Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Episcopal Church considers new liturgical texts for marriage

An earlier article deals with the proposed changes to canon law. The changes described here, together with those mentioned in the earlier article will be considered by the House of Deputies of General Convention later today.

As ENS explains in Marriage-equality resolutions advance to House of Deputies,

…If the House of Deputies concurs with the House of Bishops-amended Resolution A054, the liturgies “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage” and “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2” from “Liturgical Resources 1: I Will Bless You and You Will be a Blessing, Revised and Expanded 2015” from the supplemental Blue Book materials of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music will be available for trial use beginning this Advent. Those rites offer the option of using “wife,” “husband,” “person” or “spouse,” thus making them applicable for both heterosexual and same-sex couples.
The bishops eliminated a third proposed liturgy from the resolution, “The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony.”

All three liturgies can be found on pages 2-151 here from the materials provided to convention by the standing commission.

The amended resolution stipulates: “Bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority or, where appropriate, ecclesiastical supervision, will make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies. Trial use is only to be available under the discretion and with the permission of the diocesan bishop.”

The resolution also says “That bishops may continue to provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.” During discussion, bishops said this was intended to address bishops’ situations in jurisdictions outside the United States, such as Italy and countries in Province IX, where same-sex marriages remain illegal.

The resolution extends the canonical provision to these resources that, “‘It shall be within the discretion of any member of the clergy of this church to decline to preside at any rite contained herein” and that “this convention honor the theological diversity of this church in regard to matters of human sexuality; and that no bishop, priest, deacon or lay person should be coerced or penalized in any manner, nor suffer any canonical disabilities, as a result of his or her theological objection to or support for the 78th General Convention’s action contained in this resolution.”

Some bishops questioned whether this meant a priest could officiate at a same-sex marriage ceremony without consequence even if his or her bishop didn’t approve of use of the trial liturgies.

The provision is intended to protect clergy in a diocese where the bishop advocates for the use of the liturgies, replied retired Virginia Bishop Peter Lee. Clergy are protected if they disagree with their bishop, but not if they disobey them, he said…

See also the detailed explanation by Jordan Hylden of the process by which these new texts can be incorporated in the American Book of Common Prayer:

…The church’s specially appointed Task Force on the Study of Marriage had originally proposed canonical changes that would have redefined marriage as gender-neutral and authorized liturgies for use. But many voices on both right and left objected to this course, since it would have placed the church’s constitution and canon law at odds with one another. The church constitution requires that worship services in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) cannot be altered at one General Convention, nor can alternatives to them be authorized except for “trial use” (Article X). To change canon law by itself, therefore, was not sufficient to provide alternative services to BCP liturgies. Therefore “trial use” was the course taken by the bishops, some of whom (such as Bishop Shannon Johnston, of the influential Diocese of Virginia) argued that precisely because same-sex marriage is so important, it needs to be passed in a way that is constitutionally beyond question. Other bishops, such as Thomas Ely of Vermont, eventually came around to this view and a consensus was reached early on in committee…

…What will happen now? Significantly, the bishops authorized the trial-use marriage liturgies “at the direction and with the permission” of diocesan bishops. If this holds up in the House of Deputies (on the docket soon), it will then mean that for the next three years bishops like William Love of Albany will be able in church law to continue their current practice of forbidding same-sex marriages in their dioceses. After that, if the liturgies become part of the BCP, it is difficult to see how that will any longer be possible….

See also this commentary by Tobias Haller Comprehension not Compromise.

…Some have characterized these resolutions as compromises. I prefer to see them as comprehensive. The resolution on liturgies authorizes trial use as provided for in the Constitution, with the mandate that bishops will see to it that all couples have access to the liturgies, while at the same time affirming that the bishop is responsible for directing and permitting these liturgies. This may be too subtle for some, but I believe it will allow the minority of bishops who are personally opposed to marriage equality sufficient conscientious cover, while at the same time requiring them to find ways to provide for couples in their dioceses who wish to make use of the liturgies. This will be a time for creativity and generosity…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 1 July 2015 at 10:13pm BST
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Categorised as: ECUSA

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Climate change, the Archbishop and the Pope

I wrote here about the Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change, and the Pope’s encyclical letter Laudato Si’.

