Grateful for the many parishioners””some 80% of the 2012 diocesan membership (before the split with TEC)””who have stayed, either with their parish or with us, in the midst of the strain and stress of confusing statements and swirling opinions;
”¢ Grateful for the prayers of so many in North America and around the world who have so often assured us of their intercessions and support;
”¢ Grateful for the Primates of the Global South Steering Committee who have kept us in relationship with the larger Anglican world;
”¢ Grateful for the GAFCON Primates who have written to us acknowledging the people of this diocese as faithful Anglicans and me as an Anglican Bishop;
”¢ Grateful for the prayers of those in The Episcopal Church who tell me they pray regularly for us;
”¢ Grateful for those on the diocesan staff who have worked tirelessly in this demanding season;
”¢ Grateful for my wife, Allison, who has borne the stress of these days in ways known only to a few;
”¢ And, finally, of course, most grateful for the Mighty Hand of God throughout this whole ordeal.
Daily Archives: February 6, 2015
If religious liberty doesn’t apply to small or unpopular minorities, then it isn’t liberty at all but becomes another government handout to a special-interest group. We want a candidate who will argue consistently for soul freedom for everyone, even those we would argue with about everything else.
This isn’t only a Republican issue. Democrats and Republicans stood together for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act””signed by President Clinton. Perhaps it is time for Hillary Clinton to stand up for Jefferson’s vision of freedom of conscience against the sexual-revolution industrial complex in her party, which too often dismisses basic protections of free exercise as a “war on women” or a “right to discriminate.”
Likewise, a Republican who seems embarrassed about religious freedom, or who takes weeks to muster up an opinion on basic questions of whether consciences ought to be respected, will find that evangelicals will pay no mind when that candidate starts spouting “God and country” talk borrowed from a 1980s-era television evangelist.
Religious liberty is too important to see it become one more culture-war wedge issue.
More on Justin Welby’s Facilitated Conversation Scheme on sexual immorality in an interview with David Porter and Malcolm Brown in September 2014.
David Porter is Director of Reconciliation to the Archbishop of Canterbury
Malcolm Brown is Director of the Mission and Public Affairs Division in the Church of England
Documents from Church of Scotland’s Decision to be used.
David Porter: “It’s not necessarily about sitting down arguing over the Scriptures” [3 mins 30 secs in]
Listen to it all [Soundcloud] [about 11 minutes long] and see also for background David Porter Lays Out Justin Welby’s Sexual Immorality Plans for the CofE
Interviewer: So I’m here with Malcolm Brown and David Porter and we’re going to talk about the College of Bishops Meeting and what might happen at the College in the week ahead.
Malcolm, how have we got from the Pilling Report to what’s going to be happening at the College of Bishops this week:
Malcolm Brown: Well as you know the Pilling Report actually recommended a process of conversations with facilitators as one of its key recommendations given the intractable nature within the church of some of the questions that it looked at. I think it is common knowledge that the Pilling Report was not, or the Pilling Group, wasn’t unanimous – there was a minority report from one of the bishops, but I think the mood of the whole group, including the bishop who wrote the minority report, was that the experience of sitting down together, and it did actually take about two years for the Pilling Group to come to its report, that process had been extremely eye-opening for everybody who was involved.
I think whether it was the right way of doing this or not, the group was brought together as a bunch of bishops and advisers whose views were very much at odds with each other from the start. Now those didn’t coalesce into an agreement or a consensus but what did happen was that each of them heard a lot from why each of them believed what they did. They began to take each other seriously as people journeying in faith, and even though that did not lead them onto the same journey, it led them into a degree of respect for each other they had never really plumbed before. So the recommendation to move to conversations, carefully designed, with facilitation, across the whole church in fact, is an attempt to say that the real fruit of the Pilling Report wasn’t the attempt, doomed attempt perhaps, to come to agreement, it was the fact that we had learnt to respect each other in new ways, and to understand something of why people who disagreed profoundly, believed with such passion the things that they did.
Interviewer: David can you tell us something about the process that the Bishops are going to be engaged in over the next few days?
