Category : Church of England (CoE)

(Catholic Herald) Andrew Sabisky–Conservative Anglicans are close to despair. Is the CofE about to split?

Anyone with a lick of sense can see that the Church of England is in serious trouble. Congregational decline, child abuse scandals, and financially desperate cathedrals are just the most obvious symptoms of a very broad disease. As an Anglican, I have been confident that the Church would manage to turn things around in a few decades. After the most recent meeting of General Synod, however, I am no longer so confident.

On the face it, the Synod’s changes were all fairly minor. For all the fuss, the proposal to write official liturgies affirming the new gender identity of transgender people may well be ignored even by Church’s own bishops; and the changes on regulation of vestments merely rubber-stamps what already takes places across swathes of the Church.

But the most significant thing about the Synod was the manner in which it was conducted. The bishops stayed largely silent as Synod did theology by endless anecdote. The only notable episcopal contributions came from the liberal northern prelates (especially Paul Bayes of Liverpool). An outburst of anti-capitalism from the Archbishop of York provided comedy value amongst the general dour air of neo-Puritanism. The monotonous drumbeat of socialism and sexual liberalism was only broken by the ecumenical contribution of Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who warned Synod that it’s bad for PR and the soul to spend so much time talking about sex. His plea fell on deaf ears.

Read it all.

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

(Artware) A biographical sketch of Charles Manners Sutton, Bp of Norwich (1792-1805)+Archbp of Canterbury (1805-1828)

Manners-Sutton worked closely with the Hackney Phalanx to revive the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and he was active in the campaign that secured the establishment of a bishop for India, being closely involved in recruiting Thomas Middleton, archdeacon of Huntingdon, and an associate of the phalanx, as first bishop of Calcutta. Manners-Sutton was also concerned with the extension of higher education. He contributed £1000 towards the endowment of King’s College, London, and was instrumental in persuading George IV to give his name to the college; he also contributed towards the establishment of both St David’s College, Lampeter, by Bishop Burgess of St David’s and of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1814 he was appointed to preside over the German Relief Fund to administer a parliamentary grant of £100,000 for the relief of Germany during the winter of the final Napoleonic campaign, which—because of opposition to the grant in the light of needs for charity relief at home—needed to be a model of accurate accounting. Joshua Watson acted as administrator of the funds. In 1816 Manners-Sutton and Bishop Howley of London unsuccessfully attempted to revive the Association for the Relief of the Manufacturing and Labouring Poor, established in 1812, and in 1817 he briefly flirted with Robert Owen’s plan to put the poor into ‘Villages of Co-operation’ where, after an initial capital grant from taxes, they would pay their own way while becoming useful, industrious, self-disciplined, and temperate.

Manners-Sutton may have been the initiator of a meritocratic revolution that reinvigorated the Church of England in the early nineteenth century. Although his own preferment was due to aristocratic patronage and royal favour, he, along with Bishop Howley of London, worked with Joshua Watson and his associates in the Hackney Phalanx to test the potential of able young graduates from middle-class backgrounds, making discriminate use of the extensive patronage available to archbishops of Canterbury and promoting the most promising candidates.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Gafcon) Chik Kaw Tan–Fundamental shifts in the General Synod

Within the next 3-7 years I anticipate three tumultuous and tragic events:

1-There will be a major split in the Church of England over sexuality issues. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury is, apparently, willing and ready to accept that.
2-There will be deep division between the orthodox who choose to remain in the Church of England and those who choose to leave (whilst remaining Anglican within the Anglican Communion or leaving the denomination entirely)
3-There will be a more formalised split in the global Anglican Communion, along with the continuing re-alignment between the orthodox across all Christian denominations.
It is time for deep reflection and prayer and we need to prepare for the evil days ahead. But for the faithful, whatever the tribulations, we can confidently trust in the God who is ‘from everlasting to everlasting.’

