Wednesday, December 20, 2006

There are evangelicals who love the US Episcopal Church

Rick Lord, an American priest of the US Episcopal Church writes movingly of his reflections on the 25th anniversary of his ordination. On the current crisis in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion he writes: "I have served almost half of those years in the Diocese of Virginia under Bishop Peter Lee who has been an extraordinary mentor and friend. Yes, there are evangelical priests who love the Episcopal Church and who remain faithful to its doctrine, discipline, and worship. I'm one of them. Yes, there are matters in our family over which I am deeply vexed. But for me, relational unity precedes doctrinal unity, a conviction grounded in the writings of St. Paul (see 1 Corinthians, chapter 12)."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cartoon view of Evangelicals' Covenant

Dave Walker's Cartoon Blog brings his refreshing take on church matters to bear on the Church of England group of conservative evangelicals and others similar who recently issued a "covenant". There are some great links to other blogs with excellent comments also on this.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Brain of evangelicals tears so-called Covenant apart

Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham, probably the most intelligent and learned person in the genuinely evangelical wing of the Church of England, tears to shreds the recently issued statement from disaffected conservatives - the so-called Covenant for the Church of England. Read it through the link in the title above.

Conservative Anglicans issue their document

Anglicans from the conservative wing of the church issued this statement last week. They are claiming the identity of orthodoxy for themselves, indeed the identity of true Anglican Christianity. But they seem to me to be the inheritors of the Puritan beliefs which whilst have always been held in tension with the Anglican settlement which emerged from the seventeenth century, could never have been said to be the true face of 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

Anglican Church of Tanzania breaks communion with Episcopal Church

The Anglican Church of Tanzania has declared that its communion with the Episcopal Church in the USA is severely impaired. It will not accept any financial and material aid from dioceses or parishes in the US which condone homosexual practice or bless same-sex partnerships. It will however maintain communion (and accept material and financial aid is implied) from those those who are faithful to Biblical Christianity and authority of Scripture who either remain in the Episcopal Church or who leave it.
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

New Bishop of Oxford

At last we know who the next Bishop of Oxford is to be - John Pritchard, currently Suffragan Bishop of Jarrow. It has been a long wait for the announcement and the diocese I think was getting rather restive. I have not met John before. His giftings and passions seem to be, from what I gather by "Googling " him and the list of his publications, in the area of pastoral and practical theology. A colleague here at All Saints has encountered him in action and speaks favourably of his inclusiveness. The signs are hopeful.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Episcopal bishop arrested for anti-war protest n San Francisco

Ekklesia the Christian news services reports:
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

Reflecting on the future of the parish system

Reflecting on the future of the parish system
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, or on the web (mail order available).

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Online Advent calendar

The Church of England has an official online calendar here with stories about Advent from a different person each day - beginning with Archbishop of York, John Sentamu.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Archbishop of York attacks Government policy over Iraq

From Ekklesia news briefings: In an event sponsored by the thinktank Ekklesia, the Archbishop of York last night launched an outspoken assault on US and UK policy in Iraq, warning of the dangers of "militarism out of control", reports the Guardian newspaper.Dr John Sentamu called for the UN to be given a central role in mediating global conflicts.He said in the speech to CHIPS (Christian International Peace Service), which was sponsored by the thinktank Ekklesia: "A scant regard for international law carries a high price, not only in terms of political uncertainty but more importantly in the body count which daily increases in those places where unilateral military action has proved so costly."In the short term such actions lead to quick victories, which make for great headlines. But the hard work of reconciliation, the hard labour of peacemaking ... never made it to the drawing board of those planning the invasion."We only have to look at the mounting daily death toll in Iraq to see the effects of military action without a concerted UN backing, where the consequences of militarist solutions play out against escalating sectarian and anti-western unrest ..."In August, the archbishop fasted for international peace for a week, camping in a tent at York Minster, in response to the televised pictures of the war in Lebanon. The event marked the 40th Anniversary of the Christian International Peace Service (CHIPS).CHIPS works for peace and reconciliation in areas of conflict and tension around the world. Its emphasis is on grassroots approaches recognising that while political solutions are important, without the engagement of individuals and communities, real and lasting peace may be impossible to realise.A 'relational organisation' it tailors its approach to particular situations to inspire and motivate local people to build peace in their communities. CHIPS supports teams of Christians to undertake practical projects which foster positive interaction, increase trust and reduce enmity between opposing groups or individuals.CHIPS is a member of the Coventry Cathedral Community of the Cross of Nails.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Colourful Dreamer on film "As it is in Heaven"

