Category : Same-sex blessings

(ACNS) Scottish Episcopal Church Primus briefs Partial Primates Meeting on his Province’s same-sex marriage decision

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Posted in Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(ACNS) Hong Kong could host ACC-17 after Brazil ‘postponement’ over discussions on human sexuality and marriage

The next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-17) could take place in Hong Kong following a decision to move it from Sao Paulo in Brazil.

The Brazilian city was unveiled as the host of the 2019 conference at last year’s ACC conference in Lusaka. But the ACC Standing Committee, meeting in London, heard that the event was scheduled to go ahead at what would be a challenging time for the country and for the Anglican Church there. In particular, concerns were raised about the political and economic instability and also the Church’s discussions on human sexuality and marriage which will take place at the provincial synod next year. Whatever the outcome of those discussions, it was felt this would have an impact on the Anglican Church in Brazil and hamper its ability to stage ACC-17. Specifically, it was thought that the leadership of the Church would need time to deal with pastoral issues arising from the discussions.

Hong Kong emerged as a possible replacement during committee discussions. It was felt the territory had the resources to step in and also the experience, having hosted ACC-12 in 2002.

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Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh’s Gafcon’s Chairman Letter for September 2017

I attended the Canterbury Primates Meeting held in January 2016 because I believed it might be possible to make a new start and change the pattern of repeated failure to preserve the integrity of Anglican faith and order. I was disappointed. The Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka the following April neutered the Primates’ action to distance The Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) from Communion decision making. TEC has not repented, and continues to take aggressive legal action against orthodox dioceses. For example, the congregations of the Diocese of San Joaquin are currently having to turn over their places of worship to TEC, which has no realistic plan for filling them with worshippers.  At the same time, the Diocese of South Carolina is now facing the potential loss of many of its historic buildings.

My disappointment was shared by the other Global South Primates who gathered in Cairo last October and we concluded in our communiqué that the ‘Instruments of Communion’ (which include the Primates Meeting of course) are “unable to sustain the common life and unity of the Anglican Churches worldwide” and do actually help to undermine global mission.

The only difference between the present and 2008, when Gafcon was formed, is that we have a different Archbishop of Canterbury. Everything else is the same or worse. There is endless debate, the will of the orthodox Primates is frustrated and misrepresented, false teaching is not being corrected, and nothing is being done to halt orthodox Anglicans in North America (and maybe soon elsewhere) being stripped of the churches that have helped form their spiritual lives.

In these circumstances, I have concluded that attendance at Canterbury would be to give credibility to a pattern of behaviour which is allowing great damage to be done to global Anglican witness and unity. Our energies in the Church of Nigeria will be devoted to what is full of hope and promise for the future, not to the repetition of failure.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Global South Churches & Primates, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Prominent C of E evangelical group warns of possible split over same-sex Relations

A division of the Church of England would be required’ if the Church declares that ‘permanent, faithful same-sex relationships are a legitimate form of Christian discipleship’, warns the ‘realistic’ Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC).

A letter from CEEC President, the Rt Rev Julian Henderson, its Chair, the Rev Hugh Palmer, Treasurer, the Rev George Curry and Secretary, Stephen Hofmeyr, warns that there are three options available for the Church of England, but that only one of them will ensure that evangelicals represented by the CEEC won’t leave.

They say that while they were encouraged that the House of Bishops sexuality report contained no proposal to change the Church of England’s doctrinal position on marriage, there have been ‘disappointing developments’. They pointed to the fact that ‘a small majority of the House of Clergy refused to “take note” of the report and so, although the majority of General Synod members wished to do so, it was not taken note of by Synod’.

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

(Church Times) Priests could be authorised to offer same-sex blessings in New Zealand

Bishops could authorise individual priests to offer same-sex blessings in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, if a new compromise proposal is taken up.

A working group was set up after the Church’s last General Synod debate about church blessings for gay marriages solemnised in civil ceremonies foundered amid theological differences between the Maori and Polynesian parts of the Church (which backed the reforms), and the European-origin dioceses (which were divided) (News, 20 May 2016).

The small group of one bishop, two priests, and three lay people from all three groupings, or tikangas, of the Church has now reported back. It recommends that the formularies of the Church remain unchanged, but that diocesan bishops be permitted to “authorise individual clergy within their ministry units to conduct services blessing same-gender relationships”.

