jump to navigation

Miscues in news on gay blessings and marriage from London: GetReligion, February 18, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Get Religion, Press criticism.
Tags: ,
add a comment

The Valentine’s Day statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England on gay marriage has fluttered the Anglican dovecots.

The story received A1 treatment from the British press and it spawned commentaries and opinion pieces in the major outlets. The second day stories reported some activists were “appalled” by the news whilst others were over the moon with delight — but being British their joy did not rise to continental expressions of euphoria.

The story continues to move through the media and on Sunday the BBC had one bishop tell the Sunday Programme that clergy who violated the Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage protocol might be brought up on charges — and could well be sacked.

So what did the bishops do? A scan of the first day stories reports that they either said “no to gay marriage but yes to gay civil unions” or “no to gay marriage and no to blessing gay unions.” The first day reports were evenly divided between the “no/yes” and “no/no” schools.

The Independent interpreted the document as no/yes.  The lede  in its story entitled “Gay marriage: Church of England to offer prayers after weddings but no same-sex marriage for vicar” stated:

Gay couples will be able to have special prayers following their weddings but members of the clergy are banned from entering same-sex marriages when these become legal next month.

The Church of England issued its new pastoral guidance following a meeting of the House of Bishops to discuss the issue on Friday. Despite condemning “irrational fear of homosexuals” and saying all were “loved by God”, the document sent a clear signal separating the Church’s concept of marriage and the new legal definition. …

Civil partnerships will still be performed and vicars have been warned that married couples must be welcomed to worship and not subject to “questioning” or discrimination. Same-sex couples may ask for special prayers after being married but it will not be a service of blessing.

The Telegraph also took the no/yes line. The lede to its story entitled “Church offers prayers after same-sex weddings — but bans gay priests from marrying” stated:

Gay couples who get married will be able to ask for special prayers in the Church of England after their wedding, the bishops have agreed. But priests who are themselves in same-sex relationships or even civil partnerships will be banned from getting married when it becomes legally possible next month.

Compare this to the dispatch from Reuters which took a no/no line. Its lede stated:

Church of England priests will not be allowed to bless gay and lesbian weddings, or marry someone of the same sex themselves, according to new guidelines issued by the church, which is struggling to heal divides over homosexuality.

Why the disparate interpretations? Was this a case of the Church of England speaking out of both sides of its mouth at the same time? Offering an ambiguous statement that allows individuals to read into it what they are predisposed to find?

Perhaps. One should never underestimate the skill of the Sir Humphrey Appleby’s at Church House in churning out drivel. But in this case I believe the reporters’ suppositions as to the meaning of phrases drove their interpretations. The problem was not imprecise language from the bishops but a lack of understanding of technical language from reporters.

Here are the pertinent paragraphs:

19. As noted above, same sex weddings in church will not be possible. As with civil partnership, some same sex couples are, however, likely to seek some recognition of their new situation in the context of an act of worship.

20.   The 2005 pastoral statement said that it would not be right to produce an authorized public liturgy in connection with the registering of civil partnerships and that clergy should not provide services of blessing for those who registered civil partnerships. The House did not wish, however,  to interfere with the clergy’s pastoral discretion about when more informal kind of prayer, at the request of the couple, might be appropriate in the light of the circumstances.   The College made clear on 27 January that, just as the Church of England’s doctrine of marriage remains the same, so its pastoral and liturgical practice also remains unchanged.

21.  The same approach as commended in the 2005 statement should therefore apply to couples who enter same-sex marriage, on the assumption that any prayer will be accompanied by pastoral discussion of the church’s teaching and their reasons for departing from it. Services of blessing should not be provided. Clergy should respond pastorally and sensitively in other ways.

Paragraph 19 restates there will be no same-sex church weddings, but notes that some same-sex couples might seek to have their unions prayed for, or over, by the clergy. The bishops are not giving their permission to do so, but are stating what they acknowledge to be the “facts on the ground” in some parishes.

Paragraph 20 notes the current practice is to permit “informal” prayers offered at the discretion of the priest that are appropriate to the circumstances, while paragraph 21 states no blessings of same-sex unions will be permitted.

However, clergy are permitted to offer prayers. What exactly is a prayer in this situation? A blessing? No. A mark of approbation or thanksgiving by the church? Not according to the document. The bishops have left this crucial bit undefined, save in the negative — saying what it is not.

The emphasis missing from the Telegraph and Independent stories is that in the context of these private informal prayers, the priest is to reiterate to the same-sex couple the church’s teaching on sexuality and ask they “their reasons for departing from it.”

The assumption made by the Telegraph and Independent is that a prayer for a same-sex couple must be, by its very nature, a prayer of affirmation. That is not stated in the document, and the reference to existing teachings would make affirmation of a gay union difficult at the very least — if the priest were to honor the bishops’ guidance.

There is ambiguity here — I can’t let the bishops off that lightly — as a clergyman who will be asked to give informal private prayers by a gay couple will most likely to be known to them and would offer prayers of affirmation. He is not forbidden to do that, but must also tag on the party line as their union is not one the church believes is in line with God’s plan for mankind, is contrary to Scripture and to right reason.

Is this then a failure of the press to Get Religion? To one degree yes — Reuters and other newspaper picked up the no/no line that the Telegraph and Independentmissed. But at the same time the bishops were not as clear as they could have been.

The bigger journalism issue is not the insiders’ Anglican game — but the difficulty in communicating to the wider world the symbols and code language of religious institutions. These sorts of miscue and missteps happen all the time in reporting on the Vatican — and the farther a faith moves from the comfort and knowledge zone of reporters the more apt we are to see the gaps. The answer, of course, is to use specialist reporters to write on these topics. Which I’m afraid is not likely to happen in the near future.

First printed in GetReligion.

Blackburn to host Royal Maundy service: The Church of England Newspaper, April 6, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Blackburn Cathedral will be the site of this year’s Royal Maundy Service on 17 April 2014.

The Queen will present “Maundy money,” specially minted silver coins to pensioners who have made a “significant contribution” to Church or civic life. The number of recipients is by tradition set by the age of the monarch-88 men and 88 women will receive the coins from the Queen, who celebrates her 88th birthday this year.

This year’s recipients will come from Lancashire. The Dean of Blackburn, the Very Rev. Christopher Armstrong said welcoming the Queen was “a huge privilege as well as a great responsibility. I am sure the visit will be a wonderful experience for all involved.”

The Rt. Rev. Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, who was appointed in October, added: “It will be wonderful in my first year in the diocese to be able to welcome Her Majesty to the cathedral. Normally people visit Her Majesty to receive honours, so it is symbolic this is the only occasion the Queen travels to make an award.”

The distribution of alms on Maundy Thursday has its origin in Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet.  Beginning in the 13th century, the Sovereign would give alms of money, food and clothing to the poor and wash their feet.  James II, who was the last monarch to exercise the traditional gift of healing touch of the king, was also the last monarch to wash the feet of the recipients.

Beginning in the 13th century the ceremony was traditionally been held at Westminster Abbey.  The Queen changed this practice and services are now held at cathedrals across England—in 1982 the Church in Wales played host at St David’s Cathedral in Dyfed and in 2008 the Church of Ireland’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh hosted the ceremony.

The word “Maundy” is derived from the first antiphon traditionally sung at the ceremony: “Mandatum novum do vobis”: ‘A new commandment give I unto you.’ John 13.34.

Sussex cleric banned for Life: The Church of England Newspaper, April 6, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: ,
add a comment

The Diocese of Chichester has banned a retired clergyman imprisoned for child abuse in 2013, the Rev. Wilkie Denford from “ministerial practice for life.”

On 21 March 2014 the diocese released a statement saying: “Following the conclusion of criminal proceedings and a subsequent statutory disciplinary process under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, sentences of prohibition for life from exercising any functions of ordained ministry within the Church of England have been imposed upon the Reverend Keith (Wilkie) Denford. The sentences are imposed under Section 30 of the Clergy Discipline Measure following the respondents’ convictions and imprisonment for a series of indecent assaults, including offences against minors.”

In May 2013 Denford was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by the Hove Crown Court for sexually abusing two teenage boys.  “There can be no greater breach of trust than a man playing the role of a man of God, and as the spiritual adviser to the family concerned, to take advantage of that position to abuse small children,” Judge Paul Tain told Denford at his sentencing.

In a 9 May 2013 statement released after the sentence was handed down, the Bishop of Chichester, the Rt. Rev. Martin Warner, said “today will mark a milestone for the survivors who have had to live through this trial.  To them we offer an unreserved apology and an assurance that we have heard and we believe the terrible story they have had to tell.”

Anglican Unscripted Episode 95: March 21, 2014 March 22, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: , , , ,
comments closed

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.

STORY INDEX
00:00 The Pope a year in review
10:00 Global South adopts Diocese of South Carolina
18:10 ABC Canterbury year in review with Peter Ould
29:11 Why would anybody bring charges against Saint Schori?
38:14 R.I.P Terry Fullam
45:57 Closing and Bloopers

Suffolk clergyman arrested for fraud: The Church of England Newspaper, March 14, 2014 March 20, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Corruption.
Tags: ,
comments closed

A Suffolk clergyman has been suspended by the Diocese of St. Edmundsbury & Ipswich following his arrest last week on suspicion of fraud.

Last month the diocese placed the Rev Canon Ian Finn, the rector of St Mary the Virgin in Haverhill,  on extended leave after allegations of misappropriating wedding and funeral fees were raised.

The Suffolk Constabulary released a statement noting a “55 year old man from Haverhill who was arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation on Tuesday (March 4), and taken to the Bury St Edmunds Police Investigation Centre (PIC) for questioning, has been bailed to return to Bury PIC on April 2 pending further enquiries.”

A diocesan spokesman said confirmed Canon Finn had been suspended and but added the “police are investigating and it is therefore inappropriate for the Church to make any comment at this stage.”

Last month the diocese released a statement stating Canon Finn had explained the misappropriation of funds was “entirely the result of administrative and accounting mistakes, rather than any deliberate acts.

“He has already refunded to the diocese what he currently believes to be owing.”

“He has already cooperated fully over the matter and will continue to do so.”

Uganda plea to the CoE: The Church of England Newspaper, March 7, 2014 March 20, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Church of the Province of Uganda.
Tags: ,
comments closed

The Primate of the Church of Uganda has urged the Church of England not to follow the Episcopal Church into the abyss by endorsing gay marriage or blessing gay unions.

The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali told The Church of England Newspaper that while the Church of Uganda “has had no discussions about breaking away from the Church of England or the Anglican Communion,” it was troubled by its apparent indecision over sin and sexuality.

“It’s true that the fabric of the Anglican Communion was torn at its deepest level in 2003 when the American Episcopal Church consecrated as Bishop a gay man living in a same-sex relationship. Not only was this against the Bible, but it went against the agreed position of the Anglican Communion. Our current concern is that the Church of England seems to be drifting rapidly in the same direction,” he said.

In a sermon delivered on 1 March 2014 the archbishop stated the Western churches appeared unaware of their double mindedness. “Many people have spiritual blindness but let us not mix issues. One hundred and thirty six years ago, the Church of England sent graduates from Oxford University to Africa to evangelise. America is a super power built on Christian principles… but in all this money is involved,” he said.

In a note of clarification to his sermon, the archbishop told CEN: “We are very grateful to them for sending missionaries who told us about the good news of Jesus Christ. Ironically, they seem now to be reversing themselves. Fortunately, we no longer need to be directed by them. We can read and interpret the Bible for ourselves, and we know what it says about sexual behaviour belonging between one man and one woman in holy matrimony.”