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has now written an analysis of the approaches to climate change taken by the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church: Climate change, the Archbishop and the Pope.

General Synod will be holding two debates on some of these issues on the last day of next month’s group of sessions (Monday 13 July). The two motions are copied below the fold. The day will start with private group work on the environment. These are the papers issued to members:

Group Work Bible Study Material on Environment
GS 2003 - Combatting Climate Change: The Paris Summit and the Mission of the Church [item 25]
GS 2004 - Climate Change and Investment Policy [item 26]
GS Misc 1113 - Birmingham Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
GS Misc 1114 - Oxford Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
[These last diocesan synod motions are not being debated, but the papers are provided as background information.]

Continue reading "Climate change, the Archbishop and the Pope"
Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 30 June 2015 at 11:22pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod | News

The Episcopal Church bishops vote to change marriage canon

Updated Tuesday evening

The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church has passed this resolution. The House of Deputies (clergy and laity) has yet to vote on the matter, and must concur before the changes can take effect. They have also been debating the authorisation of various liturgies to be used in connection with this change. We will report on those separately.

The situation is explained in this ENS report: Marriage-equality resolutions advance to House of Deputies:

…The bishops next debated and ultimately approved an amended Resolution A036 that revises Canon I.18 titled “Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony” (page 58 of The Episcopal Church’s canons here).

Among many edits, the resolution removes references to marriage as being between a man and a woman.

It also recasts the requirement in the canon’s first section that clergy conform to both “the laws of the state” and “the laws of this church” about marriage. The bishops’ amended version now reads clergy “shall conform to the laws of the State governing the creation of the civil status of marriage, and also these canons concerning the solemnization of marriage. Members of the Clergy may solemnize a marriage using any of the liturgical forms authorized by this Church.”

Clergy may “decline to solemnize or bless any marriage,” a provision similar to the existing discretion allowed to clergy.
Under the revision, couples would sign a declaration of intent, which the legislative committee crafted to respect the needs of couples where only one member is a Christian.

A resolution to substitute a minority report on A036 for the resolution failed.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following statement: Response to the US Episcopal Church Resolution on Marriage. The full text of this statement is copied below the fold.

Update
This article on the Covenant weblog of The Living Church by Jordan Hylden seeks to explain just how far TEC has got, and how much further there is to go, in completing these proposed marriage changes: Marriage redefined?

There are headlines today, even in such august magazines as The Living Church, that say that the Episcopal Church’s “Bishops Redefine Marriage.” Understood as a headline, that is probably the best way to say what happened yesterday. But details matter, and they matter here. It is probably more accurate to say that the bishops redefined marriage insofar as the constitutional process of this church allowed them to at this time, and if the deputies concur (which they will). Next General Convention, three years from now in Austin, will be the first opportunity for that headline to be accurate without qualification. But for now, the church will live with a mixed economy, and what remains to be seen in the next few years is whether a mixed economy of conservatives and progressives will be retained in a comprehensive church, or whether the majority will ensure that a redefinition will be enforced in the dioceses and parishes that still hold the traditional view…

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Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 30 June 2015 at 2:52pm BST
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Categorised as: ECUSA

Ruth Worsley to be Suffragan Bishop of Taunton

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Taunton: Ruth Worsley
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 30 June 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Ruth Worsley to the Suffragan See of Taunton in the diocese of Bath and Wells.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Ruth Worsley, Archdeacon of Wiltshire in the diocese of Salisbury, to the Suffragan See of Taunton in the diocese of Bath and Wells in succession to the Right Reverend Peter Maurice MA on his resignation on 30 April 2015.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Ruth Worsley was educated at the University of Manchester and trained for the ministry at St John’s College, Nottingham. She served her title at Basford with Hyson Green, in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham and was ordained priest in 1997. She continued as curate of Hyson Green with Forest Fields and became Priest in Charge there in 2001.

