Posted by Kendall Harmon

The congregation of a Hamilton church divided by a denominational debate on the proposed blessings of same sex relationships spent yesterday's services in separate buildings praying for one another.

Around 100 members of West Hamilton Anglican Parish left the Rifle Range Road church last week under the Rev Michael Hewat and his wife Kimberley Hewat's leadership. The departure came following months of discussion of a controversial motion passed in May by the General Synod of the Anglican Church in New Zealand and Polynesia.

The motion aimed to establish a working group to recommended a process and structure which included a "yet-to-be-developed liturgy for blessing right ordered same-gender relationships".

The Hewats, supported by 95 per cent of the congregation who attended a special meeting this month, opposed the motion on the grounds that it was contrary to the teachings of the Bible.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and PolynesiaSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 27, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An NHS chaplain, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who in April became the first Church of England priest to marry a same-sex partner, is unable to take up a new post because his bishop is refusing him a licence.

Canon Pemberton is Deputy Senior Chaplain and Deputy Bereavement and Voluntary Services Manager in the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. He married Laurence Cunnington in April (News, 17 April), in defiance of House of Bishops pastoral guidance, issued in February.

He received an informal rebuke from the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, but kept his general preacher's licence in the diocese. His NHS post at the trust is also unaffected.

The Acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, however, the diocese in which Canon Pemberton lives, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, withdrew his permission to officiate

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 11, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The church, now led by the Most Rev Justin Welby, continues to oppose gay marriage and requires its gay clergy to refrain from sexual relations.

In an updated version of his biography, Rowan’s Rule, to be released next week, Lord Williams is asked by the author Rupert Shortt whether the church’s current position needs to change. He replies: “Let me just say that I think the present situation doesn’t look very sustainable. I’m afraid it’s just a very unstable settlement at present.”

He also says: “The difficulty of the last few years, I think, has been some bits of the Anglican Communion really seemed to move back on this. The rhetoric of anti-gay violence is actually worse in some contexts than it was ten years ago.”

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan WilliamsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Culture-WatchBooksGlobalizationReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 10, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two years after the Episcopal Church opened the door to same-sex blessings, a local advisory board is urging Bishop Steven A. Miller to allow their use in the Diocese of Milwaukee, saying a majority of area parishes favor allowing them.

Miller said last week that he is reviewing the recommendation of his Standing Committee and will respond later this summer. But he reiterated his reservations, saying the blessing falls short of a marriage rite and as such treats same-sex couples inequitably in the eyes of the church.

"My concern about the rite is that it looks like marriage but says it's not," said Miller, who has voiced support for same-sex civil marriages.

"A blessing still keeps gay and lesbian people in a second-tier status," Miller said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 9, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 9, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A bishop granted permission Tuesday for priests to bless committed relationships of same-sex couples in the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, a spokesperson said.

The Right Rev. Charles G. vonRosenburg authorized the use of "The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant," giving permission to priests to respond to couples who are in committed relationships, including those who have been married in states where same-sex marriage is allowed, according to Holly Behre, Director of Communications for the Episcopal Church of South Carolina.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* South Carolina

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Posted July 8, 2014 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While we remain in a provisional time when our canons have not fully caught up to what I believe is an intersection of the movement of the spirit and the understanding of the people, it seems that now is the time to remove any distinction between same-sex marriage and other marriages.

From this date forward, please simply follow the canonical requirements for marriage regardless of the gender of the couple.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC Polity & CanonsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships

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Posted July 2, 2014 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has today published the next steps in its process for shared conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.

A short paper from the Bishop of Sheffield outlines the next steps for the Church following the publication of the Pilling report in November 2013 which recommended that the church's internal dialogue on human sexuality might be best addressed through a process of conversations across the Church.

Read it all and follow the link to the full document.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2014 at 4:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Michael Carreker was rector of Saint John's, Savannah Georgia at the time this was written--KSH).

The workings of God’s good providence are never failing and always glorious, but none more so than the events of these last two weeks. This past weekend we hosted a conference of the Georgia Chapter of the American Anglican Council, followed by the southeastern convocation of the Anglican Communion Network, and this coming weekend is the dedication of our newly refurbished building for Christian education, Cranmer Hall.

In the first instance, it was a joy to sponsor these conferences along with Christ Church. An enormous amount of good will was shared between our parishes: extensive preparation and flawless execution. Mostly responsible for this were Patti Victor of St. John’s and Carol Rodgers Smith of Christ Church. While significant differences distinguish our churches - in a very inadequate way we might refer to us as Anglo-Catholic and to them as Evangelical - we stand together now in solidarity with those who claim the essentials of what it means to be within the Anglican Communion and the Church Catholic.

All of this might not have been possible for our churches, if by God’s good providence, Dr. [Marcus] Robertson [of Christ Church, Savannah at the time] and I had not shared in a theological seminar for a year before the chaos of General Convention 2003. That seminar, as does all proper theological thinking, helped to establish trust, charity, and mutual joy.

The meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the American Anglican Council was very encouraging. There were a number of parishes represented from the Diocese of Georgia, and a few from the Diocese of Atlanta, as well as some from outside Georgia. We also heard from a young, courageous priest (an old friend from North Fulton High School in Atlanta), Dr. Foley Beach. His story of the gradual decline in the Diocese of Atlanta away from the Catholic faith was sobering indeed. But the story of how his faithful parish has come under the pastoral oversight of an orthodox bishop, the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyon of the Diocese of Bolivia, was inspiring and hopeful.

On Monday, at the meeting of the Anglican Communion Network, Dr. Beach’s story was put in a much broader context when the Rt. Rev. Alex Dickson, retired bishop of West Tennessee, recalled for us the history of the past forty years and the gradual doctrinal decline of the Episcopal Church, something we have all come to recognize has come full force with ECUSA’s action in New Hampshire.

But what was most gratifying to me was the evidence of providence again, when we had the Rev’d Canon Michael Green, Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, preach for us

at Evensong. Lynne and I attended St. Aldate’s Church at Oxford in the late seventies when Canon Green was the rector there. It was the time of Professor Maurice Wiles and the infamous publication of his The Myth of God Incarnate, to which, in a miraculous six weeks, a volume was published refuting Wiles’ book, entitled The Truth of God Incarnate, edited by Michael Green. He was a defender of the faith then and he is now. His sermon and the most exquisite Evensong of the Choir was another glistening of our Lord’s providence.

The rest of the Anglican Communion Network meeting saw a resolve for us to embrace the recommendations of the Windsor Report. The ACN has as its primary goal to be an orthodox Christian fellowship which holds to the supremacy of Holy Scripture, the historic formularies of the Anglican Church, and is in communion with the worldwide Anglican Church.

As for this coming Sunday, we dedicate our newly refurbished Christian education building, Cranmer Hall. I believe this must be seen within the larger context of what St. John’s has been, is, and shall be.

Our church has been devoted first of all to the worship of Almighty God. It is wonderful when you hear, as I did the other night, people speaking of Bible studies and study groups in which they have discerned through the Bible and elsewhere that the first need that they have is the worship of God. That is why St. John’s has not given herself over entirely to practical concerns, but keeps the focus of worship primary.

Cranmer Hall represents now the commitment to educate ourselves and our children more completely in the orthodox Christen faith. Its Rose window is s symbol of what such teaching means.

At its center is the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, enveloped by the Triune God. From this center, the window moves outward through the symbols of the twelve Apostles to twelve saints and worthies who made a profound influence on the development of Anglican spirituality. It is our intention to live into that heritage more fully and to share and teach it as well.

But more is required. We as a parish must prepare ourselves for greater mission work than in the recent past. We sometimes forget that St. John’s was a mission of Christ Church, and that St. Paul’s (originally St. Matthew’s and later renamed) was a mission undertaken by St. John’s. It is time now for other mission churches to be founded and for greater cooperation with Anglican Churches throughout the wider Communion. The ministry of Elliott House is set and on its way with our fourth theological seminar coming up in January. But now it is important for us to reach out in other ways to establish Christian mission in the Anglican Way. That will not happen unless we live into the theme of the Rose Window, and cultivate our heritage as orthodox Anglican Christians with missionary fervor.

Finally, the work of the Building Committee has now come to a very happy end. We should all be grateful for the many gifts and hours of labor, a labor of love, that the members of the committee have offered to the Lord and to their Church. Our Senior Warden and I have asked George Fawcett to oversee the final interior details of the building, and Martha has graciously consented for him to do so. As George represents a long family history at St. John’s, this too is a remarkable testimony to the good providence of God. And so with our profound thanksgiving, Soli Deo Gloria.

(My emphasis--KSH)

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: GeorgiaTEC Departing ParishesTEC ParishesInstruments of UnitySexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessingsWindsor Report / Process* Theology

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Posted June 22, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A conversation on same-sex marriage drew 55 participants to Kansas City on June 3-5. The conversation’s participants represented only dioceses and provinces that make provisions for civil marriage for same-sex couples.

“We invited every diocese of the Episcopal Church in places where there is civil marriage for same-sex couples (as of 1/1/14) and every province of the Anglican Communion where there is civil marriage for same-sex couples in some part of the province to nominate participants,” Ruth Meyers, chair of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, told TLC via email. “We invited the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies, both of whom accepted. We invited representatives of our ecumenical partners, as determined in consultation with the Ecumenical Officer of The Episcopal Church.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 21, 2014 at 2:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SLCM) of The Episcopal Church recently held a two-and-a-half-day Indaba-style conversation on same-sex marriage June 3-5 at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, MO.

The conversation included leaders from across the Anglican Communion, ecumenical partners, and lay and clergy representatives from Episcopal dioceses where civil same-sex marriage is legal.

“The overwhelming feel of the entire gathering was one of openness, love, trust, and joy,” said Kathleen Moore, Diocese of Vermont. “Over the course of just three days, many participants who hailed from different states, countries, and denominations shared the profound closeness they now feel toward one another, and an intent to remain in touch.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship

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Posted June 19, 2014 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Throughout the book, Vines declares that he holds a "high view" of the Bible. From this perspective, he says, one can still affirm gay relationships. One of the main weaknesses of God and the Gay Christian is that Vines's methodology of biblical interpretation clashes with the high view of the Bible he claims to hold. A high view of Scripture is more than just talking about Scripture. It is learning from Scripture. Vines certainly talks about Scripture, but he tends to emphasize his experience and tangential background information, downplaying Scripture and its relevant literary and historical context.

Experiences do inform our interpretation of Scripture. As a racial minority, biblical texts on sojourners and aliens mean more to me than to someone who is not a racial minority. However, experiences can also hinder the interpretation of Scripture. Although it is impossible to completely distance the interpretive process from one's experiences, it is important to recognize our biases and do our best to minimize them. A high view of Scripture involves measuring our experience against the Bible, not the other way around.

It appears to me that Vines starts with the conclusion that God blesses same-sex relationships and then moves backwards to find evidence. This is not exegesis, but a classic example of eisegesis (reading our own biases into a text). Like Vines, I also came out as a gay man while I was a student. I was a graduate student pursuing a doctorate in dentistry. Unlike Vines, I was not raised in a Christian home. Interestingly, a chaplain gave me a book from a gay-affirming author, John Boswell, claiming that homosexuality is not a sin. Like Vines, I was looking for biblical justification and wanted to prove that the Bible blesses gay relationships. As I read Boswell's book, the Bible was open next to it, and his assertions did not line up with Scripture. Eventually, I realized that I was wrong—that same-sex romantic relationships are a sin. My years of biblical language study in Bible college and seminary, and doctoral research in sexuality, only strengthened this conclusion. No matter how hard I tried to find biblical justification and no matter whether my same-sex temptations went away or not, God's word did not change. Years later I found out that the gay-affirming chaplain also recognized his error.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchBooksMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 9, 2014 at 3:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Renewal in the Spirit

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost letter to the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion

1.