Colourful Dreamer writes: I went to see "As it is in Heaven" on Monday afternoon. It is a wonderful "foreign film" made in Sweden. It has some really interesting themes around the power of love.It is about a famous conductor who for health reasons retires and returns to the village he grew up in till be was 9. No-one knows he was from there.He wanted to remain a recluse, but is persuaded to help with the local church choir. In the process he learns about love, and his choir learn to love through music, with life changing consequences.As I watched it I was reminded of the early theologians I read for my Masters course last semester. God as Love was one of the dominant images fro Athanasius, Augustine and Julian. In fact Julian said that in God there is only love. And I was then reminded of the statement from the Anglican Bishops of the Global South who, in response to the session the Archbishop of Canterbury led them in, came very close to rejecting as adequate God as love, and instead focussed on the God of Wrath who is most concerned with sex. This standpoint is represented by the parish pastor in the movie.As I watched this movie, and saw people being transformed by Love, I could not help contrast how people walked away from the pastor and his God of wrath who hated all things sexual, and instead found lives of integrity and moral value through love.What worried me most about the splits within Anglicanism is that it is a debate between those who seek to follow God who is love, and those who seek to follow God of worth, who wish us to live our lives in fear. In this place and in this time, inviting people to live their lives in fear of a God of Wrath is a missiological disaster. It is the God of love who will transform us as individuals and as a people, transform us to be more compassionate and passionate. This is not moral free or permissive, as the movie showed Love is the end transforms morally.Ah well, I have gone further here than I intended. If nothing else, go se the film.May you be anchored deeply in Love, in the God who is Love and who Love compassionately and passionately.
Hat tip to Maggie Dawn for this

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Rowan Williams on his forthcoming visit with the Pope

In this Church Times interview the Archbishop explains why he is an Anglican and not a Roman Catholic. And in defending the Anglican model of church he uses refers to Vincent Donovan's Christianity Rediscovered - the account now at least 30 years old - of the way Christianity was introduced to a Maasai community East Africa in a way which was expressed in terms of their own culture. This he contrasts with the tendency of the Roman Catholic Church to impose things from the centre.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Australian Archbishop calls on politicians to end shame of failure to act on climate change

The Archbishop of Australia, The Most Revd George Browning, has called upon both the Australian Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to make Australia a leader in tackling climate change rather than shamefully failing to meets it responsibilites as at present.
He writes:
"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

Michael Mayne

I found out today that Michael Mayne, former Dean of Westminister, died last Sunday. He was one of those people with the rare gift of making you feel special when he talked to you. Lorraine and I met him once only when he was vicar of Great St Mary's in Cambridge but we never forgot his gracious greeting to us as we left the church at the end of the service. Later we read his book about his episode of chronic fatigue syndrome. Click on the title link above for an article about him by CHristopher Howse.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Archbishop of Canterbury on religious symbols

In this article published in yesterday's Times the Archbishop of Canterbury reflects on his recent experience in China to throw light on the questions of the right place of religion and religious practices in British society today; as debates continue about the wearing of Muslim veils and Christian crosses in the workplace, and about the place of church or faith schools. He cautions, rightly in my view, against a state-sponsored secularism. China is moving away from that, having tried and failed to exclude religion from public life, and it would be ironic if we are moving towards it. A state which sponsors secularism at the expense of religious integrity and practice is a state which is usurping to itself a role which is very different from what we have understood the state to be about in Britain. The difficulty Anglicans have however, and which the Archbishop does not mention explicity, is that the Church of England has been, and constitutionally remains, a state-sponsored religion. In that sense we are not yet a secular society. Perhaps the over-reaction, as I would see it, of those who bitterly oppose so-called faith schools arises from the spiritual toxicity of a situation and a history in which the Church of England has exercised, and in some respects still does, an authority drawn from its status as the established church but which is no longer freely embraced by the vast majority of the British population.
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

