Category : Church of England

The General Synod of the C of E has passed a motion on welcoming transgender people

Members of Synod, meeting in York, supported a call for the House of Bishops to consider preparing nationally commended liturgical materials to mark a person’s gender transition.

The motion also recognises the “need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church”.

It was moved by the Revd Christopher Newlands on behalf of the Blackburn Diocesan Synod.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Debating transgender

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) Thy Kingdom Come’s ‘wave of prayer’ goes global

Prayer has the power to carry all who are suffering alone towards “healing and renewal” in Christ, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Thursday.

Archbishop Welby was speaking to Christian journalists about the “extraordinary” growth of the Pentecost prayer initiative, Thy Kingdom Come, at Lambeth Palace.

Hundreds of thousands of Christians of many denominations in 85 countries around the world are taking part in the second annual “great wave of prayer” during the ten days between Ascension Day, on Thursday of last week, and Pentecost on Sunday.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England, Globalization

The Thy Kingdom Come prayer reflection from Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England

Anglican Unscripted #282 – The Fight for England

Listen to it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England

A C of E Response to the ECJ Ruling on Headscarves

In response to the ruling of the European Court of Justice on the wearing of headscarves a Church of England spokesman said:

“This ruling raises significant questions about freedom of religion and its free expression. Whether it be Sikhism and the wearing of turbans and kara through to the wearing of a cross.

“In preferencing ‘freedom to conduct a business” above the free expression of faith the ruling potentially places corporate interest above those of the individual.

Equally troubling is the assumption of “neutrality” within the ruling. The imposition of blanket bans – whilst often seeking honourable outcomes – may represent a worldview based on dogmatic or ideological assumptions which may unjustly limit individual rights.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Bp James Langstaff of Rochester: The Bp of Burnley and the Diocese of Sheffield

In its Declaration of May 2014, the House of Bishops made the point that these Guiding Principles ‘need to be read one with the other and held together in tension, rather than being applied selectively’. Thus, while affirming unequivocally that all orders of ministry are open to all without reference to gender, we also assert that those who are unable to receive the priestly or episcopal ministry of women continue to be fully part of the life of our church – and not just for an interim or limited period.

Furthermore, the Declaration (in paragraphs 11 and 12) clearly envisages the possibility of there being diocesan bishops who might not ordain women, and indicates the arrangements which should be made in such circumstances. These arrangements are in a sense the mirror image to the provision made for those unable to receive the ministry of a woman bishop (or indeed of a male bishop who ordains women). It was precisely to meet circumstances such as the nomination of Bishop Philip that we made these provisions.

The settlement which we put in place in 2014 is, I believe, a structural expression of conviction and grace. It has in practice, as is clear from across our own Diocese, enabled us to maintain a high level of fellowship across profoundly held differences of theological and ecclesiological conviction. In this context, my own view is that Bishop Philip’s nomination to the See of Sheffield was entirely consistent with the 2014 Declaration by the House of Bishops. That nomination must also have been made with the agreement of most (perhaps all) of the six Sheffield Diocesan representatives on the Crown Nominations Commission. I note also the number of senior ordained women who have made public their support for Bishop Philip.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England

(IB Times) Andrew Sabisky: The C of E has sent a clear message to its conservative churchgoers – you’re not wanted

Reactions from North’s supporters among the clergy run the gamut from horror to outright despair. Rebecca Feeney, an ordinand training for the priesthood at St Stephen’s House, commented that: “There has been consistently misleading and polarising rhetoric about the Catholic position, which has resulted in immense negative press about Bishop Philip – someone a lot of women, myself included, would not have trained or be training for priesthood without. For many, he is a living embodiment of what mutual flourishing means, and in light of this, the treatment he has received is particularly strange and cruel.”

Fergus Butler-Gallie, an ordinand at Westcott House, fired a mighty broadside: “I’d say that any affirmation that involves the personal smearing of a brother or sister in Christ is no affirmation at all and that, if anything, it makes the church look even more like a genitally-obsessed bunch of do-gooding hobbyists than ever before.

“The fact that the highest paid clergyman in the Church of England (Martyn Percy) can use the deanery of an Oxford college as a sniper’s post to take down a convincing advocate for the very poorest in society (with a columnist for the Guardian feeding him his ammunition) will send one message and one message alone – we care more about our own sub-Freudian internal wranglings than we do about the care of God’s people.”