“Homosexual practice is incompatible with scripture, and no one in the leadership of the church can say legitimise same sex unions or homosexuality,” Archbishop Ntagali told AFP, urging the “governing bodies of the Church of England to not take the path advocated by the West”.

Last week the Church of Nigeria congratulated the Church of Uganda for standing strong against overseas pressure for it to accomodate Western cultural practices to its preaching of the Gospel. In a letter dated 21 Feb 2014, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of All Nigeria, commended the Church of Uganda for “uphold the authentic Gospel and the historic heritage of our Church, by rejecting the erroneous teaching and practice of homosexuality.”

Lifetime ban on 2 Chichester clergy imposed: The Church of England Newspaper, February 21, 2014 March 20, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

Two Chichester clergymen jailed for child abuse have been given a life-time ban on exercising any functions on ordained ministry.

On 14 February 2014 the Rt. Rev. Martin Warner said that in light of the conclusion of the criminal cases against the Revs Gordon Rideout and Robert Coles and their subsequent incarceration, the ban had been imposed under Section 30 of the Clergy Discipline Measure.

“A sentence of prohibition for life is the most severe sanction that can be imposed under the Clergy Discipline Measure and is a further indication of the gravity of the offences committed,” the bishop said.

“Whilst neither of the clergy in question has been permitted to function as clergy in the Diocese of Chichester since their respective arrests, the imposition of these sentences now concludes the Church’s disciplinary processes. I hope this announcement is of some comfort to the survivors of abuse, both within the Diocese of Chichester and more widely.”

In February 2013 Coles (72) was jailed for eight years Brighton Crown Court after he pled guilty on 14 Dec 2012 to 11 counts of child abuse committed between 1978 to 1984 in West Sussex, Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and the Isle of Wight.

On 20 May 2013 the jury found Rideout (74) guilty of 31 incidents of abuse at the Barnardo’s children’s home — Ifield Hall in Crawley, West Sussex — and one in Barkingside, Essex between 1962 and 1968, and four indecent assaults at the Middle Wallop army base in Hampshire between 1971 and 1973 where he served as a chaplain. He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment.

Last month Rideout was taken from prison to a local hospital. He has since been returned to jail, but has petitioned the Ministry of Justice for an early release on compassionate grounds.

A spokesman for the ministry declined to speak to Rideout’s petition, but stated compassionate release could be granted if the prisoner had a terminal illness or was bedridden or otherwise permanently incapacitated and would prove to be no harm to society.

 

Richard III tomb design under review: The Church of England Newspaper, February 14, 2014 March 20, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: ,
comments closed

Representatives of the Dean and Chapter of Leicester Cathedral met last month with the Church Fabric Commission for England to find a way forward through the impasse on the proposed design of the tomb for Richard III.

On 24 Jan 2014, CFCE chairman Frank Field MP and members of the commission met with church and local leaders along with members of English Heritage and the Richard III Society to review plans for the tomb. Last year plans for the tomb were put on hold after the CFCE objected to some of the proposed renovations to the cathedral to accommodate the tomb including plans to change a 1920s wooden rood screen designed by Sir Charles Nicholson.

The CFCE declined to give its assent to the million pound project until legal challenges mounted by members of the Plantagenet Society – who wish to see the king buried in York – were resolved by the High Court review into the Ministry of Justice exhumation licence.

Details of the meeting were not released, but a member of the chapter said that while more work needs to be done, the meeting had been productive.

On 13 March the High Court in London will hold a hearing to review the Ministry of Justice’s licence to rebury Richard in Leicester. Should the cathedral prevail in court, it must then secure approval from the CFCE. The Mayor Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, told the Leicester Mercury that should the CFCE give its approval to the revised design plans it will be “at least six months” before Richard will be reinterned in the cathedral.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 93, February 21, 2014 February 22, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Church of England, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: , , , , ,
comments closed

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.

Story Index
00:00 A House in Wisconsin
16:08 Interview with Bishop Salmon
24:28 Where’s Welby?
30:27 Agnostics Have Theology
44:50 The New Iron Lady
49:10 Facebook Diplomacy
53:22 Closing and Bloopers

Ethical investing monitor hired for Church of England: The Church of England Newspaper, February 7, 2014 February 17, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

The Church of England has engaged an American firm to help monitor its investments to ensure it conforms to church policies on ethical investment.

The Church Commissioners, the Church of England Pensions Board and the CBF Church of England signed the deal with MSCI ESG Research to identify within their £8 billion of assets firms engaged in the tobacco, pornography, gambling, armaments, coal extraction and pay-day lending industries.

Companies that have breached standards set by the UN Global Compact – a set of 10 principles covering human rights, the environment and anti-corruption – will also be identified from the over 9000 firms in which the church holds direct or indirect investments.

Last month’s agreement follows revelations last year the church had indirectly invested in pay-day lender Wonga. While the £75,000 investment represented 0.3 per cent of the pooled fund in question, the Archbishop of Canterbury was ridiculed in the press as he had previously denounced pay-day lending as predatory and unethical.

Edward Mason, Secretary to the Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group, said “The Church of England national investing bodies have a very broad suite of ethical investment policies. We are delighted by the commitment that MSCI ESG Research has shown to meeting our changing needs as we continue to seek to reflect the Church’s values in an ever more complex investment environment.”

No charges for Bishop Ball: The Church of England Newspaper, February 7, 2014 February 17, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: ,
comments closed

The former Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt. Rev. Peter Ball, who was arrested in November 2012 on suspicion of child abuse, has not been charged following an 18 month investigation by detectives from Sussex Police.

On 28 Jan 2014, the Crown Prosecution Service said it was still considering the case against Bishop Ball, who was arrested in his Somerset home in November 2012 as part of Operation Dunhill. The bishop was reported to have been taken ill following his arrest.

Sussex Police had initiated an investigation after the Church of England turned over the results of its internal review of Bishop Ball.

In 1993 Bishop Ball resigned after he was cautioned by the police for having committed an act of gross indecency against a teenager. The now 81 year old bishop was licenced to officiate at church services following his resignation, but has not had the licence renewed since 2010.

In 2012 a Sussex Police spokesman it had “received from Lambeth Palace two reports from a Church safeguarding consultant, which contain reviews of Church safeguarding files relating to historic issues in the Chichester Diocese. We have also received the files themselves.

“The reports and files relate to matters more than 20 years ago and we will review the contents in order to establish whether any police investigation of possible criminal offences would be merited.”

The late Bishop of Chichester, the Rt. Rev. Eric Kemp, was skeptical of the veracity of the charges brought against Bishop Ball. In his 2006 memoirs, Shy But Not Retiring, Bishop Kemp stated: “Although it was not realized at the time, the circumstances which led to his early resignation were the work of mischief makers.”

Chichester priest arrested for abuse: The Church of England Newspaper, February 7, 2014 February 17, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: ,
comments closed

A retired Diocese of Chichester priest has been charged by police with a host of sex crimes dating back almost 40 years.

On 28 Jan 2014, the Sussex Police released a statement saying the Rev. Vickery House (68) had been charged with 8 counts of sexual assault “on the authority of the Crown Prosecution Service following an investigation by detectives from Sussex Police over the past 18 months”.

Mr. House of Handcross, West Sussex was arrested in November 2012 and has been on bail pending the outcome of the investigation.  He faces two charges of molesting a 15 year old boy in Devon between 1970 and 1971, two charges relating to a man in East Sussex between 1976 and 1978, and 1983 and 1985, one charge relating to a man in East Sussex between 1978 and 1980, one charge relating to a man in East Sussex between 1981 and 1984, one charge relating to a man in East Sussex between 1984 and 1986 and one charge relating to a man in East Sussex between 1984 and 1986.

The Diocese of Chichester released a statement last week saying it was “aware that a retired priest, previously arrested as part of Operation Dunhill in November 2012, has been charged today with eight counts of indecent assault.”

“As this case is under investigation no further comment will be made. The Diocese of Chichester has been assisting Sussex Police with the inquiries and continues to do so,” it reported.

Mr. House has been granted bail and is charged to appear before the Brighton Magistrates’ Court on 27 Feb 2014.

No action on fracking church lands: The Church of England Newspaper, February 7, 2014 February 17, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: ,
comments closed

The Church of England has not yet entered the fracking fray, the Second Church Estates Commissioner told Parliament last week.

In response to a question from the member for Thirsk and Malton, Ann McIntosh (Cons.) who asked if the Church Estates Commissioners had granted licences to oil exploration companies to drill on church lands, Sir Tony Baldry stated the church had received no applications to drill.

“The Church Commissioners believe that the Government has awarded a number of Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDL) which cover wide geographical areas and these include some interests held by the Commissioners. To date no approaches have been made to the Commissioners and no applications have been received from any potential Licensors,” the Second Church Estate Commissioner said. (HC Deb, 27 January 2014, c382W)

Fracking, the common term for induced hydraulic fracturing, is a mining technique where water is mixed with sand and chemicals and injected at high pressure into a wellbore. The mixture creates small fractures in the rock allowing natural and gas and oil to migrate to the well shaft, allowing its commercial extraction.

Fracking has proven successful in the United States in developing shale fields for oil and gas production and has led to the creation of over one million jobs, the Society of Petroleum Engineers reports.

However, critics of the process fear it will contaminate ground water and despoil land, leading to protests by British land owners, who must give their permission for firms to exercise the PEDLs granted to exploration companies by the government.

Prime Minister David Cameron has criticized opponents of the government’s fracking policies as hysterical and ill informed. Speaking to a Commons liaison committee on 14 Jan 2014, he stated opponents “simply can’t bear the thought of another carbon-based fuel being used in our energy mix and I think that is irrational … .”

Archbishop says “no” to Hagia Sophia mosque plan: The Church of England Newspaper, February 7, 2014 February 17, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Tags: , , ,
comments closed

The Archbishop of Canterbury has lent his support to the Ecumenical Patriarch in the battle with Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over plans to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

Following the conquest of Constantinople the Ottoman Turks turned the ancient church into a mosque. However members of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ruling party have called upon the government to overturn the decision made in the 1930s by Kemal Ataturk to turn the cathedral into a museum.

Archon news reports that during his visit with Patriarch Bartholomew I last month the Archbishop of Canterbury said Hagia Sophia “should not become a mosque.”

“That would be another loss, in which a great symbol of civilization throughout the world was transformed into a particular symbol of exclusivism,” the archbishop was quoted as saying.

No mention of Hagia Sophia was made, however, in the formal press statement released after the 13-14 January 2014 meeting in Istanbul between the Anglican and Orthodox leaders, and the archbishop’s comments could not be confirmed by his staff.

According to the Lambeth Palace Press Office, Archbishop Welby said that Patriarch Bartholomew had been “an example of peace and reconciliation, politically, with the natural world, and in your historic visit to the installation of His Holiness Pope Francis I.”

“Such reconciliation [is] very dear to my heart and is one of my key priorities. It is the call of Christ that all may be one so that the world may see. I will therefore be taking back with me the warmth of your hospitality and also, after our discussions today and tomorrow, a renewed and refreshed focus for greater unity and closer fellowship. We want to carry the cross of our divisions, but be filled with the hope and joy that comes from the grace and the love of Jesus,” the archbishop said.

St James Piccadily “Wall” not anti-Semitic, Parliament told: The Church of England Newspaper, January 31, 2014 February 17, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: , , , ,
comments closed

The construction of a mock “Wall” outside St James, Piccadilly, was not an anti-Semitic act, the Second Church Estates Commissioner told Parliament, but a condemnation of Israeli government policies.

Discussion of the London replica of the separation barrier constructed by the Israeli government to keep terrorist attacks at bay arose during Oral Answers to Questions asked of Sir Tony Baldry on 9 January.