Why Jack Straw is wrong about the veil

The current Government speaks with forked tongue on matters of faith. On the one hand some of its Departments have encouraged greater involvement of faith communities in public life, such as Local Strategic Partenerships (I am a faith representative on one of these myself), but on the other hand it has promoted a bland secularist agenda which basically regards all faiths as the same and wants to contain them within its own agenda. Recently Guy Wilkinson, interfaith advisor to the Archbishop of Canterbury was reported as claiming that the Government had mishandled its attempts to promote relations between faith communities by being "schizophrenic" in its approach and favouring Muslims over the churches. Other commentators, such as Jonathan Bartley of the Christian thinktank Ekklesia acknowledge there is a growing feeling amongst Christian churches that they are being sidelined in public life in favour of other faiths. But Bartley argues that these feelings are misguided and reflect Christians' sense of the loss of the priveleges of the Christendom era.

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.

Lesbians and gays are the Bible's greatest lovers, says Trevor Dennis

Writing today in The Guardian Trevor Dennis, Vice Dean of Chester Cathedral argues here that the Bible is not as lacking in a positive assessment of homosexuality as anti-gay conservative Christians might think. (Click on title for link.) In fact he sets out to show that the Bible celebrates same-sex relationships. Not only that, but there are more examples of good role-models for same-sex love than there are for exemplary marriage in the Bible! His conclusion is that there are pressing issues around human relationships in our society that the Church needs to be challenging rather than condemning loving homosexual couples, such as casual infidelity, lack of time and love for children, the devaluing of friendship, and domestic violence.

Evangelical students fail in bid to be called 'Christian Union'

Perhaps the Church of England has something to learn from the students of Exeter University!

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

Desmond Tutu expresses sadness at Anglican anti-gay stance:
"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

Former classmates in different worlds?

Two former classmates of mine from theological college days are in very different places on the homosexuality issue and both in the news in recent days. Henry Orombi now the Archbishop of Uganda is one of the leaders of the Global South group of Anglican archbishops who are pressing the American church to renounce its acceptance of homosexual bishops and clergy, and same-sex partnerships; and David Page, vicar of Clapham Common, is quoted in today's Daily Telegraph as a priest who has a civil partnership with his partner. In the early 80s we were young students together in St John's College Nottingham preparing for our lives as ordained ministers in the Anglican Communion; eating, praying and studying together in one large family. Now David and Henry stand on opposite sides of the rift threatening to split the Anglican church.

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

An insight into the US Episcopal Church's crisis

This article about the crisis in the American church contains interviews with some of the key players in the Texan diocese of Dallas/Fort Worth, whose bishop is one of the leaders of the conservative Anglican network threatening to split from the parent Episcopal Church.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Archbishop of Canterbury writes about Anglican Communion

The letter of last week from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Anglican Communion leaders provides an update on where things have reached in the process of discussion following the General Convention of the US Episcopal Church in June. Click title for link.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Message on anniversary of 9 - 11

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA calls on the United States to become a "superservant" in the world rather than a superpower. Click on title for text of message and links to video stream.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Creation by God and evolution are compatible

Distinguished Anglican theologian Keith Ward writes in this week's The Tablet, Catholic weekly, about the proper relationship between Christian faith in the Creator God and evolution.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Bishop of Columbo speaks out

The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, Anglican Bishop of Colombo, has spoken out against the violence in Sri Lanka following the killing of 17 aid workers and the disappearance of a priest and a lay worker. See link in title above.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Online Guide to Mediation

Online Guide to Mediation

Archbishop of York's vigil

I have returned from holiday in Yorkshire inspired by the example of the Archbishop of York. His week long vigil of prayer and fasting in York Minister for peace in the Middle East and around the world is a brilliant and powerful spiritual witness for the modern media-age. In Sentamu we have an Anglican church leader with imagination and spiritual authority who is prepared to speak the gospel truth about war; rather than offer a compromised complex partisan message about just war theories and rights of self-defence. With my wife I joined with lots of others for a time of prayer one day in York Minister. There were tourists taking photos as they peered into the St John Chapel from outside; but the chapel was full with people who had come to pray.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

An American Episcopalian perspective on the Middle East crisis

The Episcopal (Anglican) Bishop of Washington writes about the current Middle East crisis very much in terms of it as a failure of religious and moral vision. What stands out for me in his text (click on title above) is his en passant assumption that the US is the leader of the free world. If that's the case , why are so few of us following it?