Those who object to same-sex relationships on theological grounds should have their convictions “respected and protected”, and there must be “immunity from complaint” for any bishop or priest who decided to conduct, or not to conduct, a blessing….

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Posted in Anthropology, Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Provinces Other Than TEC, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(GAFCON) Archbp Peter Jensen: Reflections on Truth, Division and Fellowship

At the heart of the divisions which have beset the Anglican Communion since 2002 is a profound disagreement over sexual ethics, in particular whether same sex unions can be blessed by God in the light of the teaching of the Bible. The teaching of GAFCON is that the Bible is clear on three vital points.

First, that sexual intimacy outside of heterosexual marriage is forbidden by God and not in the best interests of humans.

Second, that persistent behaviour of this sort puts those who engage in it outside the kingdom of God and therefore at risk of losing salvation.

Third, acceptance of this behaviour in the church means that the full gospel cannot be preached, since the full gospel requires repentance from sexual sin.

But there is more to it than that. The Bible tells us that in a society in which the truth about God is supressed, the consequence is godless sexual licence. This is a sign of an unhealthy community in deep trouble.

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Posted in - Anglican: Commentary, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

More Response to C of E General Synod (I)–Rob Munro: Radical Christian Inclusion…?

General Synod felt like it reached the watershed this last long weekend.

Superficially we did the usual things: passing obscure legal provisions – for example, giving official permission not to have to wear robes at main services (which I realise you all have done faithfully up until now); the valiant effort to put something to do with mission on the agenda – this time with workshops on various National Church Initiatives like Thy Kingdom Come and the soon-to-be-revamped National Website. We even had the obligatory “current affairs” motion, this time from the Archbishops following the surprises at the General Election, generally calling for more prayer and appropriate lobbying – although the Archbishop of York tried to bring a last minute radical suggestion that Christians voluntarily paid more tax to the government to fund health and education, which flew for as long as most lead balloons. There were signs that something was amiss early on, when rather non-controversial amendments to the Archbishops’ proposal, which aimed to strengthen statements with regard to biblical and gospel priorities, were lost – but unless the Archbishop had backed them, which he didn’t for reasons of ‘simplicity’, it is hard to get them passed.

However, the watershed came apparent from the other seemingly obligatory controversial agenda items. This time, on conversion therapy and transsexual liturgy. The motions themselves were both subtle – we are all against abusive therapies, and we are all for welcoming all people including transsexuals; but the innocuous additions to the proposals were clearly designed to do more. The subtlety is that “conversion therapy” is an ill-defined term – it can mean just specific professional counselling therapies, and it is legitimately debateable how effective they are in actually changing a person’s sexual orientation, but it could include merely praying with someone at their request to diminish an unwanted same-sex attraction. There was an excellent amendment put in by Sean Doherty of Living Out that achieved what the original motion seemed to ask for, but it was lost – the radical held sway over the Christian. Similarly in the debate about welcoming transsexuals in church, the Trojan horse there was in a request for liturgy to mark a person’s transition, because, as was said repeatedly framing the debate, “The Church does the work of God through liturgy!” Again, a reasonable amendment, giving clarity to the nuances, was rejected; and although the final motion only actually asks the House of Bishops to consider a new liturgy, and the Archbishop of York implied they probably wouldn’t do it, he ended the debate asking for a strong support for the motion, which they received – including the significant milestone of a more than 2/3 majority in each house, which is the bar that has to be met to change doctrine in future.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(The Goodbook) Sam Allberry–Same sex relationships: should we just agree to disagree?

Not taking a side on this issue is to take a side. To decide it is a matter of indifference is to risk having Jesus against you. Read the description of him in Revelation 1 and consider if you would ever want to risk that Jesus being against you.

This is a gospel issue. When so-called evangelical leaders argue for affirmation of gay relationships in the church, I’m not saying they’re not my kind of evangelical, I’m saying they are no kind of evangelical. This is not an easy position to hold, for I have friends who hold to different views on this subject. But it is the right position to hold. For the five reasons given above, we must never allow ourselves to think of this as just another issue Christians are free to differ over.