The member for Harlow, Robert Halfon (Cons.) asked Sir Tony about the Church Commissioners’ discussion with government on the “promotion of religious tolerance.”

Sir Tony responded that in “this country, we have learned through the Reformation and the counter-Reformation and beyond the essential need for religious tolerance in our nation,” which prompted Mr Halfon to ask if the Church Commissioners would discuss “religious intolerance” with “St James’ church, which has held a shockingly anti-Israel exhibition over the past couple of weeks? Far from promoting religious tolerance, it did much to undermine it.”

Sir Tony responded that this question “raises a conundrum: to what extent should the tolerant tolerate the intolerant? The demonstration at St James, Piccadilly, was not against Judaism or Jews but against the illegal occupation under international law in the west bank and some of the settlements. In this House, we must be careful about what is seen as religious tolerance and about not tolerating intolerance or breaches of international law.”

The Speaker, John Bercow encouraged Sir Tony to “prepare a detailed paper on the matter and to lodge it in the Library of the House where I feel confident it will be a well-thumbed tome.”

Parliament told BBC provides adequate Christian programming: The Church of England Newspaper, January 31, 2014 February 17, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

The Second Church Estates Commissioner has assured Parliament there is an adequate amount of Christian programming on radio and television.

During Oral Answers to Questions of the Church Commissioners on 9 January, the member for Strangford, Jim Shannon (DUP) asked Sir Tony Baldry “what discussions has the Commissioner had with media outlets such as TV and radio with regard to Christian programming? Does he agree that it is important to retain a level of programming that reflects the Christian status of this nation? What can be done to promote such programming?”

Sir Tony stated he did not believe there was a problem as if one looked, one could find religious programmes.

“To be honest, I do not think that Christians do too badly. If one gets up early enough, one can find a perfectly good programme between 7 and 8 o’clock on BBC Radio 4 every Sunday. I do not think we can feel that we are in some way discriminated against by the broadcasters.”

Anglican Unscripted Episode 91, February 8, 2014 February 8, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: ,
comments closed

Published on Feb 8, 2014
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.

Story Index
00:00 The New Oxford Movement
15:44 Elephant Politics
21:42 AS Haley on South Carolina
31:00 The perfect answer for Immigration
39:35 Closing and Bloopers

ACNA priest appointed Six Preacher at Canterbury: The Church of England Newspaper, January 24, 2014 February 3, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

The Archbishop of Canterbury has appointed a priest of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to serve as one of the Six Preachers of Canterbury Cathedral.

The appointment of Dr. Tory Baucum, rector of Truro Parish in the ACNA’s Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic marks the first official recognition or honor by Canterbury of an ACNA priest. Archbishop Robert Duncan of the ACNA noted the appointment was “historically significant.”

Dr. Baucum “is known to be a gifted teacher and preacher who is committed to the present day reformation out of which the Anglican Church in North America was born,” he said.

In the statement released on 16 Jan 2014, the Lambeth Palace press office noted the political symbolism of the appointment.

“While Dr Baucum has extensive experience of preaching, evangelism and peace-making, his appointment is also recognition of his commitment to reconciliation, which is one of Archbishop Justin’s ministry priorities. Truro Church seceded from the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church in 2006 and subsequently became part of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). When Dr Baucum became Rector in 2007, the church and the diocese were involved in litigation over property rights. Dr Baucum, a priest in ACNA, developed a close friendship with the Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, the Rt Revd Shannon Johnston, and a settlement was subsequently reached.”

Archbishop Welby stated: “The close friendship [Baucum] has forged with Bishop Shannon Johnston, despite their immensely different views, sets a pattern of reconciliation based on integrity and transparency. Such patterns of life are essential to the future of the Communion. I hope and pray that Tory’s presence as one of the Six Preachers will play a part in promoting reconciliation and unity amongst us.”

Lord Lyon King of Arms appointed: The Church of England Newspaper, January 31, 2014 February 3, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Scottish Episcopal Church.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

A priest of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Rev. Canon Joseph Morrow, has been appointed by the Queen as the Lord Lyon King of Arms.

An office created in the 14th century, the Lord Lyon King of Arms is the most junior of the Great Officers of State in Scotland and is the Scottish official with responsibility for regulating heraldry.  He is also responsible for Scottish state ceremonies, akin to the Earl Marshal in England, and his duties include the granting of armorial bearings and judicial rulings on who has the right to bear an existing coat of arms

The appointment was made by the Queen on the recommendation of the First Minister. Under section 3 of the Lyon King of Arms (Scotland) Act 1867, the part-time appointment is based at Edinburgh’s New Register House.

Dr. Morrow serves as Chancellor of the Diocese of Brechin, is an Honorary Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral, Dundee and Chaplain, Glamis Castle. At present, he is the President of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland, and President of the Additional Support Needs Tribunals and a First-Tier Tribunal Judge dealing with asylum and immigration issues.

Dr Morrow has a special interest in ecclesiastical history and 35 years’ experience of the practical application of ceremonial within a variety of settings including State, Civil, Military and Ecclesiastical areas of Scottish life.

So what is happening with Anglican gay marriage?: Get Religion, January 28, 2013 January 30, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Get Religion, Press criticism.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

Wire service reporting takes a special skill that not all writers posses. In less than 300 words, for most stories, a reporter must present the relevant facts and sufficient context to allow a reader to understand the story, while also be entertaining and interesting.

A problem arises when a wire service story substitutes analysis or opinion for news. While some stories are labeled news analysis or opinion — and as such it is proper to load a story with the author’s views of what should be rather than what is — when a news story substitutes opinion for journalism we have a problem.

An item from the Religion News Service that came across my desk yesterday illustrates this peril. In a story entitled “Church of England’s bishops defer gay marriage decision” that came in at a little under 300 words, RNS devotes only half of the story to reporting on what happened at the meeting of the Church of England’s House of Bishops and what they said and the balance to what RNS thinks we should think about the story.

And RNS neglects to mention the most news worthy portions of the report — that the bishops are hopelessly divided over the issue of homosexuality.

The lede is rather anodyne, but does mention one fact from the report:

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) With little more than two months to go before Britain’s first same-sex marriage, the College of Bishops issued a statement saying that “no change” to the Church of England’s teaching on marriage is proposed or envisioned.

Next comes a sentence providing the setting:

The statement came after an all-day meeting at Church House in central London Monday (Jan. 27) attended by 90 bishops and eight women participant observers.

And then a paragraph on the purpose:

The aim of the meeting was to discuss the recommendationsof the Pilling Report on human sexuality that was published in 2013. That report was the result of a recommendation made by church leaders at the end of the Lambeth Conference in 2008 that Anglicans should embark on a discussion process to help heal the rift on the subject of full rights for Christian homosexuals.

Followed by a quote from the report on what happens next:

“The House of Bishops will be meeting again next month to consider its approach when same sex marriage becomes lawful in England and Wales,” the statement reads.

The story breaks down as news at this point as it turns to argument and opinion with selected polling data, extraneous information about what is happening in Africa and Scotland (items that might be independent stories but no tie is provided to the bishops’ meeting or evidence that it had any relevance to their debate), and closes with an opinion from a Guardian columnist notoriously hostile to the Church of England’s current position.

That is it. Compare this story to the piece that appeared in the Telegraph. Admittedly twice as long as the RNS piece, the Telegraph piece conveyed vastly more information and hardly any commentary.

The key facts of the report, the items with which the Telegraph led its story, were never mentioned by RNS.

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.

In a joint statement on behalf of the 90 bishops who attended, they said that “the best they could hope for was “good disagreement”.

The announcement effectively kicks proposals trumpeted before Christmas as a solution to the Church’s wrangles over homosexuality into the long grass.

Even if RNS wanted to keep the story focused on the “no change” angle, they neglected to provide the context that would have explained the importance of this angle. While the bishops do not expect a change to the marriage liturgy — which has not been under consideration — the Pilling Report (the document the bishops discussed) has proposed allowing clergy to perform blessings of same-sex unions.

In short, gay marriage which had been off the table remains off the table, while gay blessings remains a live issue — over which the bishops are hopelessly divided.

Rather than push its own views on the inherent goodness and inevitability of gay marriage in the second half of the story, it may have been better to have offered analysis on the meaning of the fact reported in the opening sentence. Or, they could have stuck to the facts like the Telegraph. Better yet, they could have simply reprinted the bishop’s statement and then supplied a commentary piece labeled as a commentary piece. I’m afraid that this is not a good outing for RNS as a reader will left in the dark as to what is happening with gay marriage in the Church of England.

First printed in Get Religion.

Schism warning from Uganda over the Pilling Report: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2014 January 27, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Uganda.
Tags: ,
comments closed

The Primate of Uganda has denounced the recommendations of the Pilling Report, calling upon the Church of England to pull back from the apostasy of solemnizing same-sex relations. .

In his Christmas letter to the Ugandan Church, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali warned the African Church would break relations with the Church of England should it permit its clergy to perform liturgical blessings marking same-sex unions.

“We are very concerned that our mother Church of England is moving in a very dangerous direction,” he said, adding that it seemed determined to follow “the path the Americans in the Episcopal Church took that caused us to break communion with them ten years ago.”

“The Church of England is now recommending that same-sex relationships be blessed in the church. Even though they are our mother, I want you to know that we cannot and we will not go in that direction. We will resist them and, with our other GAFCON brothers and sisters, will stand with those in the Church of England who continue to uphold the Bible as the Word of God and promote Biblical faith and morality,” he said.

Eastbourne priest arrested on child abuse charges: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2014 January 27, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: ,
comments closed

A priest of the Diocese of Chichester was arrested by police last month on suspicion of having sexually abused a 12 year old boy in 1988. On 3 Dec 2013 the 56 year old man, identified as the Rev. Jonathan Graves by the BBC ,was arrested at his home in Eastbourne by Sussex Police and held on “suspicion of acts of indecency, indecent assault and cruelty against a boy known to him”.

Mr. Graves, who currently does not have permission to officiate in the diocese, was released on bail and ordered to appear before a magistrate in April.

The allegations of abuse were referred to detectives following the 2011 review of diocesan records conducted by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss. Sussex Police stated the Diocese of Chichester were “co-operating fully” with the investigations, and further noted there were “currently no allegations of recent or current offending.”

SSJE executive jailed for theft: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2014 January 27, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Corruption.
Tags: ,
comments closed

The former chief executive of the Fellowship of St John Trust has pled guilty to theft. On 9 January 2014 Geoffrey Hammond was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment by the Southwark Crown Court for stealing £99,493 between May 2012 and August 2013 while serving as the trust’s executive officer.

An internal audit found a substantial shortfall in the trust’s accounts last summer. When confronted Hammond admitted the theft. He was dismissed from his post on 5 Aug 2013 and the matter turned over to the police.

The Society of St John the Evangelist (SSJE) was an Anglican religious order founded in 1866 at Cowley, Oxford, England, by Father Richard Meux Benson, and was the first permanent religious community for men established in the Anglican Communion since the Reformation.

In the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries the society expanded to America, Canada, Scotland, India, South Africa and Japan. It maintained a presence on Marston Street, Oxford from 1868 to 1980 and in 1905 opened St Edward’s House in Westminster. While the SSJE remains active in the United States, in 2012 the order was dissolved and Edward’s House sold.

Proceeds from the sale were placed with the Fellowship of St John Trust fund trust fund for care of retired members of the society in England.

A former Labour Councilor for the Higham Hill Ward of Waltham Forest, Hammond stated he took the money to meet his debts.  The trust has recovered all of the money stolen.