England has a woman bishop

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.

Local churches reports on Israeli attacks on Lebanon

Ekklesia the Chrisitan think-tank and news syndication service carries a statement from the Middle East Council of Churches detailing the destruction and loss of life now being inflicted by Israel on Lebanese civilians. MECC includes the Anglican churches in the region. Here is an extract from the statement.

“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

Archbishop of Canterbury condemns the spiralling violence in the Middle East

Archbishop Rowan Williams has condemned unequivocally the resort to violence in the current crisis in the Middle East. This is in the context of a pastoral letter of sympathy and support for Christian communities in the Lebanon. He is careful to condemn the use of violence on all sides; which is welcome . The Pope also condemns the violence on all sides because of the way it targets innocent civilians; but to his credit the Pope goes further in reminding the world that the context of this violence is an objective injustice - " violations "of law and justice" at the root of the conflict could not be used to sanction bloodshed". So often news bulletins about these conflicts between Israel and its neighbours treat the situation as if it is one of equal responsibility. The fact is that Israel controls the lives of Palestinians in every way under military regulation, the Palestinian people are strugglingto feed and clothe themselves, have no democratic voice in the laws that impinge on their daily lives; are effectively stateless and cannot travel; their young people have no hope for a future the way things are. Israeli citizens on the other hand live a modern western lifestyle with every access to justice and security. The murder of Israeli citizens by terrorist rockets seems to justify any level of disproportionate response but the slaughter of innocent Lebanese and Palestinian women and children by Israeli bombs is regarded as just an unfortunate by-product of Israel's need for security. The use of violence by all sides will never the secure the future of either but will perpetuate a cycle of hatred; and condemn a whole generation of children to a poverty-stricken and fear-filled start to their lives. Why are the world's political leaders not calling for an end to violence on all sides. Isn't Israel's tactics as reprehensible as the terrorists? Or is it because all of the world powers especially the US and the UK have no leg to stand on in condemning the use of bombardment of civilians and invasion of a sovereign state, because that is exactly the means they have used to try and solve the Iraq and Afghanistan situations.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

We will have women bishops in my lifetime God willing!

The General Synod looks now serious about women bishops as it passed a resolution last Monday to begin exploring the practical and legislative steps towards ordaining women as bishops. This is good news. It doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon though so I hope I live to see it! Click title above for a very good detailed account with pictures from the American Episcopal Church news service's international correspondent.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bishops oppose Trident

Eight diocesan bishops of the Church of England and 12 suffragan bishops have written to urge MPs to consider their arguments against the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons programme which they oppose on practical, moral and economic grounds. They make a link to the global poverty issue.
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.

Why Benedictine spirituality attracts

The Daily Episcopalian website has a good article about the attraction of St Benedict's spirituality in western society today. (Click on title)

Reflections of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop

Read here (click on title above) the reflections of Rt Revd Frank Griswold the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (American) on the 75th General Convention and his responses to the Archbishop of Canterbury's ideas about a possible "Two-tier" Anglican Communion. Basically he doesn't like the idea. As he writes: "Such a two-tiered view of our common life suggests to me amputated limbs and severed branches without any life-giving relationship to the One who is the source of all life. A pragmatic solution in this regard is at the expense of the deeper truth that the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Archbishop of Cape Town's calls on Anglicanism to hold the middle ground

It is fascinating that whilst out of Africa comes the cold blasts of narrow conservatism from Nigeria, so also out of Africa comes the warm affirmation of the true Anglican spirit from South Africa. Click title to see full account.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The view from the States

Here is the sermon preached by one American Episcopal Church priest on the gospel for last Sunday 9th July on the question of sacrificing gospel truth for the sake of corporate unity relating to the divisions in the Anglican Communion. Basically I agree.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Friday, July 07, 2006

A new way to silence prophecy?