This will inevitably bring faithful Christians into conflict with our culture. When John Stott first published Issues Facing Christians Today, he said:

“I have sought with integrity to submit to the revelation of yesterday within the realities of today. It is not easy to combine loyalty to the past with sensitivity to the present. Yet this is our Christian calling: to live under the Word in the world.”

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

(AM) Essex churches pass motions of no confidence in “unbiblical leadership” of Archbishops of Canterbury and York

Two churches in Chelmsford Diocese have taken the unprecedented step of issuing public statements of no confidence in the Church of England leadership, following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for ‘radical inclusion’ at General Synod in February, and Bishop Stephen Cottrell’s call for thanksgiving prayers to be offered for same sex relationships in his Presidential Address to the Chelmsford Diocesan Synod.

The decision to publish the no confidence motions has been motivated by the Diocese provocatively hosting their June Synod at a church publicly supporting same sex marriage, and Archbishop Welby’s recent letter to Primates which does not mention the Scottish Episcopal Church’s departure from Christian orthodoxy but criticises Gafcon’s decision to appoint a faithful missionary Bishop.

Although two churches have gone public with their protest, Anglican Mainstream understands that several dozen clergy and a number of lay people in the Diocese have written to Bishop Stephen since February expressing deep concern about the direction of the C of E as evidenced by his statements.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), 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.

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

(Phil Ashey) The Gafcon missionary bishop for Scotland and Europe

On Friday June 30, 2017, the Rev. Canon Andy Lines will be consecrated in Wheaton Illinois (USA) at the Third Provincial Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach Presiding. The consecrating Bishops will be acting on behalf of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), and Canon Lines will become its first Missionary Bishop to Europe.

Canon Andy Lines’ consecration will not be irregular or invalid.  His Holy Orders in the Province of South America have been duly and lawfully transferred to, and likewise received by, the ACNA. He will be consecrated by acting primates, archbishops and bishops of the Anglican Communion. His consecration will fall within the historical tradition of faithful Bishops who have created order in the Church during times of crisis. These are times when faith and doctrine have been threatened by others’ failure to guard against false teaching—or worse, have actively promoted such false teaching. One can trace this all the way back to Athanasius and the crisis of Arianism in the early Church. Faithful bishops like Athanasius disregarded the boundaries and autonomy of Arian dioceses in order to consecrate Biblically faithful bishops for Biblically faithful Christians. The consecration of a missionary bishop by GAFCON for Europe is as much an emergency as the consecrations that Athanasius and other faithful bishops performed, and just as necessary to guard the faith and order of the Church and prevent spiritual harm to biblically faithful Christians.

We call these emergencies “exigent circumstances.” Although this is a legal term used in criminal courts for circumstances in which the potential death of a victim, flight of a felon or destruction of evidence justifies an emergency search or seizure that overrides the freedom, autonomy and constitutional rights of a suspect, “exigent circumstances” have also been the grounds for faithful Bishops, clergy and laity to take emergency action to guard the faith and order of the Church. I recently wrote about Exigent Circumstances in the Anglican Communion, citing the works of Paul Avis, Francis Oakley and Brian Tierney for the precedent of such “emergency action” which we see in the development of  the great reforming Councils of the Roman Catholic Church during the Great Schism (1378-1417).

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, --Scotland, Church History, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Gafcon Chairman Archbp Nicholas Okoh’s June 2017 letter

I am reminded of Athanasius because we are facing a similar struggle for the integrity of the gospel in our time. On Thursday 8th June, the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) changed its teaching to allow men to be married to men and women to women. It followed the path already taken by the Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada.

This attempt to redefine marriage is not a secondary issue about which we can agree to disagree and continue to walk together. It means that Jesus was mistaken when he taught that marriage was between a man and a woman and that sex outside of such a marriage is a sin. It is a radical rejection of the authority of Scripture. The Church claims that it can consecrate behaviour that God’s Word clearly teaches to be sinful. According to the Bible, this behaviour, without repentance, separates those who practice it from his kingdom.

Athanasius consecrated orthodox bishops in dioceses led by Arians because he knew that the apostolic faith itself was at stake. This was the principle guiding the interventions which led to the formation of the Anglican Church in North America in 2009 and it was affirmed by over three hundred bishops in assembly at Gafcon 2013 in Nairobi. It was therefore very appropriate that on the same day that the Scottish Episcopal Church formally turned aside from the historic Christian faith, Gafcon announced that Canon Andy Lines, already an internationally recognised missionary statesman, will be consecrated later this month as a Gafcon missionary bishop for Europe.