Consistory court offers guidance on burial plot allocation: The Church of England Newspaper, December 6, 2013 December 9, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

The Consistory Court of the Diocese of Bath & Wells has ruled that “informal agreements” to reserve burial plots in churchyards have no standing in ecclesiastical law.

In the case of Re The Churchyard of Wick St. Lawrence [2013] Bath and Wells Const Ct, the diocesan chancellor offered guidelines for parish church councils on the rules governing allocation of burial plots.  Where there is no legal right to burial at a particular parish, the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1976 s6(2) empowers the minister, having taken the advice of  the PCC, to permit an interment.

In the Wick case, informal permission had been given by the minister to a couple who wished to be buried in the churchyard, even though they had no legal right to claim burial.  However, the vicar’s promise did not create a legal right for the couple’s children to have a spot reserved for them also.

The chancellor stated PCCs must adopt business-like practices in the management of churchyards and not make informal agreements or use spaces that have already been set aside for others. “The Parochial Church Council is entitled to have regard to the anticipated demands upon burial space arising from an increase in the population of the parish,” and may refuse to honour “informal agreements” made by the minister.

Lord Carey’s doom warnings spark sharp debate: The Church of England Newspaper, December 6, 2013 December 9, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags:
comments closed

Lord Carey has warned the “Church of England could be one generation away from extinction”.

Speaking to the Shropshire Churches Conference 2013 on 17 Nov 2013, the retired archbishop observed the Church of England was viewed with “indifference — the rolled eyes of embarrassment, the yawn of boredom,” adding that may did not see “the average church as a place where great things happen.”

“To sit in a cold church looking at the back of other peoples’ heads is surely not the best place to meet exciting people and to hear prophetic words,” he said.

The archbishop offered a four point plan for evangelism that began with reimagining the church. Rather than focus on institutional preservation, Anglicans should emphasize the “transformative effects of Christianity … of prayer being answered … of sins being forgiven … of reconciliation taking place … of lives being touched.”

“What I am urging is a return to basics where our expectation is for transformed lives,” Lord Carey said. “This is not a cry for more gimmicks, but simply a cry to go deeper.”

To do this, Christians must “nurture fellow Christians to grow authentic disciples,” as well as serve as “agents of social transformation. “

“The time has come to ratchet up our commitment to serving our communities around us. Often the dirty word is the word relevance. Christians cry: ‘It is not our job to be relevant. Our job is to follow Christ’. I agree. But no one was more relevant than our Lord in serving others,” he said.

Lord Carey’s warnings sparked spirited controversy in the press. The Telegraph’s Cristina Odone endorsed the archbishop’s sentiments and applauded his work of recent years, but said his predictions were wrong. Also writing in the Telegraph, A.N. Wilson argued nothing could be done to save the Church of England.

There are two simple reasons for this, and there is nothing anyone can say that will make these reasons go away.

“The first is sex. Traditional Christianity taught that there is no permitted sexual act outside marriage. All but no one now – even Christians – really believes this. What used to be called ‘living in sin’ is absolutely normal. Nearly all young people, gay or straight, when they reach a certain moment in their relationship, try living together. The Churches can either back down and say that for 2,000 years they have been talking nonsense about sex; or they can dig in their heels. Either way, the Church is diminished.

“The second reason is a much bigger thing. That is the decline of belief itself. Most people simply cannot subscribe to the traditional creeds. No number of Alpha courses can make people believe that God took human form of a Virgin, or rose from the dead. They simply can’t swallow it. They see no reason, therefore, to listen to a Church that propounds these stories and then presumes to tell them how to behave in the bedroom.”

The Guardian’s Andrew Brown stated: “Like a hypochondriac told by the doctor that he really has got cancer, the former archbishop finds that the worries that have comforted him for years are suddenly, horribly frightening.”

He further argued the decline of the Church of England was Lord Carey’s fault. “If the CofE is doomed, as former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey insists, it’s down to the damage he did in office.”

Anglican Unscripted Episode 87, December 5, 2013 December 5, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: ,
comments closed

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

Oxfordshire priest imprisoned for child abuse: The Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2013 November 28, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags:
comments closed

A NSM priest in the Diocese of Oxford and former magistrate has been sentenced to prison for child abuse.

On 22 Nov 2013 the Rev. Christopher Tadman-Robins (66) was sentenced to two and half years imprisonment by the Luton Crown Court after having been convicted last month of five counts of sexually abusing a ten year old girl.

Ordained in 1989 Dr. Tadman-Robins had sat as a magistrate in Witney, and had taught music. He was also the former musical director of the Northern Ballet.

While his barrister pleaded with the court for his client to be spared a term of imprisonment as no other complaints of abuse had been made, Judge Philip Bartle QC said his past good deeds would not spare him.

“Your victim was aged from 10 to 12 and you were in your 50s. The impact on her of these offences has been devastating. She has suffered untold stress and has self-harmed.”

“Your actions took away her innocence which is something from which she will never recover,” the judge said as he handed down sentence.

Following his conviction last month, the Bishop of Dorchester noted Dr Tadman-Robins had served as a non-stipendiary curate in the Burford Benefice from 1989-1992. “Since then he has held no ecclesiastical office in the Diocese of Oxford, but used to take occasional services at the invitation of the parish clergy in West Oxfordshire. His permission to officiate was withdrawn as soon as he was arrested last year.”

“Any case like this is a matter of sorrow and regret for the Church of England. We recognise that the suffering of survivors of sexual abuse is profound and long lasting. The Church of England will not tolerate abusive behaviour in its clergy or anyone else for whom we have responsibility. We take allegations of offences such as these extremely seriously and always work closely with the statutory authorities to ensure abusers are brought to justice.”

“We would expect Dr Tadman-Robins to be referred for barring and prohibited from ever holding office in the Church of England again as a result of his conviction,” Bishop Colin Fletcher said.

Peer’s objections to central heating overruled by church court: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2013 November 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Canon Law, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

The Consistory Court of the Diocese of Chichester has overruled objections to the installation of a heating system for St. Philip’s Church in Burwash, holding the objections made by a nonegarian peer, while  no doubt well intentioned, had “served in this instance only to obfuscate and delay the carrying out of the now long-overdue process of renewing the heating system”.

In Re Burwash Weald St. Philip [2013] Chichester Const Ct, Chancellor Mark Hill QC, noted Lady Margaret Baldwin, a prominent member of the congregation, had made formal objections to the installation of a natural gas boiler and radiators to heat the church.

The chancellor wrote he had had “some difficulty in comprehending the nature of the objection advanced by Lady Baldwin,” which had been made in a “good number” of letters written in “dense text in a small font.”

“Their content strays considerably from relevant material – they are at times contradictory and at others repetitive.

“Lady Baldwin expresses herself to be animated by ‘habitual concern for the congregation’ – a worthy objective, but an intrusive and debilitating one if the concern is misplaced or rooted in a flawed understanding of the proposals.”

Chancellor Hill said the objections by Lady Baldwin, who was well into her 90’s, centered round fears the installation of central heating would damage the organ, which had been accidentally damaged during renovations in 1962.

The parochial council had engaged an “eminently qualified”  architect to oversee the project had had raised the £51,000 necessary to undertake the project through a public appeal and a loan facilitated by the Diocesan Board of Finance.

He added: “As a dispassionate observer, I am saddened that Lady Baldwin’s ‘habitual concern for the congregation’ seems to have served in this instance only to obfuscate and delay the carrying out of the now long-overdue process of renewing the heating system.

“It has led to further faculty fees and may have increased the overall cost for the parish. That is much to be regretted,” the judge ruled in granting the faculty.

Westminster Hall debate highlights persecution of Christians in the Middle East: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2013 November 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in British Foreign Policy, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags:
comments closed

Christians are in danger of being driven out of the Middle East, MP Fiona Bruce warned last week, urging the British government to aid the victims of the campaign of terror waged by militant Islamists.

In remarks made at a Westminster Hall Adjournment Debate on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, Mrs. Bruce, the member for Congleton (Cons.) highlighted findings of a newly released report prepared by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).  The report, “Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2011-2013”, found that intolerance had grown in 20 of the 30 countries surveyed.

“In virtually every country in and around the [Middle East], Christians report suffering either high, high to extreme, or extreme persecution,” she said.

Christians “have suffered from a domino effect of violence that began in Iraq, spread to Syria and overshadows Egypt, leaving the survival of the Church in jeopardy.”

“We should be crying out with the same abhorrence and horror that we feel about the atrocities towards Jews on Kristallnacht and on other occasions during the Second World War,” she said.

The member for Upper Bann, David Simpson (DUP) told the gathering ““Every hour, a Christian is tortured and murdered somewhere in the world.”

“Surely, in this day and age, something more can be done to protect people and their faith,” he said.

David Burrowes MP said: “The term ‘Christian persecution’ is sometimes bandied about carelessly… if there is Christian persecution in this country then at worst its victim is likely to be sued, but in the Middle East the victim will be killed. That is the stark reality that we are facing…”

The member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Tom Geatrex (Lab.) warned of problems facing Christians in Malaysia, where a court “has effectively outlawed the Bible, particularly in the eastern states of Malaysia”, after ruling that the word “Allah” may only be used in the context of the Muslim faith.

Other members of Parliament spoke of the persecution Christians faced in Iran, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. Mrs. Bruce observed the problem of militant Islam was not confined to the Middle East. “Western Muslims are going to fight alongside jihadists in Syria… returning home to become potential jihadists themselves.”

“Western countries are not fully grappling with this problem,” she said.

Foreign Office Minister, Hugo Swire MP, said the government was aware of the problem and noted that “protecting human rights, including religious freedom, is an important part of British foreign policy.”

Bishop of Wakefield to lead city church: The Church of England Newspaper, November 23, 2013 November 24, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: ,
comments closed

The Bishop of London has appointed the Rt. Rev. Stephen Platten to be rector of the medieval church of St. Michael’s Cornhill in the City of London. Bishop Platten will take up his appointment following the merger of the Diocese of Wakefield into the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales on Easter Sunday 2014.

Bishop Platten said: “Eleven years is the longest I have ever served in one place and one puts down real roots so I shall be sad to say farewell to so many people and friendships in and well beyond the Church of England.

“I shall also miss all those familiar and beautiful views in the landscape of such a fascinating diocese – thanks to all who have given me so much!”

In addition to his parish post, Bishop Platten will serve as an honorary assistant Bishop in the Diocese of London. In January 2014 he will also assume the chairmanship of the Hymns Ancient and Modern charitable trust. He will also continue in his post as chairman of the governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Born in London and educated at the Stationers’ Company’s School in Hornsey and the University of London, Bishop Platten trained for the ministry at Cuddesdon Theological College and Trinity College, Oxford.

He served as a priest in Oxford, Lincoln and Portsmouth dioceses and as Tutor of Ethics and Chaplain at Lincoln Theological College, before becoming the then Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs in 1990.  In 1995, he became Dean of Norwich and was enthroned as the Bishop of Wakefield in July 2003.

Rochester vicar suspended for 8 years for sexual misconduct: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2013 November 24, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: ,
comments closed

A disciplinary tribunal has banned a Diocese of Rochester vicar from serving in the ministry of the Church of England for eight years.

In a decision handed down last week, the Rev. Paul Meier vicar of St Margaret’s Church in Horsmonden and youth missioner for the Storrington deanery in West Sussex for the Diocese of Rochester, had engaged in gross misconduct for having had an affair with an 18-year old girl.

Mr. Meier had been suspended in October 2012 from his benefice after a complaint was made that he had engaged in a sexual affair with an 18 year old girl who had attended his youth group.