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Archbishop Welby outlines plans for exhaustive review of sexuality

Hannah Grivell (Derby) asked whether the House of Bishops had considered advising Diocese Directors of Ordinands to stop using Issues in Human Sexuality in the discernment process of new ordinands until a new teaching document is available, ‘given that it was never intended for use in this way and is 26 years old’.

To which Bishop Hardman explained that this is one of the questions that will be put forward to the pastoral advisory group ‘with some urgency’.

Jane Charman (Salisbury) asked if the House of Bishops intends to learn from the Scottish Episcopal Church and their deliberations on the matter.

The Archbishop of Canterbury responded explaining saying “we will certainly be seeking to learn from all the provincesof the Anglican Communion’, which could include Canada, New Zealand and Australia as well as other provinces who have taken a different view to those mentioned.

“They will be learned from, there’s a lot to learn from the experience around the Communion,” he added.

Read it all (may require subscription).

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

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Is The Church of England General Synod competent?

There are several reasons why these two motions should never have been debated. The first and most obvious is that both issues will certainly be addressed in the teaching document that the Archbishops have commissioned, so the motions are trying to short-circuit a wider discussion. The second is that both take the form of false binaries; essentially they say ‘Do you agree with me—or do you hate gay and transgender people?’ No matter how faulty the wording, failing to pass either motion would not have looked like good PR, and there would have been howls of protest from various quarters. In the voting, it was evident that the bishops were acutely aware of this, and taking both motions by a vote of houses (so that they had to pass separately in each of the bishops, clergy and laity) which would normally make it harder for a motion to pass, in fact made it easier, since the bishops could not afford to be seen to be the ones who were blocking.

The third reason was the poor wording of both motions. The PMM talked of ‘conversion therapy’ but used this as an ill-defined catch-all which made proper debate very difficult. Every single speaker, including those who proposed and supported significant amendments, agreed that any form of forced or coercive treatment of people who are same-sex attracted (whether they are happy with that or not) is abusive and must be rejected. But another part of Jayne Ozanne’s agenda is to have significant movements in the Church, including New Wine, Soul Survivor, HTB and Spring Harvest labelled as ‘spiritual abusive’ and therefore illegal. This is why the motion was seen as a Trojan horse. Her motion was also asking Synod to ‘endorse’ a medical opinion, and a controverted one at that, which is simply not within Synod’s competence to do so. But suggesting that Synod ‘does not have the competence’ to express a view is like holding up a red rag to a bull (or any colour rag—bulls are colour blind). In the end we passed an amended motion that ‘endorsed’ a different medical view—but few had read the details, still less understood the issues within it, and such endorsement is meaningless except as tokenism.

The transgender motion asked for the bishops to ‘consider whether’ they should formulate some new liturgy, and in one sense that is an empty statement; they might well ‘consider’ it for five minutes and decide not. But to even raised the question of liturgy, before we have any consensus of understanding on the issue, is putting the cart so far before the horse that the horse has lost sight of it.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

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

The Sermon by the Rt Revd Dr Rowan Williams, read at the Solemn Requiem for Bishop Geoffrey Rowell

Geoffrey worked with myself and our dear friend Kenneth Stevenson on a book entitled Love’s Redeeming Work, an anthology of spiritual writing in the Anglican tradition. I don’t think that
Kenneth would mind if I said that the heavy lifting, in terms of the volume as far as the later period was concerned, was done by Geoffrey in his heroic labours on the vast mountain of
material from the late eighteenth to the twentieth century. His share of that book reflects those Tractarian roots already mentioned, but it also reflects the generous engagement which made him so open to, and so enthusiastic about, resources well beyond his own tradition, including resources beyond the United Kingdom. His voice was always advocating in the editorial
discussions we shared for a better and more accurate representation in the book of Anglicanism outside Europe and North America.