David Porter: Well quite simply it is what is says on the tin, it is a process of shared conversation. It is about creating space that they can feel a certain amount of confidence and because somebody’s there holding the ring so that all voices will be heard, that people will be able to engage with each other in a respectful way, to come and to talk about the change that we see in the culture around us in relation to questions of human sexuality and the diversity that exists within the church about how we should respond as people of faith to that. And the process that we have designed is aiming to bring the bishops through a series of conversations where they themselves draw on the various resources, materials that have been provided, their own experience, their own knowledge, their own understanding of Scripture, to look at various aspects of this challenge about what actually is going on out there ”“ how are different groups within the church and different perspectives in the church being held and articulated ”“ and then how do they as bishops respond to that, how do they see that impacts on the church’s mission, the church’s self-understanding.
So that’s the nature of the process.
It’s not sitting down talking to text, it’s not talking about the Pilling Report, it’s not necessarily sitting down arguing over the scripture, although I am sure a certain amount of Biblical discourse will take place.
It’s about saying to busy leaders, as with all of the church, Let’s just take a breath, create the space and talk and see how we then can get a greater understanding of what we think our response as a church should be and why we differ on that.
Interviewer: What do you think would be the ideal outcome? You say you have designed, there have been people who have designed the process. What would be the ideal outcome that that process has been designed to elicit?
David Porter: For me the ideal outcome will be that people will be able to articulate with a measure of empathy the views of others that they don’t agree with, that allows them therefore to see in their relationships with them that they also are seeking to be faithful to the Tradition of the Church, the teaching of Scripture and the Calling of Christ – in our Mission to the world. And that we develop that rapport, that capacity to Disagree Well that means that when we get to the process which is beyond the shared conversations when decisions will need to be made, because you can’t leave it in this space forever, the way that we approach the making of those decisions is done in a way that honours the fact that we are Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and that even though we disagree, we are going to do that in a way that reflects that reality as much as the reality of our own convictions on these issues.
Malcolm Brown: There’s also something lurking here that’s about some things that the church is particularly good at or ought to be good at and that’s offering the world in general a different model of how you can conduct rancorous debate, really difficult debate. And a parallel I’ve drawn once or twice is with the very, very different issue of fracking where my department is caught up in that at the moment, and where a senior geophysicist said to me a while ago: ”˜there’s almost no space for rational discussion if this. Everything is taken to be pushing you to one pole or the other in the argument.” And that is actually true of so many areas of our public life ”“ that debate isn’t about where can we agree, where to we disagree, it’s about I’m right, you must therefore not just be wrong but Bad. Now I don’t think actually that is how the church through the centuries has conducted itself. We’ve had our differences, sometimes they’ve been quite bitter, but we’ve also had other ways of doing things which reflect more our commitment to the mind of Christ and the way in which Reconciliation between warring factions was somewhere quite central in His ministry. And if we can get this right, and that’s an if, I think we have a gift here that others may want to emulate.
David Porter: And I think that highlights how this is actually different from happened under the Women Bishops Process, because people are saying this is facilitated conversations, and yes the Women Bishops Process was with a goal in mind because the church had expressed its overwhelming mind. It had reached a legislative cul-de-sac and we used facilitated conversation with a goal to move out of that cul-de-sac and get a way forward.
We are using the Process of Conversation, because what that process showed us was that sitting round talking in a different context that isn’t in the debating forum or the legislative forum does change the game. We are using the lesson of that, but not with the same goal in mind. We are not facilitating this towards an outcome. We are facilitating it towards a shaping of the relationship so that when people do get to the point where outcomes are important and important decisions have to be made, this witness to how, is “look how these Christians love one another” because of how they Disagree Well.”
Interviewer: You’ve both been responsible for drawing up some of the materials that will inform the discussions as they go ahead; have you got a word about what people can expect to find there?
Malcolm Brown: First of all I hope that the materials will lead them very gently and carefully through the process that David has outlined so that some of the fears that are not certainly intended to be substantiated are dispelled. There is a lot of anxiety around about what may lie behind these conversations about hidden agendas and things like that. I hope that we’ve unpacked that sufficiently in the light of Pilling indeed to show that that isn’t the case. That this is as David has described it.
So, there is a lot of process, there’s a lot of reassurance I hope, that says that this is what it says it is and it’s not something hidden.
There’s also a certain amount of modestly academic material that we are sharing with participants. This isn’t by way of discussion papers, this isn’t about saying what do you think of this, what do you think of that, but it is so that those who participate will mainly have at least a rudimentary body of shared reading. They will have read the same things we hope, and will therefore at least understand that some of the things they may not have been exposed to before are actually quite serious arguments. So for instance there are some things that the Pilling Report attempted and didn’t do very well, there are other things that Pilling didn’t even attempt.
