? In reading Scripture, context is everything, and the listing of passages where God’s redemptive action leads to a change of name, in the context of a service which appears to be celebrating the transition of name and identity, has strong echoes of Tina Beardsley’s proposed trans liturgy, misreads these texts badly, and overlays on the scriptural narrative a particular ideology of sex identity.

Why the complete absence of reference to biological reality? One of the heated debates around trans ideology and advocacy relates to biological reality—what is actually going on in the transition process? The medical journal The Lancet just this week made an impassioned appeal for proper engagement with biological reality:

Sex has a biological basis, whereas gender is fundamentally a social expression. Thus, sex is not assigned—chromosomal sex is determined at conception and immutable. A newborn’s phenotypic sex, established in utero, merely becomes apparent after birth, with intersex being a rare exception.

Distress about gender identity must be taken seriously and support should be put in place for these children and young people, but the impacts of powerful, innovative interventions should be rigorously assessed….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ACNS) Former Church Mission Society Executive Leader consecrated Bishop of Truro

The former Executive Leader of the international Anglican mission agency CMS has been consecrated as a bishop in the Church of England. Bishop Philip Mounstephen will serve the Diocese of Truro in the south west of England. The diocese covers the county of Cornwall, where Philip has significant ancestral roots, as well as the Isles of Scilly and two parishes across the county border in Devon. He was consecrated on Friday at a service led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in London’s St Paul’s Cathedral.

While now legally the Bishop of Truro, he will not formally take up his role until 12 January, when he will be welcomed to the diocese with a special service at Truro Cathedral.

“It was a humbling experience to be there with so many family, friends and colleagues, old and new”, Bishop Philip said about his consecration service. “It gave me an incredible sense of place and purpose, being consecrated at St Paul’s, which is such an iconic and historic cathedral.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Bishop of London launches Advent App as new research shows 39% of population will celebrate the season

The new app, available for iOS and Android, includes an introduction to Advent written by Bishop Sarah, who was installed as the 133rd Bishop of London at St Paul’s Cathedral on 12th May.

Bishop Sarah writes that:

“During St Paul’s Cathedral’s dramatic Advent service, a procession moves from darkness to light, mirrored by music and words, reflecting hope and despair. To appreciate the light and hope, you need to wait in the darkness. Advent is a time to be still in the midst of our busy lives. We should make space in the darkness to appreciate the light, and to find time to focus on hope.”

The app also includes a short daily Advent meditation, suitable for Christians or people on the edges of faith who wish to make the most of the season. SPCK’s most recent app, for Thy Kingdom Come 2018, was recently selected as App of the Year at the Premier Digital Awards 2018.

SPCK..[recently] released research from ComRes showing that 92% of British adults are aware of Advent, and 39% expect to do something to celebrate it….

Read it all.

Posted in Advent, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Bishop of Manchester To Launch The Antioch Network

The Bishop of Manchester is launching the first diocese-wide Bishop’s Mission Order on 29 November, 7.30pm at St Bride’s Church in Old Trafford. The Order will establish the Antioch Network in Manchester, which will create a network of new, small worshipping communities, with the aim of bringing more young people to faith, particularly in deprived and ethnically diverse areas.

The project will build on proven models of creating new worshipping communities in parts of the diocese over the last few years. In some exciting developments, small churches have been created where people have come to faith and been baptised, lives have been changed, and the local community has been blessed.

The Antioch Network aims to create 16 small churches (people not buildings) over six years in the poorest areas and those that currently have the lowest church attendance. The churches will typically be on estates and in communities of deprivation, some ethnically diverse and others mainly White British.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

(BBC) The Bishop of Norwich gives his final cathedral service

The Bishop of Norwich the Right Reverend Graham James has given his last service before stepping down.

Of his 19 years in the role, he said it had been “a privilege and an honour”.

The bishop, who has been an active member of the House of Lords, gave his final blessing from the ancient throne in Norwich Cathedral.

Bishop James told the congregation he and his wife Julie would “miss this diocese and this cathedral enormously”.