The tribunal learned the 47-year old married father of two whom he had known the girl and her family for at least six years prior to the incident and that the girl was “unbalanced”.

The relationship began in 2007, the tribunal learned, and in 2008 Mr. Meier invited the girl, then 18, to move in to his family home.

Mr. Meier had “hoped for further sexual intimacy” with the girl, Judge John Lodge, the chairman of the tribunal, observed. However, in 2008 the girl’s parents had their daughter admitted to a psychiatric unit for evaluation and treatment.

Judge Lodge held: ”The complainant became mentally disturbed, as evidenced by attempts to self-harm, and she acted bizarrely.

“Mr Meier admits the complainant self-harmed and that she told him about it. Rather than cease his misconduct and provide her with the support she needed and deserved, he allowed things to continue unchanged.”

Mr. Meier’s actions were “inappropriate to the work of a clerk in Holy Orders,” the tribunal ruled, and suspended him from the ministry for eight years.

Episode 86: Anglican Unscripted, November 23, 2013 November 24, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican.TV, Church of England, GAFCON, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
Tags:
comments closed


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 GAFCON and the ABC
09:56 Allan Haley and TEC Legal Fantasy
22:00 Raceophobic Church
28:56 GAFCON Down Under
42:52 Marriage
4719: Extinct COE
59:00 Closing and Bloopers

Episode 85: Anglican Unscripted, November 14, 2013 November 14, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, Disaster Relief, Property Litigation, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
comments closed

Published on Nov 14, 2013

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.

Helping the Philippines: 00:00
GAFCON Update 04:16
Fleeing the Churches 16:00
Legal Update 20:06
GAFCON in England 30:07
Closing and Bloopers 47:15

Pensions Board asks for fossil fuels review: Church of England Newspaper, November 15, 2013 November 14, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags:
comments closed

The Church of England Pensions Board has lent it support to a request by 70 global pension funds to the world’s major energy companies, asking them to investigate how the push to combat man-made climate change will impact the profitability of their businesses.

On 24 October 2013 the 70 pension funds published an open letter to the top 45 oil, gas, coal and electric companies asking them to complete the study by the end of the first quarter of 2014. Because the capital investments required to extract gas, oil and coal take years to recoup, the pension funds stated the risk of future regulations that would limit production or impose expensive pollution-control requirements could reduce the industry’s profitability.

The letter signed by the Church of England Pensions Board, Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, Rockefeller & Co., and the treasurers of half a dozen U.S. states, represents almost $3 trillion in investments.

“The underlying question here is the billions of dollars that are being invested” is prudent in light of the changing regulatory environment, the head of the California’s State Teachers’ Retirement System, Jack Ehnes, told the Associated Press.

GAFCON to be ‘an Anglican province’ in all but name: Church Times, October 31, 2013 November 11, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church Times, GAFCON.
comments closed

THE Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) will effectively provide for Anglican traditionalists the fellowship and support that provinces give to dioceses, Dr Peter Jensen, a former Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, told the Church Times at the close of the GAFCON conference in Nairobi last week (News, 25 October).

The conference adopted by acclamation the Nairobi Commitment, pledging primatial support for an umbrella group for British traditionalists: the Anglican Mission in England. GAFCON would not legally be a province, Dr Jensen said, but “effectively, yes”.

In light of the impending release of the Pilling report, and of the expected endorsement by the Church of England’s General Synod of a Measure allowing women bishops, but offering no safeguards to those opposed to this, GAFCON decided to shift its energies from the US to the UK.

The Pilling report will not be released until later this year, but the view of many of those present at GAFCON was that, based on statements released so far, and the theological views of the Pilling panel, it would opt for rites for the pastoral blessings of gay civil partnerships.

The internal strength of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), and its acceptance by most provinces of the Anglican Communion, gave GAFCON the opportunity to redeploy its energies to the UK.

The Vicar of St Martin de Gouray, Jersey, Canon Gavin Ashenden, said steps had to be taken now to prevent conservative Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics from fragmenting into half a dozen groups, should the crisis occur. A “non-geographic” province would be an ecclesial Velcro, gathering the diaspora, he said.

Adopted on the closing day of the conference with little public dissent, the conference statement received strong support from participants. The Bishop of the Gulf Atlantic diocese of ACNA, the Rt Revd Neil Lebhar, welcomed the statement, calling it a “unity” document that would gather other Anglicans into the GAFCON fold.

The Vicar of St Matthew’s, Elburton, and chairman of Reform, Prebendary Rod Thomas, said: “It sets a clear gospel priority for GAFCON. It is designed to carry forward the work of encouragement and faithfulness. . . I’m delighted.”

A multi-national committee composed of delegates from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, the Southern Cone, the US/Canada, and England produced the document from reports submitted by the nine “mini-conferences” that convened during the meeting. The committee chairman, the Bishop of the Mid-Atlantic diocese of ACNA, the Rt Revd John Guernsey, told delegates that the statement had not been pre-written, but was a product of the conference.

The conference received a draft copy of the statement last Friday, and was directed to break into national groups to offer substantive criticisms for review by the writing team. Over the course of the evening, eight revisions were produced, and the final document was presented for approval the next day.

Not all the delegates were pleased with it. The Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt Revd Jack Iker, said that it showed the strength of the “Sydney contingent” at the meeting. He was “concerned” about the deletion of points that were important to Anglo-Catholics, and noted that GAFCON treated Anglo-Catholics as poor relations to the conservative Evangelical majority.

Within the English section, a debate over the degree of thanks to be given to the Archbishop of Canterbury arose. While some praised the Archbishop for his seeming endorsement of GAFCON, others were concerned about what they perceived as his indecisiveness.

The director of Christian Concern, Andrea Minichiello Williams, read to the group a part of Archbishop Welby’s address in the Lords on the Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, arguing that his words had all but conceded the argument to those who supported gay marriage.

In the final document, words of commendation for the Archbishop became: “We appreciated that the Archbishop of Canterbury sent personal greetings via video, and gave us the assurance of his prayers, and we likewise pray for him.”

A behind-the-scenes fight over language describing the ministry of women also shaped the final document. It said: “We affirm the ministries of women and their vital contribution to the life of the Church: their call to the task of evangelism, discipling, and building strong marriages, families, churches, and communities. GAFCON 2013 upholds the Bible’s teaching that men and women are equally made in the image of God . . . excercising different gifts. We recognise that we have differing views over the roles of men and women in church leadership.”

Delegates from provinces that support women in episcopal leadership, however, fought for the inclusion of language in support of women bishops. The move was blocked by the dominant Nigerian bloc (almost 500 of the 1300 delegates), in alliance with conservative Evangelicals. When the final document was offered to the conference, a Ugandan woman clergy delegate voiced a lone “No” vote.

But the Nairobi Commitment was not a “Mosaic tablet”, Dr Ashenden said. It was “a fluid document,” produced by committee in a very short time, which addressed different audiences on different levels, while seeking also to express a vision for the future.

The confusion expressed in other areas was absent when addressing the situation in England. In the “Our Priorities” section, the document said GAFCON would continue to engage in cross-border support for Anglicans whom it believed were disowned by their ecclesial structures.

It stated: “In line with the Jerusalem Statement’s expectation that the Primates’ Council would intervene to provide ‘orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership’, the Primates’ Council will carefully consider working beyond existing structures as an obedient response to Jesus’s commission to take the gospel to all nations.”

The document spelled out where these cross-border actions might take place. “We commit ourselves to the support and defence of those who in standing for apostolic truth are marginalised or excluded from formal communion with other Anglicans in their dioceses. We have therefore recognised the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) as an expression of authentic Anglicanism both for those within and outside the Church of England, and welcomed their intention to appoint a General Secretary of AMiE.”

Nevertheless, none of those questioned by the Church Times would say on the record who they thought would provide episcopal oversight for the AMiE, nor how it would be structured. But many, though not all, of the English conference participants agreed that GAFCON should focus on recognising that the problem existed, and that a solution needed to be reached before the crisis fragmented traditionalist Anglicans.

First printed in The Church Times.

Gafcon fears a fire over England: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
Tags: , , , ,
comments closed

The fear of fragmentation over the Pilling report and women bishops has led the 2nd Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) to adopt a statement pledging its members support to traditionalist evangelical and Anglo-Catholic members of the Church of England.

The Nairobi statement was adopted by the meeting on 26 October 2013 by acclamation, with only slight — but significant “no” voices raised. The Rev. Rod Thomas, vicar of St Matthew’s Elburton, Plymouth and chairman of Reform told The Church of England Newspaper he was very pleased. Mr. Thomas, a member of the writing committee that produced the document said “it sets a clear Gospel priority for Gafcon. It is designed to cary forward the work of encouragement and faithfulness … I’m delighted.”

The Rev. Dr. Gavin Ashenden,Vicar of St Martin de Gouray on Jersey, cautioned the document should not be read as a “Mosaic tablet. It is a fluid document” he explained that it was a multi-layered document written by committee for different audiences. However, the core principles enunciated were a reaffirmation for the 2008 Jerusalem Declaration and a shift of focus away from America to the U.K, he explained.

The Rt. Rev. John Guernsey, Bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic of the Anglican Church in North America and chairman of the writing team, told delegates the text was not written before the meeting, but arose from its proceedings. After the opening plenary sessions, conference participants broke into “mini-conferences” that addressed topical issues facing Anglicans. Gafcon 2 boasted no invited speakers, with all of the presentations and mini-conferences presented by delegates.

Each delegate participated in a single session over the course of the conference, choosing in his registration his group: The Challenge of Islam, The Work of the Holy Spirit, Marriage and Family, Children and Youth, Gospel and Culture, Being Women of God, Aid and Development, Theological Education, and Episcopal Ministry. Over the 11 hours of sessions, that were structured as seminars to allow each participant voice in the deliberations, the mini-conferences produced several hundred recommendations for issues and items to be included in a final statement.

A draft document was presented to  a plenary session of the conference on 25 October 2013. Gafcon general secretary Dr. Peter Jensen and Bishop Guernsey asked the conference to break into national or regional groups to offer substantive corrections and criticisms for review by the writing committee, which was composed of delegates from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, the Southern Cone of South America, US/Canada and England. Eight drafts were needed to produce the final document from the several hundred submissions, and the final four page document was presented in the closing session of the meeting.

Divided into two sections — an extended preamble and the Nairobi Commitment — the document began with a recital of the highlights of the conference and a history of the formation of the Gafcon movement, now identified as the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA). The document thanked the Archbishop of Canterbury as “he gave us the assurance of his prayers, and we likewise pray for him.’

It  reaffirmed the GFCA’s evangelical theological principles and restated its denunciation of homosexual practices, affirmed the principle movements within the GFCA: Evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics and Charismatics, and recounted its support for the formation of the Anglican Church in North America.

The document went on to reaffirm its self-understanding as a fellowship of Anglicans, but noted at this stage in its life it needed to create institutional structures to support its work, asking delegates to provide funds for a staff and central/regional offices.

In the section entitled “Our Priorities” the document spoke to the core issues facing Gafcon and announced that it would provide support for embattled Anglicans whose provinces or dioceses had disowned them, or made their lives intolerable. Yet, the willy-nilly cross-border interventions of the past ten-years, which had been condemned in the Windsor Report, were ruled out. Future crossings of ecclesiastical boundaries by the Gafcon members would be taken only after the Gafcon Primates council came to a consensus on the need.

“Supporting genuine gospel initiatives, recognising that there are times when the maintenance of structures can constrain the proclamation of the gospel. In line with The Jerusalem Statement’s expectation that the Primates’ Council would intervene to provide ‘orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership’, the Primates’ Council will carefully consider working beyond existing structures as an obedient response to Jesus’ commission to take the gospel to all nations.”