From 2006 to 2008 she served as Area Dean in North Nottingham before becoming half-time Area Dean of Nottingham South and half-time Priest in Charge of Sneinton St Christopher with St Philip in 2008. From 2007 to 2010 she also served as Dean of Women’s Ministry and Honorary Canon of Southwell Minster.

In 2010 she became Parish Development Officer in the diocese of Southwark, before taking up her current role as Archdeacon of Wiltshire in the diocese of Salisbury in 2013. She has been Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen since 2009.

Mrs Worsley is married to Howard, Vice-Principal of Trinity College, Bristol. They have three adult sons, Nathanael, Jonathan and Ben and a very new daughter-in-law, Danielle. Ruth’s interests include walking and sailing (though she doesn’t like getting wet!), reading novels, playing the saxophone badly and singing, a little better.

Bath & Wells diocesan website Archdeacon Ruth Worsley announced as next Bishop of Taunton
Salisbury diocesan website Wilts Archdeacon to be New Bishop of Taunton

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 30 June 2015 at 10:28am BST
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Categorised as: Church of England

Saturday, 27 June 2015

opinion

Ian Paul asks What did Jesus look like?

The Patriarch of Constantinople and the Archbishop of Canterbury New York Times Climate Change and Moral Responsibility

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 27 June 2015 at 11:40am BST
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Friday, 26 June 2015

GAFCON criticism of Scotland, USA, and England

Two recent releases from GAFCON:

A news report of the recent meeting in Northern Ireland: GAFCON: A moment and a movement says that former Sydney archbishop Peter Jensen, GAFCON general secretary, spoke about recent developments in Scotland and the USA:

…“In the last few days, two Anglican Provinces have spoken words of choice. In Scotland, the General Synod of the Episcopal Church has chosen to omit the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman from its canons, thus signalling an acceptance of so-called gay marriage. It is a choice to rewrite the Bible and so the Christian faith. In Ireland, the House of Bishops, following the referendum, has endorsed once more the teaching of the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman for life. The contrast is stark.” he said.

“Of course there are those who argue that the two positions can be held in tension in a denomination with mutual respect, recognising that sincere people will differ over the interpretation of the Bible. But let me offer a very serious warning: the cost of taking such a position is unacceptably high. It is to say that the Biblical testimony is so unclear that it can be read in several ways, whereas in fact the Biblical position is crystal clear. When the testimony of the bible is rendered so murky, the authority of the Bible is fatally compromised. The middle position is a vote for an unacceptable compromise…”

The June Pastoral Letter from the GAFCON Chairman, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya, includes comment on an event in the Church of England:

In contrast, there are too many examples in the Church of weakness in the face of the subtle challenges of cultural and financial pressure. In Africa we are still too dependent in our thinking on outside agencies. This makes us vulnerable to relationships designed to buy influence and damages the integrity of our witness, while in the more economically developed world there is too often a fear of being out of step with secular culture. In this context I cannot avoid mentioning a very disturbing event in England. On Saturday 20th June, a Canon of York Minster blessed a ‘Gay Pride’ march of homosexual activists from the Minster steps, causing a senior clergyman in the Diocese of York to say “York Minster’s leading the way in the Gay Pride march is symbolic of what the Church of England’s leadership is doing generally on this issue – leading people away from the clear teaching of the Bible and the Gospel.”

Houston McKelvey, the former Dean of Belfast, had written about the Northern Ireland meeting before it happened, see Comment - An unhelpful and unnecessary forthcoming event.

The English event mentioned in the second link above was reported here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 26 June 2015 at 1:01pm BST
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Archbishop of Canterbury responds to Church of Nigeria

In April, we reported the appointment of a new Secretary-General at the Anglican Communion Office. See here, here, here, and also here.