Columnist Giles Fraser in the Church Times today says it for me on this one!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

InclusiveChurch network response to Archbishop's message

InclusiveChurch network 's response to the Archbishop's message following the General Convention of The Episcopal Church is not enthusiastic. They have profound concerns about agreeing an Anglican Covenant. Click title for link.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Archbishop again!

My thoughts on the Archbishop of Canterbury's approach to the homosexuality argument are echoed by this piece in The Guardian by Michael Hampson which I have just found (click on title above)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Why am I so disillusioned with our leaders today?

It started with Tony Blair. Less than a year after Labour's election victory in 1997 I started to realise he was not the principled leader I hoped for. He caved in to business pressure over cigarette advertising. I should have listened to the misgiving I felt intuitively when I first met him on his campaign trail in Harlow Essex during the 1992 election. He was strangely quiet whenever anyone in the room sought for his assent to a socialist policy! Now it is the Archbishop of Canterbury. I was a fully paid up admirer. Even the shameful treatment of Jeffrey John did not dent my enthusiasm. But disillusionment with Rowan's approach has set in for me over the sorry story of Anglican Communion arguments about homosexuality. Perhaps it's just me - but where does the future lie for a church which will not listen, but instead excludes, those who disagree with the majority? And doesn't this whole argument hang not on whether all Anglicans should agree to agree but on whether believing that homosexual relationships are acceptable to God or not. Why can't we talk about the issue instead of talking about ways to avoid the issue?

Rowan Williams reflects

Click the link above for a summary from the Daily Telegraph of Rowan Williams' reflections on the current crisis in the Anglican Communion.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

What does cultural captivity look like?

Geoffrey Rowell Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe writes in The Times yesterday (see link from title above) "...the stances adopted this week by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church reveal more about cultural captivity than faithful Christian witness". The idea seems to be that if a church decides something you don't like its conforming to culture; but if it does something you do like it's bringing in the kingdom of God. Apparently conforming to culture is wrong by the way. But what if the culture has got it right? And what if the culture has absorbed the Christian gospel more fully and far-reachingly than the institutional church has? It might be expected that after 2000 years of Christian preaching Western culture has been maybe a bit influenced by the gospel? And why is the Enlightenment so often condemned by bishops of the Anglo-Catholic tradition as Rowell does in this article?

"It's a woman's job now"

There is a piece by Charlie Lee-Potter about women as priests in the Church of England in the New Statesman magazine this week (Click heading above for link). It is a surprisingly sympathetic piece for this publication which generally treats religion at best ironically and quite often scathingly.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Episcopal Church rejects the call for a ban on gay bishops and same-sex blessings

Thank God that Episcopalian deputies have acted according to their consciences and rejected a ban which would prevent them from doing what they know to be right. After all, isn't that what being reformed Christians is all about? How would there be the Anglican church today if our forebears had failed to do what was right? And as Dave Walker points out on his cartoonblog - isn't there something in the Acts of the Apostles about breaking with tradition?

Dave Walker's cartoons always worth a look

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Caroline Lucas MEP for this part of the world speaks up on behalf of Palestinians who are suffering and dying because of a withdrawal of European aid following the election of the Hamas Pary to government in free and fair elections:

"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."

Rejoice with the American Episcopal Church

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

Anglican news readers

The videos - General Convention Nightly - from the US Episcopal Church are very informative but also quite difficult to watch with a straight face!. Imagine the Ten O'Clock news read by vicars! Or remember those episodes of Father Ted featuring talent competitions where every contestant on the show is a priest in a clerical collar? There is something faintly hysterical about these news bulletins. Americans have an amazing capacity to bring the most advanced methodology to very traditional content. The last four minutes of the Thursday night bulletin has a meditation by Archbishop John Sentamu which is good. But check out the interview with the Archbishop of Botswana, about 15 minutes or so into the stream. I found what he had to say about listening and dialogue extremely encouraging.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

ABC's message to ECUSA General Convention

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

School segregation increasing

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

Bishop of Cork on Anglican spirit

The Bishop of Cork in the Church of Ireland has spoken up for the authentic spirit of being Anglican in his recent address to his diocese. See an extract here

Monday, June 12, 2006

Archbishop George Carey

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.

Whither Evensong?

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.