In the introduction to his section of that volume, the last page touches briefly on a number of perhaps predictable theological heroes – Lightfoot and Westcott, of course; Archbishop
Michael Ramsey; and then, more surprisingly, Charles Kingsley and Charles Raven. There they are, rubbing shoulders in one paragraph – probably as uncomfortable there in each other’s
company as they no doubt are in the Kingdom of Heaven. In that paragraph Geoffrey speaks of two things which this unlikely calendar of saints might have in common as representatives
of Anglican identity. He speaks of those great Anglican teachers, above all Archbishop Ramsey, for whom ‘contemplative prayer was not just for enclosed religious’, and he speaks
of what he calls the ‘characteristically Anglican sympathy with new knowledge’: a depth of hinterland in prayer and devotion, a sympathy with new knowledge – never uncritical, but
never hostile.

Then, in the last paragraph, he goes on to quote another name familiar to Geoffrey’s friends – John Henry Newman, on the Church that ‘changes always in order to remain the same’. To
believe that at a time of rapid, disorientating change, is particularly hard. But Geoffrey held to that and lived by it; and that is why he turns, at the very end of that introductory essay, to Lancelot Andrewes – and to T. S. Eliot: the tongues of flame in-folded, the fire and the rose one. If Jesus is indeed the resurrection and the life, and if because of that we cannot fall into nothingness, it is because the fiery trial of discipleship and ministry in Christ’s Church is not to be separated from the flowering of God’s generous purposes and the fulfilment of our humanity in ways we cannot imagine. We do not fall away, for God is God, and Christ is God. Knowing this is the key to knowing ourselves and knowing what song is sung by the whole of reality. Remember Geoffrey’s pitch in hearing and singing that song. And so we endure – as the Apostle says, ‘abounding in the work of the Lord’, as did Geoffrey
so abundantly. And we look with him at the cloud of witnesses, alive with the living Lord whom he adored and adores.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(CEN) Vinay Samuel and Chris Sugden: Double Standards in the Church?

Forced resignation goes beyond the public humiliation meted out by the church authorities. Media seize on the word ‘collude’ and vilify Lord Carey for supposed implication in the crimes of Peter Ball. Invitations to minister in Churches in England and America are suddenly withdrawn. He has committed the unforgiveable sin – systemic mistakes were made, which he admits, on his watch, so he personally has to carry the public opprobrium.

Meanwhile his successor, Rowan Williams, and all the episcopal and legal advisers involved, suffer no penalty. Lord Carey’s penalty bears no relation to safeguarding: at 82 he is a threat to no-one. He carries no authority to permit any one to minister. His penalty can only be punishment which the Church feels necessary to preserve its place in the public square.
On the other hand the past few years have seen a procession of clergy, some highly placed, deliberately flout the teaching of the Church of England which they have sworn before God to uphold, and its canons which they have sworn to observe in obedience to the office of their bishop.

Some in high office along with members of General Synod deliberately question and oppose the teaching of the Bible and of the Anglican Communion on marriage and sexuality.
Others have placed ‘facts on the ground’. For example, under the leadership of its dean, Southwark Cathedral advertises availability of prayers for a civil partnership, while noting the Church has no authorised prayers or service of blessing.

One dean has called on the Church to embrace gay marriage, revealing that he has previously held services of blessing for same sex couples at another Cathedral and would consider doing the same again. Did he seek permission from the Archbishop of York before going ahead with the ceremonies? (See further below)

A parish clergyman entered into a same-sex marriage, specifically forbidden to members of the clergy, and remained in post. Both the deans and the vicar remained on General Synod which makes the laws of the church. Yet calls are made to remove Lord Carey from the Lords because a lawbreaker cannot be a lawmaker.

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

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Adrian Hilton–Theresa May did not instruct the CofE to allow same-sex marriage

INTERVIEWER

Is that the next stage though? Because – and there are many gay Christians. There are many gay clergymen who would like to be able to do this but at the moment aren’t able to. Would you like to see the law evolve on that?

PRIME MINISTER

I mean, this is – this has to be a matter for the – for the Church. I mean, it is important that the Church is able – and the Church – the Church of England has itself come a distance in terms of looking at these issues.  And obviously they will want to reflect as attitudes more generally change, as society changes.