On 30 April the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) published a letter concerning this appointment.

…The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) as a Province is a founding member of GAFCON/FCA, and subscribed to The Jerusalem Declaration, 2008. The Most Rev’d Josiah Idowu-Fearon’s statement: ‘I have never supported the law in Nigeria that criminalizes the gay community and I will never support it,’ clearly indicates that he is not in accord with the theological and doctrinal posture of the Church of Nigeria. His acceptance of the post of ACC General Secretary neither received the approval of the Church of Nigeria, nor does it in any way affect the Church of Nigeria’s theological posture on the issues of homosexuality and gay movement. Thus, the Most Rev’d Josiah Idowu-Fearon represents himself at the ACC, and not the Church of Nigeria.

He has taken an early retirement from his Episcopal responsibilities in the Church of Nigeria with effect from 01 July 2015. We wish him every blessing.

The ACC, the general public and the International Community of the Religious should please note the stand of the Church of Nigeria on the Most Rev’d Idowu-Fearon’s personal acceptance to serve as ACC General Secretary.

Today, the Archbishop of Canterbury has published this Response to the Church of Nigeria on Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon [emphasis added]

…The Archbishop of Canterbury’s attention has been drawn to a statement forwarded to him from the Office of the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, on the above subject. This statement was first posted on the Church of Nigeria website April 30, 2015.

The appointment of the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) is made by the Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) with the approval of the President of the Standing Committee, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

It is an individual appointment which follows a due process of advertising, short listing and interviews. In the advertising process emphasis was placed on giving it the widest possible publicity. For instance, in addition to putting it on the ACO website and the Church Times, the advertisement was sent to all Primates and Provincial Secretaries to encourage their members and others to apply. The latter was done to reach all parts of the Communion.

Thirty-one applications were received, spread through all continents, and included candidates from varied disciplines and backgrounds. Five Bishops from around the Anglican Communion applied. The interview panel was an international mix of laity and clergy, including a Primate. The role of the Archbishop of Canterbury is by regulation limited to approving the name put forward by the panel. In support of this he met with each of the shortlisted candidates.

Archbishop Justin Welby said: “I am delighted that the Most Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon emerged as the clear appointee from this transparent process. This highly competitive process has produced a Secretary General who is an eminent scholar with an international track record of reconciling people, especially of different faiths. It is very good news that he comes from the largest and one of the most vigorous Provinces of the Communion.”

Archbishop Fearon’s view on the criminalisation of people of same gender attraction is fully in line with Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 26 June 2015 at 12:27pm BST
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Monday, 22 June 2015

Archbishop of York responds to statements by Hull vicar

This evening the Archbishop of York issued this statement.

Clergy of the Diocese are entitled to express varying views on the question of human sexuality. That is the nature of the Church of England. How those views are expressed is central to how we are heard as Church. Our first call is to love God and one another.

The principles established in recent Church of England and Anglican Communion statements on these matters are clear: alongside a reaffirmation of traditional Christian understanding of human sexuality, orientation, and behaviour, whatever one’s personal views, there is a Christian duty to offer pastoral care and friendship to all people…

The full text is reproduced below the fold.

Although not mentioned in the statement, it is clear that this is the archbishop’s response to some remarks made by a priest of the York diocese in a radio interview, and then reported in the national press recently, see here:

Minster FM LISTEN: Anger at Vicar’s Comments about York Pride and Paedophiles

Guardian Vicar likens homosexuality to paedophilia and adultery

Telegraph Vicar likens homosexuality to paedophilia

Hull Daily Mail Hull vicar Melvin Tinker compares homosexuality to paedophilia and adultery

BBC Hull vicar attacks York Gay Pride march blessing

Independent Hull vicar compares homosexuality to paedophilia

Express Vicar slammed for comparing homosexuality to paedophilia after criticising senior clergyman who blessed Pride march