‘They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak’ (Acts 2.4). At Pentecost, we celebrate the gift God gives us of being able to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ in the various languages of the whole human world. The Gospel is not the property of any one group, any one culture or history, but is what God intends for the salvation of all who will listen and respond.

St Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit is also what God gives us so that we can call God ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom. 8.15, Gal. 4.6). The Spirit is given not only so that we can speak to the world about God but so that we can speak to God in the words of his own beloved Son. The Good News we share is not just a story about Jesus but the possibility of living in and through the life of Jesus and praying his prayer to the Father.

And so the Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of ‘communion’ or fellowship (II Cor. 13.13). The Spirit allows us to recognise each other as part of the Body of Christ because we can hear in each other the voice of Jesus praying to the Father. We know, in the Spirit, that we who are baptised into Jesus Christ share one life; so that all the diversity of gifting and service in the Church can be seen as the work of one Spirit (I Cor. 12.4). In the Holy Eucharist, this unity in and through the self-offering of Jesus is reaffirmed and renewed as we pray for the Spirit to transform both the bread and wine and ‘ourselves, our souls and bodies’.

When the Church is living by the Spirit, what the world will see is a community of people who joyfully and gratefully hear the prayer of Jesus being offered in each other’s words and lives, and are able to recognise the one Christ working through human diversity. And if the world sees this, the Church is a true sign of hope in a world of bitter conflict and rivalry.

2.

From the very first, as the New Testament makes plain, the Church has experienced division and internal hostilities. From the very first, the Church has had to repent of its failure to live fully in the light and truth of the Spirit. Jesus tells us in St John’s gospel that the Spirit of truth will ‘prove the world wrong’ in respect of sin and righteousness and judgement (Jn 16.8). But if the Spirit is leading us all further into the truth, the Spirit will convict the Church too of its wrongness and lead it into repentance. And if the Church is a community where we serve each other in the name of Christ, it is a community where we can and should call each other to repentance in the name of Christ and his Spirit – not to make the other feel inferior (because we all need to be called to repentance) but to remind them of the glory of Christ’s gift and the promise that we lose sight of when we fail in our common life as a Church.

Our Anglican fellowship continues to experience painful division, and the events of recent months have not brought us nearer to full reconciliation. There are still things being done that the representative bodies of the Communion have repeatedly pleaded should not be done; and this leads to recrimination, confusion and bitterness all round. It is clear that the official bodies of The Episcopal Church have felt in conscience that they cannot go along with what has been asked of them by others, and the consecration of Canon Mary Glasspool on May 15 has been a clear sign of this. And despite attempts to clarify the situation, activity across provincial boundaries still continues – equally dictated by what people have felt they must in conscience do. Some provinces have within them dioceses that are committed to policies that neither the province as a whole nor the Communion has sanctioned. In several places, not only in North America, Anglicans have not hesitated to involve the law courts in settling disputes, often at great expense and at the cost of the Church’s good name.

All are agreed that the disputes arising around these matters threaten to distract us from our main calling as Christ’s Church. The recent Global South encounter in Singapore articulated a strong and welcome plea for the priority of mission in the Communion; and in my own message to that meeting I prayed for a ‘new Pentecost’ for all of us. This is a good season of the year to pray earnestly for renewal in the Spirit, so that we may indeed do what God asks of us and let all people know that new and forgiven life in Christ is possible and that created men and women may by the Spirit’s power be given the amazing liberty to call God ‘Abba, Father!’

It is my own passionate hope that our discussion of the Anglican Covenant in its entirety will help us focus on that priority; the Covenant is nothing if not a tool for mission. I want to stress yet again that the Covenant is not envisaged as an instrument of control. And this is perhaps a good place to clarify that the place given in the final text to the Standing Committee of the Communion introduces no novelty: the Committee is identical to the former Joint Standing Committee, fully answerable in all matters to the ACC and the Primates; nor is there any intention to prevent the Primates in the group from meeting separately. The reference to the Standing Committee reflected widespread unease about leaving certain processes only to the ACC or only to the Primates.

But we are constantly reminded that the priorities of mission are experienced differently in different places, and that trying to communicate the Gospel in the diverse tongues of human beings can itself lead to misunderstandings and failures of communication between Christians. The sobering truth is that often our attempts to share the Gospel effectively in our own setting can create problems for those in other settings.

3.

We are at a point in our common life where broken communications and fragile relationships have created a very mistrustful climate. This is not news. But many have a sense that the current risks are greater than ever. Although attitudes to human sexuality have been the presenting cause, I want to underline the fact that what has precipitated the current problem is not simply this issue but the widespread bewilderment and often hurt in different quarters that we have no way of making decisions together so that we are not compromised or undermined by what others are doing. We have not, in other words, found a way of shaping our consciences and convictions as a worldwide body. We have not fully received the Pentecostal gift of mutual understanding for common mission.

It may be said – quite understandably, in one way – that our societies and their assumptions are so diverse that we shall never be able to do this. Yet we are called to seek for mutual harmony and common purpose, and not to lose heart. If the truth of Christ is indeed ultimately one as we all believe, there should be a path of mutual respect and thankfulness that will hold us in union and help us grow in that truth.

Yet at the moment we face a dilemma. To maintain outward unity at a formal level while we are convinced that the divisions are not only deep but damaging to our local mission is not a good thing. Neither is it a good thing to break away from each other so dramatically that we no longer see Christ in each other and risk trying to create a church of the ‘perfect’ – people like us. It is significant that there are still very many in The Episcopal Church, bishops, clergy and faithful, who want to be aligned with the Communion’s general commitments and directions, such as those who identify as ‘Communion Partners’, who disagree strongly with recent decisions, yet want to remain in visible fellowship within TEC so far as they can. And, as has often been pointed out, there are things that Anglicans across the world need and want to do together for the care of God’s poor and vulnerable that can and do go on even when division over doctrine or discipline is sharp.

4.

More and more, Anglicans are aware of living through a time of substantial transition, a time when the structures that have served us need reviewing and refreshing, perhaps radical changing, when the voice and witness in the Communion of Christians from the developing world is more articulate and creative than ever, and when the rapidity of social change in ‘developed’ nations leaves even some of the most faithful and traditional Christian communities uncertain where to draw the boundaries in controversial matters – not only sexuality but issues of bioethics, for example, or the complexities of morality in the financial world.

A time of transition, by definition, does not allow quick solutions to such questions, and it is a time when, ideally, we need more than ever to stay in conversation. As I have said many times before, whatever happens to our structures, we still need to preserve both working relationships and places for exchange and discussion. New vehicles for conversations across these boundaries are being developed with much energy.

But some decisions cannot be avoided. We began by thinking about Pentecost and the diverse peoples of the earth finding a common voice, recognising that each was speaking a truth recognised by all. However, when some part of that fellowship speaks in ways that others find hard to recognise, and that point in a significantly different direction from what others are saying, we cannot pretend there is no problem.

And when a province through its formal decision-making bodies or its House of Bishops as a body declines to accept requests or advice from the consultative organs of the Communion, it is very hard (as noted in my letter to the Communion last year after the General Convention of TEC) to see how members of that province can be placed in positions where they are required to represent the Communion as a whole. This affects both our ecumenical dialogues, where our partners (as they often say to us) need to know who it is they are talking to, and our internal faith-and-order related groups.

I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces – provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged. I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on IASCUFO should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members. This is simply to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as the acceptable limits of diversity in its practice. It does not alter what has been said earlier by the Primates’ Meeting about the nature of the moratoria: the request for restraint does not necessarily imply that the issues involved are of equal weight but recognises that they are ‘central factors placing strains on our common life’, in the words of the Primates in 2007. Particular provinces will be contacted about the outworking of this in the near future.

I am aware that other bodies have responsibilities in questions concerned with faith and order, notably the Primates’ Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Standing Committee. The latter two are governed by constitutional provisions which cannot be overturned by any one person’s decision alone, and there will have to be further consultation as to how they are affected. I shall be inviting the views of all members of the Primates’ Meeting on the handling of these matters with a view to the agenda of the next scheduled meeting in January 2011.

5.

In our dealings with other Christian communions, we do not seek to deny our diversity; but there is an obvious problem in putting forward representatives of the Communion who are consciously at odds with what the Communion has formally requested or stipulated. This does not seem fair to them or to our partners. In our dealings with each other, we need to be clear that conscientious decisions may be taken in good faith, even for what are held to be good theological or missional reasons, and yet have a cost when they move away from what is recognisable and acceptable within the Communion. Thus – to take a very different kind of example – there have been and there are Anglicans who have a strong conscientious objection to infant baptism. Their views deserve attention, respect and careful study, they should be engaged in serious dialogue – but it would be eccentric to place such people in a position where their view was implicitly acknowledged as one of a range of equally acceptable convictions, all of which could be taken as representatively Anglican.

Yet no-one should be celebrating such public recognition of divisions and everyone should be reflecting on how to rebuild relations and to move towards a more coherent Anglican identity (which does not mean an Anglican identity with no diversity, a point once again well made by the statement from the Singapore meeting). Some complain that we are condemned to endless meetings that achieve nothing. I believe that in fact we have too few meetings that allow proper mutual exploration. It may well be that such encounters need to take place in a completely different atmosphere from the official meetings of the Communion’s representative bodies, and this needs some imaginative thought and planning. Much work is already going into making this more possible.

But if we do conclude that some public marks of ‘distance’, as the Windsor Continuation Group put it, are unavoidable if our Communion bodies are not to be stripped of credibility and effectiveness, the least Christian thing we can do is to think that this absolves us from prayer and care for each other, or continuing efforts to make sense of each other.

We are praying for a new Pentecost for our Communion. That means above all a vast deepening of our capacity to receive the gift of being adopted sons and daughters of the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It means a deepened capacity to speak of Jesus Christ in the language of our context so that we are heard and the Gospel is made compelling and credible. And it also means a deepened capacity to love and nourish each other within Christ’s Body – especially to love and nourish, as well as to challenge, those whom Christ has given us as neighbours with whom we are in deep and painful dispute.

One remarkable symbol of promise for our Communion is the generous gift received by the Diocese of Jerusalem from His Majesty the King of Jordan, who has provided a site on the banks of the Jordan River, at the traditional site of Our Lord’s Baptism, for the construction of an Anglican church. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of blessing the foundation stone of this church and viewing the plans for its design. It will be a worthy witness at this historic site to the Anglican tradition, a sign of real hope for the long-suffering Christians of the region, and something around which the Communion should gather as a focus of common commitment in Christ and his Spirit. I hope that many in the Communion will give generous support to the project.

‘We have the mind of Christ’ says St Paul (I Cor. 2.16); and, as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has recently written, this means that we must have a ‘kenotic’, a self-emptying approach to each other in the Church. May the Spirit create this in us daily and lead us into that wholeness of truth which is only to be found in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus.

I wish you all God’s richest blessing at this season.