He said he would not be “disappearing immediately” and had a number of engagements that would be “below the radar” and this would be his last sermon at the cathedral.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Jonathan Frost announced as the New Dean of York

From 1997 to 2002 Jonathan was Rector of Ash in the Diocese of Guildford. For eleven years he was Tutor for Christian Doctrine on the Diocesan Local Ministry Programme. From 2002 to 2010, he was Residentiary Canon at Guildford Cathedral and Co-ordinating Chaplain to the University of Surrey. At this time he was elected to the Church of England’s General Synod.

Since 2010 Jonathan has been Suffragan Bishop of Southampton in the Diocese of Winchester. Here he has served as Chair of the Joint Diocesan Board of Education (with Portsmouth Diocese, where he is also an Honorary Assistant Bishop); and as Chair of Love Southampton, an ecumenical network of churches in the City of Southampton working with the City Council on areas of social need. Jonathan is Episcopal Visitor for Hopeweavers, an acknowledged Anglican Religious Community.

Jonathan is a Trustee of USPG, an Anglican Mission Agency. In 2015 he was elected to represent the Suffragan Bishops of the Province of Canterbury on General Synod.

Jonathan’s emphases in ministry include: Christian unity and mission; contemplative prayer, evangelism and discipleship, inter-faith relations and action for social justice. He is committed to ministry amongst children and young people.

Jonathan is married to Christine, a teacher and therapist in training. They have three grown up children. He is a lifetime supporter of Fulham Football Club and follows Test cricket. He enjoys time spent with friends, live music, reading and is a keen walker.

Read it all.

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

The Bp of Oxford on WWI–this is our Long Story

We are wise enough to know now that the battles our grandparents fought did not end at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month when the artillery fell silent on the Western Front. The battles against tyranny and isolation and prejudice and inequality continue. The search for purpose and meaning and love continues still. Those battles need to be set in an eternal perspective. They recur in different ways in each generation.

Paul writes of that new and eternal perspective which flows from one person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. God has reconciled us to himself through Christ. The destiny of humankind is not fragmentation and war but common purpose and unity and a new creation. We are part of this bigger story. God has now entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation. It is our mission, in every generation, to work for peace and freedom and justice with the same commitment shown by the generation who fought the Great War.

As we look back one hundred years it is possible to see in our nation then a greater common purpose than we see today. We are not blind to the weaknesses of the war generation nor to the mistakes that were made. But we do see a commitment to a common cause, a confidence in the values of peace and truth and the common good, a desire to see the world reconciled and a willingness to face together the great challenges of the age.

Such common cause today defeats us. We are finding it difficult as a nation even to rethink and reimagine our relationship with Europe in a way that brings unity and common purpose. We grow more not less fragmented along lines of race and religion and politics and wealth. Our common discourse all too easily admits the language of hate and violence.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, History, Military / Armed Forces

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–What does the recent letter from the Oxford Bishops mean?

The bishops appear here to be following the lead of The Episcopal Church in the United States, which others in the Anglican Communion believed tore the fabric of the Communion and damaged relations, since TEC effectively said ‘We are going to do what we are going to do, and not be hindered by the views of others’. I think the citing of the Church in Wales in the Ad Clerum is highly provocative in this regard, since the bishops there have decided to offer provision for blessing SSM even where their Synod held back. It seems that the bishops regards Christian unity, both within the diocese and between other dioceses and wider Church of England teaching as secondary to their desire to do something. Once more, it is hardly a position which reflects ‘humility’ or ‘some hesitation’.

The whole letter invites the question: ‘Do any of these bishops actually believe in the Church of England’s current teaching on marriage, teaching which, in their ordination vows, they committed not only to uphold, but to teach?’ It is difficult to offer any other answer than ‘No’, and this in turn invites the question of how they expect those who do believe this teaching to respond….

I confess that I searched the Ad Clerum in vain for any clue that any of this teaching of Paul had shaped any of the thinking that the bishops presented—and since Paul explicitly mentions sexual ethics here, you might have expected at least some reference to it. For Paul, the inclusive love of God, and our love for one another, are rooted in this transformation and call to holiness that we have met in the face of Christ. The unity of love flows out of this shared understanding of what God has done for us in Christ, and what we therefore have to offer the world.

The bishops don’t appear to set much store by unity; their agenda takes priority. Holiness doesn’t get a mention; what matters is being ‘authentic’. The wider view of Christians through history and around the world on this matter cannot hold back their sense of urgency to change. And the apostolic message we find in Paul does not constrain them or shape their thinking, at least as far as this letter demonstrates.

If they are signalling here that they are departing from the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, why would anyone in the diocese who remains part of that church not now seek alternative episcopal oversight? Indeed, one might wonder whether the letter is not intended to provoke just that.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

The Four Bishops in Oxford release a letter to the diocese on matters of anthropology, sexual ethics and hospitality in the diocese

We want to commend to the Diocese of Oxford the five principles recently commended to the Diocese of Lichfield by Bishop Michael Ipgrave and his colleagues. These are founded on the basic principle that all people are welcomed in God’s Church: everyone has a place at the table. Such radical Christian inclusion brings practical consequences for our local churches and for our Diocese as a whole:

  1. It is the responsibility of all Christians, but especially those who hold the Bishop’s Licence as clergy or lay ministers, to ensure that all people know that there is a place at the table for them. Preaching, teaching and pastoral responsibilities need to be exercised sensitively, and with this core principle in mind.
  2. Intrusive questioning about someone’s sexual practices or desires, or their experience of gender, is inappropriate. It is also unacceptable to tell or insinuate to people that sexual orientation or gender identity will be changed by faith, or that homosexuality or gender difference is a sign of immaturity or a lack of faith.
  3. We want to make clear that nobody should be excluded or discouraged from receiving the Sacraments of Baptism or the Lord’s Supper on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  4. We wish to affirm that LGBTI+ people are called to roles of leadership and service in the local church. Nobody should be told that their sexual orientation or gender identity in itself makes them an unsuitable candidate for leadership in the Church.
  5. Finally, we wish both to acknowledge the great contribution that LGBTI+ Christians are making, and have made, to the Church in this diocese, and to highlight the need for mission within the LGBTI+ community more broadly.

Liturgy and prayers

The House of Bishops Guidelines on Same Sex Marriage acknowledge that “same sex couples will continue to seek some recognition of their new situation in the context of an act of worship” (19).

As Bishops we are receiving an increasing number of enquiries seeking guidance in this area. There is no authorised public liturgy for such prayers. The Guidelines are clear that “Services of blessing should not be provided” (21). However, there is positive encouragement for clergy to respond pastorally and sensitively.

We warmly welcome dialogue and conversation with clergy across the Diocese who are looking for further guidance.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(TR) The Church of England has accused Fortnite of “dubious morality” that encourages children to gamble

Dr. Alan Smith, the bishop of St.Albans has said that Epic Games’ hugely popular free-to-play title is encouraging children to gamble based on chance.

“Behind some of these games is some dubious morality,” said Dr Smith, who talks on behalf of the church on these matters.

“Whilst they are within the letter of the law, they have moved the goalposts significantly in the direction of normalising and socialising gambling among young people.”

“All the signs are that we are going to have an epidemic because the games like Fortnite are socialising gambling through ‘skins’ and winning prizes.”

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Gambling

New Bishop of Ramsbury Announced

The next Bishop of Ramsbury has been announced as The Reverend Dr Andrew Paul Rumsey by Downing Street this morning.

Author of the highly acclaimed ‘Parish – An Anglican theology of place’, he is currently serving as Team Rector of St Mary, Oxted in Surrey.

The Bishop of Ramsbury is an ancient title first used in 909 AD with responsibility mainly for the Wiltshire parishes in the Diocese of Salisbury. The new Bishop will also chair the Diocese’s Mission and Ministry Council.

He is married to Rebecca, who works as an executive coach, and was born in Marlborough where the new Bishop and his family will be living. They have three children, Grace (16), Jonah (14) and Talitha (Tali for short,12).

Dr Rumsey is 50 and comes from a long line of parish clergy. He was educated first at the University of Reading and then at Kings College, London. He trained for ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(CEN) Some Church of England Bishops reignite Church disputes over sexuality

They say that people must not ‘lose sight of our common, shared humanity’ and they call out‘the need for the church to offer a coherent, single ethic’.

“We are convinced that it is essential for LLFto clearly articulate and explore the traditional teaching of the Anglican Communion,” they said.

They outlined three key demands: that sexual intercourse only take place in married settings, that marriage is defined as between one man and one woman and outside of that abstinence was the only stance the Church should recognise.

If Church leaders adopt these three positions, they can ensure church unity, they claim.

They add: “Our recent Anglican experience has made clear that our deep differences in this area make ‘walking together on the way’ not only a challenge ecumenically but within existing denominational structures.

“We therefore think it essential that, as part of providing teaching and learning, LLF must also help us consider the implications of these differences for our common life.”

But they acknowledge that adopting this position will be difficult for many, but any change of teaching or liturgy would also be difficult for others.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology: Scripture

Some Church of England Evangelical bishops write a letter about the House of Bishops Teaching Document (IV): Surviving Church

There is of course the standard appeal to the 1998 Lambeth resolution 1.10. This is quoted in full to remind the reader that only ‘marriage as a union in a covenant of love marked by exclusivity and life-long commitment’ is to be regarded as the ‘teaching of Scripture’. Anything else will only be tolerated if it is ‘sexually abstinent’.

I found myself reading this letter with growing irritation. It represents an appeal to Scripture and traditional Anglican statements which will only work if the person doing the appealing is not familiar with Scripture. It is, in particular, the assumptions about what Scripture has to say about marriage that caught my attention. We have presented to us in the letter the idea that the Bible has but one model of sex and marriage that is commended by Scripture for all time. If we take the complete Bible as the uniquely inspired word of God, we encounter enormous problems in maintaining that there is this single model for sexual behaviour and marriage. Many of the assumptions about relationships between men and women in the Old Testament are, by today’s standards, criminal and totally unacceptable. Exodus 21 & 22 contains a number of divinely given commands which relate to relationships between the sexes that have been outlawed for centuries….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family

Some Church of England Evangelical bishops write a letter about the House of Bishops Teaching Document (III): Adrian Hastings

The whole letter is worth reading, because its warmth, compassion, reasonableness and discernment will soon be drowned out by a chorus of ‘homophobia’, ‘bigotry’ and ‘hate’. Indeed, it has already started…

For a moment there it seemed sensible to link to a number of tweets issued in response to this letter, which tell of Evangelical arrogance, self-righteousness, shallowness and judgmentalism. Yet merely to have drawn your attention to the authors of these tweets would have been met with a chorus of ‘homophobia’, ‘bigotry’ and ‘hate’. It is no longer possible to reason with some anti-Evangelical revisionists because (from experience) it simply isn’t worth the hassle.

The Church of England is manifestly divided on this matter (as, indeed, is Evanglicalism), and the Bishops of Carlisle, Durham, Ludlow, Birkenhead, Willesden, Peterborough, Plymouth, Blackburn, Maidstone, Lancaster and (formerly) Shrewsbury are concerned that knee-jerk tweets alleging ‘homophobia’, ‘bigotry’ and ‘hate’ aren’t elevated above Scripture, catholicity and traditional morality:

We also believe that LLF must recognise and address the wider challenges in church and society to traditional Christian teaching. In recognising these wider challenges alongside the questions raised by LGBT+ people it is therefore important we do not lose sight of our common, shared humanity and the need for the church to offer a coherent, single ethic for all of us as people whose fundamental identity is not something we define for ourselves: rather that we are made in God’s image, have fallen captive to sin, are redeemed by Christ, and are being sanctified by the Spirit.

What this comes down to is that if the CofE’s “radical new Christian inclusion” doesn’t extend to full equality and full inclusion (ie, same-sex marriage), the church will continue to be ‘homophobic’, ‘bigoted’ and ‘hateful’. If, however, the “radical new Christian inclusion” extends to a fundamental change in the doctrine and liturgy of marriage to incorporate the union of two men or two women, it will cease to be faithful to Scripture or to traditional Christian morality (and so, some will aver, it will cease to be recognisably Christian). If you think the Prime Minister is between a rock and hard place with Brexit at the moment, just wait until the skubalon hits the flabellum when LLF finally reports in 2020.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family