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Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 22 June 2015 at 11:15pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England

Saturday, 20 June 2015

opinion

Giles Fraser The Guardian Pope Francis is a bit like Naomi Klein in a cassock

Margaret Pritchard Houston The body of Christ, given for you

Ian Meredith Church Times How to regain funerals from civil celebrants

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 20 June 2015 at 11:00am BST
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Friday, 19 June 2015

July General Synod - online papers

Updated to include second circulation papers

Papers in the first circulation for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 10-13 July are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

I have also included the papers that I expect to see in the second circulation, due in a week’s time. I will add links to these papers when they become available.

zip file of all first circulation papers
zip file of second circulation papers
zip file of all papers
[Note: The zip files do not contain the Church Commissioners’ Annual Report and the Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report.]

GS 1928A and GS 1928C - Diocesan Synod Motion: Nature and Structure of the Church of England [Sunday]

GS 1952B - Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure [Saturday]
GS 1953B - Draft Amending Canon No.34 [Saturday]
GS 1952-3Z - Report by the Steering Committee [Saturday]
GS 1953C - Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Saturday]

GS 1958B - Christian Initiation: Additional Text for Holy Baptism in Accessible Language [Sunday]
GS 1958X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1964D - Amending Canon No.35 [Friday]

GS 1969A - Draft Diocesan Stipends Funds (Amendment) Measure [Saturday]

GS 1986A - The Church: Towards a Common Vision [Saturday]
[The Church: Towards a Common Vision is online here.]

GS 1987 - Agenda

GS 1988 - Report by the Business Committee [Friday]

GS 1989 - Appointments to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]

GS 1990 - Appointment of the Secretary General [Friday]

GS 1991 - Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Friday]

GS 1992 - Administration of Holy Communion Regulations [Friday]
GS 1992X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1993 - Draft Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1993X - Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1994 - Draft Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Directions 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1994X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1995 - Faculty Jusisdiction Rules 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1995X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1996 - Draft Ecclesiastical Property Order 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1996X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1997 - Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1997X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1998 - Single Transferable Vote (Amendment) Regulations 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1998X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1999A and GS 1999B - Private Members’ Motion: Senior Leadership [Saturday]

GS 2000 - Consolidated Texts of the Standing Order [Friday]

GS 2001 - Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report [Saturday]

GS 2002 - The Archbishops’ Council Budget and Proposals for Apportionment for 2016 [Monday]

GS 2003 - Combatting Climate Change: The Paris Summit and the Mission of the Church [Monday]

GS 2004 - Climate Change and Investment Policy [Monday]

Other papers

Church Commissioners Annual Report and Accounts 2014 [Saturday]

GS Misc 1104 - Liturgical Commission End of Quinquennium Report
GS Misc 1105 - Evangelism Task Group Update
GS Misc 1106 - Report of the Clergy Discipline Commission
GS Misc 1107 - EIAG Annual Report
GS Misc 1109 - National Society: Development of Teaching and Educational Leadership Partnerships [item 24]
GS Misc 1110 - Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the National Investing Bodies [item 6]
GS Misc 1111 - Summary of Decisions Done (2010 - 2015)
GS Misc 1112 - Audit Committee Annual Report
GS Misc 1113 - Birmingham Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
GS Misc 1114 - Oxford Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
GS Misc 1115 - Update on Activities of the Archbishops’ Council
GS Misc 1116 - Reform and Renewal update
GS Misc 1117 - Changing the Culture report from the BC
GS Misc 1118 - Joint Covenant and Monitoring Group
GS Misc 1119 - Membership of Boards, Councils and Committees
GS Misc 1120 - Summary of Decisions from the House of Bishops
GS Misc 1121 - Appointment of the Synod Chaplain

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 19 June 2015 at 3:03pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

General Synod agenda published

Updated

The final agenda and the papers for next month’s four day meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England are published today, along with this press release summarising the agenda. I will publish a list of online papers later today.

