Category : CoE Bishops

(Guardian) Bishops pray for politicians’ integrity amid Brexit turmoil

Church of England bishops have said they are praying for “courage, integrity and clarity for our politicians” after a week of turmoil over Brexit.

In a joint statement issued on Saturday, the bishops also urged the country to “consider the nature of our public conversation” and called for more grace and generosity.

The statement echoes concerns raised by the archbishop of Canterbury in the House of Lords on Friday when he stressed the need for reconciliation after a “week of deep division” over Brexit.

Justin Welby said it was central to the country’s future that the divisions were healed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

A CEEC response to the C of E House of Bishops’ “Pastoral Guidance for use in conjunction with the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith in the context of gender transition”

The Church of England holds to the principle that our prayers express what we believe (lex orandi, lexcredendi). As this new guidance will be included in Common Worship, its support for services liturgically
recognising a person’s gender transition, and the theological views contained in the guidance for such services,are of both liturgical and doctrinal significance.

Although the bishops have declined the request to issue a new formal liturgy they have encouraged a newliturgical act. They seem to have proposed a hybrid liturgy for such services. They do so by commending a
properly approved rite which should express our baptismal unity to be used to do something else and something new liturgically. This innovative use is both highly divisive and theologically and pastorally
questionable. It also risks raising serious concerns both within the wider Anglican Communion and ecumenically.

Although the bishops have not issued a new formal teaching, they have issued pastoral guidance which makes theological judgments. They have done so through what appears to be a flawed process; a process which
lacked theological scrutiny and bypassed the existing structures for such theological discernment. These judgments develop and narrow previous teaching. They do so in ways that many Anglicans view as reversing that teaching to establish a position which is incompatible with biblical revelation and the Church’s traditional understanding of what it means to be human.

We recognise that some in the church will share our understanding of the nature and significance of this step and welcome it. Others may think our interpretation of the guidance flawed. We believe, however, that our
interpretation is widely and legitimately held. We, and we believe many others, are concerned as to the consequences of this development.

Read it all.

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

(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

Some Church of England Evangelical bishops write a letter about the House of Bishops Teaching Document (II): A Church Times Article

Eleven bishops, including four diocesans, have warned that a future pronouncement on sexuality may have “practical consequences” relating to the structure of the Anglican Communion and the Church of England.

The 1800-word letter, posted on the website of the Church of England Evangelical Council, is addressed to the Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth. Dr Cocksworth chairs the co-ordinating group of the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) project, set up by the House of Bishops as an attempt to look more deeply into matters of sexuality after earlier attempts failed to heal divisions (News, 30 June 2017).

The project, which involves groups looking at the social, scientific, biblical, theological, historical, and pastoral aspects of sexuality, is expected to report back in early 2020.

The signatories to the letter (ten men and one woman) are the Bishops of Blackburn, Carlisle, Durham, and Peterborough, as well as the Suffragan or Area Bishops of Birkenhead, Lancaster, Ludlow, Maidstone, Plymouth, and Willesden; together with the Rt Revd Mark Rylands, formerly Bishop of Shrewsbury. The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, is the only signatory involved in the formal LLF discussions, as part of the pastoral advisory group.

The letter advises Dr Cocksworth and his colleagues against any sort of Anglican fudge, urging them to go beyond an evaluation of different perspectives. It calls instead for a “coherent, single ethic for all of us as people whose fundamental identity is not something we define for ourselves”.

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 (I): A Christian Today Article

They warn any changes in that stance ‘will create major problems for many of us, both here and in the wider [Anglican] Communion’, declaring that ‘recent history tragically demonstrates that introducing changes in teaching and liturgy has consistently divided Anglicans globally and within provinces’.

The letter has been signed by the Bishops of Carlisle, Durham, Ludlow, Birkenhead, Willesden, Peterborough, Plymouth, Blackburn, Maidstone and Lancaster, and by the former bishop of Shrewsbury. It is understood other evangelical bishops are also in agreement with its contents. It has been sent to Bishop Christopher Cocksworth, who is chairing the Church of England’s ‘Living in Love and Faith’ (LLF) project. This is aiming to tackle the ‘tough questions and the divisions among Christians’ over gender, marriage and sexuality. The project is due to report back in early 2020.