On Scripture which is very central to all these arguments, Pilling began to open up some of the discussion among scholars, but in the case of the resources for the Conversations we’ve gone to scholars who have a higher standing among Biblical scholars, who I hope are going to be able to present their case in a way that those who disagree with it can at least see the sense of. These are scholars who do not try to overclaim, they are aware of the stronger and the weaker arguments in support of their position but they take very different viewpoints.
We’ve also tried to expand a bit on the international experience of talking about sexuality within the Anglican Communion, and most interestingly we’ve borrowed, with permission, a fascinating paper that was debated at the Church of Scotland General Assembly back in May on how churches through history have dealt with profound disagreement ..
David Porter: and the other material we have provided is some reflection on what a Process of Conversation is about, and the emphasis being that by and large a lot of people will not change their view and their understandings of process of this, but they may change as people and how they hold that view in relation to the Other. And that reflection on what the process emphasises that ”“ emphasises our responsibility to those we disagree with, as brothers and sisters in Christ. It talks about if you do win the argument how do you care for those who are on the other side of that debate. Because this is as important, at how we conduct it is as important, as whatever conclusions we come to. And that is what we are trying to emphasise through the shared conversations. That we need to give attention to this, as much as the issues under discussion.
Interviewer: David Porter Malcolm Brown thank you very much.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is taking personal responsibility for his platform’s chronic problems with harassment and abuse, telling employees that he is embarrassed for the company’s failures and would soon be taking stronger action to eliminate trolls. He said problems with trolls are driving away the company’s users. “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years,” Costolo wrote in an internal memo obtained by The Verge. “It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.
Costolo’s comments came in response to a question on an internal forum about a recent story by Lindy West, a frequent target of harassment on Twitter. Among other things, West’s tormentors created a Twitter account for her then recently deceased father and made cruel comments about her on the service; West recently shared her story on This American Life and The Guardian.
An urgent review of parish structure – including the number of churchwardens and other office-holders – is needed to release the time and energy of clergy and lay people for mission in rural areas, a report has recommended.
The report, Released for Mission: Growing the rural Church, will be debated at General Synod next week.
Two-thirds of C of E churches are in rural areas, but fewer than half the clergy serve in them. The vast majority of rural churches are in multi-parish benefices or groupings. They are attracting women clergy, but more than three-quarters of “higher-status” rural posts are still held by men.
Recent research has suggested that single parishes are more likely to experience growth than multi-parish benefices, the report says. Less than one in five churches in rural areas is experiencing growth – a figure matched by urban churches.
With the rise of Tinder, mobile digital dating has become a whole new trend. With this, a slew of mobile dating apps and copycats have rushed to fill the niche.
Online dating is not really something new. Sites like eHarmony and OkCupid have long dominated the market. These sites required users to create elaborate online profiles and used algorithms to suggest matches. All this accoutrements, however, have been transformed by the simplicity of Tinder, reports the New York Times.
The app, available for iOS and Android, enables users to scan potential dates based on photos, distance and a short description. To express interest in a potential date, users just swipe right. It is also a cinch to set up, as it uses one’s already established Facebook account.
They came in the dead of night, their faces covered, riding on motorcycles and in pickup trucks, shouting “Allahu akbar” and firing their weapons.
“They started with the shootings; then came the beheadings,” said Hussaini M. Bukar, 25, who fled after Boko Haram fighters stormed his town in northern Nigeria. “They said, ”˜Where are the unbelievers among you?’ ”
Women and girls were systematically imprisoned in houses, held until Boko Haram extracted the ones it had chosen for “marriage” or other purposes.
“They were parking” ”” imprisoning ”” “young girls and small, small children, parking them in the big houses,” said Bawa Safiya Umar, 45, whose 17-year-old son was killed when her town fell under Boko Haram’s control. “They parked 450 girls in four houses.”
More than a year after the suit was filed, Circuit Judge Diane Schafer Goodstein ruled Tuesday in favor of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina and nearly 40 parishes. They were looking to keep the national Episcopal Church and the parishes that remained affiliated with it from taking local church properties, some dating back to 1680, as well as using the diocese’s seal and name.