Future prospects for the unity of the church are grim. This episode has sent a clear message to conservative Anglo-Catholics that they are not wanted. The same logic that barred North from his diocesan post will surely be applied to suffragans before long.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England

Dean of Exeter Cathedral announces his retirement

In recent months Exeter Cathedral has been on a journey of self-evaluation and change. That process has raised some challenging issues, not least financial. While some progress has been achieved, there are still many challenges ahead.

In that context, and having reached the age of 65 last month, after considerable thought and reflection the Dean, the Very Rev Jonathan Draper, has announced that he will retire at the end of August this year. He and his wife Maggie are on leave this week, and on his return Jonathan will be on sabbatical. He has been Dean for over five years and has achieved considerable change including renewing the outward focus to the city and county, and giving the Cathedral a greater mission focus. His preaching ministry has been greatly appreciated. He has led the huge improvements to the repair and maintenance of this historic building, leaving a legacy for generations to come.

Jonathan has been 34 years in ministry in places as diverse as London and York, in parishes, cathedrals and in theological education. Our prayers and thoughts are with Jonathan, Maggie and their family at this time.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Gavin Ashenden–Discrimination and discernment: an exercise in relativist supremacy

….the recent Bishop Philip North episode ought to make us suspicious. The theology of inclusion and equality didn’t apply to +Philip, whose great mistake was to believe what all Christians in all places at all times (until Karl Marx) have believed – about the orders of the Church.

The three-card trick that Professor Percy and his cultural fellow-travellers play is to refuse to exclude anyone except those who don’t agree with them. You only get to be included in the equality stakes once you have accepted their moral and political presuppositions. So, of course, they do actually discriminate between anyone who shares their basic world view and those who don’t.

They pretend they are relativists by claiming that all views are equally legitimate, but become absolutists if you challenge their relativism. In other words, their ideas of equality and relativism are actually practised by placing their value above those who disagree with them, and discriminating against anyone who has the audacity and moral turpitude to dissent.

Meanwhile, they claim the higher moral ground by pretending to be something that they are not – outlawing discrimination while practising it.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England

(Ekklesia) Savi Hensman–Being Sheffield’s bishop and the limits of inequality

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Gavin Ashenden: Philip North crisis: ‘Good Disagreement’ has become ‘bad bullying’

Philip North’s appointment to Sheffield was a litmus test. I had to admit that I was wrong about my first hypothesis when he was elected. But the great advantage of having views that constitute hypotheses is that one can test them and change them.

But the more important test was to come – the commitment to mutual flourishing, mutual respect; the promise that inclusion and diversity meant what they said, and were not just closet weapons to lull the traditionalists into wistful trust before expelling them.

The North appointment was a serious test for the much vaunted ‘Good Disagreement’ that Archbishop Justin Welby has staked his archiepiscopal strategy on.

It has all gone badly wrong….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England

Reform’s Statement following Bp Philip North’s withdrawal from nomination to the See of Sheffield

Reform members throughout the country are disappointed but not surprised by the news that Bishop Philip North will not be the next Bishop of Sheffield.

The furor that has followed his nomination reveals the arrogance and assumptions of those who believe, “that it is not enough to assert that due process and the five guiding principles have been observed. If they have produced a situation that causes distress … then they need to be reviewed…”1.

The attitude of those who have campaigned against Bishop Philip North calls into question the future of the five principles, which undergirded the settlement that allowed women to enter the episcopate.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England

Bp of Maidstone Rod Thomas’s statement on Bp Philip North’s withdrawal

I am deeply saddened that Philip North has felt forced to withdraw from his nomination as the next Bishop of Sheffield. It will be a huge loss to Sheffield and is a body blow to the concept of ‘mutual flourishing’ which lay at the heart of the agreement to introduce women bishops in the Church of England.
Philip has huge gifts to offer the Church, and his leadership in Sheffield would have given a great boost to mission.
However, the damage to the principles on which the House of Bishops Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests is based, is profound.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England

The Archbishop of York’s Statement on Bishop Philip North

This is a personal decision which I understand and sadly accept. However what has happened to Bishop Philip clearly does not reflect the settlement under which, two and a half years ago, the Church of England joyfully and decisively opened up all orders of ministry to men and women. It also made a commitment to mutual flourishing: that those who ‘on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests, will continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures; and pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contribute to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England.’

There will be continuing debate in the coming days and weeks of lessons to be learned, how that learning might inform and inspire us to act as a Church in our dealings with one another and how, when we disagree, to disagree Christianly, remembering at all times that our identity is in Christ alone.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England