The eleven bishops pointedly comment that the Church of England’s current discussions are ‘taking place after the gathering of nearly 2,000 Anglicans from 50 countries at Gafcon’ – the international Anglican grouping emerging as a potential future alternative to the Anglican Communion. They also highlight how the US Episcopal Church has ‘struggled to enable the flourishing of those within it who remain committed to traditional biblical teaching’. Thus, they say, there is ‘importance for our unity of how we teach and learn on these contested matters’.

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 on Marriage and Sexuality currently in Process

We are convinced that it is essential for LLF [Living in Love and Faith] to clearly articulate and explore the traditional teaching of the Anglican Communion. The form of this is what Lambeth 1920 called a “pure and chaste life before and after marriage” and is expressed in the received teaching of the Church of England and summarised, for example, in Canon B30, the 1987 General Synod motion, and numerous Lambeth resolutions, most notably Resolution I.10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference. We believe that this vision of (1) sexual intercourse as “an act of total commitment which belongs properly within a permanent married relationship” (Lambeth 1988), (2) marriage as a union of a man and woman in a covenant of love marked by exclusivity and life-long commitment, and (3) faithful, sexually abstinent love in singleness and non-marital friendships, is the teaching of Scripture. It therefore expresses the character and will of God which is our guide in ordering our lives and in addressing public global ethical issues. We also believe that reaffirming this teaching offers us the best way of maintaining our unity-in-truth. We therefore hope that, as well as considering why this “traditional biblical teaching” (Lambeth 1988) is being questioned and rejected by some, LLF will clearly articulate it and commend it, explaining why it has been, and remains, a deeply-held conviction for most Christians. Here we believe it is vitally important that LLF help the Church of England engage with these issues ecumenically. We were encouraged that, in May, ARCIC III announced its forthcoming report “Walking Together on the Way: Learning to be Church – Local, Regional, Universal” and is pursuing further work on its mandate to consider “how in communion the local and universal Church comes to discern right ethical teaching”.

Read it all.

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

(CEN) Gambling adverts are ‘out of control’, the bishop of St. Albans says

‘Gambling advertising is out of control’, the Bishop of St Albans claimed this week.

The Rt Rev Alan Smith is calling for ‘strong yet sensible’ regulation in the UK. He pointed to Italy, which has already banned gambling advertising entirely. And Australia has also banned gambling advertising during sporting events.

Writing for Politicshome, Bishop Smith, the Church’s lead bishop for gambling,said that parents in the UK ‘were horrified their children were bombarded with gambling adverts’ throughout the World Cup. He said that ‘live-odds’ adverts placed ‘extensive pressure of viewers to bet’.

These are often shown during commercial breaks and informs viewers of the most recent odds, encouraging them to place bets as they watch the sporting event.

He said that these ‘relentless’ adverts would have been seen by an estimated 430,000 problem gamblers in the UK. He pointed out that victims of the gambling industry cost the tax-payer between £260 million and £1.2 billion every year.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Religion & Culture

(C of E) Bishop of Salisbury calls for UK ‘net zero’ commitment as climate change report published

The Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment has said that a report published today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveals a ‘critical risk-level’ for global communities.

Speaking from the European Churches Environmental Network in Katowice, Bishop Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, urged the UK Government to commit to a target of net zero emissions by 2050.

“The evidence published by the IPCC today shows that the risk level of climate change is now critical. Ours is the first generation to know and understand this and probably the last to be able to do something meaningful towards climate justice,” he said.

“This year has been the hottest on record. Extreme weather events happen with increasing frequency, and the poorest are most vulnerable to the impact of climate change which affects us all.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, CoE Bishops, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology

(Archbishop Cranmer Blog) Lord Carey challenges Bishops to break their silence on the ‘significant cloud’ hanging over the name of Bishop George Bell

[Bishop] Bell was more than an energetic, courageous and knowledgeable public figure. He was a man rooted in prayer and worship; a high churchman who loved the order and beauty of liturgy. In his exceptionally busy life he was supported loyally and lovingly by his wife, Henrietta. She was always alongside him, as were his chaplains who there to take some of the burden of his high public office.