+Rowan Cantuar:
Lambeth Palace
Pentecost 2010



Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan WilliamsAnglican PrimatesAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Global South Churches & PrimatesInstruments of UnitySexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsPentecost* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 8, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...for me, a move to Rome is not about a revolution in my theology, and certainly not about a rejection of Anglicanism. It is about a very painful choice between two dilemmas:

On the one hand there is Anglicanism, an expression of faith that in the abstract - its doctrines and theology - is as nearly perfect as I believe man has ever succeeded in achieving, but which in practice has unraveled into a chaotic mess. There is of course the heresy and false teaching that infects all but a handful of Episcopal parishes in this diocese - including its bishop, its cathedral, its dean, almost all of its clergy, and a distressing number of the few laypeople who have made the effort to pay attention and learn what’s happening - but the promise of the orthodox Anglican movement outside of The Episcopal Church never materialized either. Populated as that movement is by many good people, it has the institutional feeling of something held together by duct tape and baling wire. It is beset by infighting and consecration fever, and in several of its highest leadership positions are people of atrocious judgement and character.

On the other hand there is Roman Catholicism, some of whose doctrines give me serious pause, but which in practice has shown itself to be steadfast in its opposition to the caprices of the world. Even the horrific pedophile priest scandal forces one to concede that Pope Benedict’s purging of the ranks, while not complete, was at the very least spirited, and based on a firm rejection of the “everything is good” sexual sickness that’s all but killed the Episcopal Church.

Read it all.

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56 Comments
Posted May 27, 2014 at 3:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My final comment in the interview on Radio Nottingham was that cases like Jeremy Pemberton’s are forcing the collapse of the two realities at a pace no-one is ready for—so I think all sides would prefer that such cases do not arise. But the immediate question for the House of Bishops now is: do their statements actually mean anything? I hope they do, for many reasons, and I cannot see that it is in anyone’s interests for the bishops to be told (possibly by lawyers) that they are powerless to enforce Canon Law.

Prayer needed for all sides…

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted May 17, 2014 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What does "recognise" mean?

Listen to it all (about 4 1/2 minutes). You may read more Philip Richardson there.

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Posted May 15, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Church has agreed to look at ways same-sex relationships can be part of church life, but will not marry gay couples.

The church's General Synod, held at Waitangi this week, has decided to uphold the "traditional doctrine of marriage" but work towards ways to recognise committed same sex relationships.

In a statement, the church said the Synod recognised the pain to the LGTB community, and apologised unreservedly for the times the church had contributed to that pain.

A working party will now be appointed to look at options for same gender blessings, while mindful gay marriage is still unlawful in some Pacific countries.

Read it all.

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Posted May 15, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1. This General Synod/Te Hīnota Whānui resolves to appoint a working group to bring and recommend to the 62nd General Synod/Te Hīnota Whānui:

(a) A process and structure by which those who believe the blessing of same-gender relationships is contrary to scripture, doctrine, tikanga or civil law, will not be required to perform any liturgy for the blessing of same-gender relationships, will continue to have integrity within the Church, and will remain compliant with the parliamentary legislation within any relevant jurisdiction;

(b) A process and structure by which those who believe the blessing of same-gender relationships is consonant with scripture, doctrine, tikanga and civil law may perform a yet to be developed liturgy for blessing same-gender relationships in a manner which maintains their integrity within the Church, is compliant with the parliamentary legislation within any relevant jurisdiction, and can remain in communion under scripture, doctrine and law; including

(i) A proposal for a new liturgy to bless right ordered same-gender relationships;

(ii) A process and legislation (whether church or parliamentary) by which a new liturgy to bless right ordered same-gender relationships may be adopted...
Read it all.

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45 Comments
Posted May 14, 2014 at 7:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

General Synod today passed a resolution that will create a pathway towards the blessing of same-gender relationships – while upholding the traditional doctrine of marriage.

It will appoint a working group to report to the 2016 General Synod on “a process and structure” that would allow those clergy who wish to bless same-gender relationships – using a yet-to-be developed liturgy – to do so.

The working group will also be charged to develop “a process and structure” to ensure that clergy who believe that same sex blessings are contrary to “scripture, doctrine, tikanga or civil law” to remain fully free to dissent.

The “process and structure” in their case would mean these clergy would not only be exempt from performing these same-sex blessings – but that their “integrity within the church” would be assured, and they would have full protection for their dissent in any relevant human rights legislation.

Synod has therefore upheld the traditional doctrine of marriage – but also moved to find ways to respond to committed relationships between two people, regardless of gender.

Read it all.

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4 Comments
Posted May 14, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The plan, going into this General Synod, was that half of Monday would be devoted to consideration of the Ma Whea? report – and that by afternoon tea time, a course of action would have emerged.

Instead, synod wrestled until its dinner break with the questions of same-sex blessing and ordination – and then asked its order paper committee to find a slot in today’s schedule to resume the debate.

Until that process has concluded, there’s not a lot more that can be said. Because after yesterday's first session, in which the Ma Whea? Commission itself described its work – all subsequent sessions have been in committee.

They've deliberated by diocese and hui amorangi, then by house – and after afternoon tea, by synod as a whole. Each session in committee, with no observers present.

This much is evident, though: the synod is being urged not to ‘kick the can further down the road’.

Read it all.

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0 Comments
Posted May 12, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jones has been dean of the historic downtown cathedral since July 2012. Trinity is the oldest Episcopal congregation in Columbia and the only cathedral in the diocese. As dean, Jones holds one of the most influential positions in the diocese.

Jones was among 11 clergy and lay people who served on the bishop’s task force, which was established by Waldo to address the blessing resolution passed by the 2012 General Convention of the U.S. Episcopal Church.

Jones’ decision on the matter was swift but not unexpected. The task force included conservatives and liberals and those in the middle, and after many months of dialogue, “I don’t think anyone’s opinion changed,” Waldo said in an interview Wednesday.

Read it all.

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5 Comments
Posted May 12, 2014 at 6:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As to my own prayerful reflection on this important issue, I do not believe that Scripture, Christian tradition, nor the Book of Common Prayer authorize me to bless same-sex relationships. I know well, from years of conversation and study, the arguments brought forward by those who advocate such a blessing, but I have not been persuaded. I am committed, as always, to the full welcome in our parish of all, regardless of sexual orientation. The church has, to my sadness, failed too often to do so.

While I will not authorize same-sex blessings at Trinity, I am committed to our having respectful conversations. Such discussion may not be always comfortable. It often requires sacrificial love. We will offer opportunities for
such conversation, using the curriculum developed by the task force for groups that will meet for six to eight weeks. That resource affirms that Scripture is our ultimate authority, and asks how we are to understand and apply
it in dialogue with tradition and with one another.

Read it all.

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3 Comments
Posted May 12, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The whole stands or falls, of course, on the definition of "love." If "love" means sexual arousal, well then, okey doke sport, I guess if you say so. Or if it means fondness, affection, attraction, or a hundred other emotional and even volitional states... well, how would we even have the discussion? If it's all about emotion, the "discussion" is really beside the point, isn't it? Feelings are thought...well, felt... to be self-validating. After all, you've got to follow your heart, right? And your heart is all about what you feel. Right?

Unless you start with the fear of God (Prov. 1:7) instead of the lordship of Ego. Then, everything changes.

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted May 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The leader of Midlands and Upstate Episcopalians told clergy Thursday he will permit congregations to perform blessings of same-sex couples, a decision reached after two years of intense theological discussions with pastors and parishioners.

The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, said no clergy would be required to perform the rite. He said he will support all 61 of his congregations whether they choose to carry out the blessing ritual or not.

Read it all from The State newspaper.

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0 Comments
Posted May 10, 2014 at 7:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In response to Resolution A049 from the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2012. I have decided that use of the provisional rite, “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” for the blessing of same-sex relationships approved in that resolution will be permitted in some congregations according to conditions provided in detail in the document “Process, Application and Policies” accompanying this reflection. Since that General Convention, I’ve openly discussed the outline of this decision in print and in congregational forums across the Diocese....

Read it all.

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15 Comments
Posted May 9, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the analysis above is accepted then the situation seems to be as follows. Those clergy who marry someone of the same sex believe they should live in accordance with canon C26 and that they are doing so and that their problem is simply with canon B30. However, the general category of “according to the doctrine of Christ” in C26 has within the canons one very clear specification – the definition of marriage in B30. This is the canon that, in a form of conscientious ecclesial disobedience, they are not only questioning and asking the church to reconsider but actively contradicting by their actions. I think this raises three key questions.

First, can the clergy concerned (and those supportive of them) recognise that given this situation they have a responsibility to seek an urgent change to canon B30?

A clergyperson’s decision to enter a same-sex marriage is, in effect, a demand that canon B30 be amended. The logic of their actions, whether consciously or not, is that they are attempting to bring about a change in that canon’s definition of marriage. At its weakest this would involve removing the claim of dominical authority for the definition of marriage (arguably allowing those who disregard it to put themselves on the same footing as those who disregard other canons). More likely it would entail a new definition or a removal of any definition of marriage.

What is interesting, and of concern, is that despite this being the logical implication of the actions there has, as far as I am aware, been no serious attempt to change the canon by due process and very little sustained theological critique or development of an alternative wording.

Read it all.


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1 Comments
Posted May 8, 2014 at 3:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Dean of York, the Very Rev Vivienne Faull, said the Church had a habit of waiting until something was “blindingly obvious” to the rest of society before it changed its own mind.

“The blessing of a gay relationship is not theologically a problem for me personally, but I’m under the discipline of the Church and I keep the rules,” she told Radio Times. She has never formally blessed a gay partnership but has found ways of meeting the need for celebration within the Church’s rules.

“When people have come to me in the past and said, ‘We’re looking for a way of celebrating our civil partnership, how shall we do it?’, we’ve found ways of doing it.

Read it all (subscription required).

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4 Comments
Posted April 29, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...what he's saying, in effect, is that he's not going to allow his House of Bishops to effect a nifty U-turn that forces oppressed Christians abroad either to change their minds overnight about an "abomination", as they see it, or to leave the Anglican Communion when they crave its moral support.

That's a perfectly sensible approach, in so far as it goes. But Archbishop Welby's attempt to reconcile it with his surprisingly passionate defence of LGBT Christians is not convincing: we're supposed to believe that "consultation" will enable the C of E to arrive at the "right" decision about blessing homosexual marriages, whatever that might be. (There's no question, yet, of gay weddings in C of E churches, which are forbidden by the new law.)

Moreover, it means that the Archbishop of Canterbury will not say whether gay marriage is morally wrong. When Moreton asks him about the Anglican priest in Lincolnshire who's just married his boyfriend, he replies: “It’s best if I do not comment on that". It's a matter for the Bishop of Lincoln.

Really?

Read it all.

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4 Comments
Posted April 22, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The marriage of canon Jeremy Pemberton and Laurence Cunnington, the first gay clergy wedding in England, looks like a decisive test of strength within the Church of England between liberals and conservatives. But it may just shift the trenches a few hundred yards. The tangles of employment law and church law make it almost impossible for either side to get all they want.

It looks as if it should be easy for the bishop of Lincoln, in whose diocese the canon works, to discipline Pemberton if he wants to. But Pemberton is not in fact a vicar. He is a hospital chaplain, which means he is employed by the local NHS trust. They are not going to sack him for contracting a perfectly legal marriage. The bishop has no power to get him sacked even if he wanted to.