Other priorities enunciated by the document included deepening “discipleship” as Christians, to the exclusion of “national, ethnic or tribal attachments.” Combatting the pernicious influence of secularism on the doctrines and discipline of the church, responding to the challenges of militant Islam and “work for the protection of the environment and the economic empowerment of those who are deprived of resources.”

These principles were then enunciated in the Nairobi Commitment, which included a specific pledge of support to traditionalists in the Church of England. “We commit ourselves to the support and defence of those who in standing for apostolic truth are marginalized or excluded from formal communion with other Anglicans in their dioceses. We have therefore recognized the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) as an expression of authentic Anglicanism both for those within and outside the Church of England, and welcomed their intention to appoint a General Secretary of AMiE.”

It was his hope that Gafcon would become a “non-geographic province”, Canon Ashenden said. “Not legally, but spirituality, psychologically” supporting clergy and laity marginalized by the existing order, he said.

Steps had to be taken now, he explained, so that if there was a crack up within the church over recommendations from the Pilling Report to provide pastoral rites for the blessing of gay civil partnerships, and when Synod endorsed the appointment of women bishops but declined to offer enforceable safeguards to those who could not accept this innovation, there would be one place to gather the diaspora.

While covering a vast amount of ground, the Nairobi Commitment was a clear call to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Bishops of the General Synod of the Church of England. “Bishops have to decide,” Canon Ashenden said.between “Biblical orthodoxy” and the spirit of the age. “You must choose,” he said.

Social justice must guide Christianity, Canterbury tells the Porvoo Churches: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Porvoo.
Tags: ,
comments closed

The Archbishop of Canterbury has denounced the church’s heritage of abuse of power and patriarchy, telling the churches of the Porvoo Communion  it must change in order to pursue a campaign of social justice and advocacy that will witness to the world.

In his 21 October 2013 sermon given at Reykjavik’s Dómkirkjan Cathedral, the Most Rev. Justin Welby called on churches to “cry out and claim and struggle” for justice, in order to bring “testimony and witness to words and prayers”.

The archbishop also acknowledged the 20th century campaigns for church union had reached their end.  Church unanimity was “a mirage and a diversion,” he told the leaders of the Anglican Churches of Europe and Nordic Lutheran Churches, calling instead for a unanimity of purpose and focus on “unity”.

Taking as his text the parable of the widow and the unjust judge, Archbishop Welby said the church must take its place with those seeking justice, not with the rich and powerful.  ”Any serious view of the nature of human beings.” he said, “tells us that without the action of God their can be no true justice, and that the church is there to be the widow, to cry out and claim and struggle. That must involve action, which may be slight or grand”.

To often “Justice is something we seek when it is not against us. The heritage of church abuse and patriarchy reminds us that the church follows the world in its injustice and too often combines its misuse of power with the blasphemy of theological justification. But the widow cries out, and in one of the very rare occasions where Luke explains the parable, we are told that it is to stop people giving up in prayer. …  As Pope Francis said, the church is not called to be a Christian NGO.”

The archbishop touched upon his campaign to set up credit unions and reform the City, but also spoke to the “call of church reconciliation” that lay behind the foundation of the Porvoo Communion–contrasting unanimity with unity.

“Unanimity amongst us is first of all a mirage and secondly a diversion,” he explained. “Unanimity is too busy with checking whether the other person is doing the right thing to hear the call of widow: unity sees and hears her and puts aside our own preferences to stand in solidarity and cry with he,” he said in reference to his text Luke 18:1-8.

“If we are to continue to grow closer, so that our communion becomes family, and that family becomes the transforming influence in our society, which is so desperately looking for a new way, after the decades of reliance on material growth have betrayed us, if that family is to become what it should, then we need each other more than ever, not for comfort in the cold, receding tides of Christian faith, but to stretch and challenge each other to ever closer walk with God and evermore passionate fulfilling of his mission,” Archbishop Welby said.

Anglican Unscripted: October 5, 2013 November 2, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, GAFCON.
comments closed

Published on Oct 5, 2013

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.

No ABC at GAFCON 00:00
Making a deal with the Devil 05:08
AS Haley on South Carolina 15:42
Not again? 22:01
Around the Anglican Globe 29:51
It is too late? 35:37
Closing and Bloopers 41:35

Encouragement for Gafcon from Archbishop Welby: The Church of England Newspaper, October 25, 2013 October 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
Tags:
comments closed

1-IMGP0272

The Archbishop of Canterbury offered his encouragement to the Gafcon conference in Nairobi this week, but stopped short of offering the endorsement of his office to the global Anglican renewal movement.

Speaking at two services on 20 October 2013 at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, the Most Rev. Justin Welby offered his vision of a “Biblically-centered, practically loving” Anglican Communion that pursued a deliberate programme of “witness, worship, evangelism, and a passion for the Holy Spirit.”

He also stated the “colonial structures” of the past that comprised the communion’s Instrument’s of Unity were no longer fit for purpose.

The archbishop’s multi-layered sermon evolved over its two presentations – after being all but silent about Gafcon in his first sermon, in its second reading the archbishop spoke five times about the forthcoming Gafcon conference, set for 21-26 October 2013, at All Saints Cathedral. While the Lambeth Palace Press Office had released a statement saying Archbishop Welby was visiting Kenya to stand in solidarity with its people in the wake of the Westgate Mall terror attack, he made no mention of terrorism in his sermons and his time in Nairobi was spent exclusively on Gafcon.

The sermons sparked mixed responses. Archbishop Welby’s sermon was “outrageous”, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria said after the first presentation. The archbishop’s “softly softly” approach in seeking to reconcile the Episcopal Church with the Global South churches implied a degree of moral equivalence that the retired Nigerian archbishop found disheartening.

However, in his second presentation Archbishop Welby walked back his moral equivalency comments. The former Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen welcomed Archbishop Welby’s admission the Communion was not work. Archbishop Welby’s statement “the old ways are no longer appropriate, the old structures no longer work, given on the eve of Gafcon, give us hope,” he said.

The archbishop spent only 18 hours in Kenya, arriving in the early hours of Sunday. Travelling without his minders, the archbishop stayed at the home of Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya, before preaching before the 9:30 and 11:30 congregations at the Cathedral. Following his sermons he went into a closed door meeting with the primates’ council, before leaving for Ireland to attend the Porvoo Primates meeting that evening.

Participants at the luncheon described the atmosphere as being cordial, noting Archbishop Welby was seated next to Archbishop Robert Duncan of the ACNA and Archbishop Wabukala.  But the strength of the sentiments made in the presentations made by the Gafcon archbishops appeared to have stunned Archbishop Welby, who spoke for five minutes to the group.

One primate told the Church of England Newspaper no formal agreements were reached at the meeting, but he welcomed the start of a conversation with the English church leader.

In his sermons, the archbishop spoke of the centrality of Scripture in the life of the church, the “Bible must be at the heart of our study, our life, our walk with Jesus” he said, but a “church that only reads but does not act, disgraces the Bible.”

“There is a need for new structures in the Anglican Communion, “the archbishop said, adding the issues that divide us are “simple and complicated.”

To address them “we need a new way of being in communion, not the colonial structures” of the past, he said. But it was unclear as to what the solution was as each province offered its own solution to the problem, yet “we must find a way to live together, so the world will see” Jesus is Lord.

The Anglican world must be a sign to the world of the power of Christ and must engage in a deliberate program of “witness, worship, evangelism, and a passion for the Holy Spirit.”

“The more seriously we take the Bible” the more effectively we will be able to deal with our divisions, he said.

The archbishop also hinted the Communion may not be able to count upon the Church of England to hold the line on issues close to the heart of the Gafcon movement. Archbishop Welby recounted his strong public opposition to the British government’s same-sex marriage bill.  “In England, we in the church disagree with same-sex marriage because we honor marriage, not out of hate, or fear or anger.”

“I spoke at great personal cost” against the bill and received opprobrium and “hatred” from those who supported changing marriage. But as the Letter to the Hebrews said we must keep “the marriage bed undefiled”, the church could not support this change, just as it could not support “adultery or pornography.”

A “church that flourishes” is a church that is “based on the Bible” he said. “We all fail,” he said, because “we all sin,” but a “Biblically-centered, practically loving” church is what God wants Anglicans to be.

Archbishop and Gafcon Leaders size each other up: Church Times, October 21, 2013 October 21, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church Times, GAFCON.
Tags:
comments closed

ARCHBISHOP Welby’s attempts at shuttle diplomacy, holding private meetings with leading members of the Communion’s liberal and conservative wings, was met with scepticism in Nairobi.

The GAFCON leaders knew that, a week earlier, the Archbishop had breakfasted in London with the former Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, the first openly partnered gay bishop.

The office of Archbishop of Canterbury could not serve as an honest broker between the factions, conservatives warned Archbishop Welby, but must stand with or against them. The issues were not political, but spiritual, one archbishop said, and thus not amenable to compromise.

Archbishop Welby’s whirlwind visit to Nairobi on Sunday provided an opportunity for him to take the measure of six Primates and half-a-dozen other key leaders, including the General Secretary of GAFCON, Dr Peter Jensen, and the retired Nigerian Archbishop, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, in a private meeting at All Saints’ Cathedral.

The conservatives also had an opportunity to size up Archbishop Welby. All of those questioned after the meetings expressed a personal regard for the man, but were sceptical that his office could provide a solution to the divisions within the Church if it sought to take a neutral stance.

“Archbishop Welby’s statement ‘The old ways are no longer appropriate, the old structures no longer work,’ given on the eve of GAFCON, give us hope,” Dr Jensen said. Nevertheless, the future envisioned by Archbishop Welby “began with GAFCON 2008″, Dr Jensen said. “It’s time for him to catch up.”

First printed in the Church Times.

The BBC and the perils of press releases: Get Religion, October 21, 2013 October 21, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, GAFCON, Get Religion.
Tags: ,
comments closed

The BBC and the perils of press releases

October 21, 2013 By 0 Comments (Edit)

The BBC’s internet news division stumbled badly this week in its initial report on a major meeting of Anglican church leaders in Africa. The 20 October 2013 story entitled “Archbishop of Canterbury makes Kenya detour on way to Iceland” has already had one correction and substantial alteration but the underlying premise of the story remains flawed.

It demonstrates the perils of relying on a single source in reporting the news.

The opening paragraphs of the original version, reprinted by the London Evening Post, and the revised BBC version are identical. They begin:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has made a detour of more than 8,000 miles to visit Kenya – on his way to Iceland. Archbishop Justin Welby, who arrived on Saturday night, gave sermons at All Saints Cathedral on Sunday morning. He made the “last-minute” 24-hour trip to offer condolences after the Westgate centre attack, Lambeth Palace said.He is also meeting conservative Church leaders who are in Nairobi for this week’s conference of the traditionalist Anglican lobby group, Gafcon.

The story offers background on the trip to Iceland and the al-Shabaab terror attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi. And then more details about the trip are added:

Archbishop Welby delivered sermons at 09:30 and 11:00 before having lunch with the Archbishop of Kenya and five Kenyan bishops. GAFCON2013 – the second such conference – will starts today and runs till Saturday. The original conference – held in Jerusalem in June 2008 – was organised in response to the appointment of actively gay men and women as bishops, especially in the US.

The stories then diverge. The original version stated:

Through the GAFCON movement, conservative Anglican provinces – mostly in parts of Africa but some in South and North America, Asia and the Middle East- have begun to function independently of the official Anglican Communion.

The revised version states:

 

Through the Gafcon movement, conservative Anglican provinces – mostly in parts of Africa but some in South and North America, Asia and the Middle East – have begun to function outside the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

And at the bottom of the revision we read this correction:

Correction 21 Oct 2013: This story has been amended to clarify that Gafcon remains within the Anglican Communion.

The problem here is the correction still is incorrect. As the correction notes the Gafcon movement remains within the Anglican Communion. To say they are acting “independently” is false. The churches who comprise the Gafcon movement represent the majority of all Anglicans. The correction stating they are outside the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury misunderstands the role of the office of the archbishop. He is not a pope nor are Anglicans outside the Church of England under his authority — and within the Church of England his authority is over the Province of Canterbury. The Archbishop of York holds authority in the Province of York. In short, the Archbishop of Canterbury has no more authority over Anglicans outside England than I, or you, do.

I should also note the facts presented in the story are false. For example, the BBC reports the archbishop had lunch “with the Archbishop of Kenya and five Kenyan bishops”. Yes, he did have lunch with these six people, but he also had lunch with the British High Commissioner, six other archbishops and a dozen or so Anglican worthies. I don’t know where the BBC got this information, but it certainly didn’t come from Nairobi.

And, the statement that the archbishop flew to Nairobi to offer support to the Kenyan people in the wake of the Westgate Mall bombing is false. It is not false in the sense that this is what the Lambeth Palace Press Office reported, but what Lambeth Palace said was untrue. If the BBC had bothered to contact the Gafcon conference organizers they would have learned the archbishop asked if he could meet the primates before the Westgate bombing took place.

How do I know this? I am in Nairobi reporting on the conference and I asked.

I might also add that in his sermons to the congregation of All Saints Cathedral the archbishop did not talk about al-Shabaab or terror. He spoke of Kenya’s Heroes’ Day (20 Oct) that commemorates the struggle against British colonial rule. He then focused on the Anglican Communion and the Gafcon conference. Nor did he visit the Mall or meet with ordinary Kenyans outside the cathedral.

By relying upon a single source and not verifying the information independently, the BBC propounded a false narrative. By being one sided and repeating information uncritically, the BBC let down the side.

A caveat, I may be violating one of Get Religion’s rules by reporting on a story in which I am peripherally involved. I am covering the conference for the church press and also appeared on the BBC’s Sunday programme after Archbishop Wabukala of Kenya offering my take on the latest perils of the Anglican Communion.

Ronald Reagan was right: trust but verify.

First printed in Get Religion.

Anglicans must be bridge-builders, Archbishop Welby tells Toronto conference: The Church of England Newspaper, October 11, 2013 p 1 October 16, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: ,
comments closed

Toronto: The Anglican Communion must not lose its vocation as a bridge-building church, the Archbishop of Canterbury said last week in an address delivered at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Toronto pan-Anglican Congress.

In an address via Skype to the “Back to the Anglican Future: The Toronto Congress 1963 and the Future of Global Communion” Conference organized by Wycliffe College of the University of Toronto on 18 September 2013 Archbishop Welby stated his vision for the future of the church drew inspiration from  Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ideal of the Church as “Christ existing as community”.

Archbishop Welby observed that “there never was a generation in the Church that does not see a truck coming at great speed to run it over.”

The 1963 Congress sought to reshape the church to address a rapidly changing world. Then, as now, “do we need to rethink” the ways we are approaching “the problems,” he asked.

The way forward, the archbishop said, is “to start not with what is around us” but examine the issues through the lens of “theology, anthropology and ecclesiology. Who is the God we serve? Who are we? What is the Church for?”

Approaching the divisions within the church today in this way “changes the way we see the Communion,” he said.

He stated he had recently read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s doctoral thesis “Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church” and his views of the problems facing Anglicanism as well as the wider Christian world were informed by Bonhoeffer’s understanding of Luther’s dictum “simul iustus et peccator” – “simultaneously justified and sinful.”

“We focus over and over on the massive damage in our culture over changes in sexuality”, yet in “other parts of the world it is corruption, persecution, complacency or poverty. In many places it is all of these. What is the context the church is facing,” he asked.

“Financial corruption: the church is full of people who are financially corrupt” while in “places sexually corrupt,” he said. “We need to look at our context. We need to look at the Communion in light of our vocation” to change the world.

Greeting the Bishop of Egypt, the Most Rev. Mouneer Anis who sat in the front row of the audience gathered at St Paul’s Bloor Street in Toronto,  Archbishop Welby spoke of his visit to Egypt and Jerusalem in the company of Dr. Anis. There he “saw a small church. A minority of a minority, but one that has extraordinary influence, partly due to its bishop” he said with a nod to Dr. Annis, “but also because it is a bridge-builder.”

Anglicans are “being attacked where we are strongest,” he said. “We have a vocation to bring people together” and that is why we are being attacked by Satan.

“I am optimistic about the Anglican Communion,” he concluded, calling upon Anglicans to “seek the purpose of the church … [to ensure a] future of growth” through “reconciliation” and in this way harness the “energy” given to Anglicans by God to bring humanity into relationship with the living God.

The suffragan Bishop of Toronto, the Rt. Rev. Patrick Yu said he was he was encouraged by the archbishop’s words, and noted that when he had dined with the archbishop earlier this year, the archbishop said his priorities were “reconciliation and evangelism”.

Bishop Yu urged conference participants to “deeply embrace” these words, and by doing so, bring about the reform and renewal of the Anglican world.

Govt amends Listed Places of Worship scheme: The Church of England Newspaper, October 4, 2013 p 4. October 15, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags:
comments closed

The Government has changed the Listed Places of Worship grant scheme enabling parishes to claim VAT back on repairs and alterations to bells and bell ropes, pipe organs and turret clocks. . Professional services such as architect fees that are related to eligible building work will also become eligible when the changes come into effect on 1 October 2013.

The new regulations are also supposed to simplify the claims process and shorten the time it takes for the government to disburse funds. In any twelve month period, each place of worship may submit one claim with a value of less than £1000, but more than £500, excluding the VAT paid.  This is in addition to an unlimited number of claims where the value of eligible work carried out is £1000 or greater.

Eve van der Steen, acting Church Buildings Adviser and DAC Secretary for the Diocese of Exeter welcomed the news, noting the items now covered had historically been “very expensive items to repair or restore and this is likely to make a huge difference to PCC’s trying to maintain them for future generations.”

Full details of all these changes, how they will apply and new application forms will be available on the Listed Places of Worship grant scheme website from 1 October 2013. http://www.lpwscheme.org.uk

Bishop of Swindon reports on his chemotherapy treatments: The Church of England Newspaper, October 4, 2013 p 4. October 15, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: ,
comments closed

In a letter to the Diocese of Bristol posted on his blog on 26 September 2013, the Bishop of Swindon, the Rt. Rev. Lee Rayfield has described the physic al and spiritual highs and lows of undergoing chemotherapy.

On 2 Sept Dr. Rayfield reported that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, and would undergo a course of four cycles of chemotherapy in the Great Western Hospital in Swindon followed by a short course of radiotherapy in Oxford.

He noted that “although this is highly effective the drugs used have a number of side effects, with weakening of the immune system holding the most potential danger.”

In his 2 Sept letter, Dr. Rayfield noted he had “no idea” how the treatment “will leave me feeling as people respond differently. Fatigue is an obvious side effect and the risk of infection makes it necessary to absent myself from public ministry. The plan is to engage as much as I can from home and the office, following medical advice and ensuring I have plenty of rest and appropriate levels of exercise. As the treatment and its impact unfold I will be better placed to know what is wise, desirable and sustainable.”

In his letter of last week, the bishop reported the start of side effects. “One of my teeth has come loose and I have had to start some antibiotics. Also the vein in which the first two slugs of chemotherapy were delivered has become inflamed. Fortunately I have plenty of other good vessels so we can avoid using that one again.”

His illness had also given him an appreciation of Psalm 139:14. “I praise you because I am wonderfully and fearfully made”

“It may sound strange but illness is increasing my appreciation of the psalmist’s words,” he said.

“The human body is a marvel of homeostasis with a myriad of regulatory feedback mechanisms ensuring that everything works in harmony; any imbalance is corrected and stabilised. The cocktail of cytotoxic drugs used to blast my Lymphoma has been the equivalent of a tsunami hitting Littlehampton beach and the physicians have had to step in to try and dampen down the shock waves. They are doing brilliantly but having to take manual control reveals just how beautifully tuned the normal systems is.”

The bishop also offered thanks for the cards and notes of prayer and support he had received as “people have said some things to me which have helped me to see how much I am loved and appreciated and this has been both humbling and uplifting.”

Catholic call to support the ordinariate: The Church of England Newspaper, September 27, 2013 October 15, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: ,
comments closed

The Archbishop of Westminster has written a pastoral letter to English and Welsh Roman Catholics celebrating the “beauty” of Britain’s Anglican heritage and urging their support for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

In his letter of 22 September 2013, Archbishop Vincent Nichols stated: “The ordinariate is the canonical structure set up in 2011 as the result of a generous initiative of Pope Benedict XVI. Under this structure, Anglicans who wish to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church, bringing with them some of the traditions and beauty of the Anglican heritage in which they were nurtured, may do so.”

He urged Catholics to “welcome and support the clergy and faithful” of the  Ordinariate “both for the part they play in the life and mission of the Catholic Church in this country and for the particular gifts they bring which add to our rich diversity.”

He also commended a second letter prepared by former Anglican bishop, Mgr. Keith Newton, the head of the ordinariate in England and Wales. It was “a small step towards healing one of the most damaging wounds of our history: the dividing of Christ’s Body, the Church in this land.”

The ordinariate had been an answer to prayer for some former Anglicans, but it had had a rough start.

“The ordinariate was a personal fulfilment of those prayers. It has been an incredible and uplifting journey for us all, full of grace, joy and blessings. Of course, we have experienced hardship and sacrifice as well. For many, especially those of our priests who are married with families, there has been great financial uncertainty; for us all it has meant leaving friends and familiar places of worship in the Church of England. We ask for your encouragement, your support and your prayers.”

The decline of the art of Anglican lying: Anglican Ink, October 7, 2013 October 8, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, GAFCON.
Tags:
comments closed

Yes Minister

I do not mean to suggest that the custom of lying has suffered any decay or interruption,–no, for the Lie, as a Virtue, a Principle, is eternal; the Lie, as a recreation, a solace, a refuge in time of need, the fourth Grace, the tenth Muse, man’s best and surest friend, is immortal, and cannot perish from the earth … My complaint simply concerns the decay of the art of lying. No high-minded man, no man of right feeling, can contemplate the lumbering and slovenly lying of the present day without grieving to see a noble art so prostituted.

Mark Twain. “On the Decay of the Art of Lying” (1882)

It pains me to see the decline of lying. Our forefathers were unsurpassed in the gentle art of polite fiction, of the little white  lie. The feeble attempts of our debased modern age are insults to a grand and glorious tradition of obfuscation. We are midgets standing on the shoulders of giants.

The dulling of the craft is most pronounced within the ranks of the Church. Monday’s announcement that the Archbishop of Canterbury will make a flying visit to Kenya in solidarity with the victims of the Westgate Mall terror attack is not only witless but unproductive – this silly explanation will not convince the liberal wing of the Church of England (it’s intended audience), will cause the conservatives to chortle and will insult the Churches of Pakistan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Nigeria.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Unforced Anglican errors from the Telegraph: Get Religion, October 7, 2013 October 7, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, GAFCON, Get Religion, Press criticism.
Tags: ,
comments closed

The Telegraph has waded into the waters of international Anglican affairs — and I’m afraid someone should toss a life line as it is about to go under. The article on the forthcoming meeting in Nairobi of Anglican leaders entitled “Challenge to Welby as traditionalist Anglicans stage ‘fragmentation’ summit” is not up to the newspaper’s usual standard. It has the story backwards.

As TMatt, the editor here at Get Religion, tells me, I sometimes wander off topic. — In my misspent youth I served my time in the salt mines of Wall Street. My first job out of college was as a floor clerk at the Commodities Exchange for Drexel Burham Lambert. It was the 1980′s, God was in his heaven, Reagan in the White House, greed was good and all was right with the world.

One of the memories I still have of those golden days was the Time cover theory of investing. In a nutshell, when Time magazine ran a cover story on the market or the economy, a smart investor would bet the other way. Paul Montgomery, an analyst with Legg Mason Wood Walker, had compared market returns to Time magazine covers going back to the early Twentieth century and found the trend profiled by Time would last on average for about a month, but a year after the cover story hit the streets the opposite conditions would prevail.

Montgomery’s theory held true (at least when I was playing the markets). Every time in the 1980′s Time featured Fed Chairman Paul Volcker on its cover, interest rates subsequently moved contrary to the sentiment of the story. On 4 July 1988 Time ran a story entitled “The Big Dry” that predicted higher bean prices as a result of a drought in the Midwest.  Bean prices had been rising sharply through May and June, but the rally died the week the magazine hit the newsstands. (The second story about the super future of Japan in that issue is just as off base.) But I digress.

These memories of a distant past led me to wonder if we are seeing the start of a trend in Anglican affairs. Bet against the predictions made by the daily newspapers and you are likely to come out the winner.

I should also add a disclaimer. I have written for the Telegraph as a freelancer, providing stories from overseas Anglican jamborees in years past. That having been said; the article is quite extraordinary. Below the headline and above the photo comes this statement:

The Archbishop of Canterbury is facing what could be the biggest challenge to his leadership so far as a more than 1,000 traditionalist clerics stage a summit expected to formalise the “fragmentation” of the of the worldwide Anglican church.

The story does not state its source for this claim. This may be due to this assertion not being true. The conference scheduled for 21-26 Oct 2013 at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi is the second Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON). The claim that this will be Archbishop Welby’s “biggest challenge” and may “formalise the ‘fragmentation’” of the Anglican Communion is ludicrous.

Let me put it another way — it is simply untrue. The article admits as much when it goes on to say the Anglican Communion has been fragmented for over five years.

I have been reporting on the preparations for this conference for over a year and if what the Telegraph says is true then half a dozen archbishops have been lying to me, or they are being misled by their staffers.The article starts of in high snark mode.

More than 1,000 bishops, archbishops and senior clergy, claiming to represent around 40 million Anglicans, are due to gather in Kenya later this month to discuss what they see as a liberal drift within the Church of England and other western branches of the church.

“Claiming”? The clergy and lay leaders representing churches that comprise over two-thirds of Anglicans will be present at the meeting. How is that a claim? “What they see as a liberal drift”? Way to telegraph your sentiments. These hot headed Africans and their knuckle-dragging troglodyte American allies see reds under the bed. The next line offers more assertions.

It comes five years after more than 200 bishops boycotted the once-in-a-decade Lambeth Conference, openly defying the then Archbishop Dr Rowan Williams over what they saw as his liberal stance on homosexuality. They staged a rival gathering in Jerusalem – the so-called Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) – forming what has been widely characterised as a “church within a church”.

Now, the group is staging a second gathering, this time in Nairobi, where leaders from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Australasia hope to establish new, more permanent organisational structures, rejecting the existing Anglican Communion arrangements as a “colonial” relic.

The event is timed to mark 10 years since the consecration of the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion, the Rt Rev Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in the US – the catalyst for the crisis which has divided the 77 million-strong Anglican Communion ever since.

Where to begin. Yes “more than 200 bishops” did not show up at Lambeth 2008. The exact number was 214 but there was no official statement from the Conference or the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office. How do we know this? I counted.

In 2008 the conference press officers declined to tell me how many bishops had skipped the meeting. With a straight face they said they were prevented by the “Data Protection Act” from saying who was at the meeting and who was not. (A creative way to avoid admitting to a fiasco.) So I counted heads and reported:

Of those identified as absent by CEN, 214 bishops from 10 provinces made an affirmative decision not to accept Dr. Williams’ invitation due to reasons of conscience: Australia 7; Southern Cone 1; Episcopal Church 1; Church of England 3; Uganda 30; Nigeria 137; Kenya 25; Rwanda 8; South East Asia 1; and Jerusalem and the Middle East 1. From Africa’s 324 dioceses, 200 diocesan bishops (61 percent) were identified as having refused Dr. Williams’ invitation.

The organizers of the 2008 conference were at great pains to stress theirs was not a rival to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s shindig — and many of the bishops present at the Gafcon conference went on to Canterbury.

And, the timing of the current meeting has nothing to do with the anniversary of Gene Robinson’s consecration — the conference organizers have been trying to put a conference together for some time and at the midpoint between the 2008 and the forthcoming 2018 Lambeth Conference finally have the money in hand to meet.

And, no, Gafcon II is not going to set up a parallel church. It has no authority or ability to do so. Some within the conservative movement may wish to see the existing structures reformed or removed, but no one is seriously suggesting what the Telegraph has implied. For one, the African-led churches do not have the money.

The article states the conference will draw up an “action plan” on marriage and sexuality, “which will be an uncompromising reassertion of a traditionalist interpretation of the Bible.” And then the Telegraph goes on to speculate:

That is likely to set them on a collision course with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, who has openly signalled that he is reassessing his own views on the subject.

Although Archbishop Welby comes from the born-again evangelical wing of the Church and voted against David Cameron’s Same-Sex Marriage Bill, he has recently spoken about wanting to get his “mind clear” on the issue.

He told a meeting in August that the Church needed to face up to the fact that most young people, including Christians, thought that its stance on gay marriage was “wicked”.

The problem with this assertion is that the archbishop has subsequently clarified his remarks, and is not climbing down or backing away from his traditional views. His signal flags are now flying the other way.

The story then notes:

Although Archbishop Welby was invited, he has signalled that he will not be attending because of a prior commitment meeting European church leaders.

Again we have a problem. The archbishop will be in Iceland for a meeting of Northern European Anglican and Lutheran archbishops on the first day of the conference, but he has a second conflict as well on the Wednesday — the little matter of the baptism of Prince George of Cambridge at the Chapel Royal at St James Palace. Christening the future King of England is an excuse to miss just about any engagement. He will, however, be addressing the gathering via video and will attend a private meeting with the archbishops organizing the meeting the day before the conference kick off.

The bottom line with this story is that it is repackaged conventional wisdom. There is no reporting here, only opinions. And dodgy ones at that.

And yes, wish me safe travels as I head on down to Nairobi for the fun.

First printed in Get Religion.

Justin Welby not going to Gafcon II: Anglican Ink, October 1, 2013 October 2, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, GAFCON.
Tags:
comments closed

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will not be attending the GAFCON II Conference in Nairobi this month, a spokesman tells Anglican Ink, due to a schedule conflict.

A spokesman from the Lambeth Press Office said the Archbishop had been invited to address the 21-26 October 2013 meeting of centrist and conservative Anglican leaders set for All Saints’ Cathedral in Nairobi. However, he “is unable to attend because of a long-standing commitment on the same date. He will be sending a pre-recorded video greeting,” the spokesman said.

On 23 Oct, the Archbishop will baptize Prince George of Cambridge at the Chapel Royal at St James’ Palace in London.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 82: September 28, 2013 September 29, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Church of England, Church of Pakistan, GAFCON, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
comments closed

God, guns but not gays from The Independent: Get Religion, September 25, 2013 September 26, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Get Religion, Press criticism.
Tags: ,
comments closed

Hypocrisy pays. Reading about the foibles of the great and good, the rich and famous sells newspapers. When you have a story that combines religion and hypocrisy you can count on a nice bump in circulation.

Market forces determine newspaper content. It is difficult to sell church stories to an editor. A story on the dodgy theology of the head of the Episcopal Church may generate 125,000 views on a religion news website (earning it the church newspaper equivalent of double platinum status) but most secular papers will not touch it. However, if a church leader has been caught in a bad act (think sex or money) or if religious hypocrisy is involved, the newspaper that turned down a serious story will snap up the latest Jim and Tammy Faye escapade. Yes, I know I sound like a cynic, but I plead experience in my defense.

The Independent thought it had a winner last week with its story entitled “Church of England has up to £10m invested in arms firm”, as it combined the Church of England (always a soft target) with money and hypocrisy. But I am afraid the story will not pay. The Independent‘s hypocrisy charge does not jell because the complaint is weak and it does not distinguish between the different strands of Christian moral teaching on war and ethical investing.

The headline states the CoE has invested its money in an “arms firm”, and the accompanying photo shows a man inspecting a display of automatic weapons. Who is it? The lede does not tell us:

The Church of England has invested up to £10m in one of the world’s major arms firms, which supplies systems and technology for unmanned drones and jets to conflicts around the world. The discovery, on the eve of what is set to be the biggest day of protests against DSEi – the UK’s leading arms fair – in Docklands, London, tomorrow, has led worshippers to accuse church leaders of profiting from conflict.

Strong stuff. The Independent has made the “discovery” that the Church of England has enriched itself by financing the merchants of death. From the photo accompanying we might think it was Kalashnikov. Are they now in the drone business? Maybe — the Russian government last week sold a 50 per cent share of the rifle manufacturer to private investors.  Could these investors be the C.o.E.? Are we seeing a modern twist on the church militant?

The identity of the modern day Krupp is given in the story’s second paragraph.

The Church Commissioners and Church of England Pensions Board are both shareholders in General Electric (GE), with shareholdings up to £10m. Yesterday, the Church defended the investment, claiming less than 3 per cent of GE’s business was based in arms sales.

General Electric? A merchant of death? The Independent explains:

But the firm, along with its key subsidiary General Aviation, is a leading supplier of “integrated systems and technologies” for combat aircraft, military transport, helicopters, land vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles – better known as drones.

The Independent‘s claim is weak. Apart from the hyperbole, what does it have? Is GE really an “arms firm”? And if so, how long has the church held GE stock? Did it buy the shares recently? Or has it had the shares in its portfolio for about 75 years or so? Who else owns GE stock? I would imagine this “blue chip” stock would be held by a number of charities who invest in the market.

The article says worshippers are shocked by the news. Which ones? We hear from one potential worshipper, a peace activist-priest who has been arrested for his anti-war protests, and from the leader of a hitherto off the radar Christian pacifist group. And we have a statement from an advocacy group. Do these qualify as worshippers? Regular people in the pews who are outraged by what they see as the church’s hypocrisy? Or are these campaigners who have put out a press statement?

Against that we have a statement from an unnamed spokesman for the C.o.E. who tells us GE makes washing machines and the like. Could The Independent not have spoken with someone from the church’s ethical investment committee?  Could The Independent have asked a question or two of some of the theologians or public intellectuals who have written on these issues — or even, God help us, the Church of England bishop tasked with speaking to defence policy issues in the House of Lords? What is the Church of England’s stance on these issues? Are they Quakers with better dress sense, or members of the “God, guns and gays” crowd? As The Independent asks no questions, we get no answers.

My questions are rhetorical. What you have here is re-write of an activist group’s press handout from an  followed by a telephone call to the church press office. There is about a half hour’s work here. This is not a serious story. Unbalanced, incurious, and lazy.

First printed in Get Religion.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,309 other followers