Do you see a ‘should’, a ‘must’ or an ‘ought’ in there regarding the future of gay marriage or blessing? “This has to be a matter for the Church,” the Prime Minister said. Could she have been any clearer? Has her position on this not been utterly consistent? “I strongly support equal marriage, and I know that these debates will continue, but it will have to be for the church as a whole to decide if it wants to make a change to its canon law,” she said only a few months ago. The church as a whole: Theresa May has absolutely no intention of forcing the Church of England to perform gay marriage (or blessing), and absolutely no desire to lecture it in the way it should go.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

A Look Back to the Telegraph in 2003–“[Archbishop Rowan] Williams denounces same-sex marriages”

The Archbishop of Canterbury and his fellow Anglican leaders denounced gay marriages yesterday in an effort to avert schism in the worldwide Church.
In a unanimous statement, the primates, who are the heads of the Church’s 38 provinces, distanced themselves from maverick bishops who are poised to introduce same-sex blessings.
The move will dismay the Church’s liberal wing, which had hoped that Dr Rowan Williams and other reforming primates would champion their cause.
But it will be welcomed by traditionalists and should postpone a fundamental split in the Church over homosexuality, the most divisive issue it has faced since women priests.
In a pastoral letter released after a critical summit meeting in Brazil last week, the primates said that “the question of public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions is still a cause of potentially divisive controversy”.
They added: “There is no theological consensus. . .therefore we, as a body, cannot support the authorisation of such rites.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anglican Primates, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Telegraph) Prime Minister May: The Church should ‘reflect’ on allowing same-sex couples to marry

The Church of England should “reflect” on allowing same-sex couples to marry in church, the Prime Minister has said.

Theresa May also said her father, the Reverend Hubert Brasier, would have supported church blessings for gay couples.

In an interview for radio station LBC, the Prime Minister said she believed her father “very much valued the importance of relationships of people affirming those relationships and of seeing stability in relationships and people able to be together with people that they love”.

Asked whether she herself would like to see the law “evolve” she said it “had to be a matter for the Church”, adding: “the Church of England has itself come a distance in terms of looking at these issues, and obviously they will want to reflect as attitudes will generally change as society changes.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Robert Innes offers Reflections on the recently Concluded C of E General Synod

One of the things that would most effectively undermine the church’s mission would be a serious split over issues of human sexuality. Over the course of the long weekend, the Synod was bowled two difficult questions that would (again) test the church’s unity. Neither motion came from the bishops: one was a private member’s motion on ‘conversion therapy’, the other was a motion from Blackburn Diocese on ‘Welcoming Transgender People’. Both motions could be viewed as totemic of the relative influence of different groups or proxies for other issues. And, of course, both could be spun.

I have to say I found myself rather uncomfortable debating ‘conversion therapy’. The ethics of therapy offered to gay/lesbian people (and all the more transgender people) is something which challenges even those who are experts in their field. Only a very few members of synod have this kind of expertise. And I was nervous discussing a subject in the adversarial style of a full synod which bears upon issues affecting individuals and families so deeply and personally.

In the event, I think we managed to discuss the issue with openness and compassion. Two amendments had been proposed, both of which in my view significantly improved the original motion. One was defeated, the other was accepted. The final motion endorsed a Memorandum of Understanding signed up to by all the relevant professional bodies, including the Royal College of Psychiatrists. It can be found here. This MoU, describes ‘efforts that try to change or alter sexual orientation through psychological therapies as unethical and potentially harmful’. The motion was passed overwhelmingly.

The second issue in the sexuality area was a motion ‘recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church’ and calling on the House of Bishops to ‘consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition’. During this debate we heard several stories of people who had transitioned between gender identities, and of the mental anguish that gender variance can cause to an individual and their family/community. There was considerable debate as to how to best to respond. I felt the Bishop of Worcester expressed well the mind of the Synod when he said: ‘Our response needs to be loving and open and welcoming and the passing of this motion would be a very important factor in that.’ The motion was duly passed by a big majority.