But this is the Church of England; things are seldom simple....

Read it all (my emphasis).

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4 Comments
Posted April 14, 2014 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The archbishop of Canterbury, under fire for appearing to link expanded gay rights in the United States to violence against Christians in Africa, said on Thursday that he is advocating for a slow and deliberative response to same-sex marriage, mindful of the global implications.

“I think we need to be aware of the realities on the ground, in our own countries and around the world, and to take those into account when we’re moving forward,” the archbishop, Justin Welby, told reporters in Oklahoma City, where he was meeting with the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and attending a conference on violence.

“It doesn’t mean you necessarily do something other than you feel is the right thing to do,” he said, “but you’re aware of the need perhaps to do it in a different way.”

Read it all.

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2 Comments
Posted April 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishops in South Sudan have confirmed the Archbishop of Canterbury's warning that Christians in their country face a violent reaction if the Church of England permits same-sex marriage and blessings.

Archbishop Welby gave his warning during a phone-in on LBC radio last Friday. Asked why the Church of England could not permit clergy to bless same-sex relationships, he said: "The impact of that on Christians in countries far from here, like South Sudan, like Nigeria, and other places, would be absolutely catastrophic."

Read it all.

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0 Comments
Posted April 11, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q: Some people have reacted strongly to your statements about the issue of gay marriage in your interview with LBC radio.


A: Lots of people have.

Q: Were you in fact blaming the death of Christians in parts of Africa on the acceptance of gay marriage in America?

A: I was careful not to be too specific because that would pin down where that happened and that would put the community back at risk. I wouldn't use the word “blame”— that's a misuse of words in the context. One of the things that's most depressing about the response to that interview is that almost nobody listened to what I said; they mostly imagined what they thought I said...It was not only imagination, it was a million miles away from what I said.

Q: So what exactly were you saying?

A: What I was saying is that when we take actions in one part of the church, particularly actions that are controversial, that they are heard and felt not only in that part of the church but around the world.

Read it all.

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3 Comments
Posted April 9, 2014 at 5:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I had hoped that Church of England liturgy would come to include provisions for church blessing of civil partnerships. I fear that the precipitate and profoundly undemocratic way in which the Marriage Bill was hustled into law has set obstacles in the way of persuasive change. The Church of England will now have extreme difficulty in relating to the law on marriage.

Read it all.

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0 Comments
Posted April 1, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church's real problem, however, is not the hypocrisy of closeted prelates. It's that so many priests are perfectly content to solemnise homosexual marriages in church and will indeed be "creative" in finding ways to do so.

How will Archbishop Justin Welby respond? "I think the church has reacted by fully accepting that it's the law, and should react on Saturday by continuing to demonstrate in word and action, the love of Christ for every human being," he told the Guardian in best Rev J C Flannel mode. Uh-huh. Oh, and there will be "structured conversations" to help resolve the problem.

Here's my prediction. As of today, pro-gay clergy will begin to unpick Cameron's "triple lock" banning parishes from holding gay weddings; during the next Parliament it will cease to exist. Priests who want to marry same-sex couples, or indeed marry their own gay lovers, will just do it. Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical parishes that reject the whole notion won't be forced to host such ceremonies, but both these wings of the C of E are moving in a liberal direction, and in the long run demographic change will finish the job.

Read it all.

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4 Comments
Posted March 31, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has signalled that the Church of England will mount no more resistance to gay marriage among churchgoers.

Gay marriage will be legalised from Saturday with dozens of ceremonies planned around the country for one minute past midnight. This passing of the legislation caused deep rifts within the church.

"I think the church has reacted by fully accepting that it's the law, and should react on Saturday by continuing to demonstrate in word and action, the love of Christ for every human being." Justin Welby told the Guardian.

Read it all.

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4 Comments
Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Bishop Alan Wilson]...said: “I’ve blessed lots of things, I once blessed a bucket of cement in India, it seems to me very difficult to say that you can’t bless this.

“But the official line which I have to be loyal to in my working practice is that you can pray with people pastorally but you mustn’t use the ‘b’ word.

“That technically is very interesting because if the Church of England produced a liturgy for blessing a civil partnership, for example, there would be an official line on how to do this.”

On the question of equal marriage, he said everybody has a “very basic human right” to order their life and their family and their household in a way that goes with their conscience and their faith.

Read it all (subscription required).

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0 Comments
Posted March 30, 2014 at 6:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gay clergy should follow their conscience and defy the Church of England’s restrictions on same-sex marriage, a prominent bishop has said as the most radical change ever made to the legal definition of marriage in Britain comes into force.

The Rt Rev Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, said priests should be “creative” to get around restrictions on blessings for same-sex couples and that gay clergy who wish to marry should do so in defiance of the official line.

He also claimed that several current serving bishops are themselves in gay partnerships, and urged them to publicly acknowledge their status for the sake of “honesty and truthfulness” and even consider marrying.

Read it all.

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4 Comments
Posted March 30, 2014 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken frankly about the legalisation of same-sex marriage during the launch of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese centenary celebrations in Bury.

Taking a question on the legislation which saw the first same-sex weddings in England and Wales held today, The Most Rev Justin Welby said: “Parliament has spoken very clearly and we accept that”

The head of the Church of England added: “The church does look very bad on this issue to many people in this country particularly younger people and we’re mugs if we think anything else. We need to be really blunt about that.”

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted March 30, 2014 at 5:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Right Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, has congratulated same-sex couples who will be getting married from... [Saturday 29 march 2014] and assured them of his prayers.

Bishop Nicholas said:

“Tomorrow, the first same-sex civil marriages will take place in this country. This is a new reality being undertaken by people who wish their relationships to have a formal status which embodies a commitment to them being faithful, loving and lifelong. These are virtues which the Church of England wants to see maximised in society. I therefore congratulate those who are getting married, assure them of my prayers, and wish them well in all that lies ahead.”

Read it all.

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2 Comments
Posted March 29, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): What the Church of England’s policy is on priests entering a same-sex marriage; and what guidance has been given on what would happen to a priest who did so.

Sir Tony Baldry: Clergy and ordinands remain free to enter into civil partnerships. The House of Bishops in its pastoral guidance distributed on 15 February said that it was not willing for those in same-sex marriages to be ordained to any of the three orders of ministry—deacon, clergy or bishops—and that

“it would not be appropriate conduct for someone in holy orders to enter into a same-sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church’s teaching in their lives”.

As with any alleged instance of misconduct, each case would have to be considered individually by the local diocesan bishop.

Read it all.

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0 Comments
Posted March 28, 2014 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Labour MP is to challenge the Church of England to say whether it would defrock a priest for marrying a same-sex partner.

Ben Bradshaw has accused the Church of "trying to have its cake and eat it" by accepting same-sex marriage for its members, but not for its clergy.

The ex-cabinet minister said priests needed to know where they stood.

Read it all.

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3 Comments
Posted March 27, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Picture the scene: the Bishop's post is being opened, and among the invitations, job applications, and clerical outfitters' catalogues are three troubling pieces of correspondence.

The first is from the Diocesan Director of Ordinands, informing the Bishop that an ordinand in training, who is in the process of looking for a title post in the diocese, has entered into a same-sex marriage.

The second is a letter of complaint from a group of parishioners that the Vicar of X has just used the form of service for prayer and dedication after a civil marriage from Common Worship: Pastoral Services to bless a same-sex marriage in church.

Read it all.

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Posted March 23, 2014 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...there are a couple of underlying realities we have to acknowledge. First, as I wrote in my letter to clergy, I hope it’s common ground that we’re part of a Church that’s called to real repentance for the lack of welcome and acceptance extended to gay and lesbian people as children of God. We haven’t listened well to the quiet, hurting voices, nor to those called to celibacy, nor to clergy who have lovingly and sensitively ministered to gay couples through the years.

The second thing we need to acknowledge is that we’re part of a culture that’s chaotically confused about sex. Sex has been outrageously commodified, pornography is ordinary viewing for teenagers and an addiction for very many adults, trafficking is a global business, prostitution is commonplace, sexually explicit films and TV are far beyond anything Mary Whitehouse could have imagined in her wildest nightmare. Multiple sexual partners are wreaking havoc on relational stability, sexual infections are massively increasing, hardly anyone is a virgin on their wedding night, and so on. And in the middle of all that we’re trying steadily to work out a theologically coherent approach to same sex marriage.

But I think in a sense, we’re doing this on behalf of the nation. We’re trying to be responsible. We’re trying to grapple with a serious moral issue in a way that models openness and respect. OK, we’re messing up – badly. But we’re trying to discover how much we can agree on, and to learn how to ‘disagree well’ on what we can’t agree on. And then to decide how we can, or can’t, live with that spectrum of honest belief. The rest of society doesn’t do its moral reasoning like that. It prefers soundbites, three minutes of furious argument, and a YouGov poll.

Read it all and you may read a bit about Bishop Pritchard there.

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1 Comments
Posted March 22, 2014 at 10:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gay clergy have this week been describing the ramifications of the pastoral guidance on same-sex marriage, issued by the House of Bishops last month. Bishops have begun meeting gay clergy, at least five of whom are reported to be planning to marry.

The Vicar of St Mary with All Souls', Kilburn, and St James's, West Hampstead, the Revd Andrew Cain, said on Tuesday that speaking publicly about his plans to marry his partner of 14 years ( News, 21 February) had resulted in an "uncomfortable" meeting with his bishop, the Rt Revd Peter Wheatley, on Wednesday last week.

"It was very uncomfortable for both of us," he said. "He was with HR, and I was with a union rep. That would not be normal for a meeting between a bishop and a priest. I could not honestly say it was particularly pastoral. It was awkward."

Read it all.

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5 Comments
Posted March 21, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head of the Episcopal Church in southeastern Michigan announced Tuesday that he strongly supports same-sex marriage, indicating to 70 churches that marrying people of the same in gender is in line with their denomination’s beliefs.

But the Rt. Rev. Wendell Gibbs stopped short of saying gay marriages could be performed immediately in local churches because the Episcopal Church technically still doesn’t formally approve of them, and they are illegal under Michigan law.

Noting that public opinion is shifting rapidly on the issue, Gibbs, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, said that “picking and choosing whose rights should be protected or which civil rights the church will support is neither American ‘justice for all’ nor supported by the God of salvation history.”

Read it all.

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0 Comments
Posted March 19, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New Zealand Anglicanism shifted from a firmly-held “marriage cannot be dissolved” to “a couple when getting married should intend to stay together”. ALL references to Marriage-is-like-Christ-and-His-church imagery were completely removed from the three different rites available for getting married in the 1989 New Zealand Prayer Book. Even the Church of England’s own Common Worship rite has removed all but the tiniest single vestigial allusion (quoted above) to what was clearly once a dominant biblical paradigm for marriage.

What once again is clear when those who say the debates are not sourced in prejudice about homosexuality, but are about integrity to scripture and tradition, is that whilst a sea change has occurred in the understanding of marriage, they have only begun to register an issue when the direction heads towards committed same-sex couples.

In the discussion about whether gender difference is essential to marriage it is clear where the inner logic of the trajectory of Christian marriage changes leads, and that the Church of England bishops’ statement is on the wrong side of that trajectory.

Read it all.

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3 Comments
Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The meeting in Jerusalem this week was called in a sense of urgency that a false gospel has so paralysed the Anglican Communion that this crisis must be addressed. The chief threat of this dispute involves the compromising of the integrity of the church’s worldwide mission. The primary reason we have come to Jerusalem and issued this declaration is to free our churches to give clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ.

It is our hope that this Statement on the Global Anglican Future will be received with comfort and joy by many Anglicans around the world who have been distressed about the direction of the Communion. We believe the Anglican Communion should and will be reformed around the biblical gospel and mandate to go into all the world and present Christ to the nations.
--From the final text on which i will be giving a presentation later today

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1 Comments
Posted March 14, 2014 at 9:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The fateful decision has brought on charges from conservatives that...[Bishop Michael Ingham] is a blasphemer who is willing to split the Anglican Church to suit his taste for social change. Since then, 15 of the Anglican Church's 38 primates, the top Anglican leaders worldwide, have denounced Bishop Ingham's action and have either suspended or entirely severed ecclesiastical relations with his diocese.

In a scornful statement, the primates -- representing 38 million Anglicans from Africa, Asia and Latin America -- wrote in June that Bishop Ingham's decision to bless same-sex unions represented ''a defining moment in which the clear choice has to be made between remaining a communion or disintegrating into a federation of churches.''

In greater Vancouver, 8 of the 80 parishes have withheld payments to Bishop Ingham's diocese and 7 of them have voted to have the conservative bishop of Yukon minister to them in what has become a virtual civil war within the diocese. ''The dispute over Bishop Ingham's decision to bless same-sex unions is dangerously close to producing a worldwide schism,'' said Stephen A. Kent, a sociologist of religion at the University of Alberta, ''reminiscent of the original Anglican schism from Catholicism in the 1500's as a reaction to issues involving marriage, divorce, blessed unions and authority.''

Read it all (my emphasis).

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Posted March 14, 2014 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Proposals to convert the House of Commons chapel, St Mary Undercroft, into a multifaith centre (News, 15 March 2013) so that MPs and peers could use it to solemnise same-sex marriages, have been blocked.

Black Rod, Lt. Gen. David Leakey, confirmed that the original suggestion that the chapel be converted into a multifaith centre had been modified "so that the chapel would be a multi-denominational chapel; in other words, still a Christian place of worship rather than multifaith. None the less, there are no plans to take the proposal forward."

The chapel is a Royal Peculiar, under the care of Westminster Abbey, and one of the few remaining areas of the Palace of Westminster still under royal control. Chris Bryant, the MP who first put forward the idea, suggested that the proposal was personally blocked by the Queen, who visited the chapel in December. "She is a very conservative woman," he said.Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted March 14, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Throughout the rest of the book, Robinson seeks to convince the reader of the need for legal gay marriage in all fifty states and at the federal level. Chapters with titles such as “Why Marriage Now?” “Don’t Children Need a Mother and a Father?” and “What Would Jesus Do?” attempt to counter commonly heard objections to homosexual unions. Robinson concludes the book with his final chapter, “God Believes in Love,” where he makes the case that God’s bountiful love puts no restrictions upon the gender of those expressing their love for one another.

God Believes in Love is a deeply personal story told with conviction, but it comes up short in a number of areas. The most glaring is the undercurrent of self-centeredness which arises from time to time in its narrative. As in all divorce stories told by the uninjured party, Robinson’s is one in which everyone concerned has benefitted greatly from the break up. His wife was freed from a relationship with a man who couldn’t love her in a truly marital way. His daughters benefitted from a happier father, and they built a new and wonderful relationship with their new stepdad, Mark. Above all, Robinson was able to be “true to himself,” the highest in our current table of virtues. But one wonders how his ex-wife and daughters remember those difficult years when Robinson decided to disassemble their family (the children were four and eight years old).

While Robinson served as a bishop in the Episcopal Church, he surprisingly uses far more secular arguments than theological ones.

Read it all.

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3 Comments
Posted March 12, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 was designed to deal with a range of disciplinary issues concerning the clergy in the Church of England – but to the exclusion of matters of doctrine or ritual.

The 1963 Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure (one of whose chief architects was the late +Eric Kemp) retained the jurisdiction inherited from the Victorian era, and ultimately from the middle ages, expressly as a criminal jurisdiction, modelled on the former Assize Courts.

This meant among other things that the procedures of the consistory court when sitting under the EJM were those of a criminal trial, that prosecutors had to achieve a criminal standard of proof – beyond all reasonable doubt – in persuading the court to convict – and that the court’s sentences were effectively criminal convictions for what in some cases were relatively trivial offences. Its proceedings were open to the public and to the media.

The CDM was designed to be a civil tribunal and to operate without the full glare of publicity brought by EJM proceedings. The world’s press turned up for the trial of the Dean of Lincoln, Brandon Jackson, and the false evidence against him was published on the front pages of national newspapers. He was acquitted.

Read it all.

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Posted March 12, 2014 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The focus on analysis has led to (or perhaps is because of?) paralysis among church leaders with traditional beliefs. Typically, there is no urgency. Marriage has been redefined with huge implications for the spiritual and moral health of the nation, and yet many otherwise biblically orthodox clergy are not sure there is a problem – especially since the Bishops have at least for the moment appeared to hold the line. There is little prayer, because of the influence of secularism which teaches us to rely on our management techniques rather than on God, because of the upsetting nature of the topic, and because of a lack of understanding about spiritual realities. “Oh yes, I will pray in general for the nation”, I have been told, “but not specifically about gay marriage”. There is no courage. Clergy tell me privately that they believe in what the Bible says about sex, but their priority is for hassle-free pastoral care, for unity in the congregation, and ultimately for their own livelihood. As a result there is a lack of good teaching in the congregations on this topic, and no action at local or national levels or support for others taking such action.

Of course not all churches in England have capitulated. Many are wanting to stand firm – and this brings division. The church is now irredeemably divided over homosexuality. The Gospel should be truth lived out in experience, but today ‘my story’ is ranged against propositional truth and right principles. Churches which should be based on the Word and oriented towards their communities are now choosing ‘community’ over against the Word. ‘Witness’ seen as cutting the cost of discipleship to get people into church is increasingly opposed to bearing witness to Christ at any cost. Words such as sin, the need for repentance and transformation are now applied more to people who do not approve of same gender sexual relationships, than to people in those relationships.

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted March 12, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The sad reality is that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Although it is reported that only one bishop voted against the guidance, it is also being claimed that a significant number, even a majority, are not personally happy with it. The reactions to the guidance make clear just how extensive the divisions are in the wider church and thus how difficult the environment for the facilitated conversations is going to be. They also perhaps highlight two areas where the conversations need to focus their attention but which were largely unaddressed by the Pilling Report:

(1) What doctrine of marriage should the Church have and how should it then bear faithful witness to that in ordering its own life and in mission in a wider society which recognises same-sex marriage? and

(2) What is to be done, what new church structures may be needed, so that those who find themselves unable to accept the conclusions on the doctrine of marriage and its practical implications can faithfully bear witness to their understanding of marriage without undermining the mind of the majority or condemning the Church of England to continuing destructive conflict over this issue?

Read it all and Pt I is here.

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0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2014 at 6:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon


Well, you could knock me down with a feather duster. The Pope is looking into the subject of gay marriage. According to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Holy Father said to him that "rather than quickly condemn them, let's just ask the questions as to why that has appealed to certain people". OK, it's hardly a new Vatican policy. But language matters. And in the week of the first anniversary of Francis's appointment as pope, it is worth recognising how far the language has come.

But things are going to change even faster for the Church of England over the next few weeks. With gay marriage becoming a legal reality on 29 March, it is certain that a number of clergy will be looking to get hitched, in direct defiance of the wishes of their bishops who have vaguely warned of disciplinary action if they do. But the truth is that the bishops can actually do very little about it. The following is slightly nerdish stuff, but for the likes of north London vicar Reverend Andrew Cain, now preparing for his nuptials, it is crucial. Writing on my Facebook page last night, the Bishop of Buckingham explained the clergy discipline measure:

"Its Section 7 lays down that matters of doctrine and worship are not justiciable under the measure, but must be tried under the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1963. Insomniacs may remember that around 10 years ago there was a proposal to have a Clergy Discipline Measure type measure for doctrine and worship cases but it failed. The legal trail leads from here to section 39 of the EJM63. The maximum penalty it lays down for a first offence is a rude letter telling you not to do it again – which hopefully people getting married won't."

Of course, the bishops could pretend that clergy getting married is not a matter of doctrine, but this would be a bit of a problem given that they have been going round telling everyone that it is.

Read it all.

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7 Comments
Posted March 11, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thank you for your news story on Monday entitled “Church ready to split from England on Homosexuals.”

I would like to make a very important clarification, and hope you will publish this clarification as widely as you did the first story, because the story paints a very misleading picture of the Church of Uganda’s actual relationship with the Church of England.

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted March 6, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, has described the House of Bishops' pastoral statement on same-sex marriage, which he signed a fortnight ago, as "Anglican fudge".

The Bishops have also been challenged over the accuracy of their guidance, issued on 15 February. In it, they reiterated the ban on same-sex marriages in church, and stated that clergy may not enter into gay marriages... Several priests have publicly declared their intention to defy the Bishops.

Dr Sentamu, speaking at a meeting of Jewish and Christian students in Durham in the middle of last week, said that the Church of England's position was that "a clergy person has a right, an expectation, to live within the teaching of the Church, but for lay people and others they should be welcomed into the Church.

Read it all.

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Posted February 28, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Prime Minister David Cameron enters into tortuous negotiations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the future shape of Europe; and as Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson threatens to resign over certain secret assurances given to Irish Republican terrorists classified as "On The Run"; and as the Ukraine descends into a bloody civil war about historic matters of ethnicity, identity, religion, and whether or not Russia is more Christian and free than the EU; and as Syria (remember that?) pours out a vast sea of destitute and diseased humanity, where Christians are beheaded and mothers die in childbirth; spare a thought for Church of England as it continues to agonise over the House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is trying to move on (with an ecumenical focus on social action projects), but the Bishop of Oxford has written a letter to his clergy in which he pours out his anguish and sorrow over the House of Bishops' statement, and explains his personal torment and the torture deep within his soul over the limbo caused by the statement. For Bishop John, civil partnership is not and can never be the same thing as marriage, and he has long trodden a narrow path which has pleased neither wing of the sexuality divide. It is not so much a question of sheep and goats, as which pasture is most conducive for spiritual grazing and where the theological grass is greener. But the inadequacy, ambiguity, obfuscation and internal contradictions contained in the Bishops' Dog's Breakfast Pastoral Guidance would do Sir Humphrey proud. For some, it comes as a great relief; for others, it is cruel and absurd. God reveals Himself in His Word, which requires exegesis, interpretation and a grasp of its fundamental Sitz im Leben. But the Bishops cloak Him in shadowy puzzlement and shroud the Word in smog. Doing theology in this context is nigh impossible.

This guidance permits the Church of England to begin the facilitated conversations that were advocated in the Pilling Report. There is no predetermined outcome, but the distrust and suspicion on both sides clouds understanding, makes prayer a profound spiritual struggle, and fellowship a depressing hassle.

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted February 27, 2014 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It would be pure cheek for me, as a Quaker, to comment on the substance of an internal matter for Church of England but I am not convinced that the statement by House of Bishops “is in error”. The extract quoted by Professor Woodhead is about what it says it’s about: “the general understanding and definition of marriage in England as enshrined in law”; Archbishop Davidson, however, was commenting on “the law of the State” in relation to whom one could legally marry, not on the definition of marriage itself.

The Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Marriage Act 1907 did not change the definition of marriage: what it did do was to remove a particular bar in the Table of Kindred and Affinity. Nor did it have anything to do with the indissolubility of marriage as such because, by definition, the man whose wife had died was free to remarry someone: the issue was whether or not he could marry his wife’s sister.

Read it all and take the time to read through the comments.

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5 Comments
Posted February 24, 2014 at 3:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of course the C of E finds itself in a tricky position where it is being forced to run to keep up with secular law and given its historic stance on homosexuality counterbalanced against an explicit call to accept those in same-sex relationships as far as possible within that framework, there is some tightrope walking going on to find the via media middle ground. Such an approach easily leads to misinterpretation, claims of contradiction and denouncements from those on the ends of the spectrum of views.

The statement has been described as a dog’s breakfast and a master class in doublespeak, but reading it carefully – unless I am missing something obvious – it does appear to be coherent within the parameters of C of E law. Some of the interpretations in the media have been less than helpful implying that the statement is saying that private blessings (effectively informal endorsements) in the form of ‘special’ prayers should be made available following civil partnerships and same-sex weddings, yet the actual wording makes it clear that clergy are not told to offer formal private blessings although some undoubtedly will.

Read it all.


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Posted February 23, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On St Valentine's Day last Friday, the Revd Andrew Cain got engaged to his partner, Stephen Foreshew.

The following day, he saw the House of Bishops statement (reproduced in full below), which repeated the ban on blessings in church for same-sex unions, and ruled out same-sex marriage for clergy or for anyone seeking to be ordained.

Mr Cain's marriage plans remain unchanged, he said on Tuesday. "I have always believed in equal marriage; so it would seem very odd, as someone who supports it, not to take advantage of it.

"I am aware of clergy wanting to get married who now feel unable to do so, and have been very upset about that. They are saying 'Why should I now stay in the Church?" And I am saying 'You have to stay, and you have to get married, because it is our equal right to do so; and if we believe in it, then we should do it.'"

Read it all.

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Posted February 21, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Alasdair MacIntyre once quipped that “facts, like telescopes and wigs for gentlemen, were a seventeenth-century invention.” Something similar can be said about sexual orientation: Heterosexuals, like typewriters and urinals (also, obviously, for gentlemen), were an invention of the 1860s. Contrary to our cultural preconceptions and the lies of what has come to be called “orientation essentialism,” “straight” and “gay” are not ageless absolutes. Sexual orientation is a conceptual scheme with a history, and a dark one at that. It is a history that began far more recently than most people know, and it is one that will likely end much sooner than most people think.

Over the course of several centuries, the West had progressively abandoned Christianity’s marital architecture for human sexuality. Then, about one hundred and fifty years ago, it began to replace that longstanding teleological tradition with a brand new creation: the absolutist but absurd taxonomy of sexual orientations. Heterosexuality was made to serve as this fanciful framework’s regulating ideal, preserving the social prohibitions against sodomy and other sexual debaucheries without requiring recourse to the procreative nature of human sexuality.

On this novel account, same-sex sex acts were wrong not because they spurn the rational-animal purpose of sex—namely the family—but rather because the desire for these actions allegedly arises from a distasteful psychological disorder. As queer theorist Hanne Blank recounts, “This new concept [of heterosexuality], gussied up in a mangled mix of impressive-sounding dead languages, gave old orthodoxies a new and vibrant lease on life by suggesting, in authoritative tones, that science had effectively pronounced them natural, inevitable, and innate.”

Sexual orientation has not provided the dependable underpinning for virtue that its inventors hoped it would, especially lately....

Read it all.

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2 Comments
Posted February 20, 2014 at 3:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

3. As we reviewed the current situation, we recognized that the fabric of the Communion was torn at its deepest level as a result of the actions taken by The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church in Canada since 2003. As a result, our Anglican Communion is currently suffering from broken relations, a lack of trust, and dysfunctional “instruments of unity.”
4. However, we trust in God’s promise that the “gates of hades will not overcome” the church. Holding unto this promise, we believe that we have to make every effort in order to restore our beloved Communion. Therefore we took the following decisions:
a) We request and will support the Archbishop of Canterbury to call for a Primates Meeting in 2015 in order to address the increasingly deteriorating situation facing the Anglican Communion. It is important that the agenda of this Primates Meeting be discussed and agreed upon by the Primates beforehand in order to ensure an effective meeting.
b) We decided to establish a Primatial Oversight Council, in following-through the recommendations taken at Dromantine in 2005 and Dar es Salam in 2007, to provide pastoral and primatial oversight to dissenting individuals, parishes, and dioceses in order to keep them within the Communion.
c) We realize that the time has come to address the ecclesial deficit, the mutual accountability and re-shaping the instruments of unity by following through the recommendations mentioned in the Windsor Report (2004), the Primates Meetings in Dromantine (2005) and Dar es Salam (2007), and the Windsor Continuation Group report.
Read it all.

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27 Comments
Posted February 20, 2014 at 8:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An East Barnet vicar says his parish is preparing to challenge Church of England leaders after they reiterated their ban on blessing same-sex couples.

The House of Bishops, which governs practice in Anglican churches across England, earlier this month rejected recommendations that it lifts its ban on blessing gay couples.

But the parish of St Mary’s Church in East Barnet says it plans to lodge a protest against the decision and write a formal letter once its members have met later this month.

Read it all.

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Posted February 20, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The chapter from Seitz's 2011 book, The Character of Christian Scripture, seeks to explain how the two testament canon of Holy Scripture must be properly respected -- particularly the Old Testament as Christian witness -- or we inevitably end up with two separable canons, and then a third called the greater wisdom of our own day. This is what has happened and explains why there is such deep confusion over how the Bible declares its sense when it comes to marriage and sexuality. Here is a summary of the chapter circulating at Alastair's Adversaria
Seitz proceeds to put his finger on what is perhaps the deepest concern explaining the strength of opposition to same-sex behaviour among many Christians, which is the very power of Scripture to speak with any degree of clarity into the present day at all:
If the Bible’s consistently negative word about homosexual conduct is wrong, or outdated, who will then decide in what other ways the Bible is or is not to be trusted or cannot comprehend our days and its struggles, under God? Appeal to Scripture’s plain sense is born of the conviction that the Bible can have something to say without other forces needing to regulate that or introduce a special hermeneutics from outside the text so we can know when and where it can speak.

Seitz suggests that, at the very heart of these debates is the issue of the Bible as two testaments, speaking ‘of the same God in Christ, though in different dispensations and in different figural directions.’ At stake here are two creedal statements: that the Holy ‘spake by the prophets’ and that Christ died and rose again ‘in accordance with the Scriptures.’ What progressivism has done is to change the relationship between the testaments. The work of the Spirit is now regarded as ‘fully detachable’ from his prior testimony in Scripture and the Old Testament is read, not as a faithful testimony to God in Christ but ‘only of a developmental phase of religion en route to a NT religion and then a more enlightened Holy Spirit religion.’
................................
It is also critical that we appreciate that sacrificing the Old Testament’s authority with respect to the New has broader ramifications:
For once one begins thinking along these lines, that is, of using the New’s allegedly “new religion” to sort out the “religion of a First Testament,” instead of seeking to hear God’s Word of triune address in both Testaments, appropriate to their character as “prophet and apostle,” it is then an almost effortless transition to believing both Old and New Testaments are themselves only the provisional proving ground for religious virtues said to be en route to a Holy Spirit’s fresh declaration of unprecedented “new truth” in our day.

I believe that Seitz here brings into sharp relief what lies near the heart of the concern that many of us have about contemporary developments in some churches in the area of teaching about Christian sexual ethics. The flirting of many evangelicals with forms of trajectory hermeneutics is just one example of the way in which the creedal understanding of the relationship between the testaments has become compromised. As Seitz observes, it is a fundamental conviction of Christian orthodoxy that is at stake here: that the Old Testament is authoritative Christian Scripture, a faithful and abiding witness to the triune God.

Read it all

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

2 Comments
Posted February 18, 2014 at 2:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The letter the Archbishops sent last week to Primates in the Anglican Communion as well as the Presidents of Nigeria and Uganda quoted the Dromantine Communiqué of 2005 ruling out any victimisation or diminishment of people on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

"We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by Him and deserving the best we can give - pastoral care and friendship," the letter reiterated. Last week in London, Church of England bishops agreed to hold a mediated dialogue throughout the 80-million member Communion to reflect on Biblical passages about gays in a way that could make Anglican churches more welcoming to them. Wabukala reiterated that debating that which God has already clearly revealed in Scripture would be a waste of time adding that such dialogue only spreads confusion and opens the door to a false gospel.

Read it all.

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Posted February 4, 2014 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why do I think College of Bishops have made the right decision? Well, most obviously because their response to Pilling is exactly the one I said in November was needed. The reason for this is more and more evident in public responses, particularly on social media, from all sides of the debate.

On the one hand, many ‘conservatives’ say that there is nothing to be done, and no need any further discussion. I don’t think this takes into account sufficiently the need for the Church of England to develop more credible pastoral response, taking into account what Justin Welby described as the revolution in attitudes within society on this issue.

On the other hand, many ‘revisionists’ agree there is no need for further discussion, but for exactly the opposite reason. It is clear what God is doing in society, and the Church needs to catch up without any further delay. You can see this very clearly in the fulminating responses to yesterday’s announcement on the Thinking Anglicans website (was there ever more irony in a website name?).

Read it all.

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4 Comments
Posted January 30, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On one hand, it's disappointing both to conservatives and liberals that the Bishops can only state the obvious – that people are divided over the issue of homosexuality – and cannot give any clear lead on what the church should be teaching. On the other hand, it is encouraging that the diversity is recognized; that capitulation to Western cultural norms is not seen as inevitable; that the viewpoint of majority global Anglicanism is taken into account, and above all, that
the Church of England’s pastoral and liturgical practice remains unchanged during this process of facilitated conversation…No change to the Church of England's teaching on marriage is proposed or envisaged.

This presumably means that Pilling’s most contentious proposal, namely that blessings of gay couples in church should commence at the same time as facilitated conversations, has been decisively rejected. It also appears not to leave the door ajar for the acceptance of gay marriage.

There was fear among conservatives that those of their number among the Bishops would be marginalized, especially in the wake of the Bishop of Fulham’s endorsement of Pilling. However it seems clear that some kind of stand - which may have been costly – must have been made to ensure a collegiate pulling back from the brink. For that we can be grateful.

Read it all.

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Posted January 30, 2014 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England’s bishops have finally reached agreement on homosexuality – by saying that they might never be able to agree.

They emerged from a frank, day-long meeting behind closed doors, discussing their response to radical proposals to offer wedding-style blessing services for gay couples, and admitted they are deeply divided over the issues and are likely to remain so for years to come.

Read it all.

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Posted January 30, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

To the Faithful of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and friends
from Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya
and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council

29th January 2014

‘…by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God’ 2 Corinthians 4:2
...We cannot therefore allow our time and energy to be sapped by debating that which God has already clearly revealed in the Scriptures. Earlier this week, the English College of Bishops met to reflect upon the ‘Pilling Report’, commissioned to reflect on how the Church of England should respond to the question of same sex relationships. Its key recommendations were that informal blessings of such unions should be allowed in parish churches and that a two year process of ‘facilitated conversation’ should be set up to address strongly held differences within the Church on this issue.

While we should be thankful that the College of Bishops did not adopt the idea of services for blessing that which God calls sin, it did unanimously approve the conversation process and this is deeply troubling. There has been intensive debate within the Anglican Communion on the subject of homosexuality since at least the 1998 Lambeth Conference and it is difficult to believe that the bishop’s indecision at this stage is due to lack of information or biblical reflection. The underlying problem is whether or not there is a willingness to accept the bible for what it really is, the Word of God.

At Lambeth 1998, the bishops of the Anglican Communion, by an overwhelming majority, affirmed in Resolution 1.10 that homosexual relationships were not compatible with Scripture, in line with the Church’s universal teaching through the ages, but the Pilling Report effectively sets this aside. The conversations it proposes are not to commend biblical teaching on marriage and family, but are based on the assumption that we cannot be sure about what the bible says.

I cannot therefore commend the proposal by the College of Bishops that these ‘facilitated conversations ‘ should be introduced across the Communion. This is to project the particular problems of the Church of England onto the Communion as a whole. As with ‘Continuing Indaba’, without a clear understanding of biblical authority and interpretation, such dialogue only spreads confusion and opens the door to a false gospel because the Scriptures no longer function in any meaningful way as a test of what is true and false...

Read it all

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12 Comments
Posted January 29, 2014 at 11:49 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The College of Bishops met on 27th January, 2014 to begin a process of reflection on the issues raised by the Pilling Report (GS 1929). The College expressed appreciation to Sir Joseph Pilling and to all members of the working party for the work they have done on behalf of the Church.

We are united in welcoming and affirming the presence and ministry within the Church of gay and lesbian people, both lay and ordained. We are united in acknowledging the need for the Church to repent for the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke and affirming the need to stand firmly against homophobia wherever and whenever it is to be found.

We are united in seeking to be faithful to the Scriptures and the tradition of the Church and in seeking to make a loving, compassionate and respectful response to gay men and women within Church and society.

We recognise the very significant change in social attitudes to sexuality in the United Kingdom in recent years.

Read it all.

Recent Featured Entries on the Pilling Report and Responses
Links to recent posts about alternative baptism liturgy for the Church of England

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22 Comments
Posted January 27, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Four bishops and a retired civil servant shut away in a palace, talking about human sexuality — it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. But the resulting Pilling Report is, in spite of 200 pages’ worth of double entendres, neither funny nor enlightening.

It has been clear ever since the Lambeth conference in 1998, which contained the ponderous resolution that ‘we commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons’, that the Anglican church’s position has been to agree not to agree on the issue. From the Jeffrey John affair to the debate over gay marriage, the church has handled the question like a whoopee cushion at a vicar’s tea party — with a mixture of bemusement and embarrassment.

Having spent many months interviewing everyone from the Society of Ordained Scientists to the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, Sir Joseph Pilling’s report comes up with the less than profound conclusion that the issue requires the church to have a ‘facilitated conversation’.

Read it all.

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Posted January 23, 2014 at 5:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Might it be possible that a Happy New Year in the Church of England might see, as this Bishop sees, an honest recognition that the differences over sexuality and underlying doctrinal and philosophical systems are so great that we need to at least talk about separating? Could it be a good thing to walk apart, rather than perpetuating the fiction that we all really believe the same things? And in doing so, could this be done peacefully, with justice, fairness and mutual respect, recognizing that there are still many areas of common interest, such as good administration of buildings insurance and clergy pensions, care for the poor and vulnerable, and the need to preserve the proclamation of the Christian story in society even though we might interpret it differently?

“Walking apart” is similar language used in the Windsor Report of 2004, in response to the global crisis of credal understanding following the consecration of Gene Robinson. Despite talk of unity being maintained through covenants and Instruments of Communion, there has been a “walking apart”; both globally, with many GAFCON-aligned Provinces unable to share fellowship with the Episcopal Church, and within Provinces, as we witnessed the formation of ACNA. In that case the separation has been bitter, with tragically wasteful legal action and unChristian bullying tactics. Could we do things in a better way here, while recognizing the irreconcileable differences?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

4 Comments
Posted January 7, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

January 27: A Statement from the C of E College of Bishops on the Pilling Report

December 21: Archbishop Stanley Ntagali comments on the Crisis in the Church of England

December 18: [Anglican Ink] Lament from London: a dying church in England [Pilling]

December 12: Global South Statement In Response To The Pilling Report

December 7: Archbishop Wabukala: GAFCON Chairman’s Advent Letter

November 28: CofE: Pilling Report Recommends Breach of Lambeth Resolution 1:10

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Posted December 22, 2013 at 2:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The distinctive mission of the Church of England, while based upon the principle of inculturation, cannot endorse uncritical acceptance of the totality of English culture. And yet it operates a territorial ‘church in community’ type of ecclesiology which works with the state to define its worship, and through dioceses, parishes and chaplaincies to effect its pastoral care and compassionate service. Establishment commits the Church of England to full involvement in civil society and to making a contribution to the public discussion of issues that have moral or spiritual implications.

By concerning itself with the pastoral dimensions of wholeness and healing, the mission of the Church of England accords with people’s quest for meaning and an assurance of identity which cannot be found without community, without fellowship. Its fundamental weaknesses, in common with many churches in Europe, is its tendency to demand that people do not merely acknowledge the Lordship of Christ but also abandon their former way of life in favour of that of a peculiar middle-class sub-culture. Notwithstanding some of the excellent work going on in some of the most impoverished parishes in the country, the public perception of the Church of England remains one of middle-class privilege and an élitism which has little relevance to a modern, pluralist, multi-ethnic society.

And it is also one which has very little relevance to most gays and lesbians, and therein lies the missiological challenge.

Read it all.


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3 Comments
Posted December 18, 2013 at 6:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

the bishops may also want to consider the significant omissions of fact in the PR's revision of Anglican history since 1998:

that the issue dominated the 1998 Conference because of the threatened actions of the North American churches;
that Resolution I.10 was approved by a vast majority of bishops and continues to be held as normative by virtually all the churches of the Global South;
that the primary ground of the resolution was fidelity to Scripture, and several additional resolutions affirmed this point;
that the North American churches followed through on their threat with the consecration of Gene Robinson despite repeated warnings from various Instruments; and the more "collegial" atmosphere at Lambeth 2008 was purchased at the expense of 280 bishops being absent from Lambeth 2008.
It is astonishing that the PR in fact lacks any reference to The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

The Church of England's bishops may wish to consider these omissions of fact, and, by contrast, the recitation of the actual history of the failure of the Instruments of Communion to discipline the North American churches that repeatedly breached Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1998) in the last 15 years - a recitation which can be found in the October 26 Nairobi Communique and in other communications from Global South Anglican leaders.

Read it all.

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Posted December 11, 2013 at 3:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality, chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling, has prompted a wide range of response and criticism.

Among those who welcomed the report were groups that lobby for greater acceptance of gay and lesbian people in the Church.

The Revd Benny Hazlehurst, the secretary of the Accepting Evangelicals group, issued a statement: "We welcome this clear recognition of diversity in biblical understanding and commend the report to the whole Church. We also welcome these small steps towards church services for same-sex couples."

Read it all.

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Posted December 6, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Show Index:
00:00 Anglicans have lost the Mother Church
14:38 Piling onto Pilling Report with Peter Ould
33:14 IRS and Clergy Housing Allowances with AS Haley
41:51 The National Museum in Washington DC
48:37 Closing and Bloopers
Watch it all.

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Posted December 6, 2013 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Shannon Johnston of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has presided over the blessing of a same-sex union, according to an Arlington clergywoman.

Mother Leslie J. Hague, rector of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Arlington was joined in “holy union” with her partner, Katie Casteel, at Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross in Dunn Loring on November 23. The afternoon blessing ceremony followed Hague and Casteel’s civil marriage in nearby Washington, DC exactly one year before. Same-sex marriages are not recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Read it all.

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4 Comments
Posted December 6, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In particular, in the light of the Dissenting Statement, we express the following concerns about aspects of the Report:
Although the church’s teaching is upheld, its theological and biblical basis is not clearly articulated and there appears to be a willingness to separate teaching and practice in a way which threatens incoherence and charges of hypocrisy.

The emphasis on the qualities of a relationship without clear reference to the gift of marriage fails to do justice to Scripture and tradition in relation to both sexual same-sex relationships and heterosexual cohabitation (para 148).

The recommendation “to mark the formation of a permanent same sex relationship in a public service” and to leave the form of this to the discretion of the parish priest risks undermining the unity of the church’s teaching and practice and our ecclesiology.
Read it all.

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Posted December 4, 2013 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Church in New Zealand says its decision on whether to bless same-sex marriages is unlikely to be affected by a Church of England report.

Read it all.

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Posted December 1, 2013 at 6:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We are concerned that the media is already focussing on the proposal in recommendations 16 and 17 for permitting public services “to mark the formation of a permanent same sex relationship”, including potentially same-sex civil marriages. The CEEC’s St Matthias Day Statement of 2012, which we submitted in evidence to the Pilling Group, sets out clearly why we believe this would mark a departure from biblical truth and Anglican teaching. It concludes by stating that “Redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships or affirming or blessing sexual activity outside marriage is contrary to God’s word. When a church does either of these things it therefore becomes difficult to recognise it as part of the visible Church of Christ”. The fact that such recommendations can be made is, we believe, a surface sign that there are deeper and more serious flaws in the report as a whole.

It is clear that the Church of England is going to face difficult discussions and decisions about human sexuality in the coming year. We look to our bishops, individually and corporately, to be faithful to Scripture, to continue upholding the practice of the Anglican Communion as set out in Lambeth I.10, and to encourage all their clergy and people to do the same.

Read it all.

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Posted November 30, 2013 at 2:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In our submission to the Review Group we said the need for a radical change in Christian attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) people is now urgent. We asked whether the members of the review group are going to advocate that the Church of England recognises the reality of the presence of LGB&T people in the Church or whether they are going to maintain the present culture of secrecy, denial of reality, suppression of identity and the unhealthy attitudes in which many LGB&T Christians remain trapped.

This report does not herald radical change and does not therefore fulfil the expectations of Changing Attitude. There are no practical proposals which will begin to dismantle the present culture of secrecy, denial of reality, suppression of identity and the maintenance of unhealthy attitudes. The group has met people and listened and the unhealthy attitudes remain unchanged as the report demonstrates....

Changing Attitude is disappointed that the Report deals so superficially with transgender (198) and intersex people (197) despite having received a submission from the Sibyls. Changing Attitude England and other LGB&T Christian organizations also identified the need to address transgender and intersex experience and expectations in our submissions. The reality of transgender and intersex experience is directly relevant to the question asked in paragraphs 195/6 – are human beings sexually dimorphic, and in paragraphs 199/200 – is sexual attraction fixed and immutable.

Read it all.

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0 Comments
Posted November 30, 2013 at 2:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My first reaction to seeing the Pilling Report was disbelief that in the twenty first century any church could put out a report on human sexuality written by a group that appears to have consisted of 8 men and 2 women and expect it to be taken as a serious contribution to the subject....

The notion that marriage is the only way that sexually active people express themselves is surely just one of many strands in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, aimed at the ability to control knowledge of the paternity of children. Its predominance has come about in cultural settings and for cultural reasons that do not always have a great deal to do with faith or with the teachings of Jesus or interpretation of the whole spectrum of biblical, rabbinic and apocryphal texts.