Agenda for July 2015 group of sessions of the General Synod
19 June 2015

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in York in July for a five [sic] day meeting from 3.00 pm on Friday 10th July until 6.00 pm on Monday 13th July. This will be the final meeting of the current Synod before the elections for the new General Synod which will take place over the summer and early autumn.

The Agenda for the July meeting is published today. As this Synodical term draws to a close, there will be a substantial amount of legislative business which will need to be concluded before the current Synod is dissolved. There will be a series of items of Environmental Business focusing on the forthcoming Paris Summit and the investment policies of the Church Commissioners and other church investment bodies. There will also be a number of opportunities, both in formal business and fringe meetings for Synod members to engage further with the reform and renewal programme, which was debated at length during the Synod in July and is currently the subject of widespread consultation around the church.

On the afternoon of Friday 10 July, there will be a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York. There will also be a presentation followed by a Question and Answer session from the Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the National Investment Bodies.

On Saturday 11 July there will be a sequence of legislative business, including the Final Approval of the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and the associated Amending Canon No.34, which will strengthen the Church’s legal framework in relation to safeguarding and make its disciplinary processes more effective where safeguarding issues arise. Changes will include making it easier to suspend clergy, or bring complaints against them, where abuse is alleged, enabling bishops to compel clergy to undergo risk assessments and imposing a duty on clergy, churchwardens and PCCs to have due regard to the House of Bishops’ safeguarding policies.

In addition to the items of legislative business already mentioned, the Synod will be considering new Faculty Jurisdiction Rules, an order giving PCCs greater freedom to dispose of property without the need for diocesan consent an amendment to the Clergy Terms of Service Regulations arising out of one of the recommendations of the Simplification Task Group, new regulations to allow the administration of Holy Communion by children.

On the Saturday afternoon, the Synod will be debating a Private Member’s Motion on Senior Leadership arising out of the recent Faith and Order Commission publication on this topic. The Synod will also be responding formally to a report by the World Council of Churches entitled The Church: Towards a Common Vision.

On Sunday 12 July the Synod will be debating the proposed Additional Texts for Holy Baptism in Accessible Language. There will be a debate on a Diocesan Synod Motion from the former Diocese of Wakefield (now part of the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales) on the Nature and Structure of the Church of England. This will be followed by a presentation from the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) on progress made over the last four years in encouraging MEA participation in the work and ministry of the Church.

The final day of Synod in this Synodical period will be devoted to two motions on environmental issues. The first looks ahead to the Paris Summit and the Church’s response to it. The second concerns the new investment policy unveiled by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group.

Synod will conclude this current term with a service of Holy Communion. The new Synod will reconvene for its inaugural meeting after the elections on 24 November.

The full agenda can be viewed online here.

Update

Madeleine Davies of Church Times was at today’s press briefing: Environment is top of General Synod agenda in York.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 19 June 2015 at 12:31pm BST
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Thursday, 18 June 2015

Nottingham Tribunal: Judge calls it a "busted flush"

Updated again Sunday

This case continues to yield amazing quotations.

Two more reports just in:

Nottingham Post Bishop made ‘personal decision’ to deny license to Nottinghamshire priest in same-sex marriage

…When pressed on what damage Canon Pemberton’s appointment would have caused, Rev Inwood said: “There would be no harm to the trust in granting the license and no harm to the church.”

Employment Judge Peter Britton said the bishop’s decision highlighted an “innate conundrum” for the church and questioned how something that is not harmful to the church can be so fundamental to the doctrine as to cause the license to be denied.

He said: “This is a busted flush isn’t it?”

In response Rev Inwood said: “I think put like that I would agree with you Sir.”