St. Philip’s Church on Church Street and St. Michael’s Church on Broad Street in downtown Charleston were in question, among other properties.
The group left the national church in October 2012 after it tried to remove the Right Rev. Mark Lawrence as bishop. Disagreements about homosexuality and other “moral issues” also divided the church.
The 14-day trial, which took place in July in a St. George courtroom, included 59 witnesses and more than 1,200 pieces of evidence.
“It’s all a question of church polity,” Bishop Lawrence said. “We’ve been on a collision course with the Episcopal Church for 20 years for issues such as trustworthiness of the holy Scriptures, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, issues of anthropology””including what is a human being””questions of marriage and who receives the sacraments. All of those things are of theological concern to us.”
In 2012, the Diocese of South Carolina disassociated itself from the TEC after the TEC “improperly attempted to remove” Lawrence from his position.
“They attacked me over issues of the church,” Lawrence said. “But what we’re dealing with is their changes in theological positions. We’re dealing with the revision of what the church teaches, the revision of church morality, polity and governance, the constitutional procedures of the church. They were taking actions contrary to the constitution of the Episcopal Church. In essence, they were running roughshod over their own constitution.”
“I write you at this time to repeat and emphasize several important realities,” Bishop Charles vonRosenberg, leader of TECSC, said in a pastoral letter Wednesday. “First, we believe that this action is an indication that justice has been delayed.
“As we celebrate Black History Month, we are reminded that the history of African-American witness, along with others, is that delayed justice simply calls us to persevere in our efforts. That certainly is our intention at this moment. We will persevere as we seek justice, even though the personal and financial costs will be significant. The present cause requires us to respond in this way.”
But the Rev. Jim Lewis, the Charleston-based diocese’s canon to the ordinary and a close aide to Lawrence, said he believes one man’s perseverance “may be another man’s persecution.”
“They have known from the beginning that the law in South Carolina was against them,” he said Wednesday. “But they drug us through this knothole and will persist to drag us through more knotholes.”
Read it all from the State newspaper.
“We will persevere as we seek justice, even though the personal and financial costs will be significant. The present cause requires us to respond in this way,” [Bishop] vonRosenberg wrote in a pastoral letter distributed Wednesday.
With an appeal ahead, those costs for both sides will keep mounting.
So far, the Diocese of South Carolina and 38 parishes that separated from the national church have spent $2 million on legal fees, Bishop Mark Lawrence said. They will continue to raise money to fight the appeal and noted that The Episcopal Church has spent far more nationwide to fight similar lawsuits.
“It’s shameful to continue using church money in this way,” [Bishop] Lawrence said.
He added that the diocese just wants to move on, independent of The Episcopal Church, which is the North American province of the global Anglican Communion. “While they speak peace, they engage in litigation,” said Lawrence…
Read it all from the local paper.
The choice to respond in faith or not is right through the Bible. The choice of truth and error is right through the Bible. In the Old Testament, the Jewish scriptures, we see above all in the history of Israel and in the teaching of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 30:11 ff) and all those books that link in closely to that pivotal book of the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy alone the word ”˜choose’ comes more than 20 times; it is fundamental to our understanding of what it is to relate to God and to the world.
We are those who have space, who have free will, who have choice ”“ and then bear the consequences.
For these reasons, even more fundamentally than international law, freedom of religion is a fundamental human right ”“ now enshrined in international law ”“ and should be treated as equal, not subordinate, to other human rights. And for those of us who are Christians, let’s just be quite clear that the church, including the Church of England, has a poor record in this as in many other areas, but perhaps in the last 300 years has begun to learn a little of where it went wrong.
Because human beings are in the image of God, our religious beliefs are a core part of what it is to be human. They form us into who we are; they provide foundations for our deepest convictions, and motivations for our sincerest actions.
O God our Father, who art the source of strength to all thy saints, and who didst bring the holy martyrs of Japan through the suffering of the cross to the joys of life eternal: Grant that we, being encouraged by their example, may hold fast the faith that we profess, even unto death; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
O God our Father, let us find grace in thy sight so as to have grace to serve thee acceptably with reverence and godly fear; and further grace not to receive thy grace in vain, nor to neglect it and fall from it, but to stir it up and grow in it, and to persevere in it unto the end of our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.