And then, 57 years after his death, his own diocese which he loved greatly and served faithfully made an announcement which was likely to affect Bell’s reputation for evermore. The announcement was widely interpreted by press and public alike as an accusation that Bell had sexually abused a child between 1949 and 1953. Strangely, church leaders deny that they have ever said that Bell was guilty of the abuse, but this is surely disingenuous? In the Archbishop of Canterbury’s words, a ‘cloud’ hangs over his name.

In that initial announcement, very few details were given but it was clear that an unspecified sum of money had been given to the complainant. The Church said it had decided to give this compensation on the basis of the ‘balance of probabilities’. But even on this evidential basis, arguments for the defence should have been heard. Previously, no other accusations – or even rumours – had ever been heard against Bell. And on the basis of this one unproven, and probably unprovable allegation, his name was removed from buildings and institutions named after him.

A recent detailed review of the case by Lord Carlile showed that no significant effort had been made by the Church to consider any evidence that might have supported Bell’s innocence. In particular, those investigating did not consult Bell’s biographer, Andrew Chandler, nor the living people who worked with him at that time.

George Bell’s cause was given no legal advocate. Instead, in a process which I referred to in the House of Lords in 2016 as having the character of a ‘kangaroo court’, it seems as though the ‘victim’ was automatically believed. The normal burden of proof was reversed and it was considered ‘wicked’ to doubt the veracity of the allegations.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

‘Share the good news on estates and the nation will take notice,’ says Bishop of Burnley Philip North

In 2013, the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North, told the General Synod about his former parish on a large Hartlepool estate, which had been vacant for more than two years.

“Compare that with a recent vacancy in a richly endowed parish near Paddington, which attracted 123 firm applicants, and you will see the true measure of the spiritual health of the Church of England,” he said.

Five years later, he believes that, after years of being complicit in the abandonment of estates, the Church of England is “back”.

“The Holy Spirit is doing amazing things on the estates of this nation, and we are joining in,” he told a meeting of the National Estate Churches Network at St Francis at the Engine Room, on Wednesday.

Launching a strategy that includes an aspiration to have a “thriving, growing, loving church on every significant estate in the country”, he highlighted new church-plants, including Freedom Church, planted by St Paul’s, Marton, on the Mereside estate in Blackpool (News 4 August 2017); Oldhams Church, in Bolton (News 11 May); and St Cuthman’s, on the Whitehawk estate in Brighton (News 11 November 2016).

Recent visits to theological colleges had left him “overwhelmed by the enthusiasm that many of them have to serve in areas of deprivation”.

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

Bishop Stephen Croft–Artificial Intelligence: A Guide to the Key Issues

It’s a long way from robot vacuum cleaners to a superintelligence. At the moment, much artificial intelligence is “narrow”: we can create machines which are very good at particular tasks (such as beating a human at “Go”) but not machines which have broad general intelligence and consciousness. We have not yet created intelligent life.

But scientists think that day is not far away. Some are hopeful of the benefits of non human superintelligence. Some, including Stephen Hawking, are extremely cautious. But there is serious thinking happening already. Professor Nick Bostron is the Director of the Future of Humanity Institute in the University of Oxford. In his book, Superintelligence, he analyses the steps needed to develop superintelligence, the ways in which humanity may or may not be able to control what emerges and the kind of ethical thinking which is needed. “Human civilisation is at stake” according to Clive Cookson, who reviewed the book for the Financial Times[3].

The resources of our faith have much to say in all of this debate around AI: about fair access, privacy and personal identity, about persuasion in the political process, about what it means to be human, about the ethics of weaponisation and about the limits of human endeavour.

In the 19th Century and for much of the 20th Century, science asked hard questions of faith. Christians did not always respond well to those questions and to the evidence of reason. But in the 21st Century, faith needs to ask hard questions once again of science.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(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….

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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

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

(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

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

An Interview at Gafcon2018 with Rico Tice of All Soul’s, Langham Place, about the situation in England

Dominic, Rico and Pete from GAFCON Official on Vimeo.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, GAFCON