Press Association via the Guardian Recruiting married gay priest would not have harmed church, bishop admits

…Inwood was asked by Sean Jones QC, acting for Pemberton, what harm he thought it would do the Church of England to have granted a licence to allow the 59-year-old to be appointed as chaplain. “We know that Canon Pemberton wanted to join. In your view he was perfectly capable, you had no reason to believe he wasn’t. He was the trust’s preferred candidate, and that when you refused the licence, at very least, the man responsible for making recommendations to the trust was anxious to get you to think again. We know the House of Bishops guidance did not require you not to grant. And you say you took the decision. What was it you feared would happen?
What harm would arise if you gave Canon Pemberton the licence?”

Inwood replied: “It is not a matter of danger but by my own oath of honour and obedience, under authority, to maintain the doctrine of the church.
It’s my own personal decision.”

Jones asked: “You weren’t anticipating any harm, whether to him, to you, or the trust? The bishop replied: “Certainly no harm to the trust or the church.”

The tribunal judge, Peter Britton, picking up on this answer, suggested it left him with a conundrum. He asked the bishop: “If it would be no harm to the church, and the doctrine is about protecting the beliefs of the church, then haven’t you got an innate conundrum? If it so fundamental to the doctrine, thus the breach would cause harm. But if you think it is of no harm to the church surely that means the reliance on this being fundamentally doctrinal, as to otherwise bring down harm on the church, is a busted flush isn’t it?

Inwood agreed but later added that he would have felt granting the licence would have been incompatible with guidance issued by the Church of England’s bishops in March 2014…

Update

Ian Paul has this further analysis: Is wrong doctrine harmful?

The Church Times carries this report in its online edition: Same-sex marriage ‘certainly irregular’, Inwood tells tribunal

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 3:55pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Faith leaders declaration on climate change

Faith leaders in the UK, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, issued a declaration on climate change late on Tuesday.

Archbishop of Canterbury join faith leaders in call for urgent action to tackle climate change
16 June 2015

Faith leaders in Britain have pledged to fast and pray for the success of key international negotiations over climate change in a new declaration warning of the “huge challenge” facing the world over global warming.

Representatives of the major faiths including the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said climate change has already hit the poorest of the world hardest and urgent action is needed now to protect future generations.

In the newly-launched Lambeth Declaration, signatories call on faith communities to recognise the pressing need to make the transition to a low carbon economy…

The text of the declaration is copied below the fold.

The declaration was launched at a service in St Margaret’s, Westminster, yesterday. Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury, preached this sermon.

There was also a mass climate change lobby outside parliament.

Emma Howard The Guardian Thousands join mass climate change lobby outside UK parliament
Adam Vaughan The Guardian Thousands gather in London to lobby their MPs over climate change – as it happened
Jo Siedlecka Independent Catholic News Thousands lobby Parliament for action on climate change

Comment includes:

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change
David Atkinson Fulcrum Climate change and the churches

Today Pope Francis has issued an encyclical letter: Laudato Si’ on care of our common home. The Church of England has welcomed the Pope’s encyclical.

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Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 11:24am BST
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Categorised as: Church of England | News

Paul Slater to be Bishop of Richmond

Press release from Number 10.

Suffragan See of Richmond: Paul Slater

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 18 June 2015

The Venerable Paul Slater is appointed as Her Majesty’s [sic] Suffragan See of Richmond for the diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Paul Slater, Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven in the newly created diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales, to the Suffragan See of Richmond also in the newly created diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Paul Slater studied at Corpus Christi, Oxford and trained for the Ordained Ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham. He was ordained Deacon in 1984 and served his title in the diocese of Bradford. He became Priest-in-Charge of Cullingworth in 1988, before taking on the role of Chaplain to the Bishop of Bradford n 1993. Paul Slater returned to parish ministry to serve as Rector of Haworth in 1995, before being appointed as Bishop’s Officer for Ministry and Mission in the Diocese of Bradford in 2001. He took up the role of Archdeacon of Craven in 2005, where he served until taking up the role of Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven in the newly created Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales in 2014.

He is married to Beverley, a manager in the NHS leading service improvement, and they have two grown up sons. His interests include tennis, cricket, cooking and workplace mediation.

Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds, has written about the appointment.

A new Bishop of Richmond

It has been announced this morning that the Venerable Paul Slater, currently Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven, is to be the Bishop of Richmond in the Diocese of Leeds (West Yorkshire and the Dales).

Paul has served his entire ministry in West Yorkshire, knows the territory better than anyone, and has walked (at some cost) the journey of transition from three historic dioceses into the one we now have.

Why Richmond? Well, we argued throughout the process for creating the new diocese that the diocesan bishop should not have responsibility for creating and running an episcopal area (of which we have five). We lost the argument. However, the experience of the last year has proved us right. The quickest and easiest way to add capacity was to revive the dormant See of Richmond and appoint a suffragan bishop to it. However, based in Leeds, the new bishop will essentially cover the Leeds Episcopal Area, setting me free (as diocesan bishop) to attend in more detail to the diocesan creation and transformation.

Paul will hit the ground running – a key criterion for this post. He will need no induction into the diocese, the journey we are on, the challenges we face, or the structures we are creating/transitioning.

For the record, I looked at four people: two women and two men. Paul was unanimously approved by the advisory group that interviewed him. I am delighted with his appointment and look forward to what lies ahead.

The diocesan website has Archdeacon Paul Slater to be new Bishop of Richmond. This notes that “Paul Slater will be consecrated as Bishop of Richmond at Ripon Cathedral on Sunday 19 July at 4pm.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 10:39am BST
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Categorised as: Church of England

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Reactions to Bishop Richard Inwood's criticism of same-sex marriage

Updated 9 pm

The Nottingham tribunal took a new, and nasty turn, today, when Bishop Richard Inwood reportedly expressed his opinion that same-sex marriages were “sinful” and “unwholesome”.

This immediately provoked a very strong reaction in social media, and both Changing Attitude and LGCM have published responses to it:

  • LGCM Tracey Byrne Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement comments on damaging comments from Bishop Richard Inwood in Canon Jeremy Pemberton tribunal

Tracey Byrne, Chief Executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) commented:

“As the Tribunal deciding the fate of Canon Jeremy Pemberton continues, we, as Christians and members of the LGBTI community, would like to express our undivided support to Jeremy. This support goes alongside our absolute disgust at the comments made today by Bishop Richard Inwood. No life-long, faithful, stable relationship – be it gay or straight – should be described in these terms. It’s not fair, not right and not Christian. Today’s comments from the Bishop, in which he described same-sex marriage as sinful and unwholesome, are harmful for the Church of England and its relationship with the LGBTI community. We believe an urgent response to these comments is needed from the Archbishops.”

Curiously, this happened just before the Church of England website published this Statement on Nottingham Employment Tribunal.

Statement on Nottingham Employment Tribunal
17 June 2015
“The Church of England supports gay men and women who serve as clergy in its parishes, dioceses and institutions. Jeremy Pemberton is one of many who currently serve and receive that support. The Church has no truck with homophobia and supports clergy who are in civil partnerships.

The Church of England’s doctrine on marriage is clear. The Church quite reasonably expects its clergy to honour their commitment to model and live up to the teachings of the Church. Clergy do not have the option of treating the teachings of the church as an a la carte menu and only modelling those with which they personally agree.

The Church is currently involved in a process of shared conversations about a range of issues on sexuality in regions across the country. It is regrettable that this case risks undermining that process by invoking legislation which does not even apply to this situation.”

Update

The Communications Unit at Church House Westminster has now issued this partial unofficial record of today’s hearing. Worth reading all the way through. And now copied in full below the fold.

There are two media reports:

Nottingham Post Former bishop prayed for priest after revoking his licence due to same sex marriage

Press Association via the Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury ‘passed the buck over gay priest’s wedding’

And now also
Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury urged clerics to stick to ‘line’ over rebel priest’s gay wedding

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Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 17 June 2015 at 6:54pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation