Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
A COVENANT FOR THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
At this time in the life of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, faced with a faulty view of revelation, false teaching and indiscipline, we believe that it is necessary to set out where we as orthodox Anglicans stand, and to invite others to join us.
We are members of the Church of England, part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, who share with others throughout the world a commitment to the biblical truths on which the Anglican Communion is based. This is what guarantees our fellowship with Anglicans historically and globally. We pledge ourselves to strengthen this fellowship.
The love and grace of God in the gospel saves and converts individuals to a relationship with God, introduces people to life in the Spirit, and draws members into the Body of Christ. It produces holiness of life, unity in the Spirit and life-giving and life-transforming mission. Therefore in dependence on God, we are committed to spreading the unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ, to making disciples who make disciples of Christ, and to reviving existing and planting new churches. We wait for heaven to belong to a pure and perfect church – indeed, we confess our own guilty part in the church’s present failings. Nonetheless the gospel challenges the church to faithful obedience.
We are committed to faithful biblical orthodoxy as defined by the classic formularies of our tradition. Canon A5 states: “The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal”. The Preface to the Declaration of Assent declares that the Church of England professes “the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds.” This is what the Church of England confesses and true unity belongs in this common confession. It is departure from this common faith that is responsible for causing schism.
Commitment to the gospel has the following implications for action at this time.
Mission Jesus’ Great Commission to “Go into all the world and make disciples” has renewed force for us in our post-Christian society. As is being increasingly recognised, the historic focus on the traditional patterns of parishes, clergy and ecclesiastical buildings is now inadequate by itself to meet this great challenge and must be transformed by one that is dynamically evangelistic, committed to using every available means to reach the unchurched. “Existing ecclesiastical legal boundaries should be seen as permeable”. This means there cannot be any no-go areas for gospel growth and church planting. Best practice will always involve appropriate consultation, including with non-Anglicans. We will support mission-shaped expressions of church through prayer, finance and personnel, even when official permission is unreasonably withheld.
Appointments The local congregation is the initial and key seed-bed for recognising, authorising, raising up and releasing new leaders. We affirm the need for the wider recognition and authorisation for leaders. We recognise the vital importance of biblically orthodox training both regionally and nationally. But many parishes have lost confidence in the institutional centre to discern and train suitable ministers, and fund and deploy them in sufficient numbers and appropriate contexts. Local churches must in future also play a major role in the selection, training, funding and appointment of ministers. This means that we can no longer be constrained by an over-centralised and increasingly ineffective control that is stifling the natural development of ministry. If the local Bishop unreasonably withholds authorisation, we will pay for, train and commission the ministers that are needed, and seek official Anglican recognition for them.
Fellowship Fellowship is based on the faith “once delivered to the saints”. Global Anglicans observe that the Church of England is increasingly polarizing into two churches: the one submitting to God’s revelation, Gospel-focused, Christ-centred, cross-shaped and Spirit-empowered; the other holding a progressive view of revelation, giving priority to human reason over Scripture, shaped primarily by western secular culture, and focused on church structures. We reaffirm the Church of England as a confessing church, built supremely not on administrative or human structures but on biblical authority, belief and behaviour. This means that we can no longer associate with teaching that is contrary to the clear teaching of the Scriptures either doctrinally (for example, on the supremacy and uniqueness of Christ) or morally (for example, on issues of gender, sex and marriage), or church leadership which advocates such teaching. We will therefore encourage new informal networks of fellowship, augmenting where necessary the institutional geographical groupings, and will respect and support those who cannot in good conscience maintain Christian fellowship with neighbouring Anglicans who do not uphold the authority of Scripture.
Money Money is an aspect of gospel partnership in the New Testament. It is entrusted to church leaders by church members who generously and sacrificially give to Christian ministry. Under charity law there is a responsibility that those who handle the church’s money steward those resources with integrity. Funds are expected to be directed towards the churches and causes in line with the beliefs and expectations of those who give. To direct the church’s giving elsewhere is a dereliction of duty for which leaders will be held accountable by God. This means that we can no longer support ministries or structures increasingly marked by the doctrinal and ethical heterodoxy outlined above. Our congregations will seek actively to become self-sustaining when and where we can, to donate a reasonable yet modest amount to support the administrative centre, to be part of mutually accountable financial partnerships, and to give generously to gospel ministries, at home and abroad, that share the same values.
Oversight Christian leaders are servant leaders, servants of the gospel. As Anglicans, we affirm Episcopal oversight for the sake of God’s mission. But it must be ordered for the church’s well-being. This means having biblically orthodox oversight that will teach the apostolic faith, refute error and discipline the wayward. We can, therefore, no longer accept churches being denied such oversight. Ensuring that such biblically orthodox oversight is available for the health and well-being of the church is more important than arguments about jurisdiction. The immediate crisis is over the fundamentals of revealed truth. We are aware of those who justifiably consider that their communion with their bishops is impaired, and will support and help them to find alternative oversight.
We are committed, as authentic Anglicans, to praying, believing and working for a restored, reformed and renewed Church of England, holding its traditional convictions: confidence in the truth of God in his Word, in the sacrificial death of his Son for his world, and in the power of God’s Spirit to fulfil his mission.
President and Chairman sign covenant on behalf of CEEC Read hereCouncil of Crosslinks signs covenant Read here
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Clearly the Anglican Church of Tanzania is not going to be too badly affected materially by this decision because I guess there will be enough conservative Episcopal dioceses and congregations in the US who will be happy to support it with aid, not to mention other conservative church groupings who will want to support it too.
In one sense such a situation is not very different in practice from what happens anyway in which conservative churches tend to send resources, people and money to other conservative churches. What is dismaying here is that it formalises a split which will can only serve , without further change of heart, to cause the development of two separate "Anglican" Communions in the world - a conservative one and an open one; each believing they represent the tru spirit of Anglican Christianity.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Bishop Marc Handley Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California in the USA has been arrested for blocking the front door of the San Francisco federal building to protest against the deaths caused by the Iraq war - writes Mary Frances Schjonberg for the Episcopal News Service (ENS).His participation in the 7 December 2006 protest and his arrest are "just one piece of a sustained effort" to work for peace, Andrus told ENS. Other parts of the effort include further liturgical events, diocesan participation in the upcoming release of a documentary about four soldiers who sought conscientious objector status, and the possibility of having Episcopalians participate in a Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) trip to Iran.Bishop Andrus said that his protest sprang not just from his own convictions about the war but "from a base of considered opinion by the House of Bishops and the Episcopal Church about this war.""It's not a capricious act, but it is my conviction that while there's widespread opposition to this war, that the elected leaders need to know that we continue to want concerted and active moves towards peace," he said.Andrus, carrying his crosier and singing "Down by the Riverside," was among 250 protesters, including members of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and people of other faiths, who had marched from Grace Cathedral, on Nob Hill, to join the monthly "die-in" on Golden Gate Avenue near City Hall. The protest was meant to "memorialize all who have died as a result of US-led hostilities in Iraq," according to a 29 November invitation to the protest posted on the diocese's website.The bishop celebrated a requiem Holy Eucharist at the plaza in front of the building. After they received communion about two dozen participants went one by one to lie down in front of the federal building's two main doors. Andrus was the first protestor to do so. Federal Protective Service officers began arresting protesters for lying down and blocking the building's two main doors.Officers placed Andrus in handcuffs–as one said, "How are you?" and shook the bishop's hand, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.Protesters applauded, cheered and sang as Andrus was photographed by another officer and led inside the building. He and 11 other protesters were detained in a room inside the federal building for about two hours, according to diocesan spokesman Sean McConnell. They were cited for unlawful assembly and told they could either pay the charge's 5 fine or appear in court at a later date. All 12 decided to appear in court, McConnell said.Andrus said the decision was made as a way for the group to continue its protest by pleading not guilty "because of our sense that international law and the unjust nature of this war required civil disobedience."In the invitation to the event, Andrus wrote that "at the Eucharistic table we become aware of this divine reality, that while humans may forget the dead — and may indeed willfully forget them — God remembers them. In the Iraq war the numbers of those who have died mounts, and is staggering. While even the numbers of the dead are unknown to many of us, our faith teaches us that God does not forget them."A small group of protesters led by Quakers have gathered once a week outside the federal building to hold a silent vigil. Once a month the vigil is followed by the "die-in." Andrus has attended a number of the weekly vigils, but this was the first "die-in" he has been able to attend, according to McConnell.McConnell said "a handful of people were upset that the bishop was going to do this," after the invitation was issued for people to join the protest.Andrus said one man, a veteran of the Vietnam War, told him that the protest summoned up for him all the feelings he had about fighting in Vietnam while hearing of angry war protests at home. The bishop said he told the man that he believes that protests of the Iraq war can be and have been "completely respectful of all the soldiers." "The Bishop of California has been called to lead all the people in our diocese and beyond on the path of peace, and this was the first and visible step on that journey," McConnell said. "As we continue on this journey, we will invite all people of all faiths to join us."Andrus became the eighth Bishop of California in July. The Diocese of California comprises about 30,580 Episcopalians worshipping in 80 congregations in the greater San Francisco area.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
7 December 2006
The parish system of the Church of England is examined in a new book published today featuring 12 leading thinkers. Including contributions from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops of Peterborough and Maidstone, The Future of the Parish System discusses the challenges facing the parish system, and suggests principles for future development and growth.
Presented in three sections – Understanding our Context, Theological Resources, and Ways Forward – the collection of essays forms the latest in the Explorations series, a growing library of books that aim to stimulate debate within the church.
In the first section, Martyn Percy takes an historical perspective on the changing identity of the English parish church, while Sara Savage analyses the parish system from a psychological perspective, and sociologist Grace Davie charts the changing patterns of religious affiliation and activity in Northern Europe.
Theological reflections are led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who highlights some resources for re-examining church; the Rt Revd Graham Cray, Bishop of Maidstone, who reflects on how to focus church life on a theology of mission; and Steven Croft, who looks at changing patterns of mission in a “mixed-economy Church”.
Much of the book identifies principles for future development and growth. Robin Gamble outlines how to “do traditional church really well”, while the Rt Revd Ian Cundy, Bishop of Peterborough, gives an overview of the experience of dioceses which have reconfigured themselves for mission. Ann Morisy, Michael Moynagh and George Lings each explore how the Church can capture the experience of emerging forms of church, support the growth of these churches into maturity, and integrate them with more traditional churches. Finally, John Rees explores the potential of the proposed Dioceses, Mission and Ministry Measure in a chapter on the legal aspects of developing new forms of church.
The Future of the Parish System – Shaping the Church of England for the 21st Century is published by Church House Publishing, priced £12.99, and is available from Christian bookshops including Church House Bookshop, 31 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BN, tel. 020 7799 4064, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the web (mail order available).
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Friday, December 01, 2006
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Hat tip to Maggie Dawn for this
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
"May I be bold enough to suggest a simple test? Sit face to face with a child - any child, anywhere - and looking them in the eye, say plainly: 'I am doing everything in my power to safeguard your future and life with this earth.' May I be doubly bold to say that at this moment, you cannot truthfully speak this way to any person, let alone to the child."
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Saturday, October 28, 2006
If the Church of England has a genuine concern to protect religious freedoms in England then I think we should be pursuing vigorously the dismantling of our established status. Then we would stand on all fours with other faith commuities in English society and earn what respect and authority we may gain on the basis of our track record as a faith community rather than on our historical priveleges which now appear increasingly more like burdens.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
The statements of Jack Straw about the full-face veil worn by some Muslim women and his defence by other leading government ministers like Harriet Harman reflect the strong vein of secularist authoritarianism that runs through the bedrock of New Labour. This vein has surfaced time and again during this administration's period of office in draconian legislation to curb the freedoms and legal protections afforded ordinary people going about their daily business, and to increase the powers of the police and the State to invade our homes and our privacy, (not to mention other peoples' countries), in the name of security and stability.
Ziauddin Sardar writes in this week's New Stateman with compelling arguments as to why Jack Straw's frank admission of his feelings towards the niqab, the full-face veil worn by some Muslim women, and his requests that it be removed in meetings with him, betrays both an astonishing ignorance and a readiness to force his views on others. ( See link in title)
Why is this of interest to me in Anglican terms? I do believe that in a free society our assumption must be that people may wear what they choose in public, subject only to the laws of obscenity and public nuisance. It is the role of politicians to defend that right, and not to undermine it by asserting, without strong evidence and purely on the basis of personal feelings, that certain forms of dress are subversive of good order in society. But all those who belong to communities of faith, whether or not we agree with the veiling of women's faces in public, should be very worried when government ministers use their public role and voice to criticise the practices of a faith community simply on the basis that it is different from what the majority do and makes the majority feel uncomfortable.
Evangelical students fail in bid to be called 'Christian Union':
"Evangelical students fail in bid to be called 'Christian Union' -14/10/06
Evangelical students at Exeter university have failed in their bid to call themselves the 'Christian Union' and have had their accounts frozen pending a full review into the society's Equal Opportunities policy.
A referendum was held at the university this week about whether the 'Evangelical Christian Union' should be able to change its name to the 'Christian Union'.
For more than 50 years, students at the Devon university have organised evangelistic events under the name of the Exeter University Christian Union. However in May a complaint was made against them that the group was too exclusive. The student Guild subsequently changed the name to 'Evangelical Christian Union.'
Opposition has been growing in universities up and down the country to many Christian Unions over their approaches to gay and lesbian people. They have also been accused of operating discriminatory policies over appointments to their executives.
Other Christian groups also operate in universities, holding different positions to traditional Christian Unions which tend to be evangelical in character. This calls into question say critics, the right of Evangelicals with conservative views, to have a monopoly on the name 'Christian'.
Voting in the referendum at Exeter University, about whether the Evangelical Christian Union should be able to change its name to the 'Christian Union', finished on Friday. The “No” campaign won the referendum with a 55% majority. Of the 582 votes, 317 were in favour of keeping the existing name.
The result of the referendum will still need to be ratified at the university Guild Council. "
Friday, October 13, 2006
"Desmond Tutu expresses sadness at Anglican anti-gay stance -11/10/06
Archbishop Desmond Tutu says he has been saddened by his Anglican church's position about the ordination of gay priests, in his biography released in the United States and Europe on 7 October 2006, his 75th birthday – writes David Wanless for Ecumenical News International.
When he served as archbishop, Tutu was critical of the South African Anglican church policy to allow gay priests to minister in parishes as long as they remained celibate, but he was unable to change the approach. He also approved of blessing of gay and lesbian relationships for lay church members, but declined to call them marriages.
The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, who gained the award in 1984, at the height of the struggle against apartheid, is also critical in the book of former South African president F.W. de Klerk for his failure to more fully admit accountability for apartheid atrocities.
World Council of Churches general secretary, the Rev Samuel Kobia, said in a congratulatory letter to Tutu on 6 October: 'You have challenged and pushed us never to adjust to the powers that are, but always to discern the signs of God's coming kingdom and to act accordingly.'
Dr Kobia added: 'Through your work with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, you gave this fractured and broken world a model for overcoming the wounds of past evils and for creating space for healing and reconciliation.'
On visit to South Africa, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said his country had chosen Tutu for the Gandhi Peace Prize - India's highest international award. He made the announcement on 2 October, which commemorates the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Recently I emailed Henry to plead the cause of unity and peace despite our differences, recalling our days together in the same classes and at the feet of the same biblical scholars. His reply was congenial but made clear that he believes the Americans and others who accept homosexuals in the ministry are the ones who are walking away from the biblical faith which is the foundation of the Anglican church. He sees himself as pleading with them for the cause of faithfulness to the biblical witness.
There was a wedding in our church this afternoon. It was conducted by my colleague but I happened to be walking by as the bride and groom emerged from the West Door into the sunlit churchyard. The scene was the same as it has been for decades if not centuries (with the notable exception of the video cameraman) - the bride in white shining out, the centre of attraction and interest. I started reflecting if the day would ever arrive, perhaps in ten years time, perhaps in a hundred, when it might be two women in white dresses emerging from the church as a couple, or two men beginning a lifelong partnership with the blessing of their church community. One hundred years from now - I cannot really doubt that will be accepted - unless the next generation leaves our dividing church to its own devices and finds God equally present at a wedding on a beach or in garden where the integrity of their identities and feelings are not questioned by those who neither know them nor understand them.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Monday, September 18, 2006
Monday, September 11, 2006
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Friday, September 01, 2006
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Sunday, July 23, 2006
The British Province of the Moravian Church has elected a woman as a
bishop. The Rev'd Beth Talkington becomes the first woman to hold the
office in the province although there are women bishops in other Moravian
Church provinces. The bishops of the Moravian Church are known as 'bishops
of the Unity', and each serves in the whole province. Unlike Church of
England bishops they do not act in an administration capacity. Theirs is a
teaching and pastoral ministry.
“During the past 24 hours, the Israeli military operations have grown in intensity, with the use of internationally banned arms, particularly in the South of Lebanon, the southern suburbs of Beirut, the Beqa'. Heavy shelling has targeted residential buildings and innocent civilians, in addition to the destruction of factories (milk) and farms. The Israeli army has tried to advance into Lebanese territory, facing strong resistance by Hizbollah fighters.“Since our last update of 19 July, the death toll has reached around 750 (including those still buried under the rubbles) and the number of the injured has gone up to 1,200. 650,000 persons are now reported to have been displaced. Entire villages are burnt and destroyed, hundreds of families have been torn apart and basic infrastructure (buildings, bridges, highways, electric power stations, gas stations to every port on the Lebanese coast, the International airport as well as small military airports) severely damaged.“Despite the many centres opened for the population in the different sectors of Beirut and regions of Lebanon where the displaced have taken refuge, hundreds have settled in public gardens and parks where tents have been installed."
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I was pleased to see our own area bishop, The Bishop of Reading, amongst the list; but nonetheless concerned that only 8 of the diocesan bishops were signatories.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Monday, July 10, 2006
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Friday, July 07, 2006
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
"Palestinian civilians are dying daily due to a lack of medicines - and doctors to administer them. The EU must urgently resume full assistance payments - with no strings attached - or face the fact that its decisions leave us with Palestinian blood on all of our hands."
"We have been demanding Palestinian democracy as a pre-condition for peace for years. Now the Palestinian people have delivered, and voted for a Hamas government in a free and fair election, it is completely unacceptable for the EU to precipitate a humanitarian crisis in the occupied territories simply because it doesn't like the result.
"The EU's refusal to acknowledge and accept the results of a democratic election is a completely unacceptable act of collective punishment against the Palestinian people."
American Episcopalians have elected a woman as the Presiding Bishop for the
first time in their history. My response: rejoice and again I say rejoice.
The Americans are leading the way in what it means to be a truly
life-affirming church. Read about The Rt Revd Kathrine Jefferts Schori here
Friday, June 16, 2006
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Archbishop Rowan's message to this week's General Convention of the US
Episcopal Church reads between the lines to me as saying that its OK to
reject the Windsor Report as it stands because its not the end of the story
and the picture it presents is only a picture of what a functioning
Communion might look like. Rowan's appeal is to hope that the theological
vision of the Report is before them and that there is a need for 'some
common convictions' about being and making decisions in the body of Christ.
Clearly to me he is pedalling back from Windsor. See
BBC lunchtime news 14 June 2006 carried a piece about increasing
segregation of schools on ethnic lines even in towns where ethnic minority
communities are significant in numbers. The example given was Blackburn
Lancashire. Two primary schools were shown only a mile or so apart - one
has no white children and one has no black children. What caught my notice
was that the all-white school shown is a Roman Catholic primary school.
Church of England primary schools usually serve the children of their
neighbourhood and do not make family commitment to the church a major
criterion of admission. But oversubscribed church schools and in
particular Church of England secondary schools tend to operate as schools
for the children of church-goers. This is true of Ranelagh School in
Bracknell which serves the deanery of Sonning where I am area dean.
I ask the question: how well does a church's education strategy which
includes prominently schools for churchgoers' children serve the gospel and
promote mission based on the values of the reign of God? I have doubts that
a strategy which includes and supports such schools not only fails to
serve the gospel but actually harms the church's witness. I believe a
Church of England strategy for education should be based firmly on a
network of schools which focus on serving the education of the most
vulnerable in society and being beacons of both community transformation
and educational excellence, offering children including those without
without church family background and those of other faiths if they wish, a
genuine experience of Christian community. In short our church school
network is the single biggest oppurtunity we have for a fresh expression of
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Monday, June 12, 2006
In 1989 I was interviewed by George Carey when he was at Bath and Wells for
the position of Anglican Chaplain to Bath University. When I made a remark
which rashly revealed my assumption that he was on the evangelical wing of
the Church he became quite hotly defensive insisting that he was a member
of the Open Synod group. Needless to say I was not offered the job.
There is a mini-revival of Choral Evensong happening in Wokingham. A group
of young mothers has decided its a good service for chilled-out focussed
worship without the distractions of chidren . Afterwards some go across the
road to the pub for a social time.Yesterday as well as the 20 choir members
there were 21 others in the congregation of All Saints Parish Church. A few
months ago the attendance number was in single figures.