This is not a step we have taken lightly, but from the beginning Gafcon has been committed to standing with the marginalised. Requests for help from Scottish orthodox leaders to the Archbishop of Canterbury were turned down. Indeed, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church told his General Synod last year that the Archbishop of Canterbury, had assured him that he would welcome the Scottish Church to the 2020 Lambeth Conference even if it chose to change its marriage canon to include same sex unions.

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Posted in Church History, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Bishop Paul Colton–Scottish Episcopal Church’s approach to same-sex Marriage may represent a Way Forward for Church of Ireland says

In this section of his Synod address, Bishop Colton said:

‘Change is signalled also by the decision two days ago, on Thursday, 8th June, of our sister Church in Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, to alter its canon on marriage by removing the doctrinal clause which states that marriage is between a man and a woman. Clergy who wish to conduct same-sex marriages will have to opt in, and no priest is to be compelled to do so.’

‘As we saw at our own General Synod recently arising from a private members motion, there are many in the Church of Ireland who are anxious to debate such issues here too. Equally many are determined that this is not a matter which is up for debate at all. There is a debate, and, however tentatively, it has, in fact, started.’

‘That such things are open to debate in this Church has always been the case. If there had been no questioning or discourse, the Reformation itself would not have happened, nor would many other developments have unfolded over the centuries, in ministry, in liturgy and in belief, the most recent examples being our change in approach to suicide, to the marriage in church of divorcees, and also the ordination of women, and there are many others.’

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Posted in Church of Ireland, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Jonathan Petre’s Article in the Daily Mail about Archbp Welby’s Letter to the Anglican Primates

Canon [Andy] Lines’s presence in the UK without Welby’s approval could be seen as provocative. But Lines’s backers complain that the Archbishop failed to rebuke the Scottish Episcopalians for permitting gay marriage, even though it is out of step with Church of England official policy.

The former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali, a prominent traditionalist who is attending the meeting in Chicago where Canon Lines is to be consecrated, said: ‘The Scottish Episcopal Church has done something that will cause many people to exercise their right of conscience and not remain in it. Who is going to look after them?
‘The question is not just about territory. It is also about faith.’

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(AI) Archbp Justin Welby Writes the Primates of the Anglican Communion

We continue to exhort the need to work together without exclusion, in faithfulness to the deposit of the faith we have inherited, to the scriptures and the creeds, and paying attention to the Great Commission, our call to evangelism and sharing in the mission of God.

I believe that the example of how we addressed the separate issue of ordination of women to the episcopacy illustrates this; the Right Reverend Rod Thomas’ consecration as Bishop of Maidstone served to provide episcopal oversight for those who disagreed with the ordination of women to the episcopate. This clearly demonstrates how those with differing views still have their place in the Church of England, and are important in enabling the flourishing of the Church. Because of this commitment to each other I do not consider the appointment of a “missionary bishop” to be necessary. The idea of a “missionary bishop” who was not a Church of England appointment, would be a cross-border intervention and, in the absence of a Royal Mandate, would carry no weight in the Church of England. Historically, there has been resistance to cross-border interventions and ordinations from the earliest years of the universal Church’s existence. Such weighty authority as canons 15 and 16 of the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325 are uncompromising in this regard and make reference to the “great disturbance and discords that occur” when bishops and their clergy seek to minister in this way.

I would also like to remind you of the 1988 Lambeth Conference resolution number 72 on episcopal responsibilities and diocesan boundaries. This resolution reaffirms the historical position of respect for diocesan boundaries and the authority of bishops within these boundaries. It also affirms that it deemed inappropriate behaviour for any bishop or priest of this Communion to exercise episcopal or pastoral ministry within another diocese without first obtaining the permission and invitation of the ecclesial authority thereof. The conclusion of this resolution was that in order to maintain our unity, “it seems fair that we should speak of our mutual respect for one another, and the positions we hold, that serves as a sign of our unity.”

The issue of cross-border interventions has continued to come up in recent conversations within the Anglican Communion, and may well be something that is included in the agenda for the next Primates’ meeting, which takes place from 2 to 7 October 2017, in Canterbury.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)