The report, then, is interesting for two reasons. It is the first time that such a report by a Church of England working party contains an open acknowledgement that, where there is a massive shift in social perception such that a practice or set of practices that were previously not acceptable have come to be seen not only as acceptable, but as desirable, then this can leave the church with a problem if it does not listen and engage.


Read it all.

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Posted November 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Clergy would be free to bless same-sex relationships under proposals published by the Church of England, which were immediately condemned as “divisive” by Anglican conservatives.

The Church faces years of debate and new splits exceeding even those caused by women bishops as it attempts to adapt to modern mores on sex without losing its fast-growing conservative evangelical wing.

The report, by a working group set up by bishops, was chaired by the retired civil servant Sir Joseph Pilling. Although it does not describe such acts of worship as “blessings”, the report says there could be circumstances where a parish priest “should be free to mark the formation of a permanent same-sex relationship in a public service”.

Read it all (subscription required).

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0 Comments
Posted November 29, 2013 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a previous statement the College indicated that it was the practice of the individual Bishops at that time neither to give official sanction to blessings of civil partnerships, nor to attend them personally. The Church does not give official sanction to informal blessings but each Bishop would nevertheless expect to be consulted by clergy prior to the carrying out of any informal blessing of a civil partnership in his diocese. The College is of the view that a decision as to whether or not to attend such an informal blessing should be a personal decision of the individual Bishop in question.

Read it all from Kelvin Holdsworth.

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Posted November 29, 2013 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Inclusive Church welcomes the publication of the report from the commission led by Sir Joseph Pilling. It is a reflection of careful listening to many voices in church and state, though listening and learning remains an ongoing task. We also look forward to the House of Bishops response and the guidance which will be issued to churches. We hope that this will enable all Christians to find ways of celebrating the covenantal love between people which reflects the love of God for all people.”

Read it all.

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0 Comments
Posted November 29, 2013 at 2:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
We note that the Pilling Report has been released and we recognize the substantial amount of work that has gone into the consultation and writing of the report.

We can state at this stage that we stand with the historic, orthodox faith in its Anglican expression, under the authority of Scripture, to which the Book of Common Prayer, the Thirty Nine Articles and the Ordinal bear witness. We affirm the teaching of the Church of England that the appropriate context for a sexual relationship is only in a lifelong, faithful marriage between a man and a woman. This teaching will continue to be true, and is endorsed by the large majority of Christian churches historically and globally, as confirmed by the Nairobi Commitment of GAFCON 2013.

The summary of the Report that has been released suggests that a number of conclusions on the way forward have already been drawn, and that a programme of “facilitated conversations” will enable people with different views on sexuality to remain in the church together. The impression is given that a matter on which Scripture and tradition give clear theological and ethical direction is open to compromise by negotiation. However we would like to take time to study the document in detail before giving a full response.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 29, 2013 at 1:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 29, 2013 at 1:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The full text of the Archbishop of Canterbury and York's statement on the report follows below:

'Earlier this month, the Review Group established in 2011 by the House of Bishops under the chairmanship of Sir Joseph Pilling delivered to us its Report.

'This is a substantial document proposing a process of facilitated conversations in the Church of England over a period of perhaps two years. The document offers findings and recommendations to form part of that process of facilitated conversations. It is not a new policy statement from the Church of England.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyArchbishop of York John SentamuSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 29, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Clergy should be permitted to provide a public service to mark same-sex relationships, a House of Bishops working group has recommended.

The recommendations in The Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality, known as "the Pilling report" after the group's chairman, Sir Joseph Pilling, are modest. They speak of the need for "pastoral accommodation", but do not propose any change in the Church's teaching on sexual conduct. Although the report does not speak of "blessing" gay relationships, Sir Joseph said on Thursday that he would not write a letter of complaint to a journalist who used such a term.

Other recommendations include repentance for homophobia within the Church, the avoidance of "intrusive questioning", and further debate...

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 29, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: PittsburghSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings

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Posted November 27, 2013 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since this local character exists in variety of conviction, I find it reasonable that this variety should be allowed to express itself in local practice, by allowing the decision of whether or not to use this rite to be made by each pastor, in his or her own parish. This "local option" will allow each rector or priest-in-charge to minister pastorally according to his or her commitments and conscience, while putting none under constraint or duress.

Having said this, I must also be clear, both as your bishop and from my own place in this spectrum of belief, that I have serious reservations concerning the theology and intention of the rite, for reasons I have specified in an assessment that appears below. I know that at least a few of the clergy inclined to use this rite share some of my concerns about it; I also know they see it as a way of offering public recognition and pastoral support to same-sex couples in whom qualities of mutual devotion and fidelity, care and nurture, and faithful participation in the life of the Church are clearly visible. It is out of respect for their local pastoral authority, as well as out of my own pastoral regard for the free conscience of all who are under their care, that I will allow the use of this rite according to the guidelines that also appear below.

As for the somewhat related matter of ordained ministry, I believe the principal determining factor in regard to my role as ordinary rests in my discernment, in concert with the Church, as to whether God is calling any given individual to Holy Orders. Therefore, I will not alter the non-discrimination policy begun under Bishop Price; an individual's being in a committed same-sex partnership will not, in and of itself, be a barrier either to ordination or call in this diocese.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 25, 2013 at 5:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Statement from William Fittall, Secretary General of the General Synod and Archbishops' Council, placing recent media and blog speculation in context:

"At last Friday's Synod press conference a national journalist asked me to confirm the now widely held story that the Pilling Group on human sexuality had been scrapped. I said that, on the contrary, the Group was still meeting and was due to complete its report in time for the House of Bishops to consider it at its meeting in December.

"Then on Monday a clergyman posted a blog saying: "I have now confirmed from a number of sources what the Pilling Report is going to recommend. The final draft is ready and it will propose that the Church of England introduce some form of liturgy that will bless same-sex relationships. There is absolutely no doubt that this is what the outcome of the committee's deliberations will be - This is not spin, it is not trying to influence the outcome, it is the real deal." Our Communications Office responded to this by saying that, on the contrary, "the final draft of the Pilling report has not yet been completed or signed off."

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetMediaReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 31, 2013 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the Communique reaffirms the understanding from 2008 that GAFCON is “not a moment in time but a movement of the Spirit.” This phrase is not flight of rhetoric but a claim that GFCA is among other things a God-ordained “ecclesial” entity. Secondly, the Conference identifies itself as an “instrument of Communion” called into being because of the failure of other Instruments of Communion. I suppose some will take this claim as an open rebuke of the existing organs of the Lambeth bureaucracy. It is that, and my essays on Communion governance stand as testimony as to why such a rebuke is justified. But it is more than that: it is a positive declaration that the GFCA plans to be a vehicle of God’s grace to reform and revitalize the Anglican Communion.

Some may ask by what right the GFCA appoints itself an instrument. In an early draft, the Statement Committee proposed saying that “we are conscious that we have become an instrument of Communion.” I think that wording is revealing, even if the final form moves consciousness into conviction. What I mean is that the GAFCON movement did not start out intentionally to overturn existing authorities but rather over a period of fifteen years came to realize that no other option was workable and that God had indeed formed new bonds of affection among its members during the times of trial.

So is the GFCA laying the groundwork for a separate Communion? Absolutely not! At the first GAFCON virtually all the delegates were adamant that they were not leaving the Anglican Communion, because “we are the Anglican Communion!” Some may think this is verbal trickery. It is not. There is nothing sacrosanct about the so-called Instruments of Communion. To be sure, the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lambeth Conference carry the weight of almost 150 years’ continuance. However, for good or ill, Archbishop Longley refused to grant the first Lambeth Conference ecclesial authority as a council and by so doing he built in a weakness that has been a major reason for the recent crisis. During the past decade, whenever the Primates proposed more authoritative action – e.g., “To Mend the Net” proposal or the Dar es Salaam Communique – Canterbury squelched the attempt.

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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan WilliamsAnglican PrimatesPrimates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007Global South Churches & PrimatesGACON II 2013Instruments of UnitySexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings

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Posted October 30, 2013 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England is facing a split over proposals to offer a formal blessing for gay couples.

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester, warned on Tuesday that a move to celebrate same-sex relationships in church would be a “red line” for traditionalist parishes.

Clergy and lay members of the Church opposed to any relaxation of the rules could reject the authority of any bishops who supported the move, he warned.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsGlobal South Churches & PrimatesGACON II 2013Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings

3 Comments
Posted October 30, 2013 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Archbishop of Perth has rejected for the second time a motion by his church synod to formally recognise same-sex relationships.

Earlier this month, the synod voted two-thirds majority in favour of legal acknowledgement of the civil unions of gay people.

...Archbishop Herft says he cannot assent to the motion.

"What we have in the Diocese of course is a number of people in same-sex relationships amongst the clergy and amongst the laity and we have always said that people of all forms of sexuality and orientation are welcome," he said.

"I think that's what the synod was trying to do was to express hospitality but what this particular resolution does is asks me, in the first instance, to recognise diversity within the diocese of Perth, both in our sexual identities and in our theologies of human sexuality, that's the first part and I mean that's a fact; there is a diversity within the diocese of Perth, both in our sexual identities and in our theologies....

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of AustraliaSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 29, 2013 at 3:23 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1. GAFCON isn’t about schism — or sexuality. Archbishop Jensen of Sydney immediately countered talk in the western press of Anglican schism by calling it “nonsense” and defining GAFCON as a movement to renew the Anglican Communion, not a new church. Similarly, press attention on homosexuality hasn’t been realized in the discussions at GAFCON. Instead of flashpoint issues, GAFCON has seen more attention give to bringing the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & PrimatesGACON II 2013Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya

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Posted October 28, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Diocese of Hawai‘i on Saturday voted to encourage the state Legislature to pass marriage equality, the largest denomination to announce its support of an issue that has divided people of faith.

A resolution was approved by acclamation of the 180 Episcopalians who attended the diocese's annual convention at the Cathedral of St. Andrew, including 44 clergy. The diocese has 40 worshipping sites and about 9,000 parishioners statewide.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan CouncilsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 27, 2013 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage, do you consider your own views and those of the church as being out of touch with the views of your students at Cambridge, and do you think that’s a problem?
I think it is quite a problem. This is the one area where there is the deepest sense of the church being out of step with what the rest of the culture take for granted. I think it’s quite difficult for some people outside of the church to recognise that there is something in the matter of several thousand years of assumption, reflection and ethical practice here which isn’t likely to be overturned in a moment. But, all that being said, I think the church has to put its hands up and say our attitude towards gay people has at times been appallingly violent. Even now it can be unconsciously patronising and demeaning, and that really doesn’t help. We have to face the fact that we’ve deeply failed a lot of gay and lesbian people, not only historically but more recently as well. I think that there is a very strong, again theological, case for thinking again about our attitudes towards homosexuality: but I’m a bit hesitant about whether marriage is the right category to talk about same sex relation, and I think there is a debate we haven’t quite had about that. But in a sense that’s water under the bridge, the decision has been taken, things move on. Looking back over my time as Archbishop I think that’s what most people will remember about the last ten years: ‘oh, he was that bloke who was so bogged down in issues about sexuality’.
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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan WilliamsAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

5 Comments
Posted October 16, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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