I hope that gay, lesbian and transgender people feel reassured and encouraged by these votes. Neither vote changes the church’s doctrine….

Read it all.

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

(RNS) It’s no longer Sunday best for the Church of England

After centuries of wearing flowing robes, cassocks and other vestments, Anglican priests can finally dress down.

Under canon law, clergy have to wear traditional robes when holding Communion services, baptisms, weddings or funerals. But following a vote this week at a gathering in York of the General Synod, the Church of England’s ruling body, Anglican priests can now wear lay garments such as a suit instead, so long as their parochial church council agrees.

The reasons given for the change included a more informal outlook in British society as a whole, but there is particular concern about young people being alienated by ornate accoutrements. One member of the Archbishop’s Council — the archbishop of Canterbury’s cabinet — also wants the abolition of bishops’ miters.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE)

(AM) Some British Anglicans meet to plan ‘faithful ecclesial future’

Many will share our dismay at the recent decisions of the General Synod of the Church of England and the pursuing principles, values and practices contrary to Holy Scripture and church Tradition.

Given the persistent failure of the majority of the House of Bishops to fulfil the God-given duties which they have sworn to discharge these tragic developments were, sadly, not wholly unexpected.

Accordingly, and in preparation for such eventualities we, as some of those committed to the renewal of biblical and orthodox Anglicanism have already started to meet, on behalf of our fellow Anglicans, to discuss how to ensure a faithful ecclesial future.

We now wish that we have done so to be more widely known.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE)

(Guardian) Winchester in the spotlight: the city where Jane Austen died 200 years ago

Two hundred years ago on 18 July, one of the world’s most famous authors died in the Hampshire cathedral city of Winchester. Jane Austen was just 41 in 1817 and had been suffering from what is now known as Addison’s disease, a rare disorder of the adrenal glands. Austen had moved to Winchester for medical treatment, leaving her home in Chawton 17 miles away (now an Austen museum), where she wrote novels including Pride and Prejudice.

When she was buried in the north aisle of Winchester Cathedral, the inscription on her tomb made no mention of her novels, perhaps because they were published anonymously. A brass plate was later added which noted rather blandly that she was “known to many by her writings”.

Read it all and enjoy the pictures.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Poetry & Literature, Urban/City Life and Issues

(1st Things) Carl Trueman–The Church of England’s Nietzschean Proposal

In a world of change and flux, it is reassuring to know that some things remain the same. Take, for example, the motion passed by the Church of England General Synod, calling for a liturgy to help transgender people celebrate their transitions. This motion is consistent with liberal Protestantism’s age-old calling, that of baptizing the moral norms du jour of the respectable chattering classes, presumably in hopes of enhancing the appeal of religion to its cultured despisers. Transgenderism was bound for liturgical acceptance.

By now, experience should have taught even the moderately self-aware that, where religion is concerned, cultural relevance is a cruel mistress, always promising the Church a place at her table but never quite delivering. Alas, self-awareness has never been the strong suit of those liberal Protestants who have perfected the art of always being belatedly in support of whatever nonsense the sexual revolution is now declaring a self-evident truth that only a hate-filled bigot would deny. And so we have this liturgical proposal which, as with all liturgies, tells us a lot about the General Synod’s understanding of its church’s purpose. It points toward a view of the Church as offering a religious idiom for the therapeutic concerns of modern Western society. So far, so conventional.

But the proposal is actually far more sinister than the usual capitulation to the latest sexual hobby-horse. What is missing in this doubtless well-intentioned move is any reflection upon the deeper philosophical implications of transgenderism. To treat it as yet one more legitimate human choice, which can be included in the pantheon of human freedoms, is to miss the real issue. Transgenderism challenges traditional notions of human personhood at the deepest level. For that reason, it is perhaps appropriate to recognize transgenderism in a liturgy: A liturgy reveals a church’s deepest beliefs as it articulates the dialogical relationship between a people and God, and thus dramatizes who they are in relationship to each other. For the Christian, liturgy presupposes identity. Indeed, the Christian liturgy